Magnolia Network's 'Home Work' participants detail stories of alleged shoddy workmanship, budget worries
Three women have come forward to detail their negative experience on 'Home Work'
Homeowners who agreed to participate in the now-canceled Magnolia Network show "Home Work" are speaking out and sharing their negative experiences working with stars Andy and Candis Meredith on their personal home renovations.
Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network was at the heart of controversy shortly after its launch, when it came to light that participants in the show had complaints as well as evidence that the Merediths allegedly performed shoddy home improvements and left participants' homes in disarray.
Andy and Candis have since responded to the accusations in a joint statement shared on social media, claiming there are "two sides to every story" while denying the allegations.
Three participants on the show have come forward with allegations of a poor working experience with the couple and detailed the entire process. In separate, lengthy posts on Instagram, they shared their frustration, hardship and financial burdens with the public.
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Aubry Bennion told her story about working with Andy, Candis and the Magnolia Network in a series of 17 Instagram posts, complete with photo evidence and screen caps of text exchanges, where she outlined what was promised to her and all the ways that those promises were allegedly broken.
Bennion explained that she met with everyone from the show and described what she wanted for her kitchen, estimating that it would cost $40,000 to $50,000. However, she said Candis argued it could all be done for $20,000. By the time cameras rolled, Bennion was happy to bump that up to $25,000 for a renovation she was told would take three to four weeks.
"I had a week to box up and clear out my entire kitchen and utility room and be prepared to live without a kitchen and laundry room for three weeks," she wrote on Instagram.
She added: "Immediately, the communication was disastrous. Distrust between Candis and the production team was clear. I heard different stories from every party in every call and text. Candis was overwhelmed by her workload and Andy was nowhere to be seen. Candis asked me not to communicate with the producer, undermining her competence and role when I asked for clarity."
She said she "begged" for some kind of scope, schedule or budget for the project, which she allegedly hasn’t received to this day. While that may have flown for someone else, she noted that she is the daughter of a contractor and that she has personally worked as a project manager in the construction industry for 15 years. While being told that the differences she was experiencing were due to the TV production appeased her for a while, eventually she began noticing some red flags.
One day, Bennion was told that the kitchen redesign now included the construction of a deck outside that would eliminate a back door and second egress from her home. She protested but alleges Candis would not be persuaded even though she was the homeowner.
"My first question was if building a deck was within budget," Bennion wrote. "Candis told me she was sure she could fit it, since I added that extra $5000 into my budget in the intro interview. I would later learn during an appraisal that the unpermitted change to the access would result in functional obsolescence, lowering the value of my home."
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According to Bennion, she would later find out that the deck was constructed without proper concerns for its longevity outdoors by allegedly unlicensed and uninsured workers. While it looked good for TV, it is not a safe addition to their home.
"They built the deck on top of sod and sprinklers with zero plans to re-route them before I could turn my sprinklers on for the season," she wrote. "Nor did I know the pine lumber used to build the deck would remain partially unstained through the winter, compromising its longevity by the minute. Or that they constructed the stairs on top of grass and would rot in the mud without proper protection. In the end, the friends and family discount I got from a neighbor landscaper cost me $18,000 to make right what they did wrong."
When the project ran way longer than the estimated time frame and the Merediths sent her a message seemingly desperate for funds while they were on a lavish vacation to Paris and Mexico, she began calling for a meeting and threatening to pull out of the show. Amid an uncomfortable conversation with Candis, Bennion was allegedly told that the project was massively over budget and she was on the hook for $40,000.
"We were single digit days away from the four-month late deadline for the completion of my kitchen and she was telling me for the first time that she spent 60% more than the approved budget – that I asked for on repeat and she told me on repeat would be ‘fine’ – but now, if I didn’t help pay the full cost of the renovation, she was down to pennies and we were jeopardizing her ability to feed her children," Bennion alleged.
She said she began having panic attacks due to the stress and developed some rashes. Eventually, the work was completed enough to film a reveal, which she reluctantly agreed to participate in and feigned excitement for the cameras. However, despite promises of the team to come back and finish some of the work that still needed to get done, she alleged she never saw Candis again.
As a result, she says she’ll never show the finished product on social media since it was built to look good, but was not built to last. At the end of the day, she blames the Meredith couple as well as Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network.
"It wasn’t until I mentioned the potential of speaking publicly about my experience to Magnolia’s purchasing team that they put me in contact with their lawyer who told me what I knew all along – it was a production issue, not a Magnolia issue," Bennion concluded. "The values and morals that the world loves about Magnolia and Chip and Jo have not evidenced themselves here. It’s disappointing and heartbreaking. I was Magnolia’s most loyal supporter but now find myself a victim of their growth and greed."
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Magnolia Network president Allison Page told FOX Business that the show has been pulled from the network and that it is now reviewing the claims against the Merediths. The couple themselves spoke out soon after to deny the claims.
"We've seen stories that has (sic) been circulating, and although we cannot speak for anyone but ourselves, we can say that we have always tried to give everything we have to make anyone we work with happy," the couple's lengthy statement posted to Instagram begins.
"We have always kept lines of communication open, there have always been ways for people to recover any damages, there have been purchase contracts in place, legal avenues etc, but taking this public seems to be the easiest way to harm us personally. Like so many, these last two years have been extremely difficult for us and we have always tried to do our best in any situation, including not making a single penny from any of these clients and paying out of pocket to try to make them happy or right wrongs."
Despite their denial, another woman shared her similar experience with working with the couple on "Home Work."
Teisha Satterfield Hawley took to Instagram recently to outline her experience with the show and noted that she too feels swindled by an inflated budget.
"We agreed on a budget of $45,000 for our main living space," she wrote in an eight-part Instagram thread. "I expressed concern that I did not think everything could be done for this amount but was assured that they knew all the secrets and it was going to be amazing and everything I ever wanted. We ended up wiring $35,000 to them and spent $10,000 on a couch and some appliances."
She explained that she quickly lost faith in the team that was handling her home. She said she came home one day to find contractors getting ready to cut out a door in her family room. Days later, she claims a crew member fell through their floor into the basement. When she would call Candis and Andy to express her concerns, she alleges she was told "this is just how it goes."
Before she knew it, her three- to four-week project had turned into an eight- to 10-week project.
"Sadly our excitement quickly turned into horror. Our floors were laid wrong 3 times! They would lay the floors and then have to rip them up," she wrote. "One night we were walking on them and noticed that there were what felt like bubbles in the floor. You could see the entire floor shift when you stepped on it."
That’s when, like Bennion, Hawley was told that the project had gone well over budget and that she was on the hook for double the original estimate. She says the couple told her that she needed to give an additional "$35-$40k to produce the product she had promised and pitched us."
"Hopeless is the word that comes to mind when I think of that day," Hawley concluded. "I had applied for this show and had put our family in this situation. We had been living in our basement for months at this point including Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays. We were exhausted, we had just been told all of our funds were used and our home was torn apart with bubbling floors laid."
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She added: "We were stuck in a demoed houses, were limited on funds and were not sure what was next. To say it was awful and emotional would be an understatement. 2 years later talking about it makes me sick and brings tears to my eyes. The lack of communication, the lack of respect for our budget and the lack of respect for realizing my family was living in a basement truly makes me sick."
Meanwhile, Vienna Goates explained that she paid the couple $50,000 to renovate her home before Christmas of 2019. However, in an Instagram thread of her own, she details why, to date, no construction has even started and it’s not looking like it will now that the show is no longer happening.
Andy and Candis Meredith could not be immediately reached for comment.