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 September 1, 2012
This Old House credited For America's DIY Culture While Autumn Tasks Build

David: I found this article at huliq.com by Dave Masko.

Come Saturday afternoon ? starting at 4:30 ET/PT on PBS - when Ed "Gramps" Tucker watches his two favorite TV shows: ?Ask This Old House,? and ?This Old House,? he ?just becomes a couch potato,? quips Tucker?s wife Jean during an Aug. 30 interview in Florence, Oregon. At the same time, Ed and Jean are escorting friends and family around the Florence Old Town with a stop at a Siuslaw River vantage point where the couple beams with pride; while pointing to their newly remodeled home that seems to be glowing across the river. ?Look there, you can see the new roof that we just put on and the new siding sure looks sharp,? adds Ed Tucker who seems fresh and excited at age 71; with wife Jean just gleaming with pride. While the couple doesn?t give all the credit to watching their favorite Saturday afternoon ?This Old House? television shows, they do admit that ?it?s part of what we watch on TV for three decades now. It?s our comfort food. Do-it-yourself just keeps us busy and happy,? adds Ed Tucker who recently became a grandfather; hence his new nickname ?Gramps.?

However, this ?Gramps? is no old slacker when it comes to what he calls ?the task at hand,? and that?s all the autumn repairs and clean-up ?that we need to get busy with,? as explained on recent episodes of both ?Ask This Old House and This Old House,? that airs Saturday afternoons on PBS.

Ask This Old House and This Old House autumn tips

Now, just as the Tucker?s are enjoying the DIY fruits of their labor, their favorite TV shows ? Ask This Old House and This Old House, that will return to its regular Saturday afternoon time slot this fall season for its 34th year on PBS ? these do-it-yourself home repair and remodeling shows have been focusing on autumn clean-up and repair topics.

For instance, This Old House pros Norm Abram, Tom Silva, Richard Trethewey, Roger Cook, and host Kevin O'Connor are not only calling their show ? ?TV?s original home-improvement show ? but they are promising more whole-house renovation come this new fall season with ?several episodes devoted to one select house make-over? as the show has done in the past.

In turn, ?Ask This Old House? will continue to draw on the vast history of programs; that are now offered on the show?s website with the marketing pitch ?Watch full episodes for free anytime.?

Also, both shows will now be more interactive, say PBS producers, with ?shorter segments to teach trade tricks and answer thorny homeowner questions.?

At the same time, with the growing number of American homes damaged from recent storms and other disasters, This Old House is aiming to help those who take on DIY with the show?s vast resource of tips for homeowners in desperate need of repair.

This Old House fans say they must DIY due to poor craftsmanship

Although Ed and Jean Tucker are very nice people ? with Ed a retired hospital administrator and Jean a retired nurse ? both point to their recent DIY fever as linked to their view about a ?decline in professional craftsmanship.?

For instance, Ed Tucker told Huliq outside his Florence, Oregon, home Aug. 30 that ?I would not want to trust anyone ? even the so-called building professionals ? because we?ve seen a real dilution of craftsmanship in recent years. We see these young builders who are more focused on charging you lots and lots of money, with no regard to what we?re paying them to do. We expect first class work as you see on This Old House, but we?ve been disappointed so many times with people we?ve called in to do work on our house who just stink.?

Thus, the Tuckers got the national ?DIY bug,? as they call it, and are now not only watching ?This Old House,? but taking the show to heart by performing their own remodeling work; with the couple recently re-roofing their own home.

Also, Ed Tucker pointed to a recent This Old House episode where the team was using ?easy-to-use flooring? that is now stocked in most DIY stories. ?I listened, and then went to Jerry?s in Eugene and got the flooring and now it?s down and we?re enjoying the heck out of it.? Jerry?s is a popular home repair and home improvement chain in the Eugene and other parts of Oregon.

Do-It-Yourself was just 2.9 billion in 1960

Today?s DIY is huge business in America with ?tens of billions? being spent on home repair, quipped a local do-it-yourself store in the Eugene area; while PBS producers took note back in 1960 when the Census Bureau reported Americans spending $2,900,000,000 ?on do-it-yourself home repair and improvement.?

At the same time, DIY back in the Sixties was reserved for skilled craftsmen; with homeowners more or less "at their mercy to get a job done," adds Ed Tucker who is a self-proclaimed born again do-it-yourself expert due, in part, he says "to the real need to take care of these repairs around my home myself because we can't trust the contractors who are more focused on making money than giving you value for your money."

Flash forward to the early versions of ?This Old House? on PBS in the late Sixties and 1970?s and the show?s producers explain ? in a history of This Old House ? how the concept for a home remodeling TV show was born in 1978 called simply ?This Old House.?

DIY is what many Americans do for fun

Today, the scene at Home Depot and other popular national DIY chain stores is ?just crazy,? adds This Old House fan Ed Tucker. ?It?s as if I?m now in a special club and all my friends are here for one thing: do-it-yourself, baby!?

For instance, take a walk around a typical DIY store, and the aisles are filled with bricks and chainsaws; with lots of paint, carpeting and vinyl flooring with more drills and drill bits imaginable.

As for who?s going to do all this remodeling work on your home, the DIY stories say ?you are,? with lots of handouts and books and classes that sort of remind you of an episode of ?This Old House.?

In turn, Ed Tucker adds: ?I?ve never seen such a great amount of handy stuff as what they?re selling these days. It?s do-it-yourself without having to worry ?can I really do it myself??

State of DIY in America today

In turn, The New York Times explained last month in a DIY profile how ?The Home Depot approach to craftsmanship ? simplify it, dumb it down, hire a contractor ? is one signal that mastering tools and working with one?s hands? has now become a sort of hobby for many Americans today; with DIY now viewed as a ?valued skill, a cultural influence that shaped thinking and behavior in vast sections of the country.?

However, the Times stated ?that should be a matter of concern in a presidential election year. Yet neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney promotes himself as tool-savvy presidential timber, in the mold of a Jimmy Carter, a skilled carpenter and cabinet maker. The Obama administration does worry publicly about manufacturing, a first cousin of craftsmanship. When the Ford Motor Company, for example, recently announced that it was bringing some production home, the White House cheered.

At the same time, there?s a view, adds the Times report, how ?a growing manufacturing sector encourages craftsmanship and that craftsmanship is, if not a birthright, then a vital ingredient of the American self-image as a can-do, inventive, we-can-make-anything people.?

Still, the Times noted how ?traditional vocational training in public high schools is gradually declining, stranding thousands of young people who seek training for a craft without going to college. Colleges, for their part, have since 1985 graduated fewer chemical, mechanical, industrial and metallurgical engineers, partly in response to the reduced role of manufacturing, a big employer of them. The decline started in the 1950s, when manufacturing generated a hefty 28 percent of the national income, or gross domestic product, and employed one-third of the work force. Today, factory output generates just 12 percent of G.D.P. and employs barely 9 percent of the nation?s workers.?

Also, the Times pointed to University of California, Berkeley sociologist Michael Hout, who said: ?In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on. People who work with their hands,? he went on, ?are doing things today that we call service jobs, in restaurants and laundries, or in medical technology and the like.?

While Ed Tucker points to the decline in traditional craftsmanship as pushing him and his wife Jean to becoming ?DIY types? themselves, it still all returns to America?s original TV home improvement show ?This Old House,? that Tucker calls ?a national treasure.?