Bristol Village Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers and friends:

Hope you had a Happy Pi Day! I always forget to celebrate until it is too late. But this time I got my berry pie in the oven to celebrate with a few cohousing friends.

Luckily we are staying close to home today, due to the lush recent snowfall which has transformed our village. The local kids are enjoying a day off from school and building the usual snow forts. We (Jim & Peg) are anticipating a trip to the nearby Watershed, our favorite playground. This 1000 acre park has been our preferred destination for dog walks, with its web of trails, and variety of terrains and habitats. Today it will be a great place to cross country ski, for both adventurers (like Jim) and the extremely cautious (ie me).

In any case, here is the latest update from Bristol Village Cohousing.

Recognition for Bristol Village Cohousing’s Energy Efficient Design

Every February, the Better Buildings by Design Conference, sponsored by Efficiency Vermont, offers workshops for designers and builders of energy-conscious projects. As part of this year’s competition, EV awarded Bristol Village Cohousing its Residential New Construction Affordability Merit Award, recognizing our commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability throughout the project. EV’s Director Karen Glitman noted that our project “exemplifies the integration of innovative energy efficient practices with durability, beauty, and practicality.” We are thankful to the designers and builders who helped us achieve this goal: Jean Terwilliger of Vermont Integrate Architecture, Aaron Stewart of Stewart Construction and Katie Raycroft-Meyer of Raycroft Meyer Landscape Architecture. 

We still have one more unit for sale

Sadly, the sale of our last remaining unit fell through. So we still have available a two bedroom apartment, with just under 900 sq ft of living space. Located upstairs in the 12 North St fourplex, this home has views in all directions, with an abundance of windows facing the town green (and sunset). Our favorite feature is the rear deck off the kitchen, overlooking the BVCH green and nearby Bristol Ledges.

We are able to offer this unit either at market price or as a permanently affordable home (through the Addison County Community Trust). If you are interested in seeing this unit and touring our project, please contact Jim (802-734-0798; jim.mendell@gmailcom).  (See the attached flier.)

Welcome to our newest neighbors

We are happy to welcome Sarah Stott and Howard Jennings to our community. Earlier this month they moved from Virginia to their new home in the South Cottage. They have many pre-existing connections to the Bristol village community, and have brought with them their enthusiasm and willingness to just dive in.

Also living in our community (while Penelope, Dmitri and Barry are in India) is Rob Cole. A writer and man of many trades, he is providing a great deal of help to our Buildings and Grounds committee, and has been one of our masters of the snow-blower. We will miss him when Penelope and company return in late April (but we very much look forward to their return and stories about their adventures).

That’s all for this time – more news later in the spring!

from the folks at Bristol Village Cohousing

 Bristol Waterworks--1000 acre park great for skiing and hiking.

Bristol Waterworks--1000 acre park great for skiing and hiking.

Bristol Village Cohousing Grand Opening

Hi Cohousers and friends:

Yes, we know there’s been a hiatus of about 3 months since our last communication, and you may be wondering what calamity may have befallen us. I’m happy to report that the event that derailed our communication was simply the glorious Vermont Summer – boating adventures, summer camp, late nights on the screened porch. And also moving out of former homes, moving into our new ones, unpacking, and living in temporary chaos.

Finally, the dust has settled and the blush of fall colors has emerged on the surrounding mountainsides. So here is a report on recent (and pending) events in the peaceful confines of Bristol Village Cohousing.

But first, we want to make sure to invite you all to our coming out party:

Please join us for the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting to celebrate our new community on Sunday October 15 from 2 – 5. There will be a brief ceremony, music, lawn games (weather permitting), snacks, tours and general good vibes. Root 7, our favorite local a capella group, will be performing from 3 – 3:30, with a music jam by local musicians to follow.

Please enter our community through the front doors at 16 North Street. There is no on-site parking, but spaces are available nearby in the village, including around the village green. If you can RSVP we will have a better idea of expected guests, and make sure to bake enough cookies.

A very brief update

We are now a residential community of nine households, with three more families scheduled for move-in within the next month. There has been serious interest in the remaining two units, so be sure to call us if you would like to view them or be put on our waiting list. Jim (802-734-0798jim.mendell@gmailcom) is always eager to give tours or talk about our project.

Despite the prolonged process of unpacking, we have found time for a few community projects. Barry’s bagpipe serenade drove a flock of pigeons from their cushy digs in the south barn – in fairness, not everyone likes Scottish music. As planned, we then sealed up the window openings, and now the pigeons gather forlornly on the roof, homeless (and not homing) pigeons now. I’m not going to say we feel no guilt about this situation. Still, we’re happy to have solved our pigeon problem

To build on this achievement, a group of community members stripped away remnants of the old barn addition that were still clinging to the main structure. The barn now looks like a smaller cousin of the cottages, taking its place around the green like a scrappy little family member. Thanks to Don for coordinating this project.

Another workday endeavor – led by Mollie, Pennie and landscape architect Katie Raycroft-Meyer – was the planting of four rain garden beds. They should absorb the water from the storm run-off, and as a bonus, attract pollinators to our planned veggie gardens.  And they’re kinda nice to look at too.

And finally, Ba, Niko and Valerie have made the Peake House the showcase it was always meant to be. Paintings adorn the walls, and furnishings from our former homes have made it a cozy, welcoming gathering spot. We have a dedicated guest room, a craft project/guest room, a playroom, and a library. The two front parlors are available for Thursday evening light yoga and Sunday afternoon community meetings. And there is our own little Café – the part of the kitchen that is not meant for cooking. Instead, it is used for board games, internet browsing, afternoon drowsing and just getting a change of scenes ie an escape from the unpacked boxes in our homes.

Once things truly settle down, we’ll be back in touch, returning to our monthly update schedule.

Hope to see you all on Sunday!

