Your Ultimate Renovation Guide – Room By Room

By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Home Renovation

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 @ 1:52pm

Renovation Tips To Help You Make It Right

I get thousands of emails and messages on social media every year asking for my home renovation tips. Your home is the biggest investment you’ll ever make, so when planning a remodel there are a lot of items to consider. I like hearing from homeowners with their questions because it means they’re committed to doing it right. The problem is, I can’t answer every single one (believe me, I wish I could). While I try my best to answer as many questions as I can, I just fall short. In lieu of that, I am publishing the ULTIMATE home renovation guide, Holmes style.

So are you planning to renovate your kitchen? Your bathroom? Basement? Click or scroll down to the relevant section and start reading my renovation tips for every room in your home.


How Much Should You Budget for Home Renovations

Home renovations can increase the value of your home, and the most popular rooms are kitchens, bathrooms, interior/exterior painting, and creating more livable space in your basement or outdoors.

Consider the age of the house, the size of the project, and the complexity of the project. Is it primarily cosmetic, or do you plan on moving walls and rearranging electrical and plumbing? I always suggest adding 20% to your budget for the unexpected.



The first renovation tip I like to always start with is making sure you pick the right team. You want a contractor who will do the job right – including pulling the permits, hiring the right sub-trades, and working WITH you to design a renovation that suits your needs. Here’s where you start.

How To Hire A Contractor – Get It In Writing

Remember, hiring the RIGHT contractor can take just as long as it takes to do the project itself. Do NOT rush this step – it could mean the difference between your dream renovation, and a nightmare.

Mike Holmes End Of Reno - Signing The Contract

Make sure that the contract says your contractor will get the permits, and complete all work to code.


How to Hire a Contractor – Do A Background Check

It’s important to make sure that your contractor has the right licenses and insurance before you hire them for your job. If they don’t, move on to the next contractor on your list.


How to Choose A Home Builder

When building a new home, not all builders are created equally. I started my Holmes Approved Homes program to help do the legwork for you. If one doesn’t live in your area and you’re building a new home, here’s a guide to choosing the right one.


10 Tips for Choosing Your Roofing Contractor

A written contract is a must for any renovation project – the days of the handshake deal are OVER.


Mike Holmes and Sherry Holmes with professional roofer.

You know me. I always suggest getting at least three qualified, insured, and licensed installers to quote on the job, but my inside voice says more like 8 to 10!


9 Signs You’ve Hired a Bad Contractor

Unfortunately, sometimes you can do all the right homework, and still hire the wrong person for your team. Here are the red flags you want to keep an eye out for when your contractor starts work.


Your Home Renovation Team – Who to Hire and When?

My family and I usually advise homeowners to conduct their research before hiring contractors or artisans. We are frequently asked about finding the correct specialist for various projects or occupations. What do you call someone who remodels a house? Do you need to hire a licensed electrical contractor? What projects can be completed without the help of a professional?


Sherry Holmes Landscaping

For large gardening or landscaping jobs consult with a licensed professional – onset of Holmes + Holmes.


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I always say to fix your home starting from the outside in. If your home’s building envelope is in bad shape – the elements will enter, wreaking havoc with your interior systems and leading to mould, rot, and a whole host of other problems. Your first renovation priority is to ensure that the home’s exterior is in good shape.


How Serious Is A Crack In The Foundation? And How Do You Fix It?

When concrete cures or dries, it can crack. If you’ve just laid a new foundation and see a few small cracks, don’t panic. Mark them with tape, and check back in a few months. If the cracks aren’t growing, they can usually be filled with an epoxy injection or expandable foam. Foundation problems are one of the most expensive issues to repair when it comes to your house but there are solutions to fix it.



6 Types of Exterior Building Envelopes

Your building envelope is a key component to keep the elements out of your home, and keeping the good, warm air inside. Here you can explore your options with 6 different types of exterior building envelopes, including Vipeq’s Spray Cork.



