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What reality TV shows like The Block and House Rules teach us about renovating

We’ve witnessed the dummy spits, tantrums and blowups on reality renovation TV shows but there are also some great pieces of advice when it comes to home makeovers that we can take away from these shows. Through the contestant’s tears and heartache to renovate an ideal children’s bedroom or a chic bathroom we’ve pulled out 5 key renovation messages.  So when you’re about to get stuck into your own renovations, minimize stress and drama by following these reality TV red hot tips.

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1. Create a Realistic Budget

On these reality renovation shows such as The Block and House Rules it’s usually the production company setting the budget, with contestants then given a set figure to work with to transform the property. Nine times out of ten, the contestants always spend over their budget! Lucky for them though, they have challenges along the way where they are given the opportunity to win more money and vouchers towards their renovations. Clearly this is not the case for you when you overspend on those bathroom tiles, leaving you with just a few hundred dollars to spend on the remaining fittings for the bathroom!

The lesson learned here is to build a 10% contingency into your budget to cover unexpected costs or in other cases overspending. As boring as it may seem, always stick to your budget, the last thing you want is to spiral into huge amounts of debt and be forced to sell your home. Chat to friends and family who have recently undertaken renovations to gauge a realistic idea of how much things are going to cost. This will help set a realistic budget! Renovation coats include; labour, supplies, tools and equipment, design costs and furnishings.

2. Timing is Everything

In season one of The Block, the contestants were only given 14 weeks to complete their home renovations! That’s not a considerable amount of time for a full home renovation but that’s TV for you and they made it happen. Deadlines and timings is everything when it comes to home renovations, not only so an episode of House Rules can get to air but so all jobs can be completed that have a flow on effect. For example, you need to know how long the bathroom waterproofing will take to be done so you know when to book the tiler in. Or if you’re planning on giving the inside of your house a fresh lacquer of paint before putting it on the market given it plenty of days to dry before the first open house.

Regardless of how big or small your project is have a rough idea of how long tasks take and you can work this into your project plan. Too many times we’ve seen contestants break down in tears and fail to make task deadlines as they’ve underestimated how long some jobs will take. Or they’ve just spent way too long at the shops deciding on what pillows to get for the sofa!

Remember, unexpected delays can happen such as; poor weather, sick tradies, hold up in materials arriving etc. So it’s a smart idea to factor in one day per week or fortnight for unforeseeable reno interruptions!

3. The Home

While everyone has their own tastes when it comes to renovating and designing a home, here are a few rules of thumb we’ve learnt from shows like The Block and House Rules.

  • Changing Trends: It may be cool and hip now to have a black and white striped lounge room but in a few years’ time that fad will look daggy and dated. This is the last thing you want at a critical time when you’re wanting to sell. So instead, decorate with trendy items, as they’re easier to replace once they go out of fashion.
  • Utilise buildings and natural features: Don’t go knocking down exposed red brick or an old gum tree in the front yard. Work around the properties natural structures. They add character and a unique touch to your home and can work in your favour when it comes to resale.
  • Matching colours is a no no: On several episodes of these reality TV shows we’ve seen contestants criticised by the judges for mimicking tones in a room. For example, colour coding the print on a bedroom wall with throw cushions on the bed. So take this tip from the judges and don’t match colours, it will save yourself time and stress.
  • Keep it simple: Less is best! Many contestants seem to head down the path of excess, too many pillows, crowding the wall with paintings or cluttering shelves with knick-knacks just for the sake of it. Minimize for a modern, fresh and bigger looking place.   

4. The Team

There’s no ‘I’ in team! And when it comes to the success of a renovation it’s because of one big team effort. As we have seen on these reality TV shows, everything can suddenly fall apart when everyone isn’t working together and respecting each others' roles. Here are a few of the key players in a renovation team.

  • Tradies are your experts in the trade! Pulling together trusted and reliable tradies is crucial for a smooth operating renovation. Get recommendations on the best plumber or tiler in the area and always check their insurances and licenses. As seen on the TV renovation shows, contestants always ring around to get several quotes for any job to ensure they’re in the right ballpark when it comes to costing.
  • Designers are your go to for the look and feel of the place. Just like tradies, they’re the experts in the field, so trust their opinion when they say red and pink shouldn’t go side by side.
  • Suppliers will provide you with the tangible items to make your renovations happen, be it bricks, paint, plants, kitchen sinks etc. Suppliers are key personnel to the renovation team.
  • You are NOT the expert! Don’t get zapped like Paul did in season 1, episode 4 of The Block. Cutting corners will cost you money and time in the long run and even a trip to the hospital. The more an owner takes on the more stressful those larger scale renovation can be. DIY renovations may not necessarily be cheaper.

5. Communication

Sitting in a corner and sulking won’t get you far! If you’re unhappy with something a member of your renovation team has done let them know, sit down and talk to them, don’t be shy. We’ve seen it all too often on these reality TV shows, a lack of communication, it may lead to drama and ratings but it doesn’t help the renovation process. Communication is key to success. From the get go, talk with the tradies and be upfront and clear about your expectations. Don’t forget you can also negotiate costing with tradies and contractors. Every cent counts!

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Mozo Editorial

Mozo’s team of experienced journalists and money experts provide news, insights, practical guides and expert analysis to help you master your personal finances. We follow editorial guidelines that focus on accuracy, reliability and timeliness; helping you make informed financial decisions with confidence and the most of your hard-earned money.

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