The home of Mac Rood’s daughter Allie and her partner Forrest was partially built in the Yestermorrow semester course, occupying one of the lots at the Waitsfield Ten.

On Wednesday, April 10, local architect Mac Rood gave a talk about two affordable housing projects he’s been involved with over the years – including the Waitsfield Ten, a subdivision that he and his wife Bobbi developed. His talk was part of design/build school Yestermorrow’s spring lecture series “Building Affordability.”





The Waitsfield Ten is a 10-acre parcel accessed from Route 100 via Folsom Brook Road. The Roods purchased it in early 2022 after selling their Warren home of 47 years. They initially worked to repair the parcel’s single structure – an eccentrically-designed home built between 1985 and 1995 by Yestermorrow founder John Connell and his students. A tree had fallen through the roof, the flooring was collapsed, and the windows were leaking, among other issues.

Rood said that they liked the idea of building more housing and generating a larger community on the parcel, but they wanted to minimize financial risk – uninterested in borrowing large sums of money and hoping to recuperate costs through the sales of homes. They decided to split the parcel into smaller, affordable lots, with each property owner building their own dwellings – including some stipulations.

Homes are limited to 2,000 square feet – “to prohibit McMansions,” Rood said. Three homes are currently along in their development – including Roods’ daughter’s home, with each built partially though different Yestermorrow programs, as well as including many DIY elements, bringing labor costs down. 

The quarter-acre lots were sold at $82,000 each, including infrastructure development costs plus the cost of the land itself. The parcel has shared wells and a community wastewater system, and property owners need to install their own septic tanks at about $5,000 apiece.




Rood said that this kind of project is somewhat unusual, as most ‘affordable housing projects’ are done at larger scales and by agencies who are designing, building, and selling or renting their units. When Rood initially went to the Waitsfield Development Review Board to present his project – a move he recommends making in order to anticipate development challenges early on, he told them, “We’re not really building houses, we’re creating affordable lots.”   

The DRB was receptive, allowing for Planned Residential Development (PRD) – a zoning mechanism that can allow for additional housing density if a certain percentage of homes fit criteria for affordability. Waitsfield required that half of these lots would be sold to people making 80% or less of the town’s average median income, with the rest sold to those earning 120% or less. In 2022, the median income for Waitsfield households was $ 74,531, according to U.S. census data. 

Terms of the subdivision’s Homeowners Association (HOA) also stipulate that for 10 years, homes can only be resold to a person with 120% or less of the area’s average median income. After a decade, that term won’t apply, “so it’s not perpetually affordable,” Rood added.

While the Roods had hoped to have around 30 homes on the parcel, each with their own leach field, engineering work revealed that the buildable area could only accommodate nine homes with a shared wastewater system. Some of the factors that narrowed the buildable area included state classifications of wetlands and fluvial erosion hazard zones, as well as a Waitsfield zoning regulation that prohibits certain projects from being built on steep slopes.




Anyone who takes on such a project must have patience, Rood said, as initial development work can be slow. For example, wetlands can only be classified in summer months, as samples of soil and plants are what’s needed to make the determination.

Rood said in his talk that the goal, for him and Bobbi, was not to make money from selling the lots. They spent about $438,000 in total – recuperating infrastructure costs from lot sales along the way. The biggest costs were for excavation and wastewater system development, at about $302,000.

The second project Rood presented on was a parcel in Hinesburg with 23 homes, which he designed with partner Rob Bast in previous years. Although the intention for that project was to sell the homes at market rate, sales didn’t take off. The Champlain Housing Trust and a Vermont construction company then worked together to purchase 21 of the homes, marketing them as affordable units and filling them immediately.

The homes were linked together with a promenade, in walkable proximity to the town’s center, and hooked up to municipal utility services. “Many of the things you try to do with affordable housing,” Rood said, “you should try to do with all housing.”

Talks in the lecture series are scheduled for Wednesday evenings through late April. Each tackles the topic of housing affordability and ‘missing middle’ housing – referring to a lack of multi-family and clustered housing types in the U.S.