Exterior Painting Tips

If you’re careful – painting makes a great DIY job. Why? Generally, since it’s just a cosmetic change, if you do make a mistake, you’re not compromising the integrity of your home’s structure. Here’s my guide to painting outdoor structures.


Spring Yard Maintenance Checklist To Keep Your Backyard In Top Shape

If you take care of your lawn properly, it can withstand lawn-damaging pests and weeds. Your beautiful shrubs and flowers will have a better chance of fighting diseases. With regular maintenance and a little bit of work on your part, you CAN enjoy a lush, beautiful lawn.


Protecting Your Roof

You don’t realize how important a good quality roof is until yours starts to fail. Choose the right type of shingle with a good warranty. Installing a new roof needs to be left to the pros. Here’s my guide to roof it right.


6 Tips for Choosing Your New Asphalt Roof

When it’s time to choose a new roof – make sure you’re choosing a quality material. Asphalt shingles have come a long way – but you need to ensure they’re installed properly and include a good warranty. That’s how you get a roof that lasts a lifetime.


Which Roofing Shingles Should You Choose For Your Home?

A well-constructed properly installed roof not only protects your home from the elements, but it also adds to its appearance and value. And it starts with picking the right roofing shingles.


Mike Holmes holding Atlas Pinnacle Sun Roofing Shingle

If you have an old roof take advantage of the new products and technologies available today, as they will likely be better-quality products than what’s currently on your old roof, and you don’t want the problems of your old roof to be covered up and not resolved.


DIY Home Inspection: 11 Home Defects Every Homeowner Should Lookout For

I always recommend that homeowners get a home inspection when buying, selling or renovating their homes. However, there ARE certain red flags you can spot in your house yourself. In the home inspection industry, we call this defect recognition. Defect recognition means educating homeowners on common issues around the house that they can look out for. If you know your house well, you will notice when things don’t seem right.


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Once you’ve taken care of the outside of your home, your first indoor task should be ensuring that the main systems of your house are safe, secure, and strong. I’m talking about things like your furnace, as well as ensuring your electrical setup is safe.


Do You Know What’s In Your Furnace Room?

Your HVAC system is what keeps your home breathing. It’s important to understand all the fundamental systems that live there. For example, if your home has a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV), it’s important that you do not shut it off. Here is where you can learn the ins and outs of your furnace room.


Heat Recovery Ventilation System

An HRV will usually include two fans. The way it works is that there is one fan to expel the indoor air outside, and another to pull the outdoor air inside. The heat from the outgoing stream is then transferred to the incoming so that your home remains at a comfortable temperature without wasting excess energy to heat it.


What Are Heat Pumps?

If you’re looking to replace your furnace you might want to consider investing in a heat pump. A residential heat pump is an HVAC system that uses refrigeration and electricity to provide heating and cooling to a home. They are very energy efficient, and can reduce your electricity consumption by 50% compared to electric resistance heating such as furnaces or baseboard heaters.


What To Do With a Crawl Space

You generally have two options for your crawl space. One: keep it a cold zone separate from the rest of the house. Or two: insulate it with the rest of the home, giving you a small increase in space. Which is the right option? Here’s your guide to help you decide.


How To Choose An HVAC System For Your Home

You might be surprised to know that some people don’t actually know what HVAC means. They don’t understand what HVAC systems they have in their homes, even though this is the heart of your home. So what should you be looking for when choosing an HVAC system if you’re in the market for a new one?


Mini-Split Bosch Heat Pump System Installed In Sunroom in Frank Cozzolino’s Home, in Holmes Family Rescue

Mini-Split Heat Pump System Installed In Sunroom in Frank Cozzolino’s Home, in Holmes Family Rescue


How Does An ERV System Work And ERV Benefits 

One way to improve your indoor air quality is to manage the humidity levels in your home. That’s why we talk about the importance of ventilation fans in your kitchen and bathrooms. An ERV system is an excellent way to improve your indoor air quality.



Heat Pump vs Boiler – Which One is Better For You?

