Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don't Call Mike Holmes...

This little article, published by the Chronicle Journal, talks about some of the ways to avoid having to call Mike Holmes with your own sad reno-nightmare. It's true, Mike gets many desperate pleas for help, but he's only able to reach a small portion of those who need him. As the article points out, a little bit of prevention is worth all the cure in the world. Research and education are the keys to a successful renovation, and rushing can only lead to disaster. When it comes to your home, take your time and do it right so that Mike doesn't have to come bail you out.

Long story short, the only time you want to call Mike Holmes is to invite him over for a beer, not to beg him for help.


Don’t call Mike Holmes

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
MIKE Holmes is a popular fellow. And why shouldn’t he be? It seems he’s the only person standing between hapless homeowners and the seeming army of crooked contractors and renovation types who promise good work at fair prices, only to create havoc and leave behind a mess to fix.
Holmes, the popular host of HGTV’s Holmes Makes It Right, makes a very good living fixing those messes. And he has no trouble finding people who have had horrible experiences in the wild west home renovation market. One episode features the show’s producer and director who say they have trouble choosing among so many sad stories. Many homeowners don’t know how badly they’ve been taken until Holmes and his crew pry apart houses to find shoddy workmanship done on the cheap.
What does it say about the renovation industry when a handyman can make a career out of undoing what others in his business have done so badly? It says that you cannot trust anyone who you ask for a price on repairing, renovating or improving your home without doing some serious research.
Do that and you will find the good people. Don’t and you will end up among scores, hundreds, thousands of Canadians left with cheap work intentionally done badly. Often, it’s because the person or business hired has taken on too many jobs at once. Juggling them all in a short Canadian building season means the date you were promised the job would be completed can come and go with much more left to do, at times meaning you cannot live in your own home yet. In order to finish your job and move on, corners are cut, then covered with drywall and plywood.
This newspaper annually directs angry, frustrated readers with renovation woes to the chamber of commerce (most small, private handymen aren’t members), the Better Business Bureau or their MPPs for possible help through consumer legislation. But, as Holmes often finds, these roads can lead nowhere and homeowners are left to take the matter to small claims court. Incredibly, these courts often find in favour of fly-by-night renovators who successfully argue that work was done. It’s a matter of opinion whether it’s quality work, and officers of the court do not come by to see how bad it can be.
That’s where Holmes comes in. Homeowners lucky enough to be selected for his expertise get huge reductions in the cost of the work left to do because those who end up doing it right get exposure on Holmes’ popular show. But in order to get there, one usually has to have spent their life savings and more with no end in sight to the job they thought they’d agreed to.
Holmes invariably finds work done badly, or dangerously, and his anger at those who soak homeowners and give his industry a bad name is palpable.
It can be exciting to plan and prepare for home improvements. But don’t rush into anything. Once you’ve talked to someone in this business, take a few days to think about it. Don’t sign anything on the spot. When you do, make sure it says what you want it to say.
Ask for and check references. The company can also be checked out with the chamber of commerce and Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.
Ask for a written estimate. Then get at least two more estimates from reputable businesses in your area. That big saving may be a sign of a deal too good to be true.
Have any proposed contract checked over by someone trustworthy — ideally, a lawyer — before signing it.
There are three columns of Renovations and Home Improvements listings in the Yellow Pages of the Thunder Bay phone book and more advertising in newspapers. Some have been around for years, which usually means they are trustworthy. Some are smaller, independent contractors anxious to do good work to make a name for themselves. Some may be crooks looking to take your money in return for the assurance of quality workmanship that is anything but.
Mike Holmes is a nice guy, but you don’t want to call him.

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