This Old House

September 25, 2011 at 11:48 am Leave a comment

I’ve been watching this show since the beginning when Bob Vila was the host. Why do I LOVE this show? Back in the old days, I had dreams of finding an old mansion and rehabbing it. This was even after I bought an old house and couldn’t afford to rehab it. It took us forever to fix up that place and we never did finish the kitchen. Like so many others who buy a fixer-upper, we thought, “We can get this place into shape. A new kitchen? That won’t cost that much. New carpeting? It’s not that expensive. Fixing plaster cracks? Stripping off alligatored paint? Replacing window glass and torn screens? Ripping out shrubs? We could do that ourselves and save tons of money! Let’s buy it!”

We did and we did a lot of the work ourselves, but guess what? House number two…ready to move in. Sure, we repainted some interior walls and the exterior, but there was nothing to repair. We liked that much better, so with house number three, we chose another house that didn’t need work.

So, why do I like TOH? I like to see what can be done with an older home or a home in need of remodeling, but I don’t have to lift a finger. Tommy Silva, Norm Abram, and Kevin O’Connor do the work (along with the rest of the amazing cast and crew). If I had unlimited funds, I would want to build a house and have Tommy as the contractor and Norm to oversee the carpentry. I truly admire the work they do and I know it wouldn’t be substandard. That’s what I’ve learned from watching the show…what mistakes not to make and proper construction methods.

When I see a house being built in my neighborhood, I know Tommy would take issue with a new roof with no rubber waterproof shield or no tar paper over the plywood. And it pains me to see so little care given to the exterior of basement walls. Sure poured concrete is better than cement block, but if I were building, I’d want extra drainage methods in place around the foundation and a waterproofing membrane, etc. around the bottom to really cut down on future moisture issues. I hate damp basements. If you have a damp basement and no dehumidifier, get one. They really do help.

This fall, the guys are working on a 1720 Georgian home that’s on the Historic Register in Bedford, MA. The series debuts in early October. Often, there’s a fall project in MA and a winter project in a warmer clime.  Since 1989, they’ve worked on projects all over the country. Currently, I’m reading the local One Book One Community title – All the Way Home by David Giffels and it’s about his buying an amazingly horrific house, that I think even TOH would have said, “Tear it down,” a line from my favorite money pit movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House with Cary Grant. David saw what was a diamond in the deep, deep rough and like the TOH Roxbury project of 2009, saved a house from the wrecking ball. By the way, the fact that we’ve lost thousands and thousands of homes and buildings to make way for parking lots, really saddens me. Guess I’m a frustrated architect at heart and I LOVE old buildings with all the built-ins and craftmanship, inside and out.

Many female hearts flutter over Robert Redford or Robert Pattinson, but me? I’ll take Tommy or Norm. I love a man who knows how to use power tools!


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