Magazine for professional home renovators.

Mike Holmes responds

Well, you’ve had your say about what the show Holmes Makes It Right has done to our industry and your reputation. Now the host of the show, Mike Holmes, will get a chance to answer back. Last week, I did a 30 minute interview with Mike that we will be posting over the next few weeks on canadiancontractor.ca.

I was impressed with Mike during the interview. He was very, very forthcoming while we talked, and didn’t shy away from any of the criticisms you leveled at him. I’ll confess, I didn’t directly quote some of the more personal attacks we received (like, “I wouldn’t let Mike build my doghouse!”) but I did zero in on the three objections that came up again and again; that he doesn’t have a ticket for any of the work he does, that he gets the benefit of sponsors supplying product for free and that he is destroying the reputation of the industry to fill his own pockets.

Now that we have begun a dialogue with Mike, I expect it to continue. At the end of the day, Mike considers himself one of us, and wants to make the relationship between him and the industry right. The only way that happens is if we talk, you you need to continue to send your comments. It would be very interesting if you could send comments that were specific to a particular episode of the show. Just comment on this post to continue the dialogue. In the mean time, stay tuned to this website for more from Mike.

 

Posted by
Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. Rkoci@bizinfogroup.ca 647 407 0754
36 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. A few years ago I was lying in bed watching an episode of Mike Homes.
    He a was repairing a leaking bonus room above a garage, that of course was not done right in the first place, and he was on a ladder wiring a new receptacle for a garage door opener, Then later it showed him installing the garage light fixture and installing the receptacle, there was no mention of an Electrician, permit or doing it right by a qualified tradesman, what he showed his viewers was if you need some electrical added to your house get your carpenter to do it!
    I was appalled! I found an address to the show and emailed the producer.
    I did receive a response which surprised me, and the response read something like this. “We only have a half hour show and have no time to mention those issues”
    I had replied again and had stated that it would have been better not to show any wiring being done than wiring done by Mike himself. I have not watched his hypocritical show since!
    Most qualified Electricians, qualify as a Builder, but no qualified Builders qualify as an Electrician!

    • Robert Koci

      Rob: The reality is, homeowners and others are allowed to do their own electrical. There is no provision in law that an electrician MUST do all electrical in the home. So, actually, Mike is perfectly right in doing what he did.

      • Absolutely not !

        Mike would be allowed to do the wiring in his own home if he took a home owner’s permit…… not in anyone else’s home.

        Don Stum PEC

        Master Electrician

        ps. PEC = Professional Electrical Contractor

    • I am a builder and no electrician should think he can do more than electrical. Lets make a deal, the builders build the electricians do electrical. I know basic electrical and i don’t touch it in a clients project. I have seen electricians try to do there own carpentry, no header where there should have been. Unless you have worked as a builder with someone who knows what they are doing you can’t say you can do it

    • Have u seen some of the so called Electricians.

      • Robert Koci

        What are you suggesting?

  2. I realize “Holmes Makes It Right” is making consumers aware of the pit falls of renovation work. But it seems slanted toward the extreme cases, and doesn’t balance a view there are many reliable and honest contractors out there, and this gives a false impression of the industry. In many of the cases the home owners should be made more aware they are half the equation. Did they do their due diligence in checking out the contractor they hired (references, licenses etc) did they talk to multiple companies or trades to compare one from the other, did they have a proper budget to have everything on their wish list, or did they proceed with mostly wishful thinking. Where the show takes a real dive is when it comes to the repair and final fixing of the original project. All of a sudden there’s an unlimited budget to not only do it right but over and beyond whats needed. This also gives consumers the false impression that anything and everything should be done, but where does all this extra expense get balanced out (this is never explained). This scenario is more true for the renovation business and doesn’t give the overall right impression of our industry. But I do feel Holmes should be harder on New Home Builders, because the cost driven market gives the building industry the imperative to build as cheap as possible to be able to maximize profits and this has lead to extremely cheap building practices. There are many examples of single homes and multi family complexes that need expensive repairs or are unlivable in a short period of time after construction. This is a result of a price driven market, so the consumers need to be reminded they are half the equation.

    • Robert Koci

      In my interview with Mike I asked him about the emphasis on bad contracting in his show. He acknowledged that good contracting doesn’t make good TV, and that’s when he softened his definition of “BAD” contractors. You’ll see the clip soon when we post it.

