Buying a house in Tahoe in the winter is much akin to what Forrest Gump’s mama always said about life being like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get.

Last year, Alex and Conor Ball were renting a condo in Tahoe Donner when they were notified that it was being sold and they would have to find a new place to live. As sudden first-time homebuyers, the couple purchased a house on Ramshorn in Tahoe Donner and promptly moved in with their two small children. But as the spring thaw came, winter snows melted, revealing all sorts of disrepair to the home that had been hidden.

Enter, Elements Mountain Company.


As the Ball family was facing the newly unveiled home improvement issues, Matt Warren and Jaime Waltman Legare of Elements Mountain Company were looking for a way to give back to the Tahoe Donner community. Unbeknownst to the Balls, they had been nominated by not only their realtor, but also by two separate friends, and they ultimately became the winners of the first home makeover giveaway.

“Just driving around, the houses are definitely in different levels of condition,” Waltman Legare told Moonshine Ink. “So we thought it would be fun, … a help-your-neighbor type of thing.”

Tahoe Donner is known to have some of the more strict requirements and standards when it comes to home maintenance, noted Elements marketing director Aimee Fuzard. And whether it be financial difficulty, various life circumstances, or that a property belongs to someone who lives out of the area and isn’t around often, sometimes things can fall into disrepair.

Offering the chance to win an exterior home makeover was a perfect way for Elements to give back at a time when people were feeling the need for some “feel good” stories.

“The vast majority of our overall company revenue comes from Tahoe Donner,” said Warren, explaining that he and Waltman Lagare thought it only fitting to give back to the community that supports their livelihood throughout the seasons.

It’s safe to say that at this point in time, with people out of work and not knowing when the next paycheck will come, folks everywhere can use even more feel good than they did a year ago. With that, Elements is now accepting nominations for this year’s home exterior home makeover contest. If you know someone in TD who can use a little lift — and whose house could use a little TLC — nominate them online at

~ Juliana Demarest/Moonshine Ink


  • Juliana Demarest

    Juliana Demarest is a Jersey girl with ink in her blood. She fell in love with print journalism at a young age in the '80s when her Uncle Tony would take her to "work" at his weekly paper. In 1997, she co-founded a weekly newspaper in North Jersey. One day, she went to photograph a local farmer for a news story. She ended up marrying him and leaving journalism to become a farmer's wife. In 2010, they packed up their two children and headed to Truckee in pursuit of the outdoor life. She didn't realize just how much she missed journalism until she joined Moonshine in 2018 after taking time off to be mom. Connect with Juliana

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