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      Vermont Real Estate, An Adventure Raising Pigs and the Joy of Living Far From Cities and Covid-19 Corona Virus Concentration

      Living in the country is something I have always cherished and, from a very young age, believed so much better than congested urban sprawl. Both my parents chose large cities from Caracas, Venezuela to Manhattan in New York. The money, culture, restaurants, the enticements everywhere, copious and seductive.

      The crowds though, the crowds. Stifling. When I lived in Tokyo the train operators pushed the sandwiched subway riders into the cars with white gloves, over-capacity. The smog and pollution were so intense I could barely breathe, suffering from asthma attacks and serial medication just to get by, tortuous. Eventually I got smart and fled for the hills.

      In Japan it was Hokkaido, the northern frontier of flowers and beets, fly fishing and skiing, hot springs and lavender instead of museums and traffic jams. Things got better immediately. The dramatic alpine vistas and clean air made you feel as if you were reborn.

      A pandemic magnifies all that and changes everything. As if toxic urban existence were not enough to wake up even the most avid urbanite, enter Novel Corona, or Covid-19.

      All our lives have been transformed in ways unimaginable just a few months ago. City dwellers across the land are re-evaluating their decisions to live in highly congested urban and sub-urban neighborhoods where Covid-19 has spread like wildfire with over-taxed hospitals and over-burdened morgues in its wake. None of us have been able to look at any news source for over a month without the dreaded virus dominating .

      As in most tragedy, the magic is in the silver lining. Here in the Mad River Valley or anywhere in Vermont, while partially or fully restrained from usual performance, what better opportunity than to dive deeply into and embrace country living?

      A long-held dream of raising hogs became realizable; what could be better than your own home raised pork which must be, at least the Chinese would concur, the finest meat on the planet? From bacon to braised ribs to juicy pork chops, even better than chickens, as wondrous as eggs and the 5:30 a.m. crowing rooster are. 

      On top of a new culinary adventure, how about the challenge of constructing, start to finish, a tiny home?

      While hopefully at least a few practiced hands or carpenters are reading this, most of you have varying skillset levels for DIY projects. No stranger to the hammer or chainsaw, this seemed an exciting challenge. With just a few minutes of online pig pen research, the solution availed itself.




      Pallets. Wooden pallets like those cast away behind the big box stores and lumber yards. The same day I found a used pallet supplier less than an hour away and had, in no time flat, 15 wooden pallets stacked in the yard.

      Sometimes the simplest things are all you need. And anyone can do it.

      A few eight-foot pressure treated posts laid down on field stone later the foundation was born, stacking and screwing in each of four pallets to form the sub-floor to be covered with thick cut boards for support. Two pallets for each of the side and rear walls stacked on end, another for a half front face, the remaining pallets cut diagonally for the upper walls and one whole for a front deck in front of a gate door. A couple of cross beams and ceiling rafters for roof support, blue foam insulation to prevent the pigs' heat from condensing and raining down on them and their hay crib and finally two eight foot corrugated sheets as roofing attached with rubber washer sheet metal screws.

      Tiny house, major pleasure.




      Once the walls go up the one-inch thick boards go down on the floor, a combination of spruce and reclaimed planks, followed by diagonal braces in three interior corners for structural reinforcement. 

      The most enjoyable part of the pen construction was, and as my friend and very talented artist Cathy Stevens-Pratt would say, bringing art into everyday life.

      To frost the cake, Core 10 metal sheathing constitutes the exterior baseboard, amazing as it rusts and with age forms an evolving patina, one of the few construction materials that improves rather than degenerates over time.

      While cutting the Core 10 for the first time with a Dremel and tiny metal circular saws, it came to me.

      I used a few of the metal sheets overlapped and cut out a hog stencil to adorn the new digs and announce to the passerby what this new crib would house.  The same Dremel tool used to divide the sheathing is perfect for cutting out the stencil which I mounted on wooden boards about 3/4" thick. Both stencil and stencil cut out were mounted and used on both the side and the pig pen front door. Would hogs ever have it so good?

      As with most construction, you won't be surprised if it takes longer than you expect but most great undertakings do and working with your hands, in contrast to typing endlessly in front of computer screen, is active and a wonderful  form of meditation. The only other critical tools are the Makita Magnesium 7 1/4 inch circular saw which cuts and rips like butter and a Makita power drill for all the screws, which lend strength compared to nails.

      The white band you see on the door and around the structure is a single layer of PVC clapboard, made of the same material as pvc pipe which is water resistant and a great material to use for window and door trim compared to wood which rots much more quickly.

      The gate door, the inner diagonal braces, stone to fill the foundation walls, not to mention the stenciling, electric fencing and water-on-demand hydration, one thing leads to the other. While not completed yet, the project was begun a couple of weeks ago and is nearly wrapped with two Duroc-Yorkshire piglets arriving in May at $100 a head.

      While you haven't likely dreamed of forking out a pig pen (remember when Judy Garland as Dorothy takes a tumble into the pig pen in the Wizard of Oz) or the likely enticing smells they'll generate, there is so much to love about living in the country.

