How We Build An Affordable Dream Home, Part Two

Posted on

Two months ago we posted Part One of “How We Make Dream Homes More Affordable.” We pick up here with Part Two, a home that had it’s own challenges, but with experience, knowledge, and creative solutions, we were able to build another affordable dream home.

Little River Overlook

A family from Virginia wanted a vacation home in a three-season-town. They also wanted airport accessibility and to be close to outdoor recreation. They were open to all options and were willing to buy or build, as long as the project was affordable. While visiting relatives in Montreal, they spent a weekend in Stowe and knew it was where they wanted to be.

“We started looking and found a property with a 1974 chalet on it. We bought that and an adjacent lot,” said the wife. “My husband loves designing houses, and he envisioned one to put on the property next to the chalet. We met with Steve Sisler and began by renovating the chalet first.”

Affordable Dream HomeWhen work began on the adjacent lot, the couple hired Cushman Design Group to design the house’s structure in partnership with the husband’s vision. The challenge was not the house, but the site. It is situated on a steeply sloping lot overlooking the Little River. We acted as the owners’ representative to work with surveyors, civil engineers, and town representatives to achieve adequate setbacks and a site that was feasible to build on. The initial design had sloped the house along the steep contours, which is expensive to build. Instead, we employed a simple retaining wall system that saved $25,000 in foundation costs.

Affordable Dream HomeThe dramatic three-level home has modern touches on the inside, including black painted kitchen cabinets, structural steel stair supports, and transparent cable balustrades. Tasteful details include partial Douglas fir timber frame, main living area paneling and trim, also of Douglas fir, Brazilian cherry floors at upper levels, a radiant polished concrete floor on Affordable Dream Homethe lower level, and exotic tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms. A screened porch is outfitted for grilling and the patio is situated for outdoor creek-side dining.

“The house is beautifully done,” said the wife. “We were in Virginia and we got weekly photos from project manager Shawn Thompson. Once in awhile we’d go up to see the progress. It went so smoothly and was a good experience. We love it all year round, but especially in summer.”

To see more photos of this home click here.

Rebuilding Stowe Street Apartments

Posted on

Sisler Builders is known for building stunning and unique custom homes that reflect the owners’ dreams and personalities. But they also do equally gorgeous renovations, rebuilds, and makeovers. One reason is to keep their employees busy between bigger jobs. Another is because they like bringing green building projects to their community. Also, it’s in Steve Sisler’s blood. His mother was involved in historic preservation. The enjoyment he experienced while working for her was the seed that grew into the construction company he owns today.

Rebuilding Stowe Street apartments Rebuilding Stowe Street apartments

One property they are in the midst of is rebuilding Stowe Street apartments in Waterbury. It’s a 200-year-old apartment building in dire need of a total makeover. They demolished it and are completely rebuilding it on the existing footprint. The new building will have five apartments. Three are designated for seniors on the bottom floor and will have handicap access, and two on the second floor will accommodate local families. Sisler Builders is making the building really green, with optimum insulation, solar panels, and super-efficient heat pumps.

Rebuilding Stowe Street apartments Rebuilding Stowe Street apartments

Rebuilding Stowe Street apartments Rebuilding Stowe Street apartments

Construction began in April and will be completed by mid-winter.

Here as an article that ran in the Waterbury Record about the Stowe Street construction project.

We will do another blog in the future showing the progress of rebuilding Stowe Street apartments.

Rebuilding Stowe Street apartments


How We Make Dream Homes More Affordable

Posted on

How We Make Dream Homes More AffordableExperience, knowledge, and creative solutions make dream homes more affordable.

Due to Sisler Builders’ extensive experience and knowledge, we have the ability to devise creative solutions for challenging scenarios and guide clients to quality, value-conscious choices, which result in cost savings during construction. We are also able to save money in the long run for our clients. When we build a house, we do it right the first time, so that 50 years later the building still performs well, without having major costly problems. We have been called in to fix other builders’ mistakes—rot, ventilation, insulation, air sealing, poor indoor air quality—that are avoidable. Whether it’s  engineering challenges, design guidance, energy efficiency, or product sourcing, we have the expertise to steer a project so that it is most cost effective. Here is one example of a house where, with our expertise, we were able to save the owners money while building their dream home.

