Nigel Maynard, Editor-in-Chief

Nigel Maynard is editor-in-chief of Custom Builder and PRODUCTS magazines. Maynard grew up in St. Croix, where he learned construction helping his step-dad build the family home from the ground up. Since that early introduction, he has bought and remodeled four homes, and has taken up cabinet and furniture making. His current home was featured in The Washington Post and his previous home was covered in Home Magazine, The Washington Post, and HGTV’s I Want That! Prior to joining SGC Horizon, Maynard was the Editor-in-Chief of Lebhar-Friedman’s all-digital products magazine, Residential Building Products & Technology. Previously, he spent 14 years at Hanley Wood as senior editor of Builder magazine and its sister publication Residential Architect, where he amassed eight prestigious honors for editorial excellence, including AZBEE and NAREE awards.

Infill Harmony

Three years ago, my wife and I bought a down-at-the-heels 1909 farmhouse in a quaint little Maryland neighborhood that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Long ignored by many homebuyers, the area remained affordable for years. But as home prices escalated in nearby Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, overlooked, close-in neighborhoods such as ours received renewed attention.

In the last 10 years, our neighborhood has attracted large developers that brought attached and detached homes. Retail, restaurants, an organic grocery store, and a hipster coffee shop followed. The area also attracted something else: smaller infill developers.

The housing stock in our historic district is architecturally rich, with Victorians from the late 1800s, Sears bungalows from 1910, and Arts & Crafts homes from the 1910s to the ’40s. Houses average around 1,600 square feet, with a handful of stately “mansions.”

The empty lots once sprinkled throughout the neighborhood are pretty much filled with new homes now. Fortunately, the builders have shown respect for the existing stock. The new houses are about 500 square feet larger than average, but the scale is similar because the new units have finished basements. Local residents also appreciate the fiber-cement siding and the exterior architectural details, which aren’t as great as the old houses but are better than average.

Infill building is seldom this harmonious; it’s regularly quite the opposite. The activity often makes neighborhoods better, but occasionally it brings schlocky McMansions that are overscaled for their lots or architecturally inappropriate. Sometimes the materials are inferior, other times it’s the construction.

It’s no picnic for builders, either. Infill projects are among the most difficult to pull off. Lack of parking, limited space for material delivery and staging, and costly permitting are just a few of the challenges builders face.
Still, when infill projects are done well, they are a thing of beauty. Fitting in attractive new housing can be a boon to old neighborhoods and can be lucrative for builders as well.

Nigel F. Maynard

[email protected]

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 15:45

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