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Instant Dream Home just crashed the Netflix top 10 — and it makes every HGTV show look boring

Danielle Brooks, Nick Cutsumpas in Instant Dream Home
(Image credit: Netflix)

Home renovations can take months. On Netflix's new reality series, Instant Dream Home, designers have just 12 hours. Half a day! That incredibly fast turnaround time makes HGTV's home makeover shows seem slow and dull. It has likely contributed to the show's growing success, as Instant Dream Home continues to climb up the Netflix Top 10 list following its Aug. 10 release. 

Instant Dream Home is hosted by Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black), who acts as a project manager for the 200-person crew of designers, architects, carpenters, craftsmen, construction workers and decorators. The eight episodes, which run around 45 minutes, all focus on different homes.

The renovation genre has been massively popular for years. This Old House, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Trading Spaces, Fixer Upper and Property Brothers are a few of the biggest hits. 

Typically, these reality renovations take at least a month, though some are accomplished in a week or even a few days. Usually, though, the shorter time frames focus on one room or just decor changes (like on Queer Eye). Instant Dream Home's speediness makes it stand out — though it's also caused a bit of controversy. 

How does Instant Dream Home work?

Instant Dream Home features a crew, led by Brooks, who swarm "a home that needs a little bit of TLC, but for various reasons — health, financial or otherwise — the owners haven’t been able to do it themselves," according to Netflix. 

The homeowners don't even know the renovation is happening. They are nominated by accomplices (friends or family members), who help take them away for the day. The crew then shows up to carry out the renovation. 

But they aren't starting from scratch. The team has spent weeks and even months planning the project, sketching designs, creating mock-ups and even carrying out practice runs. By the end, they have a big color-coded schedule of tasks. 

Each project has a different purpose. In the first episode, the crew is making over Beth-Anne's home to make it more accessible as she experiences vision loss and prepare for her soon-to-be-born grandbaby. In episode 2, they install a schoolhouse in the backyard for the family's five children. In a later installment, a bathroom is added to give more space to a single mom and her kids. 

Since they have so little time on the day of the renovation, the team often relies on things that have already been built. They install a prefabricated kitchen (complete with stove, dishwasher and cabinets) in Beth-Anne's house. The schoolhouse is dropped in by crane. 

At the end of the 12 hours, the homeowners return, shocked and moved by the transformation. 

Homeowners in episode 3 of Instant Dream Home

(Image credit: Netflix)

Why Instant Dream Home is getting dinged

Instant Dream Home is drawing criticism from some viewers for being "fake." As one Redditor (opens in new tab) complained, "The changes that are being made to these houses and yards require planning permission, permits to be pulled, HOA approvals, etc. There's no way these things can happen without the homeowner being aware of it."

In the same thread, other commenters claim all home renovation shows are staged. 

Some viewers took issue with the fast turnaround time. "I can't imagine what corners were cut to rush making over a house in 12 hours. Just like most of these makeover shows these houses will be falling apart in 5 years," a Redditor (opens in new tab) wrote. 

The original poster replied (opens in new tab), "What's particularly egregious (to me) about this show, is that they essentially destroy the entire house and yard with shoddy rushed work. And often times, they're making structural changes that require more time and precision to do right."

Decider's Joel Keller (opens in new tab) has a similar take in his review. While he recommends streaming the show, he also wrote, "If you don’t think about it too hard, Instant Dream Home is an entertaining renovation series that rewards worthy families with remade homes. But it doesn’t take much thinking to realize that these renovations might not be the best thing for the families who are getting them."

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Kelly Woo
Senior Writer

Kelly is a senior writer covering streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.