Way Downeast has a new star to add to its cap of roles in reality television. The DIY Network is featuring an off‑grid home in Lubec as part of its series about homeowners rolling up their sleeves and learning skills large and small.
In one of those twists and turns that pop up Downeast, homeowners Kevin and Rebecca Kelly first learned about Washington County and Maine when they saw the 2001 reality TV show, "Murder in Small Town X," which showcased the island city of Eastport. It wasn't the show's plot that piqued their interest; it was the historic downtown that had them glued to the screen. They decided to visit Maine. They landed down the coast, where the congestion of visitors left them looking farther afield. They explored Eastport and then Lubec and were smitten. They bought land in Lubec, and for over 10 years they dreamed and talked about building a house with Edmunds‑based builder John Cox. "He was so patient with us," remembers Rebecca. "When the DIY idea came along we thought, 'This is the right time.'"
With two children, now ages 10 and nine, the Kelly family wanted to have their Lubec home in place while their children were still young enough to enjoy the special nature of outdoor play. It's also completely off the grid, a component to the DIY theme that fit in with the Kellys' plans. "We're really happy with the decision," says Rebecca.
John Cox smiles and says he has no regrets about working on a project that included film crews and necessitated that Cox sometimes set up cameras to capture moments in between production company visits. It's not something builders generally deal with, especially when as busy as Cox is with construction projects.
Cox explains, "Working with the film crew, it was different at first. When they showed up, we didn't get as much work done because we had to have the mike on." He laughs and admits that it was great fun. "I mean how often does this kind of thing happen around here?"
The Kellys were totally involved in building the house. Rebecca says, "Building it was awesome." She and her husband had very little experience and relied on Cox to direct them. The building project started in early July and was done by early September. Cox describes the house as small but modern and says, "It's totally different from what's usually built around here." He adds of working with the Kellys, "We just had a good time. It was a lot of fun working with them, teaching and showing them how to do things."
Vince Cusomato, executive producer at Warm Springs Productions, explains that the Lubec home is one of 10 "Building Off the Grid" episodes from around the country being featured by the DIY Network. Cusomato says, "These are fantastic folks taking these projects on."
When it comes down to it, he says, the real story is about the journey that the families go through with their building projects. Of the Kellys, Cusomato says, "They were super fun, a great family, and the location was amazing." He had never been to Maine before. "I fell in love," he says, and he hopes to be back Downeast for more exploration.
The show is produced by Warm Springs Productions, a Montana‑based production company specializing in reality and lifestyle content for networks such as History, Discovery, HGTV and DIY.
The Lubec episode, "Building Off the Grid: Edge of Maine," will be featured by the DIY Network on Tuesday, January 9, at 9 p.m. For more information about the series visit <www.diynetwork.com>.