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This Old House
1 year ago
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Hi Reddit! Greetings from THIS OLD HOUSE and ASK THIS OLD HOUSE. Host Kevin O’Connor, General Contractor Tom Silva, Plumbing and Heating Expert Richard Trethewey and Landscape Contractor Roger Cook here to answer your questions. Ask Us Anything!

This Old House is America's first and most trusted home improvement show. Each season, we renovate two different historic homes—one step at a time—featuring quality craftsmanship and the latest in modern technology. Ask This Old House addresses the virtual truckload of questions we receive about smaller projects. We demystify home improvement and provide ideas and information, so that whether you are doing it yourself or hiring out contractors, you'll know the right way to do things and the right questions to ask.

We'll be here to take your questions from 1-2:30 PM ET today. (With Social Media Producer Laura McLam typing what everyone says!) Ask away!

https://twitter.com/ThisOldHouse/status/816400249480736769 https://twitter.com/ThisOldHouse/status/817023127683211264

EDIT: We have run out of time but thank you for all your questions! Also, we were so excited about answering questions that we never posted a photo. http://imgur.com/c1jMxt5

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Moderator of r/DIY, speaking officiallyScore hidden · 1 year ago · Stickied comment

Hi everyone,

The AMA ended a several hours ago but we appear to still be getting a large number of questions for the crew. We aren't going to lock the thread (which would hinder current discussions) but wanted to put up a friendly notice to let those who may have missed it know that the AMA is in fact over.

We're going to leave it stickied for a little while so users can read it over, and after that you'll be able to find it in our sidebar.

Thanks everyone for coming together for an excellent beginning to 2017!

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281 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

Hi Kevin, Tom, Rich and Roger. Lifelong fan here, been watching since he Bob Villa era and grew up tuning in to Norm in the New Yankee Workshop. First I want to say thank you for basically 30+ years of supplying me with a free education. 2 Questions;

  1. Is Tom, Norm and any of the other guys approaching retirement age yet, and if so, will new people rotate in and out with the format of the show (both shows) staying the same or will the shows take a new direction?

  2. Where can I get a TOH T shirt, I've been wanting one for years?

This Old House
Original Poster290 points · 1 year ago

Laura: We are always looking for new expert contractors and we are excited to feature some of them as part of the #TOHGenNext campaign next season.

Tom: I've been trying to leave for years but I can't leave sonny here alone!

Kevin: I've been trying to get rid of Tommy for years too but he keeps hitting me with his cane!

Tom: It's not a cane sonny - it's a hammer!

Laura: So you can see no one has plans to go anywhere anytime soon!

233 points · 1 year ago

It's okay, my kids will be your replacements. For some reason at 5 and 3 they already love watching the episodes and running around playing as Kevin and Tom. It mostly involves my daughter banging on everything with a plastic hammer while my son narrates.

I even made them a truck for Christmas! http://imgur.com/FRAKkd7

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Lol thank you. Now about that T shirt :)

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419 points · 1 year ago

Hi guys, loved the show for as long as I can remember! While it's great the see the large multi-million dollar renovations have you thought about doing a series of smaller, more realistic builds in a season that the average home owner may be willing to afford? For instance my wife and I are rewatching the 25th anniversary season and virtually every piece of furniture was custom made for the house. It looks great but probably isn't very realistic.

I'll also say one great thing about the 25th season is you do actually talk about some costs. It's great knowing that stone wall was estimated at $40k and things like that. I'm sure homeowners don't want you to discuss money but it's really nice knowing what things roughly cost.

This Old House
Original Poster275 points · 1 year ago

Richard: The thing about price is that it's dated by the next year and it's different regionally.

Tom: Like this season we are in Detroit and the prices there don't compare to the prices here (in MA). It's night and day.

Kevin: In terms of scope of the project, a modest size house doesn't allow us to put in geothermal or radiant heat or build that stone wall and while its all expensive, it's also great content for our viewers. Think of it this way, some homeowner is willing to spend their hard earned dollars so we can show great craftsmanship and expose the viewer to new technology. I think of the big projects as a plus not a negative.

Tom: I also think of the big projects as a smorgasbord of ideas that you can pick from. It's like going to the grocery store. You don't buy everything.

Kevin: This is also why we created Ask This Old House - for the smaller projects.

Tom: We are headed to Detroit later this season and the homeowner is doing a lot of the work there from the demo to the painting.

271 points · 1 year ago

The thing is, This Old House used to feature some "average" houses. Then they started going crazy with the massive projects and although I like to see that sort of thing occasionally, when they start bringing in the high dollar interior decorators or spend $40,000 on materials for a stair system it quickly becomes out of touch with the typical viewer.

I'd like to see a mixture of those high end projects, and also a more modest project where budget is a legitimate issue and where some hard decisions have to be made. Those seem to be the projects where we really get to see the personality of a homeowner and where we can relate. I relate to the two ladies who couldn't afford to tear off and replace all of the stucco on their house even though that would be the most ideal solution. I can't possibly relate to the guy who installed radiant heating under his driveway and sidewalks so he would never have to shovel snow in the winter.

I like those high end projects (and George's modern home was a great series) but I appreciate them more when they are mixed in with some other down-to-earth projects.

Basically anytime they bring in a designer and spend 15 minutes of the show talking about fabrics and custom furniture I am going to lose interest. Show Tommy reframing a staircase or Richard explaining how they will manage to install AC in a 120 year old house without losing the charm of the original woodwork and you have my attention.

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148 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: This is also why we created Ask This Old House - for the smaller projects.

I hate to admit it, but I skip This Old House, but watch Ask This Old House. Unless I get really, really lucky, I'll never have that kind of house; on the other hand, I do have plumbing, electrical, and a heating system, and sometimes fix my own because it's an emergency and/or I can't afford to call someone else right now.

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We have an 1900 square foot house on a 75' x 100' lot and successfully installed a geothermal system. It doesn't have to be a giant property to make it happen.

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I had to leave MA due to the crazy house prices. An affordable home either requires accepting a money pit or a huge commute.

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"The only way to get paid more money hosting a DIY show is promote higher price products. We play on the idea that the right way to enhance your home is with these expensive products we install on the show." - This Old House

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13 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

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What is something most DIYers overlook when renovating (that cause more issues over time)?

What was your favorite house/project to work on?

This Old House
Original Poster186 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

Tom: Could be some surprises when you do a renovation. Like when you open up a wall - lots of surprises behind a wall.

Richard: Usually Tommy finds some plumber has cut the wrong beam

Tom: The main support beam!

Kevin: My favorite was Carlisle, 25th anniversary. We owned the house and got to do whatever we wanted on it.

Richard: My favorite was Manchester by the Sea 2001.

Roger: I'm with Richard.

Richard: Great people, great project, great location.

Tom: I have a lot of favorites. It's hard to pick one. Manchester, Cambridge, actually both in Cambridge - Scandavian Modern and the small contemporary transformation

53 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: My favorite was Carlisle, 25th anniversary. We owned the house and got to do whatever we wanted on it.

I got a chance to tour that house. Great work, but what I was struck by was how small it was in reality to how it looked on camera.

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I am a carpenter, and I can confirm that plumbers are the most destructive force on earth! Termites and carpenter ants got nothin on the pipe and duct guys....

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I'm reading the answers in their voices.

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Has a cool flair
112 points · 1 year ago

Your recent TOH episode talked about bringing in the next generation into the skilled trades. It's also featured on the cover of the TOH magazine. Can you talk a bit about what you envision for this? Is it a focus on trade education, making it easier to find apprenticeships, something else? Is there anything we as general DIYers do to promote this cause?

This Old House
Original Poster196 points · 1 year ago

Laura: There is a lot of info on our website: http://bit.ly/TOHGenNext

Richard: We need to educate at the middle school level and the guidance counselor level that there is another path for career in this country. There is more jobs than we can fill in the skilled trades. And jobs in the trades can be fulfilling and meaningful. And you don't get stuck in a cubicle.

Tom: But you have to be willing to work.

Amen! I became a mechanical engineer because it was the "sexy" thing for me to do when I have a family of lawyers and doctors, and went to a prestigious prep school. I would have been much better off as a tradesman. I was told by many, many people that even though I love working with my hands and was naturally very good at it, a blue collar career like this was not for someone like me. I was too "smart" for something like this. ugh! Time for a reset.

