REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Nothing to sneeze at: New Belmont house built for greenies


Address: 1012 Druid Ave., #B

Neighborhood: Belmont

Asking: $474,900

Assessment: $459,200

Year Built: 2008

Size: 2,667 fin. sq. ft. / 78 unfin. 

Land: 0.09 acres

Agent: Sue Plaskson, Real Estate III, (434) 981-0115

Curb Appeal:  8 out of 10

In a cul-de-sac off Druid Avenue sit five identical almost barn-like houses painted in colorful shades. The house we toured, #B, painted a purpley blue, is the only one remaining for sale. Designed by an architect named Andrew Thomas and built by Abrahamse & Company Builders, these places are Energy Star-rated Earth Craft Houses and American Lung Association Health Houses. That means that they're energy efficient, with the best air quality possible, obviously built with modern buyers in mind.

A variety of simple components, including a heavily insulated roof and walls, light-colored shingles on the roof to reflect heat, and zero or low VOC paint and floor finishes are some of the current and choice bells and whistles. 

Then there's the gadgetry: the whole-house ventilation system that expels stale air at regular intervals, a protection system designed to remove radon gas, and a humidity control system that keeps the entire living area below 50 percent relative humidity, meaning no mold even in the wettest months.  

In addition to allergy sufferers and the hip-to-be-green crowd, 1012 #B has the disabled in mind. The first floor is designed to be completely self-sufficient and wheelchair accessible. No steps are required to get from the parking lot to the deck leading to the front door that leads to a large living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, and bath with wheel-in shower. The large pantry next to the dining room has hookups for a stackable washer and dryer set; in addition, there's a full laundry room on the ground level. 

But other details weren't as well thought out. For all the money spent on amenities– granite countertops, Aqua-Pure water filter, Energy Star appliances– it's odd to find Rubbermaid shelving in closets and bathrooms. The rubber-coated wire looks tacky, especially in the otherwise elegant blue-and-cream master bath. 

The living room also has built-in shelving (wooden, thank goodness), but there's no nook for a widescreen. An obvious spot would be above the gas fireplace, but it would have to hang on the wall– opposite the cable hookup underneath the staircase. Little lapses like this make a difference.

On the plus side, the living room is south-facing (with lovely views of Carter Mountain) and designed with passive solar in mind. A short overhang over the living room window blocks the high summer sun. 

Upstairs, a large central landing could be used as a playroom, and three bedrooms with two full baths would make it easy for a single first-floor dweller to welcome overnight guests. There's no attic, so here the roofs are sloped, with a skylight in the master bedroom. Of the two closets in the master, one is standard size, one a walk-in. The other two bedrooms are smaller, at 10.4 x 10.6 each, and each with only one window. 

If a family buys the place, the ground floor could be outfitted as a mother-in-law suite or a rental unit. The main room, which leads to a very small yard, is large and L-shaped– part of it could be partitioned to be a bedroom. Another 12 x 12 windowless room, a full bath, the laundry room, and a storage area (with finished concrete floors) are in back against the foundation. 

The other four houses in this neighborhood were sold (one of the owners uses a wheelchair and another has allergy concerns, according to the agent) in 2007 and 2008, for prices ranging from $489,500 to $495,000. Unit #B, with a floor plan identical to the others, has come down in price from its original listing price of $499,500 to $475,000, so whoever buys this house will have the dubious satisfaction of getting a better deal than the neighbors.

But if you're looking to make new friends in Belmont, save the bragging for the in-laws. 



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