Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MIKE HOLMES: Lots learned in decade of making it right

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It's official. It's been 10 years since Holmes on Homes first aired across Canada. Where did the time go? Fixing a lot of crap, I can tell you that much.

You can learn a lot in a decade, too.

When the idea of me hosting my own show first came up, I didn't want it. The world of television didn't interest me: I'm a contractor. Plus, I thought television was part of the problem.

I was seeing too many people end up in a world of trouble because they were "inspired" by something they saw on TV. They would watch home-improvement shows that made renovating a bathroom or finishing a basement seem easy. Next thing you know, they would spend thousands of dollars on fixtures and finishes that need to be ripped out not even six months later.

The shows I was seeing were only about the eye candy -- granite countertops, crown moulding, hardwood floors, pot lights, ceramic tiles, fancy bathroom fixtures -- the lipstick and mascara. But they never focused on the really important issues. Things like proper building code, preventing mould, making a house airtight, controlling moisture, or knowing if removing a wall will screw up structure.

The worst part was homeowners were getting the idea a good job can be done fast -- a new kitchen in one week, or a new bathroom in three days. People would see a renovation on TV, then hire the first person that said they could do it for the least amount of money and time. Two months later, the homeowners would be broke with a half-demoed house. They had the right intention but the wrong idea.

But television is a tool. And any tool can do a lot of good and a lot of bad; it all depends on who's holding it. So I thought if I could show people what a job done right is supposed to look like -- using television -- I could help save thousands of people from huge disasters. And that's what the next 10 years became about: educating homeowners on how to do things right so they can avoid expensive problems in the future.

Most of the problems I've dealt with over the years could have been avoided, such as hiring the wrong person for the wrong job. Or sometimes homeowners think they can handle doing something themselves but then it snowballs into a situation that's too big for them to manage. The problem is that at this stage in the game the homeowners are most likely strapped for cash, otherwise they would have probably hired someone else to do the job in the first place. And if they've messed around with the plumbing, electrics or structure, fixing the problem can come with a huge price tag.

Remember that simple things go a long way, like regular maintenance. But for homeowners interested in renovating their home, the first thing I always say is slow down. This relates to everything from hiring the right contractor to choosing the right materials and products. Do your research -- don't assume other people will do it for you. Because at the end of the day you're the one stuck holding the bag -- and we all know what's in the bag. If you want to make it right, you need to plan it right -- and planning a renovation takes longer than doing the renovation, so take your time.

It's also about spending smart. Focus on making your home safe, durable, efficient and strong instead of just making it look good. It's like that saying: Why spend money you don't have to buy things you don't want to impress people you don't like? Because who really cares about granite countertops, custom cabinetry and fancy appliances if your roof has a leak? Anyone who does doesn't have you and your family's best interest in mind.

I thought I'd be doing television for two years, tops. Boy, was I wrong! But like I said, you can learn a lot in 10 years. You can also teach a lot. That's been the main focus of the work I do. And I'm no psychic, but I think I'll be doing that for the next 10 years too.

-- Postmedia News

For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 20, 2013 F5

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