Deb Hawkins’ contemporary home in Lincoln, MA is a unique and modern architectural masterpiece that sits upon the site of a former Christmas tree farm, surrounded by a pristine natural backdrop of towering pines and wildflower meadows. Hawkins, an avid art collector, required her new home to showcase her extraordinary assemblage of vibrant, abstract pieces while also providing her family with a comfortable and liveable space to go about their everyday lives.
We asked Deb to sit down for a brief Q&A in August 2016, a full 8 years after her home construction had been completed. Throughout our conversation, it was clear that she continues to be extremely happy with how her home turned out, thanks in large part to the knowledge and expertise of Jon Merz and his talented team.
When did you first meet Jon Merz?
I met Jon right around 2008-09 when we first started the project. My architect [Andrew Cohen Architects] knew Jon so we submitted an RFP to a few firms and fortunately, Jon’s was the winning bidder.
What inspired you to want to work with Jon?
Once Merz Construction won the bid, I looked at some samples of Jon’s work and found it to be impressive. I liked Jon from the start and felt he was really personable. My husband and hoped that working with a smaller company would allow us to receive more personal attention. Turns out we were right about that.
In addition, we felt that Jon had some things in common with us on a personal level. His experience as a boat builder, his love of canoeing and sailing all played a role in our decision. My husband is an avid sailor and we figured if somebody has built a boat they have to know what they are doing! That turned out to be true, as well.
At what phase of the project timeline did the Merz team get involved?
We wanted the construction team on board ASAP because our house was going to be very big and complicated. Jon came into the project early on and the integration between Jon and the architect was almost seamless. Jon had good ideas and wasn’t bashful about sharing his ideas
and concerns as they came along. We felt he brought great value to the partnership with the architect.
Where do you feel the Merz team contributed the most value to the project?
Definitely the most value came from the quality of the workmanship. It was always of the finest grade and quality. Jon did some of the woodworking in his own shop and also subcontracted out to other people and everyone he brought on was highly talented. Even now, 8-9 years after the house was built; Jon and his team are still here for us. He’s all about providing quality over the long term.
How much did Jon’s appreciation of art filtered into the construction process?
I didn’t know that Jon was an art aficionado at the time. Only later did I realize that his understanding and appreciation of art made him sensitive to what I was hoping to achieve in my home. It clearly influenced how he treated things throughout the building process.
Since the house has been finished, have you stayed in touch with Jon and his team?
Yes, I still rely on him! Because Jon and his team have such an extensive knowledge of my complicated house, any issues always get kicked back to them. I appreciate his willingness to continue to keep in touch to make sure the house stays in pristine condition.