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Homeowners file suit against HGTV show

It is a dilemma homeowners face when their house stops working for them: do you love it or list it? HGTV has made a hit out of this concept with a designer and realtor coming to the rescue, but a Raleigh couple is not feeling the love after appearing on the show.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- It is a dilemma homeowners face when their house stops working for them: do you love it or list it? HGTV has made a hit out of this concept with a designer and realtor coming to the rescue, but a Raleigh couple is not feeling the love after appearing on the show.

Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan called on the help of designer Hillary Farr and Realtor David Visentin to find or help them build their dream home. However, the couple says the reality of reality TV was not what they expected.

The couple have filed a lawsuit against the makers of the show, Big Coat TV, and a Raleigh-based contractor, Aaron Fitz, claiming to have a long list of problems with the work, including damage to their hardwood floors, low grade materials and windows painted shut.

Colin Stockton, an attorney with Millazzo, Schaffer and Webb specializes in building law. He weighede in on this case.

“The complaint is alleging the TV show didn’t want to or care about creating a good work product, but wanted to create a good TV show and that damaged the work product for the homeowner,” Stockton said. “When a TV show is in essence organizing the construction, the TV show has its own agenda."

Murphy and Sullivan claim the hosts and crew of the show were not licensed in North Carolina, so Aaron Fitz of Raleigh was brought in as a general contractor. The couple says they provided a check of more than $151,000 to Big Coat to cover renovations. However, they say Fitz received just under $86,000, while Big Coat pocketed more than $65,000 for their own use.

“Had the homeowners had spent more time on the front end thinking about whether they really wanted a production company controlling the decisions that the builder was making,” said Stockton.

Perhaps a reality check for this couple who says being on “Love It or List It,” is nothing like watching it on TV.

“I don’t think one lawsuit is enough to significantly interrupt this industry,” said Stockton.

Producers of the show posted a statement on their Facebook page:

“In regards to the recent legal issue, Love It Or List It has been in production for over seven years, successfully completing more than 250 shows that feature renovations. We believe 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.”

We reached out to Aaron Fitz, the contractor named in the suit, but our calls were not returned.

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