My favorite home improvement show on TV is now Holmes on Homes featuring the likable, knowledgeable and photogenic Canadian contractor and home expert Mike Holmes. The show Holmes on Homes has been playing in Canada for a couple years and could be found on cable in the United States here and there, but HGTV just picked up a new season of Holmes on Homes and is featuring his shows prominently in their Sunday night line-up.
Who Is Mike Holmes?
Mike Holmes is now a mass media home improvement powerhouse with a newspaper column, several different television shows and specials, DVDs, books, a magazine and even some construction work clothing.
A typical episode of Holmes on Homes starts out with a desperate homeowner who was usually wronged by a home improvement or remodeling contractor. Some of the jobs are done poorly, some left incomplete and some are just done completely wrong. Sometimes a simple problem like a small leak quickly balloons into a total room demolition as Mike Holmes and his crew follow one problem to another.
After taking a good look at the job done by another contractor Mike Holmes usually sits down and explains some of the problems and then bashes the contractor for leaving the homeowner in the lurch or cutting corners or simply not doing the job the right way. The contractors in question are never actually named because, according to Mike, the show is “not about finger pointing.” That being said, the show will also sometimes feature legal experts who explain what recourse a homeowners have to get their money back or have things corrected.
Then comes the demolition part. Mike and his crew come in usually end up ripping out all of the previous contractor’s work. During the demolition Mike and his crew poke around for further problems and then explain what’s wrong and what’s right about the previous contractor’s job. Mike does give credit where credit is due and does point out the good things a contractor might do as well.
After fully accessing the project Mike and his crew get together and the rest of the show details how to really do the job correctly. So if it’s a botched bathroom job you’ll see Mike and his team gut the bathroom and then upgrade all the plumbing, install top of the line bathroom fixtures and finish it all off with professional tile work. Some episodes start out with a sort of “mystery” such as a leak that can’t be diagnosed or a structural problem that doesn’t makes much sense. Eventually, of course, Mike figures out the problem and then corrects through in the rest of the show.
The last part of Holmes on Homes is the “reveal” in which Mike brings in the homeowners to show them the completed project, which is usually complete with the requisite ooo’s and ahhh’s. It’s also the first time the audience gets to see all the work that was done while Mike explains exactly why the job was done that way.
The Holmes on Homes episodes are mostly formulaic but within that formulas there’s a lot of different interplay and personality. Each job is unique and it’s often interesting to see what unexpected challenges the crew finds.
Holmes on Homes is not a show in which the typical do-it-yourselfer will learn any details of how to actually complete a job. Instead, this will give you the “big picture” of all the work involved in a major renovation and it shows what can go wrong when homeowners blindly put their faith in contractors. Mike usually spends a fair bit of time warning people about the dangers of using shoddy contractors, but it really doesn’t always seem to be the fault of the homeowners who often have checked references and done everything in their power to get the job done correctly.
Who Pays For The Work on Holmes on Homes?
Mike often comes into a home to fix a few small problems but quickly finds lots and lots of larger issues to correct. He’s famous for essentially gutting a room and starting from scratch, which leads people to ask about who actually pays for all the materials and construction work you see in Holmes on Homes, especially when these people have often just spent thousands of dollars on the original contractor’s job. Generally, the labor of Mike and the entire Holmes on Homes crew is paid for by his television production company, but new materials are often bought by the homeowner. That being said, the materials used are often bought “at a deep discount” and in at least one case a supplier came in and said he was going to donate it all to the show because he felt bad for the homeowners.
Mike Holmes Criticism
There aren’t too many people jumping up to say bad things about Mike Holmes. He seems to be every bit as nice and genial as he is on TV, but insiders say he does tend to play things up for the camera. If anything, Mike Holmes seems to be guilty of “over-correcting” problems sometimes. Along those same lines he’s been accused of confusing “his own code” with the actual building code. In several episodes he has actually complained about the “minimum code” and then gone ahead and fixed something above and beyond what was actually required. Mike’s a perfectionist and I have to wonder if he’s really all that easy to work for.
