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[–]PmMeGiftCardCodes 285 points286 points  (21 children)

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?

[–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 290 points291 points  (19 children)

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!

[–]TheLyz 230 points231 points  (12 children)

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

[–]needanacc0unt 24 points25 points  (3 children)

That's a Chevy and they're sponsored/drive GMC trucks!

/s I know they're the same exact truck

[–]TheLyz 22 points23 points  (2 children)

Do you even know how hard it is to find a toy truck with a regular flatbed trailer?! I found that out this holiday season. Beggars can't be choosers. =)

[–]needanacc0unt 9 points10 points  (1 child)

No, but I do now!

As a new fan of the show (I've watched most episodes from season 10-15 over the last month or so), it is pretty awesome seeing this truck. It must mean a lot to the guys to have a fan like you.

I hope they show this picture on the show, and maybe send you a shirt for it!

[–]TheLyz 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Thanks, I love their magazine, and even came close to having a nursery I painted featured in it. Unfortunately I kind of dropped the ball on that. But I like encouraging my kids in their interest, since my husband and I have redone most of the rooms in our house ourselves. Maybe some day they can help!

[–]exjentric 14 points15 points  (1 child)

That's adorable. Do they use Boston accents?

[–]TheLyz 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Well, we're already Massholes, so it just comes naturally. =)

[–]PmMeGiftCardCodes 33 points34 points  (4 children)

Lol thank you. Now about that T shirt :)

[–]SgtMac02 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Yea...your first question wasn't transparent enough. "Please send me a t-shirt, guys! Guys?" LOL. It was worth a shot.

[–]Emmo213 420 points421 points  (50 children)

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.

[–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 276 points277 points  (46 children)

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.

[–]Xynomite 275 points276 points  (20 children)

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.

[–][deleted] 52 points53 points  (9 children)

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 didn't even know radiant heat under a driveway was an option.

If that's the kind of projects TOH covers, I'm not surprised it's never shown up on my radar in any form besides short clips.

[–]Xynomite 51 points52 points  (5 children)

Yea I'd say the radiant snow melt system was a bit over the top, but it was just one small aspect of what I presume was a multi-million dollar renovation on a modern style home. It was an awesome project, but it wasn't something that a typical DIYer who likes those types of programs could ever even consider.

I get the point that they want to introduce some new things and not talk about the same topics on every project, so a bigger project is necessary from time to time, but my fear is that if they continue to go this direction they will end up like Hometime.

Hometime started off with simple DIY projects that the average person might consider doing themselves. Maybe remodel a bathroom, or build a workshop. Or maybe remodel a kitchen or build a deck. But as the years went on soon they were building these million dollar homes and spending a lot of their time discussing interior decorating and high end finishes and high end whole house audio video distribution systems. Hometime was finally cancelled, and I think that had a lot to do with it... because people can't relate to that sort of thing. They got away from their original premise which is what made the show popular in the first place.

This Old House is a great show, but it is great because it has been something people could relate to. It is real. It is genuine. If people want drama or unrealistic outcomes they have most of the shows on HGTV to look at. TOH is one of the original reality shows and they don't need to fake anything, so I just don't want them to continually shift towards this projects which can only be referred to as somewhat elitist. I mean most people can't spend $5,000 on a custom range hood nor can they afford to have $20,000 of light fixtures custom designed for their project.

Most real homeowners buy materials at Home Depot or Lowes. They make decisions to install laminate counters because granite won't fit in the budget. They choose a basic wood siding instead of cedar shingles due to labor costs. They buy their furniture at the local big retail store instead of asking a designer to custom design the piece with a specific fabric imported from Italy. That is just real America. I might be wrong, but people who have a $3MM budget on a renovation probably don't do a lot of DIY and probably aren't watching this type of show. It is obvious many of the homeowners we have seen on some of the more recent projects are more familiar with ball gowns instead of ball valves and the only type of framing they are familiar with is the type that goes around the artwork they purchased from an exclusive gallery in downtown NYC.

[–]pkcs11 9 points10 points  (3 children)

Yeah, I've stopped watching both Hometime and TOH after they switched content to focus on unrealistic projects. I feel like they think their demographic is entirely contractors.

[–]designgoddess 48 points49 points  (2 children)

The thing is, This Old House used to feature some "average" houses.

And the homeowners participated in the rehab. I learned how to rehab homes from early seasons. They actually taught you how to do things. I miss that version of the show. I hardly watch anymore because it feels like one long commercial for high end products.

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (1 child)

The youtube channel is helpful. They have very basic stuff like "replace a leaky water valve", "recaulk a tub", "Tile a backsplash".

