Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mike Holmes: Hope For the Reno Industry

Watching shows like Holmes Makes it Right, Holmes on Homes, and To Catch A Contractor hosted by Adam Carolla and Skip Bedel can leave homeowners with a bad taste in their mouths for contractors. It's true that hiring the wrong guy who doesn't know or care enough can ruin your life, your home, and maybe even your marriage (Mike Holmes calls the debris kicked up during a painful renovation "divorce dust"). But just when it seems that all hope is lost, Mike Holmes reminds us that there's a lot to be positive and hopeful about. It seems that under Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, two more fraudulent contractors are going to jail for not following through with their work. This is great news for homeowners and good contractors alike, because it sends a clear message to all the frauds out there that there are consequences for taking people's money and running. Because of people like Mike and shows like To Catch a Contractor and Holmes Makes it Right, word is getting out that a job in the trades is something to be proud of, and can be very lucrative as well. It's also apparent that homeowners are taking notes and educating themselves so they don't become victims. This is all great news for the renovation industry!

Mike Holmes: There is hope for the reno industry

Two more “contractors” are going to jail, this time convicted of charges under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. Their crimes? Not following through on kitchen and bathroom renovations — by far the two most popular renovation projects homeowners undertake.

I’ve been saying it for years: We must have clear consequences for people who take people’s money, disappear — sometimes after destroying a home — only to move onto their next victim.

When bad guys get caught and are penalized for it, the entire industry benefits. And stories like the one about these convictions give me hope. They tell us we’re on the right track. There are other signs, too.

Growing up, I didn’t have things like Skills Canada and WorldSkills, national and global competitions that recognize the trades for what they are — cool, something worth investing in, to be proud of and that you can turn into a great career.

Canada’s tradespeople rank among its best natural resources. Being a contractor, carpenter, mechanic, plumber or electrician means something different than it did when I was growing up. These days, you’re likely to get a date if you are in any one of these professions. That wasn’t always the case in my day.

The word is getting out that these are great careers attached to great paycheques. And that’s attracting some of the best students this country has ever seen — people who care about doing a good job and who are proud to do it.

Take Our Kids to Work Day (held this year on Nov. 5) is another great opportunity that’s helping to improve the trades and educate another generation about them.

The first time my son, Mike Jr., worked on a job site was on Take Our Kids to Work Day. Now he’s in his second year of carpentry earning his Red Seal, and he’s an experienced site supervisor who led the build on my garage.

If I hadn’t taught my kids the trades were legitimate and respectable ways to earn a living and support a family, I don’t think they would have gone into them. So as the bad guys get caught and are held accountable, we’re getting more good guys (and gals) going into the trades.

But what else is changing? The homeowner.

The average homeowner’s knowledge is growing. More people know what a good home-related job is supposed to look like, what a pro sounds like and how to avoid the bad guys.

Do we need more homeowner education? Absolutely. But we’re in much better shape than we were 10, 20 years ago. A lot of that has to do with women getting more involved in decisions that affect a home — from construction and renovation to maintenance, design and systems. They’re asking lots of questions and learning the basics of running a healthy, well-functioning home.

More information also means making better decisions, and that’s why an increasing number of homeowners are interested in energy efficiency, sustainable construction, greywater reuse, solar power, and green products and materials.

You never used to hear homeowners ask about the R-value of insulation, if the windows are argon- or krypton-gas filled, if there’s underlayment on the roof, or whether a home has lo-flow fixtures, high indoor-air quality or better mould-, moisture- and fire resistance.

I’m hearing more people ask the right questions. That tells you something about the market — it’s smarter. More people care about living in a healthy home and the impact on the environment. It’s not just about fancy finishes anymore. It’s about making it right, for you, your family and your future.

Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

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