Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bake It Right!

Handmade Christmas gifts are always the best, because they come from the heart. I had SO MUCH FUN making this very special gift for Mike and his crew. Straight from my kitchen, I handcrafted the entire Holmes Makes It Right crew out of gingerbread. I even colored all the icing myself. It's a yummy gift I can't bear to eat! These guys and gals were already a handsome bunch, but if you ask me, I made them look even better!


The Holmes Makes It Right Crew











Uncle Billy


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mike Holmes: Keep Santa’s Chimney Safe

...since we're talking Santa here, I figured I'd remind all of you to tune into the Holmes Spot tomorrow (Christmas Eve) for a very cool surprise! I will be debuting Mike's Christmas present to the world. You won't want to miss it! (see A Christmas Present For Mike )...

Chimneys... they're a lot of work to keep up and maintain. I grew up in a home with a wood burning fireplace. I also watched the movie Mary Poppins about a trillion times, so I'm somewhat familiar with the soot covered chimney sweeps of days past. In this article, reposted from the National Post, Mike explains how keeping your chimney in tip top shape is not only important for the big guy in red, it's also crucial to ensure your family's health and safety. It's important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year -- "no exception," adds Mike. An improperly maintained chimney can lead to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning as well as other nasty issues such as heat loss and leaks. Read on...

Mike Holmes: Keep Santa’s chimney safe

Mike Holmes | Dec 21, 2012 3:02 PM ET
More from Mike Holmes
Alex Schuldt / The Holmes Group
Alex Schuldt / The Holmes Group A fireplace can add the perfect cozy ambiance to any holiday get together. But one that is not maintained can pose a huge threat to your family's safety, possibly causing a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
A fireplace that doesn’t function properly is a serious safety risk to our families. Ideally, we want the smoke going out and the heat coming in (and maybe Santa, too).

There are many types of fireplaces: traditional masonry wood-burning fireplaces, gas, electric, wood pellet, even those that run on alcohol. But no matter what type you have, it needs proper maintenance — and so does its chimney.

Annual fireplace and chimney inspections should be part of your home’s regular maintenance schedule. Among the problems you can run into if your chimney isn’t maintained is a chimney fire, which can spread in a matter of minutes to your entire home.

Every working chimney’s flue must be inspected and cleaned every year — no exception. This will help make sure there isn’t a block or a crack in the flue that can lead to toxic fumes — such as carbon monoxide — entering your home. Even a hairline crack, once heated, can open to as much as a full centimeter.

A cracked flue also lets heat and smoke travel to other areas in your home, which is dangerous. Creosote builds up a lot quicker if there is a cracked flue in a wood-burning fireplace. Creosote, or soot for short, is extremely combustible. It’s basically tiny unburned flammable particles that accumulate inside your chimney’s walls. If creosote builds up, it just takes a tiny spark to start a chimney fire — which chimneys aren’t built to withstand.

A proper inspection of your fireplace can also reveal if the damper has a tight seal. Sometimes bits of mortar fall from inside the chimney. This can stop the damper from completely sealing. If it doesn’t seal properly you’ll lose heat. That’s a big waste if energy efficiency is what you’re after (and who isn’t these days?).

Your fireplace’s ash pit also needs to be checked; once every other year is enough. But if the ashes seem soggy and hard to remove, you might have a leak. If that’s the case it’s better to fix this sooner rather than later.

Chimneys are prime spots for water damage and leaks. The masonry and mortar can absorb moisture. If there’s anything screwed to the chimney, like an old television aerial, it just gives more points where water and moisture can come in. When they do, the mortar and brick will deteriorate over time.

A good inspector will check the bricks, mortar, chimney cap and flashing. If your chimney’s mortar is deteriorating, the bricks will get loose — a huge vulnerability that will allow more water to penetrate into your home’s structure. To fix this, the mortar needs to be repointed, which means scraping out the old mortar and refilling it with new. It might sound like an easy job but you need to find someone with a bit of skill and practice. A bad job will be obvious — it won’t be pretty.

Proper sealing is crucial where the chimney’s base meets the roofing material. There should be metal flashing here. If it’s missing, poorly installed or needs repair, water can get under the shingles and rot the roof deck underneath.

Most routine chimney repairs aren’t expensive. But if you don’t correct the problems quickly they can become a major safety hazard — with a major price tag to go along with it.

(A gas fireplace should get checked out once a year by a gas technician. I know this sounds expensive. But it’s not as expensive as a catastrophe — I can tell you that much. If your gas fireplace isn’t working the way its supposed to, it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and even death.)

