KSL INVESTIGATES

Multiple families accuse TV show ‘Home Work’ of shoddy work, blown budgets

Jan 7, 2022, 10:18 PM | Updated: Jan 10, 2022, 12:47 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Watching home renovation shows can leave you with stars in your eyes. The gorgeous designs. The magnificent reveal.

But several homeowners told KSL Investigators the magic of TV does not always match what happened to them behind the scenes.

Several homeowners have brought forward serious allegations against Candis and Andy Meredith. Their show, “Home Work,” was part of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ newly launched cable channel, Magnolia Network.

“It Seemed Like A Good Fit”

As buzz for the new network and the new shows built, Aubry Bennion took to Instagram earlier this week to tell her story. In October 2019, Bennion said she agreed to participate in “Home Work,” with the Merediths’ renovating her kitchen and adding a deck to her home.

Bennion said she was drawn in by the celebrity of it all, and admittedly did not do her due diligence.

“I will take some blame in this,” Bennion said. “I operated outside of a signed contract.”

Bennion said she got a verbal commitment from the Merediths that her renovation would cost $25,000 and take about three weeks to complete.

Those weeks, Bennion said, turned to months.

“Everything lagged, everything was open-ended,” Bennion lamented. “Every time I’d ask for scope, schedule, budget, any information, it was just pushed down the line.”

Bennion said the issues came to a head in February 2020, when Candis told her they had spent $40,000 on her kitchen, $15,000 over her initial budget.

Aubry Bennion walks through her kitchen remodel with Matt Gephardt at her home in Bountiful. (Josh Szymanik/KSL TV)

“I said, well tear it all out and get rid of it. I don’t have that. I don’t have that to give to you.”

Bennion had paid the Merediths $13,000 when the project began. She also paid $6,000 for her appliances. When she was told the additional costs on her remodel, Bennion said she didn’t pay any additional funds.

Bennion said work, and filming, finished in March 2020.

Weeks later, Bennion said she discovered the deck had been built over her sprinkler system, and the deck construction had changed her yard’s drainage.

Bennion said it cost her $18,000 to have another contractor come in and fix issues with the deck, drainage, and reroute sprinklers.

“I saved [my home] from being flooded,” she explained.

Then several months later, she discovered the flooring contractor the Merediths had hired, Lemco Design, still hadn’t been paid.

“I paid the bill to keep the lien off my house,” Bennion said.

KSL-TV confirmed the unpaid bill with Lemco’s owner, Chris Seare. By phone, he told us the Merediths paid $1,500 down on a $3,372 bill, leaving $1,872 unpaid. Seare said he attempted to collect the payment for weeks, and after getting the run-around, the Merediths stopped responding to him.

More Complaints, Legal Actions

The allegations against “Home Work” aren’t limited to Bennion.

KSL Investigators heard from multiple other families with similar stories: over budget, shoddy work, no contract.

In an email received by KSL in September 2021, Kelly and Mark Jensen said they signed on to do a basement remodel for the TV show at a cost of $60,000.

Almost two years later, they said their project had not been completed, despite paying $85,000. In the email, the Jensens claimed they had “numerous contractors [the Merediths] used knock on our door and claim they hadn’t been paid.”

 

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A post shared by Kelly Jensen (@kellyejensen)

Jeff and Teisha Hawley signed up for the show to remodel their kitchen and living area at a proposed budget of $45,000.

Like the others, Hawley said what was supposed to be a three-week project starting in October 2019 dragged into February 2020. At that point, Hawley said they reached a breaking point when they were told about the financial situation.

“They had blown through our entire budget just in demo,” Hawley said. “That just kind of took our breath away.”

Hawley said he was told by Candis it would cost an additional $35,000 to $40,000 to complete the job.

Hawley said they immediately started cutting things from the plans and ended their relationship with the Merediths once their kitchen cabinets arrived. He claimed he and a family friend continued finishing the project at an undisclosed cost, doing much of the labor himself.

Hawley alleged the work that was done on the home was unacceptable, particularly the flooring.

“You could tell that [the contractors] weren’t adept or familiar with flooring, because my wife had to correct them,” Hawley explained. “She would call Candis and say, ‘Hey, I think they’re laying it wrong,’ and sure enough. This happened two or three times.”

KSL Investigators found multiple court filings against the Merediths and their company, Home Love Network.

Candis entered a judgment by confession in March 2021 for $39,161.22, owed to Vienna and Robert Goates.

KSL spoke with the Goates, who said they paid half of their $100,000 budget for a home remodel for the Merediths’ show.

“Nothing ever started,” Robert said.

He explained timelines continued to get pushed back.

“We were never given an answer we can pinpoint as the real reason work never started,” Vienna said.

