May 18, 2012
It’s not every day that you get to appear on your favorite TV show—one that you've watched faithfully for years—but fate has dealt us a good hand. Our project is the restoration of a 1935 three-bedroom cottage in Essex, Massachusetts. The house has seen better days, but it sits beautifully on six-plus acres on the side of a wooded hilltop, with great views of Essex Bay and the Atlantic beyond. Well, at least we think the views are great. Right now, they're a bit obscured pending the arrival of Roger Cook and his team. No doubt I’ll be contributing some sweat equity once they get here, and I have a chain saw at the ready!
My wife and I live nearby the Essex cottage, and intend to use it as a residence for my in-laws. They are in the “bad knee and hip club,” so our design objective will be to accommodate one-floor living, with easy access to and from the house. The house has good “bones” and an intriguing history (more on that in a future blog). We will do a top-to-bottom restoration, upgrade all the systems (including geothermal for heating and cooling), remove a clunky dormer at the rear of the house and replace it with a proper structure that accentuates the roof line, and add a new kitchen and four-season sunroom. And we will do it all in nine months…
We purchased the Essex cottage in January, and were picked for "This Old House" soon after. In short, order, we have found an architect, designer, and landscape planner, met the cast and production team, secured the necessary permits, and finalized the design. And what could be better than asking Norm Abrams or Tom Silva for their thoughts on the latest in flooring and roofing, Rich Trethewey for the latest in green tech for waste water, or Roger Cook for advice on restoring the woodlands and thwarting the forsythia that occupies some choice real estate outside the main house? For the next nine months or so, they get us, and we get them. Can’t wait! P.S.
We like Kevin O’Connor, too…
(26) CommentsComment on this Blog
Enjoy every minute! You have the best of the best working for you.
First time trying Backyard Rooms. They’re building a home office addition with just ladders, drills, and a kit. Amazing to watch it go up.
I am so excited to see a project that will be incorporating Universal Design! Awesome!
In the episode of the Essex House the guys were commenting on the unsafe construction of the existing ridge beam but when they were building the new roof and using nail guns, I didn't notice eye protection when using the nail gun. The show should advocate for personal safety as well as building construction safety! Great show in spite of this common safety issue.
Where is the garage? If this home is for an elderly couple, shouldn't there be an attached garage with easy access to the first floor? If nothing else, to help the residents get in and out of a car to go to doctor appointments.
Do you know your kitchen webcam is showing upside down in the snow?
Love watching the progress!
In TOH's earliest years, project budgets and expenses were discussed. Lately, there are only general references to a budget, if anything is mentioned at all.
With the scope of the Essex project, color me nosy, but the budget would be very interesting.
I enjoy your show very much. There is one area that I find concerning. My father worked construction most of his life and the smell of saw dust always brings great memories of him to me. He would have enjoyed your show so much.If my father had lived, he would be celebrating his 100 th birthday on the 23rd of this month, but he died in 1991 of lung cancer attributed to asbestos exposure. During his illness I was exposed to the career of respiratory therapy and I have since become a registered therapist and work in the Pulmonary Rehab department at the local hospital. It breaks my heart at the number of individuals who have been exposed to irritants that resulted in permanent lung damage when the use of protective equipment could possibly have prevented the problem. Please, please research this topic and urge the use of masks. I noticed mason work being done without any protective mask being used by the individuals doing the work. Do you realize what damage is done by inhaling the dust from the stone and mortar? I have had to wear masks in my job at times and they are hot and not very comfortable, but the protection they offer is well worth the bother of wearing them. Lung disease rarely has a cure. I feel that it is a privilege to work with people who experience lung disease, but i do not have the opportunity that your show offers you. you each have the opportunity to not only teach building skill and entertain, but you can have such a positive influence on the way people choose to be safe with their projects, both diy folks, or professionals.To end, allow me to say this. Our country is facing a healthcare crisis that staggers the mind. I am far from the smartest twig on the tree, but I believe that prevention of disease when possible is a good place to start. Please consider discussing this issue on your show. You appear to be gifted men and I believe that you could reach and convince people everywhere of the importance of lung safety. Thank-you for your time and a very informative as well as entertaining show.
1923 bungalow owner
Recent episode had them putting PVC trim on "This OLD house", perhaps they should rename to "This Plastic house". Why not use vinyl siding while you are at it along with a Hardi shingle system for the sidewalls?
I have been watching TOH since the beginning many years ago. I just saw the Essex House episode where the guys had to blow up the granite slab. In all the years I have never seen the guys as excited as they were when they got to blow something up! So funny! Boys will be boys.
Did you sell the iron fence from the deck to a re-sale warehouse type place? If so which one?
Instead of "re-sale," I mean a reclaim/salvage warehouse.
Was just watching your Essex house episode where your electrician was installing PVC conduit for the new service. Could you let him know that if you plug the ends of the conduit while you are heating it, the pipe will heat quicker and more even because you are trapping heat inside the pipe. Also you should have a bucket of water with you to cool the pipe quicker and save time. Thanks , I am a thirty year member of local 351 IBEW in south jersey and a loyal fan of your show since your first episode.
The exterior landscaping is featuring a lot of natural stone laid walkways and patios no matter how well laid these surfaces are they will shift over time. All I've heard throughout this project is "Universal Design" stressing accessibility. Well, speaking for all grandmothers - they avoid walking on uneven and mottled surfaces like the plague. I realize you want to show off unique hardscapes but you really missed the mark for this meeting your "Universal Design" criteria ... in this respect ugly or not it should all be a poured even surface!
The recent episode appeared to show interior shiplap pine being installed directly over spray foam insulation. If so, I think this violates all building codes that require a thermal barrier like 1/2" gypsum be installed over all spray foams. I hope someone with more expertise replies to this!
Absolutely love the show and have for years, tho' the increasing commercialization over time is unfortunate.
As usual a wonderful finish. But am I the only person that watched this project go up and wondered, "what does this owner do for a living?" The final cost for this thing has to be just amazing for such a small structure.
Let's see, a new well, a state of the art geothermal system a 3 stage water purification system a multi-stage sewage treatment PLANT, a huge electrical generator and I can't even remember what-all else. All together of course it's a wonderful piece of work but how many people can possibly support such expense? Oh and let's not forget this is all for a cottage!
Now the truth is for this viewer the increasing cost of all the projects has been on my mind for years. Typically I just give it all a mental shrug and chalk it up to the cost of doing business in the late 20th and early 21st Century. But not on this project. For some reason as I watched all of this go on my mental calculator just kept running the whole time. I bring it up because this experience is the predominate memory I'll have of this project and that's unique in all my viewing.
This house looks like a space ship with ll the tech.-- HVAC, water, power,sewage, etc. what H-ll did this cost????
Where is the garage?? Gotta have a garage with easy accessibility and door to kitchen.
Sad to report that the gentleman, Dan Wegner, who was shown in the episode with disabilities passed away on July 5, 2013 from a battle with ALS.
What ever happened to the whimsical rod iron railing from the Essex house original patio? I'm trying to recreate it for a remodel I'm planning on my home.
Best Regards :-D
We love your show, but this "cottage" project is too too much! After watching the extent of the renovations, it just has to be cheaper to tear the whole thing down and build a new house! For these viewers, some episodes bordered on boring, i.e., the oil tank episode. Can't wait until you get back to civilization.