Magnolia Network Plans to Remove 'Home Work' From Its Lineup

Magnolia Network Plans to Remove 'Home Work' From Its Lineup

The following account comes from Bountiful resident Aubry Bennion, who worked with local Magnolia Network hosts Candis and Andy Meredith to renovate her home for their show Home Work. Other homeowners and collaborators have shared similar horror stories, suggesting a pattern of incompetence and misrepresentation, and a failure on the part of Magnolia Network to thoroughly vet their collaborators.

In response to a request for comment, Magnolia Network President Allison Page wrote, "Magnolia Network is aware that certain homeowners have expressed concerns about renovation projects undertaken by Candis and Andy Meredith. 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."

Aubry’s account is reported to be one of many. It is as follows:

In August 2019, I started conversations with Candis and Andy Meredith about turning my kitchen over to them to be renovated for a television show they were hosting for the new Magnolia Network. The network was just a buzz of an idea then. It was only a few months prior that Chip and Jo spilled their guts on Jimmy Fallon about a network and the world didn’t know any details beyond that.

My kitchen was the last room in the house that held any evidence of its life as a rental property for the 15+ years before I moved in—I was also finishing a bathroom renovation I managed on my own. I learned a lot of first-time lessons managing the construction, had a fresh case of decision fatigue, and was thrilled at the thought of turning my next project over to professionals who would shoulder the burden of logistics, finances, and design.

I filmed an audition tape—propping my phone on a pile of books on my kitchen table—to send to Andy before they flew out to Waco for some pre-production meetings.

I was invited to meet with the producers the next day. The original call for projects asked for all rooms, all sizes, and all budgets. We talked about the possibilities of doing the lightweight job—painting over cabinets, removing uppers, etc.—or the full gut job. I was open to either possibility.

The budget was my only hesitation with the full gut job. I told them I figured a full gut would cost $40,000 to $50,000. Candis replied, “$40 or 50? We can do it for $20!”

Maybe naively I assumed there would be some kind of promotional consideration involved in a television kitchen if they could do it for half the price. Free labor? Trade discounts on materials? Hearth and Hand products for life? It was too early in the process to ask those questions as I wasn’t a guaranteed episode yet. There were a couple of text messages back and forth in the coming months, checking in on how plans were firming up and if I should march down the path of securing a home equity line of credit for a home reno project or not. On October 4th, a producer asked if a camera crew could come the next day to film the introductory walkthrough and interview. I was hosting out-of-town guests, so we postponed until Monday. That gave me time to clean up a few piles, choose my TV outfit, and scramble to the bank to learn how quickly (or not) I could get my hands on $20,000.

On filming day, the camera crew mic’d me up before Candis walked in the door so we could film the “Welcome to my home!” as authentically as possible. Nothing was rehearsed. It was reality television in its truest form. Maybe it came so easy and natural because we already knew each other. We were social friends—running into each other and making “we should collab!” promises at events and parties over the past five years. We had each other’s phone numbers saved in our phones but didn’t use them beyond sharing details about the perfect shade of red lips.

We walked through the house together, sharing pain points and possibilities. The only time we cut the camera was when Candis gave me a heads up that she was going to ask the budget question. We hadn’t talked about the budget since that morning in her office in August. I was freshly panicked over how the timeline would shake out.

A HELOC is similar to a refinance and would take four weeks or so to get cash in hand. Fortunately, my parents were in a position to help out in a pinch, and recognizing this was both an incredible opportunity and would improve the value of my home, they loaned me the money with the understanding that I would pay them back after the project was done and I could refinance my home.

When the cameras rolled again, instead of $20,000 like Candis said we could complete it for, I offered up a $25,000 budget because no one wants to be the dumb homeowner with an unrealistic budget.

As soon as we were done filming, we talked logistics. Three weeks of construction would start the following Monday. It was going to be fast and furious because they had 13 episodes to film before Thanksgiving, and if they got to the finish line they’d reward themselves with a trip to Paris over the holiday. Each episode would be split between their own home (Home) and client projects (Work)–Home Work!

I had a week to box up and clear out my entire kitchen and utility room and prepare to live without a kitchen and laundry room for three weeks. She’d send over the release forms, wire transfer info, and a contract ASAP so crews could demo and construction could crank. Candis’s final words to me were, “There will be times you’ll be really mad at me and don’t ask my guys for their papers.”