How We Make Dream Homes More AffordableFamily Getaway

A skiing family took a vacation at Smugglers’ Notch Ski Resort and decided to visit Stowe. They fell in love with the town, the ski area, the people, and the fact that it was only a three-hour drive from where they lived on the coast of Massachusetts. A decision was made: Stowe was where they would vacation and where they would eventually retire. It was 2013 and real estate inventory was slim. They couldn’t find a suitable house, so they decided to build. They found a lot they liked, and they found Sisler Builders. The couple spent two years planning, and in 2015 they started the building process. The lot was located in Robinson Springs, a neighborhood near the ski slopes that consists of generally high-end luxury homes. This one was going to be on the lower end of that spectrum.

How We Make Dream Homes More AffordableThe site was difficult, with a steep grade on one side that required a massive retaining wall to create a level area to build on. The owners and Sisler Builders collaborated with Cushman Design Group. With our guidance we turned the steep grade to our advantage and placed the bedrooms in the window-rich basement level, rather than the usual second story above the main floor, reducing the overall cost. Sisler Builders and the owners detailed the rest of the house as they proceeded through the building process.



How We Make Dream Homes More Affordable How We Make Dream Homes More Affordable How We Make Dream Homes More Affordable

Thanks to our expertise, professionalism, and good communication the owners were comfortable working exclusively with us, avoiding design fees and saving additional cost by streamlining the process. The main level has timber frame accents, native maple flooring, a spalted maple dining bar and staircase handrails, and antique barn wood for the kitchen and bath cabinets and accent paneling. These tastefully implemented accents make the house special without breaking the budget. “For me, the process was all pleasure,” said the wife. “I had my own ideas and Sisler Builders had input and was easy to work with. I love the wood trim, the way the house smells, how cozy and warm it is. And I love the relationships we’ve developed with Steve and Sharon Sisler and project manager Brian Irwin. It was all so much fun to build my forever home.”

For more photos of this home, please click here.

In Part 2 of this blog we describe another house, “Little River Overlook,” where it was necessary to devise equally creative solutions for another challenging scenario.


Sisler Builders’ Crew With Kids

Posted on

By Kate Carter

At Sisler Builders we feel that in order to attract and retain hard-working, capable, and motivated employees we need to respect their busy lives. Our staff is comprised mostly of men. We call them crew with kids. Some are starting families, while others have grown children. It can be tough to juggle schedules to meet everyone’s needs. We know. We raised two boys. Meet five exceptional employees who appreciate a flexible schedule so they can be dependable dads, present for their kids.

Crew With Kids Seth and GirlsSeth Allen

Seth works in our woodworking department and has been with Sisler Builders for seven years. He has two daughters, Francis, age seven, and Coco, age five. His wife, Erica, is a freelance photographer and often travels for work. “Steve gives us the ability to tend to our kids. He knows family is important. Sometimes I have to take the kids to school and don’t get in to work until 10 a.m. and Steve is totally flexible about it.” Seth was recently diagnosed with nodular sclerosis lymphoma and has missed work due to chemotherapy and its side effects. His job building beautiful cabinetry and furniture is waiting for him to return full time. Seth is grateful and says, “Working for Sisler Builders turned out to be Crew With Kids Bryan and Finna pleasant surprise. Steve’s been good to me and my family.”

Bryan Kelley

Bryan is a project manager for a large house going up in Robinson Springs. He started with Sisler Builders two years ago, when he and his wife, Tara, moved to Stowe. Their son Finn is eight months old and goes to daycare most days. Juggling pick-up and drop-off times would be a problem if it weren’t for the flexibility Bryan’s job provides. “It’s awesome working for Sisler Builders,” Bryan says. “Family is important, it’s not an afterthought. It’s nice to know that my employer understands that. I’ve worked for companies where this was not the case. It’s great to have a fresh mindset.”

Crew With Kids Nate and JackNate Lewis

The new kid on the block, Nate has been working for Sisler Builders for just over a year. He’s been doing construction since he was 16 and is currently a site supervisor for a renovation project in Stowe Hollow. His wife, Chelsea, also works full time. They have a two-and-a-half-year-old son, Jack. “The company is understanding if I have fatherly duties to tend to. It’s an advantage, just understanding that when Jack is sick at daycare I will have to pick him up if Chelsea can’t.” Jack has been to his dad’s job site to see what he does all day. He likes it and looks forward to seeing the excavators. “The flexibility we have at Sisler Builders is an added bonus,” Nate says. “It’s a real advantage to be working for a company that cares about its employees.”

