“They don’t build them like they used to.” At This Old House, the reply to that curmudgeonly complaint is “That’s right. We build them better!” And that’s due in no small part to the inquisitive, adaptable contractors at the heart of this venerable TV show. When they find a product or material that performs better, lasts longer, and still looks good, or when they find a tool that enables them to work faster with less effort and without compromising quality, they’re quick to make it their new standard going forward.
On the following pages, we revisit some of the most notable advances in building technology since TOH launched 40 years ago. At that time, many of these changes would have been impossible to imagine, just as we can’t imagine what new developments might arise in the coming decades. But the trend lines are clear: Fewer tools will have cords, more things will be controlled by our phones, and we’ll be using energy and water more wisely. And the good contractors of the future, the ones who strive to improve their craft and their clients’ lives, will be honestly giving the same answer to future curmudgeons: “You’re right. We’re building better than they used to!”
The first cordless tools had brief run times, minimal power, and long recharge times. But lighter, smaller, and more