Home Renovation Horrors

The last movie Mike Holmes watched was Wes Craven’s latest, My Soul to Take. “It was pretty good, actually,” he says. “You should watch it.” This advice from the Carhartt-clad contractor diverges from that of just about everyone else who’s seen the bizarrely plotted slasher flick. But then, we don’t follow Holmes for his cinematic musings. We watch him for disturbing scenes of construction carnage, and horror turned to outrage.

When asked if he’s still shocked by shoddy workmanship or whether he’s become immune to it, he answers, “I’m immune to it. But I’m shocked by how upset it makes me — after all this time, it hasn’t stopped; it just keeps going, and it isn’t getting better, and that pisses me off.” So, clearly immune.

At least Holmes comes across as genuine, which is more than can be said for a lot of reality TV tubthumpers. And he was willing to play DailyXY’s game, in which we named seven core aspects of home renovation and had him tell us what are the most common shoddy shortcuts that contractors take.

“Anyone that puts in stairs [going to the basement] from the outside, chances are they didn’t get a permit. They’ll more than likely break the weeping tile around the house, and essentially set things up to collapse.”

“[Non-professional roofers] don’t pay attention to shingling around the chimney. It’s the number one point for water access.”

Structural Members
“When the support beams are too far apart to carry the load, and you can see the ceiling sagging? That’s the most common thing we see.”

“There are a million ways to make a fireplace look good – they’re tiled over, drywalled over. But did they respect the codes?”

“Old homes are not insulated. I don’t care if there’s none, to be honest. In truth, I’d rather see none than a half-assed job that traps moist air.”

“A lot of guys think they’re handymen; they don’t know what they’re doing. These guys can be fined by the ESA [Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority] up to $50,000, even if they’re the homeowner. You always see this in the listing: ‘all-new electrical.’ Well, when you see that, ask for the permits — because odds are they don’t have them.”

“Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s been done right, especially if the bathroom or kitchen has been moved. If it looks even slightly wrong [to you], imagine what’s behind it.”

Bonus question, for the in-crowd: With the horrors he witnesses daily — faulty wiring, asbestos, mould, rats – how does a stricken contractor keep his hair, such as it is, from turning white? “I’ve learned this, especially as I get older: You can’t take it home with you. Have a drink, put your feet up. Let it go.”

Season three of Holmes Inspection is currently broadcasting on HGTV.


Image courtesy of baldeaglebluff.

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