Master carpenter of This Old House since the series’ 1979 premiere and host of The New Yankee Workshop since its premiere a decade later, Norm Abram has inspired millions of homeowners to renovate and restore their homes. Seen across the country as the ultimate home improvement guru, everyone wishes Norm lived next door. Norm officially retired in October 2022.
This carpenter-turned-celebrity was “discovered” by creator Russell Morash, who had commissioned him to build a barn on Russ’s suburban Boston property. Russ was so impressed with Norm’s work (he had the smallest scrap pile Russ had ever seen) that he invited the carpenter to help with the renovation of a rundown Victorian house in Boston’s historic Dorchester section—with a WGBH camera crew recording the process for a series. It was an instant success, and Norm became the master carpenter for This Old House until his retirement in the fall of 2022.
Admired for his easy-going manner and common-sense approach to renovation, Norm is an uncompromising old-world craftsman and a pioneer who searches out new construction products and approaches. His appearances at trade shows nationwide and on Today, The Late Show With David Letterman, Oprah!, Entertainment Tonight, and Good Morning America are extremely popular. His likeness, complete with a trademark plaid shirt, has been featured on Home Improvement, Saturday Night Live, Steven Spielberg’s Freakazoid, and in nationally syndicated cartoons.
Norm has authored eight companion books, including Ask Norm, The New Yankee Workshop, Classics From The New Yankee Workshop, Mostly Shaker From The New Yankee Workshop, Outdoor Projects From The New Yankee Workshop, Norm Abram’s New House, Measure Twice, Cut Once, and, The New Yankee Workshop Kids’ Stuff, all published by Little, Brown and Company. He has also contributed to Complete Remodeling and Complete Landscaping, both published by This Old House Books in conjunction with Sunset Books in 2004. Norm serves on the editorial board of This Old House magazine, published by This Old House, LLC., also authoring the popular column, Norm’s Tricks of the Trade.
Born in Rhode Island, Norm was exposed to the carpentry trade by his carpenter father as a young child. Norm continued to refine his skills working by his father’s side remodeling and building custom homes through high school and college vacations. He attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he studied mechanical engineering and business administration. In 1976, after three years as a site supervisor for a New England-based, multimillion-dollar construction firm, he founded Integrated Structures, Inc., a general contracting company he operated until 1989. The main focus of the company was house renovations and additions, with the occasional new home or commercial project.
Norm is also on the board of trustees of Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and had the privilege of giving the 2001 commencement speech at The North Bennet Street School in Boston, which is renowned for its commitment to teaching craftsmanship.
Norm lives with his wife in a classic Colonial home that he built in Massachusetts. They enjoy cooking and entertaining, visiting art galleries and museums, as well as boating, fishing, and kayaking.