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      Stowe VT

      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.


      De-Mystifying Vermont's Current Use Program. Forest Management, Tax Reduction, Harvesting

      Vermont's forests

      are lush with treasure. Exquisite tiger maple, hemlock for tenacious post and beam house frames, sweet maple sap which sugared down, covers pancackes across the land and gives our green mountain state a claim to fame.

      Misty Trail

      Defining Current Use

      What then is Vermont's Current Use Program? It's often referred to as "the most important, most successful conservation program in Vermont."

      If you own 27 or more acres, you're already likely familiar with this increasingly popular land tax reduction and deferral opportunity, but to the layman less familiar with tree related tax breaks, the name Current Use itself is cryptic enough without tackling taxation intricacies.

      Current Use landowners practice long term forest management to achieve taxation based on forest valuation vs fair market valuation. This very substantial savings which can be as much as 70 to 80 per cent of what the taxes would be otherwise, comes at a cost. The state attaches a permanent lien to the deed until such time as the landowner withdraws, the legislature ends the program, or the parcel is discontinued by the Division of Property Valuation & Review.

      Woodpeckers of North America

      The Tax Benefits

      can be huge. By placing your forest or agricultural property in Current Use you can dramatically decrease your yearly tax burden. For forested land graced with valuable timber, periodically required forest management (ready the chain saw) can yield the added bonus of incoming checks for the land owner from the logger harvesting precious hardwoods.

      Starksboro Chain Saw Workshop, Addison County

      For forest land to qualify, you need at least 27 acres for 25 to enroll with a two acre exclusion for your house site. When purchasing land already enrolled, with the plan to continue enrollment, you can't move the excluded area but, assuming you have well over 25 acres, you can withdraw another section to build your home, though you'll incur a land use change tax. This withdrawal penalty is also levied if you decide to withdraw the entire property from current use. One of the most common questions and concerns: so how much will it cost me to withdraw from the program?

      Use Change Tax Calculation

      Elizabeth Hunt, one of the three Current Use personnel listed on Vermont's current use website is immensely helpful. According to Elizabeth, Use change tax determination is based on the assessed value of the land enrolled divided by the town's CLA, or Common Level of Appraisal or Adjustment, the tax department's attempt to adjust assessed values to fair market value. To get the state's assessment of your enrolled current use acreage, call Elizabeth or the state's current use department. Once you've divided the enrolled acreage current use assessment by the CLA, and multiplied that figure by the percentage of the number of acres being withdrawn, you've got your alleged fair market value of acreage being withdrawn. Your use change penalty depends on how long the land's been in current use. If ten or more years, the penalty is ten per cent of the fair market value of the land being withdrawn; if less than ten years, then 20 per cent.

      Pine, Areas to Prune

      H.237, a bill intended to strengthen the current use tax base, proposed a change in the percentages the use change tax is determined by. Property held less than 12 years would incur 10%, property held 12 to 20 years 8%, and property held over 20 years just five per cent. It passed the House in 2011 but not the Senate. An effort was made to incorporate it into miscellaneous tab bill H.782 this year but it stalled in the Senate Finance Committee. Proponents of the bill include the Vermont Natural Resources Council.

      Vermont Hemlock, Strong Post & Beam Frames. Billings Museum, Woodstock, VT.

      For more details on penalty calculation  see pages 16-18 of Vermont UVA (Use Value Appraisal) manual. Family members can step into the shoes of a current use owner but new owners inheriting an unrelated property owner's current use land have to start the clock ticking all over.

      State of Vermont Acres Enrolled in Current Use Graph

      For more details on the entire program, see the same manual and the Vermont Division of Forestry site.

      The Vermont graph below shows the increasing popularity of Current Use, especially in Forest.

      Foresters, Loggers & Harvesting

      Engaging a forester to prepare your forest management plan may run up to a couple of thousand, varying, including application fees.

      Be sure to get a contract with your logger once you get that far. There are stories of property owners wondering what happened to their checks once the loggers were long gone.

      Have Culvert, Will Travel

      Vermont County Foresters are excellent resources for current use information and can recommend non-county foresters to prepare forest management plans and help you oversee your forest  during program inclusion, as well as recommend dependable and honest loggers to work with.

      Click here for a Current Use Application, and here for a Change of Ownership Form.

      Before cutting any of your enrolled forest, you or your forester must submit your forest management plan, or all the land must exit the program, a change tax levied, and eligibility denied for the ensuing five years during which taxes would go back to normal.

      Gustav Klimt, Tree of Life

      If your management plan calls for cutting but the timber values are depressed, you can delay cutting up to a couple of years with county forester approval.

