'Love It or List It' homeowners file suit

A couple from North Carolina says a popular HGTV series is not what it seems.

Story highlights

  • A North Carolina couple complains of shoddy work
  • They say the reality show is scripted

(CNN)A North Carolina couple who agreed to let the HGTV reality show "Love It or List It" do renovations on their house did not love it.

Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan have filed suit against Big Coat TV, the production company behind the show, and Aaron Fitz Construction, a North Carolina contractor that was hired to do the renovations. Their complaints include the show being scripted and shoddy work being done.
    According to the suit, in 2015 Big Coat "agreed to hold $140,000 for [Murphy and Sullivan] and disburse that sum to Aaron Fitz (along with $11,000 collected for change orders) to pay for renovation of their home, Big Coat paid only $85,000 to the nominal general contractor, keeping the $66,000 balance for itself and never disbursing the funds as agreed."
    "Instead, Big Coat hired its own subcontractors and supervised their work itself, acting as an unlicensed general contractor, the suit states. "The result of this improper conduct was the very kind of substandard work the statutes are designed to protect consumers against. The floors of the Plaintiffs' house were destroyed by Big Coat's negligence, and the work that was done was generally performed badly, for the most part using inexpensive, low quality materials."
    CNN has reached out to HGTV for comment.
    The couple was seeking to renovate one of their rental properties to move into with their foster children, they said. The suit alleges that Big Coat's "business model is bizarre -- homeowners pay large sums of money to Big Coat, who then produce a cable television series called 'Love It or List It' which offers a dramatized version of the renovation of their home."
    "We are aware of the lawsuit," Maria Armstrong, chief executive officer and executive producer of Big Coat Productions/Big Coat TV, told the Winston-Salem Journal in a statement. "Because this matter involves ongoing litigation, our attorneys have advised us and we feel that making a comment would be inappropriate at this time. However, we do intend to vigorously defend what we consider to be false allegations."
    Murphy and Sullivan's suit also states that Eric Emerita, who on the show was the contractor in charge of the work on their Raleigh, North Carolina, home was actually an actor and not a licensed contractor. They contend that others involved in the production, such as the designer and realtor, were also actors and not licensed in their state.
    The suit says "$750,000 is reasonable liquidated damages to the Plaintiffs for Big Coat's profits from its illegal activity."