  3. I admit that I have been frustrated watching ‘Holmes on Homes’ and don’t watch it often. The solutions and sometimes the projects are to me over the top and frankly not cost effective for the issues the client faced in renovating.

    But I am a fan of the show in the respect of at least shedding light on the less glossy aspects of construction and design. Explaining the shoddy work they find at least causes pause for some do it yourself-ers and allows me as a designer to convince clients to allocate at least some of their budget on structural integrity and the like. When discussing the show with clients I caution them to understand that media, marketing and entertainment have been mixed in large parts to ‘the solutions’ by the end of the program.

    I believe a client wants a home they can feel safe and comfortable in. Its perhaps human nature to place faith in ‘if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it’ or ‘well if its lasted this long’. Or for the handy homeowner ‘ it doesn’t look that hard’ and ‘I could do that at half the cost’. Unfortunately I feel the show sometimes brings in the contractors approach of – lets rip it all out and start from scratch and then it will be right.

    The overall ignorance with the public and frankly the industries perspective is that there isn’t a middle ground or at least its sometimes very hard to find. I work with residential clients in designing the projects that they have to pay for and live with. I try to focus on the critical elements such as structural, health and safety and dance with the budget around the finish expenses in lieu of doing it right. In these times of economic there has to be a better way for the industry to work together to make it right, safe and affordable.

    I applaud Mr. Holmes for the role he has taken in attempting to educate the public and ultimately taking shots from those of us who can’t appreciate the risk involved in taking the spotlight. I’ve met and worked with Mr. Koci and Mr. Holmes in Habitat for Humanity circles and give them both kudos taking a lead in the media to bring some perspective and education to the public.

    • Robert Koci

      You’re the first person that has suggested that Mike’s show puts too much emphasis on the “rip it out” approach to renovation. In fact, there are many times when you can fix something with a lot less drama. But again, it doesn’t make for great TV, does it?

      • In response to some of the comments here I would like to point out that Mike constantly mentiones that people should do their homework. Check references, ask to see licenses & insurance coverage, don’t pay excessive amounts up front. Watch for red flags.

        As far as tearing everything apart is concerend, take a recen episode of Holmes Inspection where the people had spent 80 000 dollars to have new heating & duct work installed because many areas in the house were very cold.

        The ductwork was wrong, there were gaps, aluminum pipes, improper connections etc. In order to fix the problems walls had to be opened up which revealed other problems like a leak from the top bathroom, which meant more walls had to opened to determine where the leak was coming from.

        The bouncy floor in the bedroom was the result of using inadequate 2×8′s for a span they were not desiogned for. There were untold plumbing & electrical problems.

        Now, when it becomes neccessary to open up walls to to fix a problem & in the process you discover more problems, what do you do? In Mike’s case, because he has the means, he does what needs to be done.

        That does not mean that other contractors, without Mike’s resources should do the same thing. But the least that should be done is to make a home owner aware of the problems & let them decide if they want to live with it or if they want to spend the extra money to have it fixed.

        To jump on Mike that he tears everything apart & gets most of his materials from sponsors or for free so he can go over the top when it comes to the job, well, that’s a red herring.

        Whether you use expensive or cheaper material, it should be installed properly.

        Yes, Mike has bitched about lousy contractors for years & keeps complaining about minimum code. If we had proper laws that would proscecute shoddy contractors instead of terming it a civil matter, forcing people to live with the rip-off.

        Judging by some of the scathing & insulting posts on any number of contractor forums, mostly by people who have never met Mike or really know him it would seem Mike has managed to pull the wool over peoples head for 10 years. Does anybody honestly believe that he would’ve lasted that long if he was a grand standing faker?

        That’s a lot of Baloney as far as I’m concerned. I think a lot of it is more based on envy and/or jealousy. Any of those critics would jump at the chance that Mike had if it came their way.

        Whatever he has achieved so far he has worked damned hard for it and is still doing it.

        Disclaimer: I was (unpaid) senior moderator of the Holmes Forum for nearly 10 years & know Mike better than all these naysayers.

