Comedian Steve Patterson aims for laughs in HGTV’s latest reno show

It takes just a few minutes for one to realize that Steve Patterson was hired to host I Wrecked My House—debuting Tuesday on HGTV—because he’s funny and not for his home renovating skills. Why? He almost put an eye out swinging an axe at a run-down kitchen cabinet.

“That was almost the shortest run of any hosting job,” Patterson says with a laugh on the phone from Ottawa. “The crew told me that it was plexiglass and wouldn’t shatter. Somehow I shattered it and it flew back in my face. Fortunately, I was wearing safety goggles or I would have been doing the rest of the show with an eyepatch.”

Patterson, veteran comic and host of CBC’s The Debaters, was hired on by Ottawa’s Mountain Road Productions to host a comedy series for HGTV that had an element of home renovation to it. The hook? While the series would showcase homeowners who tried—and failed—to pull off their own DIY projects, humour rather than meanspiritedness would be the order of the day. That’s precisely what you get in Tuesday’s debut, when Patterson visits homeowner Tim and his family in Port Colborne, Ont. A gaping hole in a kitchen allows one to peer up into the second-floor bathroom, a half-door lets someone cooking at the store talk to the person in the main-floor loo and lengths of wood clutter the main entryway.

“It was important to everyone involved that we focus on the humour,” Patterson explains. “We cast people that had a sense of humour about themselves and the work that they had done. Or hadn’t done.” For most people, a fairly simply renovation can balloon out of proportion. Throw in the daily challenges of life, work and a family and before you know it, that weekend project has stretched out for months. Or years.

Filming for the first season took place largely around Southern Ontario during one of the most brutal winters on record. Patterson admits he did the least amount of work on the project because of his touring schedule—his I Laugh Therefore I Think spring tour resumes in a few weeks—and praises contractor Dave Rannala and his small squad who turned what usually takes months of renovating into days in order to keep the production hours tight.

It was very much a guerrilla-style of filming, with everyone helping each other to get shows in the can; one crew member, Andrew, is a carpenter who helped with the demo, the film crew and was the show’s unit photographer. They all worked hard to get the jobs done and create a program that not only fixes bad builds but celebrates family.

“This is going to sound corny, but what makes a home is the couple,” Patterson says. “It could easily be an overbearing spouse complaining, but it’s never about that. They have appreciated the effort the person put in and you laugh it off because there’s love in the home that allows you to do that.”

I Wrecked My House airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on HGTV.