Think big: Do-it-yourselfer did it


ADDRESS: 2515 Plank Road


ASKING: $479,000


SIZE: 3,850 fin. sq. ft., 825 unfin.

LAND: 3.50 acres

CURB APPEAL: 6 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: William Bailey at Real Estate III 817-9800

When people think of a "do it yourself" project, they may imagine a trip to Lowe's for a new dryer vent kit, some caulk to plug the gap around an old bath tub, or a can of paint to spruce up the garage. More ambitious folks might even remodel an entire room.

But the owners of this huge new house between North Garden and Old Lynchburg Road did everything themselves, learning as they went from the ground up, so to speak.

Tile work seems to be a specialty, as the large entrance area, beautiful kitchen, and four full baths attest. Marble counters in the bathrooms and granite kitchen surfaces indicate a dedication to craft rare even in professionals, and therefore much more impressive in a learn-as-you-go novice.

Everything about the house is bigger than usual. On the entry level (actually the second level, since the house is situated on a sloping lot), super-sized spaces include the tiled entry area, the long living room/dining room spread across the back of the house overlooking one of two decks and a fenced yard, and the enormous kitchen. An extra bedroom/office beside the entry has a private bath, making an ideal space for visitors or owners who want one-level living.

Bruce hardwood floors, chair rail and crown molding, and stainless GE appliances layer finesse and style over the builder's fine basic skills to create a classy sophistication for which the relatively nondescript exterior did not prepare us.

Upstairs is more wide-open space in a master bedroom with a private balcony (and a walk-in closet/dressing area as large as a room in its own right). The master bath is another testimony to the owner/builder's craft, with lovely tile shower and marble counters. Gas jets in the bedroom permit new owners to install a private fireplace to cozy up to on long winter nights. Other behind-the-scenes installations include Cat-5 wiring for Internet and video access. Two more bedrooms and another bath round out the spacious upstairs.

But the first, or basement, level is clearly the hub of activity in the house. Again, "extra" is the operative word. Finding that the sloping terrain permitted 10-foot-high ceilings for not much extra money, the owners opted to create living space, with windows on three sides and access to the backyard, as roomy and comfortable as the main level.

The fourth bedroom and full bath make the "basement" ideal for in-laws or teenagers because there's none of the dank gloominess one usually finds in spaces backed up against a hill.

Outside is no exception to the "bigger is better" theme. Across the back of the property (but actually the front, thanks to a weird decision to face the house away from Plank Road), a 300-foot-long fence provides protection from neighbors farther up the hill and an apparent jogging path for squirrels, many of which (in addition to impressive numbers of birds) were in evidence during our visit.

An oversized (of course) two-car garage and 10' x 12' storage building complete the outside amenities.

Plank Road was so named because it was originally actually constructed of planks. The original dirt turnpike linking Staunton and Scottsville began to be covered with planks about 1850. The owner/builder of this house may have been inspired by those old-time workmen as he began his project. The results are as admirable in his case as the massive road project must have been in those early rustic times.