Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 08/30/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Think back for a moment to all those times your dad would hover over you as you attended to some chore or other, and how he'd offer critical assessments at every step and drone on about how anything worth doing is worth doing right.
Then imagine what that experience might be like if your dad happened to be Canada's favourite contractor, ol' Mr. Make It Right himself, Mike Holmes.
Or better yet, why not just ask Mike Holmes Jr., who had the unenviable task of leading the construction crew when his father's dream garage was being built.
With Mike Sr. constantly looking on, and a camera crew documenting his every move, the younger Holmes oversaw the erection of one of the most ambitious, most complex and most manly man-cave-ish garage projects you'll ever see. And of course, the entire arduous, year-long experience was turned into an HGTV special, Mike's Ultimate Garage, which premières Monday at 7 p.m.
"It was life changing," the younger Holmes says during a recent telephone interview, in which he and his famous father compare notes on the garage project, which began -- with foundation bricks already in place -- early in 2013 and was completed while last winter's snow was still on the ground.
"It was extremely stressful, and one of the many things I learned from it is how to handle my stress better. You need to enjoy life. And don't get me wrong, it was a fun project and I did enjoy it, but I needed to learn how to manage my stress better during the job."
Mike Jr., 25, had just completed his first semester of carpentry training at a Toronto-area college when Mike Sr. stopped by his job site and offered him the chance to lead the garage project crew. For a relatively inexperienced tradesman whose previous work was limited mostly to renovations, it was no small undertaking -- the mega-garage in question is an 1,800-square-foot behemoth that is fully self-powered (thanks to 40 roof-mounted solar panels), features state-of-the-art water-recovery technology and boasts a full workshop (complete with two car lifts), a recreation room and workout area, and a lavishly appointed second-floor bar area.
"I had always wanted a garage," the elder Holmes says. "I have a big workshop, which I love, but the cars didn't mix in well with all the tools, because I was terrified of scratching them and they were always getting dirty. So I had stopped even playing with (the cars) in the shop, and realized that we had to build this garage.
"And then it hit me that if I could teach my son how to do this incredible garage project, and how to run the crew, then maybe we should be filming this. So I threw the idea at the network, and Shaw (which owns HGTV) said they liked it."
As stressful as it was for Mike Jr. to run the project and deal with a very steep learning curve, it might have been even more nerve-racking for his Type-A father and mentor to maintain a hands-off approach so that his son could fully benefit from the experience.
"It was hardest when he was really stressed, when it looked like he wasn't going to make it," the garage's proud owner explains. "So what I'd do is just say, 'Hey, come here,' and we'd go talk in the back yard, or I'd take him for dinner. I would tell him, 'You're doing good,' and just try to help him stay on top of it.
"And at the end of this, I know now that he can do anything... this was like throwing him in the ocean, and he had to swim home."
Given the many months and hundreds of hours of footage that were involved in filming this special, it would have been easy to propose Ultimate Garage as a six- or 12-episode series. But the contractor who has built a TV empire on the strength of Holmes on Homes, Holmes Inspection and Holmes Makes it Right (which had its season première last week) insists that a two-hour special is the right format for this HGTV effort.
"I knew that this would be good on television, but it also came to the point of, 'Do we want to be like the Kardashians ... or do we just want to make an action-packed, wonderful show?' And the latter idea took hold. We don't want people to get bored with something like this -- and I don't think they would have -- but this way, they're going to sit down on Monday night and be riveted by it. You're going to spend two hours watching, and then you'll kind of wish there was more."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 30, 2014 G3
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