Monday, February 25, 2008

Holmes turns nightmare into dream home

Owners saved from 'contaminated' project
Kerry Moore, The ProvincePublished: Sunday, February 24, 2008
Last year, Mike Holmes received 65,000 letters pleading for his help.

Holmes of HGTV's Holmes on Homes turns his critical eye on home renovations in his weekly series. Of those 65,000 sad cases, he says, "only 13 or 14 make it to the small screen."

The process of selection, he explains, ends up with his staff going to a handful of homes and videotaping the interior and exterior. From what he sees on tape, he says, he chooses "according to how much the owners need me and how much audiences can learn by seeing it on television."

The burly, no-nonsense Holmes was in town last week to receive an honorary doctorate from the B.C. Institute of Technology for his work in improving the building trades.
The Province caught up with him, on his cellphone, while he was taking a tour of BCIT's facilities.
There's a kind of "tell," he says, when he tours horror-homes. "If you see sloppy finishing you can guess that there's also trouble underneath."

On Feb. 28, one of the worst situations Holmes has encountered is the subject of a two-hour HGTV special. "I knew there was big trouble when I first saw the house. I was still in my truck in the driveway and the husband and wife were standing there crying. . . ."

At that time, he says, they were just begging to get an occupancy permit to move back in. "I told them it couldn't be saved."

Holmes doesn't mince words when talking about this home's "so-called renovator/contractor."
"He 'liened' them for $343,000 on top of the $219,000 initial cost. I've never seen anything so contaminated."

After satisfying legal concerns, the Etobicoke, Ont., house was levelled and Holmes started building the new house, calling the project "Lien on Me." In the process, he took the opportunity to build not only a solid house but a remarkable one.

"The (Feb. 28) show featuring this house will knock you off your feet. It was lots of work and time and money, but we put it all together -- it's energy-efficient beyond anything out there.
"Over the years I've seen the different shades of "green" efforts in making houses energy-wise. What we have done is put them all together."

Holmes says he chose to educate himself on what technologies were available before working with the architect. The knowledge and the products are all out there, he says, and it will get easier to find them and apply them.

"I say to people who want these innovations -- and I hope you do -- that if something goes wrong, you can't get an average contractor to fix it." When they are installed, he says, get a list of people to call for assistance. "Whatever you do, don't play with them."
Or you may find yourself writing a begging letter to Mike Holmes.

One person can make a difference. I have been asking the Toronto Real Estate Board and RECO to provided seminars on the Contractors Construction Lien Act for Realtors to assist clients. When commiting to a job get a contract in writing.

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