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What 'Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition' Can Teach You About What NOT To Do

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By : Gary Lundholm    99 or more times read
The television show “Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition” has drawn millions of viewers for over seven seasons of tear-jerker home makeovers for “deserving families”. However, the “feel-good” show is under criticism for the low quality of their ‘makeovers’ and the fact that they build large, expensive homes for families who are already strained by poverty and are now faced with large tax and utility bills. The aftermath for many families featured on the “EM:HE” show has illustrated issues that real estate professionals have been warning their clients away from for eons.

Don’t do a crappy renovation

It’s much better to spend your money on fewer quality renovations that work well in your home rather than huge renovations that fail due to haste, shoddy workmanship and lack of quality materials. “EM:HE” has done makeovers that have looked really cool, but have not withstood the test of time and use, costing homeowners already in strained financial circumstances more money. The Yazzie family of Pinon, AZ ended up with a $400/month utility bill after renovations that left them with a poorly insulated home and solar panels that did not take them as far off the grid as was claimed.

Renovate what matters

When you’re working with a fixer-upper on a budget, don’t waste time putting in fripperies. Sure, a swimming pool would be nice, but your roof is a bit more important. “EM:HE” has installed carousels and bowling lanes in homes, but proper insulation and installation of key features, such as windows, walls and roofs have been lacking in some of their homes.

Allow enough time to do a proper renovation

The “EM:HC” show has a tight schedule; so tight that many of the problems arising after the crews leave have been partly attributed to haste and no time to properly test that the home is functioning properly. There are many benefits to taking your time with renovations and making sure that everything behind the walls is properly constructed and connected.

Don’t over-renovate

One of the complaints about the “EM:HE” show is that many of the homes are constructed or renovated completely beyond the neighborhood, making them too expensive for buyers looking in that neighborhood to consider and not attractive to buyers looking in that price range due to the neighboring properties. This has proven to be a problem when the owners try to sell.

Don’t renovate your home into a new tax bracket

One of the chief criticisms of “EM:HC” is that the new, expensive homes that the show constructs for impoverished families actually put them into a worse financial situation, due to the home’s size (more utilities needed to keep it heated/cooled) and value (higher taxes). Critics of the show’s makeovers also include the ‘glorification’ of over-consumptive suburbia through over-the-top homes, such as the castle the show built in Lake City, Ga.

Don’t advertise the money you’re spending improving your home

“EM:HC” homes have become the target for burglars due to the lavish amenities the show often provides to the families participating, including flat-screen TVs, computers and other expensive items. When you’re renovating, keep your purchases quiet. Turn boxes left out for recycling pick-up inside-out and tape them into compact bundles, so people don’t see that you just got a new appliance or gadget. Thieves have been known to target homes for new appliances and renovation materials.

There’s no doubt that the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” has benefited a lot of American families who otherwise would probably never have had the advantages that the show provided. The aftermath for the families featured on the show, however, also shows us what *not* to do with our homes.
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