Mike Holmes, star of the show about renovations gone wrong -- Holmes on Holmes
Since I started my home renovation almost three years ago, I’ve found myself watching a lot of programming on HGTV and their sister channel, DIY. On a lot of these shows, I’ve seen ordinary people — not trained or licensed in home remodeling or repair — tackling a number of hefty projects around their houses and making it look (relatively) easy in the process.
But it’s not anywhere near that easy for people to do a lot of that kind of work – something I’ve found out numerous times during my own project. In cases where the job was overly complex, or required skills beyond our capability — like the plumbing or our bathroom tiling jobs, for example — we hired out skilled contractors to handle the jobs for us. When it’s something that’s crucially vital to the safety and security of your home, hiring a professional should be the safest way to go, right?
Except it’s not. I’m thankful that the people we hired were tremendously professional and did the jobs they were hired for in a timely fashion and correctly (according to the codes and standards required by the state), but it’s a fact that there are a lot of contractors out there who don’t know what they’re doing at all, or who bite off jobs that are well beyond the scope of what they’re capable of doing — and the homeowners who hire them often find themselves in situations that leave them with structural problems, unfinished jobs, and safety issues — all while costing them ungodly amounts of money in the process.
My education as to how prevalent these situations actually are has been coming lately from the HGTV show Holmes on Holmes, the current season premiere of which will air on HGTV Sunday night at 9:00 ET. The show, which originated in Canada, follows around contractor Mike Holmes as he attempts to repair and fix botched jobs by contractors who range from the inept to the flat-out unethical. The show has been one of the highest-rated shows on HGTV Canada during its run, and it’s been running almost daily in the afternoon on HGTV the last couple of weeks, where I’ve been able to catch it.
Needless to say, the show has been a complete eye-opener. In episode after episode, I’ve watched families whose lives had been driven almost to ruin, whose finances had been all but wiped out, by contractors who either couldn’t — or wouldn’t — do the job properly. There have been examples of contractors who literally stole tens of thousands of dollars from helpless homeowners, often leaving them with houses that were in ruin and — in some cases — unsafe to live in. In every one of those cases, it was left up to Holmes and his crew of workers to fix the problems, with the price tag largely being absorbed by the show and on more than one occasion, Holmes himself.
In every one of these cases, the family afflicted hired a contractor who seemed to be the right person for the job. But what I’ve learned over the course of watching the show is that there are far too many people out there who aren’t doing quality work the way it should be done — and that it’s really easy to find yourself a victim of a botched job if you’re not careful. For anyone attempting to embark upon a renovation project who’s looking to hire someone for the job, just watching a few of these episodes could save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches.
MY spider-sense was immediately tingling when the contractor dodged the question of permits for our renovation project
How easy could it be to fall for a one of these con artists depicted on the show? When my home renovation project was started, the first contractor my wife and I talked to about doing the framing on our extension seemed eager enough to take the job — but he wasn’t able to give specifics on budgeting for material or labor, he wasn’t able to give a clear and concise plan for how the project would unfold, and he was evasive when it came to discussing the needs for permits or adhering to code — all red flags according to Holmes (and to me at the time). We thankfully passed on doing business with this guy, but I had a relative who did hire him for a much smaller job — and who got taken when he took money from her and never did the work. I remember hearing about it and thinking “That could have been us — but far worse”. As thankful as I am that we apparently avoided any mishaps along the way of our renovation, I wish we had known then what we’ve learned since — and that I’d seen a show like Holmes on Holmes way back then.
Holmes deserves tremendous credit for shining a light on some of the problems in the building industry, in which the contractors have all kinds of protection within the law, but homeowners have far fewer. His show is well worth checking out if you have the time — and if you’re thinking of doing a remodeling project. You just may end up saving yourself a lot of money down the road if you do.