A North Carolina couple is suing the producers of Love It Or List It, saying the show left them with a house that was shoddily constructed. The Raleigh News & Observer says that Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan agreed to participate in the hit HGTV series under the guise that they were considering a move to a rental property with their teenage foster children. The problem, according to the suit against Big Coat TV and Aaron Fitz Construction, was that the show’s principals—designer Hilary Farr, real estate agent David Visentin, and contractor Eric Eremita—are “actors or television personalities playing a role for the camera,” not people who “played more than a casual role in the actual renovation process.” While this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever suffered through Farr and Visentin’s bullshit “no, you are” banter, it’s still mildly disheartening to hear.
For the episode, which aired in April 2015, Murphy and Sullivan were asked to deposit $140,000 into a fund with the production company, who would later use that money to pay Fitz and other subcontractors. According to the suit, the couple voiced its concerns about Fitz, saying it had below-average reviews on Angie’s List, but they were ignored. Over the course of the renovations, only $85,780.50 was disbursed to Fitz, leaving the couple wondering where the rest of their money went. The suit also questions how Big Coat can operate as a general contractor, a role it’s not licensed for.
Murphy and Sullivan are also claiming that Love It Or List It is even more of a scam than it generally seems, with the couple saying the show never used a licensed architect to develop plans for their house, and that they were never shown houses that were actually for sale in North Carolina—or for sale by any licensed North Carolina real estate broker. They also say any work done on the show was work that they’d previously made plans for with another company, Werx-Design Build.
According to the suit, the actual work done on the house was “disastrous,” leaving the home “irreparably damaged.” Duct work was left open, leading to vermin entering the house, and the couple complains of “low-grade industrial carpeting, unpainted surfaces, and windows painted shut.”
As the News & Observer summarizes, “Big Coat’s purported agreement,” the lawsuit contends, ‘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.’”
Maria Armstrong, Big Coat’s CEO and the show’s executive producer, says that the company intends to “vigorously defend what [it] consider[s] false allegations.”