Since April, PBS's “This Old House” and Pete and Amy Favat have been actively at work putting their Weston barn home together and are now approximately 80 percent finished. One segment of the series was filmed on Aug. 14 at the Miele showroom in Wellesley.
As world travelers, Pete Favat and his wife, Amy, like the vacation feel of casual old wooden homes they’ve rented abroad — so much that they laid out an elaborate plan to turn their own home in Weston into a solar-powered barn home.
Then PBS’ WGBH caught word of the project and approached the Favats about recording their project for the newest season of “This Old House.”
Since Pete is an ad man and Amy is a film producer, the Favats aren’t shy around cameras, but they were a little wary the show would interfere too much.
“We wanted to do it the way we wanted it,” Favat said. “It was more a fear of the television show controlling the home, but in the end, it wasn’t that at all.”
Since April, “This Old House” and the Favats have been actively at work putting the barn home together and are now approximately 80 percent finished. Throughout construction, filming has been under way — the show has already completed about 10 episodes. Six episodes of filming remain, so the project is near an end. “This Old House” is an Emmy-award winning home improvement show that has been a PBS cornerstone for 28 years.
One segment of the series was filmed on Aug. 14 at the Miele showroom in Wellesley. Showroom manager Jane Vitagliano and Joyce Humphrey, a territory support specialist, were filmed showing the Favats products such as the Master Chef oven and a five-burner gas cooktop. For Humphrey, the experience was something she’d love to do again.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” the eight-year Miele employee said. “It was amazing. I never knew how TV worked. It was great because there were probably five people behind the scenes. They all had their monitors so they were able to see every step of the process and they would be able to immediately decide, yes, this is a keeper or no it’s not a keeper. A lot more work was involved than I thought, on their part and our part.”
Humphrey said she and Vitagliano arrived at the showroom at 5:30 a.m. The crew came a little closer to 7 a.m. and filming was wrapped up by noon. Part of the filming showed the appliances cooking a real meal. After the cameras were off, everyone ate the cooked lunch together, Humphrey said. The Weston couple did buy some products, but Humphrey did not want to spoil the show by revealing what.
Before PBS got involved, Pete and Amy did their homework by compiling a book of designs for the house and sent them out to timber-frame builders in the area.
“Our house is in a strong farming community,” Pete Favat said. “Amy started studying the architectural design of farms and put it into this book.”
From the beginning, the Favats knew that wanted to add a green theme to the new house, and the “This Old House” crew helped push this idea, he said.
“For the most part, we’ll be making our own energy with solar panels,” Favat said. “The main beams are salvaged wood from Vermont that have been used since 1820. It’s stronger than new wood.”
The green theme isn’t about them but about the times, he said.
“This is not because we’re preachy green zealots, because I still drive a F-150 pickup truck,” Favat said. “It’s about the time frame. There are enough resources, why not use them?”
“This Old House” doesn’t fund the project, but it does offer special benefits, he said.
“Everyone asks if it’s free, but nothing is free,” Favat said. “There’s a gift tax, but it would be more expensive without ‘This Old House.’”
Although the project has gone smoothly thus far, the main obstacle this summer has been the rainy weather. Tom Silva, star of the show, has been with “This Old House” ever since his father, Philip, launched it back in 1979, and said about 80 percent of the old house was saved. Using a green theme that included a salt-water collector and other recyclable materials, Silva insists the Weston house is completely inline with what “This Old House” is about.
“We put the house together like a puzzle,” he said. “‘This Old House’ has been on the green bandwagon for many years.”
The homeowners are never left out of the design and planning, Silva said.
“They have a lot to do with design and what to do,” Silva said. “Whatever they want, we want to get it for them.”
Producer Deborah Hood said the show’s discounts and financial benefits don’t give the Favats more money but more options.
“It never saves any money; it just stretches the budget,” Hood said.
It didn’t scare Hood that the Favats were media insiders, because the show wasn’t about their careers. She said it was the couple’s obvious “passion as homeowners” that stood out to her.
The project has been fun for the Favats. As parents to two teenagers, the family is looking forward to living in a barn with new age technology.
“The kids love it; it’s like one big tree house,” Favat said. “My wife and I are just like kids.”
Wellesley Townsman reporter Elana Zak contributed to this article.