      On harvest yield, you might expect 1,000 to 1,500 board feet per acre. Harvesting may occur every ten years or more. Wind throw from storm damage can necessitate cutting earlier.

      Connect to, e-mail or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to arrange for showings,  list your property,  or look further into Vermont's real estate market.

      Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
      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.

      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.

      If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency's listing.

      Tracking Harrison Snapp


      Snapp Geometry


      It all started with a condominium on a renovation quest. Vertical fissure over fireplace, kitchen cabinets having seen better days. In search of the piece de resistance, the missing link, how to spin some magic for spice, add sparkle 2 great bones. Celebrate. Coming down to a barn beam to crown the hearth, missing link. Distressed beauty. The search on.

      Valley to mountain peak, wretched wood frame to historic agricultural storehouse. Kerney Brown on site. Dan Eckstein at Yestermorrow and an upcoming deconstruction class slated to bring down the long-standing barn across from the Fayston Elementary School. Matt Groom on the challenges of finding a beam 11 inches deep, plank alternatives. And the returned email and disconnected phone for the Weather Hill Company.


      Snapp Geometry


      Weather Hill work stands tall, testament to tradition and integrity. The email bounced back, line no longer in service... Had they gone under? Morphed to snow birds? Curious given the caliber and performance.

      Today the break. Pulling onto the highway dividing the Mad River Valley, seasoned green pick up cruising the Mad River Scenic ByWay emblazoned with Weather Hill's logo, two cars out. A chase worthwhile. Mile and a half later the driver must think me out of my mind or be exceedingly worried something is horribly wrong with his rig.

      Out steps Harrison Snapp.

      A kind smile, beard of the ages, talking story. "An 11 inch deep beam you say..."


      Snapp Geometry


      Creating award-winning museum quality combinations of old and new, unforgettable residential & commercial spaces from top to bottom. Condemned, exhausted 200-year-old buildings on the verge of collapse find salvation at the hands of Weather Hill, aka Weather Hill Design Associates; Weather Hill Building Co.; Heritage Joinery Ltd. Homes saved from fire departments on the verge of a practice burn or a bulldozer clearing the way for commercial expansion.

      Design & architectural consultants, balance, proportion and scale. Quiet, radiant spaces of unmatched warmth, serenity & power. Owner Gregory & Carolyn Schipa, with Snapp, harking from Fayston, have been at it well over 30 years erecting and renovating landmarks across the eastern seaboard from here in the Green Mountains to Nantucket, Boston, the Carolinas, Virginia, DC, and beyond. Snapp's been with Weather Hill since 1974 and Greg started out on Nantucket. Val. Snapp's wife, works in color, painting & staining.


      Snapp Geometry


      Endeavoring to bring buildings to their former glory when most if not all  original detailing has been buried or eliminated during one facelift after the next. Using archival tools and techniques from hundreds of years ago, painstakingly bring history to the fore. Jack plane hand planing after removing modern mill roller marks in search of the 18th century.  Wooden Mallets & the Stanley No. 55, out of production since the early '50s, incorporating dozens of planes  for all Greek profiles: beads, curves, beak moldings, ogees, reverse ogees.


      Snapp Geometry


      Clients can select dismantled and stored structure elements from the Weather Hill collection or find their own. Existing footprints expanded with ells or carriage houses to encompass added bedrooms, a library or great room while upholding the Greek tenets of  fascia, soffit & frieze board proportions.

      Back to the disconnected phone line. Right, "we've moved" says Snapp, from Charlotte to Warren. New digs and direction, part of the Mad River Valley's nascent renaissance. Bloody good fortune for our Scenic Byway. And that barn beam... Snapp's checking for the appropriate element.

      If you'd like to receive an estimate from the Weather Hill Company for renovation or new construction, or learn more about this wonderful Vermont asset, email or call Maple Sweet Real Estate toll-free at 800.525.7965, or visit for other options.


      Cotswold Furniture, Pinnacle Craftsmanship


      John Lomas,  Cotswold Furniture designer & owner,  attended the London College of Furniture over two decades ago and, fortunately for Vermont, settled here to launch Costwold Furniture, today including a three story restored barn production facility in Whiting & a gallery in the heart of Stowe two minutes north of Main Street on the Mountain Road.


      From lumber selection to finishing, Cotswold is striving for perfection in every detail of the furniture making process. The finest American hardwoods--American Black Cherry, Quartersawn Northern White Oak, Black Walnut, and others--are used to provide balance and symmetry in the completed piece. These are joined by time-tested techniques--Mortise and tenon, dovetail, bridle, and cross-halving joints--that guarantee integrity for many life times over.  Oils are hand-applied to create silky soft surfaces. Finally, each piece is signed and dated by one of the five craftsman, and inlaid with a pewter squirrel medallion with a motif  taken from a 1904 Ernest Gimson design for a pair of andirons.


