A North Carolina couple is suing the popular HGTV Show “Love It or List It,” claiming the show made “shoddy” renovations to their home and subjected them to unfair trade practices.
Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan turned to the the design show after deciding to start another renovation project on their home. According to The Charlotte Observer, the couple was drawn to a show advertisement encouraging homeowners “whose home, for whatever reason, doesn’t suit their needs anymore,” to apply.
The premise of “Love It or List It” is simple: After a homeowner decides they aren’t in love with their current living conditions, a crew will come in and begin renovations. During the remodel, the homeowner tours comparable homes in the area. Then, at the big reveal, the homeowner decides if they should “Love It,” and stay in their newly-remodeled space, or “List It,” and move into a home that suits them better.
Murphy and Sullivan filed a lawsuit in Durham County Superior Court against the show’s production company, Big Coat TV, and the contractor hired to do the remodel, Aaron Fitz Construction, reported the Observer.
According to the lawsuit, the couple claims the construction company did shoddy work, broke contract and violated North Carolina’s general contractor laws.
— LoveItorListItVH (@LOLVacationHome) April 15, 2016
In the lawsuit, Murphy and Sullivan contend that the floor was “irreparably damaged,” and duct work left holes in the floor “through which vermin could enter the house.” They also claim low-grade industrial carpet was installed, and many windows were painted shut.
In a statement to the Observer, Big Coat TV CEO Maria Armstrong said the company was aware of the lawsuit. “Because this matter involves ongoing litigation, our attorneys have advised us and we feel that making a comment would be inappropriate at this time. However, we do intend to vigorously defend what we consider to be false allegations,” Armstrong said.
The lawsuit shines a light on the amount of staging and fabrication involved in reality television.
“These characters are actors or television personalities playing a role for the camera,” the lawsuit says of the show hosts Hilary Farr and David Visentin, as well Eric Eremita, who is portrayed as the general contractor (though the suit claims he is not licensed to work in North Carolina). The lawsuit alleges that none of the “actors” involved played more than a casual role in the home’s renovation.
— Big Coat Productions (@Big_Coat) April 6, 2016
The Observer reports that, as part of the agreement with Big Coat, the couple would “deposit” $140,000 with the production company, who would then use the money to pay for construction work. Aaron Fitz, the contractor, was hired by Big Coat to do the renovations.
The couple claims that Aaron Fitz was not the couple’s choice, and that they were concerned with his below-average ratings on line. Additionally, they say that they were never shown any homes on the market by a real-estate agent who would actually be able to broker the sale.
Big Coat TV, the lawsuit says, “admits that it is in the business of television production, not construction. The homeowners’ funds essentially pay the cost of creating a stage set for this television series.”