Canadian Contractor

Mike Holmes Interview Part 1

Robert Koci   

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What Mike really thinks about contractors

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28 Comments » for Mike Holmes Interview Part 1
  1. Phil Lewin says:

    I’d love to see the Mike Holmes video, but don’t want a U tube account. overall, what I’ve read in your online magazine has been excellent!

  2. Paul Jackson says:

    Where to start?
    First off, Thanks Rob and CCM for giving Mike the ability to defend his comments.
    I truly believe that he and most other contractors want to make this industry better, to both homeowners and contractors. I do agree that a good contractor teaches the home owner, it makes for an educated client, and personally speaking has netted me a lot more work from those clients on future projects.
    Now to the interview so far. I better understand his 70 percent classification now. I think it misleads people( especially homeowners) without explanation or definition. Now what I do wonder is , if it is true that on one historic project in the GTA his show didnt get the right permits and he doesnt hold tickets for all the work he has done on the show, would that class him in the 70 percent as well. Just curious!
    I am looking forward to the rest of the interview,
    Thanbks, Paul

  3. Don says:

    To help us all to understand Mike Holmes a little better, what are Mr.Holmes credentials, what factual evidence is he basing his assessment on and where can we all as an industry review this data? Way to often media paints an icon with a certain color brush in Mike Holmes Case ” coveralls” and because they fit all of the consumers perceived criteria we accept them as the quote on quote “expert” In a recent poll commissioned by GAF, 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know as apposed to 27% from “experts” and only 8% from celebrities. I am not quite sure where Mr. Holmes fits in hear but statistics supports that these types of unsubstantiated comments not only harm Mr. Holmes reputation but do little to enhance consumer confidence. The pollsters will strongly confirm that you can manipulate opinion to derive at what ever opinion you are looking for.

  4. D. Brian Baker says:

    Rob, Have to admit it you did a great job and Mike did a great job at defining the 80/20 comment. I am going to think about his numbers a little more, but you know seriously… I am not that unsure he is incorrect with the 70/20/10. It was really great to hear Mike openly admit that in his mind anyway there are 10% of Clients he walks away from. That number I do think is bang in the money and is what we ourselves see. Looking forward to more, I may just like your approach here and it may send us all on a new path of discussion. All the best!

  5. Phil Peters says:

    Mike is talking double talk. When he is ranting on air he is forcefully expressing himself with anger disgust and total frustration with that unspecified host of terrible contractors out there. That flamboyant attitude incites fear and sells air time while alerting home owners to be aware of those really bad guys.
    Here, he talks like in that 80% grouping there are contractors that are regular humans hardworking caring human beings that would be better if they kicked it up a notch. Ten % of Doctors lawyers and teachers are really good and excel at their profession. There are a large number of them if they really put a lot more effort out they could do a lot better. At the same time a small proportion of shisters reside among them too. No body takes a Mike Holmes flamboyant vocal sledge hammer to the whole crowd. Mike, now go clarify this with your viewing audiance.

  6. Wendon says:

    For the most part I agree with a lot of what Mike does and says. He very much recommends getting a pro and a really rips the poor shoddy work. I don’t watch the show much but have a few thoughts on his program. As for the definition of a good contractor being a teacher probably a fair amount of truth but if the teacher doesn’t know what he is talking about then there is a good portion of the 70% group. The biggest question I have about the show is that he often tells what was wrong and what the cost was to the home owner for that work and then comes in and does the fix. By the look of the show it seems that there is an unlimited budget. In the small amount that I have seen the program I have never seen it done in that the owner foots the bill and says this is what I can afford or my budget. What can I get done or fix what was done wrong. Then the hard choices and discussions take place as it becomes a trade off as to what the owner would like to see done, what he can afford and what the contractor can do and still make a profit. It is great to talk about the 20% that would lose money on a job to make sure it is right but one can only do that so much and you don’t have a business. I know the simple solution is to price higher but then we run into the budget. The show does make for good TV but to really help the public and the contractors out I would like to see some money numbers on the show: I know that can be boring and not a good ratings booster. What was paid for the original work, what the cost was to do it right, and would that be within the budget of this home owner if he was footing the bill. It is one thing to come in and fix it if the budget is being covered by the TV network and another if the owner is. If the figures of the estimate or quote before hand and the final figure were shown it would help owners realize the cost of professionals tends to be more expensive because they carry the insurance, WSIB and have invested in the correct equipment, tools and training. It would also help the good contractors out there as people would be more prepared fore realistic pricing.
    As I said before I haven’t watched the show much and may be way off base.