Peg and Jim

Bristol Village Cohousing


P.S. Here is a link to other pictures documenting some of our work teams in action:.Bristol Village Çohousing Photos, Aug & Sept 2017 

Bristol Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers and friends:

Yesterday, Bristol resident and UVM faculty member Kelly Hamshaw brought her 28 students in her housing and community development class to Bristol Cohousing to see what we were up to. We talked, of course, about the advantages of cohousing and energy-efficient homes, and showed them around several of our units. Best of all, two of the students had been to our site before – one a student who had come last May, when the project was just a glint in our eyes. The other was Katchen McElwain, who grew up in 16 North St, way back before it became our Common House. Both of them seemed pleased with the results they saw – our almost finished project. That was deeply satisfying!

On another, unrelated issue, take note that …

… our next Member Meeting will take place on Sunday, May 7 from 1 – 4 pm at 16 North Street (the future Common House). This time, we will be meeting in the kitchen to take advantage of the mountain views and abundant light. So please plan to enter through the side door off the porte-cochere.

Here is the agenda for Sunday’s meeting:

Public portion

·       Introductions

·       Accept minutes

·       Updates (members, construction)

·       Questions from guests

Owner-only portion

·       Storage in the 8 North basement

·       Plans for the barns

·       Questions about the closings

·       Condo declaration discussion

·       Rental of one of our units

·       Common House usage

·       Garden brainstorm

·       National co-housing meeting – what would we like to ask?

For those interested in a tour, please contact Jim at (802) 734-0798, or to give him a heads up. He stands ready to show you around at noon, before the meeting.

Selling like hot cakes?

We are delighted to welcome our two newest members, Don Miller and Penny Klein, now of Essex VT. They plan to purchase the first floor unit on the east side of 14 North St. As a woodworker (Don) and landscaper (Penny), they bring many useful skills to our community.  

We have one other family who has made a member deposit and another planning to sign the purchase and sales agreement next week (if all goes well). That would leave us with three unsold units, one of which is designated as permanently affordable.

Jim and Peg will be going to the National Cohousing Conference later this month, a good place to connect with fellow cohousing enthusiasts. If all of our units are not sold by that time, we imagine that we will encounter potential buyers at that forum.

So if you are interested in becoming a member of our community, please let us know or come tour our facility soon! The person to contact:  Jim. He’s available to discuss details and make arrangements for a tour.

A former flatlander reflects on Bristol

We often think about what Bristol must feel like for Maura and her 6 year old son Simon, who moved here in August from Brooklyn as our first cohousing residents. Because the changeover from winter to spring is such a heady experience (even for us jaded, long-time Vermonters), imagine how former city-slickers must experience the wonder! Here is a report from Maura about their first spring in their new home:

We have been to Watershed Park a few times, but not recently. It is lovely. Simon and I are planning on a hike of some kind this weekend. I am in love with the shading of the mountain these days.  I have had plenty of experiences with fall foliage, but the brown-yellow-bright green- dark green happening on the mountain right now is gorgeous and a whole new experience for me.  I love gazing at it in the mornings on the walk to school.

We’re looking forward to sharing the view of Bristol Cliffs and the surrounding mountains with the other cohousing families in a few weeks’ time! 

 What’s new?

We were amazed that upon visit yesterday to see drywall and exterior insulation going up in 12 North St, our last building to be completed. Some of the cottages have already had bathroom and kitchen fixtures installed. We have sinks with running water! Appliances will be coming on site beginning next week.

Meanwhile, a sprinkler system is being installed in 16 North St. This fire prevention measure will enable us to preserve some of the historic features in the building that would have had to be modified under current building codes.

Outside, the site work is beginning to take shape, as rough grading proceeds. Decks, screened porches and exterior railings have made the building exteriors “pop”. Solar panels are now on most of the roofs. Looking ahead, planting of the cedar hedge is due to start next week, and installation of the stone patios the week following.

We have begun to plan for the final punch-list walk-throughs, with state inspections for our certificates of occupancy scheduled for May 30. We are frantically gathering necessary paperwork for the closings, due to happen in early June!

With all this activity, we are looking forward to calmer days, sitting on our front porches after move in, staring out at the mountains and nearby village shops, awaiting the call to dinner in the Common House.

That’s it for now – hope to see you all on Sunday!

Peg and Jim

Bristol Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers:

We are happy to acknowledge the arrival of spring – the snow has receded, the crocuses are up, and daylight stretches well past 8 at night. And with the earth’s reawakening has come the emergence of homebuyers, just in time for our scheduled June move-in date. So now is a good time to announce our next Member Meeting, on Sunday, April 23 from 1 – 4 pm at 16 North Street (the future Common House). Please enter through the front porch so as not to unduly disturb the tenants. Our agenda includes:

Public portion:

·       Introduction of members and member wannabes

·       Updates on construction

·       Marketing and member updates

·       Questions from guests/associates

Member portion:

·       Common House suite and furnishing

·       Storage 

·       Garden brainstorm

·       Questions about closings

·       Committees 

·       Google Drive primer

·       Other business as time allows

For those interested in a tour, please contact Jim at (802) 734-0798, or to give him a heads up. He stands ready to show you around at noon, before the meeting. 

BVCH Energy Forum

Our cohousing community hosted a very successful energy forum on April 9, with presentations by Matt Sharpe of VEIC, Jean Terwilliger of Vermont Integrated Architects and Chris Marion of Bristol Electronics. We learned about the programs and subsidies offered by VEIC for above-code energy efficiency, and the steps BVCH has taken to meet VEIC’s High Performance standards. And we learned about the new micro-inverter technology that powers the solar panels now installed on our roofs. There was a construction slide show, a small solar panel to examine up close, and a lively Q and A that illustrated our audience’s engagement.

Thanks to the presenters and everyone who participated in the event, including the BVCH families who provided delicious snacks and led the pre-presentation tours. We fully appreciate the time taken away from essential weekend tasks, like packing up your current home in preparation for our move!

Welcome to our newest member

The spring home buying season has been good to BVCH. We have given lots of tours and attracted attention from a few families who are seriously considering buying into our community. Our offer of $3000 cash-back for those who can close by June 30 has hastened the process for some who have been eyeing our development as it progressed. 