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A lot of people do not value skilled trade and the hard work that goes to produce it. Most will find a laborer to do the work on Craigslist and end up with shitty work and then need to call a professional to redo. Most people are very cheap.

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53 points · 1 year ago

Hey guys huge fan, thanks for doing this!

How do you decide what new technology to introduce to a build? Is there a vetting process of a sponsored product or the customers discretion? This has been on my mind since the Vermont build with the water treatment and geothermal heating systems.

Tom, I have to add that my wife is Portuguese and nearly jumped out her chair when she found out you were as well. I also say "Tom Silva Here" to her whenever I get ready to fix something, I don't know how that one started.

This Old House
Original Poster61 points · 1 year ago

Richard: As an educational TV show we are always looking to highlight new tech to show it to America. We are always nervous about giving an exposure before its proven.

Tom: We've have turned down a lot of things because we were unsure about it.

Roger: Didn't pass the sniff test.

Richard: We normally try this stuff out on unsuspecting friends and family first.

84 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

I am in the process of constructing a new home. When I visit the homesite, what types of things should I be looking for to make sure the contractors are "doing it right"? I don't pretend to have any expertise, so are there any "common mistakes" in new construction or things that would be easy for a lay-person to look out for?

This Old House
Original Poster162 points · 1 year ago

Richard: That's what we do on our show - show people how to do it right!

Tom: There's a lot of things you don't think about - expansion and contraction, how to use adhesive correctly, overdriving the heads of screws, not enough nails or screws, or even the wrong size . . .

Kevin: Get a really good contractor and you won't have to look over their shoulder. That's what you are paying them for.

Tom: Don't be afraid to ask questions, they will be glad to answer.

Richard: We used to have an old rate sheet at our business that said our hourly rate $100, if you watch hourly rate $125, if you help $150.

Thanks for that answer!

I have a followup, related question:

The builder told me that nail pops will happen over the course of the first year as the house "settles". They also said they will fix any problems that crop up before the end of the first year. I'd like to know, how can I fix or hide nail pops on my own after the first year, and what issues should I expect or watch out for within that first year?

Thanks again for doing this AMA and answering my question!

This Old House
Original Poster36 points · 1 year ago

Tom: Nails or screws pop for a few different reasons - they may not have hit the structure at all or they could be too long for the thickness of the material. 1 and 1/2 times the thickness of the material should be the length of the screw. Sometimes you have to take them out and re-screw them in to the left or right slightly to make sure that you are into the structure and you want to make sure that the screwhead doesn't break the paper, it just needs to be indented slightly.

As the lumber dries, especially lumber located near engineered lumber that dries at a different rate, you may get screw pops. Easiest way to fix is use a putty knife to expose the screw head, turn until tight with paper face again, then cover over with joint compound and repaint.

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62 points · 1 year ago

Richard: We used to have an old rate sheet at our business that said our hourly rate $100, if you watch hourly rate $125, if you help $150.

$200 if you worked on it first.

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Great AMA!

When you guys are approaching remodeling projects as contractors or showing DIYers how to complete a project, have you ever covered the angle of how to go start to finish on permits? I know this is a touchy subject since it varies so much on region, or that a homeowners might not want to lengthen a project, but it seems like many find the process very overwhelming.

As a followup question, what were some of the hardest things to ever get permitted or approved for a project that seemed like they should have been a no-brainer?

This Old House
Original Poster67 points · 1 year ago

Tom: The first thing you need to do is make sure that the project you are getting into doesn't require a variance because that will slow things down big time. That doesn't mean you can't do it . . .

Richard: When I got the permits for my house I walked down to the office and asked 'how am I going to do this?' And then the permitter turned into a great resource. We shouldn't look at permitters as advesaries.

Tom: They are there to protect you.

Richard: And they are there to help.

Yeah. As a contractor who does work semi-nationwide, 99% of inspectors and permitters are actually terrific resources, and they can be extremely helpful if you give them a chance, and if you are trying to do things the right way.

That said, they do have a lot of power and personal discretion, and they can absolutely make your life hell, if you get on their bad side. Well, they can at least fail your renovation and force you to tear it all down if you want to keep your homeowner's insurance. And inspectors are known to get especially snappy with amateur know-it-alls who want to cut corners or use nonstandard practices, while simultaneously throwing attitude about how these crimp-on automotive connectors are actually better than proper splices, and how they don't actually need 14 AWG wire on this circuit because they just powering a TV...

The best thing is exactly richard's advice: talk to the permit inspector way before you begin work or order materials, and they will tell you the cheapest, easiest, and safest ways to pass inspection.

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Speaking as one of those permitters, that's exactly right. Development regulations are there for a reason, but we are here to help navigate them.

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When I got the permits for my house I walked down to the office and asked 'how am I going to do this?'

That's fantastic advice.

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Hello gents!

What's the most common thing you could suggest to a homeowner to improve their resale value with with 2,500-5000$?

We're looking at selling in a few years and want to make sure we get the most bang for our buck.

This Old House
Original Poster208 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

Tom: Fresh coat of paint, clean the place up, light and neutral colors

Roger: Front lawn, plantings, window boxes . . . It's all about curb appeal.

Tom: Yeah, front doors should look nice and inviting

Roger: When people pull up to your house you want a little 'awe'

"Caulk and paint make it look like what it ain't" or something along those lines. That is really the #1 answer.

But I'd say start with replacing everything that looks bad and is cheap to replace - register covers, outlet covers, mailbox, knobs, light bulbs with bad color or brightness for the room they are in, etc.

Next there are probably some things that aren't super-cheap to replace, but that would LOVE a couple coats of paint or spray paint for now until it's time to replace them completely. For example an old mirror might look new and cool with a coat of silver spray paint on it (easy to get the paint of the glass with a razor afterwards) or an old chandelier or light fixture, or old door knobs, or even the plastic cover that sometimes goes over the door bell.

It's really amazing how much you can do with JUST painting alone.

And then in the bathrooms, cleaning up the caulk lines or just replacing the caulking altogether makes everything look much cleaner. It's cheap - just need a cheap hand caulking tool that removes on one side and evens on the other, and a cheap caulk gun, and the tubes go a long way for a few dollars each. It's easy with those tools too - just make sure everything's clean, watch a youtube video of someone doing it, do what they did, and make sure it gets left alone until it's dry.

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To add to this: New knobs and drawer pulls on your cabinets. They are cheap and you would be surprised how much they help eliminate the "dated" feel of your kitchen. We just moved into a house built in the 90's and they got rid of the gold hardware typical on every other house in the neighborhood in favor of some nice matte grey metal hardware and it made a lot of difference.

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I'm a pretty good guy with tools and have built a kneewall and installed garbage disposals and stuff, but I am absolutely panicked about replacing a tub and doing bathroom tile. Please tell me: it's not as hard as I'm making it out to be, is it?

This Old House
Original Poster40 points · 1 year ago

Richard: Nothing is hard if you learn how to do it!

Roger: You can take advantage of all the great videos on our website. Watch a tutorial and learn how to get started and do it right.

Kevin: Definitely a bigger job than a kneewall but there is no harm in starting and calling in a pro if you need one.

Tom: You'll need to call in a licensed plumber and possibly an electrician. The key to getting the job done right is making sure everything is plumb, level, and square.

11 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

Tom: ... The key to getting the job done right is making sure everything is plumb, level, and square.

I cannot emphasize this point enough. I had a "handyman" (whom someone recommended) redo the small master bath (approx. 4' x 8') in my previous home. While the tiled shower doesn't leak, he did not check the floor for levelness, so the shower curb isn't level and the shower pan wasn't sloped sufficiently. While I have had someone else address the shower pan since, I just learned to live with the shower curb not being level.

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Love both shows -- they're always both fun and informative, and I enjoy the focus on quality work.

My question: I'm looking to build a bunch of built in cabinets (kitchen addition, entertainment center, walk in closet) and am wondering if a table saw or a track saw would be a better purchase. I'll be buying a router, and already have a miter saw.

Thanks!

This Old House
Original Poster151 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: Track saw

Tom: Pretty hard to beat a table saw. That is a key to every shop.