      Vermont has it all. What better time to escape the concrete jungle permanently or purchase a home or camp in Vermont as a sure escape in case another pandemic, or worse, strikes? My inbox and phone have been inundated with potential buyers who have realized just that and now truly understand what a safe haven Vermont can be, on top of the gorgeous mountains and streams.

      Raising pigs and chickens are this Vermont real estate broker's Covid-19 silver lining. 

      What is your silver lining? Can a pandemic translate into something exciting and new, bring you to a safer place and open up a whole new world?

      Vermont has been under lockdown, in various forms, since March 25th with social distancing the mantra, children home from schools and university, remote learning, virtual meetings via zoom, and many strapped and unable to work at all or come even close to being as productive as usual. Vermont realtors were, for almost four weeks, unable to show any homes.

      Finally, Monday of last week, the 20th of April, guidelines loosened slightly allowing showings only to people living in Vermont or out-of-staters that have quarantined in Vermont for 14 days which, for all intents and purposes, rules out showings to any out of state buyers except those with homes here that can leave their home state for more than two weeks just to see some houses up here which is, to say the least, asking a lot of them and far from any reasonable measure. There is talk of the levee breaking June 15th from which Vermont Inns, short term rentals and B&B ops have been tentatively approved by Governor Scott, still over six weeks away. Herculean efforts are underway to bring the state government to more reasonable conclusions to allow showings sooner to out-of-state buyers with Covid-19 precautions in place.

      It's a fantastic time to start exploring Vermont's real estate market in earnest and scheduling showings for June 15th if you're out of state without means to quarantine in Vermont yet or right away if here already or have come from out-of-state and have quarantined for 14 days already. Demand is building and many in the northeast and far beyond are eyeing this gorgeous place and preparing to buy up property here to help ensure they have access to this incredible escape. Already, many second homeowners have ditched their cities and are working remotely here full time. All over the world rural migration is reversing decades of urban migration. In today's New York Times, this story spotlights Peru where highways are full of pedestrians, suitcases and children in an exodus from Lima. What a fabulous change. Exodus, the painting below depicted by artist Robert Spencer in oil, captures the spirit of freedom and promise rural life offers.

      Now is the time to move to the country or at least purchase a place to have in addition to your city dwelling. This it. To get information on any Vermont property or real estate, call 800-525-7965 or email and we can accelerate the process towards making your dream come true. You can also text me at 802-793-1515. Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve you, always such a pleasure.

      Maple Sweet Real Estate delves deeply into myriad issues for Vermont property owners, sellers, and purchasers.

      Connect to, e-mail or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 for info on selling or purchasing Vermont commercial properties, homes, condos or land or to get more information on Vermont real estate. 

      See all Maple Sweet Real Estate listings and the newest Vermont listings.

      Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.

      Vermont Mandatory Consumer Disclosure: please note Vermont real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.

      Information Disclosure: information provided and relayed by Maple Sweet Real Estate is not represented to be accurate or free of errors. While substantial efforts are made to obtain and convey information from sources deemed dependable, Maple Sweet Real Estate does not guarantee or warranty such information is accurate or reliable. All information should be independently verified. 

      IMPORTANT NOTICE: Never trust wiring instructions sent via email. Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts and sending emails with fake wiring instructions. These emails are convincing and sophisticated. Always independently confirm wiring instructions in person or via a telephone call to a trusted and verified phone number. Never wire money without double-checking that the wiring instructions are correct.


      Going Through The Roof

      Things Are Looking Up

      "The sky's the limit if  you have a roof over your head." Sol Hurok.

      Architecture dazzles. Architect Frank Gehry knows, his metallic and light geometry in Cambridge, MA here pictured, draws you in and up instantly. It captures our hearts and minds. Design seduces buyers into bidding wars, captures in form the spirit of man and shelter.

      Vermont architecture varies dramatically, from urbanscape to quiet country lane. Roofs, the apogee of our homes, define the interpretation of form and visual appeal, not to mention purpose. Often overlooked as incidental, the roof is the backbone of a home, critical in preserving and protecting. Whether a simple gable sans skylight, a dormered cape, an ornate victorian or flat top rubber membrane, roofs are, second only to foundations, an essential architectural element in function and style.

      What kind of roofs have caught your eye and fancy? Do you prefer simplicity or complex lines and interaction? How important is light and elevation to you?

      Like us, roofs need to breathe. Adequately providing for soffit and peak ventilation can radically affect longevity of both the roofing and substrate. There's nothing as frustrating when you've found a great buyer, are under contract to close and the property inspector opens up the attic to find thick layers of mold covering the attic ceiling due to inadequate venilation and trapped moisture. Mold mediation companies can charge tens of thousands.

      This Maple Sweet Real Estate Mad River Valley listing at 146 Sugarhouse Lane features a half-hipped roof, sloped in four directions with post and beam accents. The hipped roof allows for more room upstairs; less knee wall space means high square footage and better maximization of vertical opportunities.
















