Friday, August 31, 2012

Take Care When Choosing Your Shingles

Not sure how he does it, but Mike Holmes takes the most boring sh*t in the world and makes it seem interesting. I wish I would have had more college professors like Mike, would have made chemistry a lot more bearable. In this article, reposted from the Ottawa Citizen, Mike talks about choosing the right kind of shingles for your roof. He cautions people not to get taken by the word "organic" when it comes to asphalt shingles. In this case, the word does not mean "green" or signify a more environmentally friendly choice. Instead, it merely means non-synthetic. In some cases the asphalt singles that contain synthetic materials such as fiberglass are better, depending on the type of roof you have and what kind of climate you live in. Mike also talks about some people who chose the "organic" shingles, only to have them begin to deteriorate after 5-8 years, instead of the guaranteed 30 years they were promised by the manufacturer.
When it comes to roofs, the consumer has many options. All of them have their positives and their negatives (all depending on the type of roof and the climate), so its important to know what you're buying, and how long it's going to last. If Mike had his way, everyone would have a metal roof. Metal roofs are very expensive, but they last about 50 years, as opposed to 30 years for a well-installed shingled roof. They're also recyclable, which is a big plus for Mike. If it's time to replace your roof, read Mike's article about choosing your shingles carefully...


Take care when choosing your shingles


Mike and crew remove old shingles to replace with new ones. Proper installation of new shingles is essential to prolonging the life of a roof.

I saw a notice recently about a class-action lawsuit against a shingle company. The problem was with their organic shingles not lasting as long as they should.
A couple of companies have recently come under fire with this product. What’s the problem? They’re cracking, curling and even being torn off roofs within a few years.
Most shingles come with a 25- to 30-year guarantee. The ones involved in the lawsuit did, too. But many homeowners have had to replace the shingles within eight years — sometimes even as little as five. Who’s to blame?
Homeowners say the product’s no good. Manufacturers claim it’s poor installation. What’s the verdict? In some cases, the jury’s still out. In others, settlements are being reached. But the truth is, settlement or not, homeowners just want a good product and a good roof. The hassle of re-roofing is a headache for everyone.
Booking a good roofing contractor is difficult — the best ones are booked months in advance. If you’ve already gone through the trouble once and have to go through it again within a few years — plus pay additional labour costs — it can make more than a just a couple of homeowners angry.
Are organic shingles organic?
There’s some confusion around organic shingles. Some people think they’re green, environmentally friendly or made from organic material. That’s not the case — it’s just clever marketing. When it comes to shingles, organic means non-synthetic.
Organic shingles are your regular asphalt shingles — the same petroleum-based shingles that have been on the market for decades. The reason why asphalt shingles are now being called organic is because there’s a new kid on the block: fibreglass shingles.
Most organic shingles have a layer of non-synthetic materials underneath the asphalt and granules, usually recycled newspaper and cardboard. Fibreglass shingles have a layer of synthetic material — glass fibre.
Organic and fibreglass shingles look the same. They’re both made from asphalt and granules. They’re installed exactly the same way, too. But the layer of glass fibre makes fibreglass shingles absorb less moisture and be more resistant to heat, which increases their durability in a warm climate.
Fibreglass shingles usually hold up better if a roof has poor ventilation. This can make some homeowners want to choose fibreglass — a kind of Band-Aid solution for a poorly vented roof. But I say fix the ventilation.
Roofs need to vent
Proper ventilation means the temperature difference is minimized between the attic and air outside. This prolongs the life of your roof. It also eliminates moisture that can get trapped inside the attic. If moisture stays there, it can lead to rot and mould.
Building code varies from city to city. But my roofing guys like to keep one square foot of venting for every 300 square feet of roofing.
Different types of shingles
There are plenty of different shingle products out there. Most homeowners choose based on their budget. But like everything else, you get what you pay for.
Compared to other shingle materials, asphalt is inexpensive. That makes them popular. Most roofs have them — about four out of five homes in North America. But they’re not as durable as other types of shingles.
Cedar shingles and cedar shakes are among the most expensive roofing materials you can choose. These are the real “organic” shingles and they can be composted. Why are they expensive? Partly because of the material itself — cedar looks and smells great. But labour and installation costs are also high.
Installation is slow because each cedar shingle is nailed to the roof, usually by hand. It’s also high maintenance. It’s best to keep a wood roof as dry as possible, even if it’s cedar. And you might also need to add a fire deterrent. But keep in mind: Time and weather will reduce its performance.
Some fibreglass shingles come with a 50-year warranty. They’re also more fire-resistant than organic.
Laminated or architectural shingles are thicker, making them more durable than regular asphalt shingles. But if you want top of the line, you want metal.
Metal roofs are my favourite. They’re easy to install, fire-resistant and, in terms of durability, there’s nothing better — they last about 50 years.
What’s the downside? Metal roofs aren’t cheap. But they are definitely worth the investment. They last two to three times longer than asphalt roofs. Plus metal roofs are recyclable. Some are even made from recycled metal. When you consider 10 million tons of asphalt waste ends up in landfills every year, metal roofs are the greener choice.
No matter what type of shingle you choose, quality is key. Always choose a high-quality product. It’s better to have high-quality asphalt shingles than low-quality fibreglass or cedar shingles. And make sure the shingles you choose are installed properly. You can have the best quality shingle. But if it’s installed improperly, it will not last. If you do it right, you do it once.
Catch Mike Holmes in his series, Holmes Makes It Right, premièring Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Holmes Approved Homes - Cisco and the Boyle Renaissance Master Plan

From Mike's Facebook yesterday:

Stopped by Global Calgary this morning to chat about Holmes Approved Homes.


