HGTV Fans Slam Network Over Hosts’ ‘Irresponsible’ Actions

Chip and Joanna Gaines

Getty Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Fans of HGTV are growing increasingly concerned the network continues to allow hosts to conduct unsafe renovation projects, particularly during demolition, and some home improvement pros say they can’t even watch anymore.

The government has slapped multiple shows with steep fines for ignoring safety and environmental rules, but home improvement experts say it hasn’t kept HGTV hosts from sharing dangerous practices on-air. Here’s what you need to know…

Critics Say Hosts Should Show Demolition Is Serious Business

When Chip and Joanna Gaines’ hit show “Fixer Upper” launched on the network in 2013, they made a big deal out of Chip’s love of “demo days,” his phrase for tearing down walls, cabinets, and vanities to prepare a space for renovation. Viewers loved his goofy antics, including an episode in which he leaped through an old wall, but they got him in trouble.

In 2018, according to CNN, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the Gaines had not followed government rules during several seasons of “Fixer Upper,” airing “demo days” that didn’t protect occupants from dangerous lead levels found in homes built before 1978. The couple had to pay a $40,000 fine, conduct $160,000 worth of lead abatement repairs around their home base of Waco, Texas, and share messages about lead levels on their show and on social media.

But that didn’t inspire all of their fellow hosts to take more precautions. In April 2022, according to the Indianapolis Star, “Good Bones” hosts Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk were also fined $40,000 by the EPA, which alleged the hosts’ company was not certified to perform their demolition work and failed to contain and transport the waste in acceptable ways.

Despite the EPA fines and complaints, fans say that casts of that show and others continue to feature bad practices.

On September 1, 2022, a conversation thread was started on the topic in the HGTV community on Reddit when a fan wrote, “I know it is TV and all, but should not these ‘Pros’ act little more responsibly?”

The question drew tons of comments from other fans and fed-up home improvement pros, including several users who called out “Good Bones” for not changing their ways, especially during demolitions featuring Starsiak-Hawk’s half-brother Tad, who serves as project manager.

“I don’t like watching the demo. I especially don’t like it when Tad does demo on Good Bones,” one user wrote. “I get why they have him and highlight the demo and destruction – a little beefcake for the ladies and some breaking down walls for the guys – but I don’t like it at all. When the amateurs get involved, I always picture a sledgehammer rebounding and conking someone in the face.”

Another fan agreed, writing, “I can’t believe Tad hasn’t seriously injured himself or someone else. I think he’s adorable but just doesn’t use his head sometimes.”

Fans Worry Viewers Won’t Take Their Own ‘Demo Days’ Seriously

Demolition Day

HGTV/YouTubeThe hosts of HGTV’s “100 Day Dream Home” toss old carpet into a dumpster

Fans and home improvement pros on the Reddit thread expressed concern that making demolition look fun and entertaining will lead to viewers making critical, harmful mistakes. They’re upset that HGTV continues to air “irresponsible” demolitions.

One person wrote, “I am actually concerned with doit yourselfers seeing this and trying it on their own and getting hurt. I do a bit of demo for a living and fooking around gets people hurt.”

Another wrote, “Honestly it’s a little irresponsible of HGTV to allow people that they are presenting as pros to do construction/demo without proper safety equipment and precautions.”

“As a commercial demolition and abatement contractor watching these people do demo is a complete joke,” another user wrote. “Sledge hammer for everything!!!!! They never address the importance of proper electrical and plumbing safe off before plunging sawzalls and swinging hammers through walls. No mention of the importance of testing for lead and asbestos either. The only thing they seem to care about is if it’s a structural/sheer wall because it will ruin the design or cost them more to remodel.”

Another user agreed, writing, “Whenever my mom and I watch a show with demo in it she always points out how they are NEVER wearing masks, especially when working on older homes.”

But not all shows are ignoring safety rules or avoiding appropriate gear. One commenter wrote that “Bargain Block” hosts Ethan Thomas and Keith Bynum do seem to take demolition seriously, wearing “full hazmat suits.”

Someone responded, “Ooh you’re right I forgot about them! They HAVE to that because of the condition a lot of their homes are in before, but I think everyone should do that, especially since you can never be too sure of what you’ll encounter.”

Meanwhile, it does seem like Chip Gaines has begun to take his “demo days” more seriously since launching Magnolia Network and filming “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home.” In a clip shared on Magnolia’s Instagram feed on January 19, Chip and Joanna talk about the new and improved demo day.

“We’re about to get this project started,” Joanna says in the show excerpt. “Chip is going to get in there and make a mess.”

Chip then adds, “Start a project off right is the way I refer to it. In my younger days, I’d call it demo day. But now, I just like — now it’s getting a project started off correctly and accurately.”

“You’re so mature these days,” Joanna says.

“I’m going to get a shirt that says hashtag, appropriately, accurately, and destructively, or something like that,” Chip jokes. “Or you can just say demo day.”

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Terry Lisotta
Terry Lisotta
3 months ago

He is a flim- flam- man, we fast fwd when he is on screen

Drue Gillis
Drue Gillis
3 months ago

As a retired construction teacher, I really am livid when they destroy perfectly usable cabinets and vanities. It is actually easier to remove these Items than it is to smash them and pick up the pieces. Someone could use them in a garage for storage, for a hunting cabin or donate to a low income homeowner. SHAME ON YOU for deliberately destroying usable items just to make yourself look “manly.” You actually look like an idiot.

Lynn Kirpa
Lynn Kirpa
3 months ago

Perhaps everyone involved on these renovation shows should stress the importance of hiring insured contractors to help with their demolition/home improvements.

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