Multiple Texas homeowners are reeling after being portrayed as happy clients whose houses underwent amazing transformations on HGTV‘s new show “Renovation Impossible” when the truth, they say, is that their houses were left in varying states of disarray: damaged, unfinished and, in some cases, dangerously unsafe.
Homeowner Ron Onyon Details His Family’s Appearance on ‘Renovation Impossible’
According to press materials, HGTV’s “Renovation Impossible,” which premiered September 8, 2022, follows Dallas contractor Russell J. Holmes — best known for his past roles on Discovery’s “Fast N Loud” and “Garage Rehab” — as he helps families’ stalled renovation projects get “back on track using ingenious, dollar-stretching solutions.”
When Ron Onyon and his wife applied online and were chosen to appear on the show, they were thrilled about the fresh start for their already-struggling renovation project at the lakeside home they purchased in Arlington, Texas. Onyon told Heavy that a rough experience with a careless contractor left them gunshy, but they figured they couldn’t go wrong appearing on an HGTV show with experts on camera making the most of the $75,000 they had remaining in their renovation budget. The result, he said, was a project that went far overbudget with damages to his home he’s still trying to get repaired.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “We loved watching HGTV and thought we struck it big getting on one of these shows.”
HGTV shows are typically developed, filmed, and edited by independent TV production companies for the network. “Renovation Impossible” is made by Pilgrim Media Group, a subsidiary of Lionsgate. Its other TV series include “Ghost Hunters” on Discovery+, “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” on TLC, and the auto-focused shows Holmes previously appeared on.
The Onyons appeared in the seventh episode of “Renovation Impossible,” in a show entitled “Lackluster Lakehouse.” At the start of the episode, Holmes says, “I’ve known this couple for a long time, a really sweet family” and explains that they’d called him to help fix their dream home.
However, Onyon told Heavy they’d never talked or met Holmes before the first day of filming. And though the show claims renovations happen in 10 short days, Onyon said theirs — including a kitchen makeover, a modernized primary bathroom, and an updated living room — took months. But the made-for-TV storyline is the least of Onyon’s worries.
During the big reveal at the end of their episode, the crew filmed the couple’s excited reactions as they saw the spaces for the first time, overwhelmed by features they didn’t expect including an electric fireplace next to their bathtub and a wall of glass doors to provide a lake view from their living room. In all the excitement and with cameras rolling, Onyon told Heavy, things looked good at first glance.
It was only after the cameras turned off that the Onyons began noticing mistakes at every turn, he said, from knicked countertops to sloppily installed tile to warped wood. There were serious safety hazards, too, like shower jets shooting water directly into the electric fireplace. And they later discovered the sliding glass door in their kitchen wasn’t bolted into studs in the exterior wall, he said, and just precariously held in place by the trim. Scared the heavy glass door would fall on someone, he said he paid more money to have that fixed immediately.
According to Onyon, much of the construction was actually managed by a local contractor named Junior Sanchez, who was hired by Pilgrim Media Group to execute projects on multiple episodes and portrayed as one of Holmes’ construction buddies on the show. Onyon said “they beamed (about) what great work he did on the other episodes,” so he trusted he was good and even hired Sanchez during filming to do other home updates that the “Renovation Impossible” show wouldn’t be addressing.
But when Onyon asked Sanchez to come back to fix the mistakes made during the show, he was told it would cost thousands more. The family did pay for some fixes, just so the house would be safer, but most of the original mistakes remain. Onyon also went back and forth with Pilgrim, trying to get them to make things right.
“The show, host and contractors have known of my issues since the reveal,” he told Heavy.
Onyon has hired a lawyer and in recent weeks, he’s also taken to social media to spread the word about his experience. His TikTok account is now filled with videos of the renovation mistakes made during his family’s episode of “Renovation Impossible.” The videos, including one that shows the sliding glass door issue and another showing all the issues with the shower have already attracted over 10 million views.
Additional Homeowners Featured on ‘Renovation Impossible’ Have Come Forward
Heavy has heard from two additional homeowners featured on “Renovation Impossible” who were inspired by Onyon’s TikTok videos to come forward about their own experiences on the show. Both asked to remain anonymous for legal reasons but said they’re still paying for repairs and replacements for renovations that were damaged, improperly installed, or cheaply made.
One homeowner told Heavy that working with Holmes was difficult and unnerving, saying his mood and personality would drastically shift when the cameras turned off and that each item he and his crew created for their home was “an unusable prop and would not hold up to real-life use.”
“At no time was Russell’s goal to provide a stylish and functional home design that met our families needs,” that homeowner told Heavy via email. “We were just disposable assets in the way of his career. He would have been totally fine with destroying our home for the sake of a 3-5 minute shot.”
“The producers were very good at making you believe they cared about you and protecting you from Russell’s illusions of grandeur,” that homeowner continued. “But in reality, they were much worse in hindsight. When the show was over we had a deep dread knowing they would go on to hurt families in an expensive way.”
Both unnamed homeowners who came forward said they’ve suffered financially from the experience, needing to replace or fix much of what was done to their homes, and that they hope sharing their stories will make others think twice before participating in a home renovation show.
Onyon said that there were parts of filming his family enjoyed, including getting to know some of the crew members, but that they never could have imagined the final outcome.
“At the end of the day we are very mad, we feel we were taken advantage of,” he said. “If all shows are like this, either more people need to be made aware of this so they can avoid going on them, or fix the process so they get a good show and the families get a good product. It’s not hard to get a win-win for everyone. Be realistic on what you can do. Then it just takes a little care and integrity.”
HGTV, Lionsgate and Holmes did not respond to Heavy’s requests for comment. However, on November 6, Holmes addressed public complaints about his show in an Instagram post.
“As far as the haters posting about things they only know one side of …… karma is a bitch,” he wrote.
Multimillionaire businessman Marcus Lemonis, whose recent HGTV series “The Renovator” inexplicably disappeared from the network after only two airings, commented on the post.
“Lean on me brother.. I got you,” he wrote, to which Holmes replied, “would love to chat.”