The Biggest Complaints HGTV Contestants Have About Their Finished Homes

For as long as anyone can remember, HGTV has always been about exploring the concept of achieving the perfect home. Perhaps, more importantly, it made viewers realize that getting their dream home is possible. It may just involve some redesigning or full-scale renovation. Luckily too, a homeowner never has to do it alone anymore, especially when HGTV and its many hit shows are around to provide some guidance. Whether it's "Property Brothers," "Love It or List It," "Rock the Block," "Windy City Rehab," or other shows, the transformations are always incredible and inspiring, so much so that some viewers want HGTV to come to their homes too. 

Time and time again, some lucky homeowners respond to an HGTV casting call and get to work with their favorite HGTV stars. In all episodes, HGTV stars always pull all the stops to give contestants their dream home. And in the end, that big reveal scene says it all. Homeowners are blown away and the stars are happy to have made their dream a reality. 

As it turns out, however, it's not always like that behind the scenes. While some HGTV contestants get the home they've always wanted in the end, others don't get lucky. Instead, taking part in an HGTV show turned out to be the start of a nightmare that nobody ever saw coming. In some cases, the situation also leads to a legal showdown as contestants decide to take HGTV production companies and even some of its stars to court

Ron Onyon spent more to fix home problems after he appeared on Renovation Impossible

When Ron Onyon got "Renovation Impossible" to work on his home, he and his wife thought their struggles would be over. At that time, they had been trying to renovate a lakeside home they bought in Arlington, Texas, on their own but it was going nowhere. To make things worse, they only had $75,000 left for all the work after a bad experience with a previous contractor. That's when they thought they could use some help from Russell Holmes, the Dallas contractor that headlines "Renovation Impossible" where he promises to pull off renovation projects while stretching every dollar as much as he could.

From the beginning, however, something already seemed off. When Onyons' episode entitled "Lackluster Lakehouse" began," Holmes claimed that he had known them for a long time when the truth was they've only just met. And while the show promises to finish renovation work in just 10 days, Onyon and his family told Heavy that the work went on for months. Once it was finally complete, the home looked good initially, but that first impression didn't last long.

A further inspection of the house revealed more sloppy work and safety hazards. There was warped wood, an unsecured glass sliding door, and shower jets shooting water right at the electric fireplace. In the end, Onyon also revealed on TikTok that they lost over $150,000 after going on the show. Since then, lawyers have been involved.

Mindy and Paul King said Property Brothers turned their home into a safety hazard

Back in 2018, Mindy and Paul King were newlyweds who badly wanted their dream home, so much so that they gave up going away on a honeymoon just so they would have money to transform their house. They were also thrilled when they learned that they were chosen to appear in an episode of "Property Brothers" after taking part in a casting call. 

Suddenly, it seemed like things were coming together with the Kings telling KTNV Las Vegas' "13 Investigates" that they gave over $193,000 to Cineflix, the production company behind the show, for their renovation project. "Everything will be, you know, perfect HGTV quality," Mindy also added. But when the show was done with their home, the couple discovered a lot of things wrong.

After inspecting the house, the Kings found a hallway door that wouldn't open easily and grout on their stove burner. More seriously, they also discovered faulty electrical work and an improperly installed dishwasher that allowed contaminated water to back up into the appliance. In the end, they listed 90 items in their complaint to the Nevada State Contractors Board, but the board only acknowledged 10 problems with the repair cost estimated to be just over $90,000. However, the board later closed the couple's complaint, claiming they denied the show's contractors access to their home for the fixes.

After appearing on Love It or List It, Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan's home was left with issues

When North Carolina homeowners Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan learned they were going to be featured on "Love It or List It," they decided to go all in, coming up with over $140,000 to pay Big Coat TV, the production company behind the show. 

