Qualicum Beach graphic and furniture designer Mark Falvai no longer has to keep it a secret.
He was crowned the winner in Canada’s Handyman Challenge back in July but the final show wasn’t aired until Tuesday, Feb. 21. The 38-year-old local jack of all trades had to keep who the eventual winner was top secret until all the episodes on the HGTV reality show were aired.
The final challenge for the remaining four contestants was to build a deck and Falvai, who was in it to win it, knew he had to go the extra mile and he did. Even though it would be a huge challenge, Falvai chose to build a round deck.
“I have never made a round deck before. I didn’t know if it would work … but I had a back up plan to my back up plan. It took a lot of planning but once I got started I said yeah … I can do this,” he explained during an interview the morning after the finale was aired.
He said the four finalists weren’t presented with their last challenge until the night before so it didn’t leave much time for planning.
“It was about 11 p.m. and they said OK, this is what your are doing tomorrow and see you in the morning. It was stressful. I got to my room at midnight and stayed up until 3:30 a.m. working out the details. I didn’t get a ton of sleep.”
Tough as nails contractor Mike Holmes, who is on the very popular HGTV show, Holmes On Homes, was one of the three judges Falvai had to impress.
Each finalist got a construction crew to assist them in the final project and Falvai agreed his team was experienced but construction of the deck had to be lead by him.
“Mike Holmes’ son was on my team but he wasn’t about to give me anything. He was a great worker and we had fun. I was in my glory once we started,” he said.
During the episode the judges expressed concern that Falvai might not finish his ambitious plan, but Falvai said he wasn’t worried or stressed out.
“I knew how long it was going to take me and I knew I would get it done. They all thought I was screwed and that is why they were blown away … they didn’t think it was possible.”
In the end, the three judges agreed that everyone deserved to win because all four finalists were creative and amazing, but it was Falvai who stood out the most. They said not too many people have what he has and called him ‘completely wacky’. They compared Falvai’s work to snowflakes agreeing that each of his projects were unique.
Falvai’s partner Joanne Simister said when the phone rang on day of the last challenge she knew Mark was the winner.
“When I answered it was Mike Holmes on the line. He said ‘hi Joanne this is Mike Holmes calling’ and I just knew he won and I screamed,” she recalled and added, “I said I wish I could say I was surprised but I wasn’t because I knew in my heart he would win. I know the extent of Mark’s talent and when he decided he was going to do it he knew he would win. I am the luckiest woman, he is amazing.”
Falvai admitted he had a bit of a headache Wednesday morning after all of the celebrating that erupted after he was declared the winner Tuesday night and while he didn’t win a prize, or even a trophy, he said it was a great experience.
Falvai and Simister, who have four children including one year old twins, hosted parties at their home during each episode and he said it was hard keeping tight lipped about what the end result was. He said everyone around him tried to trick him into revealing something but he said it was fun and he became an expert at deflecting and seeing when a set-up was coming.
During the parties, Falvai and Simister used the occasion to raise money for the BC Cancer foundation. The two are riders in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer which takes place on June 16 and 17.
In all, five parties were hosted by the pair who used Falvai’s official tool belt from the show as a money collecting accessory. Simister said after several soirees at their home, the total they raised from their friend’s stuffing the tool belt with cash came to $1,567.
Falvai said now that the parties are over, it is time to get in shape for the long bike ride he is facing.
Even though he has had several offers from people who want him to build them a round deck, he said he doesn’t like to do anything twice so he will be focussing on a new business which involves designing fishing gear.
Allure Tackle is his latest project. He said he has created a job for himself that he feels passionate about.
“People say do what you love and I do enjoy fishing.”
He said the website for his business is under construction but pretty soon looksthatkill.ca will be up and running offering all sorts of lures and flashers for salt water fishing.
He said although the TV network has a publicist for him, he hasn’t been inundated with requests for TV appearances after his victory and for now he is keeping busy thanking the many people who have supported him.