Once the demo started, no space was off-limits from the chaos. There were so many projects to be done in such a short time frame. When things didn’t follow what would seem like home renovation protocol, I was told to roll with it and trust in the process. While some things were conveniently delayed, like the wire transfer information that didn’t come immediately, some of it was unsettling—like the lack of a contract and inconsistent schedule from the crews.

Andy told me the guys worked by the project, not the hour, and since they were working on so many projects at once, their schedules wouldn’t follow a pattern I should expect to rely on. My commercial contractor dad suggested I take detailed notes of their schedules and activities, timestamps of materials that arrived, and the quantities, in case something unfortunate happened and a supplier threatened with a lien on my home. Since most of the construction happened while I was at work, I’d take a walk through the kitchen every night and take inventory of what changed from the day before, snapping photos along the way.

Immediately, the communication was disastrous. Distrust between Candis and the production team was clear. I heard different stories from every party in every call and text. Candis was overwhelmed by her workload and Andy was nowhere to be seen. Candis asked me not to communicate with the producer, claiming I was undermining her competence and role when I asked for clarification.

I didn’t know it at the time, but there were four homeowner projects happening at once, in addition to their own home. I begged for a scope, schedule, and budget – foundational details project managers provide to their clients. I saw none, from start to finish. Any anomaly to my experience in construction—as a daughter of a contractor and as a project manager in the construction industry for over 15 years—was chalked up to "that's how it works for TV.” Any time a suggestion was made on or off camera about a feature, I would ask if it was in the budget. Candis assured me every time it would be okay.

I walked out of my bedroom one morning, fresh from the shower, to find Candis, a cameraman, and a contractor filming and working in “my” space behind the barrier that separated the work zone from the rest of the house. They pulled me on camera to decide what size of deck they should build off the back of the house. I wasn’t aware a deck was in the scope of the kitchen remodel. Candis’s design eliminated the back door and severed access to the backyard and basement of my home. She suggested I didn’t need a second egress, but I insisted it was required by code—and functionality, as the one living in the home. Her solution was to knock out a window, turn it into a door and build a deck.

My first question was if building a deck was within budget. Candis told me she was sure she could fit it since I added that extra $5,000 into my budget in the intro interview. I would later learn during an appraisal that the unpermitted change to the access would result in functional obsolescence, lowering the value of my home. Without ever laying eyes on a spreadsheet or receipts and her delay requesting the wire transfer, I had to assume she was in control of the budget.

Candis made it clear that she staffed her crews with willing, yet vulnerable people. She chose unlicensed and uninsured workers to complete tasks like electrical, gas line work, and digging footings for a deck that leveled the drainage across my property. I waved the red flag to Candis about a potential drainage problem (truly, only 15 years with drainage engineers could train a girl to know how vital, no matter how boring, proper drainage is) and she told me she’d take care of it.

It was November then and I wouldn’t know they didn’t fix it until they were long gone from the project and the first spring storm came. I panic sand-bagged eight inches of water away from the basement door to save myself from a flood. I also didn’t know that they built the deck on top of sod and sprinklers with zero plans to reroute them before I could turn my sprinklers on for the season. Nor did I know the pine lumber used to build the deck would remain partially unstained through the winter, compromising its longevity by the minute. Or that they constructed the stairs on top of the grass and would rot in the mud without proper protection.

In the end, the friends and family discount I got from a neighbor landscaper cost me $18,000 to make right what they did wrong, all in pursuit of this thing that solved Candis’s design dilemma in my kitchen. She created fundamentally dangerous problems that compromised my safety and were completed only as far as they were visible on television. The fact the workers did not have the right license/insurance was a risk for me, but it was a much greater risk for them. What if they’d gotten hurt on the job? Who was looking out for them?

I toggled between nervous stress about the quality of work being performed and desperate pleas to see ANY progress in my home. After the initial demo and a start on the deck, crews were MIA for weeks. It was clear that construction would take more than three weeks. I still would have been amazed by a finished project in twice as long. We met in person the day before my birthday, on November 15th, when I told Candis that my only birthday wish was to have a peek into her brain to know what the scope, schedule, and budget looked like. She showed me a vision board of potential ideas and a screenshot of IKEA’s cabinet planning tool. It WAS thrilling. Seeing the design elements and the promise of a kitchen by Christmas was enough to keep the worries at bay and the momentum chugging, despite what was actually happening—or not—in my home.

At 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, I got a request to transfer funds to their account from Paris. They cashed in on the trip they were rewarding themselves with for finishing all of their projects. Since banks weren’t open, I couldn’t transfer funds. Monday morning came with more reminders about how immediately they needed the money since they had been using their own money on my home. Within a day, I had wired $13,000—half of the total budget—at their request. Following their trip to Paris, they cruised through Mexico. The reports we got back home from a staff member who went along was that they had a great, expensive time. My frustration grew as it had been six weeks in duration, but only seven or eight working days were spent at my house.

By December, drywall had been hung, but not mudded or taped. The subfloor was made up of a hundred scraps of wood like a patchwork quilt. Construction went completely quiet. No crews in sight. Ten days would go by between responses from Candis. It was clear the entire project (operation!?) was in trouble. As homeowners, we connected the dots of things we overheard—things like crews walking off the job, canceled contracts, and workers left unpaid for Christmas. A collective sense of panic was building.

I asked Candis for a meeting before Christmas so we could reevaluate where we stood, what the budget and schedule looked like, and what decisions they would need me to weigh in on. I knew that if I didn’t do my part to usher in progress, weeks would go by without any movement and we’d be well into January before I saw anyone in my home again.

She was open to a meeting, I proposed a few times, and then she went silent. It wasn’t until after Christmas and a lot of begging that I was able to meet her in person. She told me the same thing she had been telling me for weeks—she was waiting on receipts from her guys before she knew where we were with the budget. She did tell me that there were four solid weeks of construction ahead. I communicated my timeline restraints—hosting house guests in February 2020, plans that I didn’t see as her concern in October 2019 when this three-week project started.

Still waiting for receipts in January, without progress on my home, I reached out to a friend who worked for Magnolia to express concern for the disconnect between what was happening on the ground and what the network may or may not be aware of. I also took a deep dive into How TV Works.

TV 101 says that a network (Magnolia) buys finished products (television shows) from production companies (Candis and Andy and their partners Dan and Ann). The network green lights the concept but doesn’t meddle with the details of the episodes.

But, having been invited into the Magnolia family with several invitations to their vendor fairs and celebrations since 2016, and with my business Hello Maypole being included in the Market’s birthday parties, having met Chip, Jo, their parents, staff, management, and friends, I KNEW Magnolia was built on higher values than what was happening on the ground in SLC. I KNEW that if they were aware of how dire things were for us homeowners, they’d intervene.

Candis and Andy used Magnolia’s name and reputation to entice homeowners to join their show. Magnolia had skin in the game, even though TV rules say networks are hands-off. I communicated all of this to my friend who worked at the company.

Within a day of the bug I put in my Magnolia friend’s ear, I got word from Candis that Magnolia got in touch with them and gave them a very stern talking to. It was an awkward conversation, of course, but worth it to know there was a watchful eye. I’m not sure who said what to who, but I was hopeful that it would result in progress in my home and the completion of their show.

The progress and my hope were short-lived. The patchwork subfloor was replaced with twelve scraps of wood instead of the 100 that were there before. More walls were mudded but flooring still hadn’t been ordered and my kitchen was still a blank box. The floor was to be The Feature of the kitchen. We had been talking about floor samples since December 17th and it took a month to see samples in real life. They arrived the day I went to the urgent care for what no one knew at the time was Covid, so the most important color decision of my entire remodel would be done entirely through screenshots. When I circled my favorite four, Candis ordered her favorite eight colors to go down on my floor.

Tiles were to be done on January 23rd, and then the 27th, and then she canceled the whole thing, citing lack of communication, found a new company who would install it on the 28th, and then the 28th became the 31st and then the 1st of February and I had absolutely zero faith that any of it was real. I was certain I was being fed a line—the same line I had been fed for the three and a half months before with missing crews and poor work performed one or two days at a time, totaling less than two weeks of actual workdays in my home.

By February 5th, with houseguests arriving in two weeks, an empty box of a kitchen, no progress since December, and the fifth delay on flooring, I was prepared to quit the show and take the project back as my own.

I sent a frank “figure it out by Friday or I quit on Monday” text, which was followed by a nonsense phone call that included lines like “I want to be on the same team” and “I want us to be friends” and “you don’t appreciate me for the things I do for you” and “I can’t give you a schedule because then you’ll hold me accountable to it” and “oh, and while we’re having a hard conversation this is probably an appropriate time to tell you YOUR KITCHEN COSTS FORTY THOUSAND DOLLARS NOW”.

We were single-digit days away from the four-month late deadline for the completion of my kitchen and she was telling me for the first time that she spent 60% more than the approved budget—the budget that I asked for on repeat and she told me would be “fine”—but now, she claimed, if I didn’t help pay the full cost of the renovation, she was down to pennies and I was jeopardizing her ability to feed her children.

