Outside The Box Builders, Inc

Santa Cruz Construction Guild  14 Year Member

Outside The Box Builders, Inc

Ray Newkirk is a local general contractor who leans green. While Ray has built numerous homes and additions in our area, including a 2-story 2500 square foot straw bale, his focus for the last 10 years has been on renewable energy, passive solar design, rain water catchment and providing biodiesel to our community.


Ray Newkirk



Verify License on cslb.ca.gov
California Contractors State License Board

Outside The Box Builders, Inc

Updated on January 24, 2024

As jack-of-all-trades, master of many, Ray has spent decades specializing in diversity, as reflected in his TESTIMONIALS. From eco-friendly straw bale homes, steel framing, log homes, stick frames, additions, ADUs, remodels of every kind, decks, stairs, railings, arbors, bamboo fences, gates, lanais, floors & shelves and creative projects with many faces. He can even make your garbage look good! (Please visit GarbajMahal.com).…

As jack-of-all-trades, master of many, Ray has spent decades specializing in diversity, as reflected in his TESTIMONIALS. From eco-friendly straw bale homes, steel framing, log homes, stick frames, additions, ADUs, remodels of every kind, decks, stairs, railings, arbors, bamboo fences, gates, lanais, floors & shelves and creative projects with many faces. He can even make your garbage look good! (Please visit GarbajMahal.com). Ray’s capacity for turning dreams into reality is second to none.

Ray was also the only contractor to participate in the City of Santa Cruz Green Building Working Group from 2005 -2008 that was charged with revising codes to reflect a more sustainable approach to building.

Now Ray & his crew at Outside The Box Builders are building their second Faswall block home. See more at faswall.com and view the video of the first build on this site, OTBBuilders.US.

Faswall is a very resilient, fire resistant, seismically sound, highly insulated home built of blocks made of recycled wood chips, cemented together into blocks and filled with 3” of Rockwool insulation. They are stacked “brick style” and filled with rebar & concrete, which gives them their strength & resilience. And they have a 4 hour fire rating!

Looks like the next home will be built of FoxBlocks(.com) then off to hemp blocks for the ultimate in environmentally friendly building. More at: HempHomesHeal.US.

If you have a project for a skilled, creative crew of green builders who think outside the box, please give Ray a call at 831 234 zero 200.

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Outside The Box Builders, Inc Reviews

What They Say
Heidi Black

January 24, 2023

Ray and the crew were a delight to work with! After 2.5 years of waiting for another contractor to get anything started, we moved on to Ray to actually produce results-and we are so lucky to have made the switch!

The deck looks like something from a fine yacht-the Ipe is smooth and beautiful-and I challenge you to find the hardware that holds it together. Every single hole has been covered.

While the deck has no signs of being fastened, I assure you it is extremely sturdy. And, it sailed through the permit inspections.

Ray's crew is skilled, personable, and considerate. The worksite was left clean each evening. And I was pleased to see them wearing appropriate safety equipment even when not directly supervised.

Ray was able to help us include a couple items we had not discussed prior to the job-a woodshed, generator cover, and a small gate-and made the gate from leftover materials we had on site!

I especially appreciated Ray's communication. He is quick to respond and thoroughly answers questions and explains options.

Diane Hanne

January 24, 2022

I am so pleased that I chose Ray as the contractor for my backyard remodel. The project was a redesigned deck, new concrete patio, new handicap ramp and wrought iron railing all around.
Ray had no trouble overcoming all the "hurdles" that were bound to come up with such a large project. He really worked with me as a partner in the design of the whole project, coming up with exceptionally good ideas along the way. He accommodated the many change requests and always with a smile.
Ray also gave me some great creative solutions to problems that I thought were not solvable. I really loved that Ray was always thinking of "best" solutions with my best interest in mind. Ray is detail oriented and made sure everything was perfect before moving onto the next step.
Despite this COVID-19 environment, Ray and his crew followed protocol and kept the project on time. Ray is very professional, smart and very fair in his billing. There is no doubt that I will call Ray for all my future projects.

