Coquitlam mechanic Brent Balluff is handy with a hammer
Since September, Brent Balluff has had a big secret to keep.
His friends and family knew he had been a contestant on Canada's Handyman Challenge when it taped in Toronto in mid-September.
But what they didn't know — and only found out when the final episode of the reality television program aired Tuesday night — is that the Coquitlam resident was the winner of the contest.
"There were confidentiality agreements all over the place," he said. "The only person that knew was my wife."
To get on the television show, Balluff had to show the judges at his audition that he knew his stuff. He brought with him a replica of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine, which had to be built out of three-quarter inch plywood.
The judges were impressed and he was chosen as a contestant on the show.
Taping took place over a 13-day period, during which time cameras followed Balluff everywhere. They had shots of him getting ready for the day at his hotel and shots of him walking back to his room and going to bed at night.
Long days added to the pressure during the contests, but Balluff was able to get his work done quickly, impressing the judges in the process.
"You have a camera in your face the whole time," he said. "It is a very tight timeline on the challenges and you have this camera getting in the way."
As the days went by — weeks for the viewers at home — he was still in the race, passing each of the "Cut Ceremonies" that take place at the end of the show. The final challenge came down to four contestants, who each had to build a home out of wooden pallets.
To help with the project, Balluff was assigned a crew of two people who star in the reality show Decked Out, another HGTV television program.
"I was very fortunate," he said. "They couldn't give any advice. They did what I asked them to do. It was really good."
The judges were impressed and on the final day they chose him as the winner.
Some of the 60 people that gathered at Balluff's residence on Tuesday to watch the season finale were told by his wife Susan that he had made it to the final four, but lost.
"She set it up," he said. "She told them 'Brent didn't make it. Let's have this to cheer him on anyways.'"
His friends and family were blown away when the judges announced he was the winner, he said.
Balluff doesn't see his time on Canada's Handyman Challenge as a stepping stone to a television career. He said he is happy to get his life back to normal and is looking forward to enjoying the $25,000 in prize money he received as a the winner.
"It was an amazing time," he said. "It was a great experience. But that's probably it."