Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Renovation Realities on DIY

Renovation Realities on DIY is a great show for aspiring DIYers considering a home project. (But also entertaining for viewers like me with a few projects under their belt.)  It's the reality-based renovation adventure of at least two people.  They're not professionals.  They're a lot of husband/wife teams, pairs of friends, or couples.  It's at least one person with a renovation dream and a willing helper whose along for the ride.  Sometimes the full team is jazzed about the project, but in the shows I've seen, one person really wants to be there and the other is somewhat cooperative, but more lukewarm about the mission. 

Renovation Realities makes me laugh because the producers add sarcastic comments in the form of text like; They wouldn't be doing that wrong if they watched DIY or They'd know how to do this task if they logged onto DIY.com, etc.  I don't laugh at the rotating crop of hammer swingers routinely making their projects harder than they need to be.  I feel like I'm laughing with them because I've made most of their mistakes myself.  Repeatedly cutting the stair stringers wrong.  Been there, more than once.  Burning up half a day on a single kitchen cabinet...installing it and removing it multiple times to get it right.  I know how that feels too.  Having lumber bash me in the head during demolition.  Yep.  Mistakes with drywall, guesswork with the electrical work, plumbing chaos, new tool incomprehension, and on and on.  I've done them all.  I think I've been on the wrong end of over 90% of the goofy things the folks do in each thirty minute episode of RR.  I wish I could tell them that.  Sometimes the people look so disappointed with themselves (and each other).  They really need someone to let them know that everyone makes the same missteps, we're just not all in front of a working camera like them.  They're really not knuckleheads, they just don't know what they're doing because they've never done it.  That's how we all learn.  (see Vinny Had the Right Attitude.)

At the beginning of Renovation Realities, they always share the predicted cost and schedule.  As I keep saying, they always do a lot of things wrong and I've never seen them finish on time.  That's no surprise because most of what they show us is the problems and keystone cop moments.  However, they usually get things done under budget or close to it, and this impresses (and surprises) me since there's so much confusion with the hands-on stuff.  Nevertheless, if they asked, I'd still give them my advice about doubling their estimated time and budget before they start (see Attention First-Timers).  That would help them understand the value of easing up a little (see If Necessary, Just Slow Down) and maybe with a slower pace they'd do more things right the first time.  Then perhaps at the end, they'd be more willing to try again on another project instead of the often seen conclusion of: Renovating is hard and we're never doing it again.

When I was in college I played rugby.  It can be a rough sport at times.  For four years I told concerned friends and family, "It looks a lot worse than it is."  I think I'd give the same advice to would-be rehabbers watching Renovation Realities on the DIY network.  Home renovating is really not as hard as it looks on the show and it's a lot of fun.   


  1. Love this post. I always feel like an idiot when I'm trying something new, I'd hate to have cameras following me around! I just got a Kreg jig and I ruined three scraps of wood before I googled instructions for it, since they weren't included in the package. I don't know what I would do without google!!

    RE: your comment, the only house I'm working on right now is the beach shack, which I tore down and I'm rebuilding (pics of the old place are on my blog). This is my first time building from the ground up on my own. I'm just getting my feet wet. I've renovated all the houses I've lived in but this is my biggest project so far.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Katy. If you have any questions...send them on.

      I think it's great the way you're mindful of the prev. owner and using salvaged items (mirrors, mailbox, etc.) very cool. And, wet feet at the 'beach shack'?...sounds like it was meant to be.