Kevin: I'll say it again: track saw. It's just as effective as a table saw for this project and you can use it for a lot of other projects as well. Imagine ripping an 8 ft piece of plywood: you need 16 ft for in-feed and out-feed. Do you have that much space? You only need 8 ft for a track saw.

Tom: You got a good point sonny.

Kevin: What was that pops?

Tom: I use a track saw a lot more than a table saw.

Kevin: Mic drop.

Kevin: Mic drop.

O'Connor out.

Thanks! Track saw would definitely be easier to store as well.

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59 points · 1 year ago

My house is a ~220 year old farmhouse with thick stone walls. I realized a big draft recently and it seems like there's a gap between the window and the stone wall. Since I can't afford new windows should I use some exterior caulk on the outside or just fill it with foam? Thanks!

Pictures

This Old House
Original Poster58 points · 1 year ago

Tom: Anything that will air seal - caulking, foam in a can, or backer-rod

Roger: And pointing any of the loss masonry

Tom: Caulking or foam depends on the size of the gap. Foam is for a large gap and caulking is for small cracks or openings - under a 1/2''.

The problem with foam is that it's a huge pain to remove later. If /u/rboymtj plans on eventually redoing the windows, he should be extra careful about not getting foam on anything that it shouldn't be on.

Also, as always, be careful with expanding foam next to windows, as it can deform the frame and make the window hard to operate. Minimal-expanding foam is safer for this application.

As others said, scribing a new trim piece is a better, but also more technically challenging solution.

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86 points · 1 year ago

Hi folks,

My generation is about to start buying their first homes. When you look for a home inspector what are a few things you should ask him/her to make sure you are getting someone who knows what they are doing and won't leave you with a broken home?

Thanks.

This Old House
Original Poster128 points · 1 year ago

Richard: The credited association is ASHI - highly recommend using one of them. They test and vet the inspectors.

[deleted]
16 points · 1 year ago

Very good to hear there is a credited association. Thanks for the reply!

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OH MAN! My wife and I watch your show every Saturday morning, it's become a tremendously important part of our weekend ritual. Just wanted to say that you inspired us to install vintage light fixtures and light switches in our condo. It was much easier than I thought it would be.

My question is: where do you get ideas for the random items that you and the other boys cut it up about each episode? They're always the most random things.

Love the show.

This Old House
Original Poster36 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: Skymall magazine. Since they are out of business if anyone grabbed one from an airplane recently. Please send it to us.

Tom: We need all the help we can get. In making fools out of ourselves.

Kevin: Don't sell yourself short pops, you're a pro. At making a fool of yourself.

Tom: Why are you here again?

Richard: We always think about what we are going to say, right after we say it.

Has a cool flair
29 points · 1 year ago

Hey everyone, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today! You all have many years of experience in your respective fields (even Kevin at this point!), and you've seen a lot of changes happen in the state of your arts. Based on that extensive experience,

What are some of the things you thought looked promising but didn't pan out? What do you see as the most revolutionizing upcoming technologies?

This Old House
Original Poster29 points · 1 year ago

Tom: spray foam changed the make up and efficiency of a house big time. High efficient boiler/water heaters, sheathing . . .

Richard: This whole thing is an evolution. We keep wanting to find the best and newest stuff. We don't regret anything we've shown because we want to stay on the cutting edge.

Kevin: Here's something that didn't work out: compact fluorescent lightbulbs - more energy efficient, last longer, yadda yadda yadda. A disaster. Good riddance.

Roger: Wouldn't you rather have us testing these things than you finding out they don't work?

32 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: Here's something that didn't work out: compact fluorescent lightbulbs - more energy efficient, last longer, yadda yadda yadda. A disaster. Good riddance.

THANK YOU. I hate those things. Only use 'em when I'm unsure if an LED bulb would work.

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Has a cool flair
3 points · 1 year ago

Thanks guys! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions today! And special thanks to Laura for bringing order to the chaos.

What was wrong with CFLs? They usually saved several to many times their purchase price in electricity. Don't bother with the dimmable ones, but their CRI and color temperature was pretty good if you bought a good brand. They might be slow to start for outdoor fixtures in the cold, but I found they worked fine in most places indoors.

I'd hardly characterize it as a "disaster".

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153 points · 1 year ago

What advice do you have for a husband who's wife watches so much This Old House that she fully expects her husband to spend every waking hour remodeling the entire home?

This Old House
Original Poster157 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: She has good taste in TV shows!

Richard: What do you watch?

139 points · 1 year ago

Whatever she feels like watching, of course.

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PM me penguin pics
31 points · 1 year ago

Thanks so much for doing this AMA.

As a new homeowner myself, I find myself trying to slowly build up my collection of tools and additional knowledge from friends, family, coworkers. Is there any advice you guys can give for new homeowners on how / when to tackle a project yourself / with others, versus when to call for professional help?

This Old House
Original Poster50 points · 1 year ago

Roger: Hard to say without knowing someone's abilities.

Richard: The question is - how much do you know? How courageous are you?

Roger: And how good is your insurance?

Richard: Demo is easy as long as you don't take out structure - true sweat equity - but I don't assume anyone really wants to do their own plumbing or electrical.

Tom: When in doubt call a pro.

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Are you ever going to go back to having the homeowners do some of the work and work on regular houses rather than million+ renovation budgets?

This Old House
Original Poster44 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: See answer above - the upcoming Detroit project has a lot of work being done by the homeowners, their kids, their friends, and neighbors.

Roger: There were even some people who walked onto the site to help out in Detroit.

Tom: Painters, plasters, electricians

Richard: Plumbers and landscapers . . . .

(Laura: The Detroit project will be airing later this season!)

Fantastic. I know the high dollar stuff sells the show but its nice to see it with the people doing some of the work.

9 points · 1 year ago

Pretty sure they do that with Ask This Old House.

This Old House
Original Poster11 points · 1 year ago

Kevin: you are right!

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I've watched since the Bob Vila days and would love to see a return to houses for normal people (see fixer upper for inspiration). Is there any chance of that?

Normal means budgets under $300k, unlike the million dollar homes you do today.

This Old House
Original Poster51 points · 1 year ago

Ricard: go to Ask This Old House

Laura: Also, see above where we talked about the upcoming Detroit project

Richard: We get this question all the time. If we did the most basic remodel we might not have enough material to fill 18 episodes and there are only so many ways to cook a french fry (hang shingles, etc). We like to be educational and interesting.

Russ Morash the father of how-to TV always stated that 'This Old House' is not just about how to do it right, it's about dreams, it's about people transforming their own house of any size into something better.

33 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

More people have the dream of an affordable, well constructed and nicely appointed home than have the dream of a too large, gadget filled residence.

I have watched TOH since season 1 when my young brother and I stumbled upon it on our local PBS station. We watched as Bob, Norm, Tom, Richard and then later Steve showed us how to do things right. We learned that a proper foundation and framing was more important than lavish trim and fixtures. We watched as homeowners agreed to take on a portion of the remodel job themselves. Sweat equity. Not just because they wanted to play a role in the construction of their home, but often because they had to out of economic necessity. Sometimes it was something as simple as demolition. And sometimes under Tom or Norm's tutelage homeowners actually learned how to use tools and build something. The show didn't spend large segments in design centers or with decorators. It showed how professionals remodeled older homes with the help of the homeowner. I had mixed feeling when Steve took over for Bob, because who likes change, but I quickly grew to appreciate what Steve brought to the show. I was disappointed when Steve left and was replaced by Kevin. Kevin who I remember was found via an ATOH episode and had problems with wallpaper. When Kevin joined, the show changed. He barely knew how to use a hammer and you could see Tom's frustration in having to deal with him. At that point there was less focus on how things were done and getting homeowners involved and more focus on interior design and finish. And I get it. More people paint and tile than rebuild foundations. I also know this coincided with the TOH brand being sold to Time Inc. and Time Inc. saw a brand that could be marketed to a broader audience and that's what they did.

I still watch the show. I record it. I watch TOH YouTube clips. They are all great resources but it is far from the show I started watching in 1979. My brother and I used to joke many years ago about watching Hometime(another home improvement show from the 80s)and how Hometime's answer to any issue with a home they were working on was to call in a professional where as TOH was hosted by the professionals. And while TOH has continually shown new homebuilding technologies from PEX tubing to Structurally Insulated Panels these days it feels like more time is spent on fabrics and furniture. I admit I fast forward through bits that don't interest me where as years ago I wished the show was longer. The show still sets the bar from home improvement shows.