Crew With Kids Sivan and JuliusSivan Mesner

A carpenter at the Liftline project at Spruce Peak, Sivan has been with Sisler Builders for four years. His wife, Mandy, is a gardener; their son, Julius, is three. Mandy has taken Julius to see his dad on the job site. “Although he’s only three, he knows what I do all day,” Sivan says. Schedule flexibility is important to Sivan, especially when it comes to child care duties and also emergencies. “I come in late two days a week so I can drop Julius off at day care, and I make up the work another time. If Julius is sick at day care, I am able to leave and go help with that.” Sivan says Sisler Builders is a good company for work culture, flexibility, and varied schedules. “As long as we are producing results, we can have some freedom.”

Crew With Kids Shawn and LilyShawn Thompson

Shawn has been with Sisler builders for six years, moving through various jobs to where he is now, project facilitator. “I’ve known the Sislers for most of my life and have a special relationship with the company and the family. When Lily was born they gave her an ‘intro to carpentry’ toy tool set.” Shawn’s soon-to-be-wife Samantha does bodywork and has an unpredictable schedule, so Shawn especially values the company’s flexibility and commitment to family. “I am able to leave at a moment’s notice to pick Lily up at day care if she’s sick,” he says. Lily, age 2, is too young to understand where daddy goes everyday, she just knows he goes somewhere. “Her mom always tells her I’m at work and she replies, ҅daddy working.’ ”

European Inspired Mountain Chalet

Posted on

European Inspired Mountain Chalet-summer exteriorWhile traveling in the French and Swiss Alps, the owners of this European inspired mountain chalet became captivated by the rustic charm of the over 200-year-old chalets they had seen there. They perused numerous books about chalet design, becoming both well informed and even more enthusiastic with the building style. Working with architect Paul Robert Rousselle of Stowe and Steve Sisler of Sisler Builders, they incorporated design cues from traditional chalet construction, their own carefully cultivated theme ideas, and state-of-the-art energy usage desires to bring their unique European inspired mountain chalet to fruition for the 21st century and beyond.

European Inspired Chalet-north side windowsThe couple and their three children, ages 13, 18, and 20, are originally from Long Island. They moved to Stowe for its quality of life, easy access to sports, and the outdoor activities they enjoy. They rented a home while beginning the process of designing their house, finding an architect, and deciding on a builder. After meeting with Steve and checking with a variety of reference sources they chose Sisler Builders. Steve had done similar chalet-style construction, and they felt that besides his reputation for perfection and integrity, he and his team were well suited for the job. They also knew that Sisler Builders is committed to building highly energy efficient homes, a priority for them.

European Inspired Chalet-living roomEuropean Inspired Chalet-dining room view

Beyond being committed to the chalet aesthetic, the couple’s primary objectives were an open and functional layout, natural flow, and ease of use. They wanted to maintain a timeless look, so the house never felt dated. They also wanted to take advantage of the fantastic sloping site, situating the house so that it made the most of the jaw-dropping views of Stowe’s ski trails. The floor-to-ceiling windows all across the main living areas did the trick for this last desire!

“There was a lot of collaboration during the building process,” said the husband. “Every square inch of the house was discussed with the architect and builder, weighing all factors of design, engineering, and the actual building process.”

Energy efficiency

The nearly 4,500-square-foot structure is extremely air tight and energy efficient. It is heated with geothermal wells connected to electric heat pumps, which are partially powered by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. A wood stove, cleverly connected to duct work that is part of the air conditioning system, allows heat to be distributed throughout the home, instead of being concentrated to the area close to the woodstove. The structure tested out at 0.82 ACH50, which means it has a nearly Passive House air exchange level, and is remarkably air tight. It has radiant heat tubing embedded in the concrete slabs of both the lower and first floor levels. This is a well-thought-out system, as the heat pumps can readily produce water at just the proper temperature for optimal radiant heating. With the exceedingly low natural air-exchange rate, a mechanical heat recovery air exchange system was mandatory.

Sisler Builders optimized the amount of insulation installed by computer modeling the front-end cost of different thicknesses of insulation versus the operating cost associated with those thicknesses. With this proper engineering and holistic mechanical system approach, the owners have found that the wood stove heats the entire house, and are ecstatic about the inexpensive heating costs and comfort they feel year round.

