A third homeowner has come forward with allegations against "Home Work" hosts Andy and Candis Meredith.
The hosts of the Magnolia Network renovation show have been accused of poor workmanship, extreme delays, ballooning budgets and questionable bookkeeping by at least two other homeowners whose homes were remodeled as part of the series on Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Network. The network pulled the show Thursday due to the allegations.
“Magnolia Network is aware that certain homeowners have expressed concerns about renovation projects undertaken by Candis and Andy Meredith,” the network said in a statement emailed to TODAY. “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.”
Vienna Goates, a mom of five, first wrote about her experience in a 19-part series of Instagram posts before speaking with TODAY on Saturday. She alleged that she and her husband paid the Merediths $50,000 as a down payment for a 2019 renovation that never began. To this day, they say they have not recouped the funds. The Merediths confirmed the Goates' story to TODAY in a phone call Friday.
“The Goates just released their story as well and that is true,” Candis told TODAY during a phone call Friday, in which she referenced Vienna’s Instagram posts.
Vienna and her husband, Robert Goates, said that their involvement with the Merediths began in 2019. While they had already started planning their home renovation and had plans drawn up by an architect, Vienna said that she saw a casting call for "Home Work" on Instagram and was thrilled to be selected as one of 10 homeowners whose remodels would be featured on the show.
‘She was like ... have your other contractor turn the project over to us because we can do it faster and you’re going to be on TV,” Vienna said. “They said they would be able to do more with our budget than what we would normally be able to do because it was supposed to look good for our budget, so we were like ‘Oh my gosh.’ It was kind of a whirlwind at that point.”
The Goates family said they planned to spend about $80,000 on their renovation, but were prepared to spend as much as $100,000. They told TODAY they had been saving for about two years to make the renovation possible, and were excited to hear Candis’ claims that she could do more with their budget. Robert said the couple hoped to add two bathrooms to their one-bathroom home and “build out for (their) family.”
The Merediths confirmed to TODAY that they had embarked on the project with the Goates family. Two other homeowners featured on the show spoke to TODAY saying the Merediths similarly promised low budgets and fast turnaround times. Vienna and Robert said they were wary.
"We had a lot of questions and we had talked to some other contractors and professionals, and we would ask these questions: 'Can you really do it in that timeline? Can you really do that budget?'" Vienna recalled.
"It sounded too good to be true," Robert added.
Vienna said that Candis told her in October 2019 that the renovation would be done by Christmas, but the holiday season came and went without any work beginning and without much communication from Candis. In mid-January, Vienna said that she met with Candis, and the host told her other projects weren't going well.
Two other homeowners spoke to TODAY about their alleged experiences on Friday: Aubry Bennion had a kitchen renovation go awry, while the Hawley family had aimed to remodel several rooms in their home. Both homeowners described a renovation that was promised to be done in a matter of weeks at low costs. Instead, both said it took months longer than promised, was poorly done and went tens of thousands of dollars over. Candis told TODAY that she used “tens of thousands” of dollars of her own money on Bennion’s renovation.
"You could tell (Candis) was upset, you could tell she was stressed out," Vienna said. "And we were like, 'OK, we're patient, we're not going anywhere, and we want to do this."
Vienna said that in that meeting, Candis told them they would need to increase the budget to $100,000, and they agreed to move forward with the project. On Feb. 4, 2020, they wired $50,000 to Candis as a down payment.
By the end of March 2020, work still had not begun and the couple says it was difficult to reach Candis. Her occasional texts, Robert said, were "not enough to calm fears that we were being forgotten."
In an interview with TODAY, Candis confirmed that she had been overwhelmed while working on these projects.
“I think we were truly overwhelmed and we did our best to communicate as quickly as we could,” she said. In addition to speaking with TODAY, the Merediths also issued a lengthy statement on Instagram.
Vienna said her family continued to be understanding of the delay on their project, especially because the stalled renovation was coinciding with the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We knew they weren't the only ones stopped," Vienna recalled. "It made sense, yeah, you're going to have delays because nobody knows what to do right now."