Edit; grammar

Thanks for all the answers. I definitely understand about not filling 18 episodes. In that vein, how about a block rejuvenation :)

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Hi guys! My wife and I are absolute fans of your shows! We always wonder how you can manage successful businesses and the projects/tapings? As a contractor myself, I can't even imagine the incredible hours you must all work. We've learned so much from watching the shows and can't wait for saturday mornings!

This Old House
Original Poster23 points · 1 year ago

Tom: It ain't easy

Richard: We hire and retain the best people we can get

Tom: You got have a good team that you can count on

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19 points · 1 year ago

Hey Roger, what's a good alternative to the ubiquitous Arborvitae for screening?

This Old House
Original Poster21 points · 1 year ago

Roger: There isn't any! LOL. Upright deciduous trees but they'll only give you screening protection for part of the year or go to some of the under utilized trees like Norway Spruce and Upright Hollies for year long screening.

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13 points · 1 year ago

Is there a way to watch a collection of your shows online? i love This Old House, but can only catch it every now and then on our local PBS channel. I'd love to see your show on Netflix or some other streaming platform as well. There is a severe lack of DYI shows on Netflix, Hulu, etc. (unless i'm just looking in the wrong places!)

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Hi All! Many of you guys have your own companies (Silva Brothers Construction, etc) - how much time are you personally able to give to working with those vs. working on TOH? Do you find that customers hire those companies hoping to get TOH celebs at their house, or do most not realize the connection?

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5 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

How am I supposed to find contractors and service providers that meet my expectations when they're set by you guys? You're all so professional and seemingly endlessly knowledgable about your chosen fields. If I wasn't already sure it would distract too much from making the show, I'd ask you guys to start a program of accrediting others in your respective industries. How I wish for the peace of mind that would come from being able to hire contractors or service providers with the Tom Silva/Richard Trethewey/Roger Cook/Norm Abram "seal of approval"...

(Sorry to leave you out, Kevin; for what it's worth, I'd trust your seal of approval too, I just can't as easily imagine what you'd be approving of!)

(P.S. - I've loved the show for as far back as I can remember. I've been collecting seasons for years now, making me one of the few people still willing to shell out for old VHS tapes. I think I have more than half of the show in my collection at this point. The really old ones are hard to come by, though.)

7 points · 1 year ago

Holy crap, I am such a huge fan. I watch you guys virtually every night, and my three year old daughter is almost always right there with me.

I have a question for all of you generally and a specific question for Tom.

  1. You've all been to some pretty cool vendors, factories, nurseries, etc. all around the country. What has been your favorite/most interesting remote segment to shoot?

  2. Tom, will you adopt me? Just kidding -- As a guy with a trove of old-school knowledge, do you think the ever-evolving technology (e.g. digitally programmed saws, like the one featured--I think--on the Jersey Shore build) handicaps or helps rookies' skills/fundamentals?

Awesome AmA!

My two year old son and I love to watch the Build-It projects. He loves the utility cart build a lot!

Since it looks like I may have a future carpenter in the house, would Ask This Old House consider doing some Build-It that are geared towards kids? I can adapt the builds for him to help me, but a kid friendly one would be nice.

Finally, I've watched This Old House for years, great to see both shows are thriving!

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8 points · 1 year ago

Have you ever thought about having a season where you go back and visit all the houses you've worked on over the years? It'd be really interesting to see how they held up and if they still hold true to the work that you did.

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Contractor here: I don't have a question but just wanted to say THANK YOU for being the ONLY quality home improvement program on television! A lot of my knowledge comes from watching you guys over the past 10 years. Keep up the great work and thanks again for making us look good!

5 points · 1 year ago

For Richard: I recently installed Sharkbite 1/2" push-to-connect ball valve after replacing a leaking sillcock and older washered shutoff valve. The Sharkbite was super easy to install, but it wobbles some...is that normal for a push-to-connect? It hasn't leaked at all. Also, is it even necessary to install a shutoff for a frostproof sillcock? It makes servicing that part easier, but someone suggested the frostproof could still freeze in the winter and I should shut the water off anyways. I tend to think that if the sillcock is pitched right, the outside hose is removed in the winter, and the washer is far enough inside, it shouldn't be an issue?

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How is it that nothing ever goes wrong?! Me and my mom love watching the show and imagining one of you guys reaching for a drill and the battery being dead, like we've all done. Or someone buying the wrong nails or something. We imagine it going something like-

picks up nail gun "well, we forgot the box with the nails, so I'm tom from this old house!" puts down nail gun, credits roll, episode is 3 minutes long

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13 points · 1 year ago

Do homeowners pay for the restoration/remodeling you guys do? I've always wondered if they just pay for materials or the actual labor.

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11 points · 1 year ago

Thanks for doing this AMA!

What are some important small jobs you recommend every new homeowner (with an old house) should do?

One more!

What's the best way you've found to find GCs and other that do quality work? It seems like Angie's List, Thumbtack, and the like are more concerned with ads and data mining than proving leads to trusted people/firms. What's your go-to?

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You guys are the reason I spend all down time at work on Zillow, looking for that great next old beauty to restore. Thank you.

5 points · 1 year ago

One for Richard....I built a new house in southern Ohio last year and am experiencing issues with high humidity this winter due to the tight envelope. I'm having a hard time deciding between a whole house dehumidifier or a HRV for my climate area. Thoughts?

And you guys are great !!! I used to watch you as a small boy with my dad, and now i get to share that same enjoyment with my son.

3 points · 1 year ago

Hey guys, I love watching the show, its actually one of the shows me and my Father in law first bonded over watching together.

I have a house that has water lines that run through an unheated garage and in the winter they have frozen. To prevent this when the temperature hits the single digits I have to let the faucet drip. We renovated the kitchen before we realized the water lines tend to freeze so we have all new cabinets and counter tops. How can I best move the water lines so they no longer run in the garage? Can I run them through the cabinets? under the cabinets through the kick plate?

Hi guys! First time (enthusiastic!) homeowner considering finishing my basement with drywall, flooring. How big of a project is this typically? I'm nervous I'll be getting myself in over my head before I know it.

Hey guys - as a kid growing up watching TOH, and now as an adult watching TOH and AskTOH, one thing that always struck me as unique about other parts of the country are basements. We rarely have them here in California so they always pique my interest for their flexibility and usefulness.

What other geographically specific or unique features of homes in various parts of the country do you find interesting or useful?

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5 points · 1 year ago

What is the best wood to use for a picket fence in front yard. We are thinking redwood and prime and paint once it is throughly dry. Is this the right track?

Hi all - This Old House is hands down one of my favorite things in life, and is my go-to when I want to learn something, want to relax, or just want to get away from life and spend some time with good people like yourselves.

To my question. Lately I've been watching seasons further back (2008-ish) and I notice there are some instances of homeowners living in the houses you all are renovating, during the renovation. It seems like, while you all are charming as always, this causes a lot of headaches, I'm sure both for construction itself and also the filming. (Tom, one of my favorite moments is when Kevin says "They have to live here!" and you respond with, "Well we have to work here!") My question is, in more recent seasons, have you all actively discouraged homeowners from living in the homes under renovation, or have people just stopped trying to? Also, any memorable/awkward/funny moments from the times they did stay around?

Hey Rich, in my ranch home, if I have two air return vents on the main level, with the openings totalling about 2 square feet, and I finish my basement (where there are no return air vents), and I add another vent to the return air duct down there, will this throw my HVAC system out of balance?

4 points · 1 year ago · edited 9 months ago

deleted 0.8775 What is ^^^this?

Holy moly I love what you guys do!

If you were staring down the barrel of $400K + 12 months DIY, or $650K to employ professionals, and get another floor on top and a nicer outcome, which would you choose?

We are stuck between a rock and an expensive place!! :)

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3 points · 1 year ago

Kevin, can you talk a little bit about how you came to be on the show? I know the story, but it's fascinating and very odd.

Great show. A pretty great mix of projects on ATOH.

Have you even considered doing more detailed web segments? I know occasionally I see a TOH segment describing a project I'm about to do, and I'd be interested in a long-form, instructional video. But, I assume, due to the requirements of a 24-minute, general interest TV show, you guys spend 2.5 minutes on it. Could you do like a 20-minute YouTube video on some of those projects?

