If there's one thing Jeff Devlin loves—besides his two kids—it's an old, stone home. Lucky for him, his new gig lets him spend his days restoring a whole bunch of them in his hometown. Devlin, of DIY Network's I Hate My Bathroom, is about to premiere a new show on HGTV/DIY Network called Stone House Revival, which follows the carpenter as he renovates old stone homes in Bucks County.
Curbed Philly caught him in between filming—he's working on three homes right now—to give us the dirt on the new show, growing up in the 'burbs, and the three things every homeowner should know before taking on a big-time renovation.
Congrats on the show. How did you land the new gig?
It sort of came about like other shows, dare I say, by accident. A camera guy came by, we shot a demo tape, and I had no idea what I was doing. Two weeks later, we were filming. It happened so ridiculously quickly, I knew I had to take the opportunity and think the best of it.
What should we expect from the new show?
On my last show, I just catered to toilets and showers. This show is different because what I'm doing now is what I do when I'm not on TV. It'll show the way I live and how I like to renovate and those sort of things. I am probably as happy as a lark in this situation because it's exactly what I love to do. And, I don't have to travel.
Right, so you grew up in the area?
I was born in Northeast Philly, and then moved when I was 3 to Langhorne. I went to Neshaminy High School, and Bucks County Community College for a couple of semesters until I realized schooling wasn't going to be it for me and focused on the trade. The reason I'm here [in West Chester], is because, if you're from Philadelphia, you're from this area. It's really tough to leave here because it's so awesome and beautiful. It's the perfect place.
So why focus on stone homes?
I personally live in a 250-year-old farmhouse. And the first house on the premiere was 230 years old. So I think you can only find old homes in this area with the character that only Pennsylvania provides.
What have you learned from restoring these homes that you think people may not realize before jumping into a renovation?
I can tell you that it is a process. The first thing you need to ask is why you're inspired to do this renovation. What are you looking to get out of it? Most people have no idea. They want me to tell them what they want.
Then, planning. Now that you know what you want, ask, "How do I bring that to life?" A lot of people out there are self-proclaimed designers. I mean, we inspire people on these TV shows to get out there and tackle it themselves—we make it look easy. But we make mistakes every day. You want to spend the money to hire a professional who can get everything where it needs to be.
The third is budget. Get a grasp on what you want to spend. Know that with old homes, it's never one problem. On average, we run into 1 to 5 problems a day.
What about renovating a truly historic home? How do you approach those projects?
I had an opportunity to work on a historic building on a plantation in Virginia and dealt with the local historical society. They told me I couldn't use mechanical fasteners, which I thought was ridiculous because no one would know anyway. But then, I started to get into it and I appreciated the guidelines ten times more. It slowed me down, which is what I needed. If you're going to renovate a historic property, you have a responsibility to do it right. Find out who lived in the home before you.
You'll be at the Philadelphia Home Show at the Convention Center this weekend. What'll you be doing?
I unequivocally love going to home shows because people are looking for knowledge. I'm going to set up my tools that I own in a booth called Jeff's Lounge. You'll be able to watch me build things like, say, a farm table, from scratch to finish and ask questions—and with no camera trickery!