We have also increased our national presence with a story and advertisement on the National Cohousing website. Having seen our listing, Martha Fulda flew to Vermont from her home in North Carolina in early April. She decided to join our community by the end of the weekend. She will be moving into the upper east flat at 14 North St. We are excited to have her join our community, and look forward to hearing stories about her 500 mile walk on Spain’s El Camino trail. 

We still have both 2 and 3 bedroom units for sale, including our permanently affordable unit. So make sure you contact us soon if you would like to join our community.  Theperson to contact:  Jim. He’s available to discuss details and make arrangements for a tour.

A Word about the Waterworks

Some extremely territorial poodles have disrupted our usual dog-walking pattern, so our family has been exploring new places to give our pups a taste of the outdoors. Luckily, we stumbled upon the Waterworks property in Bristol, off Plank Road. This 664 acre parcel includes several ponds and streams, a marsh, forests, meadows and an elaborate trail system. There are a few picnic tables by the reservoir, the largest body of water in the park. The Waterworks is host to a variety of community events and educational activities, many organized by the Watershed Center, a local citizen’s group.

On our most recent visit, we enjoyed the sound of the peepers, small frogs that announce the arrival of spring with their striking chorus. Theirs is a song of awakening and yearning and celebration – the pond ice has melted, and they are looking for love (or, in any case, a mate). Even those of us who are non-amphibians are moved by their cries – we too have had our fill of winter and are longing for the changing season. 

We – dogs and all – are looking forward to watching the progression of wildflowers, bird song and wildlife as they emerge in the park, while early spring moves into summer. 

What’s new?

Double building crews are moving about our North Street location, working long hours and weekends to ensure that our new homes will be ready for move in on June 1. We are now at the stage of finish work on the cottages and 8 and 14 North St, with flooring, cabinetry and trim defining each new home’s eventual look. Even 12 North Street, the last building to be completed, will be getting its insulation and drywall in the next few days.

Work is set to begin on the interior of 16 North Street in early May, including an electrical upgrade, a new sprinkler system and plaster repair in the elegant hallways. 

Our site crew, led by Bristol-resident Josh Masterson, has been doing the “rough grading” of our common yard, defining where the paths, parking and central green begin and end. Their work will prepare the ground for the spring plantings scheduled to begin early next month.

That’s it for now – hope to see you all on Sunday!

Peg and Jim


Bristol Village Cohousing





Bristol Village Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers:

All this time, we have been assuming that those on our email list are well acquainted with the concept of cohousing – what distinguishes it from other kinds of communities, and the social, financial and environmental implications of the cohousing lifestyle. But in case you are unfamiliar or have questions about this essential part of Bristol Village Cohousing, please join us for…

… our next Member Meeting on Sunday, March 5 from 1 – 4 pm at 16 North Street (the future Common House). We will have some special guests – Don Schramm and Barbara Nolfi, two of the cofounders of East Village Cohousing in Burlington. They will make a presentation and answer your questions about their experience creating and living in a successful cohousing community. We will also offer a tour of our development, showing you our homes that are near completion or ready for sale.

Please enter our Common House from the front porch so as not to unduly disturb the tenants. Childcare will be provided during the meeting for those coming with young children. Refreshments will also be available.

Our full agenda for the meeting:

1:00 – 2:30: tours of the project and individual homes

2:30 – 3:00: Introduction to Bristol Village Cohousing

3:00 – 4:00: What is cohousing and is it for you?

A shortened meeting of our owner-only cohousing group will follow, for further discussion of policies and the Common House. 

What’s new?

We have been working closely with the Heidi McCullough of Efficiency Vermont, who has been guiding us to the best ways to achieve the High Performance energy efficiency standard. The work involved is an enormously painstaking process, and we are grateful for Heidi’s knowledge and her availability to answer our questions.

Heidi informed us that only about 2% of new home construction in Vermont is built to the High Performance standards we are aiming for. In addition, our renovation of the Tomasi House is on the cutting edge of deep energy retrofits. Achieving these efficiency goals is important to our community, and this is best done on initial construction, and much more difficult after a house has been built or already renovated.

In addition to energy efficiency, we are planning for the use of renewable energy sources. Our mostly electric households will receive all of their electricity from solar installations – 30% provided by rooftop solar and the rest purchased from a solar field. Even our outdoor lampposts will be powered by their own solar collectors.

Our aim is to create homes and a lifestyle with a light carbon footprint, something that can be replicated to encourage responsible stewardship of our planet.  And our energy savings will fuel that frugal Yankee ethos we hear is part of our Vermont heritage.

Based on the progress we have made so far, we are now talking with the builders about completion dates. The North Cottage and the townhouses at 8 North Street will be ready for occupancy sometime in April. Next up will be the South Cottage and the units in 14 North Street. The entire complex will be ready for occupancy in June.

Units for sale

We still have a few two and three bedroom homes for sale. These include ground floor flats, a cottage, and townhouses. Our permanently affordable flat is still a possibility for buyers. And keep an eye out for the second floor apartment at 14 North St, which has a spectacular view of the nearby mountains. We do have people who have expressed an interest in some of these remaining homes, so make sure you contact us soon if you would like to join our community. 

If you are interested in living in Bristol Village Cohousing, please contact Jim (802-734-0798) to discuss details and make arrangements for a tour.

That’s it for now – hope to see you all on Sunday!

Bristol Village Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers:

We are delighted to be watching so many things coalesce for our community. Our future homes are going up, and members are setting the ground rules for our shared neighborhood. But before we get into details…

…a reminder that our next Member Meeting is set for Sunday, November 20 from 2 – 5 pm at 16 North Street (the future Common House). Let’s enter from the front porch so as not to unduly disturb the tenants. Our tentative agenda:

·      Updates from policy committee and on construction

·      Landscape architect’s presentation

·      Decision making discussion

·      Plans for solar energy – need for decision

·      Fundraising for affordable units

·      Marketing plans

·      Membership categories

·      A few necessary fixture decisions 

Watching our community take shape

Once our site was cleared a few months ago, we had a better idea about the size and layout of our 2 ½ acre parcel. Yet we admit to being nervous about how expansive or cramped our community would feel. Now that the buildings have gone up, the scale of our new neighborhood has really come into focus. And it is both cozy and spacious at the same time.