  7. Mr Holmes pretty well boasts that he has never ever liened a job in his life !
    How in gods name is a guy who goes on record as a guy who never succeeded in a contracting business have the gall to say the proper thing to do when a Customer treats him unfairly and unwarrantably withholds money is to write it off!!
    Does Revenue Canada write off money i owe them , but feel i dont ?
    better still …does wsib write off monies that they make me feel i borrowed off them ? Does my mortgage lender write off monies in the name of being good and being passionate about their job ?
    Mike Holmes who thinks hes the be all to end all thinks because he has all the media propaganda in the world to back him , that hes the one who wrote the book on fairness too? He’s going to Far Rob!
    I ve done my share of eating someone elses generated losses.I DO NOT feel good about it ! as he states i should !
    Enough of this bull lets move on top someone whose got something realistic to say !
    Too much grandstanding show biz here !
    I want to hear from someone who has 35 years of experience , making money legitimately .Someone who through “experience and common sense alone does not unnecessarily or unfairly let anyone push them into financial ruin !I
    Tell mr Holmes i have never gone bankrupt …..even when it was suggested i should .. then ask him …..has he ? .

    • Robert Koci says:

      Robert: I feel your pain but we still have about 25 minutes of interview left. You might have to look away for a while!! I think the thing that balances whether you walk away or fight is “respect.” If you can’t walk away without feeling like you are not respecting yourself, you have to stand up to the injustice. If you can walk away with your head held high knowing you did everything you could to insure a good job and a satisfied client, then I thinking walking away is okay. But you can’t walk away from disrespect. If you do, you’ll face it over and over again, and never learn how to see it before it becomes a problem for you.

  8. Andre says:

    The whole Mike Holmes thing boils down to television. I see a lot of push back from Contractors who see someone elevated to a position of authority with no real credentials – and that is not to say he isn’t qualified to some extent. There are a lot of people out there who are extremely competent but lack formal training. In the case of Mike Holmes, the problem as I see it is he is not playing on a level field. He has a lot to say but does not appear to have any of the real life issues Contractors deal with day in and day out – and as mentioned, money or budget being the predominant one. His repairs are just not real world practical and to have unlimited funding as a footstool when everyone else is digging out of a hole should disqualify him from any real discussion, which brings me back to television. Television for the most part requires a measure of suspension of belief to fully appreciate the medium and should be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, too many choose to exercise the opposite view and see the world of television as gospel and people like Mike Holmes in turn choose to exploit their confidence. This causes no end of issues with homeowners who now have a misguided sense of reality and Contractors endeavoring to make a living in that space. Mike Holmes would be well served to ensure he is as forthcoming and transparent as possible when it comes to budgets and practical application of the code. Doing so would certainly aid in diffusing the tension.

    • Robert Koci says:

      As a minor member of the media who has come from the trades, I know fully how the media has to torture the truth sometimes to make sure it is heard and attracts an audience. Well meaning people can often find themselves “selling out” for the sake of keeping food on the table, much like contractors who are mostly legitimate but do some cash work in order to pay the bills.

      • Andre says:

        I’m not sure if there needs to be a selling out of anything. If Personalities such as Mike Holmes took it upon themselves to genuinely educate the public, not only on the obligation of the Contractor but what a reasonable expectation should be on the part of the homeowner, this could be a non-issue. There is a distinct oversight as regards the homeowners part in all this. The homeowner is every bit as obligated as the Contractor when it comes to ensuring a right conclusion to any business relationship – and this includes an understanding that a good job will cost good money. Mr. Holmes lack of transparency on what he spends on a repair gives a skewed perspective on what a homeowner might reasonably expect from a proper job. This leads to unnecessary confusion. No one, and I repeat, no one would be willing to pay for the work Mr. Holmes claims is required on his repairs. Any contractor who dared broach such a contract would be tossed on his ears – and rightly so. Reasonable expectations – and there is nothing reasonable about Mike Holmes approach. It should come as no surprise then that homeowners, when confronted with a legitimate proposal for a “Holmes like” repair, invariably venture the risk of an unqualified, much less expensive contractor – and suffer the consequences. The end result it would seem, is the Holmesian principle backfires, fuels the fire and affords Mr. Holmes more opportunity to champion the downtrodden, and around we go . . .

  9. D. Brian Baker says:

    Andre, I wish Rob would have a like button for some of the comments that have been made or an agree or disagree because I applaud your comments. Aslo, pleased that this issue is getting great feedback and that we are not making this a Mike Holmes bash fest, but rather looking at this from some really great points of view and that can only be a good thing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Robert Koci says:

      Brian: My feeling is that the comments are moderating somewhat. Now that the initial frustration is expressed, we are getting more measured, thoughtful responses.

  10. Don says:

    It had been quite some time since I watched one of Mike Holmes Episodes, but after watching Canadian Contractors interview with Robert Koci, I figured that I would tune in. The episode aired 2/12/13 on HGTV Mke and his army were taking on a rather interesting roof deck modification. This is what I observed
    1. demolition began without the adequate materials on hand
    2. Due to unpredictable weather conditions, you do not dimantle what you cannot replace, This team left 80% of the home exposed overnight to potential hazards.Protected only by a lght duty tarp. If any of us know roofing, a tarp is a false sense of security and should only be relied upon only in an absolute emergency situation.
    3 Although the job was extensive there were no plans,permits, or bill of materials to execute the renovation process intelligently.
    4 I only witnessed one cut in this episode and it was off by 7″
    5 Mike brought the client on top of the roof to do some work, with fall arrest, but you can most guarantee that she did not have fall arrest training, nor was she wearing steel toed shoes on a demolition site a definate MOL violation
    6 Although I could almost see what Mr. Holmes was doing by reconfiguring the slope (nobody wants a dead valley) I am not sure that the means by which he chose was the best, an engineered drawing which may have some cost attached , could have saved the consumer money, and presented a more architectural appeal.
    For these reasons I am forced to place MIKE HOLMES CONSTRUCTION in the least compitent category of the 80% deficiant class.

  11. Don says:

    In our society lets see now.
    We have the media who stick together
    We have the police who stick together
    We have the doctors who stick together
    We have the politicians who stick together
    Thank-you to alll those valiant men and women who sell out to lies so that those trying to live a truthful life can wollow through your brown sugar while ernestly trying to convince our clients that we are not the enemy.

  12. Lee Boland says:

    Arrived in Canada 10 years ago after carpentry work starting in Australia as an 18 year old. Since then worked in Austria, Holland and France. Seen a bit.
    Was originally very impressed with Holmes on Homes. Liked the overall message and intent of the program.
    Since then have become a little disillusioned with the “perfect scenarios”.
    We constantly live, work and deal in a state of compromise.
    How often has a homeowner complained about quality of finished product when it was they that made the decision. I’m constantly trying to convince homeowners that long after the bill’s are paid they should still be happy with the work. Too often they opt out on price and long after they forget what little they saved they are still unhappy with the finished result.
    Are they going to admit to their friends that they cheaped out or find another scapegoat??
    Another thought, weed out the ugly….how about insurance companies making it known that they will only cover work done by licensed contractors?
    Sorry guys, maybe off topic a little but been thinking something needs to done about losing on price to some guy with a pick up and a toolbelt.
    Thanks for the time.

  13. I have pros and cons with Mike. Mike is definitely one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. However, I find that he misses the boat on one aspect of the renovation industry and it has to do with the homeowner. In his programs he is quick to blame the contractors work, but never tells the full story. It is obvious that the repairs he performs are due to the lack of experience of the contractor the home owner hired. However, the homeowner did hire that contractor. The homeowner did decide not get a building permit. The homeowner probably had two or three contractors to provide an estimate and decided to go ahead with the lowest bid that was with the less reputable contractor. I have never seen or heard Mike mention any of this. I see it and hear everyday from customers I meet. Then to top things off, Mike walks in with his crew of 10, demos and rebuilds, makes it look so easy sparing no expense on labour or material. Do you think the average homeowner could afford that? I don’t. I know it is not up to Mike to promote what the homeowners rights and obligations are and that is squarely up to the Ontario Government. However, Mike is such a high profile personality in the renovation industry that he probably should discuss how the homeowner ended up in the messy situation they did.