        Jundee

  4. A few years ago, Mike did a segment on an addition to a home which had a Hi-Velocity System (manufactured by Energy Saving Products Ltd.) spec’d and installed. At the beginning of the segment, he made it clear that the original design to the home had been changed considerably, however the changes were never submitted to the HVAC design department. As a result, not only was the Hi-Velocity System undersized for the application, it was also installed poorly. As the manufacturer of the Hi-Velocity System, we would have looked forward to the opportunity to comment on the install and even take the necessary steps to correct the errors. Although Mike corrected the deficiencies, an alternate manufacturer’s equipment was used, leaving viewers with the false impression that the original equipment was substandard.

    • Robert Koci

      That’s a big deal. I imagine i must have been very frustrating to watch. I’ll ask him about that one.

  5. First I will give you my back ground and experiance , I am Alberta trained SAIT Journeyman Plumber/ Red Seal , Class 1 Gasfitter , Building Superintendant with a Building opperator A Certificate . I was self-employed 20yrs. as a subcontractor and also with my own Business . At present I am retired beause of Economic and Heath problems , hopping to be able to go back and do some work later this summer .
    With regards to Mike Holms , I like to watch his show , BUT there are things that I question . Watching his show there are always things he dose that I learn from , inreguards to renovations , as that is what I did as a service plmbg/gasfitter , as there are differant ways of doing things and staying with in code and there where things that I did that I was better at than Mike !! The down side and I think this has been mentioned a few times is the tearing out and starting over ? Cupboards smashing and throughing into dumster , why not be careful and take things out and reuse or give to some of the recycle places , same with 2×4′s and other lumber , recycle is good for the environment , people use recycle .
    Mike is very big on himself , nothing wrong with self confidence , BUT , Mike is more on doing it his way . With Mike not being a trades person , I guess thats where I would question some of his dog- matic- ness . Going to trade school there are things that you learn , little things , that you won’t learn out side of school , the school stuff is your foundation , from there you then start your learning , but you have got to have your basics . I had a chance to skipp first year plumbing school , I’m glad I didn’t , because I learned things that I needed to know for later on . Any ways I keep watching !
    Merv Snyder

  6. Hi there.It seems to me that all i have been reading is mostly part negative on mike Holmes.People are forgetting that he is just like us but with more heart. He has volunteered his time into helping people that are less fortunate as well helping those who are in need.Yes he has a segments on television and i have learned alot from his show. I am a single mother and never held a hammer or used a screw driver before i watched this show. Now i have put a sub floor in my basement and i am currently building a room and i am very proud of what my daughter and i have accomplished on our own.This, i give thanks to Mike and his shows and maybe every segment can’t have every step in it as they are timed, but check his sights as i also follow them.So Cheers to you Mike keep up the fantastic work.
    Deborah

  7. I was wondering if Mr. Holmes and his crew will be heading to High River Alberta. The devastion there has been compared to New Orleans. I would love to see him help a family there. My son is currently there doing clean up and he tells me everyday how sad it is that people have lost so much. Yesterday while do cleanup he found a award. He gaive it to the home owner , she broke down and cried. My heart goes out to these people and it would be great if Mike and the crew could help a couple of Families. Single parents or an elderly couple? Thanks kate

    • Kate,

      Mike went to High River & promised to do something to help the people there.

  8. Not part of the industry, but I feel all of you folks are unfair to Mike. It’s a television show, of course it needs to tug on heartstrings and show the extreme cases. No one wants to watch a show where he just removes poor window installs and fixes them.

    Of course we, the public are ignorant of a lot of things, it’s in every industry though. Q8 years in the automotive industry has taught me more than most. You won’t believe how many people think I’m trying to fleece them when I tell them about what they actually need done on their vehicles.

    I just think you folks are being too hard on Mike and not realizing that there are a ton of bad contractors who take a lot of money for poor work. Mike and his team fix it.

    • Robert Koci

      Harold:
      I appreciate your comment. If you are a good contractor doing good work, you tend to think everyone else thinks like you do. The fact is, there ARE a lot of very bad contractors out there. Another way to look at Mike is to realize that when he highlights bad contracting, it makes the good guys look a lot better by comparison.

  9. I was just wondering , how are the reno’s funded.

  10. This topic has come up & answered many times over the years and in a nutshell the answer is that homeowners pay from 10% to 20% & the show funds the rest.

    But that’s a bit of an oversimplication. The way it works is that the network HGTV
    (Home & Garden TV Canada) earns advertising revenue which is high when a show is very successful & the Holmes shows have been the most successful of all the shows aired by that network. So the higher the revenue, the more they can spend on the show which the Holmes Group produces.