If your home has a wood-burning fireplace you should find a WETT (wood energy technology transfer) certified technician. The installation and maintenance of wood-burning systems isn’t regulated in Canada. But a WETT technician has been trained to give a basic visual inspection the right way. Anyone who is WETT-certified has a photo ID card. If you’re not sure the professional you’re hiring is WETT-certified, ask to see their ID card. Check that it has a valid sticker with the current year.

Most homeowners are scared to ask to see any proof of certification — be it an electrician, plumber, general contractor, home inspector, even a doctor. But every pro will be happy to show you. Any real professional is proud of their certifications and the amount of time they’ve invested in their craft. They might even give you a pat on the back for doing your homework. I know I would.

Before you light your fire this holiday season, make sure your fireplace can handle the heat. Because where there’s smoke, there could be fire.

Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit hgtv.ca. For more information on home renovations, visit makeitright.ca.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Boyle Renaissance Project To Utilize Energy Efficient Technology

Mike Holmes has been involved in a ground breaking affordable housing project designed for seniors and disabled people in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. The Boyle Renaissance project will utilize energy efficient and environmentally friendly technology to generate power and heat for the building. Such technology is not new, but it's the first time it's being used in a building project on Canadian soil. As the project enters phase 2, Mike Holmes has been publicly touting the cost savings and environmental benefits of CHP (combined heat and power).

From iNews880.com:

Mike Holmes shows off a 'first' in heating technology in city housing project
Click here to email Scott Johnston

The newest affordable housing project in the downtown is showing off its progress to this point, and is boasting about its new fangled technology to make it energy efficient.

And they brought in TV contractor Mike Holmes to help demonstrate it.

The building now has a name, the Renaissance Tower, and it's being built by the Métis Capital Housing Corporation to create ninety units for seniors.

"We're looking at about a 15 per cent more cost upfront but you get paid back forever," boasts Holmes. "Imagine saving 66% of off-gas into the atmosphere. 66 per cent of less energy costs. Do the math."

"It's not a new technology, it's an old idea," said Holmes Group associate Seth Atkins. "The idea of linking different buildings together has been done on campuses and in Europe for many years to great effect and efficiency. The difference is what we're looking at doing is putting in CHP, that's combined heat and power. Combined heat and power allows us to generate electricity, capture the waste heat and utilize that to heat our buildings. That means we can feed the electricity back into the grid and we have an opportunity to increase our efficiencies and reduce our energy costs".

It's not just this building going up on 95 Street north of 103A Avenue. The co-gen technology is being tied in to an adjoining building too. It's a Canadian first, where two buildings, with two owners are working together.

"We could see this expand to buildings over 14 kilometers," said Holmes.

"If we can expand that system throughout Edmonton's downtown we'll be able to increase the efficiencies greatly and eliminate plumes off the top of the office towers in Edmonton."

Normally heat goes up the stack on the rooftop and the plume escapes into the atmosphere. What this will do is instead is the heat will be captured and will heat the water which is then piped through the building.

"By doing that you're eliminating the GHGs that are normally admitted into the atmosphere and you're increasing the efficiency of the building, lowering costs, and creating a more efficient system," explained Atkins.

"It's going to save us a lot of money in the long haul," said Darlene Lennie, the executive director of the Métis Capital Housing Corporation.

"When I'm dealing with clients that are barely making their budget from month to month this becomes very important to them. We as a corporation pay the utilities on behalf of our client and they pay a fixed rate so they don't have the immediate impact but we certainly do as a company."

Lennie says the construction is a few weeks behind schedule because they lost a lot of time because of the weather this past spring and summer, but she expects they'll get caught up over the next year.

Renaissance Tower is due to open in the fall of 2013. (sj, twd)
Photo: iNews880's Scott Johnston

From the Edmonton Journal:

Boyle Street Renaissance Project heating up

Phase 2 of inner-city housing development features unique energy-generating system

Boyle Street Renaissance Project heating up
 Mike Holmes with Alan Smyth, senior project manager for Clarke builders, inspects the new Boyle Renaissance Senior’s project phase 2 on December 21, 2012 in Edmonton.