Candice McCartney

January 22, 2022

I’ve known Ray for 20+ years, I originally met him when I purchased biofuel from him at his green station.  I had no idea he was a contractor until he took me to Betsy’s house. I believe it was the fourth house he had redone for Betsy.  I was impressed beyond belief, one, that the same person had hired him multiple times for multiple jobs and two, that the house looked so professionally done with clean lines, especially the floating bench in front of the fireplace.  I decided he would remodel my home in Santa Cruz.  Ray was more than I expected, he consulted me on everything and once he learned of my preferences, still consulted me, but always knew how to move forward toward a fantastic finished product.  He was always conscious of cost and let me know of any alternate options.  He maintained a very high standard throughout the remodel and it turned out above my expectations.  His crew were courteous, on time, conscious that I was living through the remodel and always cleaned up after themselves.  All of Ray’s subcontractors were equally competent and courteous, all beyond my expectations. The house he remodeled has sold and now I'm hoping to hire him to work on my current home. 

Elizabeth Magaña

January 22, 2022

It was a pleasure working with Ray to build our wildfire rebuild on Amah Mutsun land in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ray was sensitive to our situation (coming from an emotionally challenging loss), solution oriented and provided helpful feedback. Ray and his crew became like family members to us during our build. When we encountered challenges, Ray would call me and we would almost always reach a solution before the end of the phone call. Ray respected our vision and helped make our dreams reality. 

If you’re looking for someone who’s talented, well connected, knowledgeable, and kind, Ray is your contractor.

Sylvia Skefich

August 12, 2019

I contracted Ray Newkirk and his team to do a complex job involving new floors, framing, finish, new wall texture, new creative custom cabinetry with several, tinted, curved concrete counter tops, new lighting and electrical, and replacing a suspended T-bar ceiling in a retail space. Ray’s customer service, communication and final product were absolutely great! I found Ray to be flexible with working with my artistic explorations, and he handled the few curveballs that come with such jobs with grace and responsibility. I will definitely call Ray again when I have another job.
–Sylvia Skefich, D.C.

Diane Kaye and John Eaton

November 14, 2018

Ray (and his fantastic team, Raymond and Tommy!) did a superb job on a landscaping/decking project at our home.

The project involved replacing a major set of retaining walls that run around two sides of our property, which rises steeply uphill on those sides, then installing a new area of redwood decking above these walls. Ray demonstrated a real craftsman’s pride in installing a series of complex angles, a fan around one curve, two staircases and a planter box, producing a beautiful finished space that exceeded our expectations.

Ray worked closely with us on the overall design of the project, as well as many specific details, always coming forward with great ideas to enhance the ascetics of the overall result. He communicated with us frequently and clearly throughout the project, and demonstrated a wonderful harmonious and productive relationship with his team and us.

Ray is a consummate professional and highly skilled craftsman who takes justifiable pride in the quality of his work. It is a delight to work with him (and his team), and we have no hesitation in recommending him unreservedly.

Diane Kaye and John Eaton.

Allen & Jill

September 24, 2018

Ray is a top-notch contractor and a creative problem solver, and we were lucky enough to have him involved with the exterior remodel of our mountain home recently. With the team of Ray Newkirk, his assistant Raymond Renales, and our project contractor Mike Hartrich, there was nothing they couldn’t handle. The project was to install rain-screen siding that provides an air gap between the house structure and the siding itself. Using the Hardie Reveal panel system, Ray and team have made our house much more livable — cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter. And it looks fantastic. Working with Ray is a great experience. Not only is he competent and professional, he’s got a creative spark that helps him navigate tricky situations and find the most elegant solution.

John Redell

April 20, 2018

We were in a bit of a jam, having been left in the lurch by another contractor. He had promised to start our outdoor project in the spring but, after bumping our start date several times, had finally reneged completely late in the summer. This left us “back at square one” at a time of year when contractors tend to be fully booked and working to complete current projects before the rainy season.

We contacted Mike and, though busy, he showed up at the agreed upon time, evaluated the proposed project and, after taking some measurements and crunching some numbers, promptly provided us with a rough cost estimate, cautioning that the figure could wind up being exceeded, depending on what initial demolition revealed about the underlying condition of the structure.