    Apart from the revenue Mike receives from HGTV for the current shows, he also earns royalties for each of the previously shows that are aired in a lot of countries around the world. This can add up to thousands of episodes, past & current, that air every day. Even if the royalties are small, the volume adds up.

    In addition Mike has other income from his books, newspaper articles, commercials, endorsments etc. so he is able to do a job that may be more expensive than first anticipated, depending on what he finds. If people are totally broke & can’t afford even the 10 or 20%, he’ll wave that. It also allows him to use more expensive material or add stuff like new appliances etc. if he wants to. Stuff that the owner didn’t even expect.

    The frequent complaints from some contractors that Mike goes over the top with expensive materials is a red herring. If he wants to do it & can afford it that does not negate his opinion that no matter what material you use, it should be code compliant, be the correct item for the job & be installed properly.

    Sure, some homeowners are unreasonable in their expectations & expect that you do a first class job for peanuts. I know for a fact that on some episodes the owners made some demands for Mike that were unreasonable. In every instance they received a firm NO.

    • Robert Koci

      I have to ask. How do you know all this?

      • I was the first & longest serving moderator of the Mike Holmes Fan Forum (nearly 10 years) and met Mike shortly after he started his show.

        Over the years I got to know not only Mike pretty well but also members of his family, his crew, his office staff, some of his longest serving contractors. I was on a jobsite during the first year, as well as had my 70th birthday party at their office with all their staff. I met all the key people in his operation & was present at his charity events like M&M and supported his various charity events when I couldn’t attend.

        He knew he could trust me because I never ask for or expected anything except when he & his staff gave me signed pictures & books he had written.

        So I think I can safely say I know him better than most of the critics that sound off about him.

  11. I don’t know a thing about Holmes or much about his highly acclaimed and very successful TV series. However, as I am a carpenter (Journeyman, Canadian Standards) I have to let you know I have some concerns. One of those was raised just now on an episode of Holmes Makes It Right. He was disparaging the unknown door installer who had been involved in a recent renovation on the home he was working on. He went on at great length about the “stupidity” of anyone who would hang a door with the hinge pins on the exterior side, and actually went to the extent of ripping out that brand new door and having it replaced with a unit with “normal” hinging. He wondered “whether the door was put in backwards or whether it was the house that was backwards”. However it’s quite possible neither was the case.

    Mike never once mentioned the very common and popular practice of hanging doors in “reverse” or “outswing” orientation, particularly where an inswing door would compromise available interior space in smaller rooms, etc. The hinges used are termed “NRP” (which stands for “non-removable pins”) and are available almost anywhere. As well as that nearly all exterior doors on public buildings are either sliding or outswing – inswing doors become a hazard in emergencies where the crush of panicked occupants trying to exit could be disastrous.

    Viewers never did get the chance to closely inspect the “stupid” job, to see whether or not the door had been designed and installed as an outswing assembly. Hopefully the homeowner didn’t shell out over a thousand dollars for nothing, (and possibly end up with a room cramped for space ‘to boot’).

    I look forward to hearing back from you or Mike, or a representative of the show to clarify.

  12. If Mike Holmes wants to be like one of us, meaning an upfront and honest General Contractor working every day to build and maintain our clients’ trust and good relationship, then I suggest he quit using his national media presence to push his unproven claim that he is ‘Canada’s Most Trusted Contractor’. Your saying it doesn’t make it true, Mike, just as bad contractors making false claims give you a platform for a TV show.

  13. Another wrong assumption. Mike never coined that phrase. It was Reader’s Digest.

    The Canadian Parliament also named him a “Builder with a social conscience”.

    • Robert Koci

      Mike sparks a lot of comment. I know him personally, and I can tell you he has and always will have the heart of a contractor. It’s been said a million times before, do believe everything you see on TV. Everyone likes to shoot down the big guy, but he comes by his “names” honestly, in my opinion. We’ve been critical of him for sure in the pages of Canadian Contractor, and we have allowed our readers to sound off about him and how he characterizes contractors as bad, but I think he has done good contractors more good than harm. He certainly has elevated the standards of many contractors that would not have felt the pressure to be better otherwise.

