Couple hopes to build internet profile with million-dollar-home-reno show on YouTube
She’s a former TV reporter and news anchor while he’s the ultimate handyman.
It should come as no surprise, then, that a charming, photogenic Calgary couple is among the latest entrants into the world of home reno programs, their Million Dollar Reno show debuting this past summer. You won’t see Tiffany Burns and Brad McMeekin, though, by scrolling through the hundreds of channels on television.
No, the latest collaboration of Burns and McMeekin, together for seven years and engaged for the past one, can only be seen on YouTube. Their new channel, aptly named Hammer and Home, has chosen as its first filmed project a million-dollar-plus renovation of a luxury home in Springbank, a stone’s throw west of the city.
The downside to going to the internet, they acknowledge, means this is more a labour of love than, at least so far, a money-maker. “But we don’t have to have fake crises, we present everything the way it is,” says Burns, who has already lined up a few corporate sponsors, including the retailer Mark’s. “We have total control over our show.”
A major upside? Well, the fact the bulk of McMeekin’s 50 or so trades and subtrades working on the project will actually watch the show. “A lot of the younger guys don’t even know who Bryan Baeumler is,” says McMeekin of one of his inspirations, the HGTV superstar contractor. “They just don’t watch television.”
Those who do tune into the YouTube channel will see, over the coming months, a 12-plus episode series chronicling the ambitious renovation, which began two years ago but after some stops and starts, is now in full swing.
On a recent day, McMeekin and Burns give a tour of the home, which is framed with insulated concrete forms used to build its interior walls. “This stuff is great, it’s so easy to work with,” says McMeekin.
Some of what really excites McMeekin, a building veteran who began his company, Skyline Construction, eight years ago, is the stuff of construction geekdom. Much of the wow factor, though, is understandable even to those with no interest in how things are built.
For instance, the new, 10,000-square-foot house boasts a golf simulation room, along with a hot tub with a “current” you can swim in, five bathrooms, an elevator and a master bedroom with panoramic views of rolling foothills and the Rockies in the distance.
While the diplomatic contractor wouldn’t use the word “nightmare” to describe some of the obstacles encountered, he does admit there have been challenges. Earlier in the process, for instance, the house and surrounding land were hit by a small flood. “There’s a big hill nearby and the water ran down right to here,” he says, pointing to part of the 1.6 hectares of land surrounding the home. “We were told this area used to be a pond in the 1960s, before they built the first house on it.”
When one sees the gigantic house, it seems unusual that the clients wouldn’t have just demolished it to make way for a new build. “I guess that’s because we started with a plan that just grew and grew,” says McMeekin, who says his clients become like a part of his family. “If this was a new home, we would have been done a long time ago.”
Still McMeekin faces it all calmly. “You have to be prepared for anything,” says the Calgary native, who chose to become a builder and contractor because “I like to work with my hands, and couldn’t imagine an office life for me.” Burns, who hails from Vancouver, knew he would be perfect in front of the camera. “Brad is so skilled and talented and showing how a home like this is built, from start to finish, seemed like such a fun idea,” she says.
In turn, her fiancé credits her with being the “driving force” behind their YouTube channel. “Tiffany is really good at this and we’re really enjoying the whole process. I think we’ll keep going with this on our next project.”
For the near future, though, the goal is to get the project wrapped up and see their clients move in by February. That would be a good thing, since that’s around the same time that McMeekin and Burns plan to be exchanging wedding vows on a beach in Mexico.
“It had better be finished by then,” says Burns with a playful laugh.
Hammer and Home can be found on YouTube.
Brad is so skilled and talented, and showing how a home like this is built, from start to finish, seemed like such a fun idea.
Tiffany Burns and Brad McMeekin survey the 1.6 hectares of land surrounding the home they are renovating.
“You have to be prepared for anything,” says builder Brad McMeekin.
Tiffany Burns, a former TV reporter, and Brad McMeekin, owner of Skyline Construction, in front of a house they are renovating in Springbank. The couple has made a 12-episode series on YouTube called Million Dollar Reno, which features the renovation of the 10,000-square-foot luxury custom home. PHOTOS: AZIN GHAFFARI