Holmes on Homes(2)

\Mike Holmes hits the nail on the head; again, so to speak. Friday nights episode “Semi Dilemma”(04/11) on Discovery Home(DTV286) was a great one for me because there were some good “Holmesism’s”(I just made up this word).

We(viewers of the show) are all familiar with lines like:

“Bring it all down”


“Okay, tear it all down”

my favorite,

“This is unacceptable”

Friday he said something else that has stuck with me, and it’s something that should stick with every other contractor/service person/provider of service(s):

“There is no doubt when you run a business like this you need to listen to the client, and you need to help the client come to a decision.”

That really stuck with me, after I heard it I jumped up ran into the study and grabbed my idea notebook and wrote it down as best as I remembered.

Helping the clients come to a decision, that should be a laser-focus part of what every professional designer does. Decisions based on site, need, want, desire, money, experience, climate and good old know-how.

I couldn’t agree more.

He said this later in the show:

“Whatever their dreams are, I’ll help them with what I know.”


Man the guy is good, not only as a contractor, but as a human being who provides a service. Putting the clients needs and desires 1st, not his ego.

Designers are notorious for this mistake . . . the need to put their “oh so” significant stamp on every project they do.

Mike has a slight signature to his work(it’s very subtle), but he listens, and he does use what’s available at each residence to it’s best advantage.

Refreshing TV

To hear someone on TV talk this way, and speak so sincerely about the client/contractor relationship is truly some ‘rare air’. Most home improvement shows are all about some telegenic host, ‘out of control ego” designer, or do it on the “CHEAP” . . . lots of do it on the “CHEAP”, or cheap and fast.

We’re going to transform this barren hell-hole of a front yard into a Balinese-Oahu-sub tropical paradise in 7.4 hours and under $1,843.53.

Stay tuned as our ever so cute designer strips the entire street of sod while wearing stiletto’s and designer jeans . . . while not getting dirty.

And so on, and so on.

Why do I care?

Because our clients watch the dang TV.

They get ideas, and even worse . . .

They get expectations.

These expectations are a killer, whether it be the design process, the time line to start. The time line to do the “actual install”(this is a biggie, a real biggie). Of course the biggest biggie . . .


Real unrealistic expectations about cost. I know Designers all over the country and this is by far the biggest hurdle to getting the work installed for a fair price. They see the show, they hear some wacky numbers, they expect the same.

The other real problem; as I mentioned above, maker is the time factor, folks got no idea how long it takes to install some of this work-and it can become a real problem with clients. Again; these are unrealistic expectations, created by TV shows that are clients watch.

The best we can.

So we need to be aware. We need to know that very few TV shows show our potential clients real world problems, dilemma’s and solutions.

By knowing the above, we now educate and prepare ourselves, to meet the challenge(s). Designers and craftsmen at the ready to design creatively, quote the job fairly, and finally, install the job with good craftsmenship, pride in our work and integrity in our professionalism.

As Mike likes to say:

“Whatever it take to make my job right-I do”.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. Great post! I know I’m a tad late in commenting, but I’m a huge fan of Mike Holmes for the reasons you’ve stated above. He doesn’t appear to be all about stroking his own ego, but instead seems genuinely out to help people and prevent others from getting ripped off.

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