story by Mervyn Kaufman • photos by Carolyn L. Bates
Home Remodeling and Makeovers - November, 2003
The Vermont house was an unimposing two-story Cape, built in the 1970s, but what moved Barbara and Michael Puddicombe to buy it was the site. “The property is gorgeous,” says Barbara. “It’s not in downtown Stowe but in a rural area with the Worcester Mountains in the distance.” Michael wanted the house to be a farm house. But, says Barbara, “We also wanted it to look as though it’s been here and grown with the land.” The Puddicombes were assured by their architect, Milford Cushman, of Cushman+Beckstrom in Stowe, that they could retain the house’s “good bones,” expand it from three to four bedrooms and add a much needed office for Barbara, plus a new kids’ bathroom. The couple have three children, ages 7 to 18.
Cushman’s design called for converting a two-car garage into an entry, adding a new wing to include a living room, master suite and walk-out basement, then building a link to a new barn like garage. First, however, the old garage had to be moved.The architect explains, “The people who built it did not comply with local zoning and it was built over the setback line.” The Structure was raised on jacks and moved 30 feet—a maneuver that worked to the Puddicombes’ advantage because the old foundation was found to be crumbling. Here was the chance to install a new foundation and comply with the zoning law.
After a new foundation was poured the structure was shifted onto it. The contractor,Steve Sisler, was careful to retain the timberframe elements but replaced the old casement windows with larger energy efficient two-over-two double-hungs. “We were very careful in remodeling the house, we nearly doubled its size,” says Michael. “Although we tore it apart before putting it back together, its bones are unchanged. What I love about New England architecture is its continuity with history and its connection with the surrounding landscape. That's what I wanted this house to reflect.”