Holy audits! What if Noah’s ark were this leaky? Sisler Builders recently had the privilege of performing energy audits and retrofits on Vermont churches. The old churches, the ones built before you were born!
Though Vermont is classified as one of the least religious states in the country, no one can deny that church buildings throughout the state are centerpieces in each community. These buildings are meeting houses that strengthen community and deserve attention.
Sisler Builders’ investigations revealed that these old buildings vary from “fairly leaky to ridiculously leaky… but always drafty,” said Mike D’Muhala, Sisler Builders’ energy efficiency specialist. These qualitative descriptions help interpret the data. Quantitatively the numbers mean energy loss. Many of these old gathering places have mechanical systems that are only meant to be used during church services or community gatherings. Draftiness puts a higher demand on the under-designed systems during heating cycles. A moderate retrofit focusing on air
sealing will successfully stop 30 to 40 percent of air leakage. Air sealing is the most cost-effective way to improve thermal performance of most old Vermont structures.
Many of these unique old churches in Vermont’s towns need further updating to continue to provide use for future generations. Sisler Builders hopes to have the privilege of performing more energy audits and retrofits on Vermont churches well into the future.
When the perfect team comes together to build the perfect house, it is as if they were all members of the same orchestra, bringing their best performance to the music, ending with a grand finale, and receiving a standing ovation. That pretty much sums up the construction of this Spruce Peak ski house. The collaboration of all parties involved created nothing short of a masterpiece and proves that great collaboration leads to great success.
The owner has a passion for building houses; this was his eighth. He had visited Spruce Peak in the early stages of its development and was struck by Stowe and its beauty. “I put one of the best lots under deposit and waited a decade to build,” he said. Meanwhile, he did his homework and found an architectural firm whose style suited his vision.
The firm, Shope, Reno & Wharton, out of Connecticut, has an affinity for the Adirondacks, and much of their work embraces the Adirondack construction feel. “I studied their mountain houses for years,” said the owner. “They do amazing shingle-style work, very striking, but not over the top.
John Gassett, the architect with Shope, Reno & Wharton, who designed the house, said the owner felt the Adirondack look was appropriate for the Spruce Peak site and fit the context and character of the region. “The site certainly lent itself to that. There’s no bad view,” he said. It was Gassett who steered the owner to Sisler Builders, because he was familiar with their work and recognized a symbiotic construction style.
The 7,500 square-foot, 5-bedroom house did not come without challenges, one of the first being the topography and steepness of the site, combined with the small triangular shape of the lot. These were solved with a collaboration between Sisler Builders, the architect, the landscape architect, and a civil engineer. “We modulated that well, and it’s nice to see how the house grows out of the topography,” Gassett said.
Sisler Builders rose to the challenge of orchestrating details, such as curved soffits, curved pilasters on outside corner elements that buttress those corners, curved trim on front entry windows, an interior staircase with one single uninterrupted run of handrail going two full flights of stairs, three floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, and a spectacular balcony off the master suite with panoramic views from Smugglers Notch to Camel’s Hump. Sisler Builders’ woodworking shop built dozens of custom cabinets and a number of custom interior and exterior doors. The interior design firm, Tracker Home Decor, out of Martha’s Vineyard, played an important part in the interior design details, blending the mountain-house feel with modern touches.
From the onset, energy efficiency was a priority, and Sisler Builders brought a great deal of knowledge and experience to the table. “The envelope is very tight, with no substantial leakage,” said Mike D’Muhala, Sisler Builders’ BPI-certified energy division manager, who ran the blower door test to determine the level of efficiency. “It has an ACH50 of 0.72, which is more than four times tighter than the national energy code and an amazing achievement for a house that size,” he said.
“This is consistent with our approach of achieving the best bang for the buck on energy efficiency,” said Steve Sisler, owner of Sisler Builders. “We don’t try to achieve an arbitrary level of performance going down the path of diminishing returns. We build to a cost-effective, high standard.”