There are four new buildings on site that now define the contours of our common green. Its dimensions are set by the North and South cottages on the one hand, and the East cottage and 14 North St on the other. There will be plenty of space for picnics, bocce, lawn chairs, and even a casual soccer game.

As work on the buildings progress, it is easier to envision the living areas in most of our future units. We have enjoyed our visits to the three existing cottages, where the rooms are framed, the windows are installed and some of the outside insulation already envelopes the structure. Unless you are intrepid, you may not get to experience the upstairs unit at 14 North St, with its cathedral ceiling – the ladder to the second floor is not for everyone. But the downstairs unit and the town house are both easy to view.

Finally, while less visible from the outside, work on 8 North St has been proceeding. The sparse insulation and wall-papered plaster has been removed from the outside walls. These walls are now framed to take roughly 8” of blown in cellulose, which will be installed next week. Drywall will go up the first week of December. New energy efficient windows and exterior doors have been installed. We took pains, so to speak, to match the 12 over 12 window design of the original house.

The giant crater that was formed when we demolished 12 North St has been filled as the cement slab is now defined.  The slab will be poured early next week, with framing to begin the week after Thanksgiving. Once this building goes up, the new face of North St will be established, with buildings designed to fit the scale and feeling of the original streetscape.

One unanticipated bonus of removing 12 North is the salvaging of several massive stones that formed a portion of the foundation. Some are large flagstones, which can be incorporated into a planned patio outside of 16 North St. Some will be used as steps leading into a few of our units. Others can be used to create benches along our green.

As the work goes forward, our site crews have been connecting us to Bristol town waterlines. The biggest part of this work has been completed – installing a larger waterline and hydrant along Mountain View. In order to assure minimal disruption to our neighbors, we accomplished this work with horizontal drilling, pulling the pipe under the road without disturbing the surface. Next week, the connection to the water line from North Street should be completed.

We will try to incorporate a site tour before our next member meeting. If you would like a tour or to visit the site at another time, it’s best to contact Jim (802-734-0798) to make arrangements.

Next steps

Next week, the building crew will start prepping the foundations for the two remaining East cottages. It’s too late for major modifications – the framing work for these buildings has already been done, ready for quick assembly when the time is right.

In the meanwhile, the underground utilities will be laid in – water and powerline connections to each of the new buildings. This should take about 2 weeks. Then the septic system will be installed. The plan is to have all of the sitework – except topsoil, plantings and seeding – completed before the new year.

Future residents of BVCH have made their commitments

The seven families who have signed the purchase and sales agreement and secured their units have all made their selections for lighting and plumbing fixtures, as well as flooring and finishes. Thanks are owed to Valerie Dearing, who made fixture and finish selections for the remaining units, and to Ba, who helped narrow down the overwhelming choices we offered to future homeowners.

Permanently Affordable units

Jim and Peg met with the Elise and Mary from Addison County Community Trust, to discuss various financing options and to tour the property. After seeing the units at 14 North St, Mary and Elise seemed more comfortable with the size of the two units we will be offering as permanently affordable homes – they are comparable to what is available through ACCT’s Vermod program.

We received a second foundation commitment of $15,000 – we’ve raised $18,000 all together. We are thus very close to our goal of raising $21,000 for one of the two bedroom units in 12 North St. We need to raise an additional $49,000 to reach our goal of offering two homes under this program.

Jim has been working on a solicitation letter for area businesses, neighbors, vendors and friends. If you or someone you know might be willing to contribute to this cause – or is interested in a permanently affordable, energy-efficient home in the village - please contact Jim. Please remind any interested purchaser that they would be eligible for a $44,000 grant towards the down payment on their unit, and would only need to finance the remaining $170,000 of the purchase price.

That’s it for now – see you at the member meeting on Sunday!

Peg and Jim


Bristol Village Cohousing


Bristol Cohousing Update, Construction in Full Swing

Hi Cohousers:

We are watching the dream of Bristol Village Cohousing become a reality, with amazingprogress every week. But before we get into details…

…a reminder that our next Member Meeting is set for Monday, October 17 at 5:30 pm at 16 North Street (the future Common House). Let’s enter from the front porch so as not to unduly disturb the tenants. Our tentative agenda:

·       Financial and construction update

·       Agreements on member meeting format

·       Discussion of membership privileges and responsibilities

·       Affordable units – how to proceed

·       Marketing plans

This meeting will be a potluck, so we’re looking forward to our first true community meal. RSVP if you can, and let us know what you’ll be bringing. 

Welcome to two new households

Valerie Dearing, who now lives in Waitsfield, has reserved one of the units at 12 North Street, and Holly Alden has reserved one of the flats at 14 North Street. We are excited that they have joined our community! This brings us back up to 9 member families, with 5 units left.  

Construction is happening fast!

We have got to hand it to Moe Rochon and Aaron Stewart, our taskmasters from Stewart Construction. They are keeping things moving, always looking at the calendar to make sure we avoid delays that will push against immovable obstacles, principally winter weather conditions. Their goal is to have all of the buildings framed and enclosed before the snow flies. 

Work around the site is like a well- choreographed dance. The excavators dig the holes for the foundations and install crushed stone, and electricians and plumbers lay out the pipes and wiring. This is followed by the concrete crew, who pour the building slabs. Meanwhile, carpenters cut the wood for the framing and assemble the insulated panels for the walls. Once the foundation is ready, the framing goes up quickly, then the trusses are placed overhead for the roof. Next the panels are placed on the building exterior. Rooms are framed and defined. Every team works on a phase of the construction, followed by another team, performing the next steps. It takes an amazing amount of coordination and planning, and we’ve hired the guys that are up to the task.

There was lots of drama last week, as 12 North Street was demolished – a crowd assembled to witness, and some folks even brought folding chairs. We saved and removed the front façade – it was sitting on a rotting foundation, and will be put back up after the building is framed. Josh Masterson’s excavating machine took large chunks of the building down at a time, looking like a prehistoric monster devouring a city. Now there is a pit where the building once stood, and although the building held lots of history and memories, the street looks better in its absence.

