Episode Descriptions

architectural rendering of weston house project

Season 30: Weston Project

This project premieres on PBS Saturdays at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

Also in prime time exclusively on PBS Thursdays in the first half of The This Old House Hour at 8pm ET (check local listings).

Program #2801
Weston Project, Part 1 of 16
Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 8pm ET
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For the new season, host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram reveal that This Old House will be building new—a prefab, eco-friendly home that will feel like an old barn. Homeowners Amy & Pete Favat love their land, but have outgrown their 1970s-era home, so they'll deconstruct the old house to make way for a new one that will better suit their active family. To achieve their vision of a vacation home "all year round", custom homebuilder Tedd Benson and his staff are designing and prefabricating the new state-of-the-art timberframe home, with general contractor Tom Silva pulling it all together on site. To see how Tedd's panelized system looks in the field, Norm and Tedd visit a recent project in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, while back in Weston, Tom works with deconstruction contractor John Grossman to take the old house apart by hand, in a way that saves landfill space, and allows the reuse of building materials. Meanwhile, landscape contractor Roger Cook meets with conservation commissioner Brian Donahue to learn about the brook that flows through the property, while John Engwer and his crew install a new eco-friendly alternative to hay bales and silt fence to protect it—it's organic mulch and compost wrapped in hemp to form a protective barrier during construction. By the day's end, a truck's worth of salvaged building materials has been harvested, and the project is well underway. 

Program #2802
Weston Project, Part 2 of 16
Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 8pm ET
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Host Kevin O'Connor drives up to find the old house gone, and general contractor Tom Silva finishing the job by demolishing the chimney and foundation with an excavator. The old concrete and brick will be crushed, trucked away, and used as base material for new roads, while the rest of the house will eventually find new life as affordable housing, but for now it's being stored at the ReStore in Springfield, Massachusetts. John Grossman shows Kevin how the non-profit center operates, and how much salvaged material came out of our house. Up at the shop in Walpole, New Hampshire, Kevin meets architect Chris Adams and homeowner Amy Favat to see how she planned her family's dream home, and to take a tour of the new house—via a 3-D software program that allows them to design and "build" the house virtually. Then, work gets underway as Tedd Benson shows Kevin how the main timbers for the house are sawn from massive salvaged Douglas fir derricks from a granite quarry in Vermont, and also some old live oak ship's ribs that will be used for dramatic effect in the dining area.

Program #2803
Weston Project, Part 3 of 16
Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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Host Kevin O'Connor arrives in Weston to find homeowners Amy & Pete Favat in the backyard, cutting back the spring overgrowth so the workers can get through. General contractor Tom Silva begins building the new house by setting the pre-cast foundation walls that are poured in a factory then trucked to the site and lifted in by crane. In New Hampshire at Bensonwood, builder Tedd Benson shows Kevin the work in the timberframe office, and demonstrates how his crew is using sophisticated software and computer-controlled cutting machines to begin fabricating over 300 timbers for the project. Back in Weston, the next step is to pour the slab for the basement and garage floor, so plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey installs a new insulated in-slab radiant heating system. Landscape architect Wes Wirth presents a plan for the new yard that helps deal with the wetland setbacks, excessive road noise, challenging topography, and existing garden beds.

Program #2804
Weston Project, Part 4 of 16
Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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With 75 percent of the new prefabricated house being built in a workshop, host Kevin O'Connor opens the show at Bensonwood in New Hampshire, where today it's all hands on deck.  General contractor Tom Silva meets up with builder Tedd Benson to see how his crew prefabricates interior and exterior wall systems, while next door in the timberframe shop, job captain Mark Roentsch shows master carpenter Norm Abram the assembly of salvaged Douglas fir and live oak timbers that will frame the dining area. Master electrician Allen Gallant works inside with the Bensonwood crew to pre-wire the building with a new plug and play wiring system, while security system contractor Greg Smizer preinstalls chases and wiring for alarm and data cables. Once in Weston, work on site will be a matter of connecting the wires and getting inspections. At the end of the day, Kevin and Tedd load up the first truck for delivery to Weston, getting ready for the dramatic "house raising" that will take place over the next 3 weeks.

Program #2805
Weston Project, Part 5 of 16
Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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Homeowners Amy and Pete Favat are on site in Weston for the first day of "raising" their new house but the excitement is soon tampered by unexpected rain. After a two-day rain delay, the Bensonwood crew begins by craning in and setting the mechanical room module and all of the walls for the basement level. In the New Hampshire workshop, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey and mechanical systems manager Paul Boa fabricate the floor panels and add radiant heating and insulation in the comfort of a controlled environment. Back on site in Weston, the completed floor systems are craned into place. Despite continued rain, the crew manages to close in the basement level, and Amy gives host Kevin O'Connor a tour of the amenities on that floor—parking for two cars, a mudroom, workshop, powder room, kitchenette, and media room.

