Halifax-area handymen strutted their stuff for HGTV stars last week vying for a spot on the new season of Canada's Handyman Challenge.
In all, 40 wannabees auditioned for the popular TV show on Sept. 5, five of which were selected to join the top contestants from each of the three host cities - Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver - to compete for the big prize.
Teaming up as judges are celebrity construction experts Paul Lafrance (Decked Out, Deck Wars), Bryan Baeumler (Leave It To Bryan, House of Bryan), and Scott McGillivray (Income Property).
Show producer Jen Dick said viewers will want to tune into the show to see this year's judges in action.
"This trio is fresh, and hot and fantastic. They have great things to say, good criticism of our contestants in Halifax and a really keen eye," Dick said.
And, she said, this year's location at the Dartmouth Dockyard was the perfect backdrop for the show, which will feature some local scenery.
"The location is so amazing and truly represents a great slice of Canada. A tip of the hat as well to the Canadian Coast Guard who came right by the pier as we were shooting," Dick said.
To audition for the show, each contestant had to create a project constructed from a single sheet of four by eight foot three-quarter-inch thick plywood. No additional wood was allowed, but any type of hardware was permitted.
McGillivray said choosing who will go forward in the show was no easy task.
"The hard thing is to eliminate somebody and you haven't even seen them perform yet. All you've seen is one project they've brought in," he said. "We're looking for somebody who can really win this, and we're trying to spot that talent."
Of the original 40, the judges narrowed it down to 10, who then competed in a skills challenge for the Top 5.
Baeumler said contestants never fail to surprise him.
Ones that he figured would go all the way get tripped up, while others that just squeeked by go above and beyond expectations.
"It's always interesting until you see the challenges as it progresses," he said.
One thing that did surprise the judges this year was the lack of women competitors in Halifax. Last year, Maggie Stewart from Lower Sackville made it into the finals.
Many blamed that on the timing of auditions this year being held during a busy back-to-school week.
Lafrance, who is new to the show this season replacing Mike Holmes (Holmes Makes It Right, Holmes Inspection), said he was attracted to the job because he wants to see what people are capable of.
"I love seeing what the average Joe can do... sometimes it can be just phenomenal," he said.
Baeumler said he's done the contestant challenges, and they're harder than they look.
"It looks easy, but when you're standing there and the dust is flying, it's a little more difficult," he said.
Holmes, who is busy shooting a new series, will join Canada's Handyman Challenge as a guest judge to help choose the overall winner, and award a new prize this year - $25,000.
The show was in Vancouver on Sept. 10 and will be holding auditions in Toronto on Sept. 15. The new season of Canada's Handyman Challenge will air next January or February on HGTV.