This frank and reasonable caveat was born out when demolition revealed significant water and termite damage and sub-standard construction methods that had been employed by previous contractors who had worked on the house prior to our ownership.

Mike and Ray commenced work in a cheerful but professional manner, keeping us apprised of unexpected structural issues, explaining how and why they could and should be addressed as the project proceeded. Mike offered a variety of possible solutions of varying cost and complexity to solve one pre-existing issue which was encountered and then contacted someone to draw up plans for the one we chose, which greatly facilitated obtaining a permit to cover this work (as it was beyond the scope of the original, “siding-and-windows” permit). Mike and/or Ray was always present to facilitate various inspections as they occurred over the course of the project. Ray also helped get us a good price on skylights.

Mike and Ray did a great job and we are very happy with the finished product. They are hard-working, willing to answer questions, open to reasonable suggestions and can be relied upon to finish what they start.

Marilyn Crenshaw Architect, LEED, ARCSA, Green MBA

April 12, 2018

I met Ray in 2005 when we volunteered for the Santa Cruz City Building Department’s Green Building Working Group that was formed to revise local building codes to become greener, more efficient & more sustainable.

Ray was the only General Contractor that participated in this almost 5 year process. I chaired that Green Building Working Group. (Incidentally we rallied all of the California jurisdictions to adopt a Green Building program by consensus. From 2009 thru 2010 all of the respective CA jurisdictions were in the process of adopting the standard. At end of 2010 the State of CA said really, all of you CA jurisdictions collectively & unanimously came up with this? Gee Whiz, we will adopt it as the CA Standard. In Jan 2011 the State of CA adopted it as mandatory.) From this Ray could literally be referred to as the first Green General Contractor in California.

Being “The Green Architect” I liked Ray’s familiarity with green building, his willingness to try anything and his common sense as a builder so I hired him for many projects.

He has done so many projects for me over the years, I barely know where to start.

He has repaired everything from my toilet, my dishwasher, my roof, leaky sinks, broken windows (including the broken wood frame), installed radiant heat in my stone tile mosaic concrete floor, built storage sheds, an exterior work cabinet with a utility sink, and much more. He was the hero on call for my rental from 2005 to 2017. Literally a HERO, he many times worked until 11:00 PM fixing toilets, backed-up plumbing and water heaters for my tenants, which in turn put me in the position of heroine landlord.

In my kitchen he single-handedly built the structure, the cabinets, wired & plumbed it, tiled it with granite tiles, custom stainless steel counter nosing, installed the appliances; everything. We built countless architectural details from the bamboo I harvested from my bamboo perimeter landscaping hedge (fences, trellises, awnings, roof overhangs, gates, sliding skylight shades, cabinet veneers, interior guardrails, shower curtain rods, coat hooks…)

Perhaps the over-arching quality about Ray is his sunshine personality: always kind, polite, warm, courteous, friendly, harmonious, gracious and always leaves the job site swept, clean, tidy with no signs of the messy task he just performed. Too often in the construction industry some parties are the opposite. This made him the perfect ambassador to represent me in my absence with my tenants. I had awesome tenants some for over a dozen years and I attribute this to having Ray to take care of them when immediate building repair & maintenance was needed to minimize the tenants’ inconvenience.

Ray is a very skilled builder who does a great job with whatever he touches. I couldn’t possibly give him a high enough recommendation. He is the kind of contractor anyone would be happy & grateful to have on their team.

Marilyn Crenshaw Architect, LEED, ARCSA, Green MBA

David Dwyer

March 24, 2018

We’ve had Ray Newkirk help us design and complete a wide variety of home projects over the years. They include a complete bathroom remodel (including framing, sheetrock, plumbing, setting tile and installing all fixtures), window replacement, increasing usable space by redirecting a short stairway and building cabinets underneath, installing pocket doors, leveling out an uneven concrete slab in our living room and installing a tile floor. Throughout our projects he had several, good design ideas that we implemented. He was always on time to start the jobs, worked hard and cleaned up the work area at the end of each day. He presented well itemized invoices with reasonable charges at the completion of each project. All the work he has done has stood the test of time. He takes a lot of pride in his work and we managed to learn some things about carpentry and tackling some of our other projects ourselves along the way. He has helped to make our first home a very special place.