(The video is broken... it starts around the 2:08 minute marker)

In the video, Mike and MJ talk about Holmes Approved Homes and the in-home monitors and sensors that will make the homes Mike builds high-tech and energy efficient (see Holmes Does It "Beyond Smart" With Cisco for details on the smart meters). He also talks about using PinkWood and BlueWood, building products that won't mold or burn.

Mike's approved builder is Lifestyle Homes Inc. who boasts building homes which are "designed and constructed with building science and life science in mind."

The current Holmes Homes project is the Boyle Renaissance Master Plan in Edmonton, Canada. The groundbreaking ceremony for the planned development was held in March 2012. In a press release, the project is described as " a 90-unit residential project that will provide senior-friendly and barrier-free housing for Métis seniors and the disabled. The project is being spearheaded by Mike Holmes’ team, The Holmes Group, and his partners, and will result in an excellent facility that combines the highest quality of design, construction, energy sustainability and innovation."

The sustainability features of the project include:
  • Solar panels on the rooftop generating 7.8 kW of power provides energy to three demonstration suites in order to achieve net-zero electrical use
  • Co-generation system provides hot water for domestic use in suites
  • Rooftop green spaces acting as thermal barriers in the summer, ultimately saving on heat regulating costs
  • Durable exterior cladding systems using cement board and rain screen to prevent moisture build-up and mould
  • Low VOC

Boyle Renaissance Master Plan

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Holmes' Sweet Homes

This vintage article from Lifestyler, dating all the way back to the year 2008, discusses Mike, his persona, and his currently-in-the-process building project, Wind Walk. “I’m not looking to build a sci-fi home — I’m trying to build a home that’s sensible and logical. On top of that, we make it fundamentally beautiful,” said Mike, when describing the homes he one day hopes to build in Alberta, Canada. He describes the project as more than just a project, but a community, on in which he hopes that people will do more than just lock themselves up inside of thier houses, but interact with one another.

Holmes’ Sweet Homes

Canada’s star contractor plans to “make it right” with his own development

By Scott Gardner | September 18, 2008

Most media figures who morph into brands — single-name phenoms like Oprah and Martha — do it by deliberately creating a persona. For example, does anyone really believe Ms. Stewart is that courtly in real life? Mike Holmes, however, is different.
Despite his hit TV show (which also airs in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa), best-selling books and celebrity status, after two decades of fixing other people’s sloppy, lazy construction work, his knowledge, professionalism and plainspoken honesty give him a credibility most TV hosts can only dream of. And on the phone from New Orleans, where he’s building four houses for Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Project, Holmes is, well, very “Mike.”
“Like anywhere else, I’m dealing with engineers and architects and it’s up to the contractor to make sure everyone’s on the same page,” he says. “But it’s all working out because I do know what I’m doing.”
Still, working in the Big Easy held a few surprises for the brawny, crewcut star of HGTV’s Holmes on Homes. “The hardest thing,” he says, “is the hot, hot, hot weather and the thunderstorms that come in the afternoon like a mini-hurricane and affect our schedule. And we’ve got to take turns getting out of the sun — it’s a lot harder than I thought.”
The New Orleans houses will be completed by autumn, and Canadian viewers will be able to follow the project via a two-hour TV special and several hour-long episodes. Then “Canada’s most trusted contractor” will be able to focus more attention on what may be his most ambitious undertaking yet: Holmes Homes, an entire housing development in Okotoks, Alta., just outside Calgary. “I’ve been working on this for years now,” Holmes says. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right the first time.”
While Holmes is known as the scourge of careless and crooked renovators, he also sees plenty of shoddy initial construction. How much? “Let’s put it this way,” he says, “I could film nothing but brand new homes.” One subject that particularly gets Holmes’ famous righteous ire flowing is the way new homes are almost always designed to meet just the minimum building code requirements. “It’s the cheapest way to build and sell a house, and that’s a scary point. If you think about it, would we buy a vehicle like that? Would we buy a fridge?” he says, frustration creeping into his voice. “I keep saying this isn’t working and nobody wants to change it, so I’m going to do it...We (will) step it up with a house that will not burn down, that will not fall down, that will not blow down or mold.”
Developed by The Holmes Group in partnership with Oko Properties Ltd. and award-winning architectural firm Baird Sampson Neuert, if all goes well, the first houses will be ready in the spring of 2009.
Additionally, all Holmes Homes are sustainable in design, offering substantial “green” features, including a high-performance building envelope, living roofs, grey-water recapture systems, solar assist domestic hot water pre-heat and radiant floor heating.
“If I show people they can have a better home to live in, I truly think this will be the stepping stone to change”
Holmes says green features like these will “most definitely” be standard in new houses, and sooner rather than later. “The majority of people are starting to get that we’re hurting our environment,” he says. Holmes is even planning to call his next book What Shade of Green Is It? “I don’t like the marketing approach of ‘light green,’” — his term for features that are more about sales than making a difference. “We need a dark shade of green [where] everything we do makes sense for the environment.”
It starts with location. “Nature, over millions of years, has created its own drainage system, so why would we, as developers, go in and wipe all that out, take down the trees, grade the whole property, then create a sewer system directing water to another area?” Instead, he says, “We can take advantage of [the land], tap into the water in the aquifer, use that water to supply the community, then put it right back in again, so it isn’t directed to another area. To me that’s logical.”
The proposed house designs are also a little unconventional — modestly sized, open-concept bungalows with flat roofs, built with simple (but still high-tech) cinder blocks and slab floors and ceilings. “I’m not looking to build a sci-fi home — I’m trying to build a home that’s sensible and logical. On top of that, we make it fundamentally beautiful,” Holmes says. “I keep looking at houses and saying, ‘Why do we have peaked roofs when we can have a flat roof, collect the rainwater and have a livable area. If your house is 1,000 sq. ft. or 2,000 sq. ft....your roof is one hell of an area to have barbecues or parties, and we can create something special.”
The sometimes gruff contractor then shows his earnest side, imagining a place where “everyday people will no longer have a six-foot fence separating them. I don’t know why we do that,” he says. “I wouldn’t just call [the project] Holmes Homes — I’d rather call it the ‘Holmes Community,’because it’s the area as well. We have to start thinking about getting back to a community idea (where) we can walk through neighbourhoods or ride a bike rather than taking our car.”
Holmes also sees his planned community as a way to evolve the development industry. “I knew I couldn’t change minimum code, but if I show people they can have a better area and home to live in, I truly think this will be the stepping stone to change,” he says. “The industry is either going to hate me or they’re going to say ‘Can we do this together?’ and I think that’s what will happen.”•