Photograph by: Bruce Edwards , Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - The second phase in the Boyle Renaissance Project not only has a new name, but will use a unique energy-generating system.The affordable housing project for seniors will be named Renaissance Tower, Darlene Lennie of the Metis Capital Housing Corporation announced at a news conference Friday.
“We thought it was very fitting because it is for seniors and disabled Edmontonians,” Lennie said.
“We thought it appropriate that the new home in the rapid, changing inner-city that the new project be called Renaissance Tower.”
Along with a new name, Lennie also announced the seven-storey, 90-unit building will be the first of its kind to use the combined heat and power system between two buildings with two different owners. The tower, on the corner of 95 Street between 104 and 105 Avenue, will be equipped to generate electricity which can be fed back into the grid and provide heat to two buildings.
The 380-kilowatt microgeneration system is scheduled to be installed on the roof of the building in March. Using natural gas, the system will produce electricity and use the waste heat, normally expelled into the air, to heat the tower and provide heat for the YMCA building across the street in Phase 1 of the Renaissance Project.
“The idea of linking buildings and sharing heat is an old idea,” said Seth Atkins, director of the Holmes Homes project. “The idea of using combined heat and power, where you’re generating electricity and feeding it back to the grid and eliminating waste heat into the atmosphere, that’s a new idea.”
Holmes Homes, a national organization created by contractor and tv personality Mike Holmes became involved in March 2011, when he was asked by the city to look at sustainability issues.
“What has interested me is the people who care,” Holmes said. “Between Darlene and the City of Edmonton, I see the people that care, and because I see that, I’m very happy to be part of it.”
Holmes gave a tour of the tower, which currently stands at four storeys.
The idea of district energy — the sharing of energy between buildings — is not a new idea, but it is the first application of the combined heat and power systems in Edmonton between two different building owners to create the system, and is rarely installed in an affordable housing residence.
Atkins points out the generation facility will have the capacity to operate over 14 kilometres and is hopeful it could expand to other buildings.
“The generation source is capable of travelling great distances to heat different buildings,” said Atkins. “The more buildings you can put into that one generation source, the more effiencies you can generate.”
The use of the co-generation systems can result in an increased cost up front, but because of a partnership with Enmax, the cost to the Metis Capital Housing Corp will remain the same amount as if regular boilers were being used. “It will save us a lot of money in the long haul,” said Lennie.
The Metis Capital Housing Corp provided $6 million of the funding for the housing project, which is also receiving municipal funding through the Cornerstones project, as well as federal and provincial funding.
Lennie expects the $22-million dollar project will meet its September 2013 completion date, despite being a few weeks behind on construction due to weather.
The Renaissance Tower housing unit is the second phase of the redevelopment. Phase 1, which completed construction earlier this month, features YMCA affordable housing in one building, and a community centre including child care, office and recreation space in another. The entire project puts social services and housing in one 2-1/2- block area and is designated as a district in The Quarters Downtown redevelopment initiative.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Please Mr. Holmes... Help!!!

Lots of people make and post their casting call videos for Mike's shows on YouTube. There's gotta be some sort of brownie points system where people who use their kids to beg Mike Holmes for help get extra credit, because kid vids are just so darn cute...


And on a side note, don't forget that the Holmes Spot Blog will be premiering a very special Christmas present for Mike on December 24 (Christmas Eve). Don't forget to check it out!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mike Holmes and the First Nations

Mike Holmes and the Holmes Group is in the news again regarding the First Nations housing crisis in Canada. Mike Holmes has always been a strong advocate for building safe and sustainable housing for Canada's native population. He wants to teach the First Nations how to build well-built homes that are affordable and safe.
(And don't forget to tune into the Holmes Spot on Christmas Eve, December 24, for a little holiday cheer. I'll be debuting my Christmas present to Mike, his crew, and all of you! You won't want to miss it!)


From CBC News:

First Nations housing success stories exist, report says

Conference Board of Canada says training people key to making housing solutions work

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2012 4:04 PM ET

During the Attawapiskat housing crisis in 2011m celebrity home builder Mike Holmes said First Nations communities need to be taught how build their own homes.During the Attawapiskat housing crisis in 2011m celebrity home builder Mike Holmes said First Nations communities need to be taught how build their own homes. (CBC)

A new report from the Conference Board of Canada highlights a housing success story on a First Nations reserve on the edge of Sudbury.
The Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation — formerly known as Whitefish Lake First Nation — has partnered with celebrity contractor Mike Holmes to build sustainable housing in which 42 units are being built.
There is also a focus on training people with respect to proper building techniques.
That's something the director of the conference board's Centre for the North sees as key.
“We need to be cognizant of the fact that we can't just offer these tools without offering some training or capacity development for chief and council to be able to take advantage of the opportunities,” Anja Jeffrey said.
The report from the Conference Board report also highlights successful housing initiatives in Nunavut, the Yukon and Saskatchewan.