Mike has been known to rant about how the Do-It-Yourself show he was working on was giving people the idea that they could do anything, but that professional contractors were often needed to fix the mistakes of amateurs. There is, of course, a fair bit of truth to that. As a guy who does a lot of DIY home improvement, I can honestly say that one of the best things you can learn is your own limits. If you’re uncomfortable doing something or not sure about attempting a job that could cause some real damage or hurt yourself, then hire a professional. No amount of money is worth getting hurt or putting yourself in a dangerous situation.
Mike has also received some criticism from animal rights advocates for attending a stampede and he reportedly had to take media sensitivity class early in his television career in order to clean up some of his salty language.
If you watch enough episodes of Holmes on Homes you begin to believe that all contractors are bad (except Mike Holmes, of course) and that you’d be crazy to ever have anyone other than him work on your own house. That’s not the case, of course, but since every show revolves around a home contractor or home builder doing something wrong you do begin to get a bit paranoid about exactly whom you can trust.
People who have seen the work done by Holmes on Homes firsthand have good things to say. They say that his work is professional, he does try to keep cleanliness and the homeowner’s schedule and family life in mind and he generally sticks to their wishes. It’s actually fun to watch him deal with a design decision that he doesn’t agree with. He won’t outright say something is ugly but he’ll say things like, “Well, I wasn’t sure about that color but it works, I think…”
Mike Holmes Crew and Cast
Mike’s crew changes slightly from season to season with different people coming in and others dropping out. Almost all of the crew members are qualified trade men and women who are either specialists such as plumbers and electricians or have construction and trade experience. Some crew and cast members regularly have conversations with Mike on camera, while some are mostly just seen in the background and labor montage shots. Some of the more recognizable current crew members:
Damon Bennett – Mike’s right hand man and senior contractor. Damon is often the guy who Mike first shares his ideas for the room with.
Shawn Morren – He served as Mike’s senior contractor during the first five seasons and often has a mischievous look in his eye. In one episode he mentions he was late for work because he was attending his pregnant wife’s ultrasound appointment. Shawn’s younger brother Micah Morren also appeared in some episodes of Holmes on Homes.
Adam Belanger – Another senior contractor who isn’t seen as much and seems to have a mischievous side to him. He’s also close to Mike, though in a different way than Damon. His wife is none other than Amanda Holmes, Mike Holmes’ daughter.
Mike Holmes Jr. – Yes, that tall lanky guy with the short blond hair is none other than Mike Holmes’ youngest child and son.
Carl Pavlovic – Carl is usually the go to guy for tile and drywall work, so he’ll often appear more in the later part of the show. Carl often plays up the humor which makes him fun to watch on TV at times.
Corin “Pinky” Ames – She is not just a pretty blond woman hired to make the guys happy. She was an intern who was hired on-air during season 5 and is a graduate of the Women In Skilled Trades (WIST) program.
Kate Campbell – Also a graduate of the Women In Trade Skills (WIST) program, Kate was the second woman to join the Holmes on Homes crew.
Mike Holmes Biography
Mike Holmes born in Canada on August 3, 1963, has home improvement contracting his his blood and started his own construction company at the tender age of 19. At age 6 Mike started apprenticing under his father (who has passed away) in the building, electrical and plumbing trades. His father, a “jack of all trades” in his words used to tell him to do things right the first time. Mike has taken his father’s advice to heart. The phrase “Make It Right” has become a mantra that he repeats in almost all his projects and tries to employ in everything he does. And, yes, Mike has that phrase, “Make It Right” tattooed on his right bicep, right above a tattoo of a bulldog. He supposedly has the nickname of “Holmesy” but he’s a pretty big guy, so I’m not sure you’d want to call him that to his face!
Mike got started in TV when he was hired to do some work for the Just Ask John Eakes home improvement show. Mike Holmes had an idea for a new show in which he would take his crew into homes that had construction and remodeling problems and make them right. His first show went on the air in 2003, but it wasn’t until he teamed up with Michael Quast and Pete Kettlewell that his entire show and the “brand” of Mike Holmes took off.
