Monday, September 29, 2014

Mike Holmes' Refuge From Renovation

Can you believe it's been almost a month since the special "Mike's Ultimate Garage" aired? (See Mike's Ultimate Garage - Wrap Up if you have no idea what I'm talking about). If you saw or read about the special, you know that Mike Holmes is a man with many toys. Cruising around in his various off road vehicles and more luxurious on-road vehicles (such as his Range Rover Autobiography Edition, which has been described by some as a $185k mountain-climbing limo) is a way for him to de-stress and unwind. It's also a way for him to raise money for his various charities by pulling out some of his more unique vehicles to display at car shows. I'm a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a man by the car he drives. It shows what kind of taste a person has, whether they value luxury or economy (I admit, I'm more of the latter than the former), and whether or not they want to stand out or blend in. In this article from, Mike talks about his various vehicles and what they mean to him in his day-to-day life. Spoiler alert, he's got a lot of 'em, some of which he didn't mention in the article!


Mike Holmes’s refuge from renovation
Published September 3, 2014

TV’s Mike Holmes de-stresses by ‘riding it right’ in his cars
You’ve seen him inspecting rooftops in sub-zero weather. You’ve seen him punching holes in drywall, looking for plumbing leaks. And you’ve seen him looking forlornly at renovations gone horribly wrong, saying, “Take it ALL down.”
Mike Holmes (who insists he’s “just a contractor”) is a true Canadian celebrity whose various shows are televised in more than 100 countries. He lives in a modest 2,000 square-foot, 1970s style home northwest of Toronto and we recently met at his new, 1,850 square-foot Mancave, the subject of an upcoming two-hour, HGTV special, .
Holmes is a confirmed gearhead whose vehicle collection includes a pair of ’32 roadsters (one red and one blue), a Boss 302 Mustang, a Range Rover, two BRP Spyders, a Kawasaki Vulcan, and a 1985 Yamaha V-Max.
Mike started with dirt bikes at a young age. “I was the crazy kid on the trails, doing wheelies, going as fast as possible, stuff that I certainly wouldn’t recommend now.”
His first car was a Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon, “to carry lumber. I should’ve bought a truck but it was the right price.” Mike renovated his first basement (including electrical) when he was 12, ran a large contracting business at 19 and, “at 21, I went on my own and haven’t looked back.”
Next he bought a Ford Econoline van and “did it up with captain’s chairs, a killer stereo and big mag wheels.”
He regrets selling the van. “I loved the van but it wasn’t practical as my kids were beginning to grow. I could sleep in it, it had the windows, the blinds, and a POUNDING stereo (even now, I’m a big stereo guy). I recently bought another one to relive those days. We don’t see customized vans anymore.”
Mike’s favourite car is “my Range Rover. It’s the Autobiography Edition, one of only 300 made and I love that car. It’s spectacular as it mixes luxury with handling, performance and off-road ability all in one. It goes anywhere I want to go, but I don’t take it out much, there’s probably only about 3,000 kilometers on it right now. I kind of cherish it. ”
Even though he aced his automotive courses in school, Mike practices what he preaches. “I leave all the mechanical work to the pros. Auto wasn’t what I pursued — I’ve been doing what I’m doing since I was very young, and I don’t see the point of tinkering.” He laughed, “I do wash and wax them though.”
As we talked about his motorcycles and Spyders, Holmes seemed to relax and a visible calm came over him. There are so many demands on his personal life, one of the few places he finds refuge (as so many of us do) is when he puts everything aside and goes for a ride. He laughs, “I put on my helmet, nobody can recognize me and I can just unwind and ride around in peace.”
Holmes has really gravitated to the three-wheeled BRP Spyders. “I think it’s intelligently made, it’s comfortable, and maybe because it’s bigger and wider, it’s an eye catcher and while I’m riding it, motorists see it. To me, it’s safer.”
Mike takes his vehicles to shows and cruise nights to raise awareness of the Holmes Foundation, a charitable organization that supports training young people in the skilled trades through apprenticeships, scholarships and bursaries. “It’s a way to let kids know the Foundation exists and at the same time, get them interested in the trades. I believe it has made a difference and that young people are finally saying, ‘Hey, I want to get into the trades.’”
Holmes believes we’re facing a major shortage in tradespeople. “And it isn’t just about finding a good contractor, painter or plumber. Trades people support every major infrastructure and industry in the world — that’s transportation, healthcare, communications — everything.
The Holmes Foundation is one step in correcting that shortfall, and Mike is also an ambassador to WorldSkills, an international competition involving over 40 different trades. “It’s basically the Olympics of the Skilled Trades and what I saw this year in Germany, blew me away.”
The next WorldSkills is in Brazil in 2015, “and I’m working towards getting it on television to help get the right people in the right trades. I am very proud to be part of that and I’ll be involved till the day I die.”
Holmes’s various shows are televised in over 100 countries and, “it was a real shock to turn on the television in Europe and see myself dubbed in German saying ‘richtig machen’ (Make it Right).”
For more details on Mike’s vehicles as well as an insight into his incredible Mancave, check out , a two-hour special airing September 1 at 8 pm on HGTV Canada. The new season of airs Tuesdays, also on HGTV Canada.
If you happen to see someone on a three-wheeled Spyder painted to look like an F18 jet fighter, it’s probably Mike, de-stressing and “riding it right.”

Correction – September 05, 2014: This article was edited from a previous version that mistakenly said the Spyder is manufactured by Bombardier.

In fact, it is manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products, a separate company.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mike Holmes: When Not To Renovate

"It's all junk, tear it all down!" For those of you who love Mike Holmes like I do, you're probably very familiar with phrases like that. Mike Holmes has been called a "celebrity renovator" by some, and as of late a "superstar renovator" by others -- that's quite the promotion! So it might be surprising to some that renovation may not always be a homeowner's best option in all cases. When should  a homeowner renovate and when should they wait? Buying a new home is exciting, but did you know that finishing a basement too soon before foundation settles is a no-no? Have you ever looked at all that empty space in your attic and wondered how much it would cost to turn that waste space into a second or third story? First, as Mike points out, that space in your attic is not wasted at all. In fact, it serves a very important purpose: protecting your home. Renovating an attic into a bedroom is quite a costly project. Technically speaking, it's impossible to renovate an attic into a bedroom, as doing so would require a second story addition as opposed to a renovation, so it's best to wait on a project like this -- indefinitely.

From The

The purpose of most renovations is to increase livable space. But sometimes you shouldn't do it because you could risk your investment and your home’s structural integrity and safety.
For example, when people buy a newly constructed home, they often want to finish the basement right away. But the general rule of thumb is to wait at least a year. I’d wait at least two, let it go through a couple of freezing-and-thawing cycles to see if any leaks or cracks show up. The last thing you want is to spend $30,000 to $50,000 only to rip out the work to fix a problem.
Also, you don’t turn a utility room into a livable space with finished walls and flooring because you need to have direct access to the systems there. Makes sense.
But the big one people always ask me about is the attic. Attics aren’t meant to be living spaces, so turning them into one requires a lot of money, work, permits and engineering. It can also lead to problems.
An attic’s job is to help insulate the house, prevent heat from escaping and deter condensation that can cause mould and/or rot. Turning it into a living space means changing the roof, electrical, HVAC and most importantly, the structure.
Most attic floors are built with two-by-fours, meant only to support the roof above and ceiling below — they aren’t strong enough to support people, storage and/or furniture. The floor joists would need to be reinforced with two-by-sixes to carry the weight load to the outside walls.
You’ll need stairs, and that means making sure you have enough headroom to be legal and safe.
Then you have to build a cathedral ceiling — a ceiling with minimal space between the roof and the finished ceiling, which usually isn’t enough for adequate insulation and proper air flow.
And what about heating? Can your furnace handle heating that additional space? Not to mention the extra ductwork, heat registers and adding a cold-air return.
I would avoid it altogether and use your attic for what it’s built to do: protect your home.
Another area people are tempted to finish is the crawl space which is basically a partial foundation that’s about four to five feet deep — just deep enough to get below the frost line. It’s usually cold, dark and damp — it might even have a dirt floor. Most people want to finish them for storage purposes, or to help keep the living spaces above warm and reduce heating bills — never a bad idea.
There are two basic ways of dealing with a crawl space: turning it into a warm zone or making it a proper cold zone.
Converting it to a warm zone means closing off the venting, insulating the foundation walls, laying down vapour barrier, gravel and rigid foam board on the floor, and then adding a heating duct and cold-air return. If you close off the vents and don’t add heating and a cold-air return, you will get moisture.
Now, you could do all this work and still have the floor above the crawl space cold. (I’ve never been in a room above a crawl space where the floor isn’t cold.)
The other option is making it a proper cold zone by insulating the floor above and sealing it with vapour barrier, then making sure there’s enough ventilation. Some say vapour barriers can trap moisture against the floor joists and cause them to rot, but if you properly insulate the floor above, you shouldn't have warm air meeting cold.
There are homeowners who want to turn the crawl space into a full basement, which involves excavation and underpinning or bench pinning. It’s a massive job and doing it wrong leads to major structural damage. I wouldn't recommend it unless you are 150 per cent sure it will be done right and you have a very, very big budget.
No matter what renovation you take on, your top priority is your home’s health and safety.
Sometimes it’s best to not renovate at all, which is strange advice coming from a contractor.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mike Holmes in Niagara For Rinaldi Homes

