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Give Second Thought to the TV Home Makeover

Some homeowners who sign up to have their homes redecorated and remodeled on a reality TV are having regrets. They say they got stuck paying thousands of dollars later on due to the TV renovations.

Attorneys warn: You have to read the fine print before agreeing to these TV shows. On these reality decorating shows, homeowners aren’t often in complete control over what happens to their home. They may not like the design in the end. Further, to meet production schedules, work often has to be rushed and when a mistake is made, the homeowner may get stuck footing the bill, particularly after the cameras have stopped rolling.

Another lesson these homeowners are learning: Bigger tax bills. They may be forced to pay a higher tax bill due to receiving gifts of new high-end appliances or furniture. They also might see higher property taxes due to the upgraded additions made to the home.

Some owners are taking the TV shows to court. Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan from North Carolina sued the production company and contractor for HGTV’s “Love It or List It” last year, alleging they ruined their rental home and increased their costs. The couple claims they had to pay the production company $140,000 for a contractor. The couple was dissatisfied with the renovation in the end, and they allege in the lawsuit that the materials used were poor quality, the floors were “irreparably damaged” and that some windows were painted shut.

Jerry Glover, entertainment attorney, says homeowners should not completely discredit all of the work done on these decorating TV shows, however.

“A lot of good work is actually done” on these reality shows, says Glover, an attorney with Leavens, Strand & Glover in Chicago. “But know that there’s a risk.”

Glover encourages homeowners to consult an attorney before appearing on any makeover TV show to have the contract thoroughly vetted so they become aware of their risks. In many cases, homeowners sign away their right to sue or seek damages if anything in the remodels go wrong, Glover says. Also, he says that it’s important homeowners talk to an accountant beforehand to understand the full tax ramifications too and avoid any post-sticker shock from their tax bill.