Here's What Really Happened To Mike Holmes

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Mike Holmes never set out to be a TV star and media mogul ... it just turned out that way. As a profile in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail recalled, Holmes started off as a contractor in his hometown of Toronto, leading construction crews since he was 19. A twist of fate put him in front of the camera and his world changed, transforming a blunt, opinionated homebuilder into a television phenomenon whose fame extends far beyond his native Canada. 

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In his first (and most iconic) HGTV series "Holmes on Homes" where he rescued harried homeowners by repairing the shoddy work of crappy contractors and amateurish DIY jobs, the Canadian exuded so much personality it could barely be contained within a TV screen. More shows followed, making Holmes a constant presence on television and, in the process, a bona fide celebrity; among his many accolades, Holmes is a 2012 recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and was named Patron of the Royal Canadian Regiment in 2015. 

Yet that success has not come without some bumps along the way; to find out more about his journey from Canadian contractor to a hammer-wielding hero of home repair, here's what really happened to Mike Holmes.

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How Mike Holmes came to be on HGTV

Mike Holmes' foray into television was not by design. Holmes was a full-time contractor when he was hired to do some building work on the set of a Canadian TV show that shared tips on DIY home repair. While working, the ever-opinionated Holmes began telling the people who hired him that they had it all wrong (via The Globe and Mail). Holmes went into one of his trademark rants, explaining that homeowners doing their own DIY renos was a bad idea since they usually did a lousy job. In fact, he pointed out, a huge portion of his business came from repairing the botched home-reno experiments done by people who had no idea what they were doing.

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After Holmes apologized for his "diarrhea of the mouth," his screed gave the producer an idea: Holmes should star in his own TV show, repairing homeowners' DIY disasters and the shoddy work of shady contractors. "Holmes on Homes" debuted on HGTV Canada in 2001; by 2004, the show was averaging 250,000 viewers an episode, a considerable number for a Canadian specialty channel. The beefy, tough-talking contractor had accidentally become a TV star. 

He ditched his original producer for not thinking big enough

The success of "Holmes on Homes" kept growing, as did the popularity of its star. Already a hit on HGTV Canada, the show was eventually picked up by HGTV in the U.S., expanding Mike Holmes' reach considerably. By 2005, Holmes should have felt like he was on top of the world — yet he was dissatisfied. As Mike Quast, the TV exec who'd first discovered Holmes told The Globe and Mail, Holmes had become disenchanted with his producer. 

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According to Quast, Holmes invited him and crew member Pete Kettlewell to his home for a meeting. Holmes laid out his vision to expand his brand; the TV show, he explained, isn't the be-all and end-all, but one prong of a larger enterprise, all with a goal of educating homeowners about the importance of hiring skilled tradespeople to ensure they wouldn't be begging Holmes to fix lousy work down the road.

During that meeting in Holmes' garage, the idea formed for the Holmes Group. Quast designated himself vice president of business development, with a goal of building Holmes' brand, while Kettlewell became vice-president of production, responsible for managing the TV show.

Holmes ventured into the coffee business with a bold new partnership

With Mike Holmes' media-and-construction empire beginning to take shape and 2006 brought him a huge opportunity. As The Globe and Mail recounted, Nestlé Canada was in the process of launching a new brand of its Nescafé instant coffee and commissioned a poll asking Canadians to name the celebrity they most trusted. Holmes' name was at the top of the list. 

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The company wanted Holmes to be at the center of an advertising campaign for its new product launch. Holmes Group VP of business development Mike Quast, however, wasn't sure if Holmes would go for that, given that shilling coffee was a bit out of his wheelhouse. To feel him out, he asked Holmes what kind of coffee he drank. The answer: Nescafé's instant coffee. The ensuing campaign was a massive success, with Holmes' partnership with the company renewed multiple times. 

As Holmes later told Sudbury.com: "When they approached me about the commercial, I said if they can relate the commercial to what I do and keep it real, I'd say yes to it, because the real truth is I drink Nescafé and have for years."

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He launched his own line of workwear

In 2009, Mike Holmes' brand exploded (via The Globe and Mail). Not only was "Holmes on Homes" now being seen by American HGTV viewers, but the Holmes Group also began an ambitious expansion that included an "ultra-green housing development," a Canada-wide home-inspection service, and a line of Holmes-branded workwear. However, the latter didn't have an easy path to the marketplace. According to The Globe and Mail, the Holmes Group partnered with a Winnipeg-based manufacturer. A stickler for quality, Holmes was insistent that he had the final say on the design of products, rather than just slapping his moniker on the company's existing merchandise. Once the Holmes Workwear products hit shelves, however, they were being marketed as "a premium version of the existing line," as opposed to its own standalone brand. Those issues, however, were ultimately sorted out.

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A decade later, Holmes Workwear continues to be a successful venture, consisting of a wide array of items ranging from canvas work pants to tool belts to fire-resistant coveralls for welders. The reach of Holmes Workwear is wide, sold by retailers such as Amazon, Costco, Home Depot, and more.

Mike Holmes lent a hand in New Orleans after Katrina, all because of Brad Pitt

Mike Holmes lent a hand in the wake of the devastation that Hurricane Katrina unleashed on New Orleans. As Holmes told the Toronto Star, it all started when Brad Pitt founded his Make It Right Foundation, with a mission to build new homes for residents of the Lower Ninth Ward whose domiciles had been destroyed. However, there was one issue; Holmes holds the trademark to Make It Right and even has it tattooed on his bicep.

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Rather than seek an injunction, however, Holmes offered another solution: Pitt could use the name, and Holmes would provide his expertise. "He had his vision of doing it when I talked to him," said Holmes. "But he [knew] he didn't know enough about it." That's where Holmes came in, bringing his crew to the Big Easy to rebuild a home, which was filmed and aired as "Holmes in New Orleans."

According to Holmes, if there was ever a city in need of his Make It Right philosophy, it's New Orleans. When it came to home construction, he recalled, "so many people down there didn't know what they were doing."

He became a leader in green building techniques

During Mike Holmes' sojourn in NOLA, he became downright evangelical about the advantages of eco-friendly building products and techniques. "Everyone's talking green," he told The Globe and Mail. "Well, let's really go green! Why don't we change the building process? If no one else is going to do it, I'm going to do it. Build a home that won't burn, won't mold, that's termite-resistant."

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In fact, Holmes went on to become a big proponent of net zero homes, houses that are "sustainable and energy efficient," as he wrote on the HGTV Canada website. A net zero home, he explained, "produces its own energy locally," with an end goal of producing as much energy as it uses, if not more.

In order to achieve this, Holmes wrote: "The building envelope must be highly efficient, with all cracks and gaps completely sealed to ensure there's 'virtually no air leakage,' especially crucial with windows and doors. Building a green, energy-efficient home 'requires an investment up front,'" Holmes concluded. "But it's an investment that will pay you back every month for as long as you live in it. It really is the future of housing."

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Mike Holmes launched his own magazine, but it didn't end well

In 2009, Mike Holmes ventured into the world of publishing with the launch of Holmes: The Magazine to Make it Right. "This is the magazine homeowners need to help them with their renovations," Holmes said (via Cision PR Newswire). "It's the magazine I was searching for and couldn't find. So, I had to make my own magazine, and Make it Right."

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The magazine didn't last long. According to the Toronto Star, Holmes got into a dispute with the publisher, Dauphin Media Group, which led to the magazine folding in 2011. Things became even worse when the publishing company ceased operations in 2012, leaving behind unpaid rent and ticked-off subscribers who'd been waiting to be reimbursed. 

As Mike Holmes Group director of communications Liza Drozdov told the Toronto Star, their sole involvement in the magazine was "regulating a portion of the editorial content," meaning Holmes himself didn't really have all that much to do with the publication. It was Dauphin, not the Mike Holmes Group, that was responsible for paying back subscribers. "Mike feels terrible about it," said Drozdov. "But it's not his fault ... he didn't get any of that money."

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Holmes on Homes made Mike Holmes a homegrown hero in his native Canada

As "Holmes on Homes" maintained its massive popularity with viewers in both Canada and the U.S., Mike Holmes continued to remain a wildly popular TV presence in his home and native land. In fact, a 2010 feature in Reader's Digest listed him as among the 10 most trusted Canadians.

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The list put Holmes in some pretty celebrated company. Other Canadians to earn the trust of their fellow citizens included "Back to the Future" star Michael J. Fox (a native of British Columbia), Queen Elizabeth II (who, while technically isn't Canadian, is the country's constitutional monarch), and celebrated CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge.

In fact, Holmes took the No. 2 spot on the Reader's Digest poll, with the publication noting that his "straight-forward approach" to fixing the botched construction projects of far less competent contractors "brings a sense of security that people appreciate." Topping the list, by the way, was Dr. David Suzuki, renowned "eco-champion," founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, and the veteran host of "The Nature of Things" — the long-running CBC nature documentary.

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He was sued for millions by the CEO of his own company

In 2012, the Holmes Group lost one of its three founding members when Brian Quast — who was then CEO — parted ways with the company. According to a news release about his departure, the split was an amicable one.

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A new CEO, Julius Brinkman was hired; when he left a mere two years later, his exit was far more acrimonious — and actually led him to sue Mike Holmes and two Holmes Group co-directors for a hefty $3.1 million. As the Calgary Herald reported, Brinkman alleged that his contract had been breached when the company failed to pay him 5% of the $15.5 million he'd raised, and also didn't reimburse him for expenses that were "reasonably incurred." Other allegations in the suit included claims that Holmes' company had allegedly "failed to establish a benefits program in which he could participate," as well as having "created a working environment designed to frustrate his efforts."

Holmes himself never commented on the lawsuit; given that the legal action didn't generate any further news reports, it would appear the matter was settled privately, outside the courts.

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He shared his wealth of knowledge in a comprehensive how-to manual

While Holmes magazine proved to be a bust, that didn't deter Mike Holmes from making further attempts to set down his philosophy and knowledge in print. In 2006, he published his first book, "Make It Right: Inside Home Renovation with Canada's Most Trusted Contractor" and followed up with a 2011 tome specializing in attics and basements, and another in 2013 focusing on kitchens and bathrooms. 

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In 2015, Holmes unveiled his magnum opus, "The Holmes Manual," described as a "must-have guide for homeowners" that answers their "most common questions." Holmes dropped by the Canadian talk show "George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight" to promote the book, and explained that the impetus for his manual emerged after spending years of being stopped by viewers in airports and gas stations or wherever they would happen to encounter him, asking him questions about the specific issues they were having with their homes. "It just made sense ... let's do a manual ... this way, instead of reading the whole book — which a lot of people seem to not want to do anymore — they want an answer now," Holmes explained.

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Mike Holmes' shows have included his family

Mike Holmes' children, Sherry Holmes and Mike Holmes Jr., first started appearing onscreen in 2012's "Holmes Makes It Right" (via IMDb). The siblings have been a part of their father's myriad television shows ever since, including the likes of "Holmes Next Generation," "Holmes 911," and "Holmes and Holmes." Mike Jr. took center stage in 2014's "Mike's Ultimate Garage," a two-hour special that put him in the driver's seat to build his dad a sweet 1,800-square-foot garage/man cave. Mike Sr., however, was on hand to oversee the construction and offer advice, but stay hands off. 

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As Mike Sr. told the Ottawa Citizen, relinquishing control to his son took a Herculean effort. "It was very hard," he admitted. "I'm the guy that's on a site from beginning to end. It's the first time I've walked away and had someone else finish it." Meanwhile, Sherry accompanied her dad when he went to New Orleans, serving as a member of his construction crew. As she told the Times Colonist, the experience was "phenomenal," adding, "I would do it again in a heartbeat." Added Mike Sr., "I love working with my kids, watching them build on what they know and get better every day."

Mike Holmes made his primetime debut on U.S. network television

Mike Holmes and his various TV series had been a staple on HGTV for years, in both the U.S. and his native Canada, but he had the opportunity to broadcast to his biggest audience yet with "Home Free." That's because the 2015 feel-good series didn't air on HGTV, but on the Fox network. 

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In its review of the series, The Hollywood Reporter outlined the premise: Nine couples competed to build "the ultimate dream home," restoring a ramshackle house in Atlanta for a needy family, with the poorest performing couple eliminated, or so they thought; what actually took place was that the eliminated couple won the house they'd just renovated.

That wasn't Holmes' only experience with U.S. network television. In late 2020, a press release announced Fox was picking up "Holmes Family Effect," a "heartwarming" new series in which Holmes and children perform surprise home makeovers for people who are leaders in their respective communities. "I am absolutely thrilled about bringing 'Holmes Family Effect' to Fox," said Holmes, noting that it "was a very special series to film." And in 2021, Holmes teamed up with "Windy City Rehab" star Alison Victoria for the second season of "Rock the Block" (via HGTV).

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He built a TV empire with the motto 'Make It Right'

Since first entering the realm of television back in 2001, Mike Holmes' shows may have evolved, but his message has remained remarkably consistent. That shouldn't be surprising, given that message is one he's actually trademarked and sports on one of his biceps: "Make It Right." Holmes' commitment to quality workmanship has been unwavering, and is woven into the fabric of all his shows — and there have been a lot of them over the years

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In 2019, Holmes took another big step when he parted ways with HGTV and inked a big deal with Canadian media conglomerate Bell Media, the corporate owner of Canada's CTV network. "I'm absolutely thrilled about this new partnership with CTV," Holmes said in the announcement (via Bell Media). "I look forward to bringing new content to CTV's portfolio of networks and spreading the 'Make It Right' message with even more Canadians across the country."

While financial details of the deal weren't publicized, it's safe to assume it took big bucks to pull him away from HGTV, his television home of nearly 20 years. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Holmes' wealth is estimated to be in the $30 million range. 

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He partnered with a roofing firm for web series Roof It Right

Mike Holmes' business empire continued to expand in 2021 when he announced a partnership with Atlas Roofing Partners and 3M to sponsor the new season of his web series "Roof It Right." The first season, which aired in 2019, "documented the replacement of two ugly, streaky roofs using Atlas shingles," and proved to be enough of a hit that a second was produced. The second season boasted five episodes with a new one debuting each week (via Cision PR Newswire). 

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There was also a new competition aspect added to the show; contractors were tasked with completing a simple challenge (such as posting a photo on a social media platform), all toward winning part of a prize package valued at $3,000.

As Holmes and his kids Sherry and Mike Jr. explained in a video (via YouTube), they'd put out a call for homeowners to send them photos of the "ugly roofs" marred by black streaks they'd like to have repaired. Apparently, there was no shortage from which to choose. According to Sherry, they "received tons of submissions" from homeowners hoping to beautify their roofs. The second season, Mike Sr. explained in a voiceover, would follow Mike Jr. and Sherry as they worked with Atlas' roofing contractors in order to assist two families rid their roofs of unsightly black streaks.

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He used his platform to promote good mental health practices on the job

In October 2021, Mike Holmes announced yet another new partnership. This one, however, wasn't promoting building products or an upcoming TV venture but was in support of fostering good mental health. A press release revealed that Holmes had teamed up with Headversity, described as "a leading provider of preventative mental health training solutions for employers." Holmes, the announcement explained, would be providing "exclusive mental health and safety training" to the Headversity platform.

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While some may question the level of Holmes' experience with issues surrounding mental health, he views ensuring a healthy mind as an extension of his enduring commitment to workplace safety. "There are no shortcuts when it comes to safety on the job," said Holmes in the release. "Mental health is one of the most overlooked aspects when it comes to this, so I'm excited to partner with Headversity and work on this meaningful project to bring this important training to the workforce."

According to Headversity CEO Dr. Ryan Todd, Holmes had already established an enviable track record when it came to promoting "practices of on-the-job safety," and Holmes' "unparalleled voice and platform" made him the ideal person to advance the company's goals of "setting the new standard for workforce mental health through preventative training."

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Mike Holmes' company was sued for $8 million

Mike Holmes built his reputation on his commitment to quality workmanship with his motto, "Make It Right." Holmes has monetized that reputation in a variety of ways, like claiming that certain building products and builders have been "Holmes-approved." It was that seal of approval that led to Holmes being caught up in an $8-million lawsuit. A number of Holmes-approved domiciles that were sold to now-disgruntled homeowners were bursting with the kind of construction defects that Holmes built a career out of repairing on "Holmes on Homes" and his other TV series. 

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According to a CBC News report, several people who'd purchased newly built homes in the TerraceWood development in Meaford, Ontario, construction on the homes "involved a perfect storm of errors and neglect by multiple parties." This, the lawsuit alleges, led to a laundry list of problems, ranging from severe structural flaws to mold due to leaks. Holmes' company, The Holmes Group, was among numerous parties named in the lawsuit brought about by Tarion, a government-sponsored consumer protection group. Tarion's suit pointed to 14 homes in the TerraceWood that, as alleged by the people who purchased them, didn't live up to that Holmes-approved label. Lawyers for The Holmes Group reportedly declined CBC News' request for comment. Meanwhile, the company that built the houses, Third Line Homes, became insolvent in 2019 — and blamed Tarion for the company's demise.

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He inked a big deal with a Canadian media company

Throughout his television career, Mike Holmes has been particularly savvy when it's come to expanding his empire. As Media in Canada reported, he experienced further success in 2022 when his company, The Holmes Group, entered a deal to sell 200 hours of television content to Canada's Blue Ant Media. The deal reportedly allowed the company to air Holmes' programming on its free ad-supported streaming channel FAST on Homeful. This included all seasons of "Holmes on Homes," "Holmes Makes it Right," and "Holmes Inspection," in addition to specials such as "Holmes for the Holidays," "Holmes in New Orleans," and "Mike's Ultimate Garage."

