I just watched this episode of Dream House that raised some questions.
The owners had hired a general contractor to take care of the new
construction and remodeling, and the husband and wife were taking care
of the demolition themselves to save money. Neither had any
construction experience at all. If people want to take risks, well,
that's their business and their limbs and lives at risk, right? But
several questions came to mind.
The general contractor, framers and HGTV personnel were on site while
the husband and two buddies (again, no experience at all), were
demolishing the roof. To say they were clueless and operating in an
extremely unsafe manner is an understatement. Which made me wonder.
With all of the construction experience on site, how is it that no one
advised the owner on the best way to accomplish the task? The narrator
kept repeating that it was highly dangerous work and that the owner
could not afford to get injured, yet no one offered even the most basic
advice in demolition. It was almost as if they turned the clueless guy
loose doing dangerous work because it made the show more exciting. It
seemed to me that if an accident did happen, there would be a fair bit
of exposure on HGTV's part - contributory negligence or something like
It also made me wonder about the OSHA safety regulations and how the
show limits its liability. The owners of these shows are getting paid
somehow. Whether it's free appliances, an appearance fee or whatever,
so a case could be made that they are in fact employees of HGTV. In
that case HGTV is required to obey OSHA regulations and is liable for
any violations and accidents due to their flagrant
Beyond that, how is it that the GC or one of the framers didn't offer
some basic demolition advice? Basic things like don't stand under the
deck when you're knocking out the posts, don't start demolishing a roof
from the bottom up, etc. Construction people love giving demolition
advice, particularly if it is going to save someone major amounts of
wasted time and potential catastrophic injury. So why not on this TV
Full stop, right there.
What contractor in his right mind would take on such a thing?
A contractor whose contract didn't commence until AFTER the demo work was
completed, thats who.
Or a complete dumbass.
In all remodeling work a certain amount of time and money must be allocated
to *repairing* the existing structure where the new joins with the old and
this is largely an unknown area as its not possible to see beyond the skin
of the building as to whats inside. You can't just go willy-nilly tearing
stuff apart without the benefit of hindsight from other projects or the
ability to perceive what *may* occur.
Suppose a part of the demo area was structurally supporting another part of
the building and the unexperienced homeowner knocked it down, causing the
supported area to collapse, hurting or killing someone? (shoring an existing
header, for example, before tearing it out).
I imagine HGTV has a very tight contract drawn up with the homeowners and
everybody involved to escape liability.
The homeowners in these glamour shows are the ultimate losers as they trade
their security for a mere 15 mins (or should I say, 22 mins) of fame.
I think you've got it right about being a TV show and the producers deciding
to "create drama" by having the owners working in a dangerous manner. While
the GC is usually responsible for job site safety and OSHA compliance, there
are probably pages of contracts and releases involved with something like
Personally, I'm getting kind of jaded about most of these home improvement
shows. We have "Sell this House" where the folks coming in and being filmed
by "hidden cameras" are all wearing microphones. Then we have "Flip this
House" where they start out the show with "We just bought this house at
auction without seeing it first and it looks like it's in much worse shape
than we were hoping". Give me a break - these people are supposed to be
experienced professionals and they buy a property sight unseen. My favorite
was when they buy a property out of town "This will be tough because we
don't know any contractors or anyone in real estate" and are trying to get
contractors coming out of Home Depot yet manage to get together a full crew
that can start work the next day.
Give me Norm and Tom any day.
And I love when the give the purchase price, money paid to upgrade the house
and the projected profit.
Where is the real estate agents fee for selling the house? How's about taxes
that have to be paid on the profit? Where's the interest paid on the short
term mortgages? Where's the insurance fees? In most cases I see a 'break
even' or even worse.
I don't entirely disagree with you, but in the case of the "flip this
house" show, I think the realtor works for the same company that buys
and fixes the house. I guess they're just showing the profit on the
project before real estate commission and business expenses (which
would include interest, insurance, staff costs, etc.). Of course, we
all know that these guys can't lose, since they are doubtless being
paid for their TV appearances regardless. I do think, though, that
many of these houses do make them some money, even if it is likely
exaggerated for the sake of good television.
I know in my market, and probabaly all over the continent, these shows
have contributed to a surge in small players getting into the
house-flipping market. I've bought and sold numerous properties over
the years, usually renovating them and sometimes renting them before
re-selling them, and never have I had so much competition on the
"buying" end from new entrants to the market. Right now, the prices
are explosive enough that these people likely still turn a profit
despite the high costs they incur buying and upgrading the house, but I
would certainly question the quality of much of the work that goes in
to them. Also, they are true risk-takers, often paying high interest
on their investment money, and leveraging themselves right up to the
maximum possible level.
You got that right. At one point the framing crew left early so they didn't get
struck by debris. I mean the homeowner was cutting the entire hip roof
structure free and trying to topple it over the edge.
But WHY? Their general contractor talked them into demolishing the second floor
structure so his crew "didn't have to measure and fit the new walls to match
the old construction." Of Christ's sake, they demolished hundreds of square
feet of perfectly good walls and roofs so the GC's crew could frame faster.
I don't believe OSHA requirements cover homeowners at all. And I think
the Clean Air Act has a few loopholes for homeowners. It could be as
simple as the place had asbestos and the owners had to do it themselves
or hire an abatement team. They can tell their grandkids "we did the
<hack hack> demo <hack hack> outselves and saved lots of <hack cough
When the homeowner is paid, in some form or another, by the show, with
the knowledge that they will be doing some of the construction, they
become employees of the show.
Spinning it any other way, in an attempt to avoid responsibility and
legal action, is about as effective as having a third party accept the
money for OJ. It's simply evasive. A pattern of evasion could be
considered racketeering and fall under the RICO act.
It's a TV show, everything is fake and staged,
it's all about ratings and advertising revenue.
Recall in the 50's, game show contestants were
given anwers to questions, and that was outlawed.
It's rumored someone figured out that it's legal to
give questions to an answer and Jeopardy was born.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.