Who doesn’t love HGTV? Thanks to Home and Garden Television, an entire nation aspires to be home renovators and interior designers. But the reality behind some of our favorite reality TV isn’t so…realistic. Local (and authentic) home builders and renovation experts, Andrew and Kelly Lael of Lael Homes, share some of the problems with the HGTV illusion.
Contractors don’t really take sledgehammers to a wall.
“A sledgehammer is a purposeful tool,” said Andrew Lael, Owner/Builder of Lael Homes. “But we never use it the way they show on HGTV. There are wires, pipes, and too many behind-the-scenes factors to consider. People who are inspired to take a DIY approach to renovations must remember that rankings, not safety, are the drivers of every single show on HGTV. And there’s nothing safe about plowing through a wall with a sledgehammer.”
Load-bearing wall issues are never the catastrophe they’re made out to be.
“In practically every season of every home-remodeling show, you have at least one crisis with a load-bearing wall,” explained Kelly Lael, President of Lael Homes. “However, in real life, before an estimate is ever given, we already know which walls are load-bearing. So those kinds of surprises aren’t going to happen on a real renovation site.”
Remodeling doesn’t happen in a week.
“If only,” sighed Kelly. “A real renovation job, depending on the scope of work, can take weeks, sometimes months. If anyone promises a quick turnaround, my recommendation is to turn around and run. They aren’t giving a realistic timeframe.”
Most families can’t afford to move out during renovations.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to take a seven-day family vacation, and come home to a remodeled house,” said Andrew? “We would love that, too, but it’s not realistic. Besides the fact that real homes are renovated in seven days, most families can’t afford to stay in a hotel and away from the mess. It’s more likely that families will live in the middle of the chaos for several weeks and months.”
Everything takes time.
“I feel great when I can turn around an estimate inside of two weeks,” said Kelly. “Of course, our approach is a little more labor-intensive than our competitors. We can turn around a general estimate pretty quickly, but a real estimate with hard numbers isn’t something that we can do in an hour or so. We invest the time and research every detail that will go into the project, in order to make sure the homeowner has the most accurate pricing possible. The idea that a contractor can come in, glance around, and give a number is completely ridiculous and not remotely realistic.”
Most remodeling projects don’t include big surprises.
“We know the plotline. A couple, eager for their home renovation, has thrown all they have into the project when WHOOPS! We have a problem (probably the load-bearing wall), and they are now faced with the dilemma—what to cut so they can address the problem. Or, they suddenly discover a brick wall and fireplace behind another wall.” Andrew explained, “These are not typical situations. We do our homework on the front end and we know the tell-tale signs of problems. On the rare occasion a surprise has happened in our 30-some year career, these issues are never as big a deal as it’s seen on TV. It’s all about ratings for them and due-diligence for us.”
Real projects average cost more than what you see on TV.
“The numbers that are thrown around on HGTV are never realistic,” said Kelly. “Especially the scope of the projects they are presenting! For example, a standard kitchen remodel will range between $25,000 and $50,000. So HGTV has given very unrealistic expectations to homeowners who want to remodel their homes.”
“While binge-watching HGTV is fun, and a great way to get ideas,” said Kelly, “Keep things in perspective. And call us! We will happily answer your questions and give you a realistic quote and realistic timeline for your home remodeling vision!”
Lael Homes is a premier contractor and interior design business based in Clemmons. Call Kelly and Andrew Lael of Lael Homes for more information, or for a free, in-home consultation. Visit LaelHomes.com or call 336.546.7307. Be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram and Houzz.
This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Forsyth Family magazine.