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Keep Smiling :-D

One of Mike Holmes' many catchphrases is "keep smiling." In light of this, I thought it would be a good idea to hunt out some of the internet's best parodies of Mike and his shows. Mike is well known for being a proud and unabashed over-doer. Everyone knows that if Mike builds a house or a deck, it's going to be the only thing standing after the apocalypse. For this, he has become the punchline of quite a few YouTube videos. It's all in good fun, eh?

"Whoever the contractor is on this, I'm going to eat their eyeballs so he can see how pissed off I

If you change a light bulb, get a permit. And always insist your contractor wear overalls, or else the job just ain't going to get done.

"Many people think the toilet needs to go in the bathroom. I think the toilet can go anywhere in the house... even in the middle of the room." And don't forget to make sure the the toilet seat is level.

It's not just a home inspection... it's a HOWES inspection!

So what if your contractor goes $750,000 over long as everybody's smiling...

Love to watch professionals work!

The overalls don't come off...

Well here's the problem. There's a huge hole in your drywall.

And who could forget that damn load-bearing cat?

Monday, August 27, 2012

All American Handyman – Week 2 Recap

All-American Handyman tv show photoAnother exciting week of All American Handyman has come and gone, and yet another contestant has been forced to hang up his tool belt, whittling the handyman hopefuls down to 8. Here’s the Holmes Spot All American Handyman week 2 recap…

Week two, “Crying Babies and Playground Battles,” subjected the remaining 9 contestants to two ridiculously hard challenges. In the “fix-it” challenge, contestants were to complete four common tasks: 1) replace a doorknob, 2) repair a broken screen, 3) patch some drywall, and lastly 4) replace a light switch with a dimmer switch. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. The kicker was that the contestants had to work quietly, as they could not wake a simulated baby in a crib several feet from their working space. The “baby” was a microphone attached to a flashing light. If the light went off, the contestant was disqualified from the challenge.

Sonne was the first to be DQ’d, waking the baby within the first five minutes of the challenge. Although the other contestants took great pains to be as quiet as possible, one by one they fell, leaving only thee contestants standing by the end of the allotted time: Carol, Scott H., and Michael. Mike and Scott examined the work of the three remaining handymen, judging the quality of their work and the cleanliness of their workspace. They judged Michael to be the winner, mainly because he was the only contestant to finish all four tasks without waking the “baby.”

In the “build-it” challenge, contestants were given 4 hours to build a swing set. Mike stated that the contestants were being judged on the following criteria: 50% teamwork, 50% creativity, and 100% safety. Michael, who won the advantage in the “fix-it” round, grouped the remaining contestants into the following teams:

Team 1 – Scott H. (Team Leader), Michael, Rodney

Team 2 – Paul (Team Leader), Carol, Scott C.

Team 3 – Chris L. (Team Leader), Julia, Sonne

Ryan Ostrom, Chief Marketing Officer for Craftsman Tools was introduced to the contestants as the surprise guest judge.

At the end of the 4 hours, three distinguishable playground swing sets were certainly present, but not one got the pass from Mike. As the contestants entered the warehouse, a pile of wood pieces from their swing sets were piled bonfire style in the middle of the floor, signifying a job not well done.

The criticism for Team 1 was that they did not read or follow the safety instructions included with every piece of playground equipment they were to build with. As a result, there were major safety issues.

The criticism given to Team 2 was similar to Team 1: safety. Their sloppy swing set left both Mike and Scott unimpressed.

Lastly, Team 3 somewhat impressed Mike by installing most of the railing on the inside of the swing set, making for a safer railing. They also installed a safety guard in front of the swings, and demonstrated fairly good planning. However, as the time wound down, they rushed and installed part of the railing incorrectly, and Mike was easily able to pull it apart with his bare hands.

In the end, Team 3 was judged to have the best built playground. At the bottom of the pile, up for elimination was Team 2. Scott explained that there were several “fatal flaws” that led to their team being on the chopping block. Primarily, they displayed a lack of communication and leadership, which in turn led to sloppy work (nails poking through the boards, for instance), as well as many safety issues.
Scott C. “Sarge” was called to the carpet and asked whom he though should be sent home. Scott C.’s answer to the judges was that he thought he should be sent home, because he felt he was more of a cheerleader than a leader. Scott C. stated that if he got to stay, he would never make that mistake again. For that reason, Scott C. was not eliminated and spared another for another week, leaving team leader Paul and Carol on the chopping block. In the end, Paul was sent home, because essentially the breakdown between the team members was due to poor communication, and as the team leader, Paul was held responsible.