Before you answer, "that's what ATOH is," I mean the higher-end, more complex projects that you do on TOH. Heated bathroom walls / benches. Geo-thermal. Home automation. Stuff that takes longer than the day the typical ATOH project gets.

2 points · 1 year ago

My house was built in the early 1980s and each floor has it's own furnace/AC (2 total). The 2nd floor system was replaced in 2004 and we had the duct work in the attic insulated. However, for the past few years, the blown in fiberglass insulation is getting in the air return and is clogging the filter. How can I determine where the hole is in the return duct and how can I fix it? This hole is allowing mice to get into the furnace and climbing out and getting into the house along with the insulation issue. The system is using flexible insulated duct work.

P.s. Your show has been helping me solve issues in my home and gives me inspiration for remodels and goals. ;)

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Man I love Ask This Old House (I have trouble committing to the whole season of This Old House).

What's your favorite "What is it?" thing you've ever found, either because it's ridiculously useful or just ridiculous?

How much success have you seen with your show's YouTube channel and other online outreach events? Have they significantly increased viewership? And how does online viewership compare to your broadcast TV shows?

3 points · 1 year ago

As a beginner woodworker do you recommend classes in person? I am self taught through all of the different resources on the Internet but I can't help but feel like in person teaching would be more helpful

4 points · 1 year ago

When they say they are America's most trusted show it's true, whatever they say is how it's done

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3 points · 1 year ago

How do you decide which projects get featured on Ask This Old House? Also, do you all get along with each other as well in real life as it appears you do on the show?

Hey guys, Total Fangirl here. I grew up watching your show with my dad and happily credit you all with helping build the knowledge base that has enabled me to be handy around the house. I've have recently been binge-watching some old seasons. It's fantastic (no pun intended). Is there any meat to all the ragging on Kevin for being late and /or 'conveniently' showing up or offering help when work on some part of the project is almost complete? I'm so stoked about this AMA; Thank you for taking the time.

What do you think is the best way to encourage the next generation to get into the trades industry? Are there programs or resources out there for kids, teens, or young adults to get exposure, training, or education in order to make an informed decision on the trades as a career in lieu of the college track many are on now?

Love the show, love the enthusiasm, and love the hours of entertainment and education you have provided. Also, is Tom ever going to let Kevin do a project on his own?

4 points · 1 year ago

Hey guys! Thanks for doing the AMA! Where's Norm and how's he doing?

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Welcome, gentlemen! Perhaps you can answer this current problem I have:
I'm building jamb extensions for some windows I recently had installed, but the distance between the jamb and finished wall is uneven (there's a slight creep along the length, less than 1/8").
Should I try to match that angle, or use some sort of trim to cover that gap on the inside corner where the jamb meets the window frame? If that's the case, what sort of trim would you recommend?

2 points · 1 year ago

Hey guys, I don't have any questions that I can think of. Just wanted to say that my sister and I used to watch your show when we were younger(10ish) It was one of our favorite shows back then and we were always excited for new episodes. Now that I'm older I've actually used information I learned from your show, which is pretty cool!

Thanks for all information and good times!

P.s. My sister liked Kevin the best because she thought he was cute.

You are all heroes to me, especially Tommy when he completes some complex procedure, all without measuring tools, then looks at the finished product and says "Yup, pretty good."

Are you planning any more timber frame projects in the near future? I loved the (true) Colonial you did a few seasons back, as my dad was a Colonial house restorer in Connecticut (he did the Silas Deane house in Wethersfield).

Hi guys, I have watched your show forever. Long time fan. My question is why don't you teach harder improvements? To explain when you guys show how to improve our landscaping or a portion of the house why can't you show more difficult tasks sometimes? I know your trying to relate to any Joe but the people that watch your program should have a good idea how to use a hammer, saw, shovel etc.

Hello! My "new" old house badly needs the deck redone. It's a diy 2x4, warped, saggy disaster. I want to remove the large deck and replace it with wide steps down to a patio. What are your best tips about building these steps, regarding materials, footings, mounting to the house, etc? I want to avoid causing another ugly mess like I have now, and I'm a 100% beginner.

Hi Richard, When you remove a toilet, why on earth do you get the water out with a sponge instead of using a shop vac?

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2 points · 1 year ago

Hi Guys! I just bought a house and I've been watching reruns to get some helpful tips. SO THANK YOU!

I was actually thinking about this question watching old videos on Youtube from early 2000's...do you ever go back and watch the old reruns of yourselves? And if you do, are there ever any "Oh I should have done that this way instead..." moments?

What are your thoughts on foundation vents. Always closed, open in the summer and closed in the winter, etc.

I have an old house with foundation screens that cannot be closed. I am thinking about replacing them with a more modern adjustable vent. We are located in Virginia, so the winters are not extremely harsh. Do you have any recommendations?

6 points · 1 year ago

What is a feature one can install to add charm to a generic, suburban, drywall box, beside the standard, color, floors, and crown molding?

First of all thank you, when i'm sick my go to comfort is watching TOH. I can probably waste my life watching you guys fix/build stuff.

A lot of people watch but have never started their own projects because of the hurdle of tools. What would be your list of essential non power tools & list of essential power tools?

2 points · 1 year ago

I have windows I want to move/make smaller, but I'm worried it will make the exterior look bad. Are there any tips on how to do this?

Thanks for doing this AMA. I live the YouTube channel, and have learned so much already. Being a first-time homeowner in your 20s can be very daunting without prior experience.

I'm currently remodeling a 1960s rancher. We're converting a breezeway into the dining room. It has a concrete floor, but my wife wants wood to match the rest of the house. Is there a way to attach wood flooring to concrete without building up a new subfloor? She wants matching 2 3/4 inch Bruce Gunstock.

UK viewer here, absolutely love the show.

I have a new build house here and it's metal studs and drywall on those. Any advise for hanging heavier items such as TVs?

Also, any plans to do something international? I've found it fascinating how different buildings in the USA can be in construction.

2 points · 1 year ago

We have a 5' x 2' bedroom wall closet. The opening is one door (on the left) with the remaining (right-side) behind the bedroom wall. Due to space and furniture, we cannot open the wall and install a double-door. What is your advice for the best use and access to the closet space behind the wall?

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It seems that there is a lot more content that can be filmed for each episode (or more episodes to be produced), what's the limitation on the number of shows for each season? Budget, presenter scheduling, tradition?

Love both shows! You guys are the best.

Questions for Richard:

I have single pipe steam radiators in my old house that I moved into recently. One bedroom radiator seems quite large for the space and certainly gives off more heat than the room needs; we end up opening a window at night to keep it tolerable. Our child's room is at the right temp so we don't want to lower the thermostat. In lieu of replacing it with a smaller radiator or taking out sections to shrink it down, is a thermostatic radiator valve with a remote sensor a good solution? It has a radiator cover and the sensor seems like the way to go, positioning it a few feet away on a wall.

In addition to the single pipe steam radiators, there are a few baseboard convectors on the first floor and in one bedroom. I have no idea why the prior homeowner did this, presuming it was a cheaper way out. There's some unevenness in these spaces, but was wondering how bad or uncommon it is to mix the convectors with steam radiators. Should I look to replace them with steam radiators?

Thank you much

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HOW DO YOU STRAIGHTEN PEX WHEN IT COMES OFF A ROLL!

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I've got a small ranch in Waltham, MA with an 8 year old Weil-McLain oil-fired furnace. The house was built in 1950 and is reasonably tight for its age. New exterior doors, very well insulated attic, vinyl dual pane windows, and some sort of old school insulation in at least some of the walls that I have ventured into to check.

Three questions regarding HVAC and hot water:

  1. Right now the water is heated with an on demand coil in the furnace. It burns ALL THE TIME in the summer to keep the water warm. I played with the low temp on the aquastat to see if that would help, but a low temp leaves us with little hot water. When it is high, the furnace starts all the time to keep the water warm. We want to switch to an indirect tank. Rough guess on oil savings from this in the non-heat season? What brand do you like and why? Do you run a circulator pump for the tank or use the same one that already exists for the two zone valves for heating? Is there any "throttle" of any kind that limits flow through the heating coil in an indirect heater to ensure that all available heat is being used from the water from the furnace?

