East Boston; Austin
For the first time ever, the experts at This Old House gathered house proposals via www.thisoldhouse.com, and now find themselves working with two single female homeowners in the dynamic neighborhood of East Boston. The challenge for this new season is to renovate their 1916 two-family house on a modest budget. While the house needs new wiring, plumbing, and insulation — the homeowners hope to spend most of their money on stylish new kitchens and baths. Downstairs, homeowner Liz Bagley wants an open, contemporary look, with a new back porch. While upstairs, her aunt, Chris Flynn, prefers a more traditional approach that includes adding a new bath in the attic, and greatly expanding her kitchen. After a thorough inspection, host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram discover additional problems with the roof, heating systems, and an aggressive vine that's engulfing the house.
Host Kevin O'Connor meets local architect Craig Buttner to see how he saved money on this own renovation by doing the work himself and by using salvaged materials. Craig agrees to draft some plans for the East Boston house, while general contractor Tom Silva meets historic masonry specialist John Lambert for a closer look the stucco exterior of the project house. In a perfect world, the 90-year old stucco would be replaced, but the homeowners might only be able to afford a temporary patch and paint job. Out front, landscape contractor Roger Cook shows Kevin how a street tree might be strangling the sewer pipe with its roots, causing backups in the basement. Options include removing the tree, and/or replacing the pipe, so to find out how bad the damage is, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey uses a snake equipped with a tiny video camera to investigate.
Landscape contractor Roger Cook puts homeowner Liz Bagley to work removing the dead privets on her property. Architect Craig Buttner walks Liz through three options for opening up her kitchen, the last one calls for a radical reorganization that would address some traffic-flow problems, but it could also be a budget breaker. Master electrician Allen Gallant shows master carpenter Norm Abram that although the panel boxes have been updated in the basement, much of the original knob and tube wiring is still active and in need of replacing. In preparation for demolition, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey drains the heating systems and begins removing radiators that will be saved and reused. Environmental consultant Sam Covino discovers asbestos in Liz's kitchen that will need to be professionally abated, but that does not stop general contractor Tom Silva from showing Liz and friends how to demo the old cabinets, plumbing fixtures and ceilings to make way for the new.
Landscape architect Stephanie Hubbard shares her strategies for creating a "bold and simple" urban landscape in East Boston. Abatement contractor Brian Fitzsimons and crew remove asbestos-laden flooring and mastic from the first floor kitchen. Upstairs on the second floor, general contractor Tom Silva and master carpenter Norm Abram carefully remove the original mouldings that will be saved and reused if possible. Then, host Kevin O'Connor lends them a hand knocking down the partition wall that currently separates two bedrooms, to make space for the new kitchen. City contractors arrive outside to excavate the sewer main and lateral to the house — they discover both are chronically choked with tree roots, and in need of repair.
Despite both of their kitchens being gutted, aunt Chris Flynn and her niece Liz Bagley are still bunking in together in the upstairs unit, getting by with just a refrigerator and a hot plate in the dining room. Kitchen designer Kathy Marshall shows Kevin and Liz two possible schemes for Liz's new kitchen in the first floor apartment. Master plumber Bill Kane shows plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey a new pipe relining system that will line the old cast iron sewer pipe lateral with a new, continuous pipe made out of resin to protect against future tree root infiltration. On the second floor, host Kevin O'Connor lends general contractor Tom Silva and master carpenter Norm Abram a hand hauling in and installing a new carrying beam that will allow for an open floor plan. Master electrician Allen Gallant shows Kevin how he's snaking new wires through the old walls using a fishing system and a flexible steel drill bit
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey and homeowner Chris Flynn haggle with salvage expert Harry James as he prepares to remove antique plumbing fixtures from the house. To make way for the new kitchens, Kevin and the homeowners lend general contractor Tom Silva a hand taking down the central chimney from the top, brick by brick. Master carpenter Norm Abram visits the jobsite of the first art museum to be built in Boston in nearly 100 years, the Institute of Contemporary Art, which features a dramatic glass cantilever and a tight construction deadline. Back at the house, kitchen and bath designer Kathy Marshall shows Norm how she plans to squeeze a new, no frills, full bathroom into the attic for Chris. The new bathroom will be built first, before demo takes place in the old second floor bathroom, so the homeowners won't have to move out.
