What TV Shows Don't Show You About Renovations

How I Got Started On TV

I never wanted to be on TV. I am a contractor and was running a successful business at a young age. I never liked what I was seeing on TV when it came to home renovation shows. In my opinion, they were focused on the shiny finishes and not the structure.

It’s a funny story about how I got on TV. I was on a job site and started ranting about how many poorly done jobs I had been fixing. Homeowners were stuck paying to fix something that should have been done right the first time. 

Someone overheard my “diarrhea of the mouth” and approached me about hosting my own TV show. I declined right away, and I wasn’t shy about why I wouldn’t do it. I told the network executive I didn’t like the shows on his network. They were encouraging people to focus on the finishes and not what goes on BEHIND the walls. 

Not only did this idea of being on TV sound ridiculous, but I also didn’t want to work under constraints like filming schedules and scripts. The executive knew I liked helping one family at a time. It took a LOT of convincing, but I finally decided to give a TV show a shot. 


Read More: How Mike Holmes Got Started On TV


Mike Holmes Filming


Holmes on Homes, Holmes Makes It Right, Holmes Inspections, Holmes And Holmes- I’ve done A LOT of shows in my 20+ years on TV. We have tried different concepts and different formats. But one thing has remained the same-we ALWAYS make it right. We never take shortcuts and there is a LOT of work that goes into each project that we don’t get to show you.

So why am I telling you this? I want you to be aware that home improvement shows do not give you a good idea of how much work actually goes into each project. 


Sherry Holmes Inspecting Work Needed On Site, For New Show Holmes Family Rescue


I’ve been very passionate about helping homeowners since the start of my career. When we make shows, it’s our goal to do more than just help the homeowner in that episode. We also want to teach you, the viewer why we do what we do.


Here are some things TV shows don’t show you:


Dealing with material shortages

If you have attempted to renovate in the last couple of years, I don’t have to tell you that material shortages are real. We face the same issues on our projects. For our TV shows, we usually work on multiple projects at the same time. In a way this is a blessing because if there is a material shortage, we can proceed to another job. I ordered garage doors for a project and it took five months to arrive.


Dealing with delays

There is a LOT more work involved and long hours on the construction site. No matter how well you have planned a construction job out, the timelines are always aggressive and ambitious. 

Kitchen Installed on Mike Holmes New Show Holmes Family Rescue From Lume Cucine, Unit 276.


There are weather delays, issues with subcontractors, all sorts of things that come up. Sometimes we have to wait for permits or an electrical inspector. Once on a Holmes and Holmes project, we actually found BONES in the basement and had to wait until the investigation was over. Turned out to be animal bones.


Dealing with labor shortages

We’re facing a serious shortage in the skilled trades, and my crew and I are constantly looking for skilled workers. I’ve seen many contractors take on a job and leave an inexperienced laborer to do the job-badly and sometimes dangerously. 

Inexperienced workers are more likely to get hurt if they don’t get the right safety training. As a homeowner, know who is working on your property – and that goes for the subtrades too.


Projects take MUCH longer to complete

Even though most people understand that a reno can not start and end in an hour, I am still surprised by how many people think they can be done in a matter of days.

Like I mentioned above, we do deal with material and labour shortages and have to find solutions. We are constantly on our phones on site trying to find replacements. You don’t see this level of planning (and stress) on the final episode. It’s real.

Closet Installed on Mike Holmes New Show Holmes Family Rescue From Komandor, Unit 87.


Projects take much longer to PLAN

There is an entire team that works hard to research products and companies before anything ends up on our construction site. If it’s a new product or technology, we test it and have our network test them as well. I am not putting anything in a client’s home that I am not confident will be the best solution for them.

Fireplace Installed on Mike Holmes New Show Holmes Family Rescue, From Omega Mantels, Unit 8


The Clean Up

A job site can get messy. We use surface protection throughout the house and we constantly clean or change our clothes for the camera. But it gets messy, and it can get dangerous if we aren’t diligent about cleaning up. A messy job site is a sign of a bad contractor. A jobsite should always be kept clean and free of debris.


Improve Canada has the Holmes Family Seal of Approval


Improve Canada is a fantastic place to shop when you are renovating. I have had a great experience working with many of their experts. The best part is, there are so many options at the centre that you will be able to complete your reno comfortably. I recommend giving their customer service team a call before you go so they can help you plan your visit. It’s a huge centre so some guidance will come in handy. 






Want more reno tips? Listen to the Know Your Reno Podcast on all major streaming platforms or watch it here.


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