Throughout his career as a professional contractor and television personality, Mike has received several awards which prove the quality of his work. His television series, “Holmes on Homes” has won the Viewer’s Choice Award at the 2004 Gemini Awards, and the “Holmes Inspection” show has been named the Best Lifestyle/Practical Information Series.
For his viewers, Mike presents a kind of service that goes beyond the line of duty—his determination to ensure that people enjoy their homes has been recognized in such a way that he was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal by Queen Elizabeth II herself. In fact, Mike has been named second most widely trusted person in Canada, just behind the environmentalist, David Suzuki.
While the level of trust that Mike created has incurred the envy of politicians, Mike himself does not have any interest in going into politics. When he was interviewed regarding his views of running for office, he simply said:
“It did make me wonder. I’m just some contractor from Canada. I guess it means that people believe in what I believe in... If you ask me if I'm running for office, I'd say no. But if I were prime minister, the first thing I’d do is fire everyone and start again. I’d hire normal people.”
More than a contractor, Mike is a philanthropist. Mike’s shows portray the kind of passion that he puts in his organization, the Holmes Foundation. Through the Holmes Foundation, Mike partners with various schools, businesses, and governmental organizations to promote the reputation and popularity of skilled trades in Canada so that the young people will be encouraged to take up courses and pursue careers in this industry.
Because of the shortage of skilled workers in the country, Mike and his organization passionately helps in making skilled trades popular so that more students would realize the significance of learning skilled trades.
Mike’s passion and courageous efforts in exposing the poor work of several contractors comes from his firm belief that things should be done right the first time. Doing construction for most of his life, Mike knows and understands the concept of “work more, cost more.”
He often advises his clients that it does not matter if it is more expensive, as long as the work is thorough. He often says, what is the point of paying less if you are going to have your house renovated every once in a while? Correct house work ensures long lasting results, which in turn yields satisfied customers.
Mike has the same opinion about inspection. Throughout his career, Mike has come to conclude that a lot of poor house work is a result of poor inspection. Thus, he always makes a point to make sure that before one gets his house renovated, he must first make sure that the inspection is thorough. When Mike was asked in an interview if there was such a thing as a perfect home inspection, he answered:
“Absolutely. Most aren't done correctly. Most inspectors don't have the knowledge to do good inspections. The number one step is better education. Two is having the proper background. We need to upgrade the industry. Home inspections should be more thorough and cost more. Most inspectors don't charge enough for their work. I think homebuyers should recruit an inspector before they start looking. Take the Realtor out of the loop. Re-evaluate how it is done. Buyers buy on impulse. Consumer education is key.”
Because of his dedication in promoting excellence in the area of constructing and renovating homes, Mike has come under fire and received criticism from a lot of contractors who believe that the reason why Mike keeps on doing what he does is so that he can promote his own company. In an interview, Mike answered his critics by saying:
“I appreciate being in the position to educate people on what’s right, whether it’s how a home should be constructed or how it should be inspected. Contractors now appreciate the visibility. I was raising the bar and became a voice of the industry. The same thing is happening here. I am highlighting the fact that there are inspectors out there who don't look deep enough to identify issues that affect people’s lives. Home inspectors will come around just as contractors came around.”
Mike understands the importance of having skilled workers in the community, and has personally witnessed the great amount of need that Canada has for these people. As such, Mike devotes a lot of his time to not only utilize his reputation to create a desire for young people to pursue careers in the skilled trade industry, but to also instill in them the value of excellence, in doing things “right the first time.”
Early Biography: Influenced by His Father
Mike Holmes was born in Toronto, Canada on August 3, 1963 to Jim and Shirley Holmes. Along with his siblings, Mike grew up under the tutelage of his father, whom he later described as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ In spite of his family being financially challenged, one thing that made Mike cherish his childhood was that his father put family above their finances, and taught his children to always ‘do things right the first time.’
Apart from being a family man, Mike also saw in his father a heart for helping people. Growing up, Mike witnessed how Jim would often go out of his way to help neighbors who had problems with their homes, even when he did not receive anything in return. Jim taught his children that doing good and helping others was something that should naturally come out of them, not because they want to get something, but because it is what is right.
This greatly impacted the life of the young Mike, who saw his father as his greatest inspiration in why he does what he is famous for today. In an interview with him many years later, Mike said of Jim:
“In my eyes, he was Superman. I talk about my dad all the time…sometimes I get the feeling I talk about him too much, but he is the inspiration behind what I do, for sure.”
The philosophy of always putting all effort to ensure that the work is done at its best shaped Mike’s outlook in life and greatly developed a sense of excellence in him as he grew up. In fact, during an interview with Mike many years later, when he was asked about the significance of his company’s slogan, ‘Make it Right,’ he answered:
“It applies to everything. If you’ve done something wrong in your relationship, make it right.”
