Holmes on HGTV

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Holmes Knows Homes Best

Doing the job right the first time is what HGTV's host Mike Holmes is all about.

By Carina Calhoun
Photography by The Holmes Group


When a homeowner contracts a home repair or renovation, they must beware of the risks involved. The world is full of shady contractors who take shortcuts, use careless building practices or employ a Band-Aid approach to repair work, often leaving homeowners in dangerous situations or out a ton of money. Renovation expert Mike Holmes believes in doing a job right the first time and makes it his mission to expose poor, substandard workmanship in the building industry with his internationally successful show on HGTV, Holmes on Homes.

Initially airing in March 2003, in each episode Holmes rescues homeowners from repair and renovation disasters. Uncovering problems from plumbing and electrical to carpentry and roofing, he shows how the botched job should have been completed, fixing each project properly and helping homeowners make more informed decisions in the future.

Growing up, Holmes’ influence in construction came from his father, a trained plumber and a “jack-of-all-trades” kind of man. He explained, “I first became interested in construction when I was really young — probably about six years old.” After working with his father and learning the home renovation and remodeling business, Holmes was offered a generous monetary incentive to run a renovation company managing 14 employees by the early age of 19. 

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It was not before long that, after guest appearing on a show as a carpenter, he suggested to television executives to do a show about helping homeowners out of bad situations and educating them on how to get things done right the first time. Holmes said, “I feel my role is to educate and empower homeowners so they can take charge of their own renovations and not get ripped off.” He continued, “The more information they have, the better they can communicate their needs and concerns to the contractor. And the more realistic their expectations of their renovation project will be.”

Going above and beyond, Holmes knows the importance of resourcefulness and craftsmanship, his experience in new-home construction and sustainable building has given him international recognition as a careful and considerate contractor. Though, Holmes will be the first not to take all the credit. He stated, “A man is only as good as his team and I am happy to say that I have a very dedicated team that assists me in the day-to-day workings of the show.” And with receiving thousands of story submissions on a weekly basis, it is safe to say Holmes’ and his crew’s craft is in high demand. “Ultimately, we help people that really need our help but we also pick stories that provide variety,” explained Holmes on choosing projects for the show. Furthermore, the production pays for a portion of projects, the building material is donated by suppliers and manufacturers and a portion of the project is paid by the homeowners themselves.

With the current housing market in turmoil, homeowners are doing what it takes these days to add value to their home and others have special needs and circumstances. The problem with a lot of homes today is that they are all based on a minimum code and in order to improve the building industry as a whole we must all work toward building above minimum code, according to Holmes. This includes, using superior building products designed to resist mold, insects and improve air quality. “I think your home should outlast you — and in order to do that, you have to build right and use the right products,” said Holmes. More importantly, he believes in putting in the value into your home that the homeowner wants to get out of it. A common occurrence Holmes sees in remodeling projects today is building fast and cheap — which never equals a well-done job. As a contractor, his theory is, “you get what you pay for, and you can’t rush.”

And when it comes to constructing long-lasting homes, using environmentally-friendly techniques and products is the way to go. One of Holmes’ main components in home renovations is using sustainable materials and he is making it his mission to stay true to these energy-conscious home transformation tactics. In addition, Holmes and his crew built a remarkable sustainable and hurricane-resistant house in New Orleans as part of Brad Pitt's “Make It Right NOLA” project. He is also developing a unique community of eco-friendly and sustainable homes in Alberta, Canada, called Holmes Homes that will set a new standard for residential construction and design. The homes will feature accessible “green roofs” with water re-capture and insulation values.

For homeowners looking into taking on renovation projects, you’ll want to hire the right person for the job. “I think they [homeowners] need to respect the professionalism and experience of their contractor. Make sure you hire the right guy and communicate with them clearly.” He added, “Hire a pro and be willing to wait for them. The good guys are busy.” As for contractors bidding for projects in this competitive economy, they must stay on top of their game. Holmes suggested, “Keep up-to-date with new materials and new ways of doing things.” It pays off in terms of how long your job lasts and homeowners satisfaction. Keep open communication with your client and do your best to keep their expectations grounded. “A renovation is a process and a relationship – and you need to know how to work on that,” he stated.

Making the most of a remodeling project is the ultimate goal and when the project is complete Holmes said, “I have the satisfaction of knowing we have done it right and that the homeowner is living in a safe home.”

Carina Calhoun is editor of Residential Contractor. She may be contacted at ccalhoun1@penpubinc.com.



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