  14. Don says:

    Looking at the 80/20 rule, not a bad statistic when you concider 100% of Mike Holmes participants had deficiencies. Oh and did I neglect to mention most of them are getting the work done for free, and likely this is the value they were most likely looking for from the original contractor. Quality does not cost it pays. As contractors we should be allowed more input into these interviews, when you leave these sensitive issues to media interviewing media, you will always get some facsimile of the truth, both are looking for ratings and there are some pretty defined rules on how the interview will be conducted, Canadian Contractor magazine is not about contractors its about subsribership and advertising, sure once in awhile they will throw you a carrot to keep you coming back, remember its not about you, if it was they would not even give Mike Holmes a platform, and if in doing so they would begin with serious questions and insist on serious answers not some wishy washy I love you Mikey questions.Who cares if Mikey don’t like it, he dosen’t have to face the hundreds of thousands of customers that we face daily with suspect because Mikey paints a false impression

  15. chris says:

    I’ll have to wait and watch all the interviews to make my final judgement, or at least see if I will change my previous judgement on Mr. Holmes.
    I would, however, love to know why Mike believes, to be considered a GOOD Contractor, the working person should take money out of their own pocket for a homeowner. What circumstances would be in play to cause one to pay for someone else’s home renovations? Now, once or twice you may come across an old lady with no money who’s house is about to burn down without new wiring and you might give her a price to rewire without any profit but… I’m afraid few of us would be wealthy enough to rewire and pay for all the labour and materials and never more then a few times. I think that comment was very unclear. Can’t sleep? How bad is the home owners problem and why does it become a contractors?

    I’m not sure if Mike ever owned a contracting company but if he did, it’s hard to believe he never liened a property, we have.

  16. D. Brian Baker says:

    Chris you do raise some very good points. We have always taught or employees to be empathetic but not sypathetic. I also share this will young persons because to be sympathetic means that you will own the clients problems, but to remain empathetic means that we are there to do what we can to help but the problem is the clients. We do not ever work for free. Once a client asked how we could charge $85.00 to turn a switch on. The response was the charge for turing the switch on was free, the cost of knowing which switch to turn on that cost you $85.00.

  17. i Think my main point may be starting to become clear .Mr Holmes is an Actor !
    NOT a contractor . Never was , never will be !
    What most of us more legitimate Contractors are concerned with is peoples belief in what they are exposed to in the media and inadvertently construed as gospel !
    A great many of the viewers have no idea he has to have material for his weekly diatribe to feed the readers , and viewers , that are so important to the media moguls .
    Its All pre,contrived “stuff”
    Even this very blog is serving the same purpose for this very publication !
    We contractors are merely props in their exercise for ratings !
    WE need legislation passed for them to post a notice in the credits stating ….:” Notice
    The people shown in the following program are actors ., the topics and stories have been altered to fulfill the producers and sponsors agenda .”

    When are we going to see a reality program that exposes media hype and how profoundly , adverse an affect its chicken little antics has on the general public .!

  18. Don says:

    Good point Robert, I beleive that It all started with the advent of T.V. When man learned how to energize molecules and send them through the atmosphere and they could miraculously appear as a picture on your T.V. screen, All in the sudden the banks started creatung something and calling it money (fiat currency)
    The food industry began making this stuff out of fancy incredients (chemicals) packaged it in a colorful container and called it food. The politicians took something awesomely beautiful (intelligence) and turned it into stupidity The media than takes all of this stuff , and i mean stuff because none of it has any resembance to its original form, they paint with all kinds of descript words, add a picture or two frame it with mile high walls so no one can challenge it and gently place it in your mind and call it the truth, and at the end of the day after hundreds of thousands of impregnations you begin to believe that this is reality when in fact Robert after all was said and done it was all just an illusion. Mike never really fired Robert , Robert failed the audition.

