GREENVILLE — Trent Fasnacht, a 1986 Greenville High School graduate, invites his family and friends in the area to look for the two houses he renovated to be televised this week.
“Although the shows are currently available on iTunes and through Amazon, it will air again on Wednesday [Jan. 4] from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on DIY Network,” said Fasnacht, who has lived in South Carolina since 1999.
The self-employed contractor said he started working in construction in college in the 1980s.
“I worked for other companies until I received my General Contractors license in 2001 and have been working for myself ever since” he said. “I always loved to build things even when I was a boy growing up in Darke County. I spent hours in the sandbox on in the yard, which was actually a big, old tractor tire laid over and filled with sand. We built hay forts in our family barns. When it was cold, I’d build with Legos and I built some serious card houses with my baseball cards in the living room.”
He indicated he has worked in construction for three decades doing all the jobs from the guy delivering material, to laborer in the field, on-site engineer, and project manager in the office.
“I even had to fill in for two secretaries for a masonry contractor in Cincinnati way back when both the girls quit one summer and no one else knew how to do payroll or figure out the computer,” he said. “All of this was great experience. Bottom line though, I really love to build things. Always have.”
He holds a two-year Construction Engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and earned a bachelor’s in International Affairs from UC.
“But I really only used both degrees on some international mission work,” he admitted.
Fasnacht said the first house he bought had been condemned after a bad fire.
“I learned a lot on that project and I just kept building on what I learned from there,” he said. “The two houses I renovated this summer with/for the DIY Network were in Dorchester County, South Carolina, out in the country from Charleston: The Appleby House and The Cottage. The town is called St. George.”
He has worked with DIY before.
“I did a pilot episode for them in 2014 called American Rehab Charleston,” he said. “Then in 2015, we filmed the five more episodes on that house. They rated well and my producer in New York, Shawn Visco, the executive in charge for the DIY Network, got us a chance to do a couple more in 2016. She’s our voice in New York and, without her, none of this would have ever happened. She’s really talented and she sweats over all the details that make the show so great.”
“Anyway, it took a while to find the right houses, and the production company (Scott Sternberg Productions) wanted to film both simultaneously. The Appleby House was in rough shape, but it had potential so I knew it would be perfect for TV. The network fell in love with it as soon as sent them pictures in January 2016. The Cottage had potential in other ways. It was just a box, but I knew it could also be more,” Fasnacht added.
These two houses are both owned by him.
“Yes. That’s what I do and then the network and production company bring in dozens of people to help me so we can do everything in the set schedule,” he said. “Since I’ve been working with the network since 2013, I had a good idea what they needed for the show. They had some input though. For example, even though we had a tight schedule, they wanted me to buy my type of houses. Houses that no one else wants to take on. We called them Pig’s Ears…houses that have been condemned, abandoned or left as beyond repair. I looked at a few easier ones and they said, ‘Those aren’t bad enough. Find something worse.’”
“That’s not a problem for me,” he explained, “So I found what may have been the worse house DIY has ever filmed: The Appleby House. Hadn’t been lived in for 50 years and no one thought we could save it. It had been condemned, but the local historical society got involved years back. The Cottage had its issues too, but the Appleby House was clearly much more challenging.”
Fasnacht said he got started in commercial work when he worked for others, but now stated he keeps busy on the residential side.
“And, I’ve really been focused on these run-down properties that I buy and take on myself,” he said. “That’s been for over a decade and a half.”
His DIY appearances have included three houses, two shows and 14 episodes.
How does he feel about getting his work on the air? “It’s really unbelievable when I think about it,” he said. “People said for a long time, ‘You should be on one of those shows.’ But it’s not like you just call the network up and say, ‘Come on down and film me hammering and cutting.’ I just got lucky and I’m glad I’ve been able to do three houses for DIY that friends and family in other parts of the country can see. It’s been really fun.”
Fasnacht said he is now wrapping up some projects that got pushed back.
“I own another house that I’m really excited about,” he said. “I call it The House in the Woods. It’s completely engulfed by trees, bushes, weeds and vines. It’s another old house built at the turn of the century. Not sure we’ll get to do this one on TV though, but who knows? Anyone can see pictures of this house on my blog: Blood, Sweat, and Pig’s Ears — September 2016.”
When asked the size of his construction crew, he responded, “Good question. I never thought of it until you just asked. Too many to count. Seriously. We had two separate teams on each project on each side of town. People coming and going, working sometimes when I was not there and filming other places. Dozens on the construction side and close to 20 on the production team. Like I said, the network really sends it production and construction support so we can meet the strict production schedule.”
Fasnacht says he enjoys being in business for himself.
“It’s very exciting, a bit scary, and sometimes lonely, but when I manage to get to a closing with some profit… or I get some unforeseen opportunity like doing a TV show, it’s very rewarding,” he said.
Fasnacht was born at Wayne Hospital and lived in Darke County until he graduated from high school.
“I am also a proud alum of Washington Elementary that used to be out in the country where Wagner and Palestine-Union City roads meet,” he said. “I was able to go to school out there with the same group of kids (1973 to 1979) in each grade from half-day kindergarten until fifth grade when we all moved up to North School before junior high and high school.”
He said his great-grandfather, Oliver Oscar Fasnacht, moved to Darke County in the late 1800s.
“He met my great-grandma Amanda Alice and couldn’t live without her so he rode his bicycle from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, all the way to Ohio. She was a cutie!” he explained. “My parents are Keith and Judy Fasnacht. My wife’s name is Diann and we have two children. Diann is from South Carolina, but she makes me get her Maid-Rites and Red & Ruth’s pizza when we visit and is very fond of the long-john doughnuts from Eikenberry’s. I go for the apple fritters. My daughter really loves Greenville and wants to live there some day. I called her a ‘Carolina girl’ not too long ago and she corrected me and said, ‘No Way. I’m a Greenville Girl.’ My stepson doesn’t have strong feelings about anything in Darke County except my parents. He really loves them.”