We’ve all become accustomed to the unreality of reality TV. We’ve all had enough relationships to know that these reality TV show couples fight like the rest of us when the cameras aren’t rolling. We can see right through it, because we’ve experienced it. But most people have never gotten their hands dirty flipping a house, and they start to believe a reality as farfetched as a relationship without any conflict.

It’s nice to suspend our disbelief, and see a couple that seems perfect. All the better that they are building our dreams in front of our eyes, but at some point, we have to question if it’s all too good to be true.

Having been married for over 30 years, I can tell you that every relationship will have its fights. And having sold real estate for more than 25 years, that any major home renovation project will be expensive.

When you start working with a builder to get your house renovated, the prices that they will give you will be shocking. They aren’t going to be the cute, and unrealistic, price tags that you’ve seen on your TV shows. Scott Megill, Vice-President of Megill Homes, told me recently, “There is nothing that is more frustrating to a customer than when I have to tell them that the renovation will cost twice as much as they budgeted. That’s the danger in these TV shows, I’ve been building and renovating homes for half of my life, and the picture these shows paint just isn’t a picture of reality.”

As a realtor, I always get nervous when I hear people comparing a newly constructed home, with a house that needs some work. I walk through these houses with clients, and they have wonderful ideas. However, with the price of these ideas, the cost of buying and renovating is more than the cost of buying the brand-new house.

My life is real estate, and it’s my job to help steer you around all the potential obstacles. The one piece of advice I give all my customers, who are weighing their options, is to contact a builder before you buy. If you are considering buying and renovating a house, many home renovation companies are willing to walk through a house with you. This will give you a realistic understanding of the price that your project will cost to bring to completion. Nothing is worse than buying a house with plans to renovate, and finding out that you can’t afford the final price tag.

You wouldn’t go into a relationship expecting never to have a fight, and you shouldn’t go into a home renovation project expecting a reality TV show. If you’re looking to work on a house, make sure you keep this maxim in mind: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. No matter what you saw on Fixer Upper last week, home renovations are expensive. Make sure you shop prices on your contractors, read reviews, and be smart about who you let work on your home.