A Housebuilding Vacation in Vermont!

Noyes-Stowe Project. Follow this build on Instagram.

Noyes-Stowe Project. Follow this build on Instagram.

Me & Weston finally doing the Ridge-Beam Rodeo together! We met online in 2009 and have looked forward to this "cowboy" event for a long time. 

Me & Weston finally doing the Ridge-Beam Rodeo together! We met online in 2009 and have looked forward to this "cowboy" event for a long time. 

Last month we set aside our work in Washington state and visited our friends Weston & Amy Noyes who are raising a roof in the popular ski town of Stowe, Vermont. Weston & Amy are a two-person dynamic husband and wife team - professionally known as Inspired Design-Build - who've been featured in Fine Homebuilding Magazine. We caught up them in the middle of their second house building project. The house is a tall order but they're pulling it together in spectacular fashion. Together they've raised multiple 12:12 pitches and framed complex valleys and dormers. I should also mention they even laid the foundation themselves using insulated concrete forms. As one part of a two-person husband and wife crew I can tell you with confidence that these two are titans!

Diva Amy Noyes at the track saw!

Diva Amy Noyes at the track saw!

In order to begin the building project our friends had to navigate their way to permitting through a stringent historical preservation committee established to retain the architectural legacy and character of Stowe. Despite the challenges such oversight presents to builders the committee is maintaining, even encouraging, its attractive heritage. Indeed, Stowe is a beautiful place with a classic New England architectural appeal. As a result Stowe has a flourishing economy with a positive future. People like the town and it shows.

For our friends, the physical work began with the challenge of removing an old, dilapidated New England house. They did this work themselves too. And even though the house was derelict and required a full demolition some of the original hardwood beams were salvaged and used to construct the interior of the new house, saving wood, lowering costs, and even adding conversational character to the interior (I heard more than one visitor comment on the beams during my visit).

The new house is certainly larger than the ones we use in the Small House Catalog and yet it's in keeping with the residential architectural history seen throughout New England. The new house fits squarely into its environment. The house is a gift to the community and fully in keeping with what I encourage Small House Catalog followers to do:

  • build what makes sense
  • build as well as you can,
  • use the highest quality materials and labor you can afford.

Jamie and I work hard to live up to that statement and it's never an easy task. In Stowe, our friends are working to live up to that challenge as well - and more. 

Pizza night at Good Heart Farm in Worcester, Vermont with new friends, including owner-farmer Edge Fuentes and owner-farmer-writer Kate Spring. Beautiful evening with beautiful people!

Pizza night at Good Heart Farm in Worcester, Vermont with new friends, including owner-farmer Edge Fuentes and owner-farmer-writer Kate Spring. Beautiful evening with beautiful people!

My friend learning to swing a golf club, at Ryder Brook Golf Club. This was a late October day in Vermont if you can believe it! Thank you to Paul, Weston's father-in-law, for the kind tutelage - I needed it - and, wow, can Paul hit a golf ball with a club with precision!

My friend learning to swing a golf club, at Ryder Brook Golf Club. This was a late October day in Vermont if you can believe it! Thank you to Paul, Weston's father-in-law, for the kind tutelage - I needed it - and, wow, can Paul hit a golf ball with a club with precision!

By the way, If you're interested in following this project first-hand you can find the ongoing photostream on Instagram. The Noyes-Stowe house features Marvin Integrity windows, insulated doors, a super-insulated roof & wall assembly with 4-in of exterior rigid foam insulation and Zip Sheathing & Tape System™ as well as other interesting products and design features, such as the Witch Window - unique to Vermont - shown in the opening photo!

What a vacation! We had the pleasure of helping close-in an amazing house and installing quality windows and doors with our friends during our stay. But we did more than work! We relaxed with cats and people, ate buttery home brewed maple syrup, visited an apple orchard, played a first (ever) game of golf under sunny blue skies, sipped tea and ate good food in Burlington, walked with vegetables (and ate some of them) atop of delicious wood-fired pizzas at Good Heart Farmstead with a variety of new friends, browsed several wonderful local food co-ops and small towns - and even sampled the world famous Heady Topper.

Vermont is one of those magical places that has you question your own place, which we also love. It's certainly hard to leave friends behind and we're already excited about our next visit - with or without tool belts!