Couple at the center of home-renovation show drama on Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Network say homeowners were trying to 'take us down'
- Speaking to Insider, "Home Work" hosts Andy and Candis Meredith disputed claims against them.
- Magnolia Network initially pulled the show after some homeowners alleged their houses were ruined.
Andy and Candis Meredith are sharing their side of the "Home Work" controversy.
Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Network initially pulled the couple's show, "Home Work," from its lineup and put it under review after some homeowners featured on the series alleged that the couple had gone over budget by tens of thousands of dollars and damaged their homes during the renovation process, Insider previously reported.
On Friday, Magnolia Network President Allison Page confirmed to Insider that the show will go back on air.
"Magnolia Network is dedicated to sharing hopeful and genuine stories," her statement read. "After speaking with homeowners as well as Candis and Andy Meredith regarding renovation projects for Home Work, and hearing a mix of both positive and negative experiences, we do not believe there was ill or malicious intent."
In a statement sent to Insider earlier this week, the Merediths addressed claims made by Aubry Bennion, Teisha and Jeff Hawley, and Vienna and Rob Goates about their "Home Work" experiences.
The Merediths acknowledged some of their 'Home Work' renovations didn't go according to plan
Andy and Candis said in their statement that the "Home Work" renovations took longer than anticipated in some cases. But they said the issues that arose were typical construction issues that were compounded by the nature of reality television.
Andy told Insider that the Merediths worked as consultants on renovation projects on "Home Work" while local, licensed general contractors did the actual work on the homes featured on the series. He said they acted as the go-between for clients and the contractors, which meant they took the brunt of people's frustrations when issues came up — even if they couldn't control things like contractors' schedules.
"I think a lot of the anger and the hurt was focused on us personally because we were the ones in the middle trying to make everybody happy," Andy said.
Andy said there was "a lot of truth" to Bennion's allegation that they took on too many projects at once and that they did not manage the day-to-day operations of the renovation well because of their lack of experience. After sharing an 18-post tale on Instagram last week about working with the Merediths, Bennion told Insider the experience led to a slew of issues that she alleges lowered the value of her home and cost thousands to repair.
Candis said the timelines they'd set for the homeowners were unrealistic, adding that she took "full responsibility" for that.
"I know that these people are hurt, and I know that renovation is hard," Andy said. "We know how stressful it can be dealing with contractors in your house and budgets and timelines and things fluctuating. We'll never minimize that pain."
But he said the story that had been told about "Home Work" thus far had been one-sided. Candis added that they wanted to put out a statement now because the controversy had affected the people who worked on "Home Work" and their children, who they said were being bullied at school.
Candis and Andy said they had no idea Bennion felt like her renovation ruined her home
Bennion told Insider on January 7 that she had issues with her kitchen renovation throughout the project.
But the Merediths told Insider that while they knew she had some problems with the renovation, they didn't understand their scope.
Bennion previously told Insider that her kitchen renovation was supposed to take three weeks and cost $25,000.
The Merediths said that the project ended up costing upwards of $45,000 and taking five months but that Bennion paid them only $13,000 directly. They said they paid $32,000 out of their own pockets to complete the renovation of Bennion's kitchen.
But Bennion said the renovation still cost her $39,000 in total, with a large chunk of that sum spent on fixing issues created during the renovation.
For instance, Bennion wrote in an Instagram post that the Merediths added a deck to the back of her kitchen but built it over a sprinkler system and created a drainage issue. Bennion also said that her home almost flooded because of the deck and that it lowered the value of her home. She told Insider she had to pay $18,000 to repair it.
Bennion said Candis and Andy made a trip to Paris in the middle of her renovation. In their statement, the Merediths said that they went to France for a work trip for their Magnolia Network show and that "production" paid for the visit. A source familiar with the situation said Magnolia Network was not aware the Merediths took a trip to Paris until nearly a year after it occurred.
Candis and Andy said they were surprised by Bennion's public statements about her negative experience with them because of how excited she seemed about her new kitchen when they revealed it to her on February 20, 2020.
Bennion said on Instagram that she would never show photos of her renovated kitchen on the internet "because it cleans up nice and, with the right filter, is worthy of every wow and word of praise for everyone who doesn't have to live in it or had to live through what it took to get there."
Bennion also said she "feigned excitement" at the filmed reveal, though the Merediths said they thought that excitement was genuine because Bennion continued to express happiness when she seemed to be unaware cameras were still filming.
The Merediths said that while there "were hard conversations and misunderstandings about this project and budget" with Bennion throughout the renovation, "we were absolutely under the impression that we had resolved those issues together."
The Merediths said they did not know Bennion had any lingering problems with her renovation until she texted Candis about her concerns about the project on April 28, 2020, more than two months after the reveal. Bennion shared a screenshot of that conversation on Instagram. The Merediths said they had not heard from her directly since. Bennion did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment when asked about the Merediths' claims.
The Merediths said they didn't know Teisha and Jeff Hawley were dissatisfied with their renovation
The Merediths said their experience with the Hawleys was similar to the situation with Bennion.
Teisha Satterfield Hawley wrote on Instagram that she and her husband, Jeff, gave the Merediths $45,000 to renovate their living space in four weeks. Ten weeks later, the Merediths told the Hawleys they would need an additional $40,000 to make the project work, Teisha said in a follow-up post. The couple ended up pulling out of the renovation.
