From the producers of the Emmy® Award-winning series, THIS OLD HOUSE® comes a program for the next generation – THIS OLD HOUSE: Trade School. See what it’s like to work alongside the pros and learn the tricks of the trades. Join America’s favorite team of experts – Norm Abram, Tom Silva, Richard Trethewey, Roger Cook and Kevin O’Connor – as they tackle home renovations from start to finish.
About the Hosts
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinOConnorTOH
Nominated for an “Outstanding Service Show Host” Emmy Award in his debut season, Kevin O’Connor has been appearing as host of the Emmy Award-winning series, This Old House, and the Emmy-nominated series, Ask This Old House, since 2003. He also serves on the editorial board of This Old House magazine, published by This Old House Ventures, and has hosted shows for the DIY network and The History Channel’s H2. In September 2011 Kevin published his first book, The Best Homes of This Old House.
Kevin, along with his four brothers and two sisters, grew up on various job sites led by his father, a civil engineer. Years later he remains an avid home enthusiast. When Kevin, a lifelong fan of This Old House, and his wife, Kathleen, were fixing up their first house, they sent an e-mail seeking help from the Ask This Old House experts. To their surprise and delight, the House call served as Kevin’s first screen test to serve as the new host (the third host in the history of the pioneer home improvement series).
Kevin received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the College of the Holy Cross and a Master’s of Business Administration degree from Boston University. Prior to his television career, Kevin worked for Bank of America as a Senior Vice President in the Commercial Real Estate Group and before that in the Sports Finance Group at Fleet Bank.
Originally from New Jersey and an avid traveler, Kevin lives with his wife and three children in a home north of Boston.
Follow Norm on Twitter @NormAbramTOH
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.
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 has been master carpenter for This Old House ever since.
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 across the country 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 Ventures, Inc., 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.
Follow Tom on Twitter @TomSilvaTOH
As a proud member of America’s favorite home improvement team since 1986, general contractor Tom Silva has provided years of expert advice to home enthusiasts across the country on This Old House. He also brings his endless expertise to This Old House’s sister show, Ask This Old House.
Renovating houses since he was a child, Tom’s first major project, working alongside his dad and brother, was installing a basement fallout shelter underneath their 1787 Colonial in Lexington, Massachusetts. After digging out the 20x40x12-foot hole under the house, by hand, and hauling away all the boulders, they framed it and finished it off. “It took us two years, and I felt such pride in what we had accomplished that I knew I wanted to do this for a living,” says Tom.
Silva Brothers Construction made up of Tom, his brother Richard, and his nephew Charlie, built the original set for the WGBH-TV Boston production The Victory Garden in the parking lot of WGBH. Russell Morash, the creator of This Old House, discovered the Silva crew while they were conducting a major restoration on an 1845 Greek Revival-style house. It was then that Russ named Tom and his crew the general contractors for the show.
Tom says, “Each job is unique and different, which is just what I like. Besides loving my work, I’ve made good friends with the entire crew of This Old House, and it’s been a rewarding experience.” Tom has contributed to Complete Remodeling and Complete Landscaping, published by This Old House Books in conjunction with Sunset Books in 2004, and the Homeowner’s Manual, published by This Old House Books in 2000. He is on the editorial board of This Old House magazine, published by This Old House Ventures, Inc., where his work and expert advice are featured regularly.
Parents of a daughter and a son, Tom and his wife live in a 19th-century house he continues to renovate in a Boston suburb. He is a native of Massachusetts and a boating enthusiast.
Plumbing and Heating Expert
Follow Roger on Twitter @thisoldplumber
Richard Trethewey has been an integral part of the This Old House team since the home improvement show’s debut in 1979. Today, he also appears on the Emmy Award-winning show’s sister series, Ask This Old House. Russell Morash, creator of This Old House, first called Richard’s father Ron, proprietor of Trethewey Bros. Inc., the family plumbing and heating business, with an idea for a home improvement show in 1978. Serving the Boston community since 1902, Trethewey Bros. Inc. enjoyed a tremendous reputation and was highly recommended. After one season, Ron was in love with This Old House, but not with the pressure of filming before cameras, so he asked his son to take over. It was then, in 1980, that Richard became the show’s plumbing and heating expert. “I guess I was just too young to be nervous,” he says of his TV debut. Born and raised in Dedham, Massachusetts, Richard learned from his father and others involved in the family business by working summers and school vacations. He is a licensed master and journeyman plumber in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has long been an advocate for professionalism in the building trades. Richard is president of RST (Thermal) Inc., a manufacturer’s representative company that provides training to the skilled trades, and is on the editorial board of This Old House magazine, published by This Old House Ventures, Inc. (His two sons, Ross and Evan, are active in the business as well.)Richard has contributed to Complete Remodeling, published by This Old House Books in conjunction with Sunset Books in 2004, The Homeowner’s Manual, published by This Old House Books in 2000, and the heating and plumbing sections of This Old House Bathrooms and This Old House Kitchens, published by Little, Brown and Company in 1992 and 1993. He has authored This Old House Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, also published by Little, Brown and Company in 1994. Richard lives on the South Coast of Massachusetts when he is not living aboard a sailboat in Boston. His interests include sailing and home renovation.
Follow Roger on Twitter @RogerCookTOH
As landscape contractor for the Emmy® Award-winning television series, This Old House, and appearing on its sister show, Ask This Old House, Roger Cook motivates aspiring green thumbs and inspires stumped professionals with expert advice learned over the course of a lifetime in landscaping.
Roger’s journey with This Old House began in 1982 when he first appeared on the series. At the time, he was working as the landscape foreman for the Frost and Higgins Company, but that didn’t stop him from contributing ideas and expertise to several This Old House projects, including the Bigelow Ranch and the Woburn House. A phone call many years later from landscape architect Tom Wirth changed everything. It was 1988, the project was the Lexington Bed & Breakfast renovation, and Roger was on board full time as the landscape contractor.
In 1977, Roger received a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management and conservation law from the University of Maine. A certified landscape contractor in Massachusetts, Roger is an active member of the Massachusetts Arborist Association and has served as president of the board of directors of New England Grows and the Association of Landscape Contractors of Massachusetts.
Roger owns and operates K & R Tree and Landscape Co, Inc., which he founded in 1982 with his wife, Kathleen.
He currently serves on the editorial board of This Old House magazine, published by This Old House Ventures, Inc., and most recently contributed to Complete Landscaping, published by This Old House Books in conjunction with Sunset Books in 2004.
Roger lives in a town north of Boston. When he’s not working or gardening, he enjoys saltwater fishing and spending time on Cape Cod.
Exclusive Preview of Human Centered Design, Demolition!
Tom and Roger are underway with site work so that our doorways can eventually be level with the ground, requiring no steps. Inside, demolition is underway, and on the second floor, it has revealed bizarre and unsafe framing from a previous renovation that will need to be fixed. At the small kitchen bump out, excavation is complete, and the footings are in progress. Architect Sally DeGan shows Kevin that in her practice, accessible homes don’t have to be institutional, they just need a short list of key considerations—one-floor living, room to get around, good lighting, no thresholds, and barrier-free showers. Back in Essex, a few weeks later, the foundation for the addition is complete, as well as the first floor platform and gable end of the kitchen. Before work can progress, Norm, Tom, and Kevin need to remove the bad shed dormer. They make quick work of it with careful demo and a 60-foot boom lift. Meanwhile, Roger shows the progress on the retaining walls that will support the new patio. Then, Norm, Tom, and Kevin frame up the steeply pitched roof of the kitchen addition starting with the ridge beam and then all of the rafters, one by one.