HGTV is Lying to You

Now I’m sure that cute little couple from Waco are really nice people but I have to put my foot down and ask them to stop lying to me. I was watching last week and Ol’ Chip was telling their wide eyed clients that he would deliver their new “open concept” kitchen for $15,000. I nearly spit out my coffee! $15,000!!!  How does HGTV get away with it? Hell, I’m ready to move to the middle of Texas if they can build me what I see them do for $15k!

But I digress.

Reality check-

Fact #1. 2×4′s and cabinets cost the same whether you are in Boston or Boise.  And if the materials for remodeling are basically the same where I live and an open concept kitchen from a reputable builder around here would cost between $50k-$100k+ …Where is the savings?

Fact #2 Labor is cheaper in Texas than in New England but not by 90%. Yes, New England is one of the most expensive regions in the country to build. Contractors here are charging their clients anywhere from $25-$50 an hour for labor before mark up and  they would have to be paying their labor $5.00 an hour to even come close to that budget

Speaking of budgets, lets just cut to the chase regarding what an “Open Concept” Kitchen remodel really costs.

Now when I hear open concept I am assuming our imaginary kitchen has a load bearing wall that needs to be removed in order to open it up.   (and to be fair I will use very conservative numbers, borderline unrealistic actually) Lets also assume no outside walls are being altered; ie windows, siding. And lets also assume 200 sf for the kitchen space with an L shaped design with an island.

These #’s would be what homeowner might pay if they were acting as their own GC and hired everyone themselves and managed the job themselves and got smoking deals from all the sub contractors they hired and bought the materials with no markup.

Labor and materials with no mark up.

“Did I mention no mark up?”

  1. Plans/Design $500
  2. Engineering $500
  3. Demolition  $800
  4. Dumpster $500
  5. Framing $2500
  6. Electrical $2000
  7. Plumbing $2000
  8. HVAC $1000
  9. Insulation $500
  10. Drywall/finish $1500
  11. Flooring $2000
  12. Cabinets $10,000
  13. Appliances $4000
  14. Counter tops $4000
  15. Back splash $1000
  16. fixtures $500
  17. hardware $200
  18. Paint $800

Grand Total-  $34,300

And if you hire a real remodeling company to do the job…. double that number….at least

Fact #3 You can not remodel a kitchen for $15,000….Not even in Waco Texas.


Nathan Dishington

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