That spring, the main concern the family had was the interest accruing on the loan they had taken out to fund the project, but in early April, Candis sent a payment that covered some of that interest.
By May, work had still not begun and Robert was laid off from his job, leaving the family financially stressed.
"We were ready to be done," Vienna said. "She promised to get back to us with concrete start dates and things ... Then it was like August, and we still hadn't heard anything so September is when we tried to pull the plug."
In mid-September, Vienna said she texted Candis to let her know that their circumstances had changed and they could not go on with the project. She told TODAY that Candis seemed understanding at the time and said that she would get the couple's money back.
In November, the Goates hired an attorney, who sent the Merediths a letter requesting the repayment of their deposit. The Goates said that the Merediths told them they would be able to pay $21,000 upfront and then requested to be put on a payment plan for the remaining amount. Their attorney determined a “rigid” payment plan, but to this day, the Goates family has only received about $14,000 back of their initial $50,000 payment, Robert and Vienna said.
TODAY reviewed a judgement, signed by Candis Meredith, that confirmed that as of Sept. 30, 2021, the Merediths owed the Goates family $39,537.94.
Candis and Andy Meredith confirmed the couple's story to TODAY and confirmed they still owe the couple money.
"We have been actively trying to pay and we’ve paid everything that we can every time we can," Candis told TODAY. She also said that faulty contractor work was to blame for the delays and expanded budgets on other projects, though she declined to name the contractor or confirm any details about them to TODAY. Andrew told TODAY that he and Candis had only been consultants on the renovations, according to their contracts.
While the Merediths still owe the Goates family, Robert said that he and his wife are not seeking further legal action at this time because they believe the pursuit of a lawsuit will cost more than what they hope to recover.
Vienna said that she still feels “guilty” about deciding to work with the Merediths, and expressed regret about responding to the casting call instead of continuing with the plan they had in place.
“It was horrible,’” Vienna said. “There was a realization that she was really kind and she had professed so many times to care about us and our situation ... and to realize that wasn’t the case was devastating ... That realization that we were taken advantage of felt really violating.”
While the Goates join two other families in speaking out about poor experiences with the Merediths, one woman whose home was featured on "Home Work" shared her positive experience with the Merediths on Instagram.
"Many of you know that I had to wait longer than I would have liked for my reading cottage to get finished, but ultimately I love what they did and would have done it all over again," wrote @hotcocoareads, identified on Instagram as Jeana. "I don’t think their intentions were to hurt or steal from anyone, but they simply couldn’t take on all the projects they were trying to."
On Instagram, the Merediths criticized the “single sided narrative” unfolding on social media.
“We can only say that there are two sides to every story and while we chose not to go public with our truth, because know how hurtful this feels, we understand that only hearing one side can paint a negative picture,” wrote the couple.
Candis acknowledged to TODAY that she and her husband "made a lot of mistakes" and wanted to make things right.
“We don’t want to do this ever again,” Candis added. “We never intended to hurt anybody ... It’s just impossible to share a full truth without hurting people.”
While the Goates family is not filing a lawsuit, they did hire a collections attorney in August 2021 and Vienna said they received a payment from the Merediths in December. However, Vienna said that the Merediths have not followed the payment plan they initially agreed to.
"We got a small payment last month, $3,000, but with the time, the interest has continued to accrue and now we have legal fees as well," Vienna said. Robert said that so far, they have paid "around nine or 10 thousand dollars" in interest, only some of which has been covered by the payments from Candis.
“Clearly there was a huge mismanagement of the situation, and why are we the victims of that?” Vienna told TODAY. “Why are we the victims when they mismanaged our money?”
Update 1/12/22: The Merediths posted a series of videos and statements on Instagram on Jan. 12, 2022. TODAY covered their posts here.
Update 1/13/2022: Magnolia Network announced that it would return to airing “Home Work.” TODAY wrote about the announcement here.