Carlisle stairs
Photo: Russell Kaye
Barn staircase
Tom Silva had a long list of little projects that would put the final touches on the Carlisle house. At the top of the list is locating all the air conditioning registers in the floating floor so they can be connected to the ductwork. "The house won't have any air conditioning otherwise," he explains.

As big a job as that was, Tom, of course, kept his cool, as he has throughout the entire 10 months of the demanding This Old House 25th anniversary project. Tom and his crew and subcontractors gutted and rebuilt the two-story Greek Revival main structure, reconstructed the ell from scratch (with a factory-built foundation to save time and labor), and remade the barn into a two-story "living hall" with second-floor guest quarters—a very thorough renovation of more than 6,000 square feet of living space. He acknowledged, when pressed, it would have taken 12 to 18 months in the "real" world." To meet the deadlines necessary for the TV show, Tom says everyone on the construction side put in a lot of extra time. "It was a difficult process," he allows, "but the TV production schedule doesn't change, even when the weather's bad."

"The scope of this project was massive," agrees This Old House executive producer Bruce Irving, who's used to completing two projects every season. "It was like having three jobs going at once. And you could never point to one and say it was done." So perhaps it's just as well there were no homeowners to work with, though their input is a signature of the show. "The idea of the This Old House team doing it ourselves and using every aspect of what we'd learned over the years was appealing," says Bruce. "We had the freedom to explore the design possibilities and to insert all of our favorite stuff, like proper framing, sprayed-in foam insulation, top-quality building products, and radiant floor heating. And we got to push ourselves to try new things like the modular system used in the ell."

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