For­mer de­fen­sive back’s new T.O. show helps reno rook­ies

Toronto’s own Se­bas­tian Clo­vis hosts HGTV Canada’s home ren­o­va­tion se­ries Tackle My Reno

Richmond Hill Post - - Life Profile - by Ju­dith Muster

When a re­al­ity tele­vi­sion crew showed up on his con­struc­tion site, Se­bas­tian Clo­vis knew his work life was about to get a lot more in­ter­est­ing.

Clo­vis, a builder and home de­signer, was work­ing on in­de­pen­dent con­tracts in the GTA when he was scouted out by HGTV Canada to host his own home ren­o­va­tion show, Tackle My Reno.

Al­though many fan­ta­size about turn­ing their daily grind into the stuff of TV magic, Clo­vis was never one to seek out the spot­light.

“To be hon­est, I’ve always con­sid­ered my­self to be some­what of an in­tro­vert, so it was kind of funny that I ended up in this field,” he says.

Of course, he was not plucked out of to­tal ob­scu­rity — CFL fans will rec­og­nize his name from his Grey Cup-win­ning run with the BC Lions in 2006.

Few of those fans, how­ever, know of Clo­vis’s sec­ond ca­reer or that he’s been de­vel­op­ing his build­ing know-how for just as long as his ath­letic skills.

Grow­ing up in the east end of Toronto, Clo­vis was a track and field and foot­ball star by the time he reached high school.

At 15, he also be­gan to nur­ture a pas­sion off the field. His par­ents planned a kitchen ren­o­va­tion, and know­ing of their son’s bud­ding in­ter­est in con­struc­tion, they ne­go­ti­ated a deal with the con­trac­tor that al­lowed Clo­vis to ap­pren­tice with him dur­ing the project.

It was a per­fect fit. Clo­vis landed him­self an an­nual sum­mer job un­til he left for univer­sity on a foot­ball schol­ar­ship.

“I worked re­ally well with that con­trac­tor and we built a great rap­port,” re­calls Clo­vis. “I re­ally got the fun­da­men­tals of build­ing at an early age. I could in­stall a win­dow and frame a door be­fore I grad­u­ated high school.”

His tal­ents were on dis­play in more than one room at home. Once the kitchen was

I could in­stall a win­dow and frame a door be­fore I grad­u­ated high school.”

done, Clo­vis con­vinced his par­ents to let him ren­o­vate their un­fin­ished base­ment so he could use it as a bed­room.

His pet project was no small task: he built from the ground up, in­clud­ing in­su­la­tion, dry­wall and light­ing. Clo­vis is mod­est about the job, even though it stood the test of time.

“Now it’s not the nicest bed­room in the world — you can kind of see the dry­wall tracks through the mud in the wall and it’s a lit­tle bit rick­ety, but it’s still stand­ing,” he says. “I’m one of five chil­dren, and af­ter I left that bed­room, ev­ery sin­gle one of my sib­lings went through it and it’s still there, so I guess that’s a tes­ta­ment to how well that first con­trac­tor taught me.”

When Clo­vis left his Toronto bed­room be­hind, he also tem­po­rar­ily put his ren­o­va­tion ca­reer on hold for foot­ball glory.

He played through­out univer­sity and was scooped up by the CFL af­ter grad­u­a­tion. His time in the CFL with both the BC Lions and the Saskatchew­an Roughrid­ers was bright but short-lived — he was side­lined by an in­jury, first in 2005 and then again in 2007 — but in the in­terim he won him­self a cov­eted Grey Cup ring. He com­pleted the en­tire 2008 sea­son be­fore mak­ing the de­ci­sion to re­tire.

When it was clear he wouldn’t be suit­ing up again, Clo­vis moved back to his T.O. home turf and pur­chased a house on the Dan­forth. He re­turned to build­ing, sharp­en­ing his skills on his own ren­o­va­tion pro­jects.

He moon­lighted as a per­sonal trainer, but his fo­cus was on his home, and be­fore long, it was at­tract­ing at­ten­tion.

“It re­ally be­came a show­case, and as peo­ple started to come over, they would ask, ‘ Who did this kitchen? Where did this ad­di­tion come from?’ ” says Clo­vis. “When they found out I was do­ing it, they were pretty amazed, first of all, but also I started get­ting jobs. Word of mouth just spread, and I’ve been do­ing kitchens and bath­rooms and base­ments ever since.”

And so it was on a con­struc­tion site that HGTV Canada found Clo­vis, hap­pily work­ing on one of his many con­tracts. He had not sought to cap­i­tal­ize on his sports ca­reer by mov­ing into en­ter­tain­ment, but when the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self, he was up for it.

The show that the net­work pro­posed to him is un­like most re­al­ity ren­o­va­tion shows where a team of ex­perts saun­ters in to make over a flawed space. In­stead, Tackle My Reno fea­tures home­own­ers in the GTA who are stuck on DIY house pro­jects. Clo­vis shows up to guide the fam­ily through the morass of studs and wires (and even clut­ter), and to­gether, ex­pert and rookie pull off mi­nor reno mir­a­cles.

It’s a con­cept that sees Clo­vis work not only as a builder, but also as a teacher, mo­ti­va­tional coun­sel­lor, and even cou­ples’ ther­a­pist. Luck­ily, he was al­ready familiar with the in­ter­per­sonal com­po­nent of his job.

“When­ever you’re go­ing in to build some­body a house, you need to get a sense of who they are and what their per­son­al­ity is,” he ex­plains. “I’m not into build­ing a kitchen just to give them a kitchen. I re­ally want to give them some­thing that has a per­sonal touch to it.”

Once Clo­vis set­tled into the im­pro­vi­sa­tional flow of re­al­ity tele­vi­sion, his nat­u­ral ease with build­ing trans­lated eas­ily to the small screen.

“What I’m re­ally hop­ing to do with this show is to em­power those guys who try so hard with their DIY jobs and make them feel proud at the end of the day that they con­trib­uted to build­ing their home,” Clo­vis says. “When they tell the story about that par­tic­u­lar ren­o­va­tion, they can say, ‘I re­mem­ber when I did this and when I did that’ and it just makes the ex­pe­ri­ence so rich for them.”

Se­bas­tian Clo­vis had a pas­sion for home ren­o­va­tions long be­fore he be­came a foot­ball star

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