The show itself, while fun, has definitely entered into HGTV territory. It's more infotainment than actually useful to me as a regular Joe.

[–]thechairinfront 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I like watching some of the reruns I've seen. It shows how to spot sand and replace a small section of a hardwood floor when they had to replace a leaky radiator. And they showed how to "fix" a support beam with out replacing it by putting on half inch steel brackets. That actually let me fix my home that was built in 1912. I really want to see how to fix walls that are shiplap with drywall over them.

[–]ChanceNikki 17 points18 points  (1 child)

I quit watching when the focus became whiney yuppies with million dollar budgets. And, the show would blow that budget.

Incessant promotion (paid?) of in-floor heating became quite annoying. It's rarely practical.

[–]Buck_Thorn 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I cannot agree with you more. You said exactly what I also would like the producers to hear and understand. When I see a custom made ceiling lamp that probably cost more than I make in a year, it gets a little hard to relate to.

[–]regeya 150 points151 points  (8 children)

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.

[–]RedactedMan 37 points38 points  (0 children)

Their Youtube channel is so valuable for smaller projects and renovations that I can relate to. Showing how to replace the floor in a room or fix a sink drain. Lots of home improvement TV moves so fast that they don't teach anything.

[–]see2keroppi 14 points15 points  (3 children)

I love ATOH. It not only shows a great variety of small projects, but it also has real people completing them. It makes me less nervous about tackling my own projects.

[–][deleted]  (1 child)


    [–]rebeccanotbecca 21 points22 points  (3 children)

    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.

    [–]_AlreadyTaken_ 2 points3 points  (2 children)

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

    [–]servuslucis 29 points30 points  (3 children)

    "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

    [–]akaghi 11 points12 points  (2 children)

    Maybe, but the homeowners pay for everything and these are planned renovations, so it's ultimately what they want. Obviously, the people they hire have preferences, but that's human nature not nefarious.

    [–]sfo2 30 points31 points  (2 children)

    This reminds me a lot of something I read a while back in the Playboy Advisor. Someone wrote in asking why Playboy never features attainable fashion items, like watches that normal people can afford, or suits that cost less than $1000. Playboy responded "This is an aspirational magazine. We feature things you can't afford, cars you'll never drive, and women you'll never sleep with. If we did what you suggest, it would undermine the whole point of our magazine."

    I figure This Old House probably has a (somewhat) similar situation. I'd bet the average person is more likely to tune in to watch some super cool custom (i.e. aspirational) stuff get built, vs. a more mundane partial kitchen remodel or something.

    [–]inshane_in_the_brain 13 points14 points  (0 children)

    Yea, bottom line is, no one wants to watch laminate get installed or how to fix a leaky sink. Thats what youtube is for.

    [–]kingfishersam 206 points207 points  (19 children)

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

    What was your favorite house/project to work on?

    [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 189 points190 points  (18 children)

    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

    [–]hutch2522 52 points53 points  (1 child)

    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.

    [–]harris0n11 74 points75 points  (0 children)

    The camera adds 100sqft

    [–]ChurroSalesman 35 points36 points  (12 children)

    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....

    [–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 112 points113 points  (34 children)

    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?

    [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 195 points196 points  (33 children)

    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.

    [–]aaronwaltham 87 points88 points  (28 children)

    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.

    [–]OSCgal 42 points43 points  (8 children)

    I hear ya. Take "smart" and add "girl": nobody counsels female students to do something with their hands. Years later I work in a cube and dream of working a trade. Borrowing power tools from my dad and reading up on piano repair, watching YouTube videos and practicing tuning...

    [–]SittingInAnAirport 10 points11 points  (0 children)

    Youre absolutely right. Some times all you gotta do is ask, we don't know if you want to do this stuff.

    I'm starting to teach my wife how to use my power tools and do some woodworking projects with her. I just assumed she wouldnt want to, but she just asked me one day if I'd teach her, and it totally made my day. It's a great experience for both of us. We get to build projects together, and we both learn more this way. I'm no expert by any means, but it's really cool to have my wife wanting to learn about the tools I'm using and help me out in the shop!

    If you're dreaming about a different job, keep learning about it, and get out of that damn cube!

    [–]prpapillon 7 points8 points  (0 children)

    My boyfriend recently made a comment about how there aren't very many women in the IT field. He said that he believes employers should pick the best employee for the job regardless of gender and women shouldn't be picked over a man just because they need to add diversity. They should truly be the best candidate.

