Updated Aug. 19: Mark O'Mara was sent home on the Sunday, Aug. 18, episode of "Brother vs. Brother." Read more on the FlipSide blog.
Mark O'Mara is thankful to have an understanding mother.
Once, Pat O'Mara came home from a weekend trip to find that he'd cut a hole in one of her brick walls. After she regained her composure, she realized the advantage of having a son who likes to practice his architecture skills.
"I said, 'that's the door to your new deck,' which I eventually built," Mark recalled with a laugh.
Now, Pat has a three-level deck with a pergola, where she grows wisteria, at her Springettsbury Township home.
"I filmed him working on the design and talking about the project, and he submitted that to HGTV," she added.
The video was part of Mark's lengthy interview process for the new series "Brother vs. Brother," which premieres Sunday night.
The show pits twins Jonathan and Drew Scott, of the hit home remodeling show "Property Brothers," against each other. Each selects a team of five experts for a renovation showdown.
When Mark, 31, walked into an open HGTV casting call in October 2012, he had no idea what he was signing up for. After seeing an ad while walking down a street in New York City, where he lives, Mark landed on a list of 2,000 applicants. He made it through a few rounds of callbacks before producers told him he'd be working with the Scott brothers.
"When I found out that this was going to be a brand new show, I could not have been more excited," Mark said.
As an architect, he loved to tune into "Property Brothers" to see how his skills and ideas measured up. He said he was glad Jonathan, a licensed contractor, picked him because they have more in common, career-wise.
The hardest part, he said, was keeping his participation in the build and shoot in Los Angeles secret for several weeks.
Now that the contestants have been revealed, Mark has been inundated with well wishes from folks back home in York County.
"You really realize you do have support from a lot of people," he said. "I hold York near and dear to my heart. If it weren't for the experience I had there, I probably wouldn't be at the place I am now."
Mark still remembers drawing his first two-point perspective at Central York Middle School. After more drawing, he decided he wanted to be in the building design industry. When he graduated high school, he studied architecture at The University of Tennessee.
His first on-site job was for York Haven's James Craft & Son Inc. mechanical contracting service. He also did projects for his mom and neighbors. The hands-on learning and understanding of systems involved in construction projects are still valuable tools, he added.
About a year after his 2004 college graduation, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. Mark said he figured his skills might be able to make a difference. He traveled to the area and was picked up by and architectural design firm, which contracted him out to organizations, including FEMA.
Since then, he's also done rebuilding projects following the 2011 Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado and Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.
"You have to be cognizant that people lost homes, jobs and loved ones," he said. "It's a very tense and delicate situation. (Rebuilding) offers the ability to start over and to move forward."
He started his own company, O'Mara Solutions, which provides project management and design solutions to public and private entities.
While he's excited to get some exposure through HGTV, he can't discuss specifics of "Brother vs. Brother." But he said he learned a lot while surrounded by teams of creative people.
"Jonathan became a mentor," he said. "We had a lot of fun, but at the end of they day, we're all in a competition."
Mark understood the sibling rivalry between Jonathan and Drew, since he has twin sisters - Keli and Megan - who are both artists working in Chicago. He said the brother whose team wins the competition will get major bragging rights.
And like any proud mother, Pat is showing off her son's skills. She brought a copy of HGTV Magazine, which features the show's contestants, to York Cancer Center, where she's worked for 22 years. She planned to be in New York to watch tonight's premiere with Mark.
"This is a big deal for our family," she added.
If you watch
Twins and stars of HGTV's renovation show "Property Brothers" Jonathan and Drew Scott face off in the new series "Brother vs. Brother." Drew, a real estate agent, and Jonathan, a licensed contractor, each lead a team of experts in a renovation showdown.
Each team has a set amount of time and money they can use to add the most value to a home. The winner gets $50,000.
The show premieres 10 p.m. Sunday, July 21, on HGTV. For details, visit www.hgtv.com/brother-vs-brother.
Be part of an HGTV special
Nancy Glass Productions, a television production company in Philadelphia, is seeking couples and families to appear in an HGTV special being shot at an RV Show held Sept. 11 to 15 in Hershey.
Three families - with or without children and with or without RV knowledge - will be chosen and followed by a film crew as they shop for RVs. Each family will be filmed over the course of a single day as they look at vehicles, try out new features and talk to the camera about their experiences.
Interested parties should email photos and a brief description of themselves and their family to email@example.com.
For details about the RV Show, visit www.prvca.org.