A woman renovated parents' vacation property into a solar-powered home – Insider

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The Curtins, along with their 10-month-old baby boy, live in Campbellsville, a city located in central Kentucky. Allie and Dillon, both 26, dated in high school and married after graduating in 2019. 
Allie chronicled their off-grid home renovation on her TikTok account, @alliejcurtin. As of December, Allie’s account has amassed more than 157,300 followers and 1.3 million likes.
Allie told Insider that she initially grew up in Lexington, and her parents bought the property for camping and other activities in 2002. She and her parents later moved to Pennsylvania in 2004 and kept the 79-acre property that came with a small cabin.
“It just sat vacant,” Allie said. “We moved to a farm in Pennsylvania, so the property got put on the back burner.”
In 2019, the couple lived in Fort Myers after graduating college that May but soon opted for a change in scenery. While fielding options, Allie and Dillon recalled the handful of times they camped at the Kentucky property.
“We were living in an apartment in downtown Fort Myers and ready to plan what we would do next,” Allie said. “Then, my husband was like, ‘Why don’t we just try out living in Kentucky, see what it’s like?’”
The two played with the idea, but it only became a reality once the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. 
“In May of 2020, we went and visited the property for the first time in a long time,” Allie said. “We were like, ‘All right, let’s do it.’”
They kicked off the renovation process the following month. 
While Allie’s family isn’t sure about the property’s history, they believe it may have moonlighted as a children’s camp at one point
Allie said the primitive log cabin was initially made out of downed trees and railroad nails, but they’ve worked to restore the space. The Curtins renovated the cabin on the weekends by adding insulation, installing drywall, updating the dirt floors, and doing other projects. They also wanted to keep the home off-grid and sustainable.
“There was no electric run to the property and no water,” Allie told Insider. “So, we either paid thousands of dollars to get all of these utilities run to our house or we tried to figure it out.”
Allie said the cabin is 600 square feet and the renovations cost around $30,000 after factoring in items like solar panels.
They installed 12 solar panels on the property, but have one battery to store power and a backup generator for energy, just in case. The battery’s power lasts a day and a half. A wood furnace provides heat, and the Curtins mostly rely on a rainwater catchment system instead of bottled water.
“We also have a ram pump, which pumps water uphill without electricity,” Allie said. “We have a creek and a pond on the property, so those are our backup resources.” 
Fortunately, Allie said her parents are “professional hobbyists” who have experience with woodworking and cabinetry. Her mother made some cabinets, while others were picked up from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Allie found the kitchen sink on Facebook Marketplace, and her father helped with parts of the plumbing. The kitchen also includes an oven with a stovetop, a refrigerator, and new hardwood floors.
Near the kitchen is the living room, where the Curtin family installed large glass windows and a mounted TV. 
Allie said she and Dillon chop wood from nearby trees for the wood furnace. The windows have black framing similar to the home’s exterior, which Allie loves.
“My mom was like, ‘You can’t paint your house black,’ but now she’s come around,” Allie said. “I love my black house in the middle of the woods.”
A long wooden table adds extra space for meals and hanging out in the dining room. The Curtins are still perfecting their gardening skills to become completely sustainable, but Allie managed to grow a few tomatoes this year.
Allie said the loft measures about 400 square feet and took up to three days to build. They placed a large wooden beam horizontally, then added the necessary flooring.
“The biggest challenge was that the beam was so heavy,” she said, adding that getting supplies to the home can be troublesome without a proper driveway. “That’s another reason I’ve never hired anyone to do anything. You have to have a four-wheel drive to get to the house.”
The loft includes the couple’s bed and space for the baby.
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