The Goates said they got a home equity line of credit to afford the remodel and needed to pay the money back if work was not going to proceed. After months of waiting, they asked for a refund. The Goates say the Merediths made some payments, but those payments stopped, resulting in the legal action.

A small claims action was filed this week by Simmons Floors for $10,500. When KSL spoke with the company, they said this amount was only half of what was owed.

By text, Stephanie Trevino of Simmons Floors told us they were hired to do flooring on five episodes of the TV show, as well as the Merediths’ own home they were restoring in Sanpete County. The cost totaled $24,065.14.

Trevino said they told Simmons Floors “they would not be able to pay half down, but they would pay at the end… so we footed their whole flooring project.”

Trevino said they set up a payment plan with the Merediths, but they have since defaulted on those promised payments.

Some of the families filed cases with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection (DCP). When we reached out, a spokesperson for DCP stated no citations or disciplinary action has ever been taken by their office against the Merediths or their businesses.

Why Now?

All these projects happened around the same time frame, between fall 2019 and early spring 2020.

We asked each why they felt now was the right time to share their frustrations. Each had a similar response.

“I think the single most thing that I want out of this is for Candis and Andy not to be able to be rewarded for what they’ve done,” Hawley said. “They need to lose that show.”

Bennion said in the time since her project, she’d reached out to government agencies like the Division of Consumer Protection, and to the Magnolia Network. When “Home Work” made its TV debut this week, her frustration boiled over.

“I want their show to be canceled,” Bennion exclaimed. “I don’t want them to be given more rope to do this to more people.”

KSL-TV reached out to the Magnolia Network, who sent us this statement from network president Allison Page:

“Magnolia Network is aware that certain homeowners have expressed concerns about renovation projects undertaken by Candis and Andy Meredith. Within the last day, we have learned additional information about the scope of these issues, and we have decided to remove Home Work from the Magnolia Network line up pending a review of the claims that have been made.”

KSL confirmed Thursday that “Home Work” was no longer present on the Magnolia Network website.

Candis Meredith Speaks

Candis Meredith spoke with KSL about all the allegations against her and her company, Home Love Network. She admitted things did not always go smoothly on these projects.

“I do think we took on too many projects at once,” Meredith explained. “We were feeling very overwhelmed and doing our best to communicate, but I can understand how, when it’s your home, that feels frustrating when things take longer.”

She insisted they tried hard to right any perceived wrongs for their clients.

“I think it’s important to note that we paid for many things out of our own pockets,” she said. “We have always tried to do our very best to make anything right that was brought to our attention.”

Andy and Candis Meredith attend the 10th Annual Shorty Awards at PlayStation Theater on April 15, 2018, in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Shorty Awards)

Meredith made clear that she did not want to delve into specific accusations by the families, making it difficult for her to defend herself against certain statements.

“It is hard for me to share my full side of the story without bringing the contractors we hired into it,” she explained. “And just having known how this feels, I don’t want to do that to them.”

Certain accusations she renounced fully, including claims she stole money or worked with unlicensed contractors, though she, nor her husband, were licensed to do contractor work.

“I want to adamantly say that we did work with licensed, a licensed general contractor,” Candis stated. “There were contracts, they were very simple consultant contracts. Some of them didn’t return the contracts very quickly or some of them did, but they all demanded that the work start quickly.”

She says the unhappy customers represent only a handful of their clients.

“Right now, we’re in so much shock that half of me says, you need to fight. You need to fight. You need to share all the texts, you need to bring all the eyewitnesses together, you need to rally everyone that was there who saw it, you need to rally all of the clients that are happy,” Meredith said. “The other half of me says, this has been so harmful to us personally, we know how horrible this feels. Making something bigger for the sake of us feeling better, I don’t know if that would make me feel better.”

One former client who spoke up on Candis’s behalf was Jeana Quigley. She had a reading cottage built for an episode of “Home Work.”

Quigley stated in her Instagram story, “I feel like I need to speak up, reading all the attacks on them. Andy and Candis did beautiful work on my space, and while it took longer than I hoped, I ultimately feel that Candis truly wanted me to love the space.”

Meredith said she and her husband have no plans to do work for clients again, but this show brought valuable experience.

“Learned a lot,” she said, “I will say we were naïve about the inner workings of it all, but we’ve spoken with the state and what we can do, what we could have and couldn’t have done, and we have very much learned that was walking a line.”

When asked if she was hopeful that “Home Work” would get back on the air, Meredith said, “If I’m being honest, I don’t feel hopeful about anything in any realm of life, other than my beautiful family and my sweet husband and the people who have reached out to us who know us and care about us and know the full truth.”

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

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Multiple families accuse TV show ‘Home Work’ of shoddy work, blown budgets