Scott D. Pierce: HGTV’s ‘Property Brothers’ insist they don’t try to trick viewers about their renovation budgets

(Photo courtesy HGTV) The “Property Brothers” — Drew (left) and Jonathan Scott.

As someone who watches TV for a living, I’m often asked: What do you watch for fun? My immediate answer: HGTV.

I watch that channel way too much. I watch “Flip or Flop.” And “Desert Flippers.” And “Love It or List It.” And on and on. I prefer the remodeling shows to the real-estate shows, but I’ll watch “My Lottery Dream Home” or “House Hunters” — although I’d rather watch “House Hunters: Renovation.”

And, of course, I watch all those shows with Jonathan and Drew Scott: “Property Brothers,” “Buying and Selling,” “Brother vs. Brother,” “At Home,” even “Drew's Honeymoon House.”

I love to see houses transformed. I get some ideas for my own house from time to time, although the current remodeling project going on at home — now stretching into its sixth month, with no immediate end in sight — differs from an HGTV show on two important counts.

First, I’ve done all the work myself. And second, my budget is a tiny fraction of the six-figure budgets on most HGTV shows.

(Seriously, like maybe 1.5 percent of six figures. And two-thirds of that has been paid for with cash back on a credit card account.)

And I'll admit that I sometimes wonder if the budgets they announce on HGTV shows are for real. Not just because they're so big, but because they're not bigger.

The Scott brothers recently assured television critics that the budgets on their shows are 100 percent real … sort of.

“We always say it’s unlikely that someone would be able to renovate for the same price that we do because, one, we don’t charge for our design team,” Jonathan Scott said.

In other words, it's a lot cheaper if you're just paying for the remodelers — if you get the interior design for free. That's definitely a bonus if you sign on to one of the Scotts' shows.

(In “Property Brothers,” Drew works with people to find and buy a house that needs renovating; Jonathan does the renovation. In “Buying and Selling,” Drew works to find people a new house while Jonathan renovates their current home so they can get top dollar when they sell.)

The Scotts also get material for free. But, Jonathan insisted, even if he uses, say, free flooring to renovate a house on “Property Brothers,” what that flooring would have cost is included in the final figures presented at the end of an episode.

Drew Scott added: “The shows on HGTV are not trying to trick anybody with what the costs are. … When we get something as a trade-out, we still show the retail value of that in the budget.”

(Photo courtesy of Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo/HGTV) The “Property Brothers” — Drew (left) and Jonathan Scott.

But the projects on “Property Brothers” or “Buying and Selling” are “a very different beast” from what your average homeowner encounters, according to Jonathan Scott.

“We’re efficiency experts,” he said. “We’re doing 16 projects simultaneously, so I’m able to amortize some of my costs across 16 episodes. So there’s a few things that we can do that the average homeowner would not be able to do.”

I'm a fan, but at the same time, it sort of makes me choke when Drew Scott says, “We renovate entire houses for $30,000” — clearly implying that's a small budget.

Geez, I’d love to have $30,000 to renovate my house. I could hire people to do at least some of the work — while I watch HGTV.