Chief to go on hunger strike

Meanwhile, the chief of Attawapiskat — a First Nation community beleaguered by housing issues — said she's going on a hunger strike, starting on Tuesday.
Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa SpenceAttawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)Theresa Spence said the federal government is violating the treaty and says officials are not responding appropriately to ongoing issues in her community.
She said she will continue with the hunger strike until Prime Minister Harper agrees to a treaty meeting with First Nations in Canada.
While she didn’t single out housing issues as a reason for going on the hunger strike, Spence said the relationship between First Nations people and the federal government needs to change.
"I'm willing to die for my people and the First Nations people,” she said in a interview with CBC Sudbury Points North host Barry Mercer.
“The pain is too much and it has to stop.”
Spence's community was in the national spotlight last year following a housing crisis in which many people were living in sub-standard housing or tents.
The federal government did send in modular homes, but also put the First Nation under third-party management — a move the federal court called unreasonable.

From the Edmonton Journal:
Building success in the North
Housing, a chronic problem, may be the key to reserves' future
Elizabeth Payne
Postmedia News

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence announces the beginning of a hunger strike while on Parliament Hill on Dec. 10. Spence has vowed she will not eat until the federal government shows more respect for First Nations' concerns and treaty rights.
CREDIT: Jean Levac, Postmedia News
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence announces the beginning of a hunger strike while on Parliament Hill on Dec. 10. Spence has vowed she will not eat until the federal government shows more respect for First Nations' concerns and treaty rights.
A year after the pictures were broadcast across Canada and the world, the images of deplorable housing conditions in Attawapiskat are still shocking. Pictures of multi-generational families living in makeshift tents and shacks lacking heat and plumbing in sub-Arctic conditions put tiny Attawapiskat on the map and earned it the depressingly descriptive moniker "Haiti at minus 40."
And it is still in the spotlight. Last week, Attawapiskat's Chief Theresa Spence launched a hunger strike, vowing during a press conference on Parliament Hill that she would not eat until the federal government begins showing more respect for First Nations' concerns and treaty rights.
"I am willing to die for my people," she said before heading to a cabin on Victoria Island in Ontario to begin her strike. The housing crisis on her reserve and many others, meanwhile, is far from solved.
It would be easy to view the question of adequate housing on remote reserves as something that will never be fixed. But what if this tough puzzle could be a symbol of possibility instead of the failure as it has become?
Housing as a creator of jobs, a source of income and training and a base for innovation and hope would be a game changer in the North and on reserves across Canada. And why not? It is a chronic problem in need of a solution, and those living with the challenges are in the best position to help find one and to benefit from it. Rather than a burden, housing could be a launching pad for a new future.
If that sounds overly optimistic - and it might be - there are small, but encouraging reasons to believe it is possible.
There are projects taking shape around the country that offer hope that better housing could be a route to a better future. Some are described in a report tabled this month by the Conference Board of Canada, which outlines the difficulties of providing adequate housing in the North - and there are many - but it also highlights success stories.
One involves a collaboration between the Assembly of First Nations and Mike Holmes, the television renovation guy who became involved after Holmes and AFN Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo met at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Another is smart, Arctic-weather friendly, easy to erect housing designed by an Ottawa-based company.
The collaboration with Holmes involved inviting First Nations across Ontario to submit proposals for "innovative and sustainable" housing. The pilot project, which calls for energy-efficient, durable and sustainable housing, will be built by Atika-meksheng Anishnawbek (formerly Whitefish Lake) north of Sudbury.
The program addresses a big problem in First Nations housing, that it is usually outsourced - "that builders construct something on-site or off-site, complete the work and then leave. So there is no continuing economic development or base ... and doesn't help them create a foundation from which they can build," says the report.
The project aims to change that. It calls for housing made of materials that will not burn or produce mould - an ongoing problem in First Nations housing - and construction of housing that is energy efficient. There is also a program at Sault College in northern Ontario to help develop trade skills for people living on reserves. And there are plans to take what is learned and expand it.
Holmes - who has a record of fixing housing problems - is blunt about the housing situation on reserves. "We need to stop building crap. It's as simple as that," he told CBC News.
"The smartest thing we can do is to teach the First Nations how to do it," says Holmes. "When they do it themselves, they have pride and they care, and that's what I think is the missing link, not to mention just using the wrong products and building foolishly."
The Conference Board report underscores the importance of bringing the private sector in to help. "Supporting a process that encourages private-sector innovation ultimately frees up the public sector to focus on managing its complex regulatory environment to facilitate the growth of a housing industry," through zoning and other means, says the report.
Kott North, an Ottawa-based company, won the bid for a multimillion-dollar housing development in Nunavut that uses new technology to create housing that is quick to build and suitable for the harsh weather. The housing can be quickly built with local workers who have been trained to do the work.
Housing, it is becoming clear, is a key to everything from health to economic well-being in First Nations communities and in the North.
While Attawapiskat's Spence protests the difficult high-level relationship between the federal government and First Nations, there are encouraging signs that important change might be coming from the ground up.
© Edmonton Journal 2012