Up the creek: It's just you and the deer

ASKING: $325,000

SIZE: 2045 fin. sq. ft./ 2200 unfin. sq. ft.


ADDRESS: 689 Burchs Creek Road

NEIGHBORHOOD: Western Albemarle

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Jim McVay of Roy Wheeler Realty Co.


Getting to and from western Albemarle can tax one's patience. Route 250 West through Ivy now has so many driveways directly off it that speeds rarely top 50 mph during peak hours. As Crozet continues its designated growth spurt, the traffic will only get more clogged with people pursuing their piece of Piedmont heaven.

Fortunately, the alternate route of I-64 gives those who dwell a little further west another option. Taking approximately the same amount of time but without the stop and start grief, it makes Crozet and points west eminently accessible. As the mountains rise, one can leave the interstate for greener pastures.

Several fruit stands welcome you back onto 250 West, and behind one of them a gravel road leads up into almost undiscovered farmland. For many years individuals have been buying up land there to build their own homes without the oversight of developers.

About a mile and a half up Burchs Creek Road, trees hang over the roadway in lush abundance. On the left, a For Sale sign and a couple of almost-hidden mailboxes signal the entrance to this house. Pass behind three houses (with views of stunning mountains in the gaps between), maybe a quarter mile down the road, and you find this house sitting on a little knoll above the rest.

Several new houses preclude total privacy, but still, when you're at the end of a country lane, all traffic is either headed straight for you or the driver is completely lost.

Not stunning by any means, the house has a modern feel. As you enter the living room, the most noticeable detail is the hand-built stone wall directly ahead. Beautiful in its earthiness, it's a warm contrast to ubiquitous and boring drywall. Because it was originally intended to showcase trickling water, there's a faucet mid-height with a discreet stone trough at the bottom. The trickle has never worked quite right, but the current owners are confident that it's merely a matter of finding the right pump to regulate water flow.

Even without the water, it's a nice touch. Designed with passive solar principles in mind, it has fans embedded in the stone to increase air flow throughout the open downstairs. A fireplace sits off center in the wallit currently houses a gas insert but can be converted back to wood if one is so inclined.

Behind the stone mass, a sunroom with four skylights offers a wall of windows with a view to undisturbed woodland. Occupied now by a hot tub (which catches one off guard) it seems a little hotel-esque. But when somebody buys land and builds a dream house, the bets are off– they can do whatever they want.

There's also an open kitchen with bar, a small private dining room, and access to the two-car garage. Down the hall and past the stone wall are two modest bedrooms and a full bath. Upstairs, a full and rather grand master suite awaits. It has a cathedral ceiling and a bay window with window seat which provides a bird's eye peek into the neighborhood.

Leading from the bathroom (which excludes it ever being much of an exit or entrance, except perhaps for an errant teenager) a door leads to a second floor deck floating over the landscape. With an eastern exposure and nary a house in sight, this could easily become a prime location to sip coffee after a steamy shower while catching some early morning rays.

The land comprises 11 acres, most of which are behind the house. There are three division rights, and with land in this neck of the woods averaging around $20,000 per acre, that's nothing to scoff at. Of course, this is also horse country, and there's enough space for a barn with stalls, too. Like a lot of Albemarle County, it's country without being too country.