      Cotswold's designs are inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds in England, the Shakers in America and John Lomas' understanding of classical proportion.  Cotswold work is known as Transitional Furniture Design that combines traditional as well as contemporary elements resulting in furniture that fits well into both worlds. Cotswold strives for designs that will be as pleasing and relevant 50 or 100 years from now as they are today.

      Collections include: Pinnacle with an Asian flair, decorative Fountainbrook, arts & crafts Gloucester & Chalford, robust Farmhouse & Chalford,  antique inspired Regency, & the elegant Sapperton.

      The Stowe gallery features heirloom quality Cotswold Furniture and accepts special commissions including cabinet design. The gallery also includes transitional Tibetan and Arts and Crafts hand knitted wool rugs,  and home decor offerings include lighting, hand-blown glass, pottery, metal, stainless steel and fine art.


      Cotswold Furniture is certifiied by Smartwood to use FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) lumber and support responsible forest management worldwide.
      To purchase furniture or order a commission, call 888 253-3738, email: or visit the Cotswold Furniture gallery in Stowe.
      To list or search for Stowe or any central or northern Vermont property, visit, email or call 800-525-7965.

      Radon, Taken Seriously

      January is National Radon Month, a great time to better understand this highly radioactive, odorless, colorless & tasteless gas that, given prolonged exposure, is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

      The United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO) states radon is a worldwide health risk in homes. Dr. Maria Neira of WHO said that "Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low and medium dose exposures in people's homes. "  Click here for the World Health Organization's Handbook On Indoor Radon

      A Radon Electron Shell Diagram

      Here's a January Vermont Department of Health (802-863-7281)  Press Release on Radon:

      BURLINGTON - The winter heating season is the best time to test homes for radon, a colorless, odorless gas present at elevated levels in about one out of every seven homes in Vermont. Prolonged exposure to radon is the second leading cause (after smoking) of lung cancer in the United States, and is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths annually.

      The Health Department is encouraging Vermonters to test their homes for radon in January as part of National Radon Action Month.

      "Exposure to radon is preventable and fixable through proper venting techniques," said Austin Sumner, MD, State Epidemiologist for Environmental Health.

      The cost of having a certified professional properly ventilate a home can range from $800 to $2,500, depending on the home's characteristics.

      Radon gas can get into your home from the soil and the water supply. A house can act like a large chimney, with warm air rising and escaping out upper floor windows and through cracks in the attic. This creates a vacuum at the lowest level of the house, which can pull the radon from the soil into the house. Because radon levels can change daily, weekly and seasonally, a test of three to 12 months (ideally including a heating season) gives the most accurate measurement of exposure. Radon testing should be done in the lowest level of living space in the house.

      A Radon Electron Shell Diagram

      For a free long term test kit, email your request to Put the words "radon test kit" in the subject line of your email and be sure to include your name, phone number, and both your mailing and physical address, or call 1-800-439-8550.

      To obtain a short-term test kit for $25, contact the Vermont Health Department Laboratory at 863-7335 or 800-660-9997, or visit

      Kits also are available through (click on Explore, then Radon Education), or by e-mailing

      From the Wikipedia article on Radon: "Although radon exposure has only been conclusively linked to lung cancer, further studies may be needed to assess the relationship between radon and leukemia. The effects of radon if ingested are similarly unknown, although studies have found that its biological half-life ranges from 30-70 minutes, with 90 percent removal at 100 minutes. It has also been shown that radon progeny can attach itself to the smoke of cigarettes, which then become lodged within the lungs. It is considered likely that the combination of smoking and radon exposure increase risk synergistically."

      The Environmental Protection Agency is a great source of information on Radon including their publication, A Citizen's Guide to Radon in which radon test levels are addressed. "The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below."

      Professional Radon Mitigation has been shown to effectively reduce the concentration of Radon and Vermont Radon Mitigation Specialists guarantee the house will re-test below the recommended EPA levels following the installation of the vacuum based ventilation systems.

      The map below is from the EPA and shows all but two Vermont counties have a Zone 2 predicted average indoor radon screening level of between 2 and 4 pico curies per liter.  Chittenden & Grand Isle Counties are Zone 3 with less than 2 pCi/L and are classified as low potential zones. None of the Vermont counties are in red Zone 1, which averages over 4 pCi/L.

      For more information on Radon, connect to www.maple, email or call toll-free 800-525-7965 with questions.

      A Radon Electron Shell Diagram