"We took out a substantial loan for this and you know, we put in some of our own money," Sullivan told CBS News. Around this time, the couple was feeling optimistic. "Love It or List It" has long been a hit, so how could anything go wrong? After the show was done with their home, Murphy and Sullivan found chipped concrete, damaged floorboards, poor carpeting, and several other issues. They also alleged that cheap, inferior materials were used in renovating their home. To make matters worse, some of the windows in their home had also been painted shut.

The couple eventually decided to sue Big Coat TV, accusing the company of also misusing funds after it was revealed that Aaron Fitz Construction, the contractor for the renovation, only received $85,000 of what Sullivan and Murphy paid. They also accused the production company of hiring subcontractors and acting as "an unlicensed general contractor," according to the suit. Later on, the couple agreed to settle the lawsuit out of court and the terms of the settlement were never disclosed. The parties also filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

Cenate and Wendy Pruitt are stuck with costly upgrades after appearing on Curb Appeal: The Block

If Cenate Pruitt was being honest, he didn't find HGTV's "Curb Appeal" appealing from the start, it's not his kind of show. But then, he learned that HGTV was looking for homeowners in need of a renovation and it would be for the spinoff "Curb Appeal: The Block." "It's a pleasant enough show," Cenate told The A.V. Club. "The people are sad about their house, the designers come in and do this pretty thing, people are happy about their house, roll credits." Convinced, he and his wife, Wendy Pruitt, responded to HGTV's casting call.

The moment the Pruitts got on the show, a camera crew flew in, along with a team who only made it look like they were working on the house while the cameras were rolling. In reality, the renovation job was handled by local contractors. And while it's unclear how long it took them to finish work on the Pruitts' home, the end result of the renovation has been a little too costly to maintain.

As Cenate revealed in The A.V. Club interview, the subcontractors planted golf course sod on their lawn, which requires professional services to maintain. They were also left with mulch flower beds that would get washed down when it rained. That also required professional assistance, which cost them $1,200 to $1,500 a year. Meanwhile, they also built a retaining wall by the basement entry, which caused flooding. 

Ken and Kelly Downs' home has been the target of a lot of hate after their time on Fixer Upper

During their time on HGTV, Chip and Joanna Gaines' "Fixer Upper" was one of the channel's biggest hits. Ken and Kelly Downs were also convinced that the Gaineses could help them find their dream home. In the end, the couple decided to go with the affectionately named "Three Little Pigs" house. They loved its layout, and they were excited to see the interior that the Gaineses had envisioned for the place.

After they finally moved into their supposed dream home, however, the Downses quickly realized that the house was anything but idyllic. For starters, they became the target of intimidation and harassment since they started staying at the home after people in the area became fearful that their "Fixer Upper" house would drive tax rates up. There's also a lot going on around the house, which was something the Gaineses didn't mention.

"It's like the Wild West here. There's been a lot of commotion coming from the bars and the store across the street," Kelly told the Waco Tribune-Herald. She added, "We've lived here a year and a half and we feel deceived by the city of Waco and Magnolia Realty." In 2017, the Downses were also left horrified after a car crashed right into their home one Saturday morning. Since then, it appears that the family has moved out of the home and offered their "Fixer Upper" house on Airbnb instead.

Windy City Rehab left Anna and James Morrissey's home flooded

Technically, Anna and James Morrissey were never on the show. Sure, they were supposedly chatting with hosts Alison Victoria Gramenos and Donovan Eckhardt on HGTV's "Windy City Rehab." However, because the couple didn't want to appear on television, the show hired actors to portray them. And while the fictional Morrisseys looked delighted with everything on-screen, the real-life Morrisseys were left scratching their heads.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the lawsuit that the couple filed against the show revealed that the shower on the upper floor of their luxury home started to leak water into the kitchen ceiling just one day after they closed on the home. Since then, they have also discovered a leak in their roof. In addition, the couple also observed that both their front door and some of the windows were not installed properly. And while the Morrisseys initially demanded a reversal of the home sale, they eventually settled with the show.