  19. Frank Soule says:

    One that that I can say is , especially in the last four or five years, the homeowner has become alot more educated. With shows like Holmes and of course others, the home owner does appear to have more of an appreciation that you get what you pay for. I do sales and estimating in the roofing industry and to me i would say that still one out of three homeowners will be looking for the cheapest price. Period. And I suppose there wouldn’t be much of a show if Mike went in and said ‘no, everything looks good here, these guys did a great job!’ I concur with the comments above that without a real budget and if the home owners on the show had to pay out of their own pocket, reality does take the back seat. But atleast there is ,in a sense, a median out there that educates the consumer to the risks involved with dealing with some contractors. How many are bad? I cant give you an exact number but we all know there out there. I have no concerns about that because I too try to educate my customer about the different ways things can be done and why they are going to see those ‘low ball’ prices. Some people get it and one out of three people are still going to go with the cheapest price and subject themselves to problems down the road. I think if we can eliminate all the ‘riif raf’, the guys without Comp or Insurance and the guys that dont believe they will win the job unless ther’re the cheapest price and to do so have to cut corners on quality, I think thats more of the problem then some pompus T.V guy that uses the word ‘I’ alot more then he uses the word ‘We’. As a side bar, Mike, I saw one show were the cost of the repairs was a zillion dollars and then you put a crappy 3 tab shingle on the roof! Whats up with that?

  20. Thanks for interviewing Mike Holmes. Would be nice to see his real credentials and meet him someday, perhaps up on a roof.

  21. Dyrk D. says:

    The majority of the Holme’s series programs deal with upper middle-class residences that have been either renovated poorly by an unscrupulous contractor, or a new tract-housing build that was poorly constructed to begin with. Occasionally there is a situation where someone of very modest means truly needs help to remain in their modest home, as opposed to materialists with their oversized McMansions, stainless steel appliances, 100 recessed lights, and zoned HVAC + infloor heating installs, marble countertops, full separate bath and shower combo’s, 2-3 car garages, etc, etc. who have been burned on their $100k reno to an already over-sized house.

    The Holmes solution is to nearly gut the majority of the new products used in the home construction and send that material to landfill, and then rebuild the home to suit his preference and higher-than-code specifications. Windows, cabinets, etc. that are totally salvageable and could be sent to a re-use center or used in humble cottages / outbuildings are destroyed with sledgehammers in an orgy of juvenile home-bashing. All the while Mr. Holmes boasts about respecting the environment. And you wonder why Michigan has contracts to take Toronto’s garbage – I’m sure Mr. Holmes has his own dedicated lot over there with reduced tipping fees for his bulk-services.

    I’ve always found the show un-ethical in its flagrant disregard for budgeting and expenses and unrealistic repairs; sheer waste of salvagable materials, and preference for helping the moderately wealthy of society. Everytime I see another yuppy gushing over their brand new kitchen when only the plumbing required replacement, it makes me think of all of the Canadian’s with homes half or a quarter of the size, poorly insulated with bad electrical, foundation problems, old heating systems, mold, etc. that could truly use renovations to bring their homes up to snuff. HGTV and Holmes seem to prefer demolishing new 3000 sq. ft homes and above and then pimping them out with hot “bling” on advertiser / network money and free labour (in essence, advertising for the involved contractors so there’s a symbiotic relationship there…).

    I used to be a regular viewer of the program several years ago, but gave up with the drama queen antics and ‘woe is me’ owners and reno’s of $500k homes in Toronto. There’s really no other word for all this than conceit.

    I think I’ll stick with my reruns of This Old House, Bob Villa, Norm Abram, and Tom Silva…straight up guys with good advice, realistic pricing and repairs, and very educational without all the arrogant bullshit, and playing up to the cameras.

    • Very well articulated dyrk !
      I have a building literally FULL to the rafters with perfectly reusable stuff that i just cannot find it within me to discard .
      yes , my wife calls me a hoarder ….but i guarantee it ALL good and perfectly usable stuff !
      I often find myself giving it away to my family , friends , and people i know in need of it . As long as it going to a good home .
      Otherwise it sits here until my kids inherit it !
      On a day trip to the small carribean island of Dominica ,( after noticing a broken toilet seat in a public washroom…that they were asking $ 1.00 american funds to use ) I was never ever more compelled to try to arrange with a local contact there to see if i could maybe ship a container with various items such as toilets , bathtubs , sinks , cabinets , windows , doors and such that there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with , besides knowing hey were previously used !
      It never did happen after a few attempts and communications . But the concept is there !

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