“It was a great collaboration with everyone involved, and a great partnership with Shope, Reno & Wharton,” said Sisler. “The owner was hands-off, yet enthusiastic and supportive. All players stayed consistent with the architect’s theme and came together to yield a home the owner is really pleased with.”
“The level of quality blew me away,” said the owner. “Sisler Builders did a magnificent job and the entire crew was amazing. Everyone worked well together and my involvement was limited. They only communicated when they needed input from me. The house exceeded my imagination and I am thrilled with it.”
The Spruce Peak ski house shows perfectly how great collaboration leads to great success.
Embrace a house design that matches the owners’ needs and desires and then build a home that will exceed the vision. Sisler Builders applies this methodology to all the homes they build, and to their renovations and remodeling projects, too. “It’s what happens when a building team is experienced, knowledgeable, trustworthy, focused on quality, and puts their heart into whatever they are building,” explains Steve Sisler, founder of Sisler Builders.
Here are two projects that exemplify the exceed the vision doctrine that has served Sisler Builders well for over 35 years. One is a whole-house renovation; the other, a major remodeling of several rooms and substantial energy reduction measures.
We collaborated on a whole-house renovation for a young family who bought a dated property on a south-facing lot in Robinson Springs. They wanted a modern, energy efficient, low-maintenance, open floorplan home that would make full use of the existing space without going beyond the footprint.
Originally from Australia, currently living in Boston, the couple had come to Stowe so their teenage boys could learn to ski. “We liked the area and started looking for a house to buy,” said Grace. “During our search, we saw a few Sisler Builder houses and were impressed with the craftsmanship. We chose them to renovate the house we bought, not only because we liked their work, but because we felt we could get along with Steve. Having a good rapport with our contractor is important to us. Renovating a home is personal and we wanted to be involved in the whole process.”
“They were receptive to my ideas and recommendations and we had a good collaboration throughout,” said Steve Sisler, whose suggestions included converting the three-season covered porch into an airy vaulted-ceiling family room; opening up the living room by removing much of the beamed flat ceiling, replacing the associated beams with a steel tension rod to support a catwalk; removing a half-wall divider and post between the living room and dining room; replacing a kitchen pass-through with a gorgeous marble countertop island; and converting the multi-story brick fireplace into a sleek, Vermont slate fireplace with a live-edge cherry mantle. These alterations, in conjunction with multiple window changes, contributed to the desired open feel, with living spaces subtly defined by ceiling height and materials.
The owners had a history of working with Cushman Design Group who designed the exterior, did interior conceptual plans, and managed the structural design work. Sisler Builders developed the detailed interior plans collaborating with the owners on materials choices and finish details.
The renovation continued well beyond the main living areas. The redesigned kitchen is fully open to the dining room, thanks to some creative structural work. The master suite was also completely reconfigured. Two upstairs bedrooms and the shared bath were upgraded. The catwalk received a transparent handrail system capped by a native maple rail and maple flooring. The previously unfinished basement was transformed into a light, multi-purpose area with new south-facing windows, a family room, laundry, office, full bath, and mechanical room.
“It was a modest, yet significant, project,” said Sisler. “We took a dated home that had potential and turned it into something special. It was built on a relationship of mutual trust. We find these types of projects particularly gratifying. Through teamwork and good collaborative ideas we tapped its potential. We did exceed the vision!”
Repeat business remodel
Repeat business is the best business. By virtue of being asked by a former client to collaborate again, there was an implicit message that, from their perspective, the relationship was positive and worth continuing. We love receiving this message and work hard to earn it.
This remodeling project was for another couple from the Boston area that Sisler Builders had built a home for in 1992. They sold that home and left Stowe for a while, but as everyone who lives here knows, there’s something about Stowe that’s hard to resist.
The couple returned and began looking for a vacation home. This one caught their eye. Although a 2,800-foot addition had been added to the front of the house, they were still faced with older construction in the original space. They asked us to take a look, and all agreed it was a home in a location worth pursuing.
