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 September 25, 2014
Ask This Old House Was In The Cleveland Neighborhood Of Shaker Heights

David: Tom Silva wanted to remove a piece of trim at the bottom of a dining room window as part of a project that called for replacing the existing trim with wood trim that matched the rest of the house. He pounded it with a hammer, hacked at it with a chisel, then finally pried it apart in pieces.

"This should have been the easiest part. It's not coming out," Silva said. "The grain is all over the place."

The delay meant that filming would go past the planned mid-afternoon finish time, but that was OK. Everyone involved with "Ask This Old House" knows the importance of doing the best work possible and finishing every task.

The Shaker Heights shoot ? at the home of Erin and Jeff Brown on Wednesday, Sept. 24 -- was part of the television show's two-day visit to Northeast Ohio. On Tuesday Silva, along with "Ask This Old House" producer and former Willoughby resident Health Racela, spoke to an audience at the Idea Center in Playhouse Square, and installed landscape lighting at a home in Brecksville for another segment.

The show also planned to shoot segments in Wheeling, West Virginia and Pittsburgh during this week's road trip.

On "Ask This Old House," host Kevin O'Connor, Silva and other home repair experts tackle everyday home improvement and repair questions. The "This Old House" Hour -- which includes episodes of "This Old House and "Ask This Old House" ? premieres at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4 and repeats at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5 on WVIZ Channel 25.

These Northeast Ohio segments will air in the spring. A national audience will meet Erin and Jeff Brown ? who grew up in Alliance and Hudson, respectively, and have lived in their 1928 four-bedroom Shaker Heights home for about six years.

The Browns learned through a Shaker Heights email newsletter that the show was looking for Northeast Ohio homes to spotlight. Erin Brown, 34, grew up watching "This Old House," so she sent in an email to "Ask This Old House" and got a call from a producer the next day.

She sent in a question about fixing plaster cracks, but the producer asked about other projects on her wish list, which included the window trim project.

"Ask This Old House" producer Heath Racela, who grew up in Willoughby, said he looks for projects with a lesson to teach that will have broad appeal among viewers, and can be applied to homes across the country. Rooms being renovated must be large enough to accommodate a television crew, camera and lights.

Homeowners are not paid for their television appearance, Racela said. Homeowners typically buy the materials, but the show picks up the labor costs.

"Hopefully we learn and can do (the trim job on other windows) ourselves," said Erin Brown. "We're very excited. The whole street is very excited."

Here's a tick-tock account of the first half of the day's filming:

10 a.m.: The six-person crew arrived at the Brown home towing a trailer emblazoned with the "Ask This Old House" logo. Director Thomas Draudt and a camera operator worked with Silva on an introductory clip that showed Silva giving a brief description of Shaker Heights and walking up the driveway to the front door.

Inside the house, production assistants were switching out the Browns' light bulbs, which give a yellow cast, with "daylight bulbs" that match the bluish tones of natural sunlight, said production coordinator Carly Ryan.

"If we left (the regular light bulbs) in, Tommy would look orange," Ryan said.

11:15 a.m.: Large lights on tall poles blazed in the living and dining rooms. Erin Brown had to greet Silva in her living room several times until the director is satisfied.

"Our one complaint is that there's no wood trim on this window," a composed and articulate Erin said on camera. "We can fix that. It'll make a big difference," Silva replied.

Silva explained to Erin Brown exactly what the job would entail while giving her a lesson on the anatomy of a window as well. The casing, or trim, of her dining room window had been removed by a previous homeowner and plaster had been extended to the window's edge on three sides. The bottom of the window is trimmed in wood. This modern look is not appropriate for an older home, Silva said.

Silva planned to remove the old trim, spray in foam insulation and install new wood trim. After sanding the new trim, the Browns would be able to paint it to match the rest of the house, Silva said.

Erin Brown's parents, Ray and Karen Barker, watched the filming on a small hand-held video monitor from the kitchen, which was the best place for staying out of the crew's way. Silva, with reading glasses dangling around his neck from a leash, kept reaching into the kitchen to sip from his coffee mug.

11:27: Time for the construction work to start. Window curtains were taken down and a heavy dining room table moved into the living room. Erin Brown fielded texts from excited neighbors wondering if the crew would still be there when they got home from work.

"This is a medium project ? not an easy fix, but not a full meal," director Thomas Draudt said. His challenge is figuring out how many steps to ask Silva to explain, and when to just let the contracting expert work without stopping to explaining things to the home audience.

While many home improvement television shows have come and gone, "This Old House" and "Ask This Old House" have endured because they teach viewers how to do jobs themselves, Draudt said.

11:41: A catered lunch of sandwiches, chips, salad, soup and soda arrives, but everyone must wait for a lunch break to be called before filling their plates.

Silva, wearing a well-worn tool belt, tried to remove that uncooperative piece of trim. The sound of hammering rang through the house. "He's really doing the work," Erin Brown said with admiration in her voice.

12:50 p.m.: Silva called a 30-minute lunch break. The crew is joined by three Ideastream donors who are "Ask This Old House" fans but missed out on tickets to last night's meet-and-greet. Instead, they were offered a chance to watch the filming. WVIZ, which airs "Ask This Old House," is part of Ideastream.

Steve Fening of Brecksville, who had the "Ask This Old House" team install outdoor lighting at his Brecksville home on Tuesday, popped in to get a photo with Silva. The show's electrical expert, Scott Caron, helped Fening with his project.

Fening, 35 and a longtime fan of "Ask This Old House," had learned that the show was looking for Cleveland-area homes to visit and sent in an email listing five possible projects. Producers picked the landscape lighting job because they felt that it would interest viewers.

"It was fantastic," Fening said, noting that the project took longer than expected. The crew, assisted by Fening, had to tunnel underneath his driveway to install about 30 lights to illuminate his home and trees. "It was a 13-hour day for 13 minutes of TV," Fening said. "We were all sweaty, getting dirty."

The crew left behind extra materials so that Fening can install lighting in his backyard, and the new LED lights use less energy that the old lights.

"The house looks fantastic. It was a great experience ? a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing," Fening said. "And, we got something out of it."

1:45 p.m.: Dirty paper plates were thrown away and cell phones checked. Silva and his crew met in the Brown's back yard, where a miter saw and portable table saw were set up. A crew member had gone to a nearby home improvement store and bought the table saw when Silva realized that he needed one for this job.

The table saw cuts with the grain, while the miter saw cuts across the grain, Silva explained.

It was obvious that the planned 2 p.m. completion time wasn't going to be met. Draudt, who estimates that Silva will need another three hours to finish the trim job, wondered how he'd get footage of Cleveland landmarks for the episode.

All this for a 6-minute, 55-second segment when it airs, Ryan said.

No one is complaining. Many times, Silva or another expert on "Ask This Old House" starts a project and finds unforeseen problems, Draudt said.

"Everyone who has an old house has these problems all the time," Draudt said. "We are here to celebrate it, and fix it."

 photo 8c0e93d0-026f-40d2-848f-8aa819e45aae_zpsc26c4f20.jpg
Tom Silva positions window molding as he rehearses before taping of Ask This Old House Wednesday, September 24, 2014. (Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer)