"Home Work" hosts Candis and Andy Meredith released a series of responses Wednesday after several Utah homeowners shared stories of "nightmare" renovations by the couple for their show. The show was on Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Network until it was pulled last week.
On Thursday, Jan. 6, homeowners Aubry Bennion and Teisha and Jeff Hawley wrote lengthy Instagram posts about their experiences working with the Merediths, alleging renovation issues like ballooning budgets, workmanship that needed to be repaired by outside contractors and other difficulties. Vienna and Robert Goates, another couple who was set to have their home renovated by the Merediths, told TODAY that they lost tens of thousands of dollars to the hosts, who are in the process of paying them back.
In an interview with TODAY last week, the Merediths said they outsourced the bulk of the renovation work to a general contractor and were only consulting on the projects. At the time, they said they would not be making further statements, but said that they did have records to disprove the claims made by Bennion and the Hawleys. (The Merediths confirmed that they do in fact owe money to the Goates family.)
However, on Wednesday afternoon, the couple shared a series of posts on Instagram where they responded to the allegations from the Goates, the Hawleys and Bennion.
"We are responding in the only way we know how to protect our family and we haven’t had a lot of time to prepare … but we hope that this can add context to the public opinion that is being made," Candis told TODAY in a text message before sharing her Instagram posts.
"We do not believe in bullying online, we feel like this attack was particularly calculated for the day before the network launch and we are hopeful that this can allow the narrative to continue on a more equal playing field without malicious intent."
The Merediths began their Instagram series Wednesday by emphasizing that they believed the claims from the affected families were "calculated" to "hurt (them) the most" because the publication of the claims aligned with the launch of Magnolia Network, where "Home Work" would have aired. Shortly after the claims were shared on social media, "Home Work" was pulled from the network.
"If you have invested in every detail of the other stories of those involved, we hope you will watch this in its entirely," wrote the Merediths in one of eight posts, along with a 25-minute video.
The couple repeated claims that they had already told TODAY, such as that they serve as a go-between for licensed general contractors and are "held as the only responsible party" when things go awry. The couple continues to "adamantly deny" allegations of scamming, theft or lies.
“(Aubry Bennion) has made false claims and is purposely trying to take anything she can from us. This is apparent in the way she has launched this attack two years later instead of mediation/suit,” the Merediths wrote in one Instagram post. “(Jeff and Teisha Hawley) have also not contacted us in over a year and a half and have decided to go public along with Aubry.”
While several families have spoken out about their negative experiences, one woman whose home was featured on “Home Work” shared her positive renovation with the Merediths on Instagram last week.
“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.”
Response to Aubry Bennion
Homeowner Aubry Bennion, a project manager in Bountiful, Utah, told TODAY on Jan. 6 that in 2019, she and the Merediths agreed to an initial budget of $25,000 to renovate her kitchen and a completion time of three weeks. She said she became concerned when she could not get detailed expense estimates from the Merediths. Work on the project was also slow, she said, with contractors frequently missing appointments, and she alleged that she was often not able to contact Candis. Bennion also said she noticed escalating issues in her home, especially as new entrances were suggested, a deck was installed and her backyard was leveled.
Bennion told TODAY that late in the process, she was told that her renovation now cost $40,000. Bennion told TODAY that she said she made it clear to Candis that she couldn’t pay for any more work.
“I said, ‘Tear it out. Tear it out and take it back,’” Bennion recalled. “This is not the appropriate time to tell me that’s what you’ve already (spent.) You’ve had times to tell me, I’ve been begging you to talk to me and you haven’t.”
Bennion said that the renovation continued, and Candis confirmed in one of their Instagram posts Wednesday that the couple put $32,000 of their own money into Bennion’s kitchen renovation. Candis told TODAY that she "wanted to do a good job for" Bennion.
“We have paid our own personal funds on every client project for our show and did not charge anything for the hundreds of hours we put into the projects,” the Merediths wrote in one post.
“We figured because (Bennion) knew that we paid $32,000 for her to have a finished kitchen, any differences we may have had during the process were chalked up to very expensive lessons learned by us,” the Merediths said in another.
The Merediths wrote that they had been in contact with Bennion until after the reveal had been filmed, noting that they spoke with her on March 12, 2019, to discuss anything she still wanted done in the space.
The Merediths also shared a video of Bennion seeing her kitchen revealed on Feb. 20, 2019. The Merediths said that they believed Bennion was satisfied with the work, due to her reaction. Bennion wrote on Instagram that during the reveal, she "feigned excitement while I dreamed the moment they’d leave my house and never come back."
"We know there were misunderstandings and hard discussions along the way but we were absolutely given the impression that, final payment of any kind from Aubry withstanding, we had resolved those issues," the Merediths wrote. "We did ask to sit down and go through all final spend, fully planning on not recovering the full $32,000 we had spent, but at least making a compromise together to cover any of those miscommunications. When we asked on this day, she told us her dad would reach out. We never heard from him whatsoever."
The Merediths did not respond to Bennion's claims about the workmanship on the renovation, such as her allegations about the backyard being leveled incorrectly and her floors being improperly sealed after installation. Bennion told TODAY that she had to pay about $18,000 to have the backyard repaired after the show.