Dave and Marcy Dwyer

Rachel Chatham

March 15, 2018

Ray Newkirk of Outside the Box Builders is both a skilled professional and a real pleasure to be around. He greets the work day and the project with positive energy and a smile. I hired Ray to build onto a hexagonal screened-in porch that was riddled with inconveniences. He solved existing problems of the structure, dealt with angles not being symmetrical, and worked at a location that was off the power grid, which to me, takes a significant amount of patience for a general contractor. The end product is beautiful and sound. I also appreciate Ray’s sensitivity to protecting nature as a family of bats had made their home in the porch roof and it was important to me that they not be hurt.

I’m very pleased with Outside the Box Builders and am happy to recommend Ray as the contractor you should call.

Rachel Chatham, Bonny Doon, CA

Nora Caruso

April 17, 2017

Ray has been doing construction work for us for over a decade. He is our go-to person for all projects big or small. He is reliable, friendly, and an all around great guy. He’s incredibly professional and detail oriented, and his work is always top notch. His prices are always reasonable.

He is also resourceful & has great ideas. We had a major termite issue here until Ray built our storage shed out of steel studs and Hardie siding. Then he replaced most of our fence with 30 year warranty steel posts in a way that the fence doesn’t trap water at the bottom, rotting the redwood. He built several beautiful gates and a redwood landing with stairs. He designed & managed construction of our concrete retaining wall, has done emergency plumbing, installed windows and linoleum and more. It seems he can do everything well. We can not recommend Ray higher for any of your construction needs!

Nora Caruso
Program Director
Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center

Kathy Huntley

March 08, 2017

Ray (along with Mike Hartrich) did exterior repairs and improvements prior to painting our house. Both are highly skilled at addressing the challenges that come along with working on a 50+ year old house (rot, doors out of sync, etc) They are both driven to do quality work, which I really appreciate. Both are professional, dependable, and pleasant to be around. Would have them back in an instant!

Mark Kadubec

February 17, 2017

We had a difficult modern bathroom renovation planned and were struggling to find contractors who understood the vision and had the confidence to pull it off. Ray participated in the design and the build, working with us throughout to make sure we got the result we wanted within the budget we had specified, even dealing with some very challenging high end plumbing fixtures that required creative solutions. We couldn’t be happier with our bathroom. Truly professional, and nice person to have in your home for several weeks (an often overlooked aspect to renovation).


January 29, 2017

I highly recommend Ray Newkirk both as a general contractor and for his exceptional carpentry, concrete and tile work. Over the years, Ray has worked on three houses that I’ve owned in the Santa Cruz area. On my first house, Ray did mostly window replacements and repairs. On my second house, he beautifully remodeled my kitchen and built some custom bamboo shelves that exceeded even the expectations of my perfectionist husband!

Ray has an uncanny ability to understand and visualize what his clients are seeking. He asks lots of questions and will often propose different design ideas, explaining pluses and minuses of each option. He really takes the time to listen! This was especially important when we embarked on a complete remodel of my third house, where I currently live. Consulting with me every step of the way, he gutted the entire house, worked with an architect to spec out the kitchen, and transformed my home into a beautiful, livable, and inviting space.

Ray is extremely competent at what he does, but always has an eye for keeping expenses down. He shows up on time, works hard, and is very personable. Need I say more?

Santa Cruz

Dan and Lara Becker

September 28, 2016

We highly recommend Ray Newkirk. Ray did a fabulous job on our exterior remodel and decks. He is very easy to get along with and has great ideas for getting around the difficulties we had on our project. He is a truly great contractor and we highly recommend him for any contract work! No need to look at any one else for a reliable, on-time and hard working contractor! Our house has turned out to be, in our opinion, THE “best on the block”. Kudos to you, Ray! (Please note: Ray was brought on board for our project by Mike Hartrich. The two were a great team, and we will certainly want them to come back on any of our future projects!)

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