Mike Holmes was in Niagara today lending his support to Holmes Approved builder Rinaldi Homes. The event drew a huge crowd eager to meet Mike and learn about the Holmes Approved program. "Today's event was just right!" stated Mike via Facebook. For more information about Mike's visit today, see Mike Holmes in Welland Ontario With Rinaldi Homes and Mike Holmes Partners with Rinaldi Homes.

Pictures from today's event:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mike Holmes in Welland Ontario With Rinaldi Homes

Mike Holmes announced today that he would be making a public appearance with Rinaldi Homes (A Holmes Approved home builder) in Welland, Ontario on September 27, 2014. If you're in the area, Mike invites you to join him between 1 PM and 5 PM at 10 Coyle Creek Court (off of Timberview Cress) to celebrate the Rinaldi Homes townhomes opening. In the meantime, you can read up on Mike's partnership with the home builder, which was announced in March of this year (see Mike Holmes Partners with Rinaldi Homes for more information).

Here's a video Mike made earlier this year to explain why he supports and stands behind Rinaldi Homes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mike Holmes at Humber College, Part II

Yesterday, it was reported that Mike Holmes was busy touring and filming a "fun project" at Humber College, a trade and technical school in Toronto. It seems that one day's visit was not enough for Mike, as he made a second day's visit to the campus where he continued filming what was revealed today to be a series of three PSAs which will air across Canada. The PSAs will focus on the future of the trades with the next generation, as well as the Holmes Foundation and the scholarships and bursaries they provide to young men and women entering the trades.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mike Holmes at Humber College

Mike Holmes is a huge proponent of young people considering the skilled trades as a viable career opportunity. So much in fact that his charitable foundation, the Holmes Foundation, provides scholarships and bursaries to young men and women who are entering training courses in their trade of choice. In line with his passion for getting youth excited about the trades, Mike Holmes was at Toronto's Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning today filming a "fun project" on the trade school's grounds. What exactly this project is has yet to be revealed, but according to Mike, the project is in conjunction with the Holmes Foundation and Shaw Media. "It's all about the next generation making it right!" he stated on Instagram. Many photos were posted to Facebook and Twitter today as he toured the campus. Check 'em out!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

BC's First "Holmes Approved" Home Built By RDC Fine Homes

On September 22, Mike Holmes was in Vancouver, British Columbia with Holmes Approved builder RDC Fine Homes. After conducting a personal inspection of BC's first Holmes Approved home in Crumpit Woods in Squamish, Mike did a meet and greet with fans and met with a few contest winners who won lunch and a Sea-To Sky Gondola ride with Mike.
Mike and the Sea-To-Sky Gondola winners (lucky duckies!)

Mike with Mayor Rob Kirkham 

Mike with Jonathan Silcock and Bob Deeks from RDC Fine Homes

Mike did some media before the event with RDC Fine Holmes. That morning, Mike made an appearance on Vancouver's CTV Morning Live in which he talked about his partnership with RDC Fine Homes, Holmes Approved Homes, and what's next for Mike. Watch Mike's segment here. Pictures:


Later, Mike did a segment on the Jon McComb Show on CKNW AM 980. He reiterated what the Holmes Approved Homes label is all about and how it is changing the way people think about buying new homes. You can listen to Mike's segment here.