    I said that I doubt women are encouraged in school to pursue the IT field and classes are often dominated by boys in public schools (as has been my personal experience). All this to say that I agree with you and it is likely true in a variety of career paths.

    [–]randomguy186 10 points11 points  (5 children)

    A friend of mine took self-study classes to become a piano technician. You could do the same.

    [–]Vonmule 17 points18 points  (7 children)

    As someone who is coming from over a decade in a trade (violinmaking) and currently getting a degree in mechanical engineering, do you mind me asking why you wish you were a tradesman? Are job prospects poor? Or is it just not for you? I do agree with you though. We need smart people to be involved in the trades as well. My guidance counselors did everything they could to get me to go to a normal college because I was one of the "smart kids".

    [–]aaronwaltham 13 points14 points  (5 children)

    Huge debt sucks, the jobs have very limited growth unless you are a "yes man" or get lucky. Engineering is not a creative field en-masse anymore. You are a robot making consumer products a reality. I'd much rather be presented with unique problems regularly that rely on my life experience AND education to solve....IE being a tradesperson. Oh yea, many tradespeople also make more $$ than engineers, get paid hourly (no 60hr salary weeks), and have great benefits.

    [–]Vonmule 3 points4 points  (2 children)

    Thankfully I will graduate with only about 20k in student loans. I'm hoping to get employment as close to a machining field as possible. Tools are my passion. I thought about being a machinist as well, but it's also not easy being a tradesman. honestly after my time in a trade, I'd rather be a yes man with a 401k than a tradesman breaking my body everyday.

    [–]KillerB215 10 points11 points  (0 children)

    I think both your experiences embody the struggle people in both fields go through. It's something I struggle with. I'm the white collar guy, who is improving his woodworking skills, and constantly thinks about becoming a craftsman/cabinetmaker.

    This short exchange between you two has been one of the most insightful things I've read on Reddit. Best of luck to you both.

    [–]Oookla 14 points15 points  (3 children)

    Another Mechanical Engineer here- I also have dreams of escaping the cube and working with my hands more often. One consolation is that the blue collar trades sound great and all, but that professional welder or plumber across the street will probably experience a variety of health issues in later years. Grass is always greener applies to a certain extent too. Instead I try to immerse myself in hobby woodworking, blacksmithing and metalworking crafts.

    [–][deleted]  (2 children)


      [–]mfball 4 points5 points  (1 child)

      Kind of depends on your injury though. A knee replacement isn't too rough and can happen to anyone whether they have an active job or not. Hurt your back and you're fucked.

      [–][deleted] 7 points8 points  (4 children)

      Environmental engineer here. The welder at the shop across the street makes what I do and doesn't have 50,000 in debt to pay down. Yeah, I made a bad call too.

      [–]shinypenny01 7 points8 points  (3 children)

      Depends, are you any good at welding? We shouldn't just brush off these careers as "anyone can do it".

      [–]yeeeyyee 3 points4 points  (0 children)

      This really does need to be addressed. But I am unsure of how to change the mindset of an entire culture. There are highly respected tradesmen in Europe that study just as long as academics.

      [–]samurai_slayer 13 points14 points  (0 children)

      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.

      [–][deleted] 49 points50 points  (1 child)

      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.

      [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 63 points64 points  (0 children)

      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.

      [–]ihearttombrady 83 points84 points  (8 children)

      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?

      [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 160 points161 points  (6 children)

      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.

      [–]ihearttombrady 32 points33 points  (4 children)

      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!

      [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 42 points43 points  (2 children)

      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.

      [–]drchris6000 9 points10 points  (0 children)

      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.

      [–]jay--dub 61 points62 points  (0 children)

      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.

      [–]WiseImprovements 15 points16 points  (0 children)

      Hello GC here, if you are worried about quality during your build I would suggest speaking with your builder about bringing in a third party consultant/inspector. Work a schedule with the third party to come inspect and note any issues they see.

      To really know what to look for will require a deep knowledge gained by experience or education. More so experience than education.

      If you are using a reputable builder with a large history just schedule weekly walk through a with them and carry a note pad and camera to take notes and document. Anything you see that looks off make a note it, discuss it, and document it.

      There will be a few things your builder will notice and fix without bringing them to your attention. That is a messy part of construction. Some things get overlooked but it's always fixable if you catch them in time.

      [–]dietcokefiend 33 points34 points  (14 children)

      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?

      [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 68 points69 points  (11 children)

      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.

      [–][deleted] 6 points7 points  (1 child)

      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.

      [–][deleted]  (7 children)


        [–]xaclewtunu 10 points11 points  (3 children)

        On the other hand, I've had drawings literally thrown at me for a mistake and told to come back when it's right with no indication what was to be fixed. So, there's that.