One interesting thing, this episode of All American Handyman was (as far as I can tell) the network debut of Mike’s new tattoos. During the build-it challenge, Mike rolled up his sleeves, exposing his half-sleeve tattoos for the first time on TV (or at least the first time on TV that I’ve seen). See Mike Holmes Tattoo Watch 2012 for more information.
You can also read my All American Handyman Week 1 Recap, if you missed last week. Or, you can watch the full episode on HGTV.  

Other Photos From Week 2 (HGTV)


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Canada's Handyman Challenge Coming Back To Halifax

Well, Mike Holmes will NOT be a judge this season on Canada's Handyman Challenge, the forefather of All American Handyman, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to be involved at all on the show that he helped build - pun intended! During Mike's live chat on August 22 (see Holmes Spot Highlight Reel - August 22 Live Chat for details) Mike explained that he was pouring all of his time and energy into his latest show Holmes Makes It Right, set to air this fall on HGTV, and therefore wouldn't have time to commit himself full time to yet another show. However, he encouraged his fans to watch for possible special guest appearances he might make throughout the season. In this article, reposted from HalifaxNewsNet, it's said that Mike "will weigh in on who will be crowned the winner of Canada’s Handyman Challenge II and be awarded a $25,000 cash prize."

Canada's Handyman Challenge coming back to Halifax

Mike Holmes (from left), Scott McGillivray and Bryan Baeumler were in Halifax last summer as judges for Canada's Handyman Challenge. The show will hold live auditions again in Halifax for the new seaon on Sept. 5.
Darrell Oake file

Mike Holmes (from left), Scott McGillivray and Bryan Baeumler were in Halifax last summer as judges for Canada's Handyman Challenge. The show will hold live auditions again in Halifax for the new seaon on Sept. 5.

Canada’s Handyman Challenge is coming back to Halifax on Sept. 4 for a second season on a nationwide search for the best all around handyman and there's a $25,000 prize up for grabs.

Contestants will be put through rigorous challenges to test their handyman skills in order to win the title of Canada’s Best Handyman.

Teaming up for the first time as judges are HGTV celebrities Scott McGillivray (Income Property), Bryan Baeumler (Leave It To Bryan, House of Bryan) and Paul Lafrance (Decked Out, Deck Wars).

The all-star team of judges will travel to Halifax on Tuesday, Sept. 4, Vancouver on Monday, Sept. 10 and Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 15 to hold live auditions and recruit talented hopefuls.

In each of the cities a top four will be selected to represent their regions forming a top 12. Those 12 will go to Toronto to compete with their handyman talents.

Mike Holmes (Holmes Makes It Right, Holmes Inspection) will weigh in on who will be crowned the winner of Canada’s Handyman Challenge II and be awarded a $25,000 cash prize.

To compete on Canada’s Handyman Challenge, applicants must pre-register online at

Each contestant needs to come to the audition with a project that must be constructed from - but not exceed - a four by eight foot sheet of three-quarter-inch thick plywood. No additional wood is allowed, but any type of hardware is permitted.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

That "New Car Smell" May Kill You!

Everybody loves the smell of a new car. Mmmmm... or a brand new iPod, all shiny and clean. You unwrap the cellophane and carefully take it out of its box. Suddenly, that unmistakable "new gadget" aroma fills the room. Ever wonder what it was that makes new things smell so...smelly? Unfortunately, some of the odors given off by building materials, such as plastics, woods, carpets, and paints are actually chemical fumes evaporating into the air. These chemical fumes are better known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, and in some cases they can be toxic. New homes or newly renovated homes often contain many materials that will off-gas VOCs for days, weeks, or even months. Certain kinds of caulkings and pressed wood cabinets are often the biggest culprits for VOCs. So, what's the solution? There really is no grand solution that totally eliminates the emission of VOCs in the case of a new or newly renovated home. Your best bet is to mitigate the problem by choosing better, higher quality products that contain little or no VOCs in them. Choosing natural products such as glass or stone over synthetic products such as vinyl is preferable. The trade off? Natural products are usually much more expensive than synthetics, but they're safer in your home, and they're usually a higher quality product that you'll probably be happier with in the long run.

In this article, reposted from, Mike explains why that "new car smell" may be hazardous to your health! (Don't shoot the messenger! Just read the article.)


The ABCs of VOCs

Undated handout photo of painting crew. Homeowners should choose low-VOC options during new home construction and renovation projects, such as Green Seal paints and hardwood floors.

