I don’t know if you’ve seen the Sarah Beeny new show. The basic idea is that the home owners can’t afford to move to a house that they would love to own so instead they do an extension and renovate their existing house to give them the house of their dreams but for half the money.
Each episode always starts with a walk around the home owner’s house, pointing out all the negatives and the things they would love to change. They then go for a look at a house in their area where they would love to live – sometimes they have a wander around the house but other times we are just shown photos on a computer screen – depending on whether the owners of the ‘dream house’ want every Channel 4 viewer traipsing through their house via the wonder of television.
Sarah Beeny presents the programme. Do you know her? Constantly pregnant, always scruffy with hair that needs doing and always on a TV show telling people exactly what they should do to their property and how stupid they are if they fail to follow her clear instructions. From Property Ladder, to Help! My House is Falling Down and her own Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare, Sarah Beeny seems to never be far from the TV screen in my lounge. I don’t purposely watch Sarah Beeny TV shows – I like housey programmes and would rather they were presented by someone more aesthetically pleasing like George Clarke – or just generally nicer like Phil Spencer! However, Sarah Beeny seems to be Channel 4’s female property ‘expert’ of choice, so I will have to keep watching or boycott housey TV on Channel 4.
The thing that really winds me up is how Sarah Beeny and her Doubling Houses programme saves people money. All of the home owners, with their really tight budgets for renovation end up with hundreds of thousands of pounds in their back pocket. Bare with me here…
The home owner would like a house worth £1,000,000. But they can’t afford it. It would cost them £600k to move to that dream home. They have a very tight budget to do up their property – they spend £200,000 doing the house up, extending it, decorating it and adding nice shiny bits and bobs.
Sarah Beeny at this point loves to exclaim ‘You SAVED £400,000’.
Yes Sarah, these people now have £400k in their back pocket ready to spend whenever they like.
It doesn’t happen like that – those people didn’t SAVE £400k because they didn’t have that money to spend in the first place. You can only ‘Save’ money if you intended to spend it. For example, if you have a budget of £750k for a house, find one on the market for £750k and the vendors accept an offer of £700k, you have then saved £50k. You have that money in the bank (in theory) and can spend it on something else.
Those people that have just extended their house to make their dream house would probably have loved to just go and buy the £1mil one. They probably still would love to buy the £1mil one. But they didn’t buy it as they couldn’t afford it. Instead, they have made do with what they have and made it as good as they possibly can with the money they had. They have spent their entire life savings on this house, remortgaged and borrowed from long lost relatives. They now have a house that they will love living in and they are happy with. It isn’t their ‘dream’ house, as they couldn’t afford their dream house, but it’s a good consolation prize.
No Sarah, they have not saved £400k. They are probably now in debt up to their eyeballs and for you to talk about saving money when they have spent tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds is just absurd. It grates on me every time I watch your TV show – on a Tuesday night, when I’ve recorded it so that I can watch the Great British Bake Off. Yes Sarah, GBBO comes first. They make cake, they don’t ‘save’ people imaginary money.
Disclaimer: Sarah Beeny is probably lovely but her take on ‘saving’ money winds me up the wrong way. Rant over.