I began my adult career as an Art Major in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the early seventies. I loved to draw and work with my hands. A life of artistic pursuits was my chosen path, however soon after leaving school I needed to earn a living. So I joined the construction labor force and found that I loved to build. I worked as a carpenter, mason and woodworker. Frequently we worked from drawings that needed clarification. With my background in art and design, I did additional drawings to help the construction move forward more efficiently. I found myself doing more and more drawing and less construction.
I caught the attention of a couple of Architects who appreciated my ‘hands on’ experience in construction along with my drafting skills and design eye. I learned so much in those apprentice years and eventually started my own studio. In 2000, I launched a private company, Stoneboat Design, in Newcastle, Maine. We designed homes all along the spectacular Maine coast and as far south as North Carolina. We developed a reputation for quality, livable homes. Our comfortable designs respected the individual, the community, and the environment. Many of our homes fit in so well that people didn’t realize that they were new structures.
With my experience in construction, homeowners were able to save money simply because I design from a builders point of view. If a home is designed to be efficiently assembled, labor costs are greatly reduced. The contractors are welcome members of the design team and they appreciate that I have worked in the field. This promotes a positive working environment and a mutual pride in the project.
I strongly discourage the choice of a builder that is solely based on a low bid. I encourage the prospective home owner to interview contractors, to see the quality of their work, to be impressed by their personality and trustworthiness. Few “low bid jobs” turn out to be a project everyone is happy with. My architectural design company was never involved in any legal action and the vast majority of my projects have been delivered on time and on budget.
I have been interested and involved in sustainable and energy efficient designs throughout my working career. I prefer to work ‘with’ the land instead of against it. Use of indigenous materials, proven energy saving methods, and awareness of the surrounding community make the homes I design beautiful, functional, and durable. I've been designing and building small homes since the seventies, way before it became a popular movement. For many years families were raised in much smaller spaces. For some reason as families became smaller our homes became bigger. Small homes are not a new idea.
I have studied traditional design approaches and adapt them to current building materials and practices. My homes tend toward classic, well-established designs. However I don't shy away from contemporary designs if that is what the home owner desires. When asked to work in a contemporary design style, I do my best to combine a modern look with the warmth and welcoming room layouts and traffic patterns that work so well in classic homes.
"[Max's] work displays a sympathy for regional tradition while meeting contemporary and customer desires. A real knowledge of the materials and methods of construction is evidenced in his work."
~K.E Coombs, Architect