Choosing the right heating system for your home is a big decision. Heating and cooling account for 63 percent of residential energy use in Canada, according to a Government of Canada publication. Choosing the right system can help you save money on your energy bills. So what is the difference between a heat pump and a heating boiler, and which is the better choice?


Why Is An Air Purifier Beneficial And Which One Is The Best

Breathing clean air is important to your overall health. According to the EPA, studies have shown that poor indoor air quality can even trigger asthma. There are also some long-term effects of exposure to bad indoor air which only become noticeable after a few years. Exposure to radon gas, for example, can actually cause lung cancer. An air purifier/cleaner is key for dealing with some of these contaminants. So how do air purifiers actually work?



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For most renovations, you’re going to be opening up your walls – and that’s a great opportunity for you to take a look at your electrical and ensure everything is in good shape. Any time you’re making upgrades that involve your electricity, you must acquire the proper permits to do so.

All electrical work must be completed by a licensed electrical contractor.


Can You DIY Your Own Electrical Work?

When renovating there are some jobs that are best left to the professionals. While legally, electrical repairs can be done by homeowners I would always recommend you hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to do the job. Why? Electric work is not something you want to take a risk with, because if DIY electrical work is done incorrectly it can result in electric fires or fatal electric shocks.



To find a licensed electrical contractor near you visit: or if you are in Ontario, Canada visit


How to Protect Yourself From Electrical Fires

Electrical fires account for around 20% of all house fires in Canada. Make sure you’ve taken steps to keep your electrical set up safe. Next time you’re doing a renovation that opens up the walls, allocate some of your budget to bring in a licensed electrician to check things out.



Your Main Electrical Panel – Explained

It’s important to understand your main electrical panel – not so that you can tackle repairs on your own. But it’s important to have an understanding of how it works, and how you can best protect it. One way you can do so is by installing whole-home surge protection from Eaton.


If You’re Renovating Here Are Some Electrical Considerations To Keep In Mind

When buying or renovating an older home, you can usually expect a mix of wiring, aluminum and/or copper, knob and tube, or a combination of all three. Pair old wiring with the increase in home improvements, like home officesbetter lighting, basement apartments, hot tubs, and people spending more time at home, and you will find that the risk of electrical fires and shocks has risen.

If you are taking on a new renovation, a new build, or buying a new home altogether, here are some things you should know when it comes to your electrical.


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A kitchen renovation is a big-ticket item that can seriously raise the value of your home – if it’s done right. But you have a lot of things to consider from proper lighting to material selection, as well as layout and finishes. Here are a few articles to get you thinking about your next kitchen upgrade.

Kitchen completed by DV Kitchens

Kitchen completed by DV Kitchens


5 Tips to Upgrade Your Kitchen and Increase Its Value

Your kitchen renovation can provide a great return on your investment – provided it’s done right. That means going above and beyond making aesthetic changes, and ensuring that the change you’re making is worthwhile.


Top 10 Kitchen Problems and Solutions

Here are some of the most common kitchen problems I come across – and how you can solve them.

Sherry Holmes tiling all the way down the wall, so that when you move appliances out, everything is uniform and easy to clean.

I like to tile all the way down the wall, so that when you move appliances out, everything is uniform and easy to clean.


Ventilation in Kitchens and Bathrooms

Having the right kind of ventilation in spaces where you accumulate a lot of moisture like kitchens and bathrooms is so necessary. Your kitchen renovation should include a check of your ventilation system to make sure it can properly pull out all that excess moisture you make when you cook.


Ways to Light Your Kitchen

Does your kitchen provide enough task lighting over your work surfaces? Here’s my guide to getting the right kind of light in your kitchen.


What Is The Best Flooring For A Kitchen?

When it comes to flooring there are many options to choose from. But what is the best type of flooring when it comes to kitchens that will be durable and protect your investment? Here’s my guide on the different flooring types and how to pick the right material for your kitchen.


Your Post Kitchen Renovation Checklist

Just because your renovation looks done, doesn’t mean it’s there yet. Before you hand over that last payment to your contractor, read this first.