Another miracle that took place in the last week was the rapid construction of the North Cottage. We left an early morning meeting admiring the foundation that had been laid for the house. Maura sent us a picture later that day of the first floor rising above the foundation. The following day, the second story had been erected, with the roof truss placed nearby. Yesterday, less than a week later, we took a tour of the building – rooms framed on the first floor, stairs connecting the two stories, roof overhead. And this morning, the windows were being installed. So we now have a model house to show, with just a bit of imagination required to visualize a cozy home.

The construction crew is working on the foundations of the South Cottage and one of the east cottages. Meanwhile, 14 North Street now sports a single story. And 8 North Street is getting readied for its new insulated walls.

You can check out this link to our blog: to see a photo gallery of BVCH to date, along with videos of rising of the front wall we are saving, and the demolition of the the building.

We will try to incorporate a site tour into our next member meeting. If you would like a tour or to visit the site at another time, it’s best to contact Jim (802-734-0798) to make arrangements.

 Permits and paperwork

We’ve finally received the amended water and wastewater permits from the state. That means that the bank can officially release the construction funds, creating a great sense of relief. The bank’s engineer will be meeting us on site next week for an inspection to make sure everything is going according to plan. 

We have gotten the Division of Fire Safety permit for 8 North St and have submitted the DFS application for 16 North St. We believe that is it for required permits – for now, anyway.

Next steps

We are now getting to the stage where folks who’ve reserved their units will need to enter the next stage of commitment. This is because our construction task-masters need us to make a few decisions. Those that are looming:

·       We need to choose the exterior colors of the cottages by Tuesday October 18

·       We will have to select the finishes and wall colors for the interiors of all units by October 31

·       Also by October 31, we will have to make choices as to plumbing and lighting fixtures

There is a display of the choices for flooring, wall color, cabinet designs and such in the front hall of 16 North Street, with a sheet (attached to a unit floorplan) for marking preferences. At the next member meeting, we hope to assemble a committee of members willing to go on a shopping expedition. Our adventure will include narrowing down the choices for plumbing and lighting fixtures and kitchen appliances. The goal will be to offer everyone 3 – 5 choices at different price points, and taking advantage of quantity discounts by purchasing from one supplier.

Folks who have signed the purchase and sales agreement and made the required down payment will be able to make the final selections for their unit. The design committee will make the choices for those units for which a final commitment has not been made.  This will ensure that unsold units will not be saddled with quirky color and finish choices. Please contact Peg ( if you have any questions about this process.

Peg and Jim

Photo Gallery and Videos

Check out these photos of our project in this link to a Google Photo album Bristol Village Cohousing Photo Gallery 10-4-16. It includes a 3D view of the site, the historic Italianate Peake House that will serve as our Common House, the Tomasi House built in 1810 that will become a duplex, our two red barns, construction of one of the single family houses, and the preservation of the front wall of the Quadraplex at 12 North Street that is currently being demolished (see the videos below). 

Here is a video of the front wall of 12 North Street rising up. The original wall is being preserved to be added to the building when it is reconstructed to retain the look of nineteenth century Bristol.

This is a video of the demolition of 12 North Street. Enjoy the sound of the building coming down.

Source: ...

Bristol Village Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers:

We’ve just completed a hectic but productive period and have a lot to report. So we’ll wish you all a happy Harvest Moon, and get right to it.

First up – a reminder that our next Member Meeting is set for Sunday, September 18 at 1 pm at 16 North Street (the future Common House). Let’s enter from the front porch so as not to unduly disturb the tenants. Our agenda so far:

·       Project details and updates

·       Further discussion of the Common House

·       Plan of action for permanently affordable homes

·       Creating a calendar for marketing this season

Looking forward to seeing you all at the member meeting! RSVP if you can, so we can anticipate numbers.  

Congratulations to us for a successful grant application!

Thanks to the efforts of Sam and Eli, we (along with Addison County Community Trust) have received a $3000 grant from the Walter Cerf Foundation to help us subsidize up to two permanently affordable housing units in our development.  This is a really important vote of confidence, and a good start to our campaign. We hope to leverage this with additional funds from our neighbors and supporters. If you are interested in making a donation (or know others we should approach), please contact Jim: If you or someone you know might be interested in purchasing such a unit, talk to Jim as well.

Ribbon cutting ceremony

Last Saturday, members of our community and our construction team gathered on site for a momentous occasion – our ribbon cutting! We stood on the porch of the Common House, and our youngest member – Simon Donnelly – cut the ribbon. Then we took the gold shovels provided by Stewart Construction and posed for pictures (see the attached photos).The excavation had already begun, but whatever. Who says we have to follow a traditional timetable? Abundant cookies and a tour for interested neighbors followed. And curious passersby admired the sign provided by Stewart construction, with our site plan and names of our construction team.  It is a helpful guide to seeing what will one day grace our site!

Construction has begun!

Stewart Construction has made an amazing amount of progress in the last month – kudos to Aaron Stewart and onsite supervisor (and neighbor) Moe Rochon. Since our last newsletter, Brown’s Tree service has removed the trees that were growing where the septic system or homes would be located. Our landscape architect, Katie Raycroft-Meyer, valiantly reworked our site plan to guarantee that we could save as many trees as possible, and is working with an arborist to make sure that the trees that remain will survive for years to come.

With obstacles cleared out of the way, Masterson Excavation, another local firm, went to work. As of last Wednesday, they have excavated the building sites for 14 North St, and the North and South Cottages. Footings for the foundations of the North Cottage and 14 North are now in place. Meanwhile, a team on site has been constructing the panels and framing for all of the buildings, so the new homes should be enclosed quite quickly once construction starts. It is amazing to see how efficiently our team is working.