Photograph by: Alex Schuldt, The Holmes Group

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemical byproducts found in many building supplies and products. Treated wood, insulation, carpeting, paints and cabinets all contain VOCs that will evaporate or off-gas into your indoor air.
You can usually smell VOCs the strongest in varnishes and some paints.
They're also in cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, air fresheners, furnishings and
It's almost like we've been programmed to like the smell of VOCs because we normally smell them when we get something new, like a gadget or even a new home or reno. But VOCs have been known to cause headaches, dizziness, and can be toxic in some cases.
New homes have higher levels of VOCs. The same goes for renovations. VOC levels will decrease over time due to off-gassing. But how long they off-gas depends on the material.
For example, adhesives and caulking are among the worst for off-gassing and VOCs. That's why you're supposed to stay out of bathrooms for at least a couple of days after caulking. Whereas VOCs in spray foam will be gone or non-detectable within a few days. But pressed wood cabinets will off-gas for weeks - sometimes even months. In fact, cabinets are huge VOC contributors.
Part of the reason is because of the adhesives and varnishes some cabinets contain. These are cabinets usually made from pressed wood, particleboard or MDF (medium-density fibreboard). But a lot of it has to do with just the number of cabinets in a house.
Think about it: Most homes have cabinets in the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedrooms and bathrooms. This will all add up and increase the amount of VOCs in the air inside your home.
Spray foam
I get a lot of questions from homeowners asking me about the off-gassing from spray foam. Spray foam is a safe product as long as it's installed properly. The standard curing time is 24 hours. The problem is when you get inexperienced contractors installing it.
For example, if a job requires more than one application you need to wait at least two hours before applying the second coat. But some installers will rush a job and not wait. When you don't let it cure the full two hours VOCs will get trapped in between the layers and then off-gas over time - usually when people are living in the home, which is bad.
Rubber Pavers
I recently got an email from a homeowner asking about rubber pavers and VOCs. He wanted to know if it was safe to install rubber pavers around his home or if it had high levels of VOCs.
Rubber pavers are a type of flooring usually made from recycled rubber, like tires. They're porous which makes them very absorbent. So be careful about potential spills. But the amount of off-gassing from rubber pavers varies between manufacturers.
Most of the VOCs in rubber pavers come from the adhesives used for installation. That's why some manufacturers are producing rubber pavers that can be installed without adhesives. The main thing to look out for is to make sure it doesn't contain formaldehyde.
This strong-smelling, colourless gas was used in a lot of building products and materials that contained adhesives, such as pressed wood. There was also a specific kind of insulation that was made from formaldehyde - Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI).
UFFI was popular in the late 70's. But then in 1980 it was banned because improper installation made it harmful for too many homeowners.
Moderate exposure to formaldehyde can cause your eyes or nose to burn temporarily and a sore throat. Higher levels of exposure can cause asthma-like symptoms, like coughing and wheezing. But very high exposures can be toxic. It's been known to even cause some cancers.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as a known carcinogen. Luckily, most Canadian homes don't have formaldehyde levels that can cause cancer. Its use in building materials and products has decreased over the years as well. But we should still be smart about the choices we make for our homes and indoor air quality.
Buyer Beware
Glass, ceramic tile, metal, stone and other hard and inert materials don't release any VOCs. This makes them the safer choice. Also try and stick to hardwood instead of vinyl flooring, or natural carpet instead of synthetic. If you can afford it, go for custom solid wood cabinetry with a low or zero VOC finish.
Be careful about products that claim to have low-VOCs. A company can say a product, such as paint, has low-VOCs. But it could just mean "lower than before" or "lower than another brand".
Homeowners need to look for Green Seal (GS) Standard products, including paints and rubbers. Green Seal means the product and/or material has been tested and meets environmental standards. It's a better safety indicator than just "low-VOCs".
Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right, premiering Tuesday, October 16th at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Holmes Spot Highlight Reel - August 22 Live Chat

The August 22 live chat was a great one! Lots of very interesting questions, lots to pick apart and dissect, and lots of new information about Mike and his new show, Holmes Makes It Right. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s chat with Mike.

First, I guess I’ll do a little self-aggrandizing and report that Mike did (sort-of) answer the question that I submitted. Well, actually, he didn’t really answer it at all, he just kind of commented about my question... Which is OK with me, it’s his chat, he’s allowed to take any kind of tangential twist or turn that he likes. And any time I get to “chat” with Mike is a happy time for me!

My question to Mike:
Hi Mike, happy birthday! Glad to see you had a nice celebration with your friends and family, and I hope you got your fill of cake and got lots of presents! I’m the girl who made the Mike Holmes cartoon – it was a lot of work, but I had so much fun doing it. Animation has been a hobby of mine for years, and it made me wonder if you had any new news on the “Mighty Mike” cartoon? I know you’ve been talking about doing it for some time now. I think a Mike Holmes kids cartoon is a great idea! A lot of young kids already watch your shows and are inspired by you, it would be a terrific way to get the next generation excited! (Big kids like me would probably watch it too!) Have a good one, Mike :) Much love and respect, Raquel

Mike’s answer to me:
Raquel!! Thank YOU for the cartoon!! I loved that. Showed to everyone who would look at my phone. It's great--we're getting all kinds of great response from people who see it. YOU are a very talented young woman. Keep making it right.

That was very sweet of Mike to say. I think sometimes he gets so busy, his ADD kicks in. Maybe next time I'll submit a shorter question, LOL. Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way…


Mike is BUSY BUSY BUSY (did I mention BUSY?) filming episodes for his new show out this fall, Holmes Makes It Right. Lots of people asked questions pertaining to the new show, and Mike revealed some interesting things! He started out the session by saying he and his crew were working through “record-breaking heat doing renovation rescues like you've never seen.”

One person asked Mike about new episodes of Holmes on Homes, and Mike responded by saying that Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection were all wrapped up, but
“Holmes Makes it Right is going to air soon--and it's like Holmes on Homes on steroids. You'll love it.”
Another person asked about when the new show was going to air in the US, and if it would air at the same time as in Canada. Mike responded,

"Not the same dates--US is one week later. Date and time still TBA”

One person asked a question about the Jamie Bell Playground build (see Now That's A Castle! for details), and Mike stated that
“the playground rescue is going to be the first episode airing on the new series. You'll be able to see it in Canada on October 16 at 9:00pm, and in the US the following week--not sure the day or time.”

Mike told one person that the crew on Holmes Makes It Right would consist of...
“Pretty much all the same team, with a couple of new guys for extra help.”

Someone asked if Damon would be on the new show, and Mike responded,
“Oh yes, better believe it. In fact he's working I sit here typing...”

Along those same lines, another person asked about MJ (Mike Jr.) making appearances on up and coming episodes of Holmes Makes It Right.
“Sure! MJ is on every job site, working with the crew. You just don't always see everybody in every episode…He's always there--just maybe working on another site.”