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Bathroom remodeling projects are also going to increase the value of your home. Adding or expanding a bathroom can provide a great return on your investment, and make your home a lot more usable as well.

Bathrooms are a tricky renovation because you’re dealing with a room that gets a lot of water. You have to take steps to ensure that everything is protected against potential mold growth. The reason we exclusively use Schluter products on our shows is that they help us create that water-tight bathroom that we need. Here’s how to get started on your bathroom renovation.


How To: Pick Materials for Your Next Bathroom Remodel

In a bathroom, you need to ensure things are water-tight so you don’t invite mold growth into the space. There’s a reason we always use Schluter Systems products in our bathrooms – we know that it will do the job right.



That “orange stuff” you see on our shows are Schluter Systems products at work


Do’s and Don’ts of Your Bathroom Reno

Bathrooms are another big money area of the home. When you renovate it right, you can increase the value of your home – but if you do it wrong, you could be looking at serious mould and rot. Here’s what to do.


Flooring Guide for your Bathrooms – Do’s and Don’ts

When you’re redoing your bathroom floors, you need to have your contractor take out the old floor and inspect the subfloor below. Do not ever put new flooring over the old.



How To Level An Uneven Floor

Flooring Guide For Your Bathrooms – Dos Don’ts


How To Choose The Right Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Your indoor air quality plays an important role in how we feel every day. So how do you improve it? A big part of improving your indoor air quality is controlling moisture in your home. Installing a bathroom exhaust fan is a big part of that.

Don't forget the trusty tissue test to check your ventilation is working properly!

Don’t forget the trusty tissue test to check your ventilation is working properly!


Benefits of Adding a Shower to Your Basement

Adding a full bath to your basement is a great investment. It supports a growing family, an income suite, and will increase the value. But it has to be done right.


Shower Benches – Why You Might Need One in Your Bathroom

A shower bench can provide a lot of utility – either as extra storage space or to meet some accessibility needs. Schluter Systems has a line of prefabricated shower benches to meet any need.


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Like your bathrooms, basements are a place where moisture can be prevalent, so your renovation efforts here need to focus on creating a warm space free from water intrusion. A basement makes a great space for an extra bathroom, a man cave, games room, bar, or whatever inspires you. Here’s what you need to know.

Basement renovation by Duvanco Homes

Basement renovation by Duvanco Homes


19 Basement Ideas to Inspire You

If your basement is unfinished, it’s a totally blank canvas that you can design into the space of your dreams. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.


5 Common Mistakes I See in Basement Renovations

Basements are moisture magnets – and if you don’t take the right steps to waterproof it, you’ll create a breeding ground for mold. Here are 5 mistakes I want you to avoid in your basement renovation.


Preventing Heat Loss in Your Basement

The basement is one of the most common areas you’ll see heat loss in your home. Here’s how to properly insulate your space to keep it warm and cozy.


Read This Before Renovating Your Laundry Room

Like it or not – a laundry room is one of the most used spaces in your home. Here’s what you’ll want to know before you renovate your laundry room.


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The pandemic changed the way we interact with our homes, and many of us had to design home offices on the fly, carved out of space from our main living areas. This section is all about getting inspiration for your new living room and home office spaces, as well as talking about how what we need from our homes has changed since 2020.


9 Budget-Friendly Living Room Ideas That Can Make Any Space Feel Big

Learn how to make a multi-functional living room to incorporate our new normal and working from home.


13 Creative Home Office Ideas

Have you transitioned to working from home? Get inspired by these 13 creative ideas for your new home office.


9 Home Trends That Resulted from the Pandemic

The way we’ve used our homes completely changed in 2020. If you’re looking for ideas to pandemic-proof your home – here’s where to start.


Features of A Post-Pandemic House Design

Features of A Post-Pandemic House Design


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Building a beautiful backyard oasis can take on many forms. For me, my Ultimate Backyard included a new deck, my beautiful pool, and an outdoor kitchen. Yours might include a fire pit, a beautiful barbecue space, or maybe lots of sprawling vegetable gardens. The choice is yours, but here are some ideas to get you started.


