What does Holmes on Homes have to do with Hiring Consulting Firms?

Post by
Scott Francis

After running more than 2500 projects, we find ourselves relating more and more to that TV show, Holmes on Homes. If you haven't seen the show before, Holmes is hired to help homeowners who have had a bad experience with their previous contractor. Holmes shows up to save the day. His affable demeanor and his quips about quality and how to do the job right are just awesome to watch. Sometimes we feel like we're channeling him when we look at a project, and you want to quote Holmes: 

  • "oh no, you have to have fireproof brick in the fireplace" 
  • "do you realize you have a 220V line to the tub without a GFI? Someone is going to get electrocuted!"
  • "there's no grounding for these plugs, did they get the electrical inspected?" 

Because we'll see things that are, quite frankly, technical malpractice. It's our job to help clients set it to rights, and to get the ROI they expected to get from the project in the end. Of course, our quotes might sound a little different:

  • "You mean none of this is checked into a source-code control system?" 
  • "There's no CI/CD pipeline?" 
  • "Has anyone written tests for this?" 
  • "Did it occur to anyone that not everything should be written in javascript?" 
  • "This would be three lines of code if you put that low-code tool down for a minute." 

You need a firm with more focus - who really knows the ins and outs of everything you're trying to do.

Helpfully, Holmes has even posted an article that really resonates with us, on how to hire contractors

It amazes me, after doing my television show all these years, that I’m still seeing homeowners making the same knucklehead mistakes over and over. The big one — the one that starts a chain of events ending in disappointment and frustration — is the notion that they want the renovation done “fast” and they want it done “cheap." And let’s face it:, in the renovation game, fast and cheap add up to just one thing — crap.

He does have a way with words...

Before you start flipping through the Yellow Pages and calling every contractor in the book, let’s get your expectations on the right planet. You should expect that in this day and age, skilled contractors are in high demand: good contractors are very, very busy.

The first lesson Holmes is trying to teach is that good contractors are often busy, and they are uncommon. Too often we are called in to fix projects that were done on the cheap, and failed. With a house, you may not be calculating ROI - you might be calculating how good it feels to upgrade the house or to fix the electrical system. But for a business, software that doesn't work has an ROI of zero. It's like construction work that doesn't pass inspection. There are no prizes for almost working. It works or it doesn't. Once it works, then you can start grading on design, style, substance.  But it has to work, first.

This is why we insist on taking your solutions to production and beyond - followup not only matters, it is essential.

Let’s talk about the other part of the consumer equation: cheap. No one wants to spend more than he has to on a renovation, but as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for."

Holmes has a way with words.  The flip side of this coin (picking the right contractor) is what happens when you pick the wrong contractor?  And the answer isn't that it just takes a bit longer or is a bit less good - when you pick those commodity consultants, they actually harm your business. And is that worth it? 


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