There were a ton of REALLY great questions asked to Mike. A lot of new and interesting factoids shared (or at least new and interesting to me!)

Someone asked Mike what kind of IR camera he uses.
“I use a FLIR camera, and so do all of the home inspectors who work in my company.”

(By the way, I took a peek at the FLIR website, and I can see why Mike likes them. Not only are they high tech, but they also work with your iPad!)

One person asked if Mike had a college degree, of if he was just  smart. Great question!
“I am just that smart. haha. (Thank you)”
(Actually, Mike has two honorary doctorates from two different universities. Granted, he didn't earn them by sitting in a classroom, however, he was awarded these honors because of his exceptional life experience and service.) 
One person had a two part question. Part one was about whether Mike had an old home or a new home, and part two was about his mad drumming skills and something about Neil Peart (Canadian drummer/song writer for Rush. -- I think it's some kind of law in Canada that you MUST love Rush, or else).
“My home is an older one--built in the 70's as far as I can tell...I might just bring my drum set out soon…I think I might just play a set. We'll get some pictures onto the website.”

A couple of people asked about episodes of Holmes on Homes such as the infamous Lien on Me, and when would later episodes of Holmes on Homes be out on DVD. Mike’s answers made me enormously happy!
“It will be available on iTunes in the next few months--keep checking our site and we'll let you know.”

“…We're just in the process of getting all of Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inpsection [sic] onto iTunes. I hope that in the next couple of months you'll be able to complete your set (but they won't be DVDs--they'll be downloads).”

One person asked Mike if he had any youthful regrets. Mike responded,
“Yes, like any grown up, I've got some regrets: about maybe I shouldn't have trusted some people like I did, or maybe been a better saver, or made better investments--that kind of thing. But I know myself well enough to know that my younger self wouldn't have listened to my advice. I'm a Leo, what can I say? But on the whole, I'm pretty happy. I've got great kids, a job I love, good friends--it's all good.”

Lastly, Mike was asked who his inspiration was growing up. His answer is no suprise any any Mike Holmes fan, but it was touching nonetheless...
“My dad. Always and forever.”


Some other interesting things Mike said during the live chat is that he is currently “exercising with a trainer.” Nice! My fit tip for Mike… try the Paleo diet. You’ll buff up and trim down, especially if you’re as active as you are. (Mike looks fantastic just the way he is, in my opinion. Any kind of fitness plan is just going to put him that much more ahead of the curve!) As far as being a Canuck hosting All American Handyman, he feels just fine about it. In fact, he considers himself “an international judge,” just like the Olympics! Mike doesn’t have a lot of free time, but the time he does have, he likes to spend on his boat on Lake Ontario, “On the water, beverage in hand, good company all around, music playing. I don't even leave the harbour!” No surprise, Mike admitted to being a "construction geek" who wishes he had more time to research all the latest and greatest advances in the building world.

Well, that’s the Holmes Spot Highlight Reel for this chat. I think it’s really awesome that Mike takes the time to sit down for several hours every couple of months to answer some questions for his fans. Very cool! I’ve sat through several of these chats, and this one was by far one of the more entertaining ones. Lots of really thoughtful questions, and equally thoughtful answers. Thanks Mike!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Appraiser Needs Appraising

In this article, reposted from the National Post, Mike touches on what a home appraiser is, why you may need one, and how a bad one can really mess you up. "[There are] good appraisers and bad appraisers. The good ones have strong associations backing them up. And the bad ones are bad because the industry allows it — we allow it," he says. A home appraiser may look at several factors such as the area the home is built in, the value of the land, and features of the home such as energy efficient windows when assessing a home's value. Because there are no baseline qualifications for appraisers (in Canada), the level of competency can vary wildly from one appraiser to the next. It's important for homeowners to be aware of this and speak up if they feel something is wrong.

Mike Holmes: The appraiser needs appraising

Mike Holmes | Aug 20, 2012 8:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Aug 17, 2012 11:54 AM ET

Alex Schuldt/The Holmes Group Be wary of bad appraisers, Mike Holmes says.

I got an email from a homeowner who was upset — that’s nothing new. But she wasn’t upset because a contractor screwed her over, or because she got a bad home inspection. She was mad because of an appraiser.

She and her husband wanted to redo their kitchen — the previous owner of their home had done some renovations. But it was all wrong. They had bad plumbing. Bad layout. Bad tiling. Improper ventilation. And it looked ugly.

The new homeowners wanted it fixed. So they did what many homeowners do — they went to their bank for a home equity loan. But they ran into a problem.

The appraiser the bank hired decided their home’s value couldn’t support the loan. So they couldn’t refinance their mortgage, which meant they couldn’t redo their kitchen. And now they’re stuck with a bad kitchen that will probably lead to bigger problems down the road.

Was the appraiser wrong? Was their home that bad? I don’t know. I haven’t seen the house. But the homeowners didn’t think so. That’s why they emailed me. They thought the appraiser didn’t have the right skills to evaluate their home. And I’ve got to wonder.

The appraisal industry works a lot like the home inspections industry. There isn’t a single set of standards. The skills required to be an appraiser depend on the association an appraiser belongs to.

Some associations require a university degree as a first step. Others a business degree. And some don’t require a degree at all. But most appraisal associations want some kind of designation. And again, what that designation is will be different for every association.

For example, one association requires its members to have a university degree — in anything. Could be sociology or art, it doesn’t matter. Then they have to complete a university-level education program specific to appraising.

Most of the courses in the program deal with real estate and business. But what about building skills? Understanding the structure of a house? A basic understanding of construction? Knowing how one part of a home affects another? Aren’t these skills important when you’re evaluating a home? For some appraisal associations it is. But not always.