When the flooring contractor—the only outside contractor Candis and Andy hired for my home—finally arrived to prep the floors, he found that Candis’s crew had leveled the subfloor using shreds of my cardboard packing boxes. None of the subfloors Candis’s crew installed were acceptable and we had to take even more steps backward to start over from scratch.

I still hadn’t seen receipts, anticipated costs, or a schedule. I made it clear that I didn’t feel comfortable moving forward without clarity on the budget since we both acknowledged neither of us had the money to finish out the project she started, and any work she chose to do would be at risk until I approved a budget. The overall production was severely behind schedule. We were 5 months late on a 3-week project, and of the 13 episodes, only one other client project had been revealed before mine.

Another family was in the throes of quitting the show and homeowners were falling off the list after hearing how poorly things were going for those of us who were in the thick of it. From my perspective, she needed my project to be complete more than I needed her to complete it for me. As such, she was willing to push the financial conversation down the road a bit more, even after I told her she was working at risk.

I had my first panic attack that night. While the flooring contractor worked until 9:30 pm, I sat in the Walgreens parking lot bracing myself against the car door, while I physically, emotionally, and mentally deteriorated from the hard conversations and reality that lay at my feet. I tucked myself into bed once the flooring guy left and woke up at 1:30 a.m. with raised, red, itchy hives from head to toe.

I largely stayed out of the details of my renovation during those final days. I quite literally left my house so they could work around the clock. I believe in total, a three-week timeline was realistic. They collectively worked three weeks across five months, with radio silence in between.

Reveal day arrived. We filmed and I feigned excitement while I dreamed of the moment they’d leave my house and never come back. I’ll never show the finished product on the internet because it cleans up nice and with the right filter is worthy of every wow and word of praise for everyone who doesn’t have to live in it or had to live through what it took to get there.

We faked a reveal of the back patio because it was late February in Utah and landscaping was dead. They planned to come back and finish staining the deck, stage some furniture and we’d finish out filming the reveal. Except I never saw Candis again. As soon as the cameras cut, she turned to me and said “I know this hasn’t been an easy journey. I don’t really care how things shake out from here, I just want you to love it.” I’m not sure what she meant by any of that, but I took it as “please don’t talk bad about it/me.”

I never saw receipts, I never saw spreadsheets, we never discussed finances again.

By reveal day, I paid her $13,000 in cash and $6,000 toward appliances. I was prepared to pay the balance of $6,000 if she showed her work, but she never did. Their assistant told me Candis and Andy flew to Scotland the day after my reveal. They were out of town a week later when the photographer came to shoot still photos. I never signed the contract they sent in the middle of the night from their trip to Paris. I didn’t agree to it and they never asked for it. I never signed a location release form, so the project won’t go to air without my permission. Covid shut down began the day after they completed the last of the punch list items and Candis’s next text to me was about how I was managing gel manicures at home during quarantine.

While unpacking my kitchen, I came across the IKEA receipt that included all of the cabinet boxes, shelves, door fronts, the sink, kitchen table, and chairs. The total was $3,900. The faucet and lighting fixtures she sent me were limited to $100 options available on one-day Amazon Prime to make it in time for the reveal. The knobs were made of wood, painted to match the cabinets, and cost 25 cents each. While I never got the breakdown of costs I asked for, they simply don’t add up. A majority of the material cost less than $4,000. I paid for the appliances myself. 2019 lumber costs 1/4th of what it costs today. No matter how I do the math, I can never get to $40,000.

Within a few months of construction being complete in the kitchen, my parents bought and renovated a home nearby and wanted to use the same flooring style we installed in my kitchen. I reached out to the flooring company who very easily connected the dots about who I was. They informed me that Candis and Andy had an unpaid bill for the work on my home and they had been trying to reach them for months. The flooring company had exhausted all of their efforts and the last remaining tactic was to put a lien on my home.

In an effort to avoid that, I paid the bill. After all, I owed toward my committed budget of $25,000 and I wanted honest workers to be paid fairly for their work. It was in that call, months later, that I also learned that the VCT flooring Candis told me would last for 100 years was meant to be sealed. I realized when I asked about it in the moment and Candis told me it didn’t have to be sealed, that she likely couldn’t afford the three-pete seal and dry time in those final days. By that point, work from home was a real thing, and my ability to clear the kitchen and clean and prep the porous floor to properly float the sealant around every angle and toe kick wasn’t possible. An unfortunate waste of my money to be sold a durable product and immediately compromise its integrity by leaving it unprotected. One more element of the project that was completed only so far as it was visible on TV.