Homeowner Chris Flynn takes host Kevin O'Connor to the highest point in East Boston to see the spectacular view of downtown, and a national religious shrine featuring a 35-foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary. General contractor Tom Silva shows Kevin some of the problems with rot on the front porch, and failures in the old stucco exterior, while landscape contractor Roger Cook enlists the help of the homeowners to remove all of the ivy that is engulfing (and damaging) the building. Kitchen designer Kathy Marshall shows master carpenter Norm Abram the design and finish choices for the upstairs unit's kitchen, while plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey roughs in a new full bath in the attic space on the third floor. On the first floor, flooring contractor Patrick Hunt pulls back the old wall-to-wall carpeting to discover a fir floor that needs to be replaced, and two rooms worth of valuable long leaf pine flooring in beautiful condition. In the basement, demolition contractor Bob Gagliard breaks up and removes the old cast iron boiler.
Host Kevin O'Connor opens the show at Piers Park, a waterfront park in East Boston that gives its residents access to the water and free sailing lessons to city youth. Even though they plan to live in the house during the renovation, homeowners Chris Flynn and Liz Bagley pack up most of their belongings into a portable storage unit so work can progress. Liz helps general contractor Tom Silva dig holes for the footings for her new deck using a compact utility loader. To resist weather and frost-driven uplift, Tom uses a one-piece ultra high-density polyethylene footing form. Fire inspector Bill Honen helps Kevin locate the new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, while master electrician Allen Gallant installs them. On the exterior of the house, masonry contractor Mark McCullough patches the worst of the crumbling stucco.
Master carpenter Norm Abram and host Kevin O'Connor open the show steps away from the project house at a little-known monument to a local pilot who sacrificed his life to save the neighborhood in 1954. Kevin helps general contractor Tom Silva pull up the second floor front deck to examine the structure and make the necessary repairs. They find extensive rot, colonies of active carpenter ants, and insufficient structure due to years of misguided repairs. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey installs new thermostatic valves that will allow the homeowners greater flexibility and control of their heating systems. Norm shows homeowner Chris Flynn how to remove a broken stained glass window, while Kevin visits the Brookline studio of stained glass artist and restorer Emanuel Genovese to see how the window is repaired. Landscape contractor Roger Cook brings in certified arborist Matt Foti to prune the street tree both up and down, in order to allow more light and water views into both the first and second floor apartments.
Out front, the porch story continues as general contractor Tom Silva shows host Kevin O'Connor how he is replacing the old rotting wood trim boards with new rot-resistant PVC material. In the basement, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows homeowner Liz Bagley why her aging oil tanks need replacing. The new double-wall tanks are seamless galvanized steel on the outside, and high-density polyethylene on the inside to resist corrosion and leaks. Master electrician Allen Gallant shows Kevin why he is using IC rated recessed lights, as well as how to properly install them. To experience a day in the life of the East Boston waterfront, Kevin accompanies a state-of-the-art tractor tugboat on a mission to guide a container ship safely through the harbor. Back at the project house, roofing specialist Rich Kline shows Kevin the reinforced elastomeric membrane roofing system going down on the front porch roof.
Homeowner Chris Flynn shows master carpenter Norm Abram how she is making do with the makeshift bathroom on the third floor. General contractor Tom Silva offers Chris reasons why she needs to replace her old basement windows, and host Kevin O'Connor lends a hand installing them in the existing jambs. In the basement, as an alternative to using direct vent oil appliances, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Norm the new stainless steel double wall chimney that will be used to vent the heating equipment. On the other side of town, Kevin meets developer David DuBois to see how he fulfilled an urban fantasy by renovating an 1865 East Boston firehouse into an over-the-top dream home. Tom shows homeowner Liz Bagley how he'll insulate behind her existing walls using familiar spray foam insulation, but this time it will be poured into the wall cavity through a series of small holes, so as not to disturb the old plaster.