Interior demolition has begun on 8 North Street – the outside walls have been stripped on the inside to the studs. We now know why the building was so cold in winter – in some places, the only exterior walls were the clapboards, and some of these walls have large gaps to the outside. The plan now is to insulate and seal the building, with the hopes of qualifying for Efficiency Vermont’s ZEN program. We are ordering Marvin triple glazed replacement windows, so that this federal-style house will retain its original appearance from the outside.

The next step will be shoring up the front wall of 12 North St, so that the rest of the building can be demolished in two weeks. It will then be entirely rebuilt to high performance standards, with a brand-new improved look.

The property is now surrounded by fencing, to minimize interference with construction workers. If you would like a tour or to visit the site, it’s best to contact Jim to make arrangements. 

We have closed on our construction loan!

We know this is like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – our process has been a bit backward, but hey, it’s all worked for us. Instead of starting with the construction loan closing, then the ground-breaking, then the construction – we just reversed the order. No harm, no foul.

So this past Wednesday, after much heavy lifting by our attorney Liam Murphy and creative problem-solving by our Northfield Savings Bank contact Wright Preston, we signed a three foot tall stack of papers, and closed the deal! This is a huge milestone – despite our aching signing hands, we have much cause for celebration. With funding secured, our construction team can now rest assured we can pay for this project. We think that makes their work days a little brighter. 

Permits and legal documents

We have received all of our local building permits for the cottages and 14 North St – all that was necessary. Thanks to Zoning Administrator Eric Forand for getting these to us despite the time pressure.

We have gotten the Department of Fire Safety permits for 12 and 14 North St, and expect the permit for 8 North St next week.  Our wonderful, flexible and creative architect Jean Terwilliger is putting the final touches on the DFS application for 16 North St. A tour by the fire marshal has helped us preserve the historical integrity of this building despite the change in use.

Our engineer Dean Grover has applied for the amended state permits for water and wastewater, and these are now on the reviewers’ desks, with action hopefully soon.

We have distributed copies of the purchase and sales agreements to those members who have reserved units, which they will review with their attorneys.  We are looking forward to receiving signed copies and additional deposits by October 1. If you are interested in purchasing one of the remaining units, please contact Jim for a tour and a list of available units.

That is all for now. Looking forward to seeing those who can be there on Sunday! 

Peg and Jim


Bristol Village Cohousing


 Our youngest BVCH member Simon cuts the ribbon flanked by other members and our support team.

Our youngest BVCH member Simon cuts the ribbon flanked by other members and our support team.

Bristol Village Cohousing Breaks Ground

Hello everybody,

You are invited to the ribbon cutting is scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 11:30am at 16 North Street. The project is scheduled for completion spring 2017.

Here is a link to the story about the upcoming event in the Addison Independent: Work begins on Bristol Village housing project which begins on page 3 and is continued on page 16.

Jim and Peg


Bristol Village Cohousing


 Sign made by Stewart Construction.

Sign made by Stewart Construction.

BVCH Update: Ground Breaking Ceremony Coming Soon

Hi Cohousers:

We are enjoying some wet weather, a good time to huddle up in front of the computer and write the latest update to you all.

First up – a reminder that our next Member Meeting is set for 3pm, Sunday, May 15 at 8 North Street. This meeting is for members and those who are seriously considering joining our community. Our agenda so far: 

·      Review of the site plan and opportunity for input on private and common spaces

·      Permanently affordable units and the plan for financing them

·      Setting up our governing structure

·      Planning for our Ground Breaking Ceremony! 

There may also be some discussion with our architects as well. 

We are looking to set a firm time, and will send a brief email once it is finalized.

Construction loan

We signed the commitment letter with the Northfield Savings Bank for our construction loan! The bank will undertake an appraisal of the entire project and a site assessment, and if everything turns out okay, we should be able to begin construction on schedule. Keep your fingers crossed!

Construction news

Ba, Anne, Peg and Jim met with our architects and builders to go over the final design plans for 8 and 12 North Street and the cottages. Stewart Construction is going to use these plans to bid out this portion of the project to various subcontractors. Today we applied for the state building permit for 8 and 12 North – we should hear back from the state in early June.

Since there is more interest in cottages with a first floor bedroom, we are contemplating using this floor plan for the two unsold cottages – we still have time to decide this, as the cottages do not require state permits. Let us know if you agree that a first  floor bedroom is the way to go.

Our target date to begin construction is July 1! Before then, we will begin to remove some scraggly trees and stake out the building sites. The actual construction will begin with the site work - demolition of most of 12 North Street, laying the foundations for the new structures, installing septic, water lines and the like. Then we will begin with the renovation of 8 and 12 North Street. Work on 14 North Street and the cottages will be next. The minor work required on 16 North Street will likely fill in slow periods during construction. We expect the whole project to be completed within a year.

The Common House

The last tenant will be moving out of 16 North Street in June, and Maura Donnelly and 4 year old son Simon will be moving in sometime in August. Maura has agreed to be the guardian of the property, making sure the front lawns are mowed, that visitors will be welcomed and that construction materials are secured. The Donnelly’s will occupy an upstairs bedroom and the kitchen, and BVCH will have the use of the front rooms for meetings and the like.

 Maura and Simon are the sixth family in our community, planning to move into the upstairs flat at 14 North Street. We are thrilled that they have agreed to join us!

Salt Lake City, here we come

Jim and Peg will be attending the National Cohousing meeting in Utah on May 20 & 21. We are planning to attend workshops on affordability, conflict resolution, downsizing and marketing. We hope to come back armed with the latest information on national trends, and to find a family or two that yearns to move to a small town Vermont. We’ll keep you posted.

Sitting pretty

Through the magic of Front Porch Forum, we acquired some folding chairs at a steep discount from a neighbor. These will be handy for BVCH meetings and events. Thanks to Common Ground Center for lending us their chairs in the past – but now we won’t have to keep schlepping them about. Yay!

 See you all soon!

 Peg & Jim






Bristol Village Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers:

Here is another in our series of occasional updates about Bristol Village Cohousing. There’s lots to report, so we’ll get right to it!