  2. I am of the school of thought that there is little, if anything, to be saved in a small house with an oil fired furnace and hot water heat by lowering the temperature when you leave, lowering it at night, etc. I have heard that long burns to get the house warm burn more oil than just maintaining the house at a target temp. My roommate (aka the lady I share a bed with) loves to turn it wayyyy down in the hopes that it will save oil. We bought smart thermostats, but again, without forced air, response time is slow!

  3. Are "communicating" AC systems worth it? We are going to add central air to the house and some contractors really push these as the thing to have.

Thanks to all!

Hi Tom, I'm looking at installing a pocket door on a wall where an upper floating cabinet exists. I've read some people use a thin sheet of plywood in-between the drywall and pocket "door" to provide more support but do you know of anything better?

Im in the construction industry as a structural engineer and there are some code changes that i just dont understand why they enforce it. What current code provisions do you bothers the most when constructing new homes or remodeling existing ones?

Roger: besides bird netting, how can I keep birds out of my blueberry bushes? We lost a couple birds last year when they got tangled in the netting, and it was heartbreaking. I don't want that to happen again; are there any other options?

2 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

I'm building a new house on Charlotte, NC. I'm conflicted on getting a heat pump or electric furnace. I had heat pumps growing up and the house was always cold. And I there any difference in cooling versus an air conditioner unit.

My son and I LOVE watching your show.

Question: how are you guys not on Netflix yet? You could make a killing!! I would literally start from the beginning and watch them all. Please?!?

Thanks for the great work you do.

Hi guys, long time fan!

It seems that more people are taking on home renovations, do you find the DIY skill level of the average home owner has improved in recent years?

Thanks for making the best show on TV!

What is the best way to repair barnwood floors that won't be glaringly visible? We are dealing with a few spots in higher traffic areas where there are chunks of wood getting splintered off from the respective board.

Good afternoon! I was wondering, where do you guys shop for non-standard/antique type parts for older houses? I have a 90year old house with non-standard air vent sizes and cant find any the correct size.

My mom is a HUGE fan. This Old House was always on during Saturday mornings growing up and two decades later I still walk into the living room to find mom, now in her mid 60s, watching you guys remodel homes. When we lived in my childhood home our chores revolved around landscaping our yard to putting in wood floors and wainscoting. As a low-income family, TOH was integral in helping us DIY the little and not-so-little changes to our home and everytime I catch an episode it takes me back to my childhood and working on our Old House.

I have two questions--

  1. Any fond memories/stories of Joe Ferrante?

  2. I always joke with mom about what we don't see between takes-- Any memorable accidents or mistakes while working on the set?

Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA!

What is your favorite/most versitile woodworking tool?

2 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

You all work with some awesome tools and equipment on the show. What are the essentials you all would recommend for someone starting out on a budget to be able to get close to what you all do?

2 points · 1 year ago

Hello All: What is you opinion on concrete countertops for kitchen areas in historic homes ? I am renovating a 110 year old Mill House next to a renovated Textile Mill in North Carolina.

What's your opinion(s) on some of the trendy eco building methods that are popping up now a days?

Things like earth contact structures, straw bale walls, or rocket mass heaters?

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Hey, Thanks for doing an AMA! Watch This Old House all the time!

What was the most interesting or difficult house that you have renovated, and what is your personal favorite?

Hey! Loved this show since I was like eight.

What are your thoughts on prefab homes? I am thinking of building one on a small plot of land somewhere and would love some tips!

2 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

What about Bob? When I was in high school my friend and I wrote a screenplay about him, "Bob Vila's Big Adventure In Hallucinogenics and What Lies South of the Mexican-American Border." It was loosely based on "Born in East L.A."

1 point · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

First of all, thank you for all the years you have educated us on carpentry, plumbing, gardening, renovation, and everything interesting about houses. My husband and I have been watching your show since we were kids and still do until now. Mr. Tom Silva and Norm, you guys are my heroes.

My husband and I now owns a tiny farm house built in 1920. We have been renovating the house for several years now replacing electrical and plumbing, bringing it up to code. We recently added raised wainscoting out of cherry.

  1. What is the best way to cut through plaster and old growth wood. We dull our blades too fast, a good portion of our renovation cost goes to replacing blades.

  2. In renovating our bathroom, we plan to use teak wood around the shower. Problem is, we cannot quite figure out how to do the platform around the tub. Every design we tried, does not seem to work where the water would roll towards the inside of the tub.

  3. We recently installed 10" wide plank white oak flooring, it was a beast. I love using natural wood but at what point do we start considering a more modern alternative like laminate. I should add that we route the tongue and groove ourselves, which I honestly think we could use a tip or two on how to do.

Thank for doing this AMA. You should do it more often. Also, thank for the new apprenticeship program you initiated.

Gah, almost too late! When people ask what celebrity you would most like to meet, I always say Tom Silva. Tom, if you could have only one Festool product, what would it be?

2 points · 1 year ago

I recently watch the dehumidifier install in New Orleans. I also live right outside of New Orleans and in my home during the winter my humidity level stays at 60% during the summer it's around 49%

My home built 1980. 2500sq ft. Two zone single lvl house on slab. Both ac units in attic. Ones 2 ton other 3 ton train

Why did you install the ultra aire unit? How does that compare to the April aire unit?

I'm very handy. I'm a license plumber. I feel like I can handle the job myself.

Should I do two small dehumidifier on each ac unit. Or one dehumidifier on one unit that can handle the 2500 sq ft size of house? Any other tips I should know?

Hey Roger, Rich, Kevin and Tom!

Roger: How can I get/order great flagstone? It seems that 70% of my load is unusable rock as it's too small. It just does not have enough weight to settle!

Richard: In a ~50's bathroom reno, upgrade to PVC from metal piping? It seems as though this stack had the home built around it, so replacement will be expensive, but I would like to know some pros and cons from your experience.

Kevin: Did you have an expertise in home improvements and remodelling from before the show? Simply put, it seems you already know the answer to many of the questions you ask in-episode and I am wondering if you learned the answers during the show or before?

Tom: I will be doing a roof replacement on a log cabin. From interior to outside: ship lap 1x6, 15' felt paper and asphalt shingles on top set on the log frame. Although I agree felt paper is a "tried" method, I don't agree it is a "true" method. How do you feel about 15 and 30 pound felt stopping water penetration in a snowy climate?

Thanks guys! I love your show! Watching gave me so much inspiration through out my drafting schooling!

Two questions common to people with old homes, both about insulation.

  1. We have a walk up attic with a slate roof and a finished plaster ceiling. There's zero attic insulation there now. We want to blow in cellulose between the plaster ceiling and the roof to help the overall building envelope and keep the attic as usable interior space. I have read opposite things online about whether this is OK or not. Some people say it's fine, others say we'll trap moisture in the roof sheathing and rot it out, ruining the slate roof. Your thoughts?

  2. We have a fieldstone foundation that needs to be repointed. It is mostly dry, no sump, but there's some seepage through the foundation walls. The insulation guy says instead of repointing, we can spray closed cell foam into the voids then cover the walls with the same foam, which will make the foundation airtight and watertight. Again, the Internet has opposing viewpoints. What's your take?

Love the show! Wish we could have gotten you on to our house for the renovation. Thanks!

Thanks for doing an AMA! I love your show and have been watching since I was in high school in the early 80s. I have my own home renovation project that I'm planning right now.

My parents are ageing and mom is now in a wheelchair. I am designing an extension that will allow me to make my basement into a full apartment for mom and dad and give me a larger kitchen and sun room upstairs. Total size of the extension upstairs and downstairs will be about 500 square feet.

I have done a few measured drawings in CAD and I know exactly what I want, but I'm not sure how I should proceed from here. Should I hire an architect to draw up a set of detailed drawings that I can shop around to find a contractor? Or should I hire somebody who can do design/build? Or, should I have a set of detailed drawings done and act as my own contractor and figure out local permitting requirements and hire my own subs?

Did I say I loved your show? Maybe my favorite show every, now that New Yankee Workshop has ended....

What are the best bay windows for the cost? And install?

How do you recommend to insulate knee walls in a traditional story and a half Cape?