Sisler Builders encouraged the owners to hire an architect to integrate and detail the big-picture ideas within the footprint of the existing structure. They chose Lee Hunter whose insights further enhanced the design. The major mandates from the owners were single-level living with a master suite close to the kitchen, dining, and living area; separate offices for each; suites for their frequent guests; and a deep energy retrofit.
“We proposed converting the garage into the master suite. It was close to the kitchen and had incredible views to Mt. Mansfield,” said Steve. “We framed an elevated floor system at the same level as the main floor, added a large sliding patio door and windows, and voila, a stunning master bedroom!”
The former sunken master bath and ancillary bump-out were removed, and a guest wing with two en suite bedrooms was streamlined. Each spouse got their own office, and the couple and their dog now enjoy a xc ski-in/ski-out mudroom that opens out to a fenced-in yard. Our custom woodworking division did a fair amount of the woodwork, including barn doors to the master suite and custom vanities in all bathrooms.
While the remodel was taking place, every effort was made to increase the level of insulation and reduce the level of air infiltration, the first step of the deep energy retrofit. We replaced the thirsty old oil boiler with a high-efficiency gas model as back-up heating. Air source heat pumps provide heating on all but the coolest nights, while providing summer cooling. A substantial solar array was installed on south facing roof planes. Now, a home that regularly had annual heating energy bills in excess of $6,000, has heating and cooling costs in the $2,000 range!
“We were relatively easy clients, comfortable being absentee homeowners,” said the husband. “We visited a handful of times during the six-month remodel process and love the outcome. We are able to close off the back of the house when only two of us and our dog are here, and open it up for guests. The process was easy. There was no anxiety. Steve is trusted and easy-going and we felt comfortable the entire time. Sisler Builders completely exceeded our expectations, again!”
You may know that Sisler Builders has a long history of building beautiful custom homes. You may not know that we have an equally long history building custom renovations and remodeling projects. We are most efficient and cost-effective building a wide array of projects in our small geographic area. Our substantial construction, energy retrofit, and custom woodworking expertise bring comprehensive value to any size project.
Our whole-house renovations breathe new life into tired, outdated buildings. We help our clients, along with their design team, envision what their home can become, and turn it into a reality they can truly enjoy, long into the future. It’s an exciting process. As we get to know our clients and their lifestyles, we introduce methods to enhance their existing home in new and creative ways. Our goal is to help craft a home that will complement and support its owner’s lifestyle for years to come.
Smaller remodeling projects
When it’s time to remodel individual rooms—from kitchens and baths to finished basements and three-season porches and decks—we create spaces that enhance a home’s overall functionality and beauty. Often, remodels don’t require formal plans, so we help our clients explore interesting possibilities based upon the many projects we’ve completed over the years.
Next time you work with a client who wants a total home renovation or individual rooms remodeled, or any kind of renovations and remodeling projects, please consider Sisler Builders. To see our portfolio of all we do, go to www.SislerBuilders.com.
Decent housing in Waterbury, Vermont, is scarce as hen’s teeth, so when Sisler Builders converted a derelict building into five apartments, they were snapped up like dollar bills thrown about Grand Central Station. Well before completion, all five apartments were rented.
“The more people you can have living in town, the better for community economics,” said Alyssa Johnson, economic development director for Revitalizing Waterbury. “A variety of housing options support a diverse, multi-generational, multi-income, multi-ethnic community. These five apartments fill a need for dense, multi-family housing in Waterbury, Vermont. It’s a wonderful option where people can remain in the community and have safe and secure housing at market rate.”
Sisler Builder’s renovation was not just about providing much needed housing. It was also about preserving the character of Waterbury’s
downtown area and removing a lingering eyesore on Stowe Street, directly opposite Thatcher Brook Elementary School.
