Home Building for Millennials: Habitat for Humanity GTA Ambassador Mike Holmes Jr.

While owning property (never mind building) might seem like a pipe dream to many millennials, Mike Holmes Jr. is no stranger to dreaming up designs and building beautiful homes.

Growing up learning from his dad Mike Holmes, a professional contractor and HGTV star of shows like Holmes on Homes and Holmes Make it Right, Mike Jr. is now a bonafide contracting celebrity in his own right, staring in his very own show Holmes: Next Generation with his sister Sherry. We sat with him to talk about what it’s like to growing up with a celebrity Dad, contracting advice for the common millennial, and becoming an ambassador for Habitat for Humanity GTA.

Are you interested in learning some real life building skills with Mike Holmes Jr.? Join us September 20th – 22nd for the first-ever Habitat Young Professionals Build (HYP Build). It’s your chance to spend a day building homes for local families in need of decent, affordable housing. Build alongside fellow young professionals from all walks-of-life, while making a difference in your community. Come out and learn new skills, engage with millennial leaders, and network with people from different sectors who are passionate about giving back here in the 6ix. Learn more at habitatgta.ca/hyp.

Habitat for Humanity, HYP Build, Mike Holmes Jr, Holmes on Homes, Home Maintenance, HYP Build Initiative
  • What was it like growing up with your dad? Were you naturally drawn to following in his footsteps or did your interest in building develop overtime?

Growing up my dad worked a lot and so visiting him at work was great. He was my hero. And he still is, but don’t tell him I told you.
When I was younger I wanted to be a firefighter. I wanted to make a different name for myself and I love helping people, so it seemed like the perfect fit.  But then I ended up working for my Dad one summer when I was 14 years old and fell in love with helping homeowners and working with the trades. Being able to build something with my hands that produced results at the end of the day was so rewarding. My true passion is woodworking. I love to craft beautiful things out of different types of woods and doing joinery without nails and screws. In fact, in Holmes: Next Generation I was able to create a unique wood piece for each of the homeowners. That was really special. I really do have my dream job.

What’s the most important lesson your dad has taught you?
Wow, that’s hard to narrow down. My dad is a great teacher and has guided me well throughout my life but I would have to say the most important lesson he taught me is to do it right the first time. It’s a motto he’s lived by and it’s been passed down to my sisters and me.

You and your sister, Sherry Holmes are now starring on your own TV show, Homes: Next Generation, and she’s also heavily involved as with Habitat for Humanity GTA as the 2018 Women Build Ambassador. Your family seems so close knit! Is there every any sibling rivalry between you?
Ha, ha – you bet! Just watch the show. We agree to disagree but we always laugh and have a good time. All of us Holmes’ are very passionate and we believe in our work so when we don’t see eye to eye we can…express our opinions. But, in the end we also listen to reason and compromise!

Why did you decide to become a Habitat for Humanity GTA ambassador over joining other initiatives?
I’m honoured to be a Habitat for Humanity GTA Ambassador for the new HYP Build initiative. I love construction and building things with my hands; it’s a natural fit. Combined with helping deserving families become homeowners is icing on the cake. Working with an organization and volunteers that are passionate about building, giving back to the community and empowering lower incomes families to succeed is very inspirational.

What are you most excited about for the HYP Build coming up in September?
I’m super excited to meet like-minded individuals who have a passion for helping people and giving back to their community. You can always learn something new when meeting new people and hearing about their experiences. Bringing young professionals together also provides an exciting opportunity for networking so who knows what will transpire from the relationships made. It’s all very exciting.

What’s one of the easiest ways millennials can take care of their home or apartment that many people completely ignore?
I think millennials are environmentally conscious people and so lessening the impact on our planet is important.Along with embracing the reduce reuse and recycle philosophy but there are some other simple things people can do. Whether you live in a house or an apartment you could start by switching from regular fluorescent light bulbs to LED light bulbs. They use around 90% less energy than traditional lighting.

Also, General maintenance is like doing chores around the house but when you see the results of your time and effort it is well worth it. Having a well-equipped toolbox is essential so you are prepared to tackle the smaller maintenance jobs. Your toolbox should include:  an all-in-one multi-bit screwdriver, multi-purpose hammer (one that is comfortable to use, lightweight but powerful), a drill (plug-in or cordless), a utility knife, a tape measure that’s at least 16’/5m and ¾” /2cm wide, a stud finder to help you hang pictures or mount tv brackets etc., a level will assist in hanging pictures, shelves etc. and they’ll be straight, an adjustable wrench (tightening a facet or bolts on a bike) and safety glasses. You may not use all of these items and you may need to add to your toolbox but this is a great start to help you maintain your home.

Habitat for Humanity, HYP Build, Mike Holmes Jr, Holmes on Homes, Home Maintenance, HYP Build Initiative

What’s a fact about you that would surprise people?
I’m a romantic at heart and I love watching rom-coms.

What’s the worst construction/design choice you ever made and what was the outcome?
Not listening to my dad! When I was renovating my bungalow in the first season of Holmes and Holmes I didn’t tarp the roof. My dad always goes on about using tarps; tarp the roof, tarp the wood etc. I usually do but this time I didn’t. It was at the end of a very long day and it was dark out by the time we wrapped for the day and I just didn’t tarp the roof. Unfortunately for me, it rained quite a bit that night and water got through the house and settled in the basement. I wasn’t happy and neither was my dad! I had to drill holes in the subfloor to help with the drying out. This error caused a delay to a project that was already on a tight deadline. Needless to say I learnt my lesson and will always check the weather forecast and will always tarp my construction site.

Oh and another favourite saying of my dad’s? Always think 10 steps ahead! Sometimes that’s easier said than done but they are still wise words to live by.

What message do you have for this year’s HYP Build participants?
The new HYP Build initiative is really exciting as it will bring ambitious young professionals together who will work to create safe, decent and affordable housing for lower income families in need – all while building their professional network – it will change and enrich their lives forever! Oh yeah, and it’s fun too.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the Habitat for Humanity GTA HYP Build, click here.