Tiny House builder Cody Pilgrim will be featured on HGTV’s Home Town. Filming begins Aug. 13 for episodes that will air early next year. Pictured are his wife Alana and daughter Piper in front of one of his houses.
Tiny House builder Cody Pilgrim will be featured on HGTV’s Home Town. Filming begins Aug. 13 for episodes that will air early next year. Pictured are his wife Alana and daughter Piper in front of one of his houses.

Tiny house builder Cody Pilgrim’s Father’s Day gift turned into the opportunity of a lifetime as he begins filming with HGTV’s Home Town series later this month.

“I don’t really know what to think at this point,” Pilgrim said. “I think the actual excitement will set in when we actually start filming.”

A shared love of simple, Southern living and revitalizing historic properties keeps Home Town stars Ben and Erin Napier busy in Laurel, and they’ve invited Pilgrim to be a part for Season 3. His episodes will air early next year.

Pilgrim’s full-time job is a firefighter with the Philadelphia Fire Department, but in his spare time, he builds tiny houses. Pilgrim described being a firefighter and doing woodwork as his two biggest passions in a Neshoba Magazine story last year.

“I think I have finally found what I was called to do in life,” he said. “I’ve always had woodworking in my blood since I was a kid, watching my dad in the shop building things.”

Pilgrim’s path to stardom was helped in significant part by his daughter Piper, 2, and wife Alana and a little gift received last Father’s Day.

Piper gave him an Estwing leather-wrapped hammer. Since Pilgrim already has a work hammer, he made a display stand for her gift hammer and ended up putting a photo on Instagram.

Two weeks later Pilgrim received a package in the mail from Laurel Mercantile, the company owned by Ben and Erin Napier. Ben Napier had seen Pilgrim’s Instagram post and wanted to provide a working hammer.

“Ben said since I was going to display my hammer, he sent me another Estwing leather wrapped hammer to replace it,” Pilgrim said.

Pilgrim was in Laurel for the Season 2 finale of Napier’s show and introduced himself as “the guy he sent the hammer to.”

After that encounter, Pilgrim didn’t think much more of the gift until April.

“I was doing my clinicals at Neshoba General for my EMT basic,” Pilgrim said. “I noticed I got a phone call from a Laurel number. I figured it was just a telemarketer, so I ignored it.”

The call was a marketing pitch in some respects, but not from a telemarketer.

“When I listened to the message it was Ben Napier,” Pilgrim said. “He said ‘hey we have been talking about bringing you on with the team, how would you like to come on for Season 3?’”

Pilgrim immediately called Napier back, and the two talked about the possibility of being part of the TV show.  With production beginning in May, Napier said he needed a quick decision.

The two men met in Laurel to go over specifics, but at the time Pilgrim had a scheduling conflict with his work at the fire department.

“My schedule just didn’t quite work with their production schedule,” Pilgrim said. “They ended up hiring another guy at the time instead.”

But Pilgrim said his chance at TV stardom didn’t entirely end there.

“We stayed in touch throughout,” Pilgrim said. “He called me again the Saturday before the (Neshoba County) Fair started saying they would like for me to come on.”

The Wednesday before the start of the Fair Pilgrim went down to Laurel to meet with the cast and production crew.

The production crew ran through how the show would work. During a season there are 15 homes, with three separate projects per home.

“Ben and I will be working together on project items for the house,” Pilgrim said, noting that the two men would design and draw up plans that would then be shot as part of the show.

The projects will be smaller scale projects for inside the home.

“We might build some butcher block countertops,” Pilgrim said. “I know for at least one of the houses we are going to build a bed.”

The show, now in its third season, follows the Napiers as they renovate historic homes. Each episode is 30 minutes and follows the couple from start to finish on their renovation projects.

Aug. 6 through Aug. 10  they will do a walkthrough of homes in downtown Laurel and on Aug. 13 will start filming.

“We are so excited to have Cody come on and join the team,” said Napier, who has been busy with prep work for the show.