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Former Homeowners On HGTV's "Love It Or List It" Sue Over A Bad Home Renovation

The North Carolina couple allegedly invested $140,000 for a home renovation that destroyed the floors and left some windows painted shut.

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The production company behind HGTV's show "Love It or List It" are facing a lawsuit by a North Carolina couple who have accused the show of charging them for a shoddy renovation.

Timothy Sullivan and Deena Murphy appeared on a November 2015 episode of the renovation show, which gives homeowners the choice to keep their refurbished home or sell it and move into a new house.

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The show depicts a dramatic narrative where homeowners must decide between renovating their home with a designer or moving into a nearly perfect new house found by a realtor.

Murphy and Sullivan were looking to renovate a house they had previously kept as a rental property, according to a lawsuit filed with the Durham County Superior Court. They wanted it to become a more functional home for their growing foster children.

The couple believed that by being on the show, they would have access to high quality design and construction that would increase the value of the home.

When they were selected to be guests on the show, they invested $140,000 with Big Coat TV to renovate their home, according to the lawsuit.

The money was intended to be paid to a subcontractor, Aaron Fitzgerald Construction Inc., to actually carry out the construction. But Aaron Fitzgerald only received about $85,000 while the couple accused the show's production company of pocketing the difference.

During the course of shooting for the show, the couple was told the renovations to the home had increased the cost of the home by $185,000. But "this statement was mere puffery," according to the complaint.

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Instead, that figure was "created by the Series producers and should not be relied upon by anyone."

The couple also alleges that the "construction work was done poorly and cheaply" using "low quality" materials with little consideration for high-quality design.

They found "erratic dark stain" had damaged the floor's natural finish and had ruined sections of the floor.

Unrepaired holes in the duct work during the construction allowed vermin to enter the house and "low-grade industrial" carpet was laid over uneven chipped concrete floors.

"Some surfaces were left unpainted," they said. "While in other cases, windows were painted shut."

The complaint also alleges that the show's hosts, Hillary Farr and David Visentin, are actors hired to play a designer and realtor competing with each other to sway the homeowners from either keeping the renovated home or listing it for sale.

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Visentin does not hold a realtor's license and was unable to actually carry out any of the home sales presented on the show, the couple allege in the complaint.

But even off camera, the couple questioned the qualifications of other people ushering along the renovations to their home. A person referred to as an architect, who corresponded with the couple about the renovation designs, was not even a licensed architect, according to the lawsuit.

"Its incentive is to make decisions that favor the television show but not the homeowners," the complaint states. "That almost necessarily leads to disasters such as the construction project here."

Big Coat TV said in a statement on the show's Facebook page Tuesday that "this claim is in no way supported by any of the facts of the case, and we will be defending ourselves vigorously in this matter."

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HGTV and Aaron Fitzgerald Construction, Inc. did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

The lawsuit does not specify an exact amount the couple is seeking to repair the damages. But their confidentiality agreement with Big Coat includes a possible $750,000 in liquidated damages.

At the end of the show, the homeowners choose to "list it." But the house remains on the market as the couple deals with the alleged damages.

Leticia Miranda is a retail reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Leticia Miranda at leticia.miranda@buzzfeed.com.

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