Find out how This Old House chooses projects that are good for the homeowners, the show and the audience. Also learn what you need to do to be considered for an episode of This Old House.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And have you ever wished that a reality TV show could just drop in and handle your renovation or fix-up project? Well, the team at This Old House  and also Ask This Old House has screened thousands of projects over the years and knows what it takes to find a project that’s good for the homeowners, the show and the audience.
LESLIE: Alright, to find out how they do that and what you need to do to be considered for an upcoming episode, we welcome host Kevin O’Connor .
Welcome, Kevin. So what’s the secret?
KEVIN: Well, it’s good to be here, guys. I’ll tell you the secret is this: first and foremost, understand that your house – not you – is going to be the star of the show. (Tom chuckles) We’re not looking so much for the homeowners as characters and people who are going to be very emotional and have all these sort of problems. We’re looking for a house that’s going to provide the drama. And for us, things like rot and termites and old kitchens and falling-down porches  is what we consider drama. And that is really the guiding principle. We want to find a house that has got a story to tell.
TOM: And that’s great because that’s one of the reasons the program has been around for 30 years; because while you have a lot of reality TV shows focusing on the characters, your character is the house and if it’s a good house, it’s going to be a good show.
And I think many in our audience may not be aware of this, Kevin, but you actually got your start as a host on This Old House by submitting a project to This Old House many years ago.
KEVIN: I did. It’s sort of a remarkable story. My wife and I had bought our first house; a fixer-upper. Lots of work needed to be done. It’s just what we were looking for. And not that long into the project, we did what I think a lot of people do and that’s e-mail or call This Old House for some help. We did that. Tom Silva and some of the crew came out to help us with a small project for our sister show, Ask This Old House, and what I thought was a house call turned out to be a casting call. Couple of months later, they invited me to be the host of both shows. So you never know what’s going to happen when This Old House shows up on your doorstep.
LESLIE: That’s amazing. What crazy luck that you have. That’s so fantastic.
KEVIN: I know. Well, you know what they say, "Better to be lucky," right?
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: And how did your project come out?
KEVIN: They left me hanging. (Tom and Kevin laugh) No, it was a wallpaper story of all things; how to get four paint-covered coats of wallpaper off the wall. And my wife Kathleen and I figured there has to be some sort of a silver bullet out there that can just make the stuff go away. And the experts showed up; we tried a bunch of things. And when it came right down to it, lot of elbow grease and warm water; that was about it. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Exactly. Yep, I know. We get asked the question all the time and there’s no substitute for hard work; although a steamer can help sometimes.
KEVIN: Yeah, I’m not complaining though. They left me with the wallpaper but they gave me a job.
TOM: That’s right.
TOM: Alright, so let’s talk about Ask This Old House. What is the process? What kind of information does somebody need to be able to submit a project?
KEVIN: Well, what we’re looking for on Ask This Old House – as you guys know, these are smaller projects that we’re going to tackle in about a half a day or a day; they’re fixing a leaky faucet, repairing a rotted window. Tom and I just walked off a jobsite. We were repointing a front, brick stoop before it got too bad.
What we’re looking for there are medium-sized projects that we think most homeowners would be willing to tackle in a day or a weekend and we’re looking for something that’s sort of typical. We don’t want an incredibly unique or arcane project that only makes sense in the hinterlands of the Pacific Northwest. We’re looking for a project that’s going to apply to most folks so that when we come out there and our experts – Roger, Richard, Tom – when they come out there and start teaching the homeowners lessons, they’re lessons that all of the viewers can benefit from. So, simple projects; medium-sized; something that needs an expert’s touch but not something too arcane.
LESLIE: And how do they go about actually applying? Do they need to take video footage, photographs, write a story or just e-mail in?
KEVIN: Our applications come to us all different ways. It can be as simple as an e-mail to ThisOldHouse.com; there’s a form on the website that folks can use. We’ve gotten some pretty clever submissions that included poems and people singing and making little YouTube videos. It does help to have pictures of what you’re talking about and a couple of pictures of the family and the dog so that we know what we’re getting ourselves into. But we look at all sorts of things. And so just make a compelling story; that you’ve got a problem, you’re stumped and you think that the guys who’ve been doing this for 30 years are going to be able to help you and teach you a lesson or two.
TOM: Well, there you have it. Kevin O’Connor, the host of Ask This Old House and also This Old House. And not only is he the host, he’s a customer. (all chuckle)
KEVIN: A satisfied customer at that. Great to be with you guys.
TOM: Thanks, Kevin. Have a great day.
KEVIN: You, too.
LESLIE: Alright. To catch more of Kevin and the entire This Old House team, including information on their current project – which really is a gorgeous one – visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.