The show's pros are real contractors who do other jobs in addition to what you see on TV, and they all live near Boston. So one of the yearly project houses is located within commuting distance for all of them. Tom Silva is the actual general contractor; he doesn't just play one on TV. He's on-site even when the klieg lights are off. (Have your doubts? Check out the 24-hour webcams.
When the Boston-based project is finished, the crew hits the road, doing a winter project that's usually covered in 8 to 10 episodes. To work in the off-season, they tend to head somewhere with a milder climate where construction goes full-tilt year-round—in the past they've hoofed it to Santa Barbara, Miami, Honolulu, and, most recently, Austin, Texas. But the show has overcome the cold in urban areas like Chicago and Washington and even London, England, too. Basically, if the story is compelling enough, the show travels to it.
A House with Some History
As a rule, TOH
houses are old. But even 50 years old is enough to satisfy that requirement. And that's not to say the producers wouldn't consider a newer house,if it would make for great TV.
More important than age is diversity of style. If the show recently featured a Federal-style house, the crew would probably be looking for something quite different, maybe a Queen Anne or a Craftsman. "We're really driven to change it up from what we did the year before," says Hood. The architecturally ornate interior of the Newton house is a complete turnaround from last year's projects, the modest two-family in East Boston and Austin's green bungalow.Lots of Stuff to Do This Old House
is not a one-day makeover show. It documents an entire renovation in up to 26 episodes, shaping a narrative out of weeks of ongoing construction. "We're about quality and craftsmanship," says Hood. "Those things take time—months, sometimes a year."
The project has to run the gamut of what viewers at home might deal with in their own renovations, from plumbing to electrical to design. Work has to happen on exteriors, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms—pretty much everything. (Homeowners with much smaller projects can always try to get on Ask This Old House.
) Though the Newton renovation will leave much of the house intact, it will include a total kitchen remodel and a master-suite expansion. And one of the biggest projects will be an extensive landscape redo.