Open house (and growing interest)

We scheduled a presentation and tour of the property in Bristol this past Sunday, to coincide with the member meeting we had scheduled later that day. We were pleasantly surprised by a turn-out of 25 people who came to learn about our plans!  And to top it off, WCAX sent out a camerawoman to see what we were about (you can find the broadcast at this link: WCAX Story about Bristol Village Cohousing

The discussion following our talk was lively, with lots of questions and laughter. We loved the good humor and amiability of this group, and appreciated that all of our available members came out to support us. We have already had a few call-backs from our new visitors, asking for further information. There appears to be fierce interest in the available condo units in 12 and 14 North Street.

So it seems to be true that the home buying season heats up as the weather warms, and interest accelerates as the construction deadline looms. Another reason to be grateful for the arrival of spring!

Member meeting

The big event this Sunday was our member meeting, a chance to make some decisions for our architecture team, and to give everyone a chance to see our updated plans. In attendance were all of our available full members, a few associate members and a few families who are on the fence but very interested in joining us.

Jean Terwilliger, our excellent architect, showed us more detailed drawings of the project, and answered questions about everything from insulation to toilets. The notes and drawings from this meeting will be posted on our website.

The member meeting was fun and good-natured – a serious discussion by people with good hearts and deep social values. We left the meeting feeling uplifted – we know that our collective project is in good hands.

And we made some decisions:

Common House

·      Cooking (not just eating) meals together is important, so we will make sure the common kitchen can be used for cooking (not just warming) meals.

·      We will install a sprinkler system in 16 North Street so we can use the upstairs rooms for overnight guests of our community.

Sound barriers

·      We will add additional sound separation between the flats in 12 and 14 North Street, so we can make sure that noise doesn’t bleed from one unit to another


·      We decided to upgrade to the more durable European-style triple-glazed windows rather than the ones that were spec’d.  

·      We are leaning toward windows made of PVC, as they are more affordable than those made of wood. But concerns over the manufacturing process were raised, so Jean is going to investigate to see whether there are problems with the disposal of toxic byproducts.

·      Members who are interested will be investigating whether they like European –style “tilt and turns” or whether we should go with double hung windows (not as tight) or casements.

Thanks to Almost Home for hosting us until closing time. That gave the creaky heat in 8 North Street a chance to kick in before we came back there to finish our meeting.


We submitted a raft of documents to a local bank, as part of our application for a construction loan. One of these items was a required appraisal of each unit, to make sure there was enough money in the project to repay the bank. Happily, all of our units appraised at or above the prices we have set. This was quite reassuring (and borne out by the interest we have seen from potential homebuyers). We should have a decision from the bank in the next few weeks (fingers are crossed).

Miscellaneous matters

·      The tenants have largely moved out of 8 North Street, which will likely be one of the first buildings we renovate. We were finally able to show people the upstairs bedrooms, and there is more interest in these units now that it is easier to see what’s there.

·      The tenants in 16 North Street will also be moving out at the end of May.  We have a few repairs we will likely do once this Common House is empty, but are hoping to have someone in there to keep “eyes on the property” during construction. If you know anyone interested in living in an historic house until, say, May 2017, please let us know.

Next steps

·      We are scheduling another meeting Sunday April 24 at 3 pm for members and others seriously interested. We will meet at 8 North Street. Stay tuned for details. If you want more information about the cohousing project and wonder if you can come to the meeting, please email or text/call him at 802-734-0798.

·      Katie Raycroft-Meyer, our landscape architect, will be making a presentation of the revised site plan on Saturday May 14 – time TBA..

That’s it for now. Feel free to contact us with questions anytime.

Peg and Jim and the members of BVCH


You are invited to the Bristol Village Cohousing Meeting Sunday April 3

Hi Cohousers:

Happy Spring!  Just a quick update to give you some details about our next community presentation and member meeting.

The date is Sunday, April 3,  and it will take place in Bristol at 8 North Street (the building next to the Rite Aid).

Our planned schedule for the day:

11 am – 12:30 am – Tours for those wishing to see the site and get an idea of what our project will be like. Large drawings will be posted at 8 North Street that will illustrate our planned development. You can take home a packet of materials, including floorplans and prices.

12:30 – sandwiches will arrive from Almost Home for those staying for the member meeting.

1:30 – 5:30 – Member Meeting  - open to full and associate members, as well as those who are seriously interested in joining our community.

1:30 – 3:30 – presentation by the architects of our detailed plans.

·       Opportunity for feedback before plans are finalized.

·       Options and decision points for some design features


3:45 – 4:30 – discussion about reserving a few units as permanently affordable

4:30 – 5:15 – marketing discussion

5:15 – 5::30 – wrap-up and next steps

This will be a great opportunity to meet the members of the BVCH community, and to share your thoughts about project detail, and to make up your mind if you are still on the fence. 

Please let us know if you can attend, and how many people will accompany you. We will have child care if there is interest, so let us know if this is something you will need. And it will be helpful to know who will be staying for lunch.

RSVP by email ( or by phone (Jim’s cell: (802) 734-0798). You can even text us. Any questions, please let us know.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Jim. Peg and the members of Bristol Village Cohousing



Bristol Village Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers:

We hope you are enjoying the last bits of our alarmingly mild winter, and looking forward to the arrival of spring!

There is much to report for the Bristol Village Cohousing Community, so it’s time for some updates. We’re planning a cohousing member meeting in the beginning of April (see below).

Sales progress

All three of the families who committed during our December marketing blitz have now become members, signed contracts reserving their units, and made the required deposits. So we have sold four units – three of the single family houses and one of the flats at 12 North Street.

We conducted another winter weekend of marketing presentations in February – one in Vergennes and one in Hinesburg. Two other households have followed up as a result of these meetings, requesting more information (including copies of our purchase and sales agreements). There are several other folks we have spoken to who are on the fence.

We have made amazing progress with sales so far – people willing to invest in our project  prior to the completion of our units, and during the part of the year when sales are usually slow. We will be scheduling more presentations over the next few months and hope to increase our marketing to folks interested in the cohousing movement nationally. We’ll keep you all posted.

