Chip and Joanna Gaines, HGTV’s husband-wife Fixer Upper team, have agreed to pay a $40,000 fine by the EPA for the improper use of lead-based paint in their renovations. The couple, who do business as Magnolia Homes, reached a settlement in a case that could have cost them $556,000 in fines.
In a settlement “information sheet” posted on the EPA’s website (read it here), the agency notes that the “activities of Magnolia and similar renovation firms came to EPA’s attention from their depiction on popular television shows. Magnolia’s renovations were depicted on the HGTV series ‘Fixer Upper’ and regularly viewed by well over 3 million households.”
The EPA says Magnolia engaged in “home renovations conducted without adequate lead paint protections as depicted on the television program Fixer Upper.” The series recently completed its fifth and final season on HGTV.
In addition to the $40,000 fine, the settlement requires Chip Gaines to produce and release an educational video highlighting the dangers of lead-based paint within 90 days. Also, the couple has agreed to spend $160,000 on a lead-abatement project in their hometown of Waco, Texas. The project, to be performed with an independent abatement firm, will reduce the risk of exposure to lead-based paint in at-risk residences by replacing windows and doors, removing lead-based paint and dust, and replacing lead-based paint surfaces and fixtures, among other chores.
The EPA notes that Magnolia has “looked for ways to make a concrete difference in its local community.”
Also as part of the settlement, “Magnolia will take steps to ensure compliance with lead-based paint regulations in future renovation projects.”
According to the EPA report, video footage of Magnolia’s home renovations appearing over several seasons of Fixer Upper were viewed by the agency. A review of information “obtained with Magnolia’s cooperation” found “evidence of noncompliance at renovations of 33 properties.”
“After EPA contacted Magnolia with concerns about the company’s compliance,” the agency writes, “Magnolia took immediate steps to ensure compliance” with agency rules and regulations.
“Magnolia also sought to improve the public’s appreciation for the serious hazards of lead-based paint contained in older homes and the precautions necessary to reduce those hazards,” the EPA notes, pointing out a March 21, 2018 Fixer Upper episode in which “Magnolia spoke about lead-based paint…and depicted some of the steps renovation firms must take to minimize those hazards…”
“During and after the broadcast of that episode,” the report continues, Chip Gaines “sought to amplify the message about lead-based paint safety with messages to his Twitter followers about the importance of using a professional’s help to check for lead paint and a link to a website with information about lead safety…”
Here is Gaines’ tweet from March 21: