One thing both Mike Jr. and Sherry Holmes knew growing up: They weren’t going to go into construction. Sure, their father was the famous Mike Holmes, the respected residential contractor and star of television’s Holmes on Homes. But they had other plans.
“For me, I wanted to get into firefighting,” Mike Jr. says. And Sherry didn’t want a career at all — she just wanted to make enough money to travel.
“It was always something random,” she says. “I can’t do just one thing because I get bored.”
But then Mike Jr., now 22, took a summer job with his dad when he was 14 just to make some money. “I fell in love with it, and now I’ve been doing it for eight years,” he says.
And Sherry, now 26, found herself at loose ends in 2008 and joined the family on a project with actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation to build a home in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, which had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. She had no construction experience, and conditions were brutal — long days in punishing heat and humidity — but to her surprise, she loved every minute of it.
“It was phenomenal,” she says. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Now both siblings are hammering and sawing alongside their dad on HGTV’s Holmes Makes It Right. They go on the road with him, too. This week they have been in Vancouver, offering tips, advice and anecdotes at the B.C. Home + Garden Show, which wraps up Sunday at B.C. Place Stadium (bchomeandgardenshow.com).
Their dad couldn’t be more proud of how his kids are sharing his passion. (His eldest daughter, Amanda, also works for the family business, but behind the scenes. “She refuses to get the attention,” Sherry says.)
“They’ve both done so much, and they’re just at the start of their careers,” Mike Sr. says. “Sherry is already a tiling pro — she’s better than other guys that have been tiling for years. And she’s creative. She likes trying different colours, patterns, different types of tiles, products and learning new tricks, different ways to make the job easier, better.”
As for his son, who is now a site supervisor on the show and will one day take over the family business, Mike Sr. says: “Look at him — he’s six-foot-three, looks like a model and he’s my son, but he’s humble, he helps anyone he can and he has a good heart. I’m proud of the man he’s become.
“I love working with my kids, watching them build on what they know and get better every day.”
Not that it’s always easy working as a family.
“My dad is a perfectionist. He is who he is on TV, outside TV,” Mike Jr. says. “He’s an old-school kind of guy. ‘Do it right the first time.’ ‘Don’t take sick days.’ ‘Work it off.’ ”
And yes, there has been the occasional disagreement on the job. “Of course, of course,” Sherry says with a laugh. “It’s the family aspect of the business.”
“But he means well,” Mike Jr. says. “And he’s taught me well.”
A few more questions for Mike Jr. and Sherry Holmes, who star alongside dad Mike in HGTV’s Holmes Makes it Right.
Q: What was your career highlight?
Mike: “I just finished building my dad’s garage and that’s something I’m extremely proud of.”
Sherry: “Mine would definitely be the New Orleans build.”
Do you have a favourite tool or gadget?
Sherry: “My stiletto hammer is my favourite tool ever. I love it to death.”
Mike: “My cordless Paslode nail gun. It’s my baby. I’m not even kidding.”
What’s your best tip for DIY-ers? Mike: “Like my dad says, check your contractors’ references and make sure you do background checks.”
Sherry: “I’m going to say do your homework. Try to do some research and come up with some ideas so you can present something to your contractor. They’re not going to know what you want if you don’t.”
What was you most embarrassing moment on set?
Sherry: “Oh, there’s a lot. The guys used to love scaring the hell out of me.”
But perhaps “hitting herself in the face with a chunk of drywall — on camera — was the worst.”
Mike: “I was talking to some people on set and I stepped on a rake and it smacked me in the face. It wasn’t painful. It was embarrassing.”
What’s the best advice your dad ever gave you?
Mike: “Treat people how you want to be treated. It goes to every aspect of life. It creates a better environment.”
Sherry: “His best advice to me is happiness is a choice. And that applies to everything. If you make yourself happy, you’ll love coming to work.”