DIY Shows - Ask The Kitchen Guy

Posted on December 14th, 2012 15:33

“Q: Hey Kitchen Guy: Why is it that every kitchen or bath project I see done on TV seems to only 
take a week, yet every contractor I talk to tells me it is going to be several weeks to do my
project? What gives?

A: The contractors or dealers you are talking with are probably telling you the truth. Many, but
not all of the television home improvement shows, do have a tendency to make the home improvement
project they are featuring in any given episode look easier than it is. Those shows are a constant
source of frustration for most remodeling professionals.

In a May 9th, 1961 speech to the National Association of Broadcasters Convention Newton Minow,
then FCC Chair gave his famous and somewhat critical speech declaring television a “vast
wasteland”. His speech resonates still today. Here the excerpted phrase in context. The entire
speech is worth looking up if you can.

“When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers —
nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down
in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without
a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book
to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you
that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.”

When I consider all the home improvement shows on TV today, there are two shows that stand out
in my mind for accuracy, good advice and quality work. It’s no coincidence that they
have been on the air the longest. Those shows are This Old House, Holmes on Homes and their
respective spin offs. The rest have fulfilled Newton Minow’s famous description of television, a
vast wasteland.

Generally speaking, people don’t want to hear the truth when it comes to the work, details,
materials, and costs involved in doing a remodeling project, right? So they tell you want you want
to hear. More to the point, they don’t tell you what you don’t want to hear.

Networks provide approximately 22 minutes or less of content every half hour. In the process of
delivering that content, the shows must be paced fast enough to keep your attention and simple
enough for the general masses to understand it while telling you what you want to hear. The end
results are typically shows that give bad advice, gloss over important and costly details leaving a
job so poorly done I would be surprised if they are guaranteed to last any longer than it takes the
film crew to back out of your driveway.

Exacerbating this situation is the endless supply of pretty faces with empty heads and a
willingness to exchange whatever integrity they may have had for a paycheck and an opportunity to
develop their brand.

Here are just some of the things I had to watch so called professionals do in order to write this

1) Planning: They rarely discuss what could be done. They never discuss what should be done unless
it will be seen on TV.

2) Material Selection: It’s all about looks, pushing sponsors products and installing the product
as fast as possible to stay on schedule. Durability, ease of use and maintenance are out the

3) Perceived Value: If you really think you can save $6,000.00 by demolishing your
200 square foot kitchen yourself, I have a bridge I want to sell you.

4) Trying to tackle a $30,000.00 project that typically takes 5 – 7 weeks in three days with just
$3,000.00 is going to work out well because you have a positive attitude and a how to book that was
written by someone who never did.

5) Giving a homeowner who works in an office 40 hours a week a 6 pound sledge hammer and tell
him/her to start swinging while people are working within a few feet is beyond stupid.

6) Demolition kicks up lots of dust, much of which can be hazardous to your health.
Short term and long term. Failure to contain the dust can leave families living in a toxic dump.

7) If you want to act like a pro, then be smart and hire professional licensed electricians and

8) A can of paint is not going to make old builder grade (not good) cabinets look like new custom
ones. Paint certainly won’t make your cabinetry function any better either.

9) Ranges or cook tops shouldn’t go in front of windows.

10)If you are going to cover up a window (probably not a good idea) you must do it properly or run
a very good risk of creating a major mold problem in your home.

11)No you can’t install cabinets just like a pro.

Bottom line, save for Mike Holmes and This Old House, Newton Minow was right.

This post was reformatted and placed here with permission from the author.

Jeff Kida
NARI – Certified Remodeler
DDS Design Services, LLC


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