Even at a very young age, Mike already began to exhibit great interest and potential in the area of skilled trades. While it was not surprising for the young Mike to take after his father Jim, who was also a skilled trader, Mike’s natural proficiency for the art was extraordinary given his age. When Mike was only six years old, Jim started teaching him about construction work after seeing the amazing potential that Mike had when he helped in rewiring the family home.
Though fairly average in his studies, it was Mike’s natural aptitude for making things that made him extraordinary as a kid. At home or in school, Mike was known for his love of tinkering with toys, dismantling them so he could find out what made them work—an activity that at times drew the annoyance of the adults who supervised him.
Completing a Basement at the Age of 12
From the time he did his first construction job, Mike’s talent in building kept on improving, so much so that at age 12, he completed his first basement project with the supervision of his father. At one time, Mike constructed a multi-room tree house in their yard, something which impressed the neighbors so much that they thought it was Jim who built it. At another time, Mike built several go-carts with such amazing crafting abilities that the neighbors exclaimed that the go-carts were among the best they have ever seen.
Because of his love for crafting and building, Mike often went at odds with his teachers, who were more interested in the young children learning about theories than actually letting them ‘do’ what was taught. When he was 11 years old, Mike stopped studying so he can focus more on his interests and improve his skills in crafting and building. His parents, through quite disappointed with Mike’s decision, supported him all the way.
As a teenager, Mike was somewhat of a rebel—not as a son, but as a student and a teenager, who went against what society would dub as ‘normal.’ When he was 17, Mike got a tattoo in the form of an English bulldog wearing a hat after getting pressured by his friends. In another time, Mike had a cobra tattooed on his body after thinking that it was the ‘cool’ thing to do. Many years later, Mike would have these tattoos replaced.
An Entrepreneur at 19
At the age of 19, Mike decided to turn his crafting and building skills into a profession by establishing a career as a contractor. In a few short months that followed, Mike started his own company and hired 13 individuals as employees, a feat that’s quite extraordinary given his age and experience as a professional contractor. From this moment on, Mike’s career went up. At the age of 21, Mike started his renovation company, which equally became successful and strong.
From the time Mike began his work as a contractor, he was known as “The F-up Fixer” for his knack of working with homeowners who were victims of poor construction or renovation as a result of the mistakes of other contractors. Mike built his reputation from doing this, and soon enough he became one of the most trusted names in the construction industry. His skill and expertise in building was such that he speedily rose to the ranks of being among the best contractors in Canada during that time—it really was a good life for Mike and his family, until the nineties.
Mike’s Business and Family Life Dwindle
During the early 1990s, a huge recession hit the world, causing a lot of businesses to go bankrupt and close down due to the financial strain of maintaining them without replenishing the funds due to the lack of customers. The recession hit the construction industry so hard, causing a lot of contractors such as Mike to lose their clients as they opt for those who charged a cheap price but did a poor job. It was really a struggle for Mike and his family. He was forced to sell his business and lay off all his employees due to being unable to financially keep the company stable.
The financial struggles caused a great rift in Mike’s family. Soon after he sold his business and his car, Mike was left by his wife. The following month, Mike received devastating news that his father passed away after breaking his neck in a tragic accident.
A few years later, Mike’s mother died of a heart condition, which greatly affected him. These family issues, along with the financial insecurity that Mike was experiencing would leave many distraught and on the edge of breaking down, but not Mike. In the midst of all these trials, Mike remained strong and persistent, not letting the weight of all his tribulations fall on him.
From Stagehand to Host: the Birth of Holmes on Homes
It was not easy, but Mike’s persistence eventually paid off. When the economy started stabilizing, Mike resumed his business and got his team back together. From that moment on, it was only upward for Mike. Soon after he reopened his company, Mike was launched into the spotlight of construction seen by many as one of the best contractors in the business.
But Mike has not reached the pinnacle of his career yet. In 2001, while he was working as a stagehand for the HGTV show “Just Ask Jon Eakes,” Mike approached the director of studio programming for Alliance Atlantis Michael Quast and told him about this idea of a new kind of home improvement show about helping people who were victimized by poor work from cheap contractors. Michael immediately bought the idea, who saw the great potential in the very passionate and outspoken Mike. In an interview with Michael later on, he recalled his first encounter with Mike:
“Mike came in with veins popping out on his neck, and diarrhea of the mouth, talking about how he was sick and tired of seeing people get screwed by contractors.”
At first, Mike did not want to be in the camera—when he first approached Michael, Mike wanted to be an advisor as he believed himself to be ‘just a contractor.’ However, Michael saw it differently, and after some persuasion, finally got Mike to agree to become the host. And so, that same year, the show “Holmes on Homes” was born.
