Reality TV's impact has been discernible and keeps them on their toes, builders and contractors say.
Homeowners mention products they've seen on these shows, and typically have followed up with Internet research, said remodeling contractor Jay Cipriani, of Cipriani Builders in Woodbury.
That allows his customers "to be able to have an intelligent conversation with us about the job," Cipriani said, which he sees as a good thing for consumer and contractor.
"A customer recently told us that a product that we had been installing the same way for years was being installed incorrectly," he said. "Sure enough, we checked the manufacturer's website, and those instructions had been changed."
Queen Village artist Denise Fike has been on both sides of the TV camera: Her rowhouse was featured in an episode of HGTV's Design Basics and in a never-shown segment of the cable network's short-lived Look What I Did spotlighting her design expertise and husband Lane's carpentry. Also, she used to be a decorating-show devotee.
Now, Fike doesn't see much value in watching, saying that the shows all seem rather "samey" these days.
With the downturn of the housing market, there has been a home-show sea change, it seems.
Design-TV host Angelo Surmelis, whose credits include HGTV's 24 Hour Design and TLC's Clean Sweep, believes the recession shifted the focus of many programs away from the "flipping houses to get rich" strategies that more than a few viewers got caught up in.
"A lot of people . . . learned the hard way that if renovating to flip was not their M.O., and if they didn't have deep pockets like the professionals, they'd fail," Surmelis said. "They discovered that it is harder than it looks, especially if they are over their heads at the start.
"People are now homebodies and have found that these same quick tips can add value to their home and their lives," he said.
Williams sees this attitude among home buyers, "that they can do such and such with a room as they have seen on the TV shows. It has made some people able to see past what is in a home now and what the potential is."
Home shows come and go, yet the venerable This Old House, which debuted in 1979, still grinds out 26 episodes a season.
Do-it-yourself shows have been around since TV's beginning, but until the cable-network explosion of the 1990s, TOH had little competition.
Its original premise, to buy and renovate houses to offer how-to lessons for viewers, was switched to using real homeowners and contractors.
One difference between TOH and current shows is the way a project's drama is presented, said former producer-turned-renovation consultant Bruce Irving.
"In This Old House, the drama of the project unfolded slowly and steadily," said Irving. "Now, the drama comes quickly and loudly. . . . Time-lapse photography and, Ta-da!, it is done."
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has contributed to the idea that anything is possible in an hour, the experts say.
"Customers ask us jokingly if we can renovate their house just as fast," Cipriani said. "We say we can do it in a week, but you're not going to like the outcome."
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Contact real estate writer Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.