In the meanwhile, please help us spread the word among those you think might be interested in living in a high performance home in a walkable community. We’d love to hear from them.  And if you are on the fence about committing to a unit, deciding sooner rather than later will enable you to reserve the home of your choice.

Construction financing

We have been meeting with folks at the Northfield Savings Bank, which is a locally owned and community-minded financial institution.  While we will be talking with our attorney to go over terms, their offer looks promising. We have enough contracts in hand for the loan to go forward, and are waiting to see whether the appraisal will validate our asking prices. We should have the appraisal in the next week or so, but the signs are good that we will meet this requirement.

If the loan is approved, we will be able to start construction this June, with project completion estimated by April 2017.

Attracting moderate income households

We have been meeting with several local non-profits to see how we can make some of our units affordable.  We want to attract young families who may not have the equity to meet down payment requirements, or the income to make the monthly mortgage payments on a high performance home. We’re very excited to report that the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board has agreed to help provide down-payment assistance for two of our units. The Addison County Community Trust is willing to be the financial agent for this assistance, and to help us find eligible families.

We will be reserving two of the 2-bedroom units for this program. Purchasers will need to have income sufficient for monthly payments on a $170,000 mortgage loan. VHCB will provide an additional $44,000 for the down payment. The purchased units will then become permanently affordable, with limitations on future sales prices.

To make this all work out, we will have to raise some funds to subsidize the initial purchase price. We are hoping to raise some of these funds through local charitable individuals and institutions. We will also likely want to commit some funds from within our cohousing group. These could be donations from our members and their social networks. Or we could pass along any savings from construction to these units. This part of the equation will be discussed and approved by the membership before we make final arrangements.

Let’s meet and celebrate!

Save the Date ~ April 2nd or 3rd

It’s time for all of our members to get together, get to know each other, make some decisions and celebrate how far we’ve come. Here are a few of the items we will want to address:

·       Review of the final design specs from the architecture committee. This will include decisions about materials, construction practices and costs.

·       Make some policy decisions:

o   Agreements and expectations for things like pets, parking, uses of the common facilities, larger community participation and the like.

o   Financial commitments that we are willing to make to have two units become permanently affordable.

·       Make a plan to increase member participation in marketing and other committee work.

To enable her to meet our start date deadlines, Jean Terwilliger, our principal architect at VIA, would like us to provide design and construction feedback within the next month. We have thus set the weekend of April 2-3 as our target meeting date.

We will likely only need one day to address these issues – we can send out questionnaires ahead of time to see where we have agreement and where we need to process.  So please let us know if you have a preference for a Saturday or Sunday meeting.There will be food and time to get to know each other outside of the meeting process.

That’s all, folks

A lot will be happening in the next few weeks – we’ll have our appraisal and more certainty about the bank loan, construction details will become clearer, and we’ll see what the appetite of various charitable entities is for helping us fund the affordable units. We will likely schedule some more local marketing presentations as well.

We’ll be checking in with you again in the next few weeks to finalize the date for our meeting and celebration. In the meantime, save the weekend!

Peg and Jim, for

Bristol Village Cohousing





Bristol Village Cohousing Update--January 22, 2016

Hi Cohousing Friends:

The holidays are behind us, and we are well into the next phase of development for Bristol Village Cohousing. We want to bring you all up to date in another one of our occasional “newsletters.”

Successful presentations in December!

In early December we held two events to let people know about our project. Our meetings were at Howden Hall in Bristol and the Unitarian Church in Middlebury. Thanks to some great publicity from the Addison Independent, a local newspaper that ran a front page feature on our project (see attached), we had sizable crowds of 30 – 40 participants in each session. We presented floor plans, interior renderings, construction methods and materials, costs, pricing and monthly fees.

Our presentations were aided by members of the development team: landscape architect Katie Raycroft-Meyer and architect Jean Terwilliger.  Don Schramm of Burlington’s East Village Cohousing kindly devoted a big chunk of his weekend to letting people know the joys and practicalities of living in a cohousing community.

We offered interested participants $5,000 cash-back on closing if they committed to buying a home before February 15th.  The earlier the commitment, the more likely one would get their first choice unit.

We were amazed by the positive response! We have three new member families in our community, and three of the cottages and one of the flats have been reserved. We are well on our way to getting enough commitments to secure our construction loan.

Other progress:

  • Masterson Excavators expertly took down the barn behind #12 North Street. They also removed a portion of the barn behind #8 North Street, leaving the charming original old barn. This gives the property a new look, and now you can envision the Common Green.  Jim has posted videos of the deconstruction on BVC’s website – surprisingly fun to watch!
  • Katie Raycroft-Meyer has filled out the site plan, showing the private outdoor space that comes with each unit. You can see this plan on our website.
  •  We are working on partnering with other housing groups and individuals to make one or two of our units permanently affordable, and likely eligible for down-payment assistance. We hope this will make our project feasible for young families who might not own a home or have equity saved. If you are interested in our project but affordability is an issue, please contact Jim: or by cell (802) 734-0798.

Next up:

  • We will be holding two more informational sessions in February – one in Vergennes and one in Hinesburg. We’ll send out dates and details once locations are finalized.
  • We’ll also be setting a date for a meet-up for families already committed to this project (and those on the fence) sometime in the next month or so.  Watch this space for details.

Finance & Legal Committee update

Together with our attorney Liam Murphy, the committee has been working on the legal documents necessary for purchasers to reserve their unit. These include a condo declaration, condo association by-laws, and membership and unit reservation agreements. This is quite granular work, and we want to thank Candelin, Bob and new member Richard Provost for their help. The documents will be available on our website: 

Now is a good time to reserve your unit!

Take a look at our website to see which units have been taken and which are still available. Early sign-ups will get you a preferred choice (and a good spot on the waiting list if your first choice is spoken for). We are happy to schedule a site tour if this will help in your decision. February 15 is the deadline for qualifying for $5,000 cash back on closing. 

Attached are the rendered cohousing plan, a list of the units and the pricing, and the membership application form. 

That’s all for now friends. Looking forward to hearing from you in the days ahead! 

Peg, Jim and your friends at Bristol Village Cohousing