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1 point · 1 year ago

A) in 1984 I asked TOH to do over my house in Worcester, but at that time they weren't willing to go outside the 128 belt due to union rules so they said...I was a persistent 24 year old. I no have bought, fixed up and sold 16 houses since. More Worcester county houses!

b) I used to disagree with your philosophy of promoting new products, but now I totally agree with it. I am a utility located and in Worcester -Middlesex counties and I go to 20 houses a day. I would be happy to find your next project. I know of a few already in M'sex

c) Roger--my former bro in law recognized you before a Sox game 10 years afgo in August sometime. Both you and he were trashed--even before the game. You were etremely cordial and with your wife and daughter too. Not only that, you guys hugged twice (when you first met) and when we were all leaving to wwatch the start of the game (they lost). It forever has made this guy's day. He is a part time kitchen installed and full time teacher in Phoenix AZ

1 point · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

Hey guys! Thanks for doing this!

I have a tract house (24" x24", 1.5 story home) that was built in 1946. Currently doing a renovation in the basement. The ceiling height is only 6'5". My cold air return grate is on the main floor in the middle of the house. The ducting goes across the joists so it hangs low a little bit in my hallway. I believe it leaves 6'2" of space and the ugly ductwork hangs below the drywall ceiling. I believe the duct is 14 wide and 5 or 6" tall and runs into the furnace room. It is exposed by about 2 feet until it goes through the furnace room wall.

I figure my options are: Leave and paint it and deal with it, as it was before Or Cut it down in size to allow drywall ceiling surface

I would like to hide it under drywall. What are the adverse effects that I could have by reducing the volume box by half? Can I counter act any effects by installing a secondary inlet under it (grate in the wall) that feeds down stream? The secondary inlet would be in the basement, under the same location as upstairs.

Thanks again for doing this!

Hi everyone. Love the show!!!

I live in chicago and have a ranch home built in the 50s. It still has galvanized pipes for plumbing and the only problem I am having is low pressure in the shower head. I've narrowed it down to the shower valve. I know this because I've removed the hot and cold valves/knob and the water pressure is high, like water hitting the opposite wall high. I did notice a reddish deposit around the cold water valve. So I figured it was mineral deposits. When I remove the shower head the water pressure is low and eventually builds up to an acceptable level. So I know the problem is the shower valve itself. I've tried to squirt vinegar in the shower head pipe and hot and cold valves to help with the mineral deposits. It didn't really so much.

So my question is this, what else can I do to clean the shower valve. I'd hate to break into the wall and replace it becuase it's our only bathroom. If I have to, I have to. Any suggestions before cracking open the wall?

Thanks

Probably too late for this one, which is a travesty because Tom Silva just so happens to be me and my housemates favorite celebrity / tv personality of all time. Don't really have a question, just wanted to mention that Tom's name, or as we like to call him in our house "Tight Fit Tommy" comes up during pretty much any chore, dresser move, or woodworking project where exactness is the name of the game. We go back and forth with each other with ever increasing gusto, yelling "That's a tight fit!", "good enough for Tommy!". What can I say, you just crush everything you do, and we love you for it. Also, despite how it sounds, we only rarely use the "Tight Fit Tommy" moniker for jokes involving innuendo of the sexual nature. Though let it be known, my Married Lesbian roommates, and I (a straight man) have all talked about being happily willing to switch teams if the man in question was Tight Fit Tommy. You make that show and are an absolute machine. Ron Swanson ain't got nothin' on you. I guess my only question would be, has anyone ever called you Tight Fit Tommy before, given how vocal you are of being fond of a tight fit?

So, This Old House has a pretty dicey video on building a High-Tunnel Greenhouse. The contractor doesn't use the right size piping and winds up having to do a complicated sleeve (which would have taken hours...) and they use white PVC and normal plastic instead of schedule 80 UV-treated gray electrical conduit (which is also cheaper) and greenhouse plastic. I also see most experienced builders recommend rebar (not smaller pipes) and painting the PVC before applying the plastic to avoid plastic-on-plastic contact points.

I'd love to see them redo that video, I generally think of doing things to a high standard when I think of This Old House, so it's kinda odd that their high-tunnel has major design issues in the plastics chosen. I was recently designing my own high-tunnel for my backyard and they were one of the first people I looked at, so I was surprised to see it contained those kinds of errors. Is there any plan to redo this video?

2 points · 1 year ago

What is the quickest way to add value to your house for investing $2500-$5000. I have always heard bathrooms and kitchens.

HEY GUYS! Love your show! I'm a carpenter apprentice from Canada and Tom you're my hero! You've even responded to some of my tweets! I've got one semester left of schooling then i can write my test to become a Journeyman Carpenter, I can't wait! I love working with my hands and being able to see what i've accomplished at the end of the day. Also its great being able to show my handy work on social media! I suggest working in the trades to alot of people, I will always have work since people have found out how handy I am! I plan on being a real estate investor when im done school, buying distressed homes and fixing them up to provide quality homes for people to live in! Your show Ask this old house has taught me alot of differnt things for renovating properties. I don't really have a question, just wanted to say hi!

Hi guys! First off I wanted to say thank you as my wife and I just bought our first home and I've been watching your videos non-stop. It's a 3br/2bth Abbott Ranch in Long Island, NY that was built in 1955. When we started taking down the old paneling and sheet rock we found cinder block walls to about 8ft and almost no insulation save for some old Kimsul crepe paper insulation that had run its course. We decided to frame out and put batting. When we got into the walls we found that on top of the cinder block were 2 pieces of 2x12 layed on the FLAT against each other that ran up to the roof. See photo. Exterior wall

Have you ever seen a cinder block house with 2x12 on the flat above it for framing? Both contractors we've been using had said in their 35+ years that it's a first.

2 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

Is Crawl Space Encapsulation worth it when it comes to energy saved? Assuming the floor above is already insulated.

I was wondering what your opinion is on Tankless water heaters, and why they are not more popular in the USA.

Huge fan of the show, thank god for DVR as that’s the only way I get to watch. Your show is the OG, all these other reality tv diy home improvement shows have nothing on you. How do people get chosen for your show? More specifically why don’t you change it up a little and pick homeowners who actually put some elbow grease, blood sweat and tears into the renovations, like me? I have a center hall colonial in NJ, looking to add about 1800 square feet, dig a new basement foundation, extend the kitchen and add ½ bath and family room on the 1st floor, and 2 BR and full bath upstairs, maybe even a new porch out front. Im willing to work with you on the timing, and ill pull all the permits. Let me know thanks guys.

Wow! This Old House (particularly the magazine) was what established my life-long love of architecture, restoration, of historic preservation. My parents would not let me read rag magazines, so I knew more about gardening and paint finishes than your average middle schooler! That since led me to pursue interior design in college, but I ultimately ended with a in urban planning, focused on design. With that, I would like to ask your opinions of historical preservation today--residential and non-res. I am consistently shocked to find it so contentious, but both sides of the argument have merit. What do y'all think?

Thank you for providing readers/viewers with so many years of knowledge and wonder!

Comment deleted1 year ago

7 more replies

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA. I've been watching the show since I was young when my dad and I would watch THS and New Yankee workshop early Sunday mornings on my local PBS station. Because of all the years of watching your show, I developed the desire to build a custom house of my own one day, and I'm actually in the process of doing so right now! No question, but since you're in the Detroit area, if you're interested in filming the current state of my full 5,000 sq ft ICF and geothermal build, you're welcome to contact me. We're currently in the rough mechanical stage and the house has Integraspec walls and Lite deck concrete floors with geothermal, forced air heating and cooling.

Building codes.

Even smaller projects sometimes have unexpected code requirements. For example, when refurbishing a kitchen island that was legal when installed, now it might suddenly require an AFCI outlet to prevent "dangerous use of extension cords". I don't care what the building code says, if the vents, drain and straps are all still good, I'm not pulling a permit to replace an existing water heater with an identical one I purchased from Home Depot.

Any recommendation for home owners to easily understand these codes and decide which ones can be ignored?

How often have you had to not film or completely pass-up a project because of owner repairs that violated building codes?

Hey there! Me and my friends are a bunch of teenagers working for minimum wage but we have a cabin that we love to hang out in. It's just across the street from my house and is totally unfinished except for the decorations and furniture we've placed in it ourselves. We'd like to finish it ourselves as a group project over the summer but before we put insulation and drywall in we'd like to run electricity too. As of now we have a couple of extension cords ran across the street but seeing as that's not very safe we'd like to have it done right. What would be the first and maybe second steps we should take in getting this fire hazards turned into the Grand palace we'd like it to be?