It depends on the needs of the user who hired the appraiser in the first place.

When it comes to mortgages, banks care about a home’s selling price. Why? Because if a homeowner can’t pay their mortgage the bank will have to sell their house. Banks want their money back. They want to know how much they can sell a house for. And sometimes a home’s construction has very little to do with that.

You could have a house that cost $2-million to build. But an appraiser says it’s worth $600,000. Is this fair? Where was it built? Maybe the neighbourhood’s no good, and no one wants to live there. In this case the appraiser is saying that the only way to sell the house is if it’s priced at $600,000.

Then you’ve got a market like Vancouver or Toronto. You can’t buy a house downtown for less than a million dollars. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shack. It’s all about land value.

More banks are starting to put pressure on appraisers. They’re looking to the U.S. and trying to avoid their mistakes. Inflated house prices plus record debt levels are a bad mix. They want to make sure that if an appraiser says a property is worth $500,000, they can sell it for $500,000.

But if an appraiser’s job is to know how much a house is worth, they should know about construction. That’s basic. You should know how a home works, signs that tell you if there are any huge costs, the difference in finishes, how different improvements affect the value of a home and how different climates affect materials.
I’ve heard of homeowners having to point things out to an appraiser; things like radiant in-floor heating, Low-E windows, a metal roof — even a finished basement. Or some appraisers will ignore mould, faulty electrical and HVAC. These have a huge impact on the value of a home.

Having a basic understanding of a home’s structure, materials and mechanics — and knowing how each affects value — is logical. It’s essential. How do you value something you don’t understand? It’s like being a jewellery appraiser and not knowing about different stones, cuts, metals or colours.

Are business skills important for appraisals? Absolutely. But so are building skills. You need to know the signs that tell you what a house is worth. Believe me — a fresh coat of paint can hide a world of trouble. And it can be really deceiving for someone who isn’t trained to look for the signs.

We have good contractors and bad contractors. Good home inspectors and bad home inspectors. And good appraisers and bad appraisers. The good ones have strong associations backing them up. And the bad ones are bad because the industry allows it — we allow it.

If we want to change the industry we all have to be watchdogs. If you think an appraiser is wrong, tell them. Speak to their association. You might need to point things out. They might listen. And you might help make it right.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mike Holmes: "I'm Happy My Message Is Getting Across."

This is a really cool little press release talking about Mike being in the Forbes list of most trustworthy celebrities. Apparently the world is just finding out what the rest of us Holmes fans have known all along! As one would expect, Mike is very "honoured" to be amongst the top three. The coolest part is that Mike may get some really sweet endorsement deals out of this whole thing. Of course, as the press release states, he is very selective about what he puts his name on, which is in part one of the reasons why people trust him so much! Maybe we'll see Mike's face on a box of cereal one day...

 ... or maybe not.

Forbes names Mike Holmes third most trustworthy celebrity

Published: Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 - 7:06 am
/PRNewswire/ - Forbes released its list of most trustworthy celebrities. Mike Holmes topped the list in third position, behind Morgan Freeman and Ron Howard.
"I'm honoured," stated Holmes. "You always hear about Forbes list of trust billionaires or top-earners. But this is one list I'm really proud to be on. I just can't believe I beat Betty White."
Forbes complied its list using data from E-Poll Market Research, whose E-Score Celebrity service ranks more than 7,000 celebrities on awareness, appeal and 46 different personality attributes. The Trustworthy Score represents a combination of trustworthy and appeal ratings.
"My phone has not stopped ringing," stated Lilana Novakovich, Mike Holmes' agent. "I'm getting hundreds of endorsement inquiries," she added. "But Mike has always been cautious about his branded partnerships. He will only endorse products or services he believes in. I suppose that's part of the reason why he made it on the list in the first place."
"I'm happy my message is getting across," added Holmes. "It's not about what you do. It's about who you help. And how what you do helps others."
Mike's highly anticipated new series, Holmes Makes It Right will be airing in the US and Canada on HGTV this coming October.
About The Holmes Group
The Holmes Group is an international brand with operations in independent media production, new home building and inspection divisions, as well as expansion into product development. It is entirely owned by Mike Holmes and it is responsible for developing and managing HOLMES branded entities, including HOLMES Homes, MIKE HOLMES Inspections, HOLMES Workwear, Make It Right Releasing Inc., and The Holmes Foundation.
SOURCE The Holmes Group/Restovate Ltd.

Refer to previous Holmes Spot blog entries:
Canada's Most Trusted...Celebrity?
Mike Holmes: Forbes' 3rd Most Trustworthy Celebrity

Read more here:

Monday, August 20, 2012

All American Handyman - Week 1 Recap

On August 19, 2012, season 3 of HGTV's All American Handyman premiered. The show features ten hopeful contestants hoping to be judged by Mike Holmes and Scott McGillivray as the All American Handyman (or woman). The prize? A $10,000 shopping spree from Sears, and an HGTV development deal. From the HGTV website:

