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How Tom Silva Became a General Contractor | Ask This Old House

In this video, This Old House’s favorite general contractor tells us all about how his career in the trades began.

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General contractor Tom Silva takes us back through time and tells us how he became a general contractor. Growing up in a house full of people who worked with their hands, his role as chief on a construction site seems pre-determined. From being a little kid breaking things with his dad’s hammer to how he got his start on This Old House, Tom tells the whole story.

As with many folks in the trades, Tom Silva’s future as a general contractor almost seemed inevitable. Growing up in a home of family members who loved working with their hands, the bug caught Tom at a very early age. His father was a builder and his mother and grandmother were both seamstresses, so he’s always had a hands-on influence.

Tom says he grew up in the trades. He remembers being three or four years old, following his dad around with a hammer, and breaking things. He loved working alongside his dad, spending his junior high school summers renovating homes with him. Being one of five boys, there were always chores and projects to complete. When Tom finished school, he went to work for his dad’s business.

Tom’s always had an appreciation for the old ways things were done. While never being afraid to try a new tool or material, he prefers the old techniques that last for years and years. It’s this appreciation for things that last that makes Tom’s job as a general contractor so gratifying. He enjoys driving down the road with his kids and pointing out houses he built 40 years ago.

As far as his start with This Old House, Tom grew up next to Russ Morris, the show’s creator. When the show kicked off, Russ approached Tom about it, to which Tom said he was too busy. Russ didn’t take no for an answer, bringing the show to one of Tom’s jobs and interviewing him about the project. That’s when Tom caught the TV star bug.

Tom loves being part of the This Old House and Ask This Old House teams. He enjoys helping people and sharing a technique, skill, or piece of advice for them whenever he can. Whenever a viewer comes up and thanks him for what he does, he feels they appreciate his work as well.

Tom usually spends his free time in his shop building furniture, or on the water in his boat. When it comes to things viewers might not know about Tom, he ranks this fact as number one: He used to sew. He even made his daughter’s clothing when she was in grammar school.

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About Ask This Old House TV: From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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How Tom Silva Became a General Contractor | Ask This Old House

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