What you don't know about home makeover shows might surprise you
I don't know about you, but I love home makeover shows. I mean, how awesome would that be? Some pro designer with a sparkly personality comes in and fixes everything you've ever thought was wrong with your kitchen/backyard/home. Quite a score, right? Or is it?
Nothing is sure but death and taxes
After that makeover crew is gone, you'll still have to foot the bill for property tax. Don't think they won't know. The people on those shows have to file permits, which is the most common way the tax assessor's office knows renovations have been done. And some of those renovations, like the kitchen, say, can really cost you come tax time because of how much they can increase your home's value.
For an example, I looked up my home on my city's local property tax assessment calculator. Given its current value, according to the simple calculator, I'm going to pay about $2,800 this year. But let's say I do a renovation that adds a mere $7,000. That will raise my taxes to over $3,100. Make sure you consider the potential tax implications before applying to be on one of those shows. There have been several more extreme cases of families losing or being forced to sell their homes.
Your maintenance or energy costs can increase
Obviously, some changes you make in any remodel could very well affect your energy bills. In many of those shows, you'll notice they do tend to add energy-efficient appliances in the remodel (especially where none existed before). But energy efficient doesn't mean uses less energy. If something is oversized for what you need, you could end up paying more actual money.
Additionally, if they give you a remodel that requires maintenance (like landscaping), you'll have to maintain that to keep it as is. Even if you DIY the maintenance, you'll probably still spend at least some money on supplies. Your only other option is to spend money to completely redo it so you have something lower maintenance.
They have really strict criteria for consideration
We aren't just talking about an interesting story here, either. They have tons of applicants, so your personality matters. You may be asked to submit a casting tape and/or go through several interviews before they even decide if you're reality TV material.
Also, many of these shows are hosted by people living and working in a certain area, and they can't just ditch their regular clients. To do some of the more extreme makeovers, it's not like the show is going to pay hundreds of thousands to make it happen. To be on Property Brothers, you have to be moving to specific counties in New York, be buying and renovating a fixer-upper and have a minimum budget of $100,000 for the reno.
You may have to take off work
They have to have time to film the show, and you'll be on their schedule at that point. It may seem like it happens fast since you only see a half hour on TV, but the reality is, sometimes you're talking several days or weeks. The aforementioned Property Brothers requires you to be available for up to 10 weekdays of filming over six to seven weeks.
You may have less control than you realize
In some ways, this should be obvious. No matter how badly you want something, that doesn't mean it fits into the budget or that they can make it happen in a reasonable amount of time. But it also may not fit the format of their show or live up to the wow factor they want.
Reddit user copmaumau says, "My family was on a backyard makeover show back in 2003. They didn't really listen to our requests, but the yard turned out nice. We have 6 kids in my family so of course we wanted a pool and that didn't happen." It may not sound like a big deal for a luxury item, if you want that pool, you need to make sure they'll willing to at least not build over where it would go with a giant built-in gazebo. This user isn't the only person on that thread alone to complain about being ignored!
You have to have a great story — or be willing to pretend you do
This isn't just about showing people how to DIY; it's ultimately entertainment. Bobi Jensen says that she was asked by producers of House Hunters to agree to a made-up reason they needed more room because her story was "boring and overdone." Others on Reddit confirmed they were asked to bend the truth a bit or that the way the story was cut bent the truth.
You can get screwed
On Reddit, dallasmajor tells the story of a friend who was on Property Brothers (and we aren't picking on them here… just a coincidence they keep coming up). They gave him a $10,000 allowance for participating, which would've been great, except "the show picked the contractors with little regard to competitive bidding. The contractor was under pressure to get the renovation done in time for taping and cut a lot of corners to get everything done. The house looked great on TV but awful in person. Much of the work was unfinished, and once the show was taped the contractor was paid and he had no motivation to come back and address the problems."
Though I'd imagine it's rare, it's hardly an isolated incident. Cenate Pruitt and his wife Wendy began having flooding issues in their basement that made it unusable for any kind of storage and caused them to have to buy a swimming pool pump to deal with rain.
Should you go on a reality show?
If you've considered all the facts (including bringing in your accountant if necessary), clarified everything with the show's producers and are comfortable with everything they're asking, it's a great way to get a high-end designer you might not otherwise be able to afford to help you out. Just remember, at the end of the day, this is TV and if your real reality made for great TV, you wouldn't be watching these shows in the first place, right? Take it with a grain of salt and have a little fun.