Steve Sisler, owner of Sisler Builders, grew up in an environment of historic preservation that has influenced his construction ethics. “My mother was involved in historic preservation in Ithaca, N.Y., when I was growing up there. She educated me about the importance old buildings play in the character and beauty of downtown areas. Part of that education was about architectural trends at the turn of the century.
“I’ve lived in Waterbury for 37 years,” Sisler added. “Our sons went to Thatcher Brook from 1993 to 2000, and we would see that neglected property every day. I wanted to remove the eyesore and create something beautiful that fit the architecture typical to the turn-of-the-century, when the original house was built, that was cohesive with the school and had the timelessness of a brick exterior.”
The Sislers purchased the building in 2010 and immediately replaced the stone and brick foundation, which Steve believes would not have survived Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Sisler Builders got busy with other building projects and just did band-aid repairs to the building. When it became clear the roof wouldn’t make it through another winter, and they had the capacity to design and build a new building, they tore the old one down.
The new building, completed in November of 2018, has three single-bedroom apartments geared towards seniors on the first floor. The second floor has two apartments: a two-bedroom and a three bedroom for families. All are energy efficient and use no fossil fuels directly for heating and cooling. The solar array on the roof makes it nearly net-zero, and the building exceeds Efficiency Vermont’s second-tier energy compliance guidelines. Consequently, they are very comfortable to occupy and inexpensive for the occupants to operate and maintain.
Michelle Abajian, who works for the Vermont Bar Association as their lawyer referral and membership coordinator, moved into the second-floor three-bedroom apartment with her three children ages 16, 14, and 10, who live with her part time. “I can’t get over how lucky I am to have landed here,” she said. “It’s clean, modern, easy to maintain, and has everything I need, including a mud room. The layout is thoughtful and it has nice light. The best part is the location. It’s ideal. I’m in the village, near school and the public transit bus line. I’ve always lived in this village and didn’t want to leave.”
Abajian’s daughter, Amelia, says she likes that it’s new and clean and has a modern look. Her brother, Peter, likes it because it’s easy to remember where he lives. They all love the size of the living space—spacious without being cavernous. There is also ample parking and a courtyard area with dining set and grill.
Alyssa Johnson concurs that Sisler Builders was thoughtful about the building process. “The ease of accessibility, regardless of age, is a bonus. The bottom floor apartments are ADA compliant. It’s easy to walk to downtown and the neighbors are thrilled to not have to look at the old eyesore.” She also points out that this was a private building project that the town did not have to make happen. “It’s transforming and provides value to the community. We wish there were more like it.”
Summer time is gardening time in Vermont, and several Sisler Builder employees have the gardening bug. They enjoy working the soil, pulling weeds, and reaping the benefits of their labor. We went gardening with Sisler Builders employee, Project Manager Matt Rouleau, who has been gardening since he was a child, annoyed when his mother asked him to help with the weeding of her garden. Now it’s his summertime hobby. He derives great satisfaction from a well-tended garden and passing on his love of plants to his granddaughter.
Matt was happy to discuss his gardening obsession. “I call it my therapy. It relaxes me to go home after a day at work and play in the garden. It helps me unwind.”
Vegetables or perennials?
I have a vegetable garden, but my favorites are fruit trees. I love working with plums and cherries. I just like the fruit, and I like that you have to bring each tree forward to the next year. I have planted one tree a year since I moved into my home. I also like blackberries, raspberries, and grapes. Did you know you can root grape clippings? I started growing them because my daughter-in-law wanted to make wine. I have a couple varieties of Vermont-hardy species.
To keep the wildlife out and the dog in, I have a five-foot-high stranded wire fence around the vegetable garden and a four-foot-high sheep fence around the yard. I’m mostly organic and don’t put anything on the food I am going to eat. I try to pick off beetles, cabbage worms, and other pests, but sometimes you just can’t keep up with it.
Seeds or starts?
I used to do a lot from seeds, but now I mostly buy starts. Tomatoes, sweet peppers, and jalapeno peppers for canning. The jalapenos are great in sandwiches. All the rest is from seed.
We have our own beef cattle and as a result have plenty of fertilizer. I rotate manure piles so that by the time I’m spreading it it’s usually four years old.
Most important detail.
You have to pay attention to the soil. I test mine myself with a kit, like Rapitest Soil Test Kit. I like it to be fluffy and crumbly. I add peat and leaves if it gets too dense. I try to keep my blueberries and raspberries as acidic as possible by adding pine chips.
What about mulch?
I use chips for my berries. The veggie garden I weed and cultivate, but don’t mulch. I don’t mulch my trees, either. I just let the lawn come right up to them.
Favorite hand tool.
A regular hoe. Sometimes I use a Mantis. You really have to do a lot of hand picking between the plants or the weeds will take over.
Plum tomatoes for sauces and cherry tomatoes for the kids.
Gloves or not?
I never wear gloves.
What about flowers?
I have some lilacs and peonies, but I mostly grow annuals. Sunflowers are my favorites and I grow lilacs and snapdragons for my wife.
Our local economy is growing, and Sisler Builders is keeping pace with that growth. An exciting recent development is the move of our woodshop to a conveniently located, much larger space in Waterbury Center. We have seen a steady increase in the demand for high-quality wooden products that complement the buildings they are designed for, making them more beautiful, functional, durable, and occasionally whimsical. In response to that demand we have expanded and enhanced our woodworking capabilities.
Our new space is the result of a collaboration with a long-time friend and client, who had an under-utilized building he was willing to upgrade to meet our specific needs. Together we made the space easy to heat and suitable for our carefully thought-out woodworking facility. It has a state-of-the-art environmentally friendly dust collection system that allows us to collect raw wood dust in a trailer, and sheet goods waste with formaldehyde glue in a different bin to be disposed of properly. The raw dust is transported a short distance to Grow Compost, another local business, where they integrate it into their compost production. In keeping with our goal to reduce our carbon footprint, the equipment is powered by our landlord’s on-site solar farm.
Our woodworking team, Seth Allen, Glen Waller, Craig Gants, and Jeremy Lindorff, spent many hours searching for used equipment at a reasonable cost. They purchased machines that optimize our shop’s production and enhance efficiency. We now have more milling capabilities with a 36-inch planer, a 54-inch-wide belt sander, a sliding panel saw, a larger radial arm saw for selecting lumber in the rough, a 16-inch joiner, a 24-inch cut-capacity band saw, and 2 large shapers. Glen, who is a locally renowned mechanical genius, modified a few of the more vintage machines to exactly suit our needs. It’s exciting to now see this older equipment smoothly humming along with new purpose.
We enhanced our shop’s office with more powerful computing capability so we can generate Auto CAD drawings efficiently. This enables us to produce drawings for customer and architect review. Once the drawings have received final approval, they are immediately suitable for production, really streamlining our process and providing value to our customers.
With summer not far off, many people are looking forward to spending warm evenings on their decks. Others are thinking about building a deck, and wondering what materials to use. At Sisler Builders we are often asked about the difference between composite decking and real wood. We do have an opinion.
We feel composites still have issues that make them less desirable than wood. They have resin, cellular PVC, and fiber-based fillers. The fillers expand, causing the boards to swell, which could affect drainage and runoff. The resins and PVC get uncomfortably hot in summer, so bare feet are not an option. Composites also lack dimensional stability, so they sag between structural members, leaving a warped surface on which porch furniture will wobble.
Wood decking comes primarily in three flavors, listed here in ascending initial cost: pressure-treated southern yellow pine, red cedar, and a tropical hardwood called ipe. Pressure treated is infused with chemicals to make it rot resistant. It lasts 20 years, but shrinks, cracks, and splinters, causing a rough unattractive surface. Cedar is beautiful but requires costly maintenance. Ipe (pronounced ee-pay) can be sealed, giving it a gorgeous teak look, but then needs resealing. We prefer untreated ipe which weathers to a nice medium gray, lasts 50 years, and long term is the lowest cost.
