Are you considering buying a first home, a fan of home renovation shows on TV, and so perhaps pondering embarking on your own fixer-upper adventure? If so, you're somewhat in luck! North American television is currently brimming with entertaining and educational programs that showcase the highs and lows of older home renovation in the 2020's.

From the sunny shores of Southern California to the bustling streets of Chicago and the vast frozen northern wastes of Canada and Alaska, these popular TV shows below have captured the hearts and minds of viewers of all ages ever since the good old days of Bob Vila on "This Old House" (1979 - 1989), and of Steve Thomas winning a Daytime Emmy for the heated category of “Outstanding Service Show Host” when he took over from Bob (1989 to 2003). Ahhh heck - I'm showing my age again!

All the same, as someone with over 40 years of experience in property renovation, I'd like to gently remind you that while TV programs can be entertaining and informative, it's crucial to approach them with a discerning eye, especially when it comes to home renovation shows. Although these programs can provide valuable insights into the challenges of renovating older homes, they often present an unrealistic and unsustainable view of the process. The tight deadlines and seemingly effortless transformations can create false expectations, leading to potential disappointment and financial strain in real-life renovation projects, although , when viewed with a critical mindset, these shows can still serve as a helpful resource in identifying potential pitfalls and inspiring creative solutions for your own home renovation journey. Just remember to always consult with professionals and conduct thorough research before embarking on any major home improvement project or buying a fixer-upper that's beyond redemption. 

Taking this into account, for those fortunate enough to still be aged 30 - 39 and approaching that all-important first home purchase, these shows can provide valuable insights into the potential highs and lows of buying and renovating a fixer-upper and provide a few laughs, gasps and tears along the way. 

In this article, we'll be exploring the current top 10 home renovation shows on North American TV and where they can be streamed, showcasing some of the most disastrous and nail-biting moments that make these programs a must-watch for any aspiring DIY enthusiast or home renovator.

So, grab your tool belt and join us as we dive into this world of home renovation entertainment - but do remember one thing - this is TV. That old maxim "when you know, you know" rings very true for those of us with (too many) years of experience in construction and who, all too often, find themselves hurling expletives at the screen when we see certain TV personalities putting "lipstick on a pig" for the sake of entertainement! So, with that pinch of salt firmly in hand, here are the current top picks for home renovation TV shows and where to watch them!! 

Where to stream the top ten home renovation shows on TV?
Where to stream the top ten home renovation shows on TV?

The top ten North American home renovation shows on TV (in no particular order)

  1. HGTV's "Flip or Flop" - this show, featuring real estate agents Tarek and Christina El Moussa as they buy, renovate, and sell homes in Southern California, can be streamed on Hulu, YouTube TV, and the HGTV website. Unforeseen challenges and disasters make for an entertaining and educational watch.

  2. DIY Network's "Renovation Realities" - showcasing real homeowners tackling their own home renovation projects, this series can be streamed on the DIY Network website and YouTube TV. Each episode highlights the challenges and pitfalls of DIY renovations, offering valuable lessons for viewers.

  3. HGTV's "Fixer Upper" - Chip and Joanna Gaines help homebuyers in Waco, Texas, transform run-down properties into dream homes. The show can be streamed on Hulu, YouTube TV, and the HGTV website. Unexpected renovation disasters, such as termite infestations and foundation issues, are often featured.

  4. HGTV's "Property Brothers" - twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott help homebuyers find fixer-uppers and transform them into dream homes. The show can be streamed on Hulu, YouTube TV, and the HGTV website. Renovation disasters, such as water damage and structural issues, are often addressed during the renovation process.

  5. DIY Network's "Disaster House" - Host Josh Temple intentionally creates home disasters, such as floods and fires, to demonstrate how to repair and prevent them. The show can be streamed on the DIY Network website and YouTube TV, offering valuable information for homeowners dealing with their own renovation disasters.

  6. HGTV's "Love It or List It" - Designer Hilary Farr and real estate agent David Visentin help homeowners decide whether to renovate their current home or sell it and buy a new one. The show can be streamed on Hulu, YouTube TV, and the HGTV website. Renovation disasters often arise during the remodeling process, providing viewers with valuable lessons in home improvement.

  7. DIY Network's "Holmes on Homes" - Canada's own favorite contractor Mike Holmes comes to the rescue of homeowners who have been the victims of shoddy renovations. The show can be streamed on the DIY Network website and YouTube TV. It highlights the importance of hiring qualified professionals and showcases common renovation disasters that can occur when homeowners (or dubious construction professionals) cut corners.

  8. HGTV's "Rehab Addict" - Host Nicole Curtis restores historic homes in Detroit and Minneapolis, often encountering unexpected renovation challenges along the way. The show can be streamed on Hulu, YouTube TV, and the HGTV website. It offers a unique perspective on the importance of preserving historic architecture while navigating modern renovation disasters.

  9. DIY Network's "I Hate My Kitchen" - Host James Young helps homeowners transform their outdated kitchens into functional, stylish spaces. The show can be streamed on the DIY Network website and YouTube TV. Renovation disasters, such as plumbing issues and poor layouts, are often featured and must be overcome to create the perfect kitchen.

  10. HGTV's "Windy City Rehab" - Designer Alison Victoria and contractor Donovan Eckhardt renovate historic homes in Chicago, often encountering unexpected challenges and disasters during the process. The show can be streamed on Hulu, YouTube TV, and the HGTV website. It offers valuable insights into the complexities of renovating older homes in urban environments.

So, do we recommend watching TV renovation shows?

As we've seen, home renovation shows can be both entertaining and somewhat educational, providing viewers with valuable insights into the challenges and potential disasters that can arise during the renovation process. However, it's essential to remember that undertaking a green home renovation requires careful planning and consideration, as well as a thorough understanding of the property's key structural elements, their mechanical systems, and what turns a fixer-upper into a high performance home on a budget.

TV shows are there for entertainment, and so if the owners of these homes had done a thorough process of pre-purchase due dilligence, the show wouldn't be quite as dramatic as seems to be the current popular taste on Prime TV or Netflix, so do please remember that not all home renovations turn into a series of costly disasters.

Ecohome thoroughly recommends that anyone considering a home renovation should always have a comprehensive pre-purchase survey done by a credible and experienced construction professional to identify potential issues that could lead to costly repairs down the line. And, as Mike Holmes would quickly to point out, not all home inspection services are created equal.

So, even here, some due diligence will be necessary. A checklist for what you should instruct them to inspect and report on is absolutely essential to avoid a home inspector wiggling out of their liability it if turns out they missed something that they weren't specifically asked to inspect (like the crawlspace or attic for example).

By being well-informed and prepared when buying an older home to renovate, you can avoid common pitfalls and ensure that your green home renovation is a success, rather than a disaster worthy of its own TV show... 

And, if you have any personal favorite TV home renovation shows you don't see above, please tell us all about them below in the comments!

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