  14. Thanks for the biased responses.
    I’ve spoken with numerous and varied professionals in my industry, since, and the consensus is that as actual working construction experts we cannot be taking someone like Mike Holmes too seriously. After all, he is simply a television entertainer with no grounding in reality. It’s our responsibility to truthfully educate our clients, without personal or financial prejudice, regarding their specific needs and criteria. Thank you for creating the opportunity for me to realize the difference, Mr. Koci.
    By the way, Robert, I have always respected and enjoyed your voice and your work in construction journalism. I would caution you as a fellow professional as to those you make your bed with as stars do rise and fall, leaving their pawns in humility.

    • I need to add one last item. Has Mike ever paid back the people that subscribed to his magazine that went under?

      • The answer is no. He lost 1/2 million dollars on that deal. Of course in hindsight he, or his advisors, should have done a better job checking out who they were dealing with.

  15. I am in the process of buying my first home!!!! Unfortunately, it needs a lot of work. My husband is disabled and unable to do most of what needs to be done. I have four grandchildren that live with me and our current house is WAY too small for us all, but as much as I watch his show, the more I realize I need HELP!!! I just cant afford it. Ive even resorted to checking out salvaged materials to do some of this work, but we live in East BF Oklahoma, with not many neighbors. I Would GREATLY appreciate any advise or referrals to any agency’s that could assist us. I just want to make the house pass FHA standards so we can move in and buy it!!! Thanks for your time and consideration, Lisa Watson- Scrivner

  16. I think Mike is a God send for ALOT of people, and would LOVE to have his help. Hes very compassionate and informative, and I record ALL his shows. Would Love to see him in Oklahoma!!!

  17. How many people did this guy screw going bankrupt quite a few i bet . Did it for my wife what a frickin hypocrite. 4/5th of the people paid for what they got and ok it because of money and the viewers just don’t get that information. Yes there’s lots of fly by night contractors out there you pay for what you get. Get referrals. Most the people watching this show don’t have the slightest idea about building codes or renovating.and rely on everything this hypocrite says.Your giving a bad name to good contractors.
    Mike Holmes if your so great pay everybody back with interest you screwed going bankrupt you phony. Until then shut up your annoying.

    • And you are insulting.

  18. We all think we are the best at what we do. I have been one that I will bring in the trades to do what they advertise they do best but I or one of my crew have to fix what the licenced professionals has screwed up. Mike has made a difference but much like the Canadian government he has forgot who has helped him get where he is today. I can remember one of his early shows when he was driving a beat up red Dakota towing a home made trailer, he was beefing up the floor joist in a home, years later he done a show condemning what someone had done while trying to beef up the floor structure forgetting that some people have watched most of his shows. I guest most honest people will try to correct their own mistakes even Mike. I have stayed small for a reason, I like the personal contact I have with my customers and if I make a mistake I fix it without building a new home. Mike, thanks for making a difference but in my experience it is the guys that have the paperwork are the problem. I have helped different people learn the basics in different trades, it was up to them to keep an open mind and learn the skill but because there isn’t enough skilled personnel to verify the knowledge of the new tradesmen but there are people slipping through that shouldn’t be licenced. Mike’s dad and Mike carried the label Handyman, I am not sure if Mike was embarrassed with that label and that is why he started out condemning us but lately he has stepped back. Paperwork is important CONTRACTS protects the home owner as well as the contractor and I believe in it, and Mike I am a registered Canadian Handyman.

  19. Dear Sir,

    Right now a friend of mine is having major construction issues with the so called people that are suppose to be certified. A home that was to be finished by the end of last year is still going on.

    The so called construction team is putting up stuff which is not approved by anyone. Then when the owner comes to check it out nothing is anywhere where it should be.
    This crew does not even know what a p.o. is for. These people just installed a what was suppose to be a beautiful staircase with huge splits in it. The owner inquired about the cracks ans splits in it and they said it would be handled. Well, it wasn’t they decided to put up the one they had built and tell the owner there it was handled. Yay end up in the hospital ok as the staircase is still there and very unsafe to be around.

    My friend was in the construction business until there was unfortunately a very bad explosion and she was badly hurt by it.

    They never write anything in hard copy form they only text when they feel it is convenient to do so. Unfortunately there seems to be major problems in communication skills. Even when the owner and the construction crew have a discussion and set out when jobs are to be finished by and the construction crew never gets the timetable right.

    Please can anyone out there lend us a hand on how to get this handled the right way.

    There are so many problems with this job that I would end up writing you a book.

    Sincerely

    Eddie Smith eddiesmith60@yahoo.com

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