If you ask 10 random people which real estate, house construction, and property renovation shows they like, you are likely to get 10 or more different answers. Today, such shows are a dime a dozen, from the women in “Selling Sunset” dressed in designer outfits selling houses in Los Angeles, sharply dressed men in suits selling high-end houses in “Million Dollar Listings,” international agents showing houses to foreigners in “House Hunters,” and countless teams transforming their clients’ spaces in “Dream Home Makeover,” “Instant Dream Home,” and other similarly-themed shows. One can even catch similar shows all over social media as individual contractors showcase their work while amateur homeowners show off their DIY skills by doing their own construction and home renovations.
Four decades ago, only one show came to mind when real estate and house renovations were mentioned. Over forty years later, the show and its spin-offs are still going strongly, thanks to the dedication of Tom Silva, his father, brother and their crew. Let’s take a look at Tom Silva’s impressive stint on television and construction after he practically set the foundation for home construction and renovation shows on television. and find out what he is doing now.
A Family Affair
Renovating homes is in Tom’s blood. When Tom was growing up, his parents bought a house in Lexington, Massachusetts. At the time, his parents, who had run a laundry business all their lives, had just sold their business and retired. Their new house needed an underneath storm shelter. Since Tom’s father had some time on his hands and two strong boys who followed him around, eager to help out on whatever he was working on, he decided to install the shelter himself. Unknown to Silva and his two sons, the cost-saving activity laid the foundation for a successful family business. that would be passed down to the next generation.
Tom, his brother Richard, and their father worked tirelessly for two years on their home renovation project. to build a storm shelter under their colonial house, which had been constructed in 1787. By the time they finished the renovation, Tom, his brother, and their father had learned that they wanted to venture into the construction business. Tom had also discovered his love for old houses, and dedicated the next decades of his life to helping people restore or renovate their old homes, while protecting as much of the houses’ original structures as possible.
— This Old House (@ThisOldHouse) July 31, 2017
Tom has spent his entire career in construction, chasing the sense of pride and accomplishment he felt after finishing the project in his childhood home. Together with Richard and their dad, he set up “Silva Brothers Construction,” a firm that set and has maintained quality standards in the construction industry in Boston. The father has since retired, and his spot taken by Charlie, Richard’s son in efforts to transform the company into a family business that will be passed down the Silva family’s generations. The company specializes in custom renovations, but takes on new construction projects as well. Tom believes that the quality of their work, excellent craftsmanship, and the excellent customer service they offer by working closely with homeowners make the company one of the best contractors along the North Shore and the Boston suburbs. Currently, Charlie is the company’s CEO, while Tom is a partner.
“This Old House”
Once the Silva brothers and their father started their construction business, their custom craftsmanship and quality work earned them a reputation, which spread across Boston. In 1988, they landed a contract with WGBH-TV to construct the set for the gardening television show “The Victory Garden.” As usual, they did an amazing job on the set, and caught the eye of Russel Morash, the show’s producer. Morash was also producing a home renovation show called “This Old House” at the time. He went to Tom with an irresistible offer to have “Silva Brothers Construction” as the permanent contractors on his show – Tom has been on television since then.
Tom’s role in “This Old House” begins with the selection of a renovation project from the countless emails the show receives from property owners. According to the veteran contractor and television personality, he chooses projects for the show based on their location, size, and amount of work to be done, making sure that working on the winning project will generate enough content for an entire season. Once the project is selected, Tom goes in and does what has had millions of viewers glued to their screens every time he’s on television. He explains every step in the renovation process, sharing some tips on how viewers can make home improvements. In fact, he may have started the DIY culture through exhibitions at the National Building Museum that taught people how to save money, just as he and his family had when they constructed a storm shelter in their home.
“Ask This Old House”
A few years into Tom’s time in “This Old House,” the show had built a large and consistent audience. Network executives and the show’s producers leveraged the steady and sizeable viewership by creating a spin-off dubbed “Ask This Old House.” The spin-off has the same premise as its parent show but features extensive sessions where Tom talks about different equipment, and gives tips on choosing, using, and maintaining equipment. In addition to both shows, Tom is a writer. He’s co-written several books on house remodeling and is an editor of “This Old House” magazine, which shares tips on renovations with its readers.
Family and Community
Tom lives and breathes house renovations, but doesn’t let filming two shows, editing articles for the magazine, and co-running a construction business keep him from his family. Tom has been married to Susan for over thirty years. they live in a suburb in Boston in an over 200-year-old house and together the couple has two children. Not much is known about them besides their shared love for renovations. In fact, Tom took some time off his busy schedule to help his daughter and her husband renovate their house.
Besides family, Tom is an active member of his community. He established his place in the community early in his career and has maintained it over the years by serving its little league, participating in business associations, and actively participating in construction and real estate-related associations. He is the current chairperson of his community’s Rent Review Board.
Tom is in his mid-70s, but has shown no signs of slowing down. He’s currently filming season 22 of “Ask This Old House” and season 45 of “This Old House,” which will premiere in September. In addition to filming, he’s working with his nephew, Charlie, on new construction and renovation projects for “Silva Brothers Construction.” As he continues to fulfill his mission of delivering quality housing, he has one piece of advice for anyone who owns or is considering owning a house: fix it before it breaks.