Also called Brazilian walnut, ipe wood is typically found in South America and some parts of Central America. It is one of the densest hardwoods available, three times harder than cedar. You can source ipe at most lumber yards, Lowe’s, and Home Depot, or order it online at Ipedepot.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of the difference between composite decking and real wood, you can get started on a new deck and be ready to enjoy the first warm days of summer!
“Give a hit, take a hit. Get in the game.” I remember an old hockey coach saying. I chipped the puck off the boards and into the zone, then braced for impact. I lean in for the contact with a small jump. Survived. And the game, Slugs vs Moose, gains momentum.
I play on a hockey team, the Stowe Slugs. We are the premiere old-man team in Vermont. There’s a league for non-contact hockey that guys out of college like to play, called the Catamount League. The pace is quick, but there’s no hitting allowed. We all know that we need to get up and work on Monday. The Slugs have won the Catamount League championship three years running.
Now, however, we were out in Jackson, Wy., playing contact hockey against their home-town team, the Jackson Hole Moose.
Jackson gets rowdy for hockey. They have games Friday and Saturday nights at 7 pm. In addition to hockey, there’s live music between periods, co-ed youths playing before they do the ice, local beer for sale, pizza, kids running around in fashionable red Moose Hockey sweatshirts with skate laces for neck draws. Typical attendance is 1,100 fans, an incredible turnout for a town of 10,000. It’s an all-around good time.
Slugs vs Moose Face-off
We were invited because I lived in Jackson for two winters and had the privilege of playing on the team. They are in their own league, the Black Diamond Hockey League, but they invite out-of-conference competition, like us—the Stowe Slugs—to come play. They provide lodging, transportation from the airport, a gear stash room at the rink, a pregame skate Friday morning, and discounted lift tickets to the Snow King ski hill in town. Again, it’s an all-around good time.
But, they play contact hockey. For some of the guys on the Slugs, this is the first game of contact hockey they’ve played in two decades. We are in it now, though.
The first play of the game, my center won the draw clean, and I, the right winger, backed out into space and moved up ice. The pass put me into the danger zone with their D-man, who stepped up to play the man. I chipped the puck past him and took the hit. My mind was in it.
After 5 minutes the Moose are up 2-0. The Slugs are working into the game, trying to catch their breath at 6,200-feet elevation, and playing their first full-length game. We warmed into the game slowly, 3-0, 7 minutes in. Dang.
Everyone got their second shift and settled in. Finally, 3-1 with 2 minutes left in the first. A well-executed breakout, a decent entrance to their zone, and a sloppy goal gave us hope.
The hockey games were back and forth. Lots of Vermonters on the ice. Much of their team is from the East Coast and many from Vermont. It’s good competition, with some former college players and a few ex-pro’s, but everyone goes to work on Monday. Jackson is so far away from real quality hockey, or professional sport of any kind, that the Moose are revered. Their youth program is a part of the Moose organization, so many of the players are coaches. This helps create the aura of good hockey. We put on a show for the fans and enjoyed the rest of the trip. There was one fight, stitches in the locker room post-game, hits, net-front skirmishes, goals, and celebrations. Everything you could want in a hockey game.
All-around good time
During the days the team rented snowmobiles to go nine miles up a roadless back canyon to a hot spring, others went skiing at the world renown Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, some relaxed and went into the national elk refuge to see the elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and bison. Did I say yet that it’s an all-around good time?
When it was all said and done, we lost both games by one. But really, we let them win. Because—as the ref said in explanation of a bad call—“no one is here to watch the Slugs win.” That said, our trip was a success.
Building projects run most smoothly and cost effectively when there is a good team, open communication, and mutual trust. This house went through a significant renovation process, and, even though the owners were not entirely clear on what they wanted initially, the renovation process was successful, because it had the right ingredients.
