HANCOCK — Fred Ashmore may not be an avid TV-watcher, but that won’t stop the carpenter and mechanic from appearing on the new competition series “Battle on the Beach,” featured on HGTV.
The show follows three teams — each team tasked with renovating one of three identical homes located on the coast of Fort Morgan, Ala., just west of the popular Gulf Shores.
Teams are made up of up-and-coming house flippers mentored by big names from the popular home improvement network, Ty Pennington, Taniya Nayak and Alison Victoria. Carpenters like Ashmore, who is from Hancock, are responsible for building the homes.
“We take it from paper and we put it into reality,” Ashmore told The American.
The finished homes are judged by HGTV stars Mike Holmes and Mina Starsiak Hawk. Winners (the team that adds the most value to the home) will ultimately receive a $50,000 cash prize.
The opportunity is one that almost didn’t happen, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last March, Ashmore drove his camper down South to start filming.
“I was there 20 minutes and they canceled the entire filming for that year,” he recalled.
Ashmore then decided to spend time at his home in Oklahoma. Last January, he got news that filming would resume in March.
The timing worked out, with Ashmore noting that a storm destroyed homes in the area within the last year.
“If we had built the homes, they would have been destroyed by a hurricane,” he said.
Even with the threat of hurricanes and powerful storms a reality, Ashmore said homeowners are not hesitant to rebuild in the potential path of a storm.
“That’s the chance you take,” he said. “People know the risk.”
“It’s just a lifestyle for many people,” he added.
On set, Ashmore worked 12- to 14-hour days. He was tested for COVID-19 daily and his travel was limited. One exposure could lead to an entire shutdown of production.
Ashmore grew close to those he worked with.
“It was a really great experience,” he said. “It was kind of like being at summer camp,” where you could not call home and share what was going on.
“The people around you kind of became your family.”
Like many people experienced amid the pandemic, building materials and local contractors were in high demand.
Ashmore explained that the demand was heightened even more due to the show’s location and potential to be a “direct hit” for hurricanes.
“[Demand] is about 10 times higher than the rest of the country,” he said, with contractors often busy working projects.
“Battle on the Beach” premiered this past Sunday.
Last week, Ashmore said he planned to tune in to watch the first episode, but without much fanfare.
“I didn’t even own a TV,” Ashmore said, adding he purchased one recently so his father could catch the Daytona 500 when he was visiting him in Oklahoma.
“We will probably tune in on Sunday,” he said, saying it would be casual, “just [like] watching a sporting event.”
During the premiere episode, Ashmore’s team saw success and was picked for renovating the best kitchen.