HGTV host visits Dacula home

When Pat Simpson hands out home advice, you may want to listen up. The man knows what he's saying.

"I grew up in the building business," said the popular HGTV host in a recent interview. "My dad, my brother and friends, all who were builders during my youth years, if you will, we would all build houses. ... I lived at the lake, so we built weekend cabins, we built boat docks, we built boat houses... Then I guess we got into more extensive buildings."

Simpson was in Dacula this week filming a promotional DVD for Jackson EMC, one in which he espouses the benefits of the company's energy-efficient Right Choice homes, as well as tips on how to perform an energy audit - a service the company also provides its customers.

And that's no hollow endorsement, Simpson said, adding he only champions products and causes he absolutely, 100 percent believes in.

"I really have to use and like what I endorse," he said.

All those years of hands-on experience seem to have taught Simpson more about home improvement than any classroom ever could.

"My resume is really a joke, to tell you the truth," he said with a laugh. "But I had a lot of fun doing it."

Somewhere along the way, Simpson managed to parlay that fun into a TV career, getting his on-camera start as the host of "Backyard America" on the now-defunct cable net TNN.

"They said, 'Pat, let's put you on TV. You'll be the handyman guy,'" Simpson said.

He took to being on camera pretty naturally, or at least, "they tell me (I did)," Simpson said. "I'm not an actor. If I was, I would starve. ... I just go to work like anybody else does, and there happens to be a camera there when I do it."

When TNN folded, the already in-demand host was approached by the upstart home improvement channel HGTV.

"They came to us, and asked if we could provide programming for them," Simpson said. "...The rest, as they say, is history."

These days, Simpson, 52, is one of America's most trusted sources for do-it-yourself knowhow. He hosts not one, not two, but three different shows on HGTV: "Fix it Up," "Before and After" and "Room to Improve."

He said the area of the house he's most often asked about is "the kitchen, hands down," which also happens to be his main area of expertise. His least? The garden.

"I do not have a green thumb," he said.

Simpson said this isn't the first time his work with Jackson EMC has brought him to Gwinnett, and that he always enjoys visiting.

"They treat me well here," he said.