Meanwhile, the show was also hit with more controversy soon after with the Chicago Department of Buildings issuing Gramenos and Eckhardt a stop-work order and informing them that they could no longer file applications for a new permit following several alleged violations. Eckhardt also had both his general contractor and real estate developer licenses suspended. In 2020, he exited the show, accusing the companies behind "Windy City Rehab" of portraying him in a bad light. Eckhardt sued for defamation, but his case was dismissed.

Dana and Tyler Craddock didn't love the changes Fixer to Fabulous made on their home

When Dana and Tyler Craddock got their house renovated on the show "Fixer to Fabulous" by hosts Dave and Jenny Marrs, they had no idea how bad the situation was until the work was all done. At first, it seemed like this house project was going in the right direction. In a blog about the episode that Jenny wrote, she even explained that the goal was to transform the home from dreary to bright and cheerful. 

From the moment she first drove up to the home, Jenny already had some issues with it. "I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place, as well as the foreboding and uninviting 'penitentiary' elements on the exterior," she explained. To get rid of that dark fortress vibe, she and Dave removed the iron gates outside and gave the home new wrought-iron balconies. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the Marrses decided to move the wall backward to make the space feel more open.

And while such changes may appear aesthetically pleasing, they have made the house unsafe. In a copy of the lawsuit filed by the Craddocks against the Marrses that was obtained by CBS, it was alleged that the removal of the original iron balconies in the exterior made the new balconies structurally unsound. Meanwhile, changes made in the kitchen resulted in faulty electrical work. The Craddocks asked for $75,000 in compensation.

Norman Waine and Jeanine Almeida accuse Love It or List It of renovating their home with an untrained contractor

When contestants Norman Waine and Jeanine Almeida agreed to appear on the popular HGTV show "Love It or List It," they also paid the show's production company over $175,000 for renovation work to begin in their home in Vancouver, British Columbia. Once the payment was made, however, the couple was left in the dark about what was going on.

In a copy of the civil claim that Almeida and Waine filed against the show's production company in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the couple alleged that the show limited their access to their own home while renovation work was underway. And when it was done, a number of serious problems from the project emerged. These include water leaks, mold growth, and even a high concentration of carbon dioxide inside the house.

In addition, the suit also accused the production company behind the show of hiring actor Kerry Van Der Griend (he is best known for his role as a Neanderthal man in the "Night at the Museum" franchise) to act as contractor Kenny Gemmill who was supposed to be working on their home. The couple also stated that the show's producers previously guaranteed that Gemmill (or another credible contractor) would still supervise the renovation even if he gets replaced on the show. In the end, the couple also opted to name Van Der Griend as a defendant in their lawsuit.

Robert and Peng Avery said Kitchen Cousins left their home unfinished after getting paid

By now, it's probably become clear that most homeowners have had to pay the show (more specifically, the production company behind it) before any renovation work on their home can be done. In some cases, however, it seems that homeowners get to make payment once the job is complete instead. And while that may offer more assurance to some, that certainly wasn't the case for Robert and Peng Avery. 

After they sent their money (reports indicate they paid over $200,000), they never heard from "Kitchen Cousins" hosts Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri ever again. To make matters worse, the HGTV stars and their company, Brunulleschi Construction, also left the Averys' home, which once belonged to Yankee player Don Mattingly, with some serious issues.

According to a copy of the court documents published online, the two hosts and their construction company lied about obtaining permission for the renovation work as well as having the project properly inspected. In reality, they failed to do these. In addition, there is also evidence to suggest that Colaneri and Carrino lied about the status of the renovation to the Averys. In the end, an arbitration ruling granted the Averys $857,894 to compensate them for the entire ordeal. Soon after, both Colaneri and Carrino filed for bankruptcy. In response, the Averys filed an adversary lawsuit to have the arbitration ruling award declared as non-dischargeable since it was the result of fraudulent activity.