Newton | Move or Improve?

In just a short subway ride, host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram arrive at the latest project house in Newton, Massachusetts. Built in 1897, the house is a Colonial Revival in "Shingle-style clothes"—a typical transitional-style house from the late Victorian era. Nearby, homeowners Paul Friedberg, Madeline Krauss, and their two young sons are moving out of old center hall Colonial. After struggling with the "move or improve" conundrum, they decided to move AND improve. On a tour of the "new" old house, Norm and general contractor Tom Silva review the good news—an exterior in pretty good shape and beautiful intact woodwork—and the bad news—some structural issues and a disconnected, sorely outdated kitchen. Upstairs, they find extensive plaster damage, bathrooms in need of updating, and an old enclosed sleeping porch that will become part of the new master suite. Architect Treff LaFleche shows Kevin and the homeowners his plan for opening up the kitchen and adding a mudroom, while also explaining how these rooms will be connected to the rest of the house and the backyard. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey surveys the state of the mechanicals, while landscape contractor Roger Cook exposes problems with the steep grade in the backyard, drainage, and wood-to-ground contact.

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