Canadian Contractor

Rob and Steve VIDEO: Moonlighting firefighters. Mike Holmes answers his critics.

The first segment of our exclusive interview with Mike Holmes, as he responds to a barrage of criticism from Canadian Contractor readers. And Steve and Rob talk about moonlighting firefighters doing renovations for cash in their spare time... while they pocket gold-plated, public sector benefits packages.

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January 30, 2013 by Robert Koci

Firefighters working construction jobs for cash might be the most obvious example for the vast amount of cash contracting going on out there that you need to deal with. It’s a huge problem that our contributor Alec Caldwell brought forward in a recent post. It created a ‘firestorm’ of response from readers.

And Mike Holmes is ready to answer his critics. We have a short clip here from the beginning of the interview we will be posting in segments over the next weeks.

Robert Koci

Robert Koci

Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. Tel. 647-407-0754

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11 Comments » for Rob and Steve VIDEO: Moonlighting firefighters. Mike Holmes answers his critics.
  1. D. Brian Baker says:

    Come on’ Koci… you used to work for Holmes? Disclosure. Maybe someone else should have asked him the questions? DOes this make you part of that 80% which is why he let you go? Tell us clarrify.

  2. chris says:

    Rob, I’ve read your comments about Holmes in the past and while of course you must remain impersonal and professional in this interview, and Holmes wouldn’t have done the interview if you did otherwise of course… but did you eventually call BS on his Digest quote about 80% of the contractors being “bad”? (which is pretty damn close to 100% when you consider the percentage he allotted to the “good”)
    You mention he later qualifies what BAD means to him but that really doesn’t matter, to the average layman/homeowner who won’t see this interview and rationally assumes BAD means BAD/crook!
    I really hope the rest of the interviews don’t just raise my blood pressure Rob.

    I still have to laugh at the firefighter who respond saying Contractors should lower their prices to those of a full time, government employees working on the side for cash. I really hope this person isn’t honestly this stupid.

  3. Robert Koci says:

    Chris: I am no Oprah, but as I mentioned, we did talk about the percentages.
    Brian: I used to write his Globe and Mail column. That is what we are referring to. I was fired because the president at the time did not like a comment I made about Mike Holmes in a column I wrote about being on the show, Handyman Challenge.

    You’ll get to judge my impartiality as you watch the clips over the next couple of weeks. Now I get to be in the line of fire!!

  4. Robert Koci says:

    And Brian, I am serious about you telling us more about the new apprenticeship rules you mentioned on Facebook. email me.

  5. Brian Baker says:

    Thanks Rob for clearing that up because of the other comment that was posted implied that you were working for him as a renovation contractor. Regarding the issues with Apprenticeship, I will put comments together for you and then you can use it or not. Thanks again.

  6. pete de jonge says:

    not only firefighters but city workers and policeman, we pay their wages.

  7. I have not watch a lot of Mike Holmes shows but I have seen enough to get the gist of what he is all about. My question to him would be is he as hard on the home owner for hiring a “bad” contractor. Why did they not do a better job checking out the references, getting the contract in writing etc. Perhaps Mike could provide the public with advice on where they can go to get a good standard contract. We use a standard form from the local home builder’s association. What things should be asked when checking a reference. It is easy for the cheats to provide bogus planted references. I encourage potential clients to go and have a look and talk face to face with references. No job goes perfect so ask how the contractor dealt with the problems. I’d be curious to know what type of references the firemen provide. Also ask Mike what level of effort a home owner should make to understand the scope of work and what is being done to their house. An educated consumer will always get a better deal than one that just takes what is being offered no questions asked. Often I get the impression people will spend more time comparison shopping for appliances than they will checking out a contractor. If the public can be properly taught how and why to look for a quality contractor this would be a good start on fighting back on the underground contractors.