European Inspired Chalet-dining room European Inspired Chalet-bedroom

Staying local

European Inspired Chalet-kitchenLocally sourced materials strongly influenced the house design. A significant contributor to its look and feel was the use of native hemlock beams and paneling that were procured and milled nearby. Sisler Builders took special care to purchase and sequence their installation in order to facilitate proper drying of the wood. The wife’s favorite aspect of the interior is the mix of rustic and modern design themes throughout the house, which were achieved with materials such as the native hemlock beams juxtaposed with refined tile and crisp sheetrock detailing, finished in striking colors.

The husband’s favorite aspect is the kitchen, which he says is the house’s focal point. “I like to cook. I wanted a kitchen that is functional. We put a lot of thought into multiple work stations and the layout works well for us. I like all the systems and finishes we integrated.”

European Inspired Chalet-winter exteriorThe owners would have preferred to take a year up front to flesh out the house’s design, but they did not have that luxury, so decisions were made almost daily during the building process. “The project manager, Matt Rouleau was brilliant,” the husband said. “He coordinated everything and it was a pleasure working with him. He is extraordinary. Our experience with Sisler Builders has been great. They stood behind everything they did and we continue to have good relationships with Steve and Matt and all the carpenters and subcontractors we met through the process. We’re very happy with our Vermont chalet.”

European Inspired Chalet-aerial

Coast to Coast on a Vintage Harley

Posted on

Coast to Coast on Vintage HarleyBy Richard Duda

Retired Sisler Builders employee

In September 2014 I had the honor and pleasure of taking part in the Motorcycle Cannonball, a coast-to-coast race for antique motorcycles. The Motorcycle Cannonball began in 2010 and is run every other year. The route—3,938 miles from Daytona to Tacoma—is mostly back roads and takes 17 days to complete, including a rest day in Kansas.

There were 102 riders; 25 were from foreign countries, 4 were women, and one was a sidecar with husband and wife. The rules are fairly simple. Bikes are divided into three classes, based on motor size. Riders have to leave the start every morning by a certain time, and finish the day within a specified time.

Coast to Coast on Vintage HarleyFor this race I had decided to build a 1924 Henderson, and started working on it 16 months ahead of time. I finished the day before shipping it to the start in Daytona, but at the last minute I decided it was not ready. Instead, I took my 1936 Harley VLH, which I have owned for about 12 years. The vintage Harley is my daily rider and an old friend.

Coast to Coast on Vintage HarleyI teamed up with a friend, Dan Emerson, from Connecticut. We bought a 1988 Ford van as our chase vehicle and loaded it with bikes, spare parts, gear, and clothing. Dan and his wife, Karen, drove it to Daytona. I flew down, and once there had two days to get my Harley ready.

During the day, riders were on their own. We could help each other or get help from someone along the way, but nothing from our crew. On the sixth day, 30 miles from the start, I lost my rear brake at a stop sign in the middle of farm country. Within five minutes a farmer stopped and asked if he could help. We went to his barn and welded my rear brake rod back together. It put me behind, but I still finished that day on time.

Many of the bikes were well prepared and riders had lots of spare parts and experienced mechanics, but old bikes and old parts will fail. Riding between 250 and 320 miles each day will test the skill of anyone. It is a difficult race physically, emotionally, and mechanically.

Coast to Coast on Vintage HarleyThe day after the rest in Kansas, my motor of my vintage Harley seized. I was in trouble. One of the sweep vehicles was a new BMW bike with a flat side car for hauling bikes. Feeling like the grim reaper, the driver stopped for me. I asked for a few minutes and pumped oil into the cylinder. Fortunately, the piston loosened up and the bike started!

I loved the ride through the East and was surprised with the Midwest’s rolling hills. The West felt stark and barren. One day we rode over Loveland Pass, and at 12,000 feet elevation it was formidable, but everyone running that day made it. The Northwest was great, with huge hay farms and wheat farms and then into the fruit orchards of the upper Northwest.

We ended at the LeMay car museum in Tacoma. The winner was the rider from South Africa on a 1922 Indian Scout. Twenty five bikers, including Dan and me, finished with perfect scores. Afterwards we loaded our van with the bikes, gear, and dirty laundry and shipped it back to the East Coast while we flew home.

