Many people dream of one day going on home renovation shows popularized by HGTV, but there can be hidden costs to appearing on beloved shows like Love It Or List It, which some homeowners found out the hard way. What happens if you don’t “Love” the home you wind up with after the show is over? North Carolina homeowners Deena Murphy and Tim Sullivan sued over shoddy workmanship and won, but it still cost them in the end.
Dream Home Turns Into Nightmare
In 2015, Tim Sullivan and Deena Murphy appeared on an episode of HGTV’s Love It Or List It seeking to either renovate their rental property into their dream home or find a new house for themselves and the teens they were fostering. When it came time to make a decision on whether to stick with their newly renovated property or list it on the market and find a new home, the couple decided to go with the latter, but that’s not how things actually worked out for them.
After the film crew left, Murphy and Sullivan discovered that contractors had “irreparably damaged” their home, leaving them unable to sell the property without pouring even more money into it. The couple had already ponied up $140,000 of their own money for the renovations made by the show, but the work simply wasn’t up to par. Their floors had been damaged, some of their windows had been painted shut, and crews used “low quality” and “inferior products” according to the lawsuit the couple filed against the show’s producer and contractor in 2016.
The two ultimately received an undisclosed settlement out of court, but not before Big Coat TV, the show’s production company, countersued over claims of a breach of contract. The countersuit also included claims of libel, slander, and product disparagement. The case had been dismissed by a Durham judge but was on appeal until the parties reached a settlement.
HGTV Wants Homeowners “To Be Happy”
In a recent statement to the New York Times about this lawsuit as well as a few others faced by HGTV, the network insisted they “want homeowners who are featured in [their] series to be happy,” adding that homeowners are included in the planning process and also made aware of who would be participating in the renovation.
“The business relationship and contractual agreements for the renovations are agreed upon by the homeowners and the contractors,” the statement continued. “When we learn of a business dispute, we encourage the contractors and homeowners to work together to resolve the issue.”
HGTV Lawsuits Include ‘Property Brothers’
This is not the first or last time that a hit HGTV show has been accused of performing shoddy renovations. The former production company behind Property Brothers is currently being sued by a Las Vegas couple who complained about the workmanship of their home renovation. In addition to complaints about cosmetic details, the couple claimed the electric work done on their home wasn’t up to code.
There have been other lawsuits filed by disgruntled homeowners against the network’s shows, though many more had no issues. It pays to read the fine lines and keep an eye on the contractors, even if you’re not on a reality TV show.