By BRENDAN DALEY
Canadian handyman icon Mike Holmes is a stickler for quality. So when this extraordinary craftsman pays you a compliment, it means something.
Not only did he pay Conestoga College student Andrew Petheram a compliment, he said that Petheram reminded him of a “younger, more motivated version of (himself) at the age of 19.”
“He was basically implying that I have the potential to be as successful, or more successful, than him,” said Petheram, now 20 years old.
A project and facility management student, Petheram had the opportunity to work beside competitors and celebrity judges in the 2012 season of Canada’s Handyman Challenge, airing on HGTV.
At the suggestion of his girlfriend and an employer, he applied to be on the show which features Holmes, Scott McGillivray, Bryan Baeumler and Jillian Harris as judges.
“Seven thousand people applied for the Toronto interviews,” he said. From there it was narrowed down to 300, 30, 10 and seven.
At the age of 12, Petheram was trying to figure out how things worked. Three years later he was taking on larger projects. At the age of 15, when his parents were away, Petheram retiled his bathroom and renovated the kitchen.
“I have a passion for working with my hands. I like to visually see my work pay off.”
Perhaps one of the most interesting challenges came when each of the seven competitors was given a single sheet of plywood and instructed to craft something.
Tools in hand, Petheram transformed his sheet into a hose reel.
“I wanted to make something useful and with moving parts,” he said.
Of the seven regional competitors, Petheram, along with three others from central Canada, were chosen to be on the show.
“It was weird because I always watched these people on TV,” he said, referring to the judges.
“It wasn’t that competitive. We really worked with each other. Between competitions some of the more experienced guys would give advice so that we were all on a similar level.”
Although Petheram didn’t think he’d make it, when judges began sending competitors home, he was amongst those still standing.
“When you get there, with the cameras in your face, it becomes intimidating.”
Petheram recalls an increase in intensity once the competition was narrowed down from the top 12 to six. “You start thinking ‘I could win this thing.’”
Petheram made it to the final five before being eliminated – a giant feat for a 19-year-old competing against those double his age.
“I’ve never done wallpaper and I’m not great at drywall,” he said, recalling his final challenge.
Although he was unable to take the title of Canada’s Handyman, Petheram walked away from the competition with an even greater knowledge and the support of Canada’s leading names in home renovation.
Although he’d love to compete on the show again, Petheram says he won’t be entering the challenge a second time. “I’m going to let other people have their turn.”