As native Pittsburghers know so well, just seeing the sun or basking in its warmth can really raise your spirits.
So, when Ray and Traci Zassick decided to build and customize a log home in 2006, they set it atop a hill and oriented it to the southwest so they could take advantage of morning and afternoon light.
"The whole back of the house is solid glass. I wanted to be able to view the sunsets from the hill. ... The views are beautiful," said Mr. Zassick, a builder who owns a Sewickley company called Surface Solutions.
Now, the couple's secluded retreat, at 341 Nordheim Road in Economy Borough (MLS. No. 815390), is listed for $475,000 through RE/MAX North Realtors Kathy and Don Seaton (724-935-4500, ext. 235, or www.seatonteam.com/home.asp).
Before they built, the Zassicks and two other couples who are close friends purchased 80 acres in the northeast corner of Beaver County and subdivided it into a plan called Amsler Woods. They wanted to live there and raise their children together.
At a glance
- Established: 1827
- Size: 17.7 square miles
- Population: 9,136
- Annual taxes on 341 Nordheim Road:
- Borough: $851.90
- School: $3,551.86
- County: $1,350.87
- School District: Ambridge Area School District at http://www.ambridge.k12.pa.us/
- Enrollment: 2,805
- Average SAT scores: Verbal, 478; Math, 500; Writing, 471.
- Economy Borough's claim to fame: Mayor David Poling said the community is especially safe because of its 11 full-time police officers and seven part-time officers.
But one of the men died of brain cancer two years ago, so the property next to the Zassicks' 25 acres is vacant. The couple have decided to sell because they want their 5-year-old son to live closer to other children.
Mr. Zassick expanded a stock log home design from Ward Cedar Homes of Houston, Maine. He altered the layout and increased the home's length and width as well as the pitch of the roof.
The roof is made of Northern white pine with extended overhangs on the front and back for weather protection. Solid cedar trims the exteriors of doors and windows.
Inside, the home's ceilings are made of solid pine with tongue-and-groove detailing.
The house has a contemporary look, open floor plan and 2,600 square feet of space. From the entryway, you can see the great room, with its wall of windows, 26-foot high ceiling, a stone fireplace that's 6 feet wide and 15 feet high and a gas insert. A Heatilator in the fireplace vents the warmth. Above the gas fireplace is a mounting bracket for a flat-screen television; a built-in alcove can hold a stereo surround unit.
The hardwood flooring in the great room and dining room is made of amendoim, a Brazilian hardwood with brown and red tones. French doors lead to the dining room, which has a bay window, vaulted ceiling and accommodates 10 to 12 people. The kitchen has granite counters, stainless-steel Maytag appliances and a walk-in pantry.
There are three bedrooms on the first floor. The master suite includes a walk-in closet, bath with porcelain tile floor, a large jetted tub and walk-in shower with custom-made door. The other two bedrooms share an adjoining bath.
Also visible from the entryway is a black metal spiral staircase, made by American Spiral Stairs of Erie, which runs from the basement to the second floor.
On the second story is a large open loft that the couple use as a home office. But it could easily be turned into a bedroom.
The basement is partially finished; it's completely framed, wired, roughed in and plumbed for a full bathroom.
There's also a laundry room with Maytag appliances and a separate utility room.
"The bulk of the basement that needs to be finished would make a great family room," Mr. Zassick said. "If you finished the basement, you'd have another 1,000 square feet of living space. Our plan was to put a large concrete pad and patio off the basement."
Off an integral two-car garage is a 14-by-12-foot storage area. It can hold at least three all-terrain vehicles.
The Zassicks enjoy riding their all-terrain vehicles on the land, which is home to many deer, pheasant, grouse, squirrels and rabbits.
The property borders the north fork of Big Sewickley Creek, which the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks with trout. It's also a bird watcher's paradise; hawks, wild turkey, geese and piliated woodpeckers are common sights.
"Any outdoorsman would love the property," Mr. Zassick said.
Although it's a rural retreat, the property is only eight miles from the Wexford exit of Interstate 79.
"We were all hunters and fishermen. All of our wives work in the city," Mr. Zassick explained.
The deed includes mineral and timber rights. Trees on the property offer abundant hardwoods, including cherry, maple, oak and ash.
The house has public sewer and water, adding to its value.
Economy building and tax officials said an acre of land there can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 depending on its location, whether it's flat or hilly and whether it has water and sewage hookups.
The property has an assessed value of $60,850 (www.beavercountypa.gov).
No homes have sold on Nordheim Road within the past several years, according to RealSTATS.
20092010SALES6162MEDIAN PRICE$137,000$127,900HIGHEST PRICE$270,000$335,000
20092010SALES11193MEDIAN PRICE$30,000$24,900HIGHEST PRICE$200,000$97,900
20092010SALES5042MEDIAN PRICE$70,487$80,000HIGHEST PRICE$151,000$133,500
20092010SALES129139MEDIAN PRICE$146,500$139,000HIGHEST PRICE$600,000$620,000
20092010SALES2441MEDIAN PRICE$97,000$112,000HIGHEST PRICE$165,000$288,000
20092010SALES125110MEDIAN PRICE$154,999$159,000HIGHEST PRICE$635,450$315,000
20092010SALES3524MEDIAN PRICE$650,000$585,000HIGHEST PRICE$1,510,000$2,615,000
20092010SALES200210MEDIAN PRICE$93,000$102,500HIGHEST PRICE$428,500$399,000
20092010SALES2516MEDIAN PRICE$144,900$132,500HIGHEST PRICE$635,000$525,000
20092010SALES915MEDIAN PRICE$40,000$60,000HIGHEST PRICE$106,000$240,000
20092010SALES6149MEDIAN PRICE$65,000$77,000HIGHEST PRICE$218,000$220,000
Marylynne Pitz: email@example.com or 412-263-1648.