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Reno Expert Mike Holmes Has Some Advice for You

The TV star and contractor wants to help you avoid the pitfalls of renovating

TV personality and contractor, Mike Holmes, dressed in a blue button down shirt

If there’s one thing Mike Holmes doesn’t like about home improvement shows, it’s this: they make it look like a piece of cake to tear your kitchen, bathroom or even your whole house apart. That couldn’t be further from the truth, says Holmes, who has spent 15 years on television rescuing homeowners from construction projects gone awry. The 56-year-old contractor talked to us about the delicate art of home renovation—and his love of old-fashioned tear-jerkers.

CAA: CAA Your shows have been broadcast in over 90 countries. Does that mean bad renos are a universal human experience?

MH: Yes, I think most people can relate to having a bad renovation experience, no matter where you live.

CAA: We’re in the middle of a DIY craze. Why do you think so many people want to get their hands dirty at home?

MH: Tackling simple DIY projects can be exciting and rewarding. Plus, it can be more economical to do it yourself—in the short term, anyway.

CAA: So, home renos aren’t as easy—or as fun—as they look on TV?

MH: Here are some hard facts: most projects take much longer than you would think, projects cost more than you would think, and it’s not all fun and games. It’s hard work.

CAA: What are some of the not-so-easy things homeowners need to think about?

MH: Before starting any renovation, homeowners should contact their insurance company to review their current policy. Home insurance covers your home and belongings, but it doesn’t usually cover a renovation. Particularly with a large-scale renovation, additional coverage, like construction or builder’s risk insurance, will probably be required.

CAA: We all know there are some shady contractors out there. How can homeowners avoid trouble?

MH: Here are some rules to live by. Educate yourself as much as possible about the scope of the job before you sign anything. Don’t be in a rush and hire the first contractor available. Ask for references (at least five) and check them out. Make sure the contractor has the proper liability insurance and worker’s compensation. Have a proper contract, including project details and payment instalments based on milestones.

CAA: Switching gears, I’ve read that your favourite movie is the 2009 tear-jerker My Sister’s Keeper. Does Mike Holmes have a soft spot for family dramas?

MH: Yes, I must admit My Sister’s Keeper got to me. I love action movies, too, but I’m also a romantic. I love movies about life, family and love. My daughter Sherry would say I’m the toughest teddy bear around. 

Image credit: Courtesy of the Holmes Group