It was an amazing experience and thankfully I had a few sponsors: Hiedenaur tires, Spectro oil, and Ande Rooney, Inc. Sisler Builders was a generous supporter, allowing me to take three weeks off from work. I could not have done it without everyone’s help, and of course the patience and support of my wife and family.

Meet Sisler Builders’ Custom Woodworking Division

Posted on
Sisler Builders' custom woodworking division
Claro walnut coffee table.

Seth Allen and Glen Waller make up the core of Sisler Builders’ custom woodworking division. Allen was hired in early 2012 as a carpenter and soon moved into the wood shop to build furniture for Sisler Builders’ clients. Shortly after, Waller was brought on to help collaborate on a large order of custom furniture that included three separate pieces—an architecturally designed, high-end walnut master bed with AV cabinets, drawers, and an oversized headboard; a claro walnut (Juglans hindsii) coffee table; and a black walnut (Juglans californica) dining room table. Sisler Builders’ custom woodworking division was launched!

Sisler Builders' custom woodworking division
Custom kitchen shelving.

“We are not set up for high volume,” notes Waller. “We do specialty things, such as master vanities, full kitchens with interiors made of poplar, not plywood, for non-toxic houses, built-in cabinets, and furniture.”

The woodworking shop is modest, completely kitted out with Powermatic tools. The only element that is off-site is a spray room. “We do mostly natural oil finishes. A lot of present-day finishing systems only require one or two coats, so we rarely need a spray room,” Waller adds.

Sisler Builders' custom woodworking division
Glen Waller and Seth Allen doing their thing in Sisler Builders’ woodworking shop.

Waller and Allen both became interested in woodworking when they were kids. Waller’s father was an aerospace engineer with a woodworking shop at home. This in itself was enough to inspire young Waller to take woodworking classes throughout his school years. He also enjoys metal fabrication. He moved to Vermont from California, and prior to joining Sisler Builders owned a custom door-making business in Moscow, Vermont.

Sisler Builders' custom woodworking division
Cozy reading nook.

Allen modestly claims he received his own training from the school of hard knocks, but he also attended Vermont Technical College’s architectural design and engineering program, as well as wooden boat school. After graduating from high school he worked for a high-end construction company in Southern Vermont, where he built homes from the ground up, getting involved in all aspects of building.

Allen later moved to NYC to chase his girlfriend, who he eventually married. “I didn’t want to build houses and lug tools, so I started working in wood shops in New York City and that is where my love for furniture and woodshops began,” says Allen. Woodworking also runs in his family. His father owned a construction business and his father-in-law is Johannes Michelsen, a world-renown wood turner known for his amazing wooden hats.

Most of the custom woodworking projects come from Sisler Builder clients who are having new houses built or major renovations done. “Our clients don’t usually want to stick with a set design. They want the flexibility to make changes along the way,” Allen explains. This gives Sisler Builders the ability to achieve anything their clients dream up. So instead of contracting out furniture and custom projects, he and Waller do the custom work in house.

Sisler Builders' custom woodworking division
A miniature prototype of a custom bench that can be raised and lowered according to snow depth.

“We get some interesting projects,” says Waller. “We recently did an outdoor bench that can be raised and lowered, according to snow depth, using a marriage of steel and wood to create a gear mechanism that is operated manually with a hand crank.” Waller was able to employ his metal fabricating skills to design the gearing.

Sisler Builders' custom woodworking division
Staircase treads and railing.

Other creative projects the two have completed are a suspended outdoor shower enclosure made from a reclaimed hot tub, a shuffle board table, a bamboo-cladded front door assembly, and a custom live-edge Douglas fir bench.

“We can do almost anything custom,” says Waller. “If we can’t do some aspects of a the project we will find someone we respect who can, but for the most part we do everything in house.”


Air Source Heat Pumps – Renewable Resource Heating

Posted on

Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps are gaining a foothold in the construction industry for their energy efficiency and cost effectiveness. For decades, Sisler Builders installed propane (and sometimes oil) heating equipment as a matter of course. The advent of heat-pump technology and, to a lesser extent, rising fuel prices, has changed all of that.

For the last few years, Sisler Builders installed air source or ground source heat pumps in almost all of their buildings. The technology for heat pumps, which are essentially air conditioners that run in reverse, has improved drastically in the last 20 years. On average, the systems are now four times more efficient than traditional electric resistance heat, operate well (even in Vermont winters) and cost less to operate than propane or oil.