Program #2806
Weston Project, Part 6 of 16
Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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The second week of the house raising begins with a ceremonial timberframe raise on the first floor—by hand. The rest of the job will be done with a crane including lifting a forty-eight foot long assembly of Douglas Fir timbers and live Oak crucks that will run the length of the entire first floor. Timberframe captain Mark Roentsch shows host Kevin O'Connor how the assemblies are joined together and flow into place. Homeowner Pete Favat shows Kevin the new kitchen space, while master carpenter Norm Abram travels to Claremont, New Hampshire, to see the custom kitchen being fabricated and finished using hand-applied milk paint and distressing techniques used to make the new cabinets look at home in an "old" barn. Back in Weston the first floor exterior walls featuring windows and some finishes already installed are craned into place.

Program #2807
Weston Project, Part 7 of 16
Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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Two weeks into the new house raising, master carpenter Norm Abram meets architect Chris Adams for a tour of the first and second floors. At the Bensonwood shop in Walpole, New Hampshire, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey meets plumbing contractor Lynne Keating to see how she is running PEX water supply lines and ABS drainage pipe to the back-to-back kids bathrooms, both of which are assembled in the shop as one pre-built "module". Back in Weston, to keep pace with the fast building schedule, landscape contractor Roger Cook is already working on building the landscape plan. It calls for an elaborate drainage plan with a rain garden on the tail end to help protect the wetlands from surface runoff and contaminants. Homeowner Pete Favat and his daughter Juliette lend a hand building the rain garden and planting it with native plants and seeds. Back at the shop in New Hampshire, Norm sees how timberframe Rick Whitcomb crafts a complicated scarf joint both by computer and by hand. Back at the project site in Weston, host Kevin O'Connor sees how the scarf joints go together in the field. At the end of the day, with the final roof rafter in place, the homeowners join the builders for a traditional tree branch dedication ceremony.

Program #2808
Weston Project, Part 8 of 16
Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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Three weeks into the new house raising in Weston, Massachusetts, and the building envelope is almost complete. The Bensonwood crew places the last of the roof panels and sets the five-thousand pound cupola to cap off the house. The roof panels are made in the Bensonwood workshop from over fifty different structural insulated panels while crews work to apply shingles and a standing seam copper roof to the cupola before it flies. An important part of the energy efficient story with the Weston project is the new windows. General contractor Tom Silva shows host Kevin O'Connor how the windows are properly flashed and installed in the Bensonwood workshop in New Hampshire.

Program #2809
Weston Project, Part 9 of 16
Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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Host Kevin O'Connor arrives in Weston and finds a busload of masons just in from Wisconsin to help with the exterior stone veneer, while general contractor Tom Silva shows homeowner Amy Favat the new synthetic slate roofing material made from 80 percent recycled content. On the outside of the building, Jason Buechel and his crew install a New England fieldstone natural stone veneer that goes up with dark grout and deeply raked joints to give it a dry-laid look. Meanwhile, in Brookline, New Hampshire, master carpenter Norm Abram meets third generation lumber and paneling expert Tom Bingham to see how he is making custom wainscoting, chair rail, and horizontal wallboards for the Weston home. Back in Weston, Tom shows homeowner Pete Favat the new custom garage doors and how they are installed and operated. Program #2810
Weston Project, Part 10 of 16
Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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On the roof at the project house in Weston, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows host Kevin O'Connor the new solar hot water system that makes use of evacuated tube technology—the perfect solution for a cold climate. General contractor Tom Silva gives homeowner Amy Favat a progress tour of the house. The rough plumbing and electrical are nearly complete, the cabinets are in, and the concrete countertop fabricators are on site to template for the tops, which will take four to six weeks to make and to cure. At the Bensonwood shop in New Hampshire, Tom lends a hand to finish carpenter Dennis Wright as he installs "home slicker" and pre-stained white cedar shingles to the exterior wall panels. Back in Weston, plumbing contractor Lynne Keating shows Richard how the plumbing connections are made on the prefab floor panels. Master carpenter Norm Abram visits a small shop in Walpole, New Hampshire, that produces 95 percent of the pegs used in the North American timberframe industry. Later, at the project house, tile contractor Mark Ferrante preps a shower stall for tile using a new prefab system for the shower pan, curb, and drain that is used in place of a traditional mortar bed.

Program #2811
Weston Project, Part 11 of 16
Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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At the project house in Weston, host Kevin O'Connor finds solar energy specialist Jeff Wolfe installing eighteen solar panels that can provide up to 75 percent of the home's power needs. Later, in Alstead, New Hampshire, builder Tedd Benson shows Kevin a modest prefabricated Habitat for Humanity house that a group of 450 volunteers assembled in 8 days. Back in Weston, general contractor Tom Silva installs the red distressed vertical boards that will adorn the walls of the second floor hall. At the Bensonwood shop, master carpenter Norm Abram meets timberframer CJ Brehio to see how he is laying out and carving "2008" in Roman numerals into a reclaimed Douglas fir timber for the first floor. Back at the project house, Tom shows Kevin the new custom half-round copper gutters and decorative brackets going in on the street side of the house.

Program #2812
Weston Project, Part 12 of 16
Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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At the project house in Weston, landscape contractor Roger Cook installs granite steps on the entry porch, precast footings for the pergola, and Goshen stone for the front patio. General contractor Tom Silva installs the rough sawn and reclaimed white oak flooring on the first floor. Host Kevin O'Connor takes homeowner Amy Favat to a local appliance showroom so she can "test drive" new kitchen appliances before buying them. Security systems specialist Greg Smizer installs a cure for the cell phone "dead zone". It's a cell phone zone extender system that works by capturing the cell signal outside and amplifying it inside the home. Kevin invites designer Carole Freehauf to the house to offer a few sophisticated and unexpected options for furnishing a timberframe home.

Program #2813
Weston Project, Part 13 of 16
Saturday, December 27, 2008 at 1:30pm ET
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The Favat family takes host Kevin O'Connor to see Land's Sake Farm, a local non-profit farm stand where they can get organic flowers, fruits, vegetables, and even timbers for their house. Back at the project house, landscape contractor Roger Cook sets the last of several underground tanks that are part of the rainwater harvesting and runoff control system required by the town. On the back entry porch, general contractor Tom Silva uses a new hidden deck-fastening system to put down composite decking. Upstairs, Tom's brother Dick Silva is cladding a wall in reclaimed galvanized metal to achieve a rustic and industrial feel. Conservation commissioner Brian Donahue shows Kevin how the town of Weston is partnering with Land's Sake Farm to sustainably harvest trees from the town forest for use by its residents. Designer Carole Freehauf meets with painting contractor Debi Gaudet to see the neutral paint color palette selected for the second floor and how she has prepped to paint the room with a new low-VOC paint that comes from a local home center. Program #2814
Weston Project, Part 14 of 16
Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 1:30pm ET
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Master carpenter Norm Abram meets with Michelle Moore from the U.S. Green Building Council to learn more about their LEED for Homes program and how the Weston house will qualify. Landscape contractor Roger Cook installs porous pavers in the driveway, while the Port Orford cedar pergola is being craned into place on the front lawn. Bensonwood woodworker Kevin Bittenbender shows host Kevin O'Connor how they build window trim kits in the Bensonwood shop and later how they are installed in the field at the project house. General contractor Tom Silva shows Norm the new industrial steel staircase going in and how the look is softened by reclaimed Douglas fir stair treads. In Nantucket, Massachusetts, Norm and designer Carole Freehauf visit remote Esther's Island to see how one developer has achieved luxury living completely off the grid.

Program #2815
Weston Project, Part 15 of 16
Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 1:30pm ET
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At the project house in Weston, landscape contractor Roger Cook installs a berm and fence in the front yard to screen out the busy street. Landscape architect Wes Wirth and homeowner Amy Favat review the native plants they've chosen for the new planting beds. Amy takes host Kevin O'Connor to a showroom and workshop in Florence, Massachusetts, where they both lend a hand in making the concrete countertops and sink. Back in Weston (after a 30-day cure time) master carpenter Norm Abram finds the countertops being installed in the kitchen. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Kevin how the house is being cooled, with an a la carte, split-type air conditioning system featuring outdoor heat pump units and indoor wall mounted units. These provide zoning control in the different areas of the house. Upstairs in the master bedroom, Kevin finds Amy and designer Carole Freehauf putting down eco-friendly carpet tiles that are easy for DIY-ers to install. General contractor Tom Silva installs a handcrafted copper owl weathervane that will sit on top of the project house.

Program #2816
Weston Project, Part 16 of 16
Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 1:30pm ET
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At the project house in Weston, landscape contractor Roger Cook tends to the last efforts on the landscaping front, which includes fresh sod, a bocce court, and a new irrigation system. Master carpenter Norm Abram and general contractor Tom Silva review how the choices of lighting, hardware and wood finishes contribute to the barn effect, and then they help Roger install the rustic granite hearthstone for the new fireplace. In the master bathroom, tile contractor Mark Ferrante lays the last of the handmade tile over the new cast concrete vanity sinks. Finishing touches are put on the security system and industrial light fixtures, and the signature "harvest table" (designed by architect Chris Adams) is delivered for dining room. After reviewing the amenities on the basement level and the features of the new mechanical room, homeowner Pete Favat shows plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey the new media room which is outfitted with a 92" HD screen, HD projector and a concealed surround sound system. Homeowner Amy Favat shows designer Carole Freehauf the finished private spaces including a guest room, a small but functional laundry room and a beautiful master suite with all of the amenities. After a tour of the finished first floor, builder Tedd Benson joins the crew to celebrate a job well done both in the shop and on site.