Mike Holmes made a name for himself in the States with his home renovation TV show Holmes on Homes which aired from 2005 to 2009 and spawned more than 80 episodes. Though his status is still legendary in his native Canada, his notoriety has decreased among the crowded market of American home makeover television. What’s this renowned handyman been up to in recent years? We’ve nailed down the facts.
He’s still working
Though you may not be witnessing his work on TV, Holmes probably doesn’t even understand the concept of retirement because he was working on houses when the rest of us were still learning our ABCs. That’s right, at age 6, he reportedly helped his father build a three-bedroom tree house. “I was actually doing electrical at 6,” he told The Rush. “I finished my first basement at 12. … To me it was normal.”
“When I was a little boy … I was stuck to my dad’s knee,” he said. “He was fixing everything around the house, everyone else’s house — family, friends, neighbors. It didn’t take long until I said, ‘Dad, let me do that.'” He added, “So I was rewiring the second floor of the house at six. Under his supervision.”
And Holmes has been hard at work ever since. “I moved out when I was 16,” he said. “I ran a company at 19 with 14 employees.”
He’s a really big deal in Canada
Mike Homes may not be on most folks’ radars in the States of late, but he enjoys superhero status in Canada.
He was recognized by Canada’s House of Commons for his mastery work in building and construction, and he received the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
The good people at the British Columbia Institute of Technology awarded him a Doctor of Technology honorary degree, the highest award anyone can receive from the school. “Mr. Holmes is an extraordinary craftsperson, he is also passionate about his many philanthropic ventures,” Dr. Verna Magee-Shepherd of BCIT said in a statement. “We are pleased to award him with this degree, as he sets a positive example not only for our trades students, but for all members of the BCIT community.”
Last but not least, Homes was named Canada’s second most trusted person in 2010 (No. 1 was environmentalist and The Nature of Things host David Suzuki).
He was sued by the former CEO of his own company
Television may give the impression that everything in Mike Holmes’ world is picture perfect, but according to a 2014 lawsuit, his company faced serious problems.
According to the Calgary Herald, former Chief Executive Officer Juius Brinkman sued Mike for $3.1 million, claiming breach of contract and other offenses. Brinkman claimed the business owed him 5 percent of total shareholdings, in addition to reimbursements from incurred expenses and more. In the suit, Brinkman alleged Mike and others involved in the business “unlawfully converted those funds for their own use and benefit” and/or “otherwise accounted in such a fashion for these amounts to have solely benefited themselves.”
He’s grooming his son to take over the business
Fans may have noticed Holmes’ son, Mike “MJ” Holmes Jr., stepping in occasionally to work with his dad on TV.
“Someone’s got to take over the company one day, and I figure who better than his son?” MJ told the Ottawa Citizen in 2014. “We share the same blood, the same passion. Who better to carry on the legacy?”
Although the father-son duo makes it looks easy, working with family isn’t always smooth sailing. “Not everyone can do it; it depends on your relationship, and we have a really good one,” MJ said. “There’s times it gets frustrating and we butt heads, but at the end of the day we look at each other, resolve our problems and go on from there.”
His spin-offs have spin-offs
Though you may not have seen his more recent programs flooding American small screens, Mike Holmes has been a TV fixture for more than a decade. Following Holmes on Homes, he starred in Holmes Inspection (2009-12), Holmes Makes it Right (2013-14), and Holmes Buy it Right (2016). He’s also made numerous appearances on other home-builder shows throughout the years and even judged a home renovation TV competition, Handyman Superstar Challenge, in 2008.
So, what’s next?
He penned a DIY manual
Mike Holmes’ contracting empire includes more than just television shows. He’s also the author of six books. The Holmes Manual, which was published in 2015, was fueled by Mike’s routine interactions with fans. “For years now, everybody’s asking me questions. I stop to pump gas, I’m in the store … Everyone stops me at the airport, ‘Can I ask you a question?'” he told George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. “It just seemed to make sense … Let’s do a manual.” Holmes continued, “This way instead of reading the whole book, like a lot of people seem to not want to do anymore … They want an answer now … Boom.”
He’s trying to slow down ‘and smell the roses’
By now, it should be painfully obvious that Mike Holmes is a busy man, but one defining moment shifted his perspective.
He told George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, “I’m at my daughter’s house the other day and I’m looking at my grandkids. I haven’t seen them in so long. … I was there about an hour and a half … And I realized, I gotta go, I gotta go. After I left, I thought, ‘Well, why did I have to leave?’ Why am I always running? Why am I not seizing the moment?”
He said, “It kind of clicked in my head after that, ‘I think I’m moving too fast. Things are going by very quickly.'” Holmes is now attempting to embrace a new pace and outlook on life. “I’m trying to tell myself, ‘Slow down. Smell the roses. Enjoy the people around you.’ And if anything, smile.”
Carmen Electra is on the phone
According to Holmes, celebs have been blowing up his phone. It seems good contractors are hard to find, even in Tinseltown.
“Carmen Electra called the office, and it was funny,” he told George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. “She wants me to fix her house. So one of my vice presidents calls me and goes ‘I just thought I’d let you know that she called and that we’re going to humbly decline. We can’t do it.'”
But then something clicked in Holmes’ head: “I said, ‘Wait a second! Wait a second!’ … Boom! Celebrity homes! A new opportunity. Another show that’s never been done. Why don’t I go around the planet and help celebrities?” He added, “People get it. They all want to know what they’re like behind the screen, behind the camera … and maybe I can bring that out of them.”
At the time of this writing, Holmes’ vision to renovate celebrity homes for TV audiences has yet to materialize, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s only a matter of time.
He wants to accomplish everything by age 60
Mike Holmes says he owes everything he knows to his late father, Jim Holmes. “In my eyes, he was Superman,” Mike said, via his blog. Their time together was cut short when Jim died at the age of 55 in a tragic accident. “As he was walking down a narrow staircase with no handrail into the basement, he missed the first step and fell. As he tumbled down the stairs, he broke his neck and died instantly.” Mike reportedly began wearing his signature diamond stud earring in his left ear as a way to remember his father.
Mike’s mom, Shirley, passed away from a heart attack a few years after Jim’d death. She was 56. The losses have left Mike feeling like his days on Earth are numbered. “Even when I was younger, I said that I’d never make it to 60,” he told Maclean’s. “It’s a different focus. It means that I’ve got to accomplish everything I want to accomplish by that age.”
Mike celebrated his 55th birthday in 2018.
Missing Holmes? You can still get your fix
Whether you need your home fixed or just need your Mike Holmes fix, there’s a show for you. At the time of this writing, Mike is back on the air via the DIY Network with a series called Holmes and Holmes. The show, which premiered on Jan. 3, 2017, follows Mike and his son, Mike Jr., as they tackle home renovation projects together as a father-son team. “Armed with Mike Sr.’s personal credo to ‘make it right,’ the pair will buy and transform three rundown properties into dream homes,” a description for the show reads. “But it won’t be all business during this family affair as Mike Jr. also will plan his wedding to fiancée Lisa.”
Of the show, Mike said (via Multichannel News), “I’ve been in construction more than 35 years, and I’ve seen it all and fixed it all. … The best part is I’ve been able to teach my son everything I know along the way. And now getting to be business partners with him is something I always hoped would be in the cards for us.”