In 2013 Sisler Builders installed air source heat pumps in one of their apartment buildings in Waterbury, Vermont. It replaced an old and outdated oil boiler. The annual heating and hot water costs of the building have gone from about $8,000 to $2,500 annually! And, since almost all of the electricity comes from a rooftop solar array, the system is much better for the environment, too.

To learn more about air source and ground source heat pumps, go to and search for Nick Sisler. Nick is co-founder and lead engineer at Ekotrope, a building energy software and consulting company. This essay is adapted from an article in Green Building Advisor.

Two Energy Efficient Vermont Homes

Posted on

Here is an up-close look at two energy efficient Vermont homes built by Sisler Builders in Stowe, Vermont.

Ernie Ruskey and Laurie Wood had three primary objectives when they built their house in Morrisville: simplicity, energy efficiency, and harmony with the site. They achieved their goals with a minimalist modern design, a home that is super tight, has excellent air exchange rate results, and heats easily with propane and supplemental wood. The house is nestled on a gentle, wooded hillside, with mountains views to the west, and blends unobtrusively with its surroundings.

energy efficient vermont homes  energy efficient vermont homes

energy efficient vermont homes“One goal in all of our work is to have a house that fits into the site and landscape. It’s always about the view and topography,” says Ernie, architect and owner of Tektonika Studio Architects in Stowe. He designed their house, which has a wedge shape that is, shall we say, wedged into the site’s natural topography. The garage is a half-story down, connected by an open, covered walkway leading to the staircase and main entry. Passing through the mudroom and kitchen to the light-filled great room you notice the subtle widening of the space. In consort with the nine-foot ceilings, expansive west-facing windows, well detailed maple stairwell, and natural stone hearth, this is a truly inviting space. A deck and screened porch off the wide end enable outdoor living close to nature.

energy efficient vermont homes  energy efficient vermont homes

As a Stowe architect, Ernie knows many local builders, and choosing one to build a house he designed for his family was a difficult decision. “I gave several builders a shot,” he says. “Sisler Builders was on the short list of three companies. Their bid was the middle number and it felt realistic. I also felt good about the company’s project-management skills and their deep energy-efficiency knowledge.

energy efficient vermont homesSisler Builders’ core tenet is building the tightest envelope possible at a cost that doesn’t break the budget. Their seven years of focused home energy analysis and retrofits has shown them where typical problems are, especially for air and heat leakage. Whether building a new house or an addition, their crews know what to do to make sure there are no egregious air leaks in places that are difficult, costly, or impossible to fix later.

energy efficient vermont homesAesthetics were also important for Ernie and Laurie. “Sisler Builders made the right matches with their subcontractors. The craftsmanship is superior and from a design standpoint it really worked for me,” Ernie explains. “The costing piece, team, scheduling, and experience are all important, but most important in any building process is a good rapport. Steve communicates well and our personalities clicked. Laurie and I both had, and have, a good feeling about him.”


Jo and Jonathan (JP) Poole of Concord, Mass., had similar goals when building their house in Stowe. Simplicity was their primary objective. They wanted a modern design, small enough to feel cozy, yet large enough to accommodate guests. They also wanted a house that was ecologically friendly and sustainable, which led them to a solar-powered geothermal heating and cooling system which uses only renewable resources.

energy efficient vermont homes  energy efficient vermont homes

When the Pooles moved from the United Kingdom to the United States, they first came to Stowe. They ended up in Concord, Mass., where JP works in biotech and Jo owns Concord Fitsquad. They continued visiting Stowe, and when it was time to build their house they reached out to Sisler Builders, whom they had heard about around town, particularly in the context of highly energy-efficient, ecologically friendly construction.

“We set up a meeting with Steve Sisler and liked his practical approach,” JP says. When it was time to find an architect, Steve recommended Ernie Ruskey of Tektonika Studio Architects. “Steve thought Ernie would be a good match for us. His tastes, design perspective, and core interests were aligned with ours.”

energy efficient vermont homes  energy efficient vermont homes

At both the Poole and Ruskey-Wood residences, Sisler Builders implemented a combination of recently introduced energy efficiency building products and practices. When building the envelopes they used Huber’s superior Zip-R wall-sheathing panel and proprietary tape. With careful application of the tape at all seams you can cost-effectively ensure a tight building envelope even before insulation is applied. Sisler Builders did that at both homes, achieving air exchange level’s really close to the rigorous Passive House Institute US best practice standards, and they did it cost effectively.

energy efficient vermont homesThe Poole house begins with the main-floor mudroom, which includes a huge, open-riser, three-story, steel-supported staircase. Beyond that is the heart of the home, a spacious and airy great room/kitchen/dining room. “The mud room and open-plan living area were primary for us. We focused our resources there and on the staircase,” JP notes.

