It’s a double dose of Holmes at the Ottawa Home & Remodelling Show, Jan. 17-20. In fact, make that a quadruple dose, with two weekend stage appearances each by siblings Mike Holmes Jr. and Sherry Holmes.
The duo, both contractors themselves, are the children of Canadian reno guru Mike Holmes and they are rapidly carving out their own niches through appearances on popular HGTV shows like Holmes on Holmes, Holmes in New Orleans, and Holmes: Next Generation. The latter is a true family affair, with Mike, Mike Jr. and Sherry banding together to rescue homes and homeowners from disasters left by shady contractors and DIY endeavours gone terribly awry.
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Mike Jr., who is on stage Sunday, Jan. 20, will explain reno essentials like how to hire a contractor.
Although present-day homeowners are increasingly aware of the ins and outs of renovations thanks to the Internet and shows like the Holmes series, “People still don’t understand the importance of hiring skilled trades men and women,” he says.
“Tell them you’d like to contact five to 10 references … and do not do cash jobs.”
Mike Jr. suggests that, when considering a renovator, “Ask them, ‘Are you licensed in Ontario?’ Tell them you’d like to contact five to 10 references— if you’re spending $100,000 or $200,000 on a renovation, you want to make sure they are good. And do not do cash jobs; a lot of people have ended up on our shows that way — you can’t trace cash, and a contractor could start the job and then take off.”
He adds that homeowners need to ensure their renovator has acquired a municipal permit for the work.
Mike Jr., who’s 29 and has an easy manner on the phone, says he and his sister are working to add their own touches to the brand established by their father. In his own case, that includes a strong stance on sustainable building “so we’re working with the environment and not against it.”
Will his father, now 55, retire some day? “I don’t think he’ll ever retire, man … He’ll be on his boat and I’ll still be getting calls: ‘Mike, have you thought about this?’ And I would welcome those calls.”
Women in the trades
Mike Jr.’s older sister Sherry (she’s 31) plans to talk about various aspects of renovating when she takes the stage on Saturday, Jan. 19. That includes hiring a contractor — take the time to research renovators and know what your budget is, she urges — as well as the social stigma that’s still attached to a career in the trades and — a subject near and dear to her heart — the role of women in the trades.
She’s encouraged by the growing presence of females on job sites. “They’re killin’ it,” she says. And although men in the trades are sometimes given a bad rap for having a negative attitude toward women on the job, she says, “It does happen … You are going to run into those situations.”
“I’m going to show you how wrong you are and make you eat your words.”
It doesn’t happen working with her father and brother, but Sherry did encounter some problems in her first construction job.
“I wanted to do my part and work as hard as I could. Men made jokes. I heard things about me pushing a broom or making lunches instead of working on a construction site. You just have to have a strong backbone and roll with the punches … (I used to say to myself) ‘Just listening to you is going to make me want to prove myself even more. You think this is how it’s going to go? I’m going to show you how wrong you are and make you eat your words.'”
Sherry — friendly but clearly not short on backbone — says the current serious dearth of skilled tradespeople in Canada makes it an ideal time for youth and women especially to get into the profession. “You’re not spending all this money on schooling and then not getting a job … You hit the ground running. You’re making a decent paycheque instead of not working with a college or university degree hanging on your wall. I don’t think enough youth have considered it as a viable career opportunity; I know I didn’t when I was that age.”
Exhibitors, workshops & more speakers
Popular though they are, the Holmes are far from the only attraction at the upcoming show.
There are, for example, over 200 exhibitors. They range from home design pros and roofing companies to security, cleaning and heating and air conditioning services.
There are also workshops on painted furniture with Malenka Originals, floral arranging with Flower Nite and other learning sessions. The 613 Humanity Art Gallery is holding an auction of photographic prints to support Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa. As well, the Ottawa Tool Library, which lends tools, has a booth with experts to answer questions about the right item for indoor and outdoor jobs.
There are also several other experts on the show’s main stage, including pros from award-winning Ottawa renovation companies.
On Friday, Jan. 18, Greg Simpson of Amsted Design-Build will bring audiences up to speed on adding value to a home — commonly known as ROI or return on investment — with a kitchen or bathroom reno. For instance, says Simpson, if you sell your home within a couple of years of a smaller renovation like new kitchen cabinetry and a backsplash, you can expect to get back 60 to 75 per cent of your investment.
Invest in a full-blown kitchen reno and you can expect to get the same ROI if you sell your home within four or five years.
Simpson says that when it comes to making countertop choices for your kitchen or bathroom reno, “laminate has pretty much had its heyday. The price of stone (like granite) has come down probably 40 per cent, so why would you even bother with laminate when, for maybe an extra $1,000, you can get stone?”
Also on the speaker roster: a panel of pros from Lagois Design Build Renovate. They will address the process and benefits of hiring a design-build company to take a reno from conception to completion, including comprehensive upfront planning of the entire project.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to communication,” says company owner Herb Lagois. “We keep hearing those stories of cost and other overruns. In our process, we commit to a budget and deadline. If you have a cohesive team, everything flows through to the end of construction.”
Lagois urges audience members to bring questions to the presentation — anything from how long it takes to do a renovation to cost concerns. He also hopes audience members will share their own reno experiences, both positive and negative.
“It opens up the discussion and it’s good for others to hear about those experiences.”
Ottawa Home & Remodelling Show
Jan. 17-20 at the EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr.
Thurs., Jan. 17, noon-9 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 18, noon-9 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tickets & parking
Adults $13 (online $10)
Seniors (60+) $12 (online $9)
Youth (13-17) $12 (online $9)
Children 12 and under admitted free
Want to win tickets? Sign up for our updates by Jan. 13 to enter. Already get our updates? Email us at email@example.com with the subject #OHRS19. Winners will be notified Jan. 14.