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Seeking: horrible handymen

Discovery Channel comes to Whistler, recruiting the worst of the worst at home improvement projects



Know someone who just can’t seem to connect the swing of a hammer with the head of a nail, or has your kitchen renovation project dragged on for two years? You may want to consider nominating your not-so-handy friend for the Discovery Channel’s popular television show, Canada’s Worst Handyman.

Producers are constantly on the lookout for the country’s worst offenders in the realm of home improvement, and this year, for their fourth season, they’re coming to Whistler to recruit.

Guy O’Sullivan, executive producer of the program, explained that the premise of the show is actually pretty simple.

“We basically try and find — and we succeed in finding — broken and badly maintained handymen, or women, and we try and fix them!”

Producers select the five most challenged handymen and send them to the handyman rehabilitation centre, where they complete a building project, and learn all of the basics — and more — of construction work along the way: electrical, plumbing, drywall, and flooring.

Last year, for example, the group completely renovated a dilapidated bed and breakfast.

“As you would expect, there are many, many, many obstacles, pitfalls and hurdles along the way, and I can’t claim to have turned them all into professional-standard contractors. But I would say that they all leave the show better than when they started,” O’Sullivan said.

The person who improves the least is given the unflattering title of Canada’s worst handyman.

O’Sullivan said while there seems to be a “minimum requirement” for the average Canadian male to be able to do basic handywork, not everyone seems to be equipped with these fundamental abilities.

“Our show is for the people that get left behind. They just don’t have the gene, or whatever it may be,” he explained.

This year, with all of the construction and development happening in the Sea to Sky region in preparation for the Olympics, Whistler was an obvious choice for a casting stop.

“Our show is aimed very much at the amateur — we’re not having a go at professional contractors. But I imagine there are lots of people fixing up that basement apartment to rent it our for a ludicrous rate for 2010, and some of them will be better than others,” he said.

Producers are hoping they receive lots of nominations from the Sea to Sky region, and will be coming to the area at the end of October to check out projects gone wrong, and evaluate if any of our local handymen are worthy of a top five distinction.

To nominate a haggard handyman, contact handyman@propertelevision.com or call 1-866-598-2591.

“We’ll follow up and come visit them in their natural habitat,” O’Sullivan said, adding: “We need to see the evidence, right, we need to see that half-finished study or that room with drywall at 45 degrees.”

Reactions from nominees range from bashful acceptance to outright denial.

“Often, they’re in denial, to a greater or lesser extent, about how bad they are. Some of them know how bad they are and they hold their hands up and say, ‘help me,’” O’Sullivan said. “Some of them need to be led down that path a little bit, and that’s really where the nominator is so important, ’cause they’ve had to live with it for all these years, and this is really a pretty unique opportunity to kind of turn the corner on that and actually fix them.”

But O’Sullivan is quick to point out that the show isn’t about punishment — it’s about education and simply having fun.

“We hate the sin, but we love the sinner,” he said. “It’s not a mean-spirited exercise.”

Participants have come from across the Canada, but apparently, some of the strangest characters have come from B.C. and Alberta. Apparently, one of the worst offenders from last season was a police officer from Abbotsford.

“He was adamant that he was going to build a house from the ground up, but really, the man couldn’t put a screw in a piece of wood,” O’Sullivan said with a laugh. “At the end of the process, he acknowledged that maybe his ambitions were a little bit ahead of his ability.”