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The Vine: July 18, 2014

Submitted by on July 18, 2014 – 11:12 AM14 Comments


My husband and I have been selected to be on an HGTV reality show.

We are desperately trying to find people who have been on the/any other HGTV show before we commit; we would like to know whether this would be a colossal mistake. Would you be willing to post something to your readers, asking if any of them have been on an HGTV reno show? I understand if not, but thought I would ask.


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  • LizzieKath says:

    Color me useless on the "having actually been on the show" front, but I'll admit I'd love to see one of the Nation on there! I love that show and it has always seemed to me like the folks on it get a good deal because it looks like the contractor/designer services don't come out of the budget, just the labor of the construction workers/electricians/plumbers and the material. But that's just based on being one of the people who tries to holler at the nice folks in the TV.

    Good luck! Seems like it would be fun and I hope someone gets back to you with solid experience.

  • Kerry says:

    I have a friend who was on some sort of home improvement show; they re-did their kitchen, and had to get in there and help out along with the contractors.

    They paid (IIRC) 50% of what it would have cost. But they put in a really high-end kitchen. I'm making these numbers up, but say they got a kitchen worth $25,000, and they only spent $12,500, but if there hadn't been a show involved they might only have budgeted $8,000 for their kitchen renovation.

    I think overall it was a positive experience for them, though I don't know if that's at all helpful since I don't remember the particular show.

  • Megan says:

    I've never been on it, but it always makes my boyfriend and me sad when we watch it. The spin is always spouse against spouse. We like to look at the houses, but the way that the participants always come across as disliking each other really depresses us.

  • jennie says:

    No personal experience, sorry, but this post has at least one comment from someone with a house featured on the show:

    And this is a good article from the homeowner's perspective about a different home improvement show:

    Hope that helps!

  • Megan says:

    A friend was on Trading Spaces years ago. Her summary was that it was fun overall, but because the deadline is so tight, the work really only looked good on the surface. A couple years later, she had only kept one or two pieces of it.

    Fun, no harm done, not useful.

  • Allie says:

    My bff's neighbor was on a house swap show. They edited her to be "the villain"–or, at least, mean and demanding. She basically shrugged it off. (Good for her!) They'll make drama if they need it, is what I'm saying.

  • Laurie says:

    I don't have any personal experience, but I watch that show a fair bit, and one of the things that always bothers me is Hillary's habit to make the big decisions about what to do with the budget. If it were me and she found something dangerous – roof falling, electrical work not up to snuff, bad foundation – I'd definitely want it fixed, but then I'd also want to have a say in what doesn't get done. Most of the time I think you could go with less-higher end finishes and still keep things on the to-do list rather than an arbitrary, well, you don't get this done now.

  • L says:

    I have a really good friend who went on an extremely popular makeover reality show in 2005 and hated his experience. He had to take five days off work for filming even though it was supposedly all shot in "two days." Things were so disheveled and moved around, it took him a lot longer to get his life back to normal than he thought.

    Because the plot of the show revolved around the bond between the five stars of the show and the makeoveree, they weren't allowed to talk between takes or during lighting setup and breakdown, because they didn't want the interactions too seem too friendly on camera. Half the show's gimmick was the subject's initial resistance or skepticism to the makeover suggestions, then ultimately showing the person embracing the "metrosexuality." This led to him standing around uncomfortably for hours in his own home while lighting and sound were set up with a crew that kept admonishing him not to talk to "the talent" with whom he was supposed to be having this great bonding experience.

    His roommate had to move to a hotel for four days. The roommate was a homebrewer and had some really nice custom beverages in the fridge that the crew all drank. The "redone" apartment was staged for filming, then all of the new furniture and fixtures and accessories were returned to the store. He was given photos of how it "should" look, then told y producers it would all be redelivered "for real" in a few weeks and encouraged him to recreate it all according to the vision boards and photos. The delivery was delayed until something like six months later, at which point he was hit with a $2,000 delivery bill. He ultimately didn't like any of the new stuff enough to pay for that, and it had been so long since the show and the hassle kept dragging on, so he declined.

    He didn't feel that the clothes really suited him, especially not enough to wear to work, but the show was definitely doing a "theme" and it seemed like they chose things to fit their vision for the show's story arc and not what actually worked for him. I think he also had to pay state and federal tax for everything they received, as it was considered "game show winnings." Because he declined delivery, he had to fight it in tax court? I think? At this point, whenever the story comes up, my friend gets grumpy and pours himself a drink.

    Although he was on one of the episodes that ended in a marriage proposal and they're glad they have the proposal recorded for posterity in a nice way, he described the overall experience as a way to go on a reality show and "make your life difficult for six months."

    Your mileage may vary, but definitely find about taxes, delivery dates of actual goods and services versus staging for the camera and any miscellaneous delivery fees you may be responsible for. I hope that helps?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Wow. First I see my roofer on the ten-year reunion of this particular show — looking PISSED — and now I find this out. We need a "Behind The Camera" on this show pronto.

  • Mingles' Mommy says:

    Based on what I'm reading here, I'd basically tell them where to go, but that's just me. I mean, you're going to come in MY space and tell me who I can talk to? You're going to help yourself to MY food and drinks without any common courtesy?? Please.

    On the other hand, you might get something great out of it. It just sounds like you have to be prepared for the fact that the network wants what it wants and they're going to make you look a certain way. (Which still doesn't explain "Bridezilla" …)

  • Liz says:

    I had a friend who worked behind the scenes on one of these shows a few years ago. (Trying to fix the mistakes of the on-camera folks, mostly, it seemed.) He had fun for a while, but ultimately I don't think he felt they were ever allowed to do really good work, because of the time frame.

  • SPM says:

    I'm pretty sure this –

    "…you're going to come in MY space and tell me who I can talk to?"

    – would be covered in the contract you sign to be on the show.

    But this?

    "You're going to help yourself to MY food and drinks without any common courtesy??"

    Probably not so much.

  • Krissa says:

    I know this is late but I just got back into town; I very recently filmed for a house-hunting show on HGTV and would be willing to talk about the experience; it was NOT a renovation show but some of the ins and outs of filming could be similar. You can email me directly at kris DOT hodgkins AT gmail.

    We did have to sign confidentiality wavers, and the episode has not aired yet so I won't say too much on this open forum; also I can't speak to OUR editing, but we know another couple who did the same show a few years ago and I could answer a few questions about their experience as well.

  • 'sina says:

    I have two friends who have been on these types of shows.

    The first is a celebrity whose kitchen was redone on the show. She was pleased with the look, but the "two days" was purely cosmetic. Real contractors had to come back later for the proper installation.

    The second is a friend who is a contractor and was a sub on a network renovation sob story show. Her work is fairly unique, and she had to fight for her airtime. She reported that the crew on that show was legitimate, working in shifts to ensure that the home was complete and on schedule. The producers could be a pain to work with, but she enjoyed her few moments with the host.

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