Aubrey Bennion is a longtime fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple made famous thanks to their home renovation show ‘Fixer Upper’ on HGTV.
So when she got the chance to participate in a renovation show that was to air on their new Magnolia Network, she immediately recorded an audition tape, “with my phone on a pile of books on my kitchen table.” Her kitchen needed a renovation and she was acquainted with Candis and Andy Meredith, presenters of the show ‘Home Work’. The show was part of the lineup that Magnolia Network announced in August 2020. The 13-episode first season aired in October.
The show started filming at her home in October 2019. The show ended in March 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic turned everyone’s lives upside down. Now Bennion’s renovation dream feels more like a nightmare, one she’s struggled with for the past two years. She went from being Magnolia’s “most loyal supporter” to “a victim of their growth and greed,” she wrote on Instagram.
Bennion said she now has what she describes as “Pinterest-worthy” kitchen. But she doesn’t give the Merediths credit for it.
“It was badly done,” she said. “I had to fix things to even live.”
She ended up filming an unveiling with them before the show as they packed up, but she said she “faked” her positive response. After the couple finished renovating, Bennion said, she put a lot of her own money and time into making the kitchen she’d expected.
“I shared this [publicly] to hold them accountable for the things they have done to us in their wake,” she said in an interview, confirming the account she shared on Instagram. “And to stop them from doing this to other people.”
I was Magnolia’s most loyal supporter, but now I’m a victim of their growth and greed.”
Bennion is not alone. In the past week, two other homeowners have shared posts on Instagram about their experiences with the Merediths. Though their stories differ, all three families shared common complaints, claiming the Merediths broke promises about renovation timelines and budgets. Bennion said the families bonded in 2019 and even formed a support text group to air their various issues.
After making their stories public, a Magnolia Network spokesperson confirmed Friday that the network plans to remove the show from its lineup. There are no episodes visible on the streaming app.
As of Monday, the landing page and bios for the Merediths were also removed from the Magnolia Network website.
“Magnolia Network is aware that certain homeowners have raised concerns about Candis and Andy Meredith’s renovation projects,” Allison Page, the president of Magnolia Network, said in a statement, first reported by The Beehive. “Over the past few days, we have received additional information about the extent of these issues and have made the decision to remove Home Work from the Magnolia Network family pending a review of the claims made.”
Here’s What The Couples Say Happened To Them
Jeff and Teisha Hawley confirmed the account they shared in their story on Instagram last week.
The couple said they were planning to remodel several rooms in their home and were told it would be done at a low cost within a few weeks. However, they said it took months longer than promised, it was poorly executed, and it went tens of thousands of dollars over budget.
Teisha Hawley told TODAY.com that the family was “emotionally exhausted” as the “nightmare” remodeling continued while they lived in their home. The Merediths told TODAY.com that they regret letting customers live in their home while renovations were underway.
Vienna Goates, a mother of five, was the last to share her experience in a 19-part series of Instagram posts on Friday. She claimed that she and her husband paid the Merediths $50,000 as a down payment for a 2019 renovation that never started.
The Goates family said they planned to spend about $80,000 on their renovation and were willing to spend as much as $100,000. Robert Goates said the couple hoped to add two bathrooms to their one-bathroom home and “expand it for” [their] family.”
The Goates said they had transferred $50,000 to Candis as a down payment on February 4, 2020, but work still hadn’t started by the end of March 2020. They said it was difficult to reach Candis. Her occasional text messages, Robert said, “were not enough to allay the fear that we would be forgotten.” By May, the renovations still hadn’t started and Robert was fired from his job.
To this day, Goates confirmed to TODAY, that they have not recouped the money. TODAY reviewed a judgment, signed by Candis Meredith, confirming that the Merediths owed $39,537.94 to the Goates family as of September 30. Candis and Andy Meredith confirmed TODAY that they still owe the couple money.
The Merediths say there are ‘two sides to every story’
In a statement on Instagram, the Utah-based Merediths defended themselves against accusations made by those who came forward on Instagram.
“We’ve seen stories doing the rounds and while we can’t speak for ourselves, we can say that we’ve always tried to give everything we have to make everyone we work with happy,” the couple wrote in a post Friday. . .
“We will never take away their truth and how they feel. All we can say is that every story has two sides and although we have chosen not to reveal our truth because we know how hurtful this feels, we only understand that hearing one side can paint a negative picture.
“We ask that these threats and pile up without stopping the full story, it’s the same handful of stories spinning and spinning and looking like there are ‘so many’ injured people in our wake,” the statement adds. “So many believe that we are scammers, have intentionally hurt people and that we are not who we say we are. That’s just not true.”
The couple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an interview with TODAY.com last week, the Merediths said they [their] best to communicate” quickly throughout the process.
The first four clients the couple had worked with — which included Bennion, the Hawleys and the Goates family — were their first clients, leading to bumps in the road, Andrew Meredith said.
Six other clients whose homes were filmed for the show “went fantastic,” Andrew Meredith told TODAY.com.
Jeana, one of six clients Andrew Meredith referred to, shared the positive renovation experience in a post on her Instagram account, HotCocoaReads, on Friday.
“Andy and Candis did a wonderful job on my space and while it took longer than I hoped, in the end I feel like Candis really wanted me to love my space,” the post reads.
She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some who spoke out say more needs to be done
The Hawleys said they are “satisfied” with Magnolia’s recent statement that it is pulling the show.
“But they also need to realize that it was the Magnolia name (as well as Chip and Jos) that gave us all a sense of safety and security when we started Candis and Andy,” they said in a statement to NBC News.
The Gaineses have not publicly acknowledged the charges against “Home Work.”
Representatives of the Gaineses did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Hawleys said, “There are many families and even businesses that have been harmed by these people, it must be stopped.
“We have literally cried with these other families (now dear friends),” they said, referring to other families sharing their experiences publicly. “They were the only ones who understood what we were going through and we were all strengthened and supported by each other. As bad as our experience was, others were much worse. First and foremost, we wanted this cycle to end.”