A true "handyman" is one who has a wide range of skills ranging from repair work to complete build outs, from odd jobs to serious construction. All American Handyman will bring together 10 of the country's most talented handymen and handywomen to compete in a series of challenges to discover who has what it takes to fix and build just about anything thrown their way. Over the course of six episodes, our competitors will battle through 12 challenges designed to test their skills, creativity and resourcefulness in a series of relatable, real-world handyman projects. Series host Anitra Mecadon will guide the participants through each challenge and then their work will be judged and scrutinized by two of the industry's heavyweights, Mike Holmes (HGTV's Holmes on Holmes) and Scott McGillivray (HGTV's Income Property). In the end, only one challenger will emerge victorious and walk away with a $10,000 Sears shopping spree, an HGTV development deal and the right to be called All American Handyman!
     The show challenges the contestants' skills with two grueling rounds: a "fix-it" challenge, and a "build-it" challenge. The fix-it challenge for week 1 was "Flush in a Flash," in which contestants were given 30 minutes to completely replace a toilet. The toilet had to be installed correctly, aesthetically, and lastly, it had to flush! The stand-outs for round 1 were Julia the Soviet real estate agent, Rodney the musician-turned-handyman, and Scott H. the Denver carpenter. Scott H. was chosen the winner and given the advantage for round 2.
     In round two, the contestants were given 4 hours to build doghouses for specific breeds of dogs. The particular type of dog each contestant had to build for was decided by Scott H.
    After the build, Mike, Scott, and host Anitra Mecadon walked through the astroturfed set, examining the contestants' work. Mike had fun ripping the roof off of one house, and then kicking the wall out of another. Regardless of the craftsmanship (or lack there of) displayed by the contestants, everyone managed to finish in the allotted time -- everyone, except Julia, who spent nearly two hours creating the platform for her English Mastiff doghouse, but failed to get much further. Chris T. built a large vertical doghouse for his "giant baby dinosaur" Irish Wolfhound  client, but failed to build the house with enough floor space to comfortable accommodate the  7-foot, 120 pound dog. Carol, the girly-girl tomboy from New Jersey, built a rather awkward-looking structure and later admitted to Mike that she "did not sit down and make a technical drawing," a mistake which led Mike to call her work "sloppy." For these reasons, Chris T., Julia, and Carol wound up in the bottom 3, facing elimination. Scott commented that he felt Carol knew what she was doing, and for that reason, she was spared for yet another week.
    In the end, it came down to Julia and Chris T., and Chris T. was sent home. Julia was spared because she had done so well in round 1, while Chris had "screwed the pooch" in round 1, installing a toilet that leaked when it flushed.


(Weird little sidenote... I noticed a little production error that will probably be fixed before HGTV posts the video to their website. In one scene, Mike Holmes was talking, and the caption under his head read "Michael - Pearl River, LA." That's not right! Just to be sure, I rewound the episode on the DVR to make sure I wasn't seeing things. The name was obviously referring to Michael (West), one of the contestants. Wrong Mike, guys! Get it right!)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Is That A Load-Bearing Cat?

This made me LOL out loud (or "LOLOL" for short)...

Damn you, mold and dry rot! Happy Sunday, everyone.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Canada's Most Trusted...Celebrity?

That's right... Mike Holmes is no longer merely Canada's most trusted contractor. As of two days ago, he's the WORLD'S MOST TRUSTWORTHY CELEBRITY. Well... the world's third most trustworthy celebrity, according to Forbes. As this Yahoo Canada blog entry recounts, Forbes awarded Mike the number 3 spot based on "awareness, appeal, and 46 different personality attributes." Gee... I wonder what those attributes were? Betcha I can guess at least a few. A nice smile wouldn't happen to be one of them, would it? :)

Mike Holmes makes Forbes list of most trustworthy celebrities

By Soraya Roberts | North Stars – 12 hours ago
George Pimentel/WireImageHe's already Canada's most trusted contractor, but now, Mike Holmes is considered the third-most trustworthy celebrity in the world.
In its list of most trustworthy stars, Forbes has awarded the Canadian renovation expert and host of "Holmes on Homes" the No. 3 spot.
Forbes used market research that ranked 7,000 stars on "awareness, appeal, and 46 different personality attributes," assigning each of a score and creating a top 10 list that also includes Sandra Bullock, Betty White, James Earl Jones, Tom Hanks, and "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe.
Though actor Morgan Freeman topped the list with a score of 112, Holmes nipped into third place with 108, behind Ron Howard, who scored one point more than Holmes.
"Wow. I'm #3 on the @forbes Most Trusted Celebrity List! What an honour," the Ontario native tweeted yesterday.
Michael J. Fox landed the No. 5 spot on the list. (Robin Marchant/WireImage)
But he wasn't the only Canadian to land in the top 10. Actor and Parkinson's disease activist Michael J. Fox, who topped the list in 2011, ranked fifth this year with a score of 107. He was edged out by former pro football coach Tony Dungy, who headed the Indianapolis Colts until 2008 and puts faith ahead of sports.
Two years ago, a Reader's Digest Canada poll found Holmes to be the second-most trusted Canadian, behind David Suzuki.
"His straight-forward approach to fix the mistakes from botched renovations is a refreshing sight for many, and brings a sense of security that people appreciate," the magazine claimed.
And Canada's TV execs seem to agree. In July the 49-year-old Canadian sold his newest reno series, "Holmes Makes It Right," to HGTV Canada. The show will premiere in fall 2012.
Here's the full top 10 list of Forbes' most trustworthy celebrities:
1. Morgan Freeman (Trustworthy score: 112)
2. Ron Howard (Trustworthy score: 109)
3. Mike Holmes (Trustworthy score: 108)
4. Tony Dungy (Trustworthy score: 108)
5. Michael J. Fox (Trustworthy score: 107)
6. Sandra Bullock (Trustworthy score: 105)
7. Betty White (Trustworthy score: 104)
8. James Earl Jones (Trustworthy score: 104)
9. Tom Hanks (Trustworthy score: 103)
10. Mike Rowe (Trustworthy score: 103)

      Refer to previous Holmes Spot blog entries:
      Mike Holmes: Forbes' 3rd Most Trustworthy Celebrity