Hey Reality-TV Reno Shows: Why Tradies Are Just Not That Into You.

I’m surrounded by tradies. I have a partner who is a builder and a brother who is a chef. They would rather look at a hirsute plumber’s sweaty intergluteal cleft, than waste their spare time watching a reality show about their jobs.  

I get why they hate the idea. Who wants to go to work for 12 hours every day and then come home and relive it all again on TV?

Let’s restrict the conversation to DIY build shows and the objections of our resident builder: Mr Raspberry Doors, and his top reasons why he refuses to join me on the ‘reality reno’ couch:[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]

  1. Unrealistic timeframes. It takes the wardrobe and make-up department longer to get the crew camera ready, than it takes to frame, clad, waterproof, screed and tile a bathroom. Everytime I try to sneak the show on, I am met with howls of derision. “That’s BS.” “Well that will look shit in 6 months.” “You wouldn’t want to buy that house”.  He’s right.
  2. Financially speaking, there’s no skin in the game. Ok, so they blew most of the TV station’s budget on trite wall-art quotes like “dream, believe, achieve” and blew the rest on challenges aimed at creatively save the day. They don’t have to ring the banks, refinance their own house, or do a fire sale. There is no risk of losing their house or taking a crippling financial loss. The “stress” is manufactured for the magic of television.
  3. There are more crew in the background than there were extras in Ben Hur. A normal job site is very un-reality TV. With the wide pan of the camera, did you notice the two novice renovators sanding a patch here and painting a patch there, while the 40 hardworking and skilled tradies wearing high vis do all the actual work, including covering up their patches?
  4. Never mind about the endless admin and financial management. A team of network-TV staffers will do that. Most of the budgeting is just done “in my head”, and they spend, spend, spend until an accountant (not paid for by them) steps in with a novelty-sized calculator to point them in the right direction. Don’t worry about the countless hours spent analysing budgets, cash flows, and doing forecasts.
  5. Compliance isn’t an issue on reality TV, unless you get on the wrong side of a surly supervisor. In real life, compliance issues are the major cause of stress and delays. Much of your time is spent waiting for service providers to get infrastructure for water, power, sewerage, and data, then waiting some more for local government to respond to requests for changes, plan sealing, and the list goes on.
  6. Viewers get an unrealistic expectation of EVERYTHING. Until reserves are revealed, you will never witness a fraught discussion about the cost of: the land, the architects and engineers, civil works, council subdivision fees, infrastructure, or holding costs, let alone the amount of time, stress and effort that goes into getting all of this done. Yawn.
  7. Professional tradespeople train for four years to get the basic skills they need and work long hours under tough conditions. These shows make it seem like everyone rides off into the sunset as a professional builder/painter/tiler in 12 weeks. While there is a lot of follow-up spotlight shone on the ones who land glam media jobs, how many of them actually do the hard yakka to become a qualified tradie once the cameras stop rolling?

So I hear ya, Mr Raspberry Doors, and I do get it…. doesn’t mean I’m giving up this guilty pleasure though!

Next blog, I’d like to share some of our real financial-renovation story.


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