Bennion did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TODAY Wednesday.
Response to Teisha and Jeff Hawley
When the Hawleys began working with the Merediths in 2019, they set a budget of $45,000, which included some things they would purchase themselves. The Merediths wrote that the “scope changed mutually,” though on Jan. 6, Teisha told TODAY that Candis had suggested a more expanded renovation and reassured them that it would remain within budget.
“It sounded so wonderful. But I also was like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t think we can afford it.’ I was like ‘Can you really do that?’ on tape,” Teisha said. “And (Candis) was like, ‘I know all the secrets ... I’ve never gone over-budget on anything.’”
Throughout the process, the Hawleys said they were unable to get a fixed budget or breakdown of costs, despite multiple requests.
On Instagram Wednesday, the Merediths wrote that they “could have done a better job explaining that finishes would be of a different caliber if the space tripled in size.” The couple wrote that issues with the Hawleys began during the demolition phase, when they expressed concern with the renovation so far.
Like Bennion, the Hawleys say they were promised a finished project in a matter of weeks, and the family decided to stay in their home with their three children during the renovation process. Teisha told TODAY that living there during a demolition process that stretched on for weeks longer than intended had a negative impact on herself and her children.
The Hawleys and the Merediths both confirmed that the two parties had a meeting in Jan. 2020, where the Hawleys allege they were told that they needed to double their budget to complete the renovation. The Merediths wrote that at that meeting, the Hawleys were presented with a budget spreadsheet that showed different price points for the renovation. Candis told TODAY that she spent "$10,000" on the Hawley renovation.
“It had a column that was within budget (we would cover $5,000), one with more of the items they mentioned for $57,000 they wanted and a third column with “hopes and dreams” for $79,000 After that difficult conversation, Teisha herself adjusted the budget to reflect $64,698,” wrote the Merediths.
The Hawleys told TODAY that they “considered” raising their budget by $20,000, which would have led to the number that the Merediths shared in their Instagram post, but decided it was too risky. Instead, they quit the show and had the work finished by a family friend.
“In my head, it was like, ‘We’re already stretched. If we stretch that far, we’re going to be stretched beyond what I felt we could repair,’” Jeff recalled. “For us to stretch that much further, we would have just been beyond a point where we could actually return and fix this and not be just hostages in our house.”
The Merediths confirmed in a post that Jeff "took the project over," although they said it happened after the designers declined to sign an agreement that required countertops to be installed by Friday, something that the Merediths said was out of their control since the installer had "repeatedly cancelled" appointments. The Merediths did not respond to the Hawley claims of shoddy worksmanship, including poorly placed floors.
The Hawleys told TODAY that a family friend completed their renovation for $25,000, noting that the cost was “deeply discounted.”
TODAY reached out to the couple to respond to the Instagram posts make by the Merediths Wednesday but they were not immediately available for comment.
Response to Vienna and Robert Goates
Vienna and Robert Goates told TODAY that they sent the Merediths a $50,000 down payment for their $100,000 renovation, but the project never began.
"We want everyone reading this to know that the Goates family do not deserve anything that has happened to them. We were all very excited to create a beautiful addition together," the Merediths wrote.
On Instagram, the Merediths confirmed that they do owe money to the Goates family, and last week told TODAY that the Goates claims were "true." TODAY reviewed a judgement, signed by Candis, that confirmed that as of Sept. 30, 2021, the Merediths owed the Goates family $39,537.94.
On Instagram, the Merediths said that the money was given to a general contractor, who was first unable to complete work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the delays stretched on, the Goates family asked for their money back, and the Merediths said that the contractor told them he "could not return the funds." Candis also said in a Instagram video Wednesday that she would not identify the contractor.
"We were absolutely panicked and after trying and trying to get that deposit back, it was very apparent that there was no way whatsoever to recover that," the Merediths wrote.
"We personally took on the debt and also agreed to pay all interest accrued and lawyer fees with a confession of judgement so the Goates would not be out any of their own money ... We wholly agree it has taken too long to get their principal and fees back to them, but we have paid about $14,000 to date and will continue to pay until it is paid in full. We care deeply about the Goates and we are taking this responsibility seriously."
Candis said in a video that the allegations were making it more difficult to make payments to the Goates family.
"All of my income has been cut off. I hope we can pay them soon," she said. "It has taken too long and I admit that."
Emotional response to allegations
In a final, emotional message, Candis said that her family has been impacted by the allegations. She and Andy share seven children, who she said are "being bullied at school" and that they pulled their daughter out of public school because they didn't feel she was safe.
"We are not OK," Candis said.
"We have received death threats, our home is under police surveillance for our safety, and these comments and judgments of us, stating that we are liars, thieves and con artists are so extremely hurtful and based on one narrative amplified by others who were not part of any of these situations," the Merediths wrote.
"We have effectively lost it all," Candis said in an Instagram video. "And I don’t know what the future is."
Update 1/13/2022: Magnolia Network announced that it would return to airing "Home Work." TODAY wrote about the announcement here.