The Thing I Like About …

Property Brothers: the way most people don’t get what they want.

Property Brothers is a reality TV program wherein people are shown the ready-to-move-in house of their dreams – that they cannot possibly afford – and then encouraged to buy a cheaper house that the Brothers will renovate for them. The people have given themselves a pretty set budget, usually not an overly large one, and, as often happens in the world, things come up.

Wiring and plumbing problems. Foundation and support beam problems. Venting, insulation, flooring, mold and moisture problems. All the stuff that can go on behind the walls of the house, maybe for years, that you just don’t know about until you’ve, you know, already bought the property and torn out some drywall and carpet.

They also may have been caught up in a bidding war that made the property more expensive than they had planned, leaving a lot less in reserve for the renovation.

So they start swapping out high-end stuff for more affordable stuff. They start focusing on one part of the renovation with the expectation of finishing the other part later on their own. They do a lot of work themselves to save on labour costs. They shop for cheap furniture to refinish, and reconsider layout, and agree to have x instead of y. They complain about it, and wish they could just move into the exorbitantly expensive house they saw at the beginning of the show. And at the end, when the Brothers reveal the renovation, and show the people the dream house that was constructed for them, they love it.

They’re as happy as … as … as people who’ve just had their dream house constructed for them.

Maybe part of it is having been in a liminal state (the uncomfortable in-between that forms a basis for initiation rituals): maybe they’re just so happy the renovations are done that they’d be happy to live in a nicely decorated refrigerator box. Or maybe, since the Brothers and their team are very good at renovations, the people just hadn’t believed the mess and chaos would come together until the very end. Or maybe …

… maybe it’s because the pickiest among them actually start to get it: even though there is an element of “that’s-cheap-for-a-reason-you-get-what-you-pay-for” in construction, by and large the only difference that really matters between “high-end” and “affordable” is the price-tag. By and large, the only difference between x and y is the price-tag. The only factors that really mattered – the neighbourhood, the yard for the kids, the commute – were things that they considered before buying the property in the first place, and those are still the same no matter how much gets spent on furniture or flooring or ovens.

By and large, the allure of the move-in-ready house that costs way too much is that it’s ready – it won’t require work, or commitment, or effort, or love. It looks great. Owning it, we suppose, would make us feel great, successful, stylish. But the same problems might be lurking behind those expensive walls that showed up in the cheaper properties, and these fixer-uppers that required the owners’ determination and hard work seem to feel a lot more like home.

Nobody on the show (that I’ve seen so far) gets everything they want. Most of them encounter a host of things that they certainly don’t want. They all have to compromise. But in the end, they’re happy as clams. In the end, they do get what they want … they just hadn’t known what they wanted.

How many people (who don’t get the luxury of being on an episode of Property Brothers) spend way too much money (or time, or effort, or mental and physical health) on the things they think they want, when they really just want to be home. How many people overextend, and nitpick and worry, and make themselves crazy and die twenty years too soon … and what they really wanted was already there, right in front of them?

Are you one of those people? If so … well … the solution’s right there in front of you, and you probably won’t even need to do renovations.


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