When my husband returned from his last combat tour in Iraq in 2008, we began talking in earnest about the house we wanted to buy “some day.” We’d been living comfortably enough in our condo, but our dream was to buy and restore an historic house. He knew how to do all the work, having worked in the historic restoration profession before the wars broke out, and he was really looking forward to making our own home his next big project.
After a nearly year-long search, we finally found it: an 1855 cape that had been sitting empty, in foreclosure, for more than a year. We loved the town, the neighborhood, and the house itself had everything we really wanted – three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, a front porch, a roomy kitchen with a breakfast room and a separate dining room (for 14 years in the condo, I’d made do with a galley kitchen and a dining nook), a separate carriage house with a second-floor workshop, and a bonus room off the kitchen.
Our house had great potential, but it needed a lot of cosmetic work, particularly a complete kitchen overhaul. We wanted to get as much of it done as possible before we moved in, and that was going to cost about as much as the standard 20 percent down payment we had squirreled away. If only there was a way to free up that cash. And then, our Webster mortgage lender showed us the way.
My husband’s service qualified us for a VA-guaranteed mortgage, she said, with no down payment, no PMI, and an interest rate that was on par with standard 30-year mortgages. We closed on October 29, 2014 and immediately got to work, ripping out carpeting, installing new hardwood floors, demolishing the kitchen.
Through the bitter, snowy, icy winter of 2014-2015, my husband poured sweat equity into our house nearly every day, building my dream “farm” kitchen, and turning the once-dowdy living room into a warm, inviting space. The bonus room became a little New England tavern where we display photos of loved ones we’ve lost and some of the WWI artifacts from his collection of historic militaria.
We moved in to our dear house six months after closing, and have loved every moment we’ve been there. Over the winter, we’ll finish painting the upstairs rooms and next spring, we’ll tackle the exterior and spruce the yard. He’ll retire from the Army next July and I can already envision the party we’ll have in the beloved home that we call our own, thanks to Webster and the VA mortgage program.
All loans subject to credit approval. Opinions expressed are that of the author, and not Webster Bank, N.A. Not intended as financial or any other professional advice.