We bought our Mountainville house in 2008 on a VA loan. I was coming off of six years of active duty service, and we experienced some sticker shock after moving to New York from Kentucky - our first house in the Bluegrass state cost less than $100K and had less than $900 per year in property taxes, but the best we could do here was a fixer-upper in dire need of attention that cost 3x with 7x the annual tax bill. 

It was built in 1840 by Benjamin Ketchum, son of the Mountainville (formerly Ketchumville) postmaster and mill owner. We aren't sure if all three stories are original, but the hardwood floors match pretty well throughout and were the most attractive feature of the house. It was certainly a multi-family at some point, or potentially a boarding house as Mountainville was on a train line up from the city. The prior owner had tried to flip it but got caught up in the financial crisis and we snapped up what we thought was a bargain. 

I was 28. After the army, I was antsy and hungry for a project anyway, and boy did I get more than I signed up for. We closed the deal on February 29th, and I got to work on March 1st. 

To begin, the day of the closing the water didn't work going into the house. It had frozen solid at some point over the winter. We didn't move in for several months.

Over the last nine years I believe that I touched every square inch of the house through removing plaster and replacing it with drywall, painting, tiling, sanding, insulating, installing cabinets, shelves, showers, toilets, new electrical, plumbing, and landscaping. We replaced two bathrooms and the kitchen, insulated the entire attic, refinished the original floors on all three levels, put in a driveway, a walkway, and re-graded the entire yard. 

Since the nine-year project isn't something that I can ever do again (I just don't have it in me), I wanted to show some of the work that we did. It's important to note that we did none of this by ourselves - my parents, Jayme's parents, my good friend Kevin, and my siblings were particularly excellent in helping us with each project and each disaster along the way. 

Room-by-room, 2008:

And 2017:

It was our home for nine years. I put a lot of my sweat and soul and fortune into the place, and it's weird to realize that we aren't living there right now. In the end it is just a pile of wood and stone and metal, but the space we call our home is clearly much more than that - for me, this house is a document of my late youth, and what I can do when I set my mind to something. I'm going to miss it. 

Bigger and better things await, in time. I'll be ready for the next project soon. 

- Bill