4 Important Features for Deck Safety

Your outdoor structures like decks need to be built with safety in mind. Here are 4 features all decks need to remain safe.


8 Ways to Prevent Slips & Falls on Deck Stairs

Here is a guide on how to properly maintain your deck stairs and railings to prevent any nasty spills


3 Deck Safety Tips

It’s important to always hire a contractor to build your new deck and have it inspected if it’s more than five years old. Safety first!



Everything You Need to Know Before Installing a Pool or Hot Tub

Here are my tips for choosing the right pool for your backyard. The pros at Leisure Pools can have your pool installed quickly and easily.


Mike Install Hot Tub from Leisure Pools installed on Holmes Family Rescue Season 1.

Outdoor Renovation Guide for Installing a Pool or Hot Tub. Hot tub from Leisure Pools installed on Holmes Family Rescue Season 1.


Hot Tub Installation

Here are my tips for installing a hot tub the right way – including getting the proper permits.


Things to Consider When Building a Garden Shed

A shed can add some necessary outdoor storage to your property, but even a small shed might require a permit. Here are my tips for building it right.


Shed project from Holmes: Next Generation

Shed project from Holmes: Next Generation


The Best Outdoor Entertainment Area Design Ideas For You

To get the most out of your outdoor entertainment area, you need to determine what your main goals are for your backyard. The size will matter when designing your outdoor space.

  • Do you entertain a lot?
  • Are they large gatherings?
  • Do you have kids or pets that require outdoor space?
  • Do you just want a quiet space to relax and unwind after a long day?


Consider your backyard as a blank canvas and designate areas for specific tasks, such as a small sitting area for morning coffee and catching up on emails, or a spot to engage with your kids.


Mike Holmes in his backyard outdoor kitchen.

I love my outdoor kitchen and entertainment space, it’s great for having friends and family over.



An outdoor kitchen not only looks great but can add value to your property by extending your living and entertainment space. Plus, it makes cooking meals easier and keeps cooking smells outside. It’s also a great alternative to going out for meals, especially as everything is becoming more expensive.


Photo from Holmes Family Rescue. Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets by NewAge

Photo from Holmes Family Rescue. Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets by NewAge


Planning your outdoor kitchen can be lots of fun! However, you also need to be practical in your plan and create a layout that works best with your space.


If you’re planning on building an outdoor kitchen on your deck here’s what you need to know first   


Want To Enjoy The Outdoors All Year Long? Consider Building A Sunroom

Sunrooms are an awesome way to get more sunlight in a relaxing extra living space. Sunrooms are also a great way to connect to nature, regardless of the weather. Dining in a sunroom is a great experience. You get to enjoy the outdoors while comfortably sitting indoors. Plus, they protect the space from bugs and insects.


Frank’s sunroom is a 4 season sunroom that he can enjoy all year long.

Frank’s sunroom is a 4 season sunroom that he can enjoy all year long.


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You might not think about it, but the changes you make outside your home can actually cause issues on the inside. By adding a garden, a new walkway, or replacing a retaining wall, you may be altering the grading of your property in such a way that you are allowing water to travel directly towards your home.

Making landscaping upgrades can do a lot for your home’s curb appeal. Here’s where to start.


Great Backyard and Patio Ideas

Your backyard is full of potential – and it’s your opportunity to put down your unique stamp. If you need some inspiration to take your backyard to the next level, here are some ideas to get you thinking.

Firepit by RDC Fine Homes

Firepit by RDC Fine Homes


Protect Your Home from Spring Flooding

Your landscaping can be your greatest friend or biggest foe when it comes to managing water. Here’s how to keep that water flowing away from your home.


Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Home Projects

Just because your outdoor space is a canvas, doesn’t mean you can paint all over it. There are some jobs that any homeowner can manage on their own, but some need to be left to the pros.


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Smart Home

I love adding smart devices to my home, and on most projects I work on. Being able to monitor things like my energy efficiency in real time is really awesome – and it lets me take immediate steps to lower my monthly energy bills.