"We had been living in our basement for months at this point including Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays," Teisha wrote on Instagram. "We were exhausted, we had just been told all of our funds were used and our home was torn apart with bubbling floors laid."
But Candis said the project was nearly done when they told her not to come back, even if it didn't look complete to the Hawleys.
"The first part — demo, rough electrical, rough plumbing, drywall, mud tape, texture — takes the bulk of your money," she said.
Candis said she thinks she could have communicated with the Hawleys better about what she could realistically do for their home, adding that she should have made clear to them that the materials they were able to use for the project wouldn't be of the highest quality given their budget.
Candis also said Teisha raised their budget to $64,698 herself after they had a "difficult conversation" about the project. She also shared screenshots with Insider of seemingly friendly conversations with the Hawleys.
"We had no sense whatsoever that they were as dissatisfied as they claim," the Merediths said. "We got within a week of completing the project when Jeff asked for a phone call."
Candis said Jeff told her on the call that he would sue her and Andy if their countertops could not be delivered by the coming Friday; she said that made her feel "threatened." Candis said he pulled out of the renovation when she wouldn't agree.
The Merediths said they had not heard from the Hawleys directly since February 20, 2020.
The Merediths also said that contracts set up with all the "Home Work" homeowners said mediation was supposed to be the first step if issues arose between the clients and the Merediths but that none of their clients turned to mediation.
The Merediths declined Insider's request to provide the contract for review. The Hawleys did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The Merediths said they had not made money off these clients
One recent homeowner testimony that has raised eyebrows is that of Vienna and Robert Goates, who told Insider they gave the Merediths $50,000 from a loan for a renovation that never happened.
Candis and Andy have paid back only $14,000 of that sum. But the Merediths told Insider they had given that money to their contractor.
They told Insider the contractor did not give the money back and eventually stopped responding to their messages, so they decided to pay the Goateses back themselves. The Merediths said they did not wish to share the contractor's details with Insider for privacy reasons.
Andy and Candis told Insider they agreed to pay back the loan as well as the Goateses' interest fees and legal fees.
They said they were still paying back the loan. Insider reviewed correspondence between Candis and the Goateses' lawyer about the payments. The Merediths said they had sometimes been late on those payments but were making them as they could.
The Goateses declined to comment when contacted by Insider for this story.
The Merediths said they didn't feel like the homeowners actually want to resolve their issues
Candis and Andy told Insider they were frustrated that the homeowners who have issues with them had not spoken to them directly.
"Although we acknowledge how difficult things have been for homeowners, we have always been available to discuss, and we would've been more than open to hearing how they were feeling to come to some kind of agreement," Candis said. "We were always willing to try to make something better for them. And ultimately we genuinely just wanted them to love their homes."
Andy said he thought it was obvious the statements made against them were "prepared and launched at us at a time to hurt us the most personally and not in a way to fix or to address the actual issues," adding that they were intended "to take us down."
"We're not here to take away anything that they're feeling," Candis said of the homeowners, adding that any renovation is tough, especially for a television show, and that the timelines "were too crazy."
But "it is very hard for us to see the narrative being written on one side," Candis added. "We're just trying to say that we genuinely did everything we could in the moment."
"We just wish they would have come to us before this two-year mark, when the network was launching," Candis said. "And we really wish we could have worked it out."
Bennion and the Hawleys have since refuted claims that they're just trying to 'take down' the Merediths
When Insider asked Bennion to comment on the Merediths' claim that they had paid $32,000 of their own money for her kitchen renovation, she replied: "This is the first time that I have heard this number."
Bennion told Insider on Thursday that although Candis said at one point during the renovation that "she had paid money out of her pocket," she never gave Bennion a breakdown of costs despite numerous requests for receipts and work orders.
"When she told me that she had spent her own money on the project, I asked her why she had not talked to me earlier about the financial situation, nor had she asked me to approve the overages," Bennion said. "I had no idea any of it had gone on, and I responded by continually asking for receipts and such. Those never came, but she used emotional phrases such as 'taking food from my kids to pay for your kitchen.'"
Bennion said she only decided to speak out because she didn't want anyone "to have to go through what I went through."
"From my perspective, Candis and Andy were not interested in resolving the issues I brought to the table at the time of the project," she continued.
In a statement sent to Insider on Thursday, the Hawleys denied that Jeff ever threatened the Merediths with a lawsuit while the renovation project was ongoing.
"We do not know why the Merediths would say they felt threatened by Jeff at any point," they wrote. "Naturally, we were not happy with timelines, quality of work, and especially that our budget was fully exhausted. But we remained professional."
The couple said they couldn't verify the Merediths' claim that they spent $10,000 of their own money on the renovation because they never saw any receipts "despite repeatedly asking." But the Hawleys added that they don't believe the statement is true, and said that Candis emailed them in February 2020 and asked that they wire $10,466 to the Merediths immediately.
The Hawleys said sharing their story wasn't about "running anyone's lives," adding that they believe "the bullying behavior to Candis and Andy's personal life needs to stop."
"This was, however, about being heard and having people be held accountable for constant wrong-doings," they continued. "This isn't just about project delays and a poor renovation experience. There are patterns of manipulation, dishonesty, and gross negligence here. We wanted to make sure all of our voices were heard and that those in power and influence aren't able to continue taking advantage."
If you want to get in touch with Insider regarding Andy and Candis Meredith or "Home Work," email email@example.com.
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