  8. ed sloot says:

    Please, don’t tell me what you are going to do or for that matter what you did. Your action speak’s for itself and so far I don’t see any thing except talk. Who really cares what Bob holmes think’s or does; or whatever his name is! I really thought you all would have figured out by now that real contractor’s don’t give a hoot about Mike! Just stop with that disaster already please! and while you are at it nobody I know has enough money to care about investing thier money in oversea account’s so you might as well forget that aspect also.
    Otherwise I’d like to see some of the feedback regarding the overpaid firefighter situation.
    We have an upcoming PRESIDENT’S BALL in our local homebuilder association, I think the place will burn down if I mention anything about either subject

    ed sloot

  9. Why is there always so much negativity surrounding Mike Holmes? For some reason the Contractors, Trades and Builders just hate him. You mention his name out in the field and the swearing begins. I’ve been in the Residential Home Building Industry in Alberta for 17 years now, holding numerous positions along the way before starting my home building company.

    For two of those years I was a Regional Building Inspector and it was the most stressful two years of my life, I met more useless Contractors, Trades and Builders and I stopped more projects then I care to talk about. I can honestly say that in my opinion the Alberta Residential Industry is filled with a lot of good sales people because someone is conning these people into using their services.

    I can’t speak for the rest of Canada but is Mike Holmes that far off? In 2009 Consumers Council of Canada did a survey with new homeowners in Alberta and 92% of homeowners were not satisfied with their new home. Is that a made up number by CC of C, or is it accurate. If it is accurate why, could it be the Builders, Trades and Contractors are not delivering on what they promise?

    For all you who believe that statement doesn’t hold water, how about this one. In 2010 the Edmonton Home Builders Association awarded Builder “A” the Builder of the Year Award, an award voted on by the members of that association. Later that year the JD Powers Survey showed that same Builder “A” to be one of the worst builders in Edmonton which is a survey completed by the homeowners who purchase the homes. Which award is more accurate, an award determined by a “club” or an award determined by the homeowners, the answer is very obvious.

    I guess my point would be if you think that Mike Holmes comments don’t apply to you why would you bash him and his efforts? You can say “who really cares what Bob Holmes thinks or does”, but if you are one of the good Contractors why would you waste your time and show all those around you how unprofessional you are?

  10. Way to go guys!
    I’ve been talking about these moonlighting firefighters for years.
    I’m not sure about the percentage that do it.
    The cities should fire these moonlighters, when caught
    and take away their golden pensions.
    If these workers really cared about the people that they worked for, they would not work for cash:after all their golden pensions are funded from
    If these city workers were actually dedicated to public safety, they would get permits and have their work inspected .
    They would not be wheeling and dealing in cash.
    Criminals deal in cash.
    Its time to finally level the playing field.
    If moonlighting firefighters would actually work during work hours they would not have the energy to moonlight.

    I have some positive suggestions :
    instead of hanging around for the bell to ring at the fire station watching TV
    Maybe suit up and visit schools, educate people all about fire safety.
    Visit retirement homes and check if all the fire equipment is up to code.
    Inspect homes, and poorly ventilated factories
    and educate home owners: about not tinkering with their home electrical equipment, hiring professionals with proper training

    But wait ! that would actually be serving and protecting the public.
    and end the double dipping.

    Lets get our public workers really working for the public’s best interest.
    Being Proactive has always been better than reactive.
    Fire prevention saves lives, Do what you were hired and trained to do best.
    Save lives, stop putting your personal finances ahead of peoples lives and safety.

  11. Larry Gravelle says:

    Mike Holmes show brings out the best of what is actually happening out in the field. Poor workmanship, no permits, cutting corners, lack of knowledge, and the money grabbing criminal minded contractors.
    With little training or none, people believe this work is easy, and they know everything.
    Too bad that the odd show doesn’t have great workmanship and perfect jobs by good contractors. OH wait, no one would watch the show!
    After 36 years in the business, nice to see others having the same problem of resolving poor projects done by others.