The ninety-year-old slate roof could not be saved, so roofing contractor Sean Green and his crew strip off the old slate, and lay down new asphalt the proper way. General contractor Tom Silva shows host Kevin O'Connor how his crew is hanging 5/8 fire-rated wallboard on the ceiling with the help of a handy wallboard hanger. In the second floor bathroom, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey installs a new custom copper shower pan and drain. In the basement, master electrician Allen Gallant shows homeowner Chris Flynn the new, updated service panels and the new external whole house surge suppression system that will protect all the household appliances and electronics from power surges and lightening strikes. Kevin lends Tom and Richard a hand getting the cast iron tub into homeowner Liz Bagley's first floor bathroom.
Work begins on the exterior of the building, first by cleaning any old cracks, and then by applying a flexible polyurethane caulking that is blended to match the texture of the old stucco. Master carpenter Norm Abram repairs and updates the original front doors to the house, which were recently discovered in the basement. Inside, plastering contractor Karl Gross uses a reinforced plaster mix, mesh tape, and joint compound to patch the old plaster and prevent future cracks. Nearby, landscape contractor Roger Cook visits a colorful East Boston community garden. While back at the house, coatings specialist Scott Bennung shows host Kevin O'Connor how he's applying an elastomeric coating, rather than paint, to the stucco that will seal out water and provide a fresh, clean look for the house.
While homeowner Liz Bagley works to strip paint off the front door trim, general contractor Tom Silva creates a wood inlay to patch her kitchen floor with material salvaged from other parts of the house. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows host Kevin O'Connor the progress in the basement, and the anatomy of the new boiler for the first floor unit. Kevin visits Boston Symphony Hall to see how they are using custom milled maple and steel cut nails to replace the 100-year-old original stage floor, without altering the renowned acoustics of the hall. In the second-floor bathroom, Tom shows Kevin how he's milling up custom PVC mouldings to trim out a window that is in a shower well, and therefore vulnerable to water damage.
Landscape contractor Roger Cook removes the rest of the old plants and dead lawn to make way for the new, while homeowner Liz Bagley and interior designer Lisey Good show off their plans for decorating the more modern downstairs unit. Upstairs, cabinet installer Oliver Earl shows master carpenter Norm Abram the new cabinets going into the kitchen. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey visits nearby Boston Light, the site of the first lighthouse in the country, to see its newly restored Fresnel lens. General contractor Tom Silva shows host Kevin O'Connor how he's expanded the back porch using composite decking with a hidden fastening system, and how he's repairing an old pressure treated railing, rather than replacing it. Flooring contractor Patrick Hunt shows Norm a new dust collection system that attaches to a standard floor sander, separates particulate matter through a cyclone, and then funnels the dust to a canister that can be kept outside, leaving the jobsite dust free.
Host Kevin O'Connor visits Suffolk Downs ? the oldest horseracing track in Massachusetts. Landscape architect Stephanie Hubbard fills Kevin in on some changes to the landscape plan, as the decorative trellises go up against the neighbor's garage. General contractor Tom Silva replaces the old, ivy-stained aluminum trim with new material. Homeowner Chris Flynn lends painting contractor Buzz Zimmerman a hand painting the walls in her kitchen, as master carpenter Norm Abram builds her a custom banquette at the New Yankee Workshop. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Kevin the new PEX water supply lines, the automatic water shutoff in the third-floor laundry, and the custom radiator covers going in on the first floor.
Host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram arrive to find the landscape coming together with a new fence, sod, and plants. General contractor Tom Silva fabricates and installs a laminate countertop for the laundry area. Kitchen designer Kathy Marshall shows homeowner Chris Flynn how to design a bathroom on a budget, as she takes her tile shopping at a local home center. Tile contractor Joe Ferrante gives homeowner Liz Bagley a lesson in installing subway tile in her new bathroom. The flooring contractors apply polyurethane to the longleaf pine floors on the second level, while Norm installs the custom banquette in Chris' kitchen. Countertop contractor Jason Keefe installs engineered stone tops upstairs, and black granite downstairs.