In January, two months after Candis initially told me she had ordered the cabinets, she expressed concern that anything other than a plain-front cabinet would compromise the paint feature I asked for on the walls and cabinets. When she asked for my approval on plain front cabinets, she failed to mention that the only plain front cabinets at IKEA are made of laminate.

In the final days of construction, when it occurred to me that they would be painting on laminate cabinets, I asked about the painting process and was told they would use direct-to-metal paint to achieve a better bond between the paint and plastic. The paint cans that are left in my cupboards are Sherwin Williams Super Paint—Paint and Primer in one. It took one week for chips to appear in both high traffic and untouched areas on the cupboard doors. It took me another few days to realize that before long, I’d be left with peeling paint on every surface.

Every painter I called refused to help, claiming they didn’t want their name or reputation associated with an end result that was destined to fail. Replacing doors still left me with painted laminate cabinet boxes. Any kind of solution the experts came up with to skin the cabinets required the crown molding and countertops to be removed. At that point, I was one step away from removing the cabinets entirely and stripping the kitchen back to a blank box. Maybe by then, the floors could be properly sealed as intended.

As Covid delays were made more obvious, it was clear that the network would not launch on time. In an effort to pacify an anxious worldwide audience, Chip and Jo announced the initial lineup of programming. It was the first Candis and Andy were able to announce that they were a part of the Magnolia family to their followers and be showcased on a Sunday night special. As I saw a flurry of thrill and excitement and “no one deserves this as much as you two” spread across the internet, I unfollowed, unfriended, and un-everything’d across all the platforms that connected us. It was the healthiest thing I could do for myself while still very privately dealing with the fallout of the six months prior.

The unfollowing was immediately recognized by Candis. She asked if we could talk it out one more time because she didn’t feel comfortable editing my episode unless “everything was okay between us.” In my final message to her, I wrote “to be frank, I am not okay and still reeling from the remodeling process. We are fundamentally on different planes about acceptable practices and based on previous conversations, I’m not sure we ever will be. The healthiest thing I could do was separate myself from the incoming thrill, excitement, and praise about the show. You are welcome to use the footage for an episode if you need it, but I don’t feel, in good conscience, that I can share in the excitement. I hope you’ve learned lessons, improved processes, and made future home remodels run smoother, but my home and our relationship is simply a casualty of the actions of the last six months—no matter how much either of us wishes it went another way.”

In the nearly two years since construction was completed, past clients have come out of the woodwork to tell me of their experiences with Candis and Andy. Entire homes were plumbed through the hose spigot in the backyard. Homeowners who paid $50,000 upfront to be a part of the show but never saw a day of construction come through their home.

I found a Google book review of their coffee table book from someone who bought a house Candis and Andy renovated and featured in the book that revealed surface level renovations equal to mine that left the homeowners in unsafe conditions and named them most aptly “charming frauds”—a title we TV homeowners continue to use and reference to this day.

So why now? Why share? On the internet? In 2022? I don’t do it to be salacious or sensational. Not vindictive or malicious. If that were the case, I would have shared it two years ago. I share it because, after two years, they’re being celebrated and promoted while the people they hurt along the way have gotten nowhere. And, on the eve of a Magnolia Network cable launch, the well-edited version of the story will show only their side of October 2019 and beyond. People, bank accounts, livelihoods, families, health, sanity… all of us have been left on the cutting room floor.

I’m speaking up to protect potential future victims from their dangerous patterns of behavior. And I share with the hope that they will be held accountable for the ways in which they’ve hurt those of us left in the wake of their work. I’m speaking up because there are other homeowners who, after 18 months of stalled construction and some pressure from Magnolia, ultimately settled and have been silenced. While others are still left paying on a second mortgage for the loan they wholly handed over to Candis and Andy.

Financially, I recovered. My laminate cabinets are still painted with latex paint, but all things considered, I came out relatively unscathed. I wasn’t as vulnerable as others—in a rocky marriage, with sick kids, losing a job in an unstable economy. I was fortunate. Adding a fraudulent construction project within the walls of your home on top of those things had the potential to absolutely level the lives of anyone involved and it was clear that health, safety, and happiness came second to production value.

It may be naive to believe that my words have any influence against an ongoing reality in network television. It’s a scary place to sit, to pour your guts out on the internet and be the David against more than one Goliath.

But if it saves a future homeowner from this show or any others out there, it will have been worth the cost of admission.

When asked for a comment on this story, Candis and Andy Meredith said, "We look forward to sharing our side of this story very soon."