      It's the materials that count. From adobe out west, grass tops in England, synthetic slate shingles made from baby diapers, roofing elements define the shelter from the storm, our year round umbrellas. Cedar shakes are durable and gorgeous and can last for many decades depending on thickness, length, rating, installation skill and maintenance. Other shingles include ubiquitous ashphalt in standard and architectural form and composite shingles. While rare in Vermont, terra cotta spanish and other ceramic tiles hold immense appeal. With heavy snowfall's vertical line, sheet metal satisfies in corrugated and standing seam. Think green...Solar shingles anyone?

      The real deal, slate shingles can last 100+ years; so durable, they make the others look like rice paper. Just be sure to build a frame and truss system strong enough to support their weight or the whole show will come tumbling down. From dirt cheap to blindingly dear as the labor is dangerous, something I can attest to. I was up refinishing a roof of mine when the ladder gave out. Shotgun descent, broken humurous (thankfully no broken back or neck), titanium plate, surgery and seven screws. This is one job you don't want to DIY.

      Poetry of roofing. Open vs closed valleys, pitch and concealed fasteners. Flashing, skylights and gutters, snow guards, peaks and valleys. Arched, domed and skillion, sheathing, sod and solar. Thermal emittance, ice dams and R factor.


      "Tin Roof" by Scottish Poet Nii Ayikwei Parkes

      "Wild harmattan winds whip you but still you stay; they spit dust all over your gleam and twist your sharp cutting edges.

      The rains come zinging mud with their own tapping music. Yet you remain -my pride- my very own roof."



      Maple Sweet Real Estate adds value and insight to better inform your real estate decisions. Thank you so much for reading the Maple Sweet blog.

      To learn more about roofs, find a roofing contractor, buy land to build, buy or list your own home, call 800-525-7965 or email



      Text 802-793-1515 or call toll free 800-525-7965 

      Set up Showings 

      List Your Property

       Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.


      South Village Condos at Sugarbush, Stand Alone Privacy & Comfort, Ski On Ski Off at Trails' Edge

      Maple Sweet Real Estate   toll free 800-525-7965 m/txt 802-793-1515

      South Village, on Lincoln Peak's eastern flank @ Sugarbush ski area, is an enclave of comfort and convenience. Year in year out discerning Vermont second home owners vie for a chance to own one of these handsome, stand alone ski escapes. Here are two South Village condos available now with superior locations and exceptional improvements.


           South Village 57 includes a custom made Beefer Roth bed frame with matching raw edge atrium window framing and a pristine hardwood maple great room floor extending into the kitchen. If you love wood and looking for a handsomely fnished low maintenance second home with Vermont vernacular touches, this is it. Located at woods edge, it's a stone's throw from the access trail that connects the big slopes and on the high side of the road with parking just below. Feast on incredible Mad River Valley views form the wrap around deck and enjoy the privacy of being up on the end of road cul de sac. Watch your kids ski home through the trees from the cathedral living room and warm your weekends with the central brick hearth and stack wood burning fireplace.

           Bright ceramic tile kitchen, skylights and beautiful, clear towering windows bathe in abundant light. Listed at a modest $248,500, a similar, less handsomely renovated South Village on the same cul de sac sold for $282,000. Quality and value for the taking. More info, pix here.

           For more room, South Village 33 offers an expanded floor plan with an added and finshed basement. The new pine siding smells so good it feels like a tree house. Overflow guests savor the large siamese bed loft, and a roughed in fourth bathroom is ready to customize and finish. Consistent with the new pine family room siding, the kitchen and living room have a durable yellow pine wood floor distinguishing 33 from most South Village units which have carpeting. Modern lighting, this spacious stand alone condo is also on an west end cul de sac close to the ski on ski off access trail so you don't have to get in your car once you get to Vermont. See the association map below showing each condo marked with condo numbers. 

           Tall fir trees, wrap around deck and an exceptional west end association location translate to less traffic, more privacy and a much shorter ski onto the main trails. New tile mudroom floor, beautiful views from the kitchen, a large deck and, like 57, an energy efficient propane fired Rinnai heater supplement the crackling central wood fireplace listed at $279,000. More info, pix here

           No other condo association at Sugarbush offers stand alone, self-contained units with ski on ski off convenience. Snow Creek, while closer the main trails is an apartment like complex with units stacked three high. Clay Brook & Rice Brook, while at the base of Lincoln Peak, feel more like a hotel than at home.

           At South Village, you're unattached to others which means the world. When you get up here to relax you won't need to go far for your firewood either: the maintenance team will have it stacked by your front door and walkway shoveled. Once you drive north, you can really spread your  wings. After you leave weekly condo checks and a very capable property management team help ensure your home away from home is being well looked after. 

      Sell your own condo, home or property anywhere in the state of Vermont. Set up an appointment in person, over the phone or via skype here.
      Set up a showing of South Village 33, South Village 57, or any other Vermont condo, home or property: toll free 800-525-7965 text 802-793-1515 


       Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.