An HGTV series premiering Thursday at 9 p.m. finds a familiar face from automotive shows turning his talent toward home renovations: "Renovation Impossible" star Russell J. Holmes, who is originally from Port Jefferson. And Aquebogue, East Meadow, Levittown, Mattituck, Peconic, Riverhead, Westbury and a couple of other places.
"Actually, there's not enough ink to be able to print all the places I've lived," Holmes, 49, now living outside Dallas, says with a chuckle. He was born in Port Jeff to parents who lived in Sound Beach. "Then they ended up buying a house in Levittown and I went to Holy Family [School in Hicksville] until fourth grade, then to Northside [Elementary School in Levittown], then back to Holy Family and then we moved upstate” before returning to Long Island. "My parents had split up when I was in third grade and so my mother, who had custody of me, my twin sister and my two younger brothers, had a very transient life in the rental world."
After attending Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville for two years, "I then went to W.T. Clarke [High School] in Westbury — which I didn't finish because my father had passed away and there was some family stuff and I ended up moving out of the house at 16 and living on my own and having to support myself." He eventually earned a GED high school equivalency diploma in 2001, as a new father to now-grown sons Dylan and Zachary, with first wife Regina.
Holmes picked up construction and mechanical skills out of necessity, and by 2017 was a supervisor for a Melville-based surveying and engineering company. On a whim, he successfully auditioned for a new Discovery show, "Garage Rehab," in which star Richard Rawlings and team helped turn around failing automotive garages. After that ended in 2019, Holmes joined Rawlings for a season of Discovery's long-running car-restoration series "Fast N' Loud."
Now, with "Renovation Impossible," Holmes has his own show, as he and designer Paige Poupart help cash-strapped homeowners get stalled renovations over the finish line.
Part of his mission, he stresses, is educational, since homeowners watching renovation shows "see it done in 46 minutes and so they give contractors a hard time: 'Why is it gonna take six months?' One of the most important things that I think contractors are lacking is educating homeowners: 'We will get you that amazing HGTV finish, but these are the steps we need to do to be able to get there.' "
On his show, which like any other has costly camera and production crews that impose a tight schedule, "We probably have between 15 and 20" workers as opposed to the three or four of typical home-renovation projects, "and we split the shifts so that work is continually going." As well, he says, "Things go on at the same time that contractors don't normally like to do, like maybe having the painting at the same time as the electric or the plumbing." For most episodes, the filming and the renovation work lasts "13 to 15 days."
Its renos are all in and around Dallas, where he lives with attorney Laura Richardson, whom he married in November. And despite his being a reality-TV star, he's kept his day job — "Garage Rehab" aired only 20 episodes in its two-year run, after all.
"If it ever happened that I could be somebody like [HGTV stars Jonathan and Drew Scott of] 'The Property Brothers' and be able to do that full time, amazing. But I do have a construction company" that he is winding down after having recently gotten a Texas real estate license. "And so I have my toe and now probably my whole foot in the real estate game!"