Chip and Joanna Gaines are known for the expertise in all areas of home remodeling and renovation, but the couple has had their share of blunders along the way, including a recent lead paint scandal that rocked their small business.
The Gaines' company, Magnolia Waco Properties, LLC, specializes in updating and remodeling older homes, while helping to keep the rustic elements intact.
Through their show on HGTV, Fixer Upper, they showed some fun and creative ways to build around existing structures, preserving and celebrating the original without sacrificing modern conveniences either.
The Gaines thrived on this business for years, including five seasons of reality TV, but they never stopped learning. Unfortunately, they learned many important lessons in public, and suffered the consequences on the world stage. Eventually, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had to step in as the Gaines' failed to treat lead paint with the appropriate level of consideration.
The ordeal took place right alongside the final and fifth season of Fixer Upper. While it did not really dominate entertainment news coverage, it was a big story among the Gaines' fans, especially because they were forced to atone publicly in the end.
Here is a look at the lead paint scandal that rocked Fixer Upper's Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Since the Gaines often work on older homes, they often come into contact with lead paint. Homes built before 1978 were often treated with paint containing lead, an easily manufactured metal that is toxic to humans at a certain dose. Lead accumulates in bones and soft tissues, eventually wreaking havoc on the nervous system after enough exposure. It is relatively harmless in old dry paint on the walls, but when contractors like the Gaines start scraping, sanding and demolishing it away, it can become airborne and affect all those in the area for weeks to come.prevnext
Once the EPA recognized how dangerous lead could be, they implemented legal restrictions on the metal. They also put laws in place surrounding old construction materials known to contain the neurotoxin, including the Renovation, Remodeling and Paining Rule. It requires contractors to follow a specific set of "lead safe work practices" to reduce or eliminate exposure to lead — a rule which the Gaines were recorded disobeying on reality TV.prevnext
According to a settlement report on the EPA's website, the Gaines' Magnolia Homes company was spotted violating the RRP Rules in their work on no less than 33 homes. In addition, the agency was concerned by the massive influence the Gaines have on do-it-yourself homeowners around the country.
"The activities of Magnolia and similar renovation firms came to EPA's attention from their depiction on popular television shows," read the report. "Magnolia's renovations were depicted on the HGTV series "Fixer Upper" and regularly viewed by well over 3 million households."prevnext
After noting the apparent violations, the EPA reportedly contacted the Gaines directly. The EPA launched what it described as an "inquiry," giving the Gaines credit for their quick and positive reaction.prevnext
According to the EPA, Magnolia Homes "took immediate steps to ensure compliance with the RRP Rule, including to obtain RRP certification and training for the firm and its staff and to ensure active compliance across all ongoing renovation projects."
After working with the agency, the Gaines' company handed over all the information it had about renovation activities, and proposed "to undertake innovative projects to reduce the prevalence of childhood lead-poisoning in its community and to increase awareness of lead-based paint safety issues associated with renovations in older homes."
In addition, the company paid a civil penalty for the past violations.prevnext
Public Safety Video
It was apparently the Gaines' own idea to make a video clarifying and demonstrating the proper method for lead safe working conditions. The video was published on their Magnolia Homes website, along with small snippets on social media to draw fans in. Since any house painted before 1978 could contain lead, the issue is a serious danger to many Americans across the country.prevnext
Public Safety Video (cont.)
In the full safety video, Chip Gaines took an uncharacteristically cautious approach to home renovation, advising homeowners to hire an expert rather than trying to deal with the perils of lead paint themselves.
"Listen, let me give you some advice. If you're ever considering renovating a pre-1978 home, hire someone to do it for you, because federal rules require them to be certified and trained to do it safely, to make sure the renovation activates don't spread lead dust," he warned.prevnext
Good to see these steps being taken to address lead-based paint. https://t.co/U9B3fGqJvn— Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) September 24, 2018
Just this week, Gaines updated fans about the crusade for lead paint awareness, revealing a big local step towards sweeping up the lead dust problem. The Gaines may be off of TV, but they remain prominent public figures with lots of followers and lots of influence.prev