In 2006 Mike Holmes launched The Holmes Foundation which is a charitable institution which helps train young men and women in the skilled trades. In 2008 the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) gave Mike Holmes an Honorary Doctorate of Technology. In addition to keeping busy with various speaking engagement, publications and working with other building organizations he is working on a new environmentally friendly and completely sustainable housing project known as Wind Walk.
Because Mike is pretty easy on the eyes a lot of women want to know: Is Mike Holmes married? Mike Holmes does not seem to have a wife at the moment. He’s a divorced dad of three, but has reportedly been in a steady relationship with girlfriend Anna Zappia for a number of years.
Mike Holmes’ Family
As for the other members of his family, he has three children. Mike Holmes’ children are all in their 20′s and have all appeared on his show at one time or another. He has two daughters and a son. They are:
Amanda Holmes – His oldest daughter. She is married to Adam Belanger on Mike’s crew.
Sherry Holmes- His middle daughter. She was first seen on the New Orleans special and has appeared as a regular part of his crew.
Mike Holmes Jr. – His youngest child and only son. Mike Jr. has been seen on the show for several years and is now a regular part of the crew. In one episode Mike Holmes surprises his son on his birthday by giving him a new truck.
Mike also has an uncle, Bill Bell (known as Uncle Billy), who works as a truck driver and general equipment manager on the show. He’s the oldest regular crew member and often plays the role of father figure to the other younger cast and crew members.
Mike’s Life After Holmes on Homes
Overall, Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection are fun to watch for several reasons, though they all have to do with Mike Holmes himself. The show’s informative and Mike Holmes proves that he knows his stuff. He finds things most other contractors wouldn’t find (or at least leads you to believe that), he points out the errors of other contractors but he explains himself in such a way that you can’t help but learn a little something in the process. Mike is a natural in front of the camera with his gentle but firm demeanor, big biceps and muscle shirt. He plays the role of a superhero who arrives in the nick of time to help desperate homeowners with their homes.
Mike has new show called Holmes Inspection which examines bad homes inspections. It’s nearly the same concept as Holmes on Homes with just a few small changes. In Holmes Inspection Mike visits a house, usually finds some problems and there’s usually a need to rip apart or gut at least a few rooms to “make it right” again. Again, it’s a show about home improvements, remodeling, and fixing houses, but in Holmes Inspection Mike doesn’t actually do much, if any, of the work. He has Damon Bennett come in with his crew (which just happens to include Mike Holmes Jr. and Sherry Holmes) and they do all the work. You even see Uncle Billy from time to time. Mike makes appearances at middle of the show to see how progress is going and then he is still part of the ending “reveal” to the happy homeowners.
The first season of 26 episodes of Holmes Inspection did very well, but a lot of viewers voiced the desire to see more of Mike Holmes himself. The second season hopes to remedy that criticism by actually appearing in the episodes more. Mike will be doing more of the work and will be on the job site more in order to solve problems as they arise.
Mike is also working on yet another television project, but this one is a little different from his previous shows. He’s working with an unnamed animation company to develop cartoon show with a “Mighty Mike” character for kids. Mighty Mike will be a kid that’s between the ages of four to eight who will be loosely based on Mike as child and will obviously have some handyman in him even at that young age. There aren’t many firm details yet but viewers in Canada may get the opportunity to see Mighty Mike as early as Christmas 2011.
Contacting Mike Holmes
Mike Holmes has made lots of guest appearances on various shows in Canada and the United States and many people remember him as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He still shows up various specials and projects for HGTV, the latest one being the show the All American Handyman which aired in Fall 2010. It also starred Scott McGillivray, another popular Canadian contractor who has his own show, Income Property. Mike Holmes has an official Make It Right Twitter page, though it’s unclear if he’s actually sending his own tweets or not.
Episodes of Holmes on Homes can be seen in the United States on HGTV on Sunday nights. You can also check out the Make It Right Production company to read more about what Mike Holmes is up to now.