Mike Holmes is well-known for hosting HGTV’s “Holmes on Homes,” and was a worthy competitor in Season 2 of “Rock the Block” with teammate Alison Victoria. Now, Holmes is back as a judge on a new show, “Battle on the Beach.”
This series, which premiered on Sunday, features Victoria (from “Windy City Rehab”), Ty Pennington (“Ty Breaker”), and Taniya Nayak (“Restaurant: Impossible”) as they mentor pairs of rehab amateurs competing to fix up three houses along Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
Armed with only a $75,000 renovation budget, these teams have to get creative with their designs, and it’s up to Holmes and Mina Starsiak Hawk (“Good Bones”) to pick the winning makeovers each week. In the end, they will award one team a $50,000 prize, and some serious bragging rights!
Curious to hear more about what happened behind the scenes on “Battle on the Beach” and get some advice on renovating a vacation home, we chatted with Holmes to get his take and top tips.
You were a competitor on ‘Rock the Block.’ What was it like judging ‘Battle on the Beach’?
I’m usually the judge, jury, and executioner for everything! So doing “Rock the Block,” being a competitor, wasn’t really what I wanted, but I did it just because, what the hell, right?
But “Battle on the Beach” was a great show. I was very impressed. Each and every week surprised me. Especially with me and Mina, I think we were both surprised.
‘Battle on the Beach’ features the work of renovation newbies. What’s the No. 1 mistake you’ve seen nonprofessionals make when renovating a home?
A lot of people make mistakes when they change structure without knowing what they’re doing. Safety things that I always look for is rails, stairs. If you want to change things, you’d better know what you’re doing, or at least find out, because I’m going to be the one that will point out what is right—and what is definitely wrong!
Not all contractors do top-notch work, either. What should homeowners know about hiring the best one for the job?
Homeowners need to know to slow down and find the right people to do the work. It’s funny, because if someone goes to buy a car, they’re going to test-drive it, look at it a few times. They never just jump. They make sure the car is right for them. Likewise, homeowners need to look at different contractors and what they do.
I’ve seen a lot of homeowners who want a new kitchen, because they watched it on HGTV, and they want it that way in their home. And I think that’s the wonderful thing that the television does for people out there, is give them ideas.
Now, what do you need when you’re doing a new kitchen? Well, do you need an electrician? The answer is yes. Do you need a plumber? The answer is yes. And most people will make the mistake of just going directly to a kitchen cabinet company and hire them to do the kitchen. That company, 9 times out of 10, will be kitchen cabinet manufacturers. They’re not really set up with the plumbers and permits that are necessary.
So if you want a new kitchen, this is an opportunity to say, “Hey, do we need to change structure? Do we want a bigger kitchen? Do we want more views from the kitchen to the living room, dining room to the front door?”
This means you need a general contractor who has all these people under his tool belt. That means engineers, designers, kitchen cabinet people, electricians, plumbers. So the biggest mistake is moving in the wrong direction at the beginning.
‘Battle on the Beach’ features a ton of beachy styles. What’s the simplest way homeowners can achieve this look?
You must think of water. You must think of boats. Like, I’m a big boat fan. So how can you help in the design of being near the water? That means incorporate everything that surrounds you that you love, whether it’s photos, which is wonderful, or take pictures that show beaches.
Color is going to help. With color, it’s usually pick three colors. Think of it as a simple rule: 60% your one main color, 30% your second color, and 10% accent color. And if you do these little things, it’s amazing.
“Hardscape” is flooring, tiles, things that you can’t [easily] change, so make sure that’s important to what your personal design is. “Softscape” can be changed anytime. That’s cushions on the couch, furniture, paint colors. And that’s where people should learn to play, especially if you want something to do with the water.
You’re a big supporter of eco-friendly renovations. What are the best upgrades homeowners can make here?
Starting from the beginning, make sure you use environmentally-friendly products. That means make sure you don’t use stuff that’s got high [volatile organic compounds].
And then, how do you insulate properly? A thermal barrier is minimum code. And we have different codes and different areas as to where that vapor barrier should go.
The truth is, I don’t care where you live, you want a thermal break—1 inch of foam and a cooler that keeps your house ice-cold for three days. If you thermal break your home, that means your furnace will run less, your air conditioner will run less on a hot day. These are little things that can make a difference when it comes to a full-house renovation. So stop thinking minimum code.
Do you have any stories from behind the scenes with Ty, Alison, or Taniya? I heard there was a lot of karaoke!
Ty is one funny guy. I love Alison, I love Taniya. And just working with them! We did do karaoke.
We went out dancing, and when I say, “out dancing,” we went to one or each other’s place. I brought my stereo, and we were dancing away, in our own [COVID-19] bubble. That was way too much fun. That’s where the karaoke came in. Alison said, “I want a karaoke machine,” and in comes the karaoke machine.
And who would have thought Ty Pennington could sing? I’m telling you he can sing. And so can Alison for that matter!
Can you give us a hint as to who wins the competition?
I’ll tell you one thing about the show. When I first got there, I predicted in my own mind who would win this. And, like I said, every single week, I was surprised. So by the time the end came, I was, well, let’s say that even you, the viewer, will be surprised who won!