This old house

I like the show," This Old House", but wonder how much work the " stars" do when the cameras are off.
Any ideas ?

I have a feeling that on other shows (Hometime, for example), they don’t do any of the work, I think they do a lot of it on this show, even if not on the project house, on other jobs around the area just because they have stuff to do. Silva Brothers, so far as I know, is a real company and I believe Tommy is an actual contractor running multiple crews around the city, just like any other similar business. Furthermore Tommy and Norm (and Bob) didn’t get those skills from doing a few things on camera and then letting the real guys step in to finish the project and then showing back up on the last day to sweep away the dust and say ‘wow, that was a lot of work, but we got it done’. Those carpentry skills came from years and years of experience.

Also, Tommy, Richard, Roger and to a lesser extent Kevin and Scott travel around the country and you, more or less, watch them do an entire project from start to finish, only hiring local pros where code/law requires them to.
TLDR, I could be wrong, but it seems to me they or their hired crews are actually doing the work, at least to the extent presented. I don’t believe they’re faking anything.

Norm was the original contractor on the show for almost 10 years. He had a private contractor business too. He eventually gave up contracting to cohost the show and focus on furniture making (New Yankee Workshop). Trade shows and speaking is a lucrative income too. More than contracting. :smiley:

Tommy has health issues from years of manual labor. AFAIK Silva Brothers is still going strong. Tommy may still be involved. I’m not sure. I’d guess he’s still managing the company.

The show is unique that real contractors got hired to do the work and then found roles on camera too.

Bob sometimes did a bit of token work on camera and was so bad at it that my brother-in-law, a hobbyist woodworker with a shop that could make Norm jealous, would laugh at him.

For example, there was the time when Bob volunteered to fix a little bit of rotten wood that he’d noticed. Except it wasn’t a “little bit” but rather an entire corner, which should have been obvious to anyone who really knew what they were doing. Even those watching on TV.

I used to watch the show in the early-'80s, and stopped sometime before Bob Vila left.

Norm was/is a carpenter, not a GC.

Norm was a GC until 1989. That’s how he met Russell Morash and got hired as the GC for the show. Tommy took over around 87 or 88.

I wish they would release season DVD’s. I always enjoyed the early seasons a lot more. They showed more of the actual construction work in the early seasons.

Some of the style would be terribly dated. 1979 was a long time ago. I can’t recall if I saw the first season. But I definitely was watching by 1980.

I know a guy who has worked on some of the This Old House projects, I even saw him on the show once. Next time I see him I’ll ask how much work the stars really do.

There is a This Old House book, I believe written by Bob Villa(?). It was his/their first project, and the book chronicles the restoration. I think later they thought of the TV show idea.

Our PBS station shows it as “This Old House Hour”, with the first part the remodeling of one house over a season, and the second with small individual projects. We like the second half better, since they give lots of tips and hints for us average home owners with a budget. Between that show and the Michael Holmes shows we’ve learned what we can handle ourselves and what to leave to the professionals.

Holmes is another personality who had started with his own skills and has since expanded more into overseeing construction projects and being a TV personality. I can believe him when he lays down a line of caulk that he knows what he’s doing.

The second half that you mention sounds like ‘Ask This Old House’, I agree, I like that more. I watch This Old House, but I do like ATOH better.

The various Holmes shows are, in general, really good (and why are there so many of them). However, I didn’t watch this most recent season, the one with Tim Tebow. I watched the first 2 episodes or so and it seemed like it was much more concentrated on the competition that had exactly zero to do with home construction (while in the mean time real crews where in the houses doing the actual construction) and a lot more to do with unrelated stuff like ‘who can drive a bobcat around an obstacle course the fastest’ or ‘which team can run uphill on a slip and slide with the most garbage’. But, like I said, Holmes Inspection/Holmes on Homes, I liked, even if they were a bit repetitive, I mean, which episode didn’t jump from Damon saying ‘hey buddy, I noticed that concrete has a bit of a crack here in the corner’ to Mike saying ‘well, you know I hate doing this, but tear out the walls and ceiling’.

Another good show is Rehab Addict. Like the others, she shows you a lot of good, small projects you really can do on your own. But, beyond that, even though I know she has a lot of experience in the area, it’s a bit refreshing to see someone say ‘welp, this sink/cabinet/ceiling/etc can’t be fixed’ and watch them replace it (or, I supposed repair it) and more often then not, run into more problems along the way and fix those too’. Makes you think you can do it on your own. As opposed to the other shows mentioned in the thread where the hosts or main person on the job (Mike Holmes, Tommy Silva) are contractors and just overseeing big projects.

Quickly glancing at her wiki page, it looks like she went to school for law and education, it doesn’t say anything about (probably trade) school for any kind of construction/carpentry/design etc. IIRC, she has mentioned on the show that she’s a licensed contractor, but that might be (I don’t know) meaningless, just a fee she paid/pays so that she has the ability to pull permits. Hell, I paid $20 and took an online course and I now have an EPA license. I can go buy all the tanks of R-22 that I want, but (as of right now), I wouldn’t even know what to do with them, it’s just something I picked up because it was cheap and it’ll make my life easier.

Yeah, Bob Vila sucks. And the people he hired sucked. After he got fired/ragequit from TOH he went and did his own show Home Again for a time. I remember throwing shit at the TV when his idiot subcontracter used a circular saw to overcut the right angles in a bunch of stair stringers. You couldn’t spend the 30 extra seconds to finish them off with a hand saw? Tommy and Norm would.

(Actually, Norm would probably use a StairMatic StringerCutter 4000. :smiley: )

Tommy and Norm are both incredibly talented, though Tommy’s skills and wealth of experience really come through on the smaller projects on Ask This Old House (second half of the TOH Hour, depending on how your PBS station does things.)

I’m glad that Norm is continuing to work on TOH now that New Yankee is over.

Speaking of which, I just watched the first episode of the new season. Looks like a very nice project on a 1910s house, and the owners are doing some reasonable upgrades and modifications, as opposed to just ripping the whole thing down and starting over.

^ Can I get one of those Stairmatic 4000 dealies? :wink:

People, how come no love for Rich Trethewey? He is a natural, as far as being in front of the camera.

Trethewey certainly has the most natural camera presence, and when they show him crawling under a sink (with all his bulk) it’s clear he’s done it for years.

They often show Tommy, often working with Norm, doing some complicated piece of construction like a stairway or something, and they show the steps, with Tommy often explaining tricks and tips to make it easier. From watching for years, I have no doubt that these folks could be doing the work (which they also do on Ask This Old House, except for Norm) even if they’re not actually doing everything on the project themselves.

I have the Binford Stairmatic 6100, but I upgraded it to a 65 HP motor that spins at 3000 RPM and put on a high quality extra sharp, carbide tipped blade. This tool will cut the entire stringer in less than 45 seconds [grunt grunt grunt]

I don’t think so, Tim.

Because of the time they were in the Southwest (New Mexico?), and Trethewey asked what the budget was.

“$100,000” was the answer.

He replied, “For me?”

No, numbnuts, that was the budget for the entire freakin’ project. I’ve hated him ever since.

Really? You don’t think he might have been kidding around?