The overall-clad Mike Holmes erupted onto the Canadian renovation scene in the early 2000’s – arms crossed in defiant warning to shoddy renovators everywhere. He has done a lot in his career to enhance consumer’s rights, the importance of qualified trades and improved building standards.

He taught a generation of homeowners how to identify & choose a good renovation partner for your home. How to monitor their progress. To trust their guts and call BS when there’s BS to be called. Get references. Get multiple quotes.

On the whole this has been positive – there is a level of sophistication among renovators that we have never before seen.

But. (there’s always a but). There is a dark side to this democratization of consumers.


Homeowners (and contractors – but that’s for a future post) are finding themselves crippled with fear for ALL the things that could go wrong. Nightmare scenarios and the call to “DO IT RIGHT” echoing in their minds, they often opt for easier and less intimidating purchases. Like televisions. And cars. Vacations. Great for the airlines, but bad for keeping up with vital maintenance in your home.

Often overlooked is the human element – you have a lifetime’s worth of experience in your brain. Use it. Talk to your renovator. Ask a million questions. Go back to them if the answer doesn’t sit right. Ask yourself “can I work with this person for X weeks?”. “Do I like them?”

By all means, do your due diligence, a la Mike Holmes. Get the references, check the licenses. Keep deposits small and well-defined. But most importantly trust your gut – remember that people buy from people.