It's a wrap for the This Old House East Boston project! After a short ride on the Blue Line - the first subway in the world to run underneath a section of the ocean - master carpenter Norm Abram and host Kevin O'Connor arrive in East Boston to find furniture being delivered, a tent going up, and flat screen TVs being installed. Upstairs, custom cafe shutters complete the casual, cottage look for homeowner Chris Flynn, while downstairs, the grout on the glass tile backsplash is being finished in the first floor unit. Interior designer Lisey Good shows Kevin how she used paint color, lighting, and furniture to create a "boutique hotel" look for homeowner Liz Bagley, while upstairs, kitchen designer Kathy Marshall shows plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey the cottage kitchen and bath she designed with the help of beadboard, quartz countertops, white appliances and rustic tile. With the two-family complete, and two happy homeowners, the crew bids farewell to the unique seaside neighborhood of East Boston.
For the first time ever, the experts at This Old House travel to Austin, Texas, to transform an historic bungalow into an expanded, eco-friendly home with the help of a team of local green building experts. Newly married homeowners Michele Grieshaber and Michael Klug need more space to accommodate their modern lifestyle and Michael's two growing sons, Sam and David. Architect David Webber plans an architecturally sensitive and modest second floor addition, while local builder Bill Moore has some smart strategies for increasing the efficiency of the house, while preserving the old house charm. He begins with the biggest challenge of the project ? trying to level the house's pier and beam foundation that constantly shifts with the weather due to tough soil conditions. Master carpenter Norm Abram visits another green renovation that Bill recently completed in Travis Heights to see how green building can be tasteful, subtle, and truly mainstream.
Host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram arrive back in Austin, Texas, with a visit to the spring fed pool at Barton Springs, a favorite local outdoor hangout since the 1920s. Back at the house, the first truckload of framing material arrives, while Bill's crew is busy "deconstructing" the house. Program manager Richard Morgan drops by to explain what they will need to accomplish to qualify for a rare 5-star rating from Austin Energy's Green Building Program. To gain access to the much-needed workspace in the attic, the inefficient old system must go, so HVAC contractor Michael Scher begins outside, by draining and recycling the refrigerant from the old A/C unit. Curious about where the waste from our jobsite ends up, Kevin follows a dumpster of construction waste from our jobsite to a recycling center, and then to an integrated landfill where dimensional lumber and wallboard are turned into mulch and organic compost. Builder Bill Moore works quickly on framing the new addition, to get the building closed in before the rainy season begins.
After a visit to the Texas State Capitol building, master carpenter Norm Abram sees the standing seam metal roof going on our green building project, while host Kevin O'Connor meets builder Bill Moore for an update ? rough plumbing and electrical are complete, wallboard is up on the first floor, and spray foam insulation is being sprayed into the rafter bays of the new second floor. West of the project in Tarrytown, Kevin meets renowned green architect Peter Pfeiffer to see the green home he designed for his family of six. The breathtaking Craftsman-style home features local limestone, cement board siding, reclaimed wood, cross ventilation, CFLs, daylighting, and xeriscaping. Back at the project house, Bill shows Norm how his crew is making custom cedar brackets to extend the Craftsman detailing to the new work on the addition. Homeowner Michael Klug shows Kevin where contractors are spraying non-toxic borates onto the new work to prevent future insect damage, and how, upstairs, the crew is installing see the custom triangular windows that are insulated and coated for energy efficiency.
Host Kevin O'Connor welcomes plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey to the "Live Music Capital of the World" with a visit to the legendary Continental Club ? home of live rockabilly, swing, and country music since 1957. The next morning, builder Bill Moore shows Kevin the progress, and how sons Sam and David are helping out with demo in the first floor bath. Up on the roof, Richard finds solar contractor Andrew McCalla and his crew beginning to mount the modules that will make up a 2.45kW solar array that will provide 40% of the power needed for the new house. To keep the old house charm, Norm visits Brad Kittel at the largest salvage yard in Texas to find interior doors and glass knobs for the addition that will match what's already on the first floor. Plumber John Podolak connects the circulator pump for the tankless hot water heater, while out front, Bill shows Norm the problem with the sagging front porch pad. Concrete lifting contractor Ken Mongold provides a fix by injecting polyurethane foam under the slab, to slowly lift it back into place.