The house is entirely electrically driven, with LED lighting throughout. Radiant heat is powered by a closed loop geothermal system supplemented with a modern Hearthstone soapstone wood stove. Their 4.9 kW solar array provides about 70 percent of all the electricity the home uses.

It’s the only modern style house in their neigh-borhood, yet it’s inconspicuous and unassuming. JP and Jo concur that at the end of the day they were really happy with the final product. “Steve quickly found solutions to challenges and was sensible and direct. Our house is simple and clean and that means the quality of work is extra important. Sisler Builders, their crew, and subcontractors provided excellent craftsmanship. It was a good team.”

Celebrating Sisler Builders 30 Year Anniversary

Posted on

Sisler Builders 30 Year AnniversarySisler Builders 30 year anniversary. What a milestone! As I reflect on this achievement, I am proud and humbled by what an idea has turned into. President and Vermonter Calvin Coolidge once commented, “…Persistence alone is Omnipotent,” a phrase which has consistently motivated me, especially during the tough moments. The upcoming years motivate me even more.

The promise of our talented people, the ongoing technological progression charging into the construction field, and the new palette of building materials all make this an exciting time to be a builder. I look toward the future with the same sense of wonder, trepidation, and anticipation as I did when I embarked on this journey.

I’ve been thinking lately about the “connectedness” of things. Our company, now 30 employees strong, became what it is by honoring basic principles that apply in many endeavors. Whether it’s coaching or competing, being a parent or building a home, the values of respect, preparation, challenge, and follow-through work every time. I’m struck, looking back, by how similar the obstacles and outcomes can be, at the hockey arena, the dinner table, or the building site.

Generally I’m not one for mottos or mantras, but if pressed I would say we endeavor to build efficiently, with a long view, utilizing materials and techniques that champion that view. We value respect for people, quality products, and the planet.

Sisler Builders 30 Year AnniversaryRespect for people

I see a good example in the recent economic downturn. At Sisler Builders, we made it a priority to honor the commitments made to and by our employees. During the worst housing market in several decades, we adapted our work to keep our entire staff not just employed, but continuing to contribute to their families, their communities, to the recovery, and to a resilient business. One of our carpenters described the changes in his commute from a nearby town – from bustling, to sparse, to lonely. At its worst, he felt that he was the only one from his community heading anywhere. Now, the roads are filling again, but I know the driver of one silver Sisler Builders pick-up appreciates the drive a little more and that means a lot to me.

Just like our employees, loyalty on the playing field comes from investing in the team when times are tough. Below zero morning practices at the old outdoor Jackson Ice Arena forged some great teams, built character and life skills that endure for all participants.

Sisler Builders 30 Year AnniversaryRespect for quality product

A local theater group recently performed “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There’s a line where Pa Bailey explains to his son, who wants to do greater things, “You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It’s deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we’re helping him get those things in our shabby little office.” I don’t find our office shabby, but I do find the same sense of satisfaction Pa expressed. We’ve been privileged to have been chosen to build and remodel many awesome homes for many wonderful people. Yet I believe the home includes so much more than a roof and walls and fireplace. It provides peace and security, identity, self-expression, family, community—attributes I know our buildings will deliver for decades.

Respect for planet and future

How we build is critical to how we will live, and it is for the long term. We are committed to building with respect for the planet. Sustainability includes not just energy use and consumption but emissions and our overall footprint. We build aware of the life cycle analysis of the resources we employ. We will always seek to optimize our people, through training and support, the technology we use and install and in creating custom living solutions with style, quality, and respect.

From here, we will build on the values we have forged and embodied. I plan to help guide our talented people to continue to live up to the high standards we have set and delivered in our first 30 years and raise the bar, as energy issues demand, for the coming decades.

Thanks for your support, past and future!

Steve Sisler, Owner