Smart locks have a lot of great benefits too. For example, with a smart lock, I can let my dog walker in while I’m away or monitor when my son visits my garage to “borrow” one of my tools.

Here are a few considerations to make when upgrading to a smart home.


A Complete Guide To Building A Smart Home

Smart homes give you the ability to monitor your home’s major systems no matter where you are. If you’re a total smart home newbie, here are a few easy additions, some that you can even install yourself, like a Schlage Canada smart lock.



Your Safe Smart Home: Protecting Yourself from Hacks


8 Reasons Why You Should Get a Smart Lock

Smart locks provide a lot of function for any home. You can provide digital keys to your contractor, monitor who comes and goes from you home, and even keep track of who visits your garage to borrow your tools.



9 Home Improvement Products to Protect Your Home for Less

Renovation items don’t have to break the bank. These inexpensive items can protect your home from a flood, repair your concrete walkways, and even protect all the electronics and appliances in your home.


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We know that the air quality in our homes dictates the way we feel day to day. Creating a healthy home means building and renovating with better building materials. That means choosing paints without volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and building with air quality in mind, which includes testing for and mitigating radon. Creating a space that’s free from mould growth. These are all things we need to keep in mind if we want to build a healthy home.


3 Simple Steps To A Healthy Home

3 Simple Steps To A Healthy Home


Here are a few articles to get you started.


12 Safe and Healthy Home Tips

Make these 12 items a priority for your next renovation.


High-Performance Homes

A high-performance home is one that can use its systems as efficiently as possible. This is a big thing for driving down your monthly electricity bills. Here’s my guide to getting a home that takes efficient care of you.


5 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Learn how to make changes, both big and small to make a serious dent in your monthly energy bills.


How To: Improve the Quality of Water Flowing Through Your Home

You may think that if you use city-provided water, it’s 100% top quality. However, that is not always the case as both municipal and well water can contain contaminants that affect your water quality. A water test by the pros at Kinetico is always a good idea.


Mike Homes have a water test with Kinetico Pros

Having my well water tested by the pros at Kinetico


It’s also important to understand your water. Do you have hard water? Then you may need a water softener.

If you have a funny taste in your water or a bad odour you may want to consider a reverse osmosis system.


5 Safety Measures to Baby Proof Your Home

You might not think about indoor air quality as a baby-proofing item. However, the air we breathe in our homes affects how we feel every day. Here are 5 things you might not have thought about before the baby’s arrival.


How to: Mitigate Radon in your Home in 100 Days or Less

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Testing and mitigating radon isn’t an expensive or lengthy process. Here’s how to do it in100 days or less.

There are many ways Radon can enter your home. Here are some of the ways how:

  1. Soil
  2. Windows
  3. Cracks in walls & floors
  4. Loose pipe fittings & support posts
  5. Floor drains & sump pumps
  6. Wall & floor joints
  7. Groundwater


Radon can also exist in your water so you may need a Radon Airwell to help mitigate radon levels in your home.



How Do We Create Healthier Environments Where We Work, Live, and Play

The pandemic taught us a lot, but one of the most critical factors to evolve from it is how we can create healthier environments. The transfer of bacteria significantly impacts the health of our communities, particularly public spaces like hospitals, schools, and venues.

One of the best things about being in the construction and building industry is I get exposed to many new and innovative products. Copper is one of those versatile materials that has been used for years. What’s great is that it can be used in many different applications and products to create healthier surfaces



How To Keep A Clean And Organized Garage

A well-organized garage, like a solid foundation, is the backbone of any home. I’ve seen the mess that an unorganized space can cause, which is why I trust garage organization systems to keep things clean and neat. From tool racks to overhead storage, cabinets, mobile stations and more, there are lots of options to help make the most of your space —big or small.

Mike Holmes and NewAge Steel Slatwall and backsplash from Frank’s garage install, in Holmes Family Rescue

NewAge Steel Slatwall and garage organization system from Frank’s garage install, in Holmes Family Rescue


Here are 11 organization tips to keep your garage mess-free.


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