1009 E High St Charlottesville VA 22902 434.973.8307 Email

Who We Are

Our Company

Our mission is building for people who care deeply about their home and land.

Shelter Associates Ltd. is a corporation founded in 1975, originally owned by Bruce Gordon and Chris Halstead and established in Free Union, Virginia. A carpenter with the company since its inception, John Diven, or J.D. as he is known, bought in after a few years and worked with Bruce, Chris and other seminal partners to build a company that has stood the test of time.

Shelter today is a unique blend of rural spirit and sensibility gleaned from our Free Union years, combined with refined craftsmanship and dedication to timeless design. Shelter has spent 42 remarkable years building a tradition of care and unmatched quality.

J.D. is the president and owner of Shelter Associates. He graduated from Sewickley Academy in Pittsburgh, where he grew up. He chose to stay in the Charlottesville area after graduation from the University of Virginia. J.D. manages the scheduling and supervision of work in the field for Shelter, in addition to general administrative duties. His expertise in building techniques is unequaled.

From the early days, when Shelter began with small remodeling jobs, until today, Shelter has concentrated on residential design and construction. Along the way, Shelter has built or renovated many of the area’s most significant homes. The company has also completed major commercial projects ranging from restaurants and boutiques to the multi-million dollar construction of the Daily Progress Plant in Charlottesville, but today remains committed to residential work.

J.D. and his former partners guided Shelter from a small construction company whose assets were carried in the back of two pick-up trucks to a successful general contracting firm whose name is synonymous with excellence, integrity and craftsmanship.

Our Collaborators

Since transitioning away from in-house design, Shelter has worked with some of Charlottesville’s most talented architects including:

Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects

Bob Paxton, Roger Birle, David Craig, Joseph Chambers

“I always love working with Shelter – their passion for the craft of building is evident in every project!” – Joe Chambers, AIA, DGP Architects

Bethany Puopolo

“I am happy to recommend J.D. and the Shelter team. I have worked with them for decades. Their truly incredible experience, professionalism and willingness to help in any situation makes them more than great builders.” – Bethany Puopolo

David Day

“I have worked with Shelter on numerous projects over the past decade, and hope to continue.
Their expertise and honesty are top notch, and they are very easy to work with. J.D. always keeps the whole range of aspects of a project in mind – from feasibility to budget, quality and the best design solution. They have earned and maintain the name ‘Master Builders’.” -David Day, architect

Bob Gray

“I’ve worked with Shelter Associates on several complex, highly custom and time sensitive projects. They have always risen to any challenge with consummate skill and sensitivity leavened with humor, kindness, and grounded good sense. In addition they have consistently volunteered these same talents to both the local and international community helping, over the years, to build housing, schools, and clinics for the truly needy. It is this balance of skill and caring that makes working with Shelter a particular pleasure.” -Robert Gray Architect LLC

Subcontractors and Suppliers:
Shelter’s 42 years of experience in the art of building have been the result of a talented and dedicated staff, but would not have been possible without the help of some outstanding subcontractors and material suppliers. Over the decades, we have formed lasting partnerships with engineers, excavators, electricians, heating and cooling specialists, plumbers, masons, roofers, painters, mill shops, and a host of material suppliers, who we trust to know and uphold our high standard of craftsmanship.

To name a few:

Gaston and Wyatt
L & D Associates, Inc.
Safeway Electric

We also welcome the opportunity to work with new suppliers and subcontractors to explore new trends, build relationships with other creative experts, and obtain competitive prices for our clients.

Community Non-Profits:
Building Goodness Foundation is a local non-profit construction organization formed in 1999 by a small group of local builders looking to use their talents and passion to do more, and build more GOOD, both locally and globally. Shelter has been a long-time friend and supporter of the Building Goodness Foundation. Its mission of providing communities which have high need but few resources with buildings essential to healthy, sustainable, and economically independent living is one that Shelter and its president, J.D., embrace whole-heartedly. Throughout the years, J.D. and many other Shelter staff have donated time, materials, and expertise to assist BGF with projects such as: renovating local homes, construction of the Wild Rock outdoor educational center, and traveling to Guatemala and Haiti to rebuild homes and vital community centers for health and education. J.D. has been an active member of the BGF Board of Directors, serving as its President from 2014-2016. He has made it a personal and company goal to spread the word about BGF and its mission to our staff, clients, friends, (and anyone who will listen!) in order to foster an even broader network of community support for this very special organization. To learn more about Building Goodness Foundation, please click on the link below.