Ever notice how, when a new house goes up, you can't remember what it looked like before it was there? Well, it's a slow, arduous process and it took builder Steve Hamilton almost a year, stick by stone to erect the sumptuous three-story, 3,200-square-foot Mediterranean villa at 4611 Hathaway Drive overlooking Hillcrest Road in east Medford.

Ever notice how, when a new house goes up, you can't remember what it looked like before it was there? Well, it's a slow, arduous process and it took builder Steve Hamilton almost a year, stick by stone to erect the sumptuous three-story, 3,200-square-foot Mediterranean villa at 4611 Hathaway Drive overlooking Hillcrest Road in east Medford.

Captured by Mail Tribune lenses, the $759,500 stucco house evolves from a rough box, framed and covered with particle-board sheeting, to gaining windows and doors, then its black moisture barrier.

It gets imprisoned in scaffolding for application of stucco, which is a light olive-colored concrete, then undergoes finish work around windows and doors. The driveway is poured and stamped to look like rough old cobblestone from the Old World.

Invisible in the photos is the immense amount of interior detail work that must take place — the laying of slate, travertine and granite floors, the installation of wiring, plumbing, drywall and carpeting, the fashioning of luxurious showers, sinks and spas in bedrooms, the painting and the installations of custom cabinetry, says Hamilton, a Rogue Valley resident since 1964 and builder for 12 years.

The house tips its hat to the Mediterranean with plenty of arched windows, stone, a leaded glass entry, elaborately tiled borders in the kitchen and baths and high ceilings, 14 feet in some bedrooms, and 24 feet in the living room.

What's the hardest part? Framing. What makes it hard? Plain and simple, it's the hard work of construction, three months of it. For the builder — and Hamilton has built seven big, high-end homes in the neighborhood, the hardest part is pleasing the buyer, if one's on board during construction. If not, the hardest part is waiting for the buyer to show up and say, "I'll take it."

Hamilton says he likes to keep things interesting and different each time, never building the same house twice. Another fun part is having an open house and hearing what people have to say about it, even though many of them aren't shopping for it — they just want to see it.

Who's the buyer going to be?

"Someone who can afford it," jokes Hamilton. "A mid- to upper-income person. The other homes went to a dentist, an investment broker, a doctor. It will be people 30 to 50, with good jobs and with children, people who are educated about what's going on in the housing market."

You get kind of close to a house after a year with it and there's a little tug at the heart as you let it go, but the main thing to remember, Hamilton says, is that you know you've done a good job.

"This is still a small town and if you haven't done a good job and put value into it, word gets around."

The market for homes in the three-quarter million range has held steady, and is ticking up these days, notes Hamilton. He expects buyers will be moving in within 90 days.

"To complete it is a wonderful feeling, almost like a new baby being born," he says. "You wait and wait and go through all this pain and it's so beautiful. Its great to see it go from bare ground to this and you know it's going to be here long after I'm gone, and will be a legacy."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.