Sisler Builders built the house in 2000 for a Realtor who worked extensively in Stowe. She and her husband wanted a house large enough to accommodate them and their grown children, who were starting families of their own. The main floor was designed for single-level living, with a master suite, open floor plan, cathedral ceilings, and tasteful accents. Kids’ bedrooms were upstairs, and the basement had a rec room and storage.
When they put the house on the market 16 years later, prospective buyers, Frank and Sue Zilka, consulted with Sisler Builders before buying it. “We knew Sisler Builders had built the house so we contacted Steve and asked him to come take a look and see what he could do for us. We wanted it to be a gathering place for us, our three children, and their friends,” Frank explains. After a conversation with Steve, they bought the house and asked him to renovate it to accommodate their needs.
The renovation team consisted of the owners, builder, and interior designer. Communication was easy, fast, and non-contentious. At first, Frank and Sue just wanted to upgrade a few rooms to be more to their taste. “It had a Cape Cod-style interior and we wanted a more modern feel,” Frank says. “Then we got ‘builder’s creep’ and kept deciding to do more, Our intention was to spend six months a year in Stowe, so once we got rolling we decided to go for it.”
Nailing down the design
Even though it took Frank and Sue awhile to figure out what they ultimately wanted, by keeping communication open and offering suggestions based on many years of knowledge and experience, the project moved along efficiently.
Frank has a building background as well as a mechanical one, and knows how complicated a renovation process can be. He was impressed with how easy it was to work with Sisler Builders. “The house was completely torn apart, but it all came together within six months. Sisler Builders has an amazing crew and the project manager, Brian Irwin, was super to work with. Steve has great oversight of his staff and contractors and provided a premium, top-quality product.”
“It was very easy to relay my visions to Steve,” says Sue, who grew up designing and building homes with her father. She was involved in building her family’s first house, and from there became interested in interior decorating. “Steve has knowledge and vision, too, so it was easy to work together.”
The original house had good bones, which also helped streamline the process. The majority of the renovations took place in the basement, where Frank and Sue wanted a bedroom suite with radiant heat and to change the office into a bunk room, with custom bunk beds based on Sue’s vision. “I drew my bunk bed idea on a napkin and we had a 10-minute meeting,” she says. “Steve got the idea right away. He talked to the finish carpenters and they took the idea and ran with it. That’s what you get with an experienced builder.”
The rec room was also completely revamped, and now has a stunning gas fireplace surrounded by a magnificent granite slab. The room was enlarged by incorporating the former storage room. All the floors were finished in the same antique heart pine flooring the upstairs has. “This might be my favorite room,” Sue says. “It’s soundproof, so you can’t hear anything else going on in the house. The granite slab is about 8 by 12 feet and has a beautiful grain. It took a lot to get it to Vermont, cut out a section for the fireplace, and get it into the basement. It’s magnificent!”
One eye on energy efficiency
Upstairs Sisler Builders upgraded the air conditioning, remodeled the bathrooms, enlarged the mudroom, and installed attractive wainscoting throughout the foyer. They also did some energy upgrades by changing the oil boiler to a high-efficiency gas-fired one, and did significant air sealing and insulation improvements.
Outside, they expanded the patio that is accessed from the walk-out basement, changed the deck support system to be more airy, added a staircase between the upper deck and the patio below, and installed a hot tub. The main-level deck was redone, with new Ipe decking and a transparent railing. A clever pan system with integrated gutters was installed under the new decking to protect the patio below. The exterior was completely repainted with fresh colors.
The end result is a comfortable haven to come home to after a day on the slopes. “It’s a real livable house,” says Frank. “The previous owners had a good vision and that gave us a good start.” Despite lacking a complete plan, the project ran efficiently, changes were easily incorporated, and costs were reasonable, because the optimum ingredients were in place: a good team, open communication, and mutual trust.
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