        [–]RobertNAdams 12 points13 points  (0 children)

        That image is a hundred times funnier if you picture a kindergarten teacher.

        "Learn to color in the goddamn lines, Tyler." -fling-

        [–]ltorviksmith 9 points10 points  (1 child)

        Yeah, there are assholes in every job. :)

        [–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

        Exactly. I went to get a permit for a deck project one time. The house isn't that old and the codes hadn't changed, but the present deck didn't strictly meet code. According to code the deck footings should be concrete that's in the ground to a depth below the frost line. Which is completely reasonable.

        My front step was built that way, but the back deck has concrete deck feet sitting directly on shale. I talked to two different permitters, one insisted that the code must be followed, even if that means removing bed rock that's been there for literally millions of years. This house is ~200 meters above sea level, and the top of one of the highest hills around, in an area with no tectonic activity. But this rock has been here since this was a valley with a very wide river running through it. The builders originally removed shale that equates to about 20 feet of the width of the river to build the house. There's another 30 or so feet visible in the back yard. A big river.

        Anyway, I tried to reason with him, explaining all of that, and that any man made concrete isn't going to be anywhere near as secure or stable as the bed rock. He wasn't having it. He insisted that even if I had to blast the holes, that I must have concrete footings. Idiot.

        The second permitter I talked to, who is more familiar with the area, basically stopped me mid sentence and told me there no need to go further with either the explanation or the footings. Just make sure everything else is up to code and make sure I call him directly, as he hands me his card, when it's time for the inspection.

        Just because you find the idiot first, doesn't mean the whole profession is like that.

        Oh, I should add that I've had problems with one of my decks moving so much that it was damaging the deck. I ended up replacing it because it was starting to pull away from the house more than I was comfortable with, and it didn't meet the ground at one corner away from the house. Yeah, as you likely guessed, it was the front deck that's on concrete that clearly didn't go down far enough and ended up on new fill that settled and shifted...

        [–]LongUsername 2 points3 points  (2 children)

        Local Building inspection office was very helpful when I was fixing the mess of half-done basement refinish job previous owner left in our basement.

        Always were willing to answer questions on code.

        [–]Pleased_to_meet_u 26 points27 points  (0 children)

        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.

        [–]vailripper 6 points7 points  (1 child)

        In one of their recent seasons they went into quite a bit of detail about the role of inspectors and what they are looking for at different stages, was interesting!

        [–]TwentyOne2Win 159 points160 points  (14 children)

        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.

        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 204 points205 points  (10 children)

        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'

        [–]anonymoushero1 36 points37 points  (2 children)

        "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.

        [–]aSternreference 6 points7 points  (0 children)

        A little caulk and paint makes it what it ain't.

        Source: ex painter

        [–]cybercuzco 72 points73 points  (6 children)

        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.

        [–]Sirisian 8 points9 points  (0 children)

        The house I bought a little while back the owner replaced all the doorknobs and other cheap things with all matching sets. It's amazing how much it makes the house look uniform. All matte gray metal in the kitchen and throughout the house just like you said.

        [–]__RocketMan__ 5 points6 points  (0 children)

        I can't agree more! To add to this point we re-did our kitchen (paint, new flooring, backsplash, update light fixture surrouds and knobs/pulls) and the knobs and pulls were the biggest thing besides the fresh paint! The best part is knobs and pulls are easy if you're replacing for sure.

        [–]LarsThorwald 25 points26 points  (8 children)

        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?

        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 44 points45 points  (2 children)

        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.

        [–]Hoog1neer 8 points9 points  (0 children)

        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.

        [–]WiseImprovements 5 points6 points  (4 children)

        It's hard but not impossible. If you a nervous pay someone to do the waterproofing of the tub enclosure.

        Be patient and TAKE YOUR TIME. Rushing things will cause errors and sloppy work.

        Don't be afraid to do a couple practice panels of tile. But a sheet of hardi and a box of tile and try different cuts and layouts.

        [–]Vanderbleek 43 points44 points  (11 children)

        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.


        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 150 points151 points  (9 children)

        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.

        [–]needanacc0unt 48 points49 points  (0 children)

        Kevin: Mic drop.

        O'Connor out.

