Friday, October 12, 2012

Mike Holmes: No Sign of Slowing Down

This article, reposted from the Ottawa Citizen, talks about Holmes making it right, and so much more! From family life and being a grandfather of one (soon to be TWO!), to being a big HGTV star, there's certainly a lot going on in Mike's life these days, and he's not stopping anytime soon. With a new show on the horizon, set to air October 16 on HGTV Canada, poor Anna (Zappia) will just have to hold on tight and wait patiently for Mike's schedule to clear up before she gets a rock on her finger ;-)

Mike on Holmes: ‘I say it the way I see it’

Canada’s favourite contractor shows no signs of slowing down with debut of latest TV show

Mike Holmes points a group of excited children in the direction of the new playground during the official opening of the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground in High Park.

Mike Holmes points a group of excited children in the direction of the new playground during the official opening of the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground in High Park.

Photograph by: Tyler Anderson , National Post

He’s come a long way from the three-year-old trying to swing a hammer by his father’s side. He’s told the tale of his early renovation years so many times, it might seem like old hat. But for big, burly contractor Mike Holmes, it’s true to character.
He comes from humble beginnings and didn’t want the limelight. He still marvels at how surreal it all is to now be master of a multimillion-dollar empire with yet another show set to launch on HGTV.
“Did I ever expect it? No. Did I think (Holmes on Homes) would touch a nerve? Yes. I just didn’t see what would happen after that,” he said during a quick phone interview from his Toronto office.
What happened after he became a Canadian institution, developing such a wide following with his straightforward, no-nonsense approach to rescuing homeowners from renovation hell and educating viewers in the process that this summer he snagged the No. 3 spot on the Forbes list of most trustworthy celebrities, behind only actor Morgan Freeman and filmmaker Ron Howard.
“I just can’t believe I beat Betty White,” he quipped in a release at the time.
Looking back, his path was an interesting one, but not the route he recommends today. From that three-year-old, he moved on to electrical work by age six, finishing his first basement at 12, dropping out of school in Grade 11 and then by his early 20s getting married, starting a family and running his own company.
It was his admittedly big mouth that got him into TV. He had been building sets for HGTV and got to know an executive who asked Holmes to help him build a custom home. As a result, Holmes had no qualms about speaking his mind. “I gave him crap about the shows that I saw on the channel and said they were all wrong.”
Although Holmes didn’t want to be the one to do what he saw as the right show, “I guess in the long run it did work,” says the Toronto native. “Why? Because I’m point-blank; I say it the way I see it.”
The Gemini-winning Holmes on Homes, which first aired in 2003, went on to become HGTV’s highest-rated show, launching a wide-reaching empire of the Mike Holmes brand that has resulted in books and a magazine, an inspection company, a charitable foundation to encourage youth into skilled trades, a newspaper column, a cartoon character, a clothing line, a partnership with builders in a quality control program, a green mixed-use planned community in Alberta, another partnership with the Assembly of First Nations to bring good housing to Canada’s aboriginal peoples and three more TV shows.
The latest show, called Holmes Makes It Right, plays on his oft-repeated slogan, since trademarked and tattooed on his arm.
It’s similar in some ways to Holmes on Homes, but he likes to think it combines elements of all three shows he’s done — the others are Holmes in New Orleans, which followed the progress of his crew helping rebuild the home of a Hurricane Katrina victim, and Holmes Inspection, which focused on a pet peeve of his: shoddy home inspectors — to bring something new. It also answers a criticism that his shows can be distorting by not showing the true cost of projects and the time and disruption involved.
“We try to show a timeline, how long we’ve been there, how much it costs, every absolute detail,” he says. “Each cost is broken down so people know what we’ve accomplished and what it would cost them.”
The projects on Holmes Makes It Right are more varied, including a huge community effort to rebuild a playground in Toronto’s Hyde Park that was destroyed by fire earlier this year.
Over two weeks in a heat wave this summer, the Holmes crew, along with many volunteers, worked to build a $500,000 playground castle with donated materials.
“It was quite a battle to try and do it in seven days,” which was the initial plan, he says. In typical Holmes fashion, it had to be just right, which meant it took two weeks instead. Even still, his crew worked so hard, some of them collapsed in the heat.
The 49-year-old grandfather — grandchild No. 2 is due any day now — shows no signs of slowing down. He’s still got too much to do, which means his girlfriend of 12 years must continue to be patient: Holmes doesn’t want to get married until he, not surprisingly, can do it right and take off for a month-long honeymoon afterward. Right now, he’s too busy to get away for even a week.
“My job and what I believe in is to change the industry.”
What would his father, who died at young age, say of him today?
“I think my Dad was extremely proud of me doing construction at a young age and seeing the abilities that I had,” says Holmes. “I think he’d say, ‘You’re a good sh*t, Mike, I love ya.’ That’s the words he’d use.”
Holmes obviously comes by his bluntness honestly.
Before you start: Holmes’ tips on getting your project off on the right foot
Slow down: “If you don’t slow down, you’re going to run like everyone else and run into a brick wall,” he says, adding that we need to take the time to educate ourselves. “You need to learn as much as you can so you understand the job you’re about to take on.”
Take responsibility: “If you choose just to give the keys to the contractor you’ve blindly hired and go to Jamaica to get out of the dust, you’re making really big mistakes.” Holmes says you need to think of your home renovation as a job, making sure you spend your money right and know why you’re spending it in the direction you are.
Hire a pro: Don’t grab the first guy that comes through the door, Holmes says. “We’ve got to pay attention, look for the red flags.” Do they have a list of recommendations with them? “You can tell who’s professional. They look professional, they act professional, they show up on time, so you want to make sure you are talking to a professional.”
Get acquainted: Get to know who you’re considering hiring, he says “because we have a tendency to hire some of the first people that walk in rather than getting to know each other first. If I come in your door, it’s not about the money, it’s whether or not I want to work for you. I want to get to know you as much as I want you to get to know me.”
Holmes Makes It Right premières Tuesday at 9 p.m. on HGTV with Holmes live tweeting at

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