I'm the first to admit, I've wasted away some perfectly fine Saturday afternoons plugged into my favorite TV shows, "Flip or Flop", "Property Brothers", "Fixer Upper", and my latest new obsession, Nate Berkus' new show, "Married to Design".

However, when they get to the important part of the show where they discuss budget I start yelling at the TV.  I imagine all the producers sitting around a room somewhere saying things like ''well, we know that project that Joanna did this past week for Fixer Upper was really a $100,000 project, but if we tell our audience that it will seem out of touch to our dreamer audience who thinks they can make this happen for $30,000, so lets just go with that. It's a nice, friendly number.  Oh, and leave off the part that mentions not a stick of the furniture, lighting, artwork or accessories are included in this number, ok?"  (Insert visual of me here yanking at my hair and mumbling under my breath.)

Unfortunately, most of my current clients and future clients are probably glued to the same HGTV shows.  Remember, and this is key, they are selling imagination and possibility. And it's just that. Sure, I'd like to tell my clients they could have their entire house redesigned in under 5 weeks and for around $30,000.  I'd like to tell them, as a bonus, I will even paint the exterior of the house and throw that in the furniture and a newly planted garden.  (You know who you are, Joanna.)  Probably the biggest offender are the cutie pie Property Brothers.  There is just no way I am going to send you away for a couple of weeks and you will come back to an entirely new house, completely furnished and decked out with all new accessories and artwork.  Ta Da! 

The great news is that it IS possible to recreate all these looks that you've seen and dreamed about, it's just going to cost you more than you think.  For instance, a recent Property Brothers episode listed the cost of an entire first floor, complete with new kitchen and all furnishings & accessories for $32,000.  That number would maybe cover the kitchen remodel.  Most likely it will come in around $40,000, after new appliances, flooring, etc.   About 50% of the cost will be in labor.  Labor means the plumbers, electricians, the contractors and of course the painters. And remember, you won't be able to have the Brothers do your work, so you need to find a good contractor.  He (or she!) should be someone who comes recommended, not someone you find randomly on Craig's List.  They should have references, or better yet, be referred by someone like me who has worked with many of these people. 

I am also aware that most people don't have disposable income available for these projects and will likely use a home equity loan to do them, and that's perfectly fine.  You can call your bank and they will walk you through the process.  Most contractors are paid in a 'draw' fashion, which means they will give you a bill every few weeks as the job progresses.  This keeps your finances manageable and insures the contractor and his crews will be paid on time.  As for my role, I also bill every few weeks and will keep my clients aware of time lines for selections, such as appliances, lighting, paint & furniture.  I also am frequently on site during construction assuring that all is well. 

So, yes, the HGTV shows are totally fibbing when it comes to real budgets. But, if you're savvy about the process and let me guide you, you can certainly find ways to make it happen to fit within your budget. Always remember, as my brother in law once said, 'Good things aren't cheap.  Cheap things aren't good."