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As part of the deal, Blue Ant Media was also planning to commission new content featuring Holmes and his children for the streaming service, in addition to the Canadian cable channels owned by the company (via Blue Ant Media). "After more than 20 years in television and helping homeowners I am thrilled to be part of an exciting new future with Blue Ant Media and FAST channels like Homeful!" Holmes said in a statement (via Blue Ant Media). "The growth of free ad-supported television platforms shows how we are changing what we watch and how we watch and I love being at the forefront of getting more free content to viewers to enjoy wherever they are. With Michael and Sherry at my side I look forward to telling more helping homeowner stories and helping Make It Right."

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He was a judge on HGTV's Battle on the Beach

Mike Holmes expanded his television resume in 2021 when he signed as one of the judges for HGTV's "Battle on the Beach." This was not unfamiliar territory for Holmes as he previously served as a judge on "Handyman Superstar Challenge" and "Rock the Block" (via Canada.com). In addition to Holmes, fellow HGTV personality Mina Starsiak Hawk ("Good Bones") was also a judge. The two were charged with evaluating the efforts of three teams who renovated identical beach houses with an eye to flipping them, with the team who added the most value to their respective home winning the competition — and a $50,000 cash prize. Meanwhile, the teams were mentored by Taniya Nayak ("Restaurant: Impossible"), Ty Pennington ("Ty Breaker"), and Alison Victoria ("Windy City Rehab"). 

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For Holmes, working on the show was an enjoyable break from helming his own projects. "This 'Battle on the Beach' was such a fun time," Holmes exclaimed during an interview with The List. In fact, Holmes was so bullish about the show's potential for success, he predicted that it wouldn't be the last that viewers saw of "Battle on the Beach" saying: "I think it was so well executed that people are going to love this show, and I can see this being a continuation from here."

He is passionate about getting more women in construction

Construction is an industry that is known to be male-dominated, but Mike Holmes is actively trying to change that. He is vocal on his Instagram and his podcast about making space for all people in his industry, and his own daughter, Sherry Holmes, who is frequently seen on Mike's shows, serves as a great example of a successful woman in construction.

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In an Instagram post, Mike wrote, "When I first started my career in construction, it was quite rare to find a woman in the trades. Over the years I've started to see the change with more women getting into construction, including my own daughter [Sherry Holmes]. I think this is something to be celebrated, even if we have a long way to go. We should encourage more women to join the trades and give them the opportunity to learn different skills and enter the trades at an early age."

Many people think of Mike Holmes as a nice guy – and we'd say his advocacy for all people in his industry is proof of that sentiment.

Though Holmes keeps his romantic life quite private, he is in a long-term relationship

Mike Holmes married his childhood sweetheart, Alexandra Lorex, back in 1982, but they reportedly divorced about 10 years later in the early '90s. These days, Holmes is not super forthcoming with his relationship, but it does seem like he's been in one for quite some time. Holmes' current partner is Anna Zappia. It is unknown if they are married –although she is sometimes credited as his wife. What we know do for sure, though is that the two look happy and make a very cute couple.

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In 2022. Holmes shared a picture of himself and his raven-haired counterpart on Instagram. Holmes captioned the cute photo: "Enjoying time in Casale Del Mare. This trip has been one of the best things I've done for myself. I am so calm and relaxed." In addition to occasionally appearing on Holmes' Instagram, Zappia has accompanied her beau to events, like the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

He is active on Instagram, where he shares safety tips and throwbacks alike

If his 15+ TV shows and specials aren't enough Mike Holmes content for you, his Instagram should be your next stop. On his account, he offers construction and renovation safety tips, as you would probably expect, but he also shares some insight into his life as a dad, grandpa, and partner.

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In 2023, he regularly documented his progress on one of his personal projects — adding a sunroom to his house. On Instagram, he has shared every step along the way, from the layout of the sunroom's studs to its newly-finished roof. He also shared interesting snippets of his home, including his impressive all-concrete fireplace.

But our favorite pictures are his throwback posts (he used to have some wildly impressive hair). Of course, Holmes also posts about his love for his family. The sweet and sappy side of construction guru is a side of him we don't see as much on his shows, but there's plenty on social media. In a summer 2023 post, he shared a photo of his son and grandson, congratulating his son on his first year of being a dad. For the less sentimental, Holmes also posts plenty of dad jokes.

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