The first three seasons of Holmes on Homes did not turn out the way Michael expected. There were so few submissions that Mike had to go out and hand fliers in Home Depot parking lots so he could gather participants for the show. Initially, the show Mike was in was broadcast 30 minutes every day and had much lower budgets due to its unpopularity. In spite of this setback, Mike never gave up. After seeing the numerous house issues brought about by poor planning and construction, Mike became very determined to make a change in any way he can, and he knew that this television show was going to make great impact in the lives of the people that he could reach.
And Mike was right. By the fourth season of the show, Holmes on Homes became so popular that it started receiving hundreds of emails a week from numerous desperate homeowners who were looking for help. This was when Mike realized just how bad the industry was, and that the so-called ‘minimum code’ had to be changed. As Holmes on Homes evolved, the show began to generally focus on poorly made renovations as a result of dealing with cheap contractors. From a 30–minute broadcast every day, the show became a hit amongst the channel’s viewers, so much so that shootings took place seven days a week.
Mike and His Crew Go to New Orleans
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit and devastated several cities in the United States, more particularly the city of New Orleans. A lot of houses were wrecked, and thousands of families lost their homes. In the aftermath of the devastation, the celebrity couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, decided to do their part in helping the victims by establishing the “Make It Right Foundation” completely unaware that the phrase had already been trademarked to Mike. Seeing the good intentions of the couple, Mike, instead of fighting a nonsense battle over words, decided to help and brought his team to New Orleans to begin reconstructing homes in the city.
Mike’s experience in New Orleans was filmed and released as “Holmes in New Orleans.” When Mike was interviewed about his experience, he replied:
“It was brutal. Unbelievably HOT AS HELL…Seriously—the heat was extreme. We were shocked every day how it got so hot and humid from early in the morning, and it never let up.”
And yet in spite of the tough and unwelcome weather that Mike and his crew were not accustomed to, he states that it was still worth it after seeing the appreciation of the people that he helped through the work they did in the city.
Founding the Holmes Foundation
The following year, in 2006, Mike established the Holmes Foundation after bearing witness to a renovation job that was so poorly done that Mike felt like tearing the house down and starting all over instead of trying to repair the damage, which would not only cost more, but would also be unstable. After seeing several of these incidents, Mike came to a realization that there was not enough manpower that people were willing to have their homes done by cheap contractors in spite of the dangers of poorly constructed homes.
Because of this, Mike made the Holmes Foundation’s primary focus in the field of getting young people interested in pursuing a career in the skilled trade, in order to groom a new generation of quality construction contractors that will ensure high quality home constructions and renovations.
In 2009, after finally culminating his work on the show Holmes on Homes, which lasted eight years, Mike started a new television series which was focused on helping people who have been victims of poor inspection work, thus resulting in incorrect and measly done renovations. The show, titled “Holmes Inspection,” was inspired by the fact that a lot of complaints made by homeowners on the previous show Holmes on Homes comprised of poor inspection.
Through Holmes Inspection, Mike was able to reach out to people and teach them about how proper inspection should be done. In an interview made with him, Mike said of the show:
“I think it’s really great for teaching the viewers about what’s going on behind the walls of the house. I can’t show things like air quality or mould spores on camera, so the special effects lets me do that... I saw an opportunity to educate homeowners so they can hire the right inspectors—just like Holmes on Homes tried to teach people how to hire the right contractors.”
Holmes Make It Right Helps Victims of Natural Disaster and Poor Construction/Inspection
In 2012, the show Holmes Inspection aired its last episode to give way to Mike’s new television project—“Holmes Make It Right,” which featured Mike and his team helping homeowners whose houses’ damages were a result of a natural disaster, poor construction, or poor inspection.
More recently, Mike was featured as a judge of several television competition programs, such as the “Handyman Superstar Challenge,” the “All American Handyman,” and “Canada’s Handyman Challenge.” That same year, Mike was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his efforts in making a change through proper construction and renovation.
Currently, Mike continues his quest in ensuring that houses are built properly for safe and secure living for the family. Through his television shows, organizations, and companies, Mike never stops in exposing the crooked ways of constructing or renovating houses and helping the victims get their houses done right. And sure, while Mike has received a number of criticisms over the course of his career, he sees them as a sign that what he is doing is right, and is making a positive impact in society.
- 2001-2008:Holmes on Homes
- 2005:Holmes in New Orleans
- 2009-2011:Holmes Inspection
- 2012:Holmes Make It Right
- 2012:Handyman Superstar Challenge
- 2012-present:All American Handyman
- 2012-present:Canada’s Handyman Challenge
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- The Holmes Foundation
Awards and Achievements
- 2004:Received the Gemini Award for Viewer’s Choice
- 2009:Received the Gemini Award for Best Lifestyle/Practical Information Series
- 2012:Awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
- 2008:Honorary Doctor of Technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology