A Plan, a Budget, and Time
Homeowners trying to get on the show (see "Our Favorite Appeals") should know what they want. A vague notion that you need a new kitchen and would love a media room isn't as compelling as a detailed description of your dream reno­vation, or better yet, architectural plans.

Plans don't have to be final. Cambridge architect Treff LaFleche had a solid design for Paul and Maddy, but when TOH master carpenter Norm Abram walked the new kitchen layout, he pointed out how far they'd have to go from the stove to the porch door when they entertained outside. So another door was added nearer the work area (forever known as "the Norm door").

Homeowners also have to be ready with the capital. As every TOH project owner knows, the show does not pay for the renovations. "You can't just be like, 'I'm so lucky!'" says Maddy. "You have to be financially ready to do a significant renovation." That said, many companies are eager to work with the show and have been known to discount products or services, allowing homeowners to tackle a larger scope of work than they first considered. Just as key, it all has to be finished in the time frame—three months to a year—set by the show's production schedule. What Paul and Maddy thought they'd do over seven years will now happen in just seven months.

No Fear of the Spotlight
There's no way around it: If you want to work with This Old House, you're going to be on camera. Often. Bottom line: The show is a documentary, recording a renovation through the experience of the crew and the homeowners. It's not scripted, and nobody's looking for actors. This is reality TV in the truest sense. The goal is to get everyone talking to each other as they do in real life.

"What we really liked when we first met everybody was how friendly they all were," says Paul. "We're so comfortable with them, and they're all meticulous and patient." That's just the kind of rapport that makes a project a good fit for everyone involved.
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