Holmes Hole Builders LLC relies on principal Gary Maynard’s boatbuilding expertise.
WHEN APPEALING TO one of the most affluent markets in the United States, with just 15,000 people on an island in New England, it’s best to use whatever you can to your advantage to stand out as a custom homebuilder. Holmes Hole Builders LLC, located on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, has carved a niche for itself as a builder that can manage any crew through a storm – which principal Gary Maynard has had to do plenty of times as a longtime boatbuilder as well as a sailing enthusiast.
“On the Vineyard, we’re lucky enough to be in an environment with extremely highend, cutting-edge architecture, and there are a number of builders out here that are very good,” Maynard says. “What we do differently is provide a high level of management both on the site and at the office.”
Before launching Holmes Hole Builders, Maynard spent 13 years running G.S. Maynard & Co. Inc., also known as Five Corners Shipyard, in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. The company restored historic wooden vessels ranging from an 8-foot Bahama dinghy up to the 90-foot pilot schooner Alabama, which now sails out of Vineyard Haven Harbor.
After taking his family on a two-year sailing adventure on his own restored vessel, the 1911 Scots Zulu Violet, through the Caribbean Sea, the Panama Canal, South Pacific, Hawaii and Glacier Bay, Alaska, Maynard and his wife Kristina launched Holmes Hole Builders LLC with a crew of former shipwrights and veteran carpenters.
“I decided to change professions while still working within the same field of fine craftsmanship,” Maynard says. “The market was much better in the construction field than boatbuilding in terms of making a living.”
Maynard brings a number of advantages from his boatbuilding days to his second career as a homebuilder, especially considering the style trends on Martha’s Vineyard. Today’s custom homebuyers on the luxury island community want to blend traditional, natural and antique materials with contemporary designs and amenities.
As a boatbuilder, Maynard often was tasked with sourcing specialized lumber for his projects, and he brought numerous connections from his previous company into the homebuilding sector for his one-of-a-kind homes.
“Ship construction required us to be creative. We had to find very specialized lumber, so we’re not used going to a lumberyard and finding everything we need,” Maynard says. “We had a lot of sources in sawmills, kilns and importers who know what’s available and how to find it, so we can get high-end, specialized antique and salvaged lumber.”
Boatbuilding also calls for unique solutions required on a per-project basis, another advantage Holmes Hole Builders has over homebuilders who took a conventional path into the industry.
“By being able to think outside of the box, we weren’t constrained by specific training,” Maynard says. “We had to figure out how to do difficult, creative aspects of projects.”
As a homebuilder, Holmes Hole Builders doesn’t only have to rely on its own research to deliver specialty construction work. These days, Maynard and his managers rely on a base of loyal subcontractors to deliver the most unique homes on the island.
“We never build the same thing twice,” Maynard says. “We bring the creative expertise to someone else’s vision and we have the technical expertise to make it happen. Everything we do is unusual considering what we can do with glass, steel, engineered lumber and metals.”
Antique Meets Contemporary
With today’s demand for traditional materials and contemporary designs, one of the most challenging aspects of custom homebuilding is working with antique lumbers with today’s structural standards. Maynard says much of this lumber isn’t graded for residential construction, which means Holmes Hole Builders must work with structural engineers to conceal steel frames within antique timber frames to safely build homes for owners who want these materials.
“We make them look as if there is no steel in the frames,” Maynard says. “It’s a challenging trend we’ve seen in the last couple years as there is a lot more movement toward antique and salvaged materials and away from painted woodwork.”
Holmes Hole Builders also is adept at bringing the visions of its homebuyers to reality, no matter the style or time period they aim to evoke. Maynard says his company has built inverted roofs with multiple pitches, huge cantilevers and exposed steel into his homes, among many other features.
“There’s one extreme toward a mid-century model and one that’s a contemporary take on the regional vernacular,” Maynard says. “The central thread is we build the architect and owner’s vision, so we’re not married to a style. We take a set of challenging plans and make it possible.”
One such project is known as the “Gray Barn,” which is a 5,000-square-foot residence that is part of a gentleman’s farm designed to look like a renovated barn. In reality, Maynard says the home is a house with sophisticated amenities and mechanical systems. The home was designed by Hutker Architects.
“It is an interesting hybrid of very modern and very traditional,” Maynard says.
For the fans of contemporary architecture, the home features expansive steel and glass windows, a sleek staircase and clever blends of inside and outside spaces. State-of-the-art amenities in the home include a geothermal HVAC system, home theater, lighting controls and other automated systems.
For traditionalists, the Gray Barn has antique timbers, a bright interior and beautiful cabinetry that gives the feeling of warmth and home that comes with traditional materials, according to Maynard.
“What we learn on every project is to adapt and be creative, so we think about unusual ways to get results,” Maynard adds.
Maynard would like to see Holmes Hole Builders continue to grow steadily, but he does not intend to expand beyond Martha’s Vineyard. He hopes the volume of work he builds will return to the square footage that was in demand before the Great Recession, and that the melding of traditional and contemporary design continues.
“I’m a great fan of traditional architecture, but what we’re seeing now is an interesting adaptation of local vernacular with new design,” Maynard says.