Host Kevin O'Connor shows landscape contractor Roger Cook some local color on Austin's Town Lake, while back at the project house, green builder Bill Moore demonstrates how he's using a French drain and moisture barrier to try and lower the water table around the house to partially stabilize the foundation of the house. Inside, Kevin finds that the reclaimed flooring has arrived from Virginia, the new French doors are installed, and the kitchen cabinets, made from sustainable MDF and Lyptus, are going in. On a trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Roger and homeowner Michael Klug find creative ways to use native plants in residential landscaping. A new composite decking, made from 100% recycled wood and plastics, goes down on the deck off the master bedroom, while sustainable lighting designer Mark Loeffler shows Kevin how he'll use compact fluorescent and LED lighting to increase the energy efficiency of the house. In the upstairs bath, master carpenter Norm Abram finds tile contractors Robbie and Bryan Hawkins applying a "mud set" to the shower wall that will be tiled with 50% recycled-content subway tile.
Despite a crippling ice storm in Texas, work continues at the project house. Builder Bill Moore shows master carpenter Norm Abram how he's using old roof rafters to fashion the railing system and nosings for the new stair treads. In the kitchen, homeowner Michele Grieshaber has selected six different paint colors, and paint specialist Mike Branch explains why, due to low-VOCs, the new paint we're using will be less toxic to homeowners and workers. Outside, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey lends a hand moving a 1200-gallon tank into place on the property, while rainwater harvester Blake West shows how the water will be collected from the metal roof with a series of gutters and PVC pipes, stored in the tank, and used later for irrigation. Richard visits West Texas to see how Texans are creating clean, renewable energy by harvesting the wind. Tile contractors Robbie & Bryan Hawkins install handmade tile made from 50% recycled-content on the master bathroom floor. Richard gets an update on the mechanicals from HVAC contractor Matt Romero who's installed a high efficiency two-stage air conditioning system with an electronic clean air filter.
Using locally abundant natural materials is considered "green", so we're using local limestone on the front porch wall caps, the first floor vanity top, and in the landscape borders. Master carpenter Norm Abram visits Jarrell, Texas to see how the stone is quarried, while lead carpenter Tony Goss reinstalls the old wooden front porch columns on new bases that will resist rot better than the originals. Builder Bill Moore takes host Kevin O'Connor to a local home center to show him several products that are not only green, but also widely available. Countertop contractor Chris Farris arrives to install the new recycled glass and concrete countertops in the kitchen, and Kevin travels to Brooklyn, New York to see how they are manufactured. Back at the project house, homeowner Michael Klug and landscape designer Adams Kirkpatrick show Kevin what they have planned for new green landscape ? highlights include native plants, minimal use of grass, and local limestone borders.
To celebrate the last episode, the crew visits the Broken Spoke, which has been called the "last of the true Texas dancehalls." Landscape contractor Roger Cook meets up with local landscape contractor Russell Womack to see the sod, plants, and pinestraw mulch going in. Irrigation specialist Chris Lupton shows off the new drip irrigation system, while general contractor Tom Silva checks out builder Bill Moore's temporary workshop in the driveway. Master carpenter Norm Abram visits a local lighting workshop to see how they're making over a dozen custom light fixtures for our project, while sustainable lighting designer Mark Loeffler reveals the final lighting effects achieved with the low-energy use lamps. Window treatments installer Hiram Lynch finishes up hanging custom shades and shutters, and plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey reviews the green features of the plumbing in the house ? 1.28gpf high efficiency toilets, low flow aerators, water filtration in the kitchen, and Energy Star appliances. At the end of the day, and the project, Richard Morgan from Austin Energy presents Bill and the homeowners with a 5-Star Rating from the Green Building Program ? only the third renovation to receive that designation the program's history. A Texas-style barbecue follows to celebrate the eco-friendly renovation that's both easy on the eye, and the environment.