After months of complaints from frustrated homeowners who were featured on “Renovation Impossible,” a new HGTV series that premiered in September 2022, host Russell J. Holmes has responded in a social media post, but his comments have raised new questions.
As first reported by Heavy in November 2022, a homeowner who appeared on the new series, Ron Onyon of Arlington, Texas, began sharing his grievances on TikTok when he and his wife, Erin, couldn’t get the show’s producers or contractors to fix major mistakes they said were made during renovations on the show, from fire hazards to unsecured door frames. His TikTok videos have garnered over 30 million views.
On January 11, 2023, Onyon told Heavy that his lawyer has given the show’s production company, Pilgrim Media Group, a fast-approaching deadline to address the family’s requests to remedy the situation.
In an Instagram post on Christmas Eve, Holmes said he could no longer stay quiet about accusations being leveled against him and the show, particularly because people were “attacking” him over it, sharing a screenshot of insults someone had left on one of his posts. Onyon told Heavy he had no involvement in the insults and has urged his TikTok followers not to leave such comments.
In a TikTok video he posted on December 26, Onyon said, “As much as I appreciate the support that people have been showing me, if you’re going to comment here or anywhere else online, stick to the facts like I have and don’t be mean or belittle anybody.”
Holmes didn’t specifically name Onyon in his post, but wrote that a homeowner from his series was spreading information on social media that “they know is not true.” Heavy has reviewed the complaints of two additional homeowners who are exploring their options regarding mistakes they say were made during their own “Renovation Impossible” renovations, but the details that Holmes provided in the comment section of his post on December 24, 2022, mirror the issues Onyon has raised via his TikTok account.
Russell J. Holmes Says He Didn’t Handle Renovations on His Show
Holmes, best known for his past roles on Discovery’s “Fast N Loud” and “Garage Rehab,” was portrayed in HGTV promos and throughout the first season of “Renovation Impossible” as a no-nonsense contractor who would take on renovation projects that had stalled, helping families save money and time with his innovative, efficient solutions.
After running into one stumbling block after another on the lakeside dream house they bought and planned to update, the Onyons applied for “Renovation Impossible” online and were excited to be chosen for the show. In their episode, titled “Lackluster Lakehouse,” they recruited friends to help with demolition to save money, but then moved out so Holmes and his crew could do the work and surprise them with a new kitchen, living room and primary bathroom.
Throughout the episode, which can still be viewed via Discovery+, Holmes could be seen helping with construction, directing crew members like foreman Joel Cruz, and relying on his “right hand,” a contractor named Junior Sanchez, to handle certain projects. During one segment, when Holmes doesn’t think the crew is progressing quickly enough, he says, “Hopefully we’re ahead in the bathroom. That’s why I brought Junior in.”
But in his Instagram post on December 24, 2022, Holmes claimed he and his crew actually had very little to do with the renovations in question.
He wrote, “The episode and house that is making all the noise was designed and built by contractors employed by the home owner Not by me or anyone on my team. I was only the on camera personality there to help smooth over issues that I was made aware of and help get extra value for the homeowners money.”
Holmes continued, “Also neither me nor anyone under my employ ever took a penny from the homeowner. The homeowner employed his own designer prior to us doing the show. The homeowner also had the contractor do work that I never knew was getting done till after it was finished.”
Onyon told Heavy that he’s bewildered by the claim that Holmes and his crew weren’t involved in the renovations, and pushed back on the suggestion that the family hired their own contractors for the show.
“From day one, Russell assured us he would be here to oversee the renovations since it was supposed to be a surprise reveal for us,” he said. “So regardless of whether or not he did the work, he represented to us that he would oversee it. I guess my question is, ‘Is Russell placing blame on Pilgrim Media Group then?'”
‘Renovation Impossible’ Host Claims Homeowners Never Informed Crew of Needed Fixes
On the day of the reveal, the Onyons were initially excited as Holmes showed them the transformations and cameras rolled, capturing their surprise at unexpected features like an electric fireplace next to their new bathtub and a wall of glass doors to provide a lake view from their living room.
Onyon told Heavy that it wasn’t until after the crews packed up and left that he and his wife realized many of the changes were poorly installed or not functional. The shower jets, for example, spray directly into the electric fireplace, as Onyon has demonstrated on TikTok. In his Instagram post, Holmes claimed he and his team never heard about such issues.
He wrote, “The whole team tried repeatedly to try and fix issues and make everything whole but have never been told what the fix would be. Seems they just want to try and make a name for them selves on half truths.”
In the comment section, he also replied to someone asking about the renovation mistakes, writing, “I haven’t disputed the work but they know and I know I didnt’ do that shorty work nor did anyone under my employ or over site.”
Onyon said he learned about the post from friends because he’s been blocked by Holmes on Instagram since his lawyer sent a “demand letter” in March 2022 to Pilgrim Media Group, explaining the Onyons’ grievances in hopes of negotiating a solution rather than going to court over the matter. HGTV shows are typically developed, filmed, and edited by independent TV production companies for the network, but Onyon said no progress has been made with Pilgrim or HGTV.
On TikTok, Onyon has shared various text messages and email exchanges with producers and Junior Sanchez, the contractor Holmes brought in to help, including “punch lists” — a common practice in the construction industry, giving clients the chance to list out things that need to be fixed or completed.
“The difference between Russell’s statements and my own is that I have proof via text messages and emails,” he told Heavy.
HGTV and Lionsgate, the parent company of Pilgrim Media Group, have not responded to Heavy’s request for comment on the situation or the latest claims by Holmes. Though HGTV has not officially announced a second season of his series. Holmes recently represented the network in a December 2022 segment on the TODAY Show, in which he was introduced as the star of HGTV’s “Renovation Impossible.”