PALERMO — One camera on a tripod and another held by the show’s senior producer were pointed at Michael Maines, a local designer and builder, as he mounted a strip of wood using a nail gun around the 19th-century hearth.

A crew from Fine Homebuilding magazine, along with a senior from Erskine Academy, spent last week filming and assisting Maines as he constructed the fireplace shelving project at his 184-year-old house in Palermo undergoing renovations.

The magazine’s video and article series — Project House — travels all over the country to show home construction projects like tiling bathroom walls and installing wood flooring over a removed heat intake grate.

The crew typically films four or five, five-minute episodes per project over a one-week period, said Colin Russell, the senior producer for the show. The video with Maines will serve as the flagship video of the series format that will be used going forward, Russell said. He expects the video and article with Maines to be published on the magazine’s website in June.

An editor of the magazine, Justin Fink, is the host of the video series, and he works with builders on the projects.

He described the series a cross between “This Old House,” the long-running, home-renovation show on PBS, and “Dirty Jobs,” a Discovery Channel show with the host that works a day in different industries known for being messy or dirty.


Fink said the videos along with the accompanying articles give enough how-to instruction to teach professionals or skilled homeowners how to complete a project from start to finish.

“We don’t cut to a commercial when it gets to a hard part. We want to dig in and really teach you the things that you need to know,” he said.

A senior at Erskine Academy in South China, Matthew Plourde, also assisted the Fine Homebuilding crew during its week on the project.

Plourde, 18, from Windsor, said he hopes to one day work on major film sets, and the experience in Palermo was his first on a professional video project. Some of the work he has done for the project has been more menial, like helping clean floors, but the crew let him do some filming later in the week, he said.

“I’ve got to start my way from the bottom if I’m going to work my way to the top, and I believe starting out as an intern is a good start,” Plourde said.

He said he plans to attend the University of Maine for his first year of college next year before transferring to the New England School of Communications in Bangor.


Maines, 40, who previously lived in Portland with his wife, Cari Balbo, said he will eventually rebuild or upgrade everything in the Greek Revival-style cape, but he started with the fireplace shelving project first because of the video crew.

He said he hopes the video series will encourage people to pursue a career in the construction industry. Many people end up in construction because they can’t do anything else, Maines said.

“There’s a real shortage in construction of smart craftspeople,” he said.

Maines said the videos are also a great educational tool for people wanting to do projects themselves.

After a previous article on cabinetry he wrote for the magazine, Maines said a man from Washington called asking if Maines would design his kitchen. Maines did and the man ended up building everything himself, Maines said.

Maines, who grew up in Windsor, said he started doing carpentry work in high school before studying architectural engineering at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. He previously worked as a designer and carpenter for Fine Lines Construction in Freeport, and he’s starting soon at EcoCor in Belfast, a company that designs and builds highly energy-efficient homes called passive houses.

“From a very early age, I was drawn to the idea of designer-built,” Maines said. “It seemed kind of ridiculous to me that you had designer and you had builder and they’re separate.”

Paul Koenig — 207-621-5663 Twitter: @paul_koenig

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