The Best UK Home Improvement TV Shows
The last decade has seen major changes in the property market in the UK such as increasing house prices, with banks’ lending less freely and as a result, the housing market slowing down with property prices being a major topic of discussion. With moving house being more difficult people are looking at investing in their current property instead such as adding a conservatory, fitting a new kitchen or designing the garden. As a result, some of the most popular shows on television have been based around the idea of ‘home improvements’; particularly the ways in which people can enhance the quality and value of their homes through investing in them. These shows are not only entertaining to watch; they inspire and innovate. We’re all familiar with the format, but what home improvement TV shows are the best? In this blog post, we look at some of our favourite home improvement TV shows and why they have got such a big place in the hearts of the nation.
Before we kick off our list, let’s look at some of the popular TV shows that started this home improvement TV show trend.
Changing rooms 1996 - 2004
Changing rooms first hit our screens all the way back in 1996 and was one of the most popular home improvement TV shows of the late 1990’s until it ended in 2004. The show saw couples swap houses with their friends and decorate a room in the others home. The couples would be supported by top designers to help them make some stylish decisions however, these were sometimes slightly ‘out-there’ choices which would cause upset between the couples but of course creating great television moments in the process. The show was presented by Carol Smillie with expert help from professional carpenter ‘handy’ Andy Kane and the show made nationwide stars of the pair.
Did you know: The show was franchised to local TV in the United States and as far as New Zealand and Australia!
Property ladder 2001-2009
Property ladder ran for 7 series between 2001-2009. Hosted by popular TV presenter Sarah Beeny, the show followed the process of property developers renovating properties to make a profit. The show was a hit for Channel 4 and to date is still one of the best-remembered home improvement TV shows. However, due to the financial crisis in 2008 people found it increasingly difficult to buy property and then have the funds available to renovate, so in 2009 the show was re-titled ‘Property Snakes & Ladders’ to reflect how the property market had changed and the increased risk involved. Unfortunately, this would be the last series of property ladder, although Sarah Beeny did return to our screens in 2012 with ‘Sarah Beeny’s Double your house for half the money’ which followed people renovating their own homes.
Did you know: Sarah Beeny appeared on Bob the Builder where she valued Bob the Builders house as ‘Two Bob’
These shows were pioneers in the home improvement TV show genre and helped pave the way for some of the nation’s favourite programmes that are on television today. Next, we look at our favourite home improvement TV shows that are currently on UK television.
DIY SOS (The Big Build) – 1999 –
DIY SOS first appeared on our screens in 1999 when similar TV shows such as Changing Rooms were proving to be a TV hit. From 1999-2010 the show would get a team of professionals to renovate a section of a viewer’s home to rectify DIY projects gone wrong. The show was popular but it was the re-brand in 2010 into DIY SOS: The Big Build which would really cement the show as the biggest home improvement TV show. The show now gets together a group of local tradesmen to renovate the home of a deserving family. The team take on highly ambitious projects and make a real difference to the lives of the family, which makes it an emotional watch. The Big build is a massive hit and some episodes have had over 9 million viewers!
Did you know: In 2003 the BBC created a sister show ‘Garden SOS’ which focused on gardens instead of houses but the show only lasted for one series.
Homes under the hammer – 2003 –
Homes under the hammer first hit our screens in 2003 and has gone on to have an impressive 1,200 episodes. The show features various properties that have been bought at auction and require renovation. An estate agent will give a valuation the property could achieve if it is renovated to a good standard. The presenter will then return to the property once the work has been completed to see how the property has changed and the same estate agent will then value the property to see if the buyer has made a profit. The show has a fun vibe with classic tunes which are related to the property or buyer. It also has a dedicated cult following and each episode has 1.5 million viewers which is incredibly impressive for the daytime slot!
Did you know: Homes under the Hammer is BBC Ones most successful show in the 10am slot and often gets 30% market share!
Love your garden – 2011 -
Love your garden was first broadcast in 2011 and is presented by gardening favourite Alan Titchmarsh. The first series of the show saw Alan and his team transform gardens to a specific topic and advised how viewers could transform their gardens. However, the show took a different direction in the second series and similar to DIY SOS, Alan transforms the gardens of ‘people who deserve it’. This may be somebody who does lots of charity work or provides support in their local community. Alan is joined by other gardening favourites including David Domoney, Katie Rusworth and Frances Tophill. The team take on ambitious projects and produce some stunning gardens that wouldn’t look out of place at Hampton Court Palace Flower show.
Location, Location, Location – 2000 -
Location, Location, Location first aired in 2000 and is presented by favourites Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer. The show follows the presenters who try and find a perfect home for a different set of buyers. The show is incredibly popular due to the charismatic relationship between Kirstie and Phil and the passion they have to help buyers find the right home. The show also had a spin off titled ‘Relocation, Relocation’ which like the parent show saw buyers buy a new house but also invest in another house or shop in the area they were moving to, however the show was cancelled in 2011 due to economic reasons making it difficult for people to afford more than one property.
Did you know: The phrase location, location, location is often used by estate agents and it actually dates back as early as 1926 when it was seen in print media.
Grand Designs – 1999 -
Grand designs is one of the longest running shows on our list, first airing in 1999 and has been presented by TV favourite Kevin McCloud since. The show sees Kevin meet people who are about to embark on a project to create a home. Kevin will then visit the property at various stages of the build which often involves complex problems due to the nature of the builds. Really nothing is too extravagant for this show, from converting water towers or creating a home underground. The show has seen great success with several spin-offs around the globe and a dedicated ‘Grand Designs Live’ exhibition which showcases contemporary design.
Did you know: Many of the projects on the show go well over filming schedules so need to be revisited in future episodes and Kevin McCloud has even stayed overnight at some of these properties!'The Best UK Home Improvement TV Shows'