We live in a Victorian house that has lathe & plaster in the front entranceway up to the second floor hallway. It's covered in thick old painted over wall paper and there are areas with board which seems to be covering areas where they attempted to remove the wall paper but instead damaged the walls.

Had a home repair guy suggest just putting 3/4" drywall on top rather than removing the current walls since it's a big mess. The boards covering parts of the walls upstairs are that thickness so it won't be taking away any current space.

Wondering if this is a good idea? We have a baby so not having to deal with the debris that comes with tearing down lathe & plaster sounds ideal.

Hey guys,

I recently bought and moved into a house built in 1960. We love it except for the two "sounds" are starting to get annoying. The first is that our baseboard heaters click and bang when the heat kicks on. We have not had the furnace serviced this season since the previous owners told us that they had just had it done. Is this a problem that can be solved with a standard service call or could it be something more?

The second sound is creaky upstairs floors! They are finished wood and there are some large sections that are extremely creaky. What, if anything, can I do that doesn't involve pulling up the floor or ripping open the ceilings beneath?

Thanks!

Hi Guys, My husband and I are fairly recent fans of the show, but have been steadily making it through the archive of old episodes.

We're both part of the early end of the millennial generation and our friends are frequently amazed that have done 90% of the renovations to our house ourselves (framing, drywall, tiling, plumbing etc) when they find it difficult to do basics like putting up a picture. How can we get them try to do something for themselves when resources like reddit and youtube have been unable to motivate them.

On the flip side, how can I transition from my career in finance into a trade to take advantage of their lack of ability / desire to DIY?

What do you guys think of the other copycat shows that have sprung up on channels like HGTV?

I don't have any questions and this will probably be buried at the bottom but just in case you do see this: Just wanted to say thank you for doing such a great job with the show. When I was a kid my father and I used to watch this show all the time together. I had great memories of it. We would comment on how well things would come out, the cool tools you guys would use, how we wish we could buy those for weekend projects and what great carpenters you guys are. My dad and I still work on home renovations together in our spare time for family members and I cant help but think your show helped to allow my father and I to do that. So thank you guys!

I am a huge fan of the show! I'm only 22, but I've used your advice for more than a few projects around my house.

However, I would also like to get into furniture making. I've watched some episodes of new Yankee woodshop, and it has offered some insight.

But I would like to know if any of you could recommend some furniture projects that are low in materials cost, that I could use to develop some real skill for bigger projects down the line?

My wife and I purchased a home from 1978 in the Dallas area. It still has all of the original cast iron plumbing. We just had to replace one pipe with PVC by drilling through the concrete slab foundation. This was one of the outgoing sewer pipes. The plumbers who ran the camera said the rest of the piping seems to look good, like another 10-15 years based on coloration inside the pipes.

2 questions: 1, is it possible to have only one section of the cast iron crack this far in advance of other pipe sections? 2, what is the most cost effective way to re-plumb the whole house when thinking about staying long term?

Hi - thank you so much for doing this!

My wife and I recently purchased an 125 year old house in Maine. There is a lot to be done (paint, windows, roof, garage is falling down, lead paint abatement, electrical work, etc). How should we prioritize projects? It's hard to know where to start!

Also, we are about to have a baby. We had extensive lead testing done and found the window sills, upstairs floor, baseboards, and door jambs to have lead (as well as a sun porch). Is it ever ok for a homeowner to tackle replacing/covering lead paint in the house? Do paint covers like Ecobond actually work?

Thank you!

I need help and some solid advice. My house is literally covered with dust. White, powdery, very fine dust. It settles on both floors of my two story home, even gets into the cabinets and can be found on my plates and other dishes. I change my furnace filter regularly and also have a sanuvox filtration system installed to the furnace. Upon changing the filter, the white dust is all over that as well. The furnace has stopped working twice and both times coded that there was a blockage of some sort, but I've had the ducts cleaned in the past year so I don't know what the problem could be. Any ideas?

1 point · 1 year ago

Love your show! Sounds weird but as a teenager I would watch your show on Sunday mornings.

Our house isn't really that old but I'd love to do some home improvements like turning the entry way from the garage and the laundry room into one big room. This will require moving the thermostat, knocking down a wall and some wires - electrical and internet. What's the best way to go about this? Will a general contractor do all the work? Do I need to hire people individually? If so, who does what first?

Also, what is the one thing a home owner should do as a home owner? Thanks for doing this AMA!

Looking for a bit of advice here. I am currently renovating a basement. When I tore up the carpet floor I found a 2x4 subfloor sitting directly on concrete, plywood over that, and carpet (with underlay) on top.

I know that there should have been a vapor barrier in place but there isn't. And unfortunately the walls for the basement are not load bearing and sit on top of the subfloor. So to tear up the subfloor and putting vapor barrier down means a complete basement remodel. Not in the budget right now...

Any advice on how to proceed here to get new flooring down that won't cause mold issues?

Richard - I know you talk a lot about water heaters and all of the options available. Energy efficiency is always a hot topic (pardon the pun) and although the tankless units appear to be the most energy efficient options, aren't there also some drawbacks over a more conventional tank style unit such as increased maintenance (flushing the unit), a concern over flow rates necessary for the units to function properly, or a lack of any source of hot water during a power outage?

Maybe a better question is, if you were installing a new water heater in your own home today, what would you choose?

Hi guys! I have a big pile of red flagstone i'd like to make a patio out of. Some pieces are 2'x3', some 2'x4', all are about 4 " thick. I plan on splitting them so they are 2" thick (I did a test run and, while that piece didn't split perfectly, it was good enough for me) so i'll have twice the pieces to build with. But even at 2" thick, a 2'x3' stone will still be really heavy. How do I move the stones into place without really messing up the sand underneath? I've looked online, bought landscaping books etc but haven't found any mention of actually moving the stones. Thanks!

Have you ever found any cool things hidden behind walls when renovating a house?

Hello Gentlemen!

Im a big fan of all of you! I've watched your show since I can remember developing memories. I'm a 29 year old scientist who is in the process of building her own woodworking shop. I have a full time career in water process consultation in manufacturing plants, but given the opportunity, I would take up carpentry and woodworking full time. There's something cathartic about building something functional and artistic. So here's my question - which one of you is ready to hire me full time to teach me your ways??? :)

Much love and respect to all!

1 point · 1 year ago

Tom Silva:

When roofers talk about the pitch of a roof, what is that? Are we talking about protractors or is there some other sense to that?

Roger Cook:

I hear container grown trees are more robust than in-ground grown trees, how come? I would figure the opposite would be true.

Richard Trethewey:

One of my homes attic air-handlers seems to duct air to two rooms (upstairs) less effectively than other rooms. IS there an easy way to improve air flow to those rooms, because they are colder in winter, and warmer in summer.

Thanks all

Hey guys, I know I'm late to the party but you may still see this. Thank you for making such a great show. I had watched New Yankee Workshop and This Old House with my father since the early 90's. He passed in 2013 and when I see the shows on TV I make a point to stop and watch because it brings back so many fond memories. You all do amazing work, and the what is it section of this this old house hour is always good for a laugh. Its nice to see the skilled trades on tv actually do work and not just throw paint on the wall and call it renovation.

Hey guys, love your show!

First reason is because you guys really do explain a lot of common things homeowners could do / should know.

Second, my parents used to watch your show/s all the time so when I wake on up Saturday mornings and watch, it kinda feels like "the good ol' days"

Lastly, my wife thinks "your acting skills" are pathetic!! I try to tell her you guys aren't "actors" so my questions is: can you tell her she just needs to get over it and enjoy the show?!?

Thanks each one of you for years of knowledge and entertainment.

I would love to add a cat door to my living room wall. My house was built in 1903 (and comes with all the wonderful old trim). So obviously the walls are all plaster. I have been upgrading the three season porch/sunroom and it is now useable all year round but I like to keep the front door shut while still allowing the cats to go out on the sunroom. How can I carefully cut a hole in the plaster wall while avoiding damaging the wall? Cutting a hole in the front door is out of the question as we have it dated as February 1880.

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