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‘Love It or List It’ Homeowners File Suit

Thursday, April 21, 2016

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A reality TV renovation turned into a nightmare for one North Carolina couple, a new lawsuit contends.

Homeowners Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan say the recent renovation featured in “Fixing to Foster” episode 152 of HGTV’s Love It or List It “irreparably damaged” their Raleigh, NC, home, The Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Alleged damage included holes in the floor, unpainted surfaces and windows painted shut.

The lawsuit did not specify an exact amount of damages.

Suit Details

They sued Big Coat TV, the Canadian producers of Love It or List It, as well as the North Carolina contractor, Aaron Fitz Construction, who was hired to do the renovation job.

Murphy and Sullivan allege that the series hired a contractor they did not agree to work with and “staged the show,” according to the report.

Under the contract with Big Coat, the couple claims they were to “deposit” $140,000 with the production company and the funds would be used to pay for work performed as a part of the renovation.

The suit alleges that Big Coat hired Aaron Fitz Construction for the project, against the couples’ wishes. Big Coat allegedly disbursed about $85,000 to Aaron Fitz Construction for the work, leaving questions regarding where the rest of the funds were allocated.

Scripted Show

According to the lawsuit, the so-called reality show which portrays a real estate agent and a designer attempting to win the homeowners’ favor is completely staged.

“The show is scripted, with ‘roles’ and reactions assigned to the various performers and participants, including the homeowners,” the lawsuit states.

The show’s hosts designer Hilary Farr, real estate agent David Visentin, and general contractor Eric Eremita were described by the lawsuit as “actors or television personalities playing a role for the camera.”

“And in this case none of them played more than a casual role in the actual renovation process,” the lawsuit said.

Renovations on Stage

Murphy and Sullivan said they were selected for the series in April 2015 to renovate a rental property that the couple owned.

They said the renovations actually performed were “scaled down” versions of plans they had previously gotten from a separate contractor before contacting the show.

Further, the homeowners say that Visentin was unable to broker the sale of any homes on the market in North Carolina.

The couple contends they were left to put up with the “disastrous work done by Big Coat and its subcontractors.”

Producer Comments

“We are aware of the lawsuit,” Maria Armstrong, CEO and executive producer of Big Coat Productions/Big Coat TV, said in a statement. “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.”

The contractor named in the lawsuit has not issued a comment on the case.

HGTV was not listed as a defendant.

The show has been in production for more than seven years, completing 250 renovations.



Tagged categories: Contractors; Ethics; General contractors; Lawsuits; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Painters; Renovation; Residential Construction

Comment from Jesse Melton, (4/21/2016, 7:44 AM)

I didn't know anyone thought reality shows were genuinely unscripted. If people actually behaved like the people on those shows then overpopulation would never be an issue.

Comment from H. J. BOSWORTH, (4/21/2016, 3:24 PM)

And somehow some of us still trust the RE Agents and these Hollywood Types to be honest and hardworking & not to just take the money and run??? Hardly! I bet most of the other renovations were similarly schlock and the producers used the old "That is what it costs" line to the other poor schlubs.

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