        [–]Vanderbleek 5 points6 points  (7 children)

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

        [–]diito 7 points8 points  (5 children)

        Well, a table saw (contractor or cabinet, not jobsite) is still a better option in the long term. It's a WAY more versatile tool and a lot easier and more accurate on most operations (Dados/grooves/rabbets, half lap joints, tenons, box joints, coves, splines, cross-cutting small parts, more accurate repeatable rip cuts with the fence and cross cuts with a sled/stop block etc, etc, etc). Track saws are great for breaking down sheet goods, which is a challenge to do accurately/safely on a table saw, especially if you are working alone. That's rarely an issue though. Cabinet/furniture parts are rarely anywhere near the size/unwieldiness of an 8x4 sheet of plywood, the sides for example are ~34"x24". You can break down plywood into roughly dimensioned parts with a circular saw and straight end and then cut them to final dimensions on the table saw.

        It comes down to what sort of work you are doing. If you are carpenter working on a remote site a track saw makes a whole bunch of sense. If you are a woodworker, like myself, working from a home shop a table saw is a no brainier. I've built a lot of cabinets and not as fine furniture using man made materials on my table saw, no problem. For the fine furniture made from solid materials I do a track saw isn't very useful. A track saw is on my list for some day but it's a luxury and not something I remotely need. Besides a good track saw is expensive, almost a much as what you can pick up a good used cabinet saw for.

        You have a fairly ambitious to-do list, which will take you into solid wood face frames, doors/drawer fronts etc. A table saw seems like a lot better option.

        [–]JoeB- 11 points12 points  (0 children)

        Adding my 2¢... A track saw certainly is better for sheet goods; however, a table saw is better for ripping dimension lumber (e.g. a 1x8). So, both?

        I'm also a big fan of the show. Thanks folks for all the great lessons and for the AMA.

        [–]rboymtj 58 points59 points  (20 children)

        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!


        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 56 points57 points  (1 child)

        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''.

        [–]Keisaku 10 points11 points  (3 children)

        I'm a carpenter here in southern California and that's killing me! I would probably add trim around the window like casing that'll get it right on the rock. From there you can just caulk the gaps. A better fit would be to scribe each piece against the rock. That would be a wonderful satisfying attempt against that wall and have minimal gaps no more than a 1/16 (ok a 1/32 but I don't want to brag!)

        [–]chodeboi 9 points10 points  (2 children)

        When I was 18 I watched an old-timer scribe some large crown-moulding around a ceiling with rock walls. IIRC, he set the piece on an elevated rig/jig parallel to the wall, and used a simple compass splayed open with the needle side touching the wall and the pencil side tracing the profile onto the moulding. It was incredible to see that final fit. Before cell-phone cameras were a thing!

        [–]Keisaku 2 points3 points  (0 children)

        Yup! And u use those cheapo compasses.. The little gold ones.. They allow perfect glide along the wall without hindrance. Jus make sure both ends of your molding or such are equal over the frame or cabinet or whatnot. That's the part that'll get you! Then set your compass the thickest gap to cover. Scribe Then belt sand that shit to perfection..

        [–]AshyLarrysElbows 14 points15 points  (8 children)

        I'd love to see more pics of your house if you wouldn't mind sharing.

        [–]rboymtj 37 points38 points  (7 children)

        Don't mind sharing at all.


        Pulled up the carpet over the weekend. I was pretty disappointed to find laminate connected to the hard wood.

        [–]AshyLarrysElbows 11 points12 points  (0 children)

        It looks so warm, cozy, and inviting. So much character in those walls too. Great find man.

        [–]robin8118 12 points13 points  (2 children)

        Your house looks so unique and beautiful! I'm so jealous!

        [–]rboymtj 8 points9 points  (0 children)

        Thanks man. My wife and I weren't even looking but stumbled across this house and couldn't pass it up.

        [–][deleted] 87 points88 points  (7 children)

        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?


        [–]La_Diablita_Blanca 46 points47 points  (1 child)

        Ooh, I can chime in! Best inspectors are willing to bring in another expert specific to your house.

        A home we were in love with looked awesome but the inspector couldn't see well enough into the 75 yr old fireplace and called a pro chimney sweep to give him another option.

        Within 45 mins we found out the fireplace vent had been damaged at some point and was venting straight into the second floor bedroom (would have been the nursery!). Passed on the house and Avoided a $30-$40k fix... plus, you know, carbon monoxide poisoning. All because the inspector knew his own limitations and wasn't afraid to call in some help.

        [–][deleted] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

        That's what I like to hear.

        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 127 points128 points  (3 children)

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

        [–][deleted] 16 points17 points  (2 children)

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

        [–]x1ux1u 5 points6 points  (1 child)

        Keep in mind that when a home is inspected and errors are found they become permanent records. It could potentially hurt the sell of the house and force the sellers to take it off the market untils corrections are made. If you are concerned about future maintenance issues then ask a General Contractor to walk the home with you for a small rate ($150 in LA County). A GC will have a different perspective then a typical home inspector. I would much rather a GC quote me the cost prior to having it documented on the home.

        [–]BigBennP 8 points9 points  (0 children)

        Keep in mind that when a home is inspected and errors are found they become permanent records

        This is ...interesting.

        By your reference to LA county, you may live in California. I don't practice in California and it may well have laws that impose much higher burdens on homeowners.

        BUT, there's not generally an "inspection registry" or anything of the like when you get a home inspection. The inspection isn't filed with the recorder of deeds, so it's not permanent in the legal sense. Even offers to purchase and contracts aren't exactly permanent in that respect, but real estate agents do keep them for a number of years. The two different properties I've bought, I've had little past information other than my inspection and "prior sale prices." I knew how much the people bought it for, but not what they negotiated about.

        Now, a written inspection report could be argued to have some permanency because as part of the sale there might be an agreement, for example, that there's no mold in the home, or that you warrant you have no knowledge of hidden defects. If, three months down the road, the buyer finds mold, or finds the foundation is shot, the buyer might come back and sue you, and if they can prove you knew but didn't tell, they might win and you'd have to rescind the sale. In that sense, "don't let there be proof you know" might be CYA, but is not really ethnical.

        [–]LLcoolJimbo 6 points7 points  (0 children)

        When you show up 10 mins early for the inspection the inspector is already on the roof.

        [–]TrillboBaggins 29 points30 points  (1 child)

        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.

        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 38 points39 points  (0 children)

        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.

        [–]HareuhalPM me penguin pics 30 points31 points  (3 children)

        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?

        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 50 points51 points  (0 children)

        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.

        [–]andy_puiu 9 points10 points  (0 children)

        My advice on this is about the same as a child learning to read. They say if there are five or more words on a page they don't know, the book is too hard. 1-4 is just right (to learn).

        DIY should be approached the same way. Look for instructions online for whatever project you have. If there's a step, tool, etc... you have no experience with... well that's how you learn. If there's a lot of steps/things you've never done, the project is too hard for you.

        [–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 26 points27 points  (30 children)

        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?

        [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 30 points31 points  (29 children)

        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?

        [–]OSCgal 30 points31 points  (7 children)

        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.

        [–]RobertNAdams 14 points15 points  (0 children)

        There was a scary time when LED lamps didn't exist and CFLs were the only real option.

        [–][deleted]  (3 children)


          [–]WgXcQ 4 points5 points  (1 child)

          Same. I'm a woman and was in my twenties when the old bulbs got forbidden here in Germany (well, in the EU), and I went full-on grumpy grandpa and stockpiled them because I refused to use that expensive quicksilver bullshit.

          I am quite smug that history proved me right on that one. I'm now slowly switching to LED where it makes sense.

          [–]OSCgal 2 points3 points  (0 children)

          Laughing right now because that's exactly the sort of thing my grumpy German grandpa would've done.

          Halogens are tiding me over as LED options slowly improve. I have a number of LEDs in my house already, but they don't always suit a specific need. (And I hate the ones that hum.)

          [–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

          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.

          [–]SoylentRox 2 points3 points  (18 children)

          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".

          [–]cantrememberpassswor 3 points4 points  (5 children)

          They all contain mercury. Not a lot, but still. Many only worked in certain orientations, and if installed upside down, would overheat and burn out. They were usually just enough of a different size to not fit the fixture you have, They are prone to failure when you have dirty power, they can buzz quite loudly, and they take a while to warm up and provide full color and brightness, and that time lengthens the longer you have the bulb. They were also expensive enough to make RoI hard if they burn out quickly.

          In short, there was nothing wrong with them in a lab, but they don't work in the real world, and people grew to loath them because of the false promises.

          [–]furatail 155 points156 points  (19 children)

          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?

          [–]OSCgal 21 points22 points  (1 child)

          You could tell her about my mother, who was right there with my dad doing demo, scraping, painting, cutting & laying tile, spackling, hanging drywall, and yes, even hanging wallpaper. Only difference between her and Dad is that Dad did the heavy lifting. She took "homemaker" literally!

          If she's the one who wants a remodel, why must you do it alone?

          [–]furatail 5 points6 points  (0 children)

          She definitely helps. Some projects are just easier to do alone though.

          [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 153 points154 points  (1 child)

          Kevin: She has good taste in TV shows!

          Richard: What do you watch?

          [–]furatail 139 points140 points  (0 children)

          Whatever she feels like watching, of course.

          [–][deleted] 38 points39 points  (6 children)

          Shhh! It's a great excuse to buy more tools!

          [–]furatail 6 points7 points  (5 children)

          True. Though, she likes things done fast and I like to plan and build. I've got all the tools necessary to build basic cabinetry but still she insists on an Ikea box kitchen.

          [–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (4 children)

          We bought our house in October 2015. When we bought it, we knew the kitchen needed to be totally gutted and redone along with the drywall in the rest of the house (mainly due to terribly ugly texturing). On the upside, the house had all new hardwood except for the kitchen.

          For the first year we have basically lived out of the bedroom and bathroom. We set up a makeshift kitchen in the living room and kept the fridge in the garage. For the last five months we've hand a local drywall guy working on the walls and the kitchen floor. $15k later, and we're ready to start painting.

          Overall we're planning on at least another year before we can afford cabinets and counter tops. The cheapest estimate we've had was $20k for cabinets. However, that's all hardwood construction with marble counters.

          Sometimes I feel like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit. Two months after closing, the septic tank in the back yard collapsed ($3,000). Then two months later the furnace died ($7,000). It's been an uphill battle.

          [–]ChurroSalesman 4 points5 points  (3 children)

          You spent $15k on drywall and tile floor? What kind of tile and how large is your kitchen? That's a very expensive remodel considering you have no cabinets, counter tops, appliances or fixtures...I call shenanigans

          [–][deleted] 3 points4 points  (2 children)

          The drywall work was for the whole house (2,500 sq ft) of walls and ceilings. We also had some new closets, opened up one wall for an open floor plan, and other odd jobs done too (electrical work, etc). The floor in the kitchen was on of the cheaper jobs, but the asbestos we found added to the cost.

          Edit: I just referred to my spreadsheet. $12,000 of the cost was for labor. Our guy charged $150 per day for odd stuff, and then quoted prices for the drywall and wood flooring. Walls were $1.50 per sq ft, ceilings $1.55, flooring $3.00 for labor. Not bad for 6 months of work.

          [–]ChurroSalesman 4 points5 points  (1 child)

          Then that's a damn good deal! I was imagining an unfortunate couple getting scammed for thousands to redo their average sized kitchen.

          [–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

          Yep. This guy is a friend of a friend of a friend. His attention to detail borders on OCD, and he did amazing work for the price. He wanted to do the painting, but we ran out of cash since we're not going to get a loan. Also, I spent four summers in college working as a painter. He even loaned me his scaffolding to use until we finish painting. Hopefully in a few months we'll have enough money saved up to hire him again for trim and doors.

          [–]kjp811 26 points27 points  (1 child)

          It's worse when all your wife watches is HGTV.

          [–]Slappybags22 6 points7 points  (0 children)

          My husband has cut me off a couple times...

          [–]ISmellWildebeest 6 points7 points  (0 children)

          Woman here. Why don't you suggest she gives it a go?

          [–]Speed_Bump 37 points38 points  (9 children)

          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?

          [–]3rin 9 points10 points  (3 children)

          Pretty sure they do that with Ask This Old House.

          [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 12 points13 points  (0 children)

          Kevin: you are right!

          [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 38 points39 points  (1 child)

          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!)

          [–]Speed_Bump 9 points10 points  (0 children)

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

          [–]well-that-was-fast 3 points4 points  (1 child)

          having the homeowners do some of the work and work on regular houses rather than million+ renovation budgets?

          As someone who sometimes feels the same, I copied this from below because I thought it was super on-point:

          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.

          I think this probably is the best answer. Teaching homeowners how to replace their kitchen floor, cabinets, and appliances over the course of 9-hours of television just isn't going to be interesting enough.

          As ludicrous as the ultra-lux products are, it is entertaining to see them installed. I know a lot, and I didn't know people were installing $5000 built-it cappuccino machines in their kitchens until I saw it on TOH.

          [–]IamNotTheMama 74 points75 points  (23 children)

          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.

          [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 49 points50 points  (4 children)

          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.

          [–]Elharley 29 points30 points  (0 children)

          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

          [–]IamNotTheMama 33 points34 points  (1 child)

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

          [–]yacht_boy 12 points13 points  (2 children)

          Not likely, because they largely shoot in Boston suburbs. Boston is expensive to buy and expensive to do work in. My 1840s farmhouse in a tough neighborhood sold for about $1000 in 1968 when the last owner bought it. He sold it to me in absolutely abysmal condition for $640k this year, a d that was a discount price because we are neighbors. We're going to put $400k of work into it in the next couple of years and we're doing ikea cabinets, low end finishes, buying stuff used on Craigslist, keeping the 35 year old boilers, and having a friend do the work at a discount price.

          This same home in rural Pennsylvania or wherever might have sold for 1/5 the price and cost 1/2 as much for renovations. But in Boston, it's just way more expensive.

          [–]laxpanther 6 points7 points  (0 children)

          They answered a similar question, and the gist is that price is all relative. That said, I think the original question has merit, in that some of the high end items, styles, and extras aren't really a consideration in middle-class type homes, and sometimes it would be nice to see some of the more every-day usage type stuff being installed.

          But, as in their answer, I think the place for that is by and large their other series, Ask This Old House. They do tons and tons of smaller projects that have relevance on just about any type of home - even if your situation doesn't match exactly. So while they aren't doing a complete rebuild of a cheaper home on the main series (which probably wouldn't be all that interesting for a multiple part arc, since its pretty damn simple) they are constantly showing things that pertain to those types of projects on ATOH.

          [–][deleted] 20 points21 points  (2 children)

          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!

          [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 23 points24 points  (1 child)

          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

          [–]kjbenner 18 points19 points  (3 children)

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

          [–]AskThisOldHouseThis Old House[S] 22 points23 points  (0 children)

          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.

          [–]DIYMods[M] [score hidden] stickied comment (18 children)

          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!

          [–]blbd 15 points16 points  (3 children)

          I'd say that too many people sending too many questions for too long is a barometer of a success. :)

          [–]verdatum 5 points6 points  (3 children)

          I hate that I missed this AMA. >_<

          But moving past that tragedy, hey mods, what's it gonna take to get an AMA with Roy Underhill of The Woodwright's Shop next?? :D

          [–][deleted]  (1 child)


            [–]bcity20 13 points14 points  (4 children)

            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!)

            [–]egschneider 16 points17 points  (0 children)

            You can watch all episodes going back to 2003 on their website https://www.thisoldhouse.com/watch/old-house-tv

            [–]ttimmahh 3 points4 points  (0 children)

            I'd also love to know how I can get my hands on the old episodes, pre-2003. I always enjoyed watching them as a kid. The Lexington Bed and Breakfast, etc.

            [–]greywolvescry 13 points14 points  (1 child)

            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?

            [–]jspiros 6 points7 points  (0 children)

            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.)

            [–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

            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?

            [–]webguru24 5 points6 points  (2 children)

            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!

            [–]Emmo213 9 points10 points  (0 children)

            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.

            [–][deleted]  (1 child)


              [–]Bigredmachine878 8 points9 points  (0 children)

              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!

              [–]Bumzor 4 points5 points  (3 children)

              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?

              [–]nooneimportan7 6 points7 points  (1 child)

              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

              [–]rboymtj 9 points10 points  (1 child)

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

              [–]MrGreenMan- 9 points10 points  (0 children)

              Not TOH, but generally on home remodeling shows, the labor is free. the materials are paid for by the homeowner.

              [–][deleted]  (3 children)


                [–]rboymtj 9 points10 points  (0 children)

                Thanks for doing this AMA!

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

                [–]TwentyOne2Win 10 points11 points  (2 children)

                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?

                [–]WiseImprovements 4 points5 points  (1 child)

                GC here, don't trust review websites. I get contacted often by marketing companies to provide reviews for my company.

                The best way to find contractors is through word of mouth by people who have worked with them in the past. Ask around and find referred contractors. If you find one you like online ask them for contact information for previous clients.

                [–]bringinthebo810 8 points9 points  (0 children)

                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.

                [–]Bevo1uk 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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.

                [–]snkeolr 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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?

                [–]tradtravel 4 points5 points  (0 children)

                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.

                [–]clunkclunk 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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?

                [–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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?

                [–]_adanedhel_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

                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?

                [–]brock_leepro commenter 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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?

                [–]albertsandstorm 2 points3 points  (4 children)

                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!! :)

                [–]yacht_boy 3 points4 points  (3 children)

                If you have the ability to do the $650k one, do it. Living in a diy project sucks, it will take longer and cost more than you expect, and the stress it puts on you is hard to calculate.

                [–]pdxscout 3 points4 points  (0 children)

                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.

                [–]well-that-was-fast 1 point2 points  (0 children)

                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.

                [–]Pi_User5 1 point2 points  (2 children)

                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. ;)

                [–]way2lazy2care 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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?

                [–]an_academic_question 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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?

                [–]mattp949 2 points3 points  (0 children)

                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

                [–]Leiryn 3 points4 points  (0 children)

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

                [–][deleted]  (1 child)