Other photos from Mike's visit in BC:

For more information about this, see previous Holmes Spot blog entries Come Meet Mike Holmes on September 22 and Mike Holmes for RDC Fine Homes.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mike Holmes and Radon Mitigation

What is radon gas and why should anybody be concerned? This is exactly the question that Mike Holmes has been helping to answer in conjunction with the Ontario Lung Association and the Canadian Lung Association this past week. On September 18, Mike Holmes was in Niagara shooting a PSA with the CLA  about the dangers of radon poisoning. In the photo below, Mike Holmes addresses the media along side of George Habib, President and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association at the home of Michael and Jana Katz. The PSA will likely air in November, which is National Radon Action Month in Canada.

CTV's Global News did a piece on why radon testing is important and how Mike Holmes helped the Katz family identify and mitigate the radon problem they had in their home. View the video here. Mike's segment begins at the 1:20 mark. For more information about Mike's appearance, see this press release from the Ontario Lung Association.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Come Meet Mike Holmes on September 22

Earlier this year, Mike Holmes announced a partnership with RDC Fine Homes, a quality home builder in British Columbia. Mike even released a short video about why he stands behind the BC builder. This month on September 22, Mike Holmes will be holding a meet and greet after personally inspecting the property in the Crumpit woods, and a few very lucky fans will experience a little VIP treatment. RDC Fine Homes is holding a contest on their Facebook page in which fans who answer a few questions correctly will be entered in a chance to win a Sea-To-Sky Gondola ride with Mike Holmes on September 22. For more information see Mike Holmes for RDC Fine Homes.

From the Squamish Chief:

Holmes is going to be on Squamish homes.
The star of Holmes on Homes – Mike Holmes – is hitting town to tour new homes selected to be a part of his Holmes Approved Homes program. The program highlights proper building practices that use cutting-edge products and technology, Holmes Group spokesperson Amanda Heath told The Squamish Chief.
On Monday, Sept. 22, Holmes will conduct stage inspections on the Whistler-based construction company RDC Fine Homes’s residential houses in Crumpit Woods in Squamish.
“RDC Fine Homes are the first [company] in B.C. to join the program,” Heath said, adding 15 companies across Canada have been selected for the initiative.
Holmes on Homes originally ran in 2001. The Canadian television series features the general contractor visiting homeowners whose houses need some kind of repair after renovations went wrong. The show was picked up worldwide and airs on HGTV. The 30-minute episodes once held the title of the highest-rated show on the Canadian HGTV.
RDC Fine Homes staff are excited to be recognized by Holmes, its president Bob Deeks said.
“Mike has selected us for our focus on quality homes and our commitment to innovative and energy-efficient products,” he stated in a press release.
The Crumpit Woods developments will include the voluntary energy efficiency program Energy Star certification and innovative materials, such as insulated concrete foundations – interlocking modular units that are filled with concrete.
“The Mike Holmes inspection team will inspect and review our projects along the way,” Deeks said.
Holmes will be available to meet with people from 2 to 3 p.m. after the inspections.

@ Squamish Chief

From Black Tusk

Do you want to ride the new Sea-to-Sky Gondola? Are you a fan of Mike Holmes? If your answer to either of these questions was yes then here is a contest for you!
As the first Holmes Approved Homes builder in British Columbia,
RDC Fine Homes has teamed up with Mike Holmes to offer this amazing contest and it is so easy to enter.
Visit the
RDC Fine Homes Facebook page, fill in a short survey and you will be entered into the draw to meet Mike Holmes and ride the Sea-to-Sky Gondola with him on September 22nd.
Good luck!

And if you're interested in entering the contest here it is. PS -- you might want to read the rules first before entering (never fun to win a contest only to find out you can't accept the prize):

Win the chance to meet Mike Holmes and ride the New Sea to Sky Gondola in Beautiful Squamish BC!

Answer the three questions below correctly and you will be entered into a draw to meet Mike Holmes and ride with him up the new Sea to Sky Gondola on September 22nd, 2014.. Answers can be found on the RDC Fine Homes Facebook page or website ( or the Mike Holmes website (
Good luck!

 How many Holmes Approved Builders are there in British Columbia?*

How many tiers are there to choose from in the Holmes Approved Homes program?*

What does RDC use for building the foundations of their new homes (hint - this helps to insulate your basement and reduces waste associated with traditional foundations)?*