Holmes on scoundrels

Holmes on scoundrels

Sir Lancelot of the renovation world saves the vulnerable from sketchy renovators, while launching a new book on everything you need to know before buying or selling your home

Jennifer Campbell, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Saturday, July 05, 2008
Mike Holmes is dressed in his signature overalls and wearing the face of a man who wishes his work world was free of scoundrels and incompetents.
It’s a beautiful day in Ottawa - even for a couple of homeowners who were deceived by their contractor, a fellow who meant well but was at best skilled as a painter, not a general contractor.
After months of upset, what with lawyers and a half-done job, the homeowners are now being saved by Holmes on Homes. The TV show, fronted by Mike Holmes who is a folk hero among suburbanites for rescuing folks from their home-based hells, shows how to get the job done right.
“In this case, I don’t think the contractor did anything on purpose. I think he truly tried. I just think he didn’t know enough about what he was doing,” Mr. Holmes says as he takes a break from the set while his 25-person team puts the Humpty-Dumptied room together again.
One of the leading team members, Damon Bennett, is originally from Ottawa. “I love Ottawa,” says Mr. Bennett. He grew up here and then headed west to work, originally as a mason’s labourer. Now, he runs the renovations when Holmes isn’t on hand. “It’s really nice to be back.”
This particular case caught Holmes’ eye because he wanted to do an episode in Ottawa, but by the standards of his show - which receives 65,000 e-mails a year from homeowners begging to have him get them out of renovation quandaries - it’s small tubers.
“I get e-mails every day from people begging for help,” says the big man with the bigger heart. “It’s actually depressing - very depressing. I read e-mails of people losing their homes, going bankrupt all the time.”
There’s no doubt he is a compassionate and a busy man. He’s headed to New Orleans to film his Make it Right program and many of his staff members have not only volunteered their time, but have also agreed to pay out of pocket to get themselves there because they believe in the project. In addition, he runs a foundation that helps Canadians, including the couple in Ottawa, and supports youth training in skilled trades through scholarships.
And he’s just released his second book: The Holmes Inspection.
“On my website, the No. 1 complaint we receive is about home inspections. From all the complaints, and every time I do home inspections, I see nothing but problems,” he says. “In writing this book, we inspected four homes and each had been inspected by a home inspector.
We showed what they found, what I found, and one of them paid $300,000 for a house, which was the nicest on the street visually, but it needed about $300,000 in repairs.”
In that case, the television renovator ordered the house torn down.
“It was a complete cover-up, a flip. No permits. It was one of the worst I’ve seen- everything, electrical, plumbing, fire hazards, structural. I could not believe what I saw in this house.
They bought it after a home inspector said it was pretty good, with a couple of problems. He wasn’t even close.”
Mr. Holmes says the home inspection industry isn’t properly or rigorously regulated. It takes just 12 weeks to become a home inspector. But he also thinks the would-be homeowner could use some buyer-beware tips.
“The homeowner needs to know everything they possibly can in order to buy this house, or sell it,” he said.
In the book, he covers all aspects of buying or selling your next house. “I’m positive everyone out there that’s buying and selling will find it useful.”
And then the friendly giant smiles: “I just wish I could give everyone the book.”
His main message: document, document, document. He advises homeowners to keep records on every bit of work they do on their homes – what materials they used, where they bought them, who did the work, and when. He also suggests getting permits for everything and taking before and after photographs.
“Then, when you sell the house, you have proof of what was done,” he says. “Fifty per cent of renos in this country are done without permits.”
When it comes to inspecting a potential purchase, he suggests that instead of hiring someone who may only have 12 weeks experience, you hire licensed specialists in specific trades.
“Shouldn’t we have licensed electricians, licensed plumbers, licensed or certified fireplace guys looking at homes? Does that sound like a lot of money? Yes. But how much is the house in the first place?”
In short, rather than spending $400 where you might not get the full picture, spend $2,000 to find out if a house is truly worth the sizable investment you’re about to make in it.
The Holmes Inspection is available in book stores and online and sells for $29.95. The Ottawa episode is expected to air on HGTV over the summer.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

the link to view it there

If what he says is true…that a person can not become a home inspector after a 12-week school … he just discredited every licensing law in the United States.

Bill, can you imagine the response from the agent when a buyer says I want to bring in a pro from every trade to inspect a home? I don’t think it would be done for $2000 either, I think you could easily double that and it would take 4 days for an inspection, agents and sellers would be joining AA. I think Mike has a good point, but at the same time how would a client know a good plumber from a not very busy scoundrel, he could point out all kinds of problems with the system and leave his card saying “by the way I can fix all that for you” like wise for any other trade. It is still buyer beware, the bank sells people mortgage insurance, most people don’t know it’s optional and very expensive and only protects the bank. I think those things can cause too much conflict of interest. My 4 cents worth anyway(went up from 2 cents with price of gas)

Whats funny is that I got a call from a prospective client last night and I almost asked " did you like Mike’s Book" because they asked every question from his List of questions, I guess he liked my answers cause he booked the inspection with me. I am totally amazed at how someone whom has never worked as an inspector can have such influence over the masses.
I guess he really must be the " most trusted contractor" wow

He is also great at knocking it all down and making it look good.
But to renovate means keeping the cost down and adding where you need to and removing what you have to, not just doing the D9 inside and starting fresh, most home owners could not afford this way of renovation in any sence. So his remarks on inspection come from his lack of experience and knowledge of the whole. I guess he feels you need to come from the womb of an inspector to be one ??

Funny how much more he is able to find after he knocks out a wall or ceiling than before. In a non-invasive inspection he is as equally effective (or ineffective) as those he criticizes.

Imagine if all Hi’s were to don a 20lb sledge hammer as part of their tools, poking holes to see whats behind, that would give a whole new perspective on inspections, and really let the buyers see what they are getting for the money.
what would it take to get this put into the SOP and be accepted as a required form of inspection.

Not fair to us.
I actually like Mike Holmes, but i dont think he really understands. Ok, if i had all day long to look at a house with a huge crew of helpers, and dismantled everything and anything i wanted, i would know everything too, DUH!

HAVING SAID THAT THOUGH, i think Mike Holmes is really a good man. the show is good

The concept of the show was great but was Mike the guy for it. I hope he’s as good as he wants to appear to be…but he has charged $20,000 a day for an appearance. I hope at least 1/2 of that went to the SOS children’s villages/housing he’s the front man in ads for!!

Hey I even bought his book as well, curiosity killed the cat…
But I know he charged the CAPHI association 10K to speak at one of there conventions a year or two ago and was only there a few hours to boot
so I could see 20K for the day, I do hope a healthy portion does make it to his famed projects of those in disparity(sp)


CAHPI paid him $ 20,000. plus expenses for a two hour presentation as our keynote speaker at our Calgary Conference in 2006. (That’s slightly more than I received as Keynote Speaker at the 2007 NACHI Convention) :wink:

His presence added at least 100 members to the attendance based on historical figures, so he likely generated $45,000 to $50,000 in extra income for CAHPI. The bottom line is that he didn’t really cost CAHPI anything.

It was neat having such a high-profile person there, and we had a few opportunities to chat with him about our profession. Unfortunately, most of it fell on deaf ears.

Bill Mullen

Next time, book a penile implant instead.

This guy makes money slamming our industry.

He is clueless. He has the benefit of 20-20 hindsight. Very convenient.

Well then thats a good thing that he was able to produce his expense in revenue, and yes I agree the message never made it passed the elbow

thanks Bill for the insight:mrgreen: