Buying Here: Connoquenessing


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You could say the Arnolds' home is a labor of love, sweat, tears and a broken hip, fractured vertebrae and concussion.

Doug Arnold, a builder/contractor, and his wife Paula, a registered nurse, started building their Butler County home in 1999, doing a majority of the work themselves.

"Was there by myself one day, fell off the side of the house and broke a hip," Mr. Arnold said.

That caused a five-month construction delay. Mrs. Arnold also took a tumble, falling 16 feet into the basement while hauling plywood up to the roof of the attached garage.

"I had compression fractures in three of my vertebrae and a concussion," she said, noting that her mother had the house blessed to be on the safe side.

PG graphic: Connoquenessing
(Click image for larger version)

Now the couple have put the two-story home at 154 Reiber Road in Connoquenessing Township (MLS No. 1005928) on the market for $749,000. An open house is scheduled today from 1 to 4 p.m. by agent Mary Jane DiMartino of Keller Williams Realty (724-933-8538, www.mjdimartino.com or www.kwpittsburghnorth.com).

The two-story traditional farmhouse-style building has 5,035 square feet of living space and sits on 3.3 acres. A 300-foot driveway leads to a facade with many dormers, a large front porch and a dominant stone chimney. There is an attached two-car garage and a detached three-story, six-car garage with a third floor that is wired, plumbed and ready for finishing.

Between the main house and the second garage is an in-ground pool that is surrounded by grass, fencing and walls for safety. A saltwater filter reduces maintenance, Mr. Arnold said.

"In the spring I put stabilizer in it, and two or three bags of pool salt -- very easy to take care of."

A roofed veranda creates a large entertainment area.

"It's like a country resort. That's' what you feel like when you're there," Ms. DiMartino said.

A walkway trimmed in hostas and ornamental grasses leads to the lower level of the main house. The expansive family room (35 by 17 feet) flows into a second kitchen with white Whirlpool appliances, a peninsula with seating for five, granite counter tops and ceramic tile flooring. A large reclaimed brick fireplace acts as a room divider between the kitchen and a media area with beautiful built-ins.

"That used to be the study in the B.F. Jones estate in Edgeworth," said Mr. Arnold, who salvaged the fireplace and woodwork when the house was demolished in 1991 and stored it for eight years.

The lower level also features a room the Arnolds call the Harley Davidson bathroom. Mr. Arnold, who rides a motorcycle, noted that the Harley Davidson clock will remain with the house.

A set of stairs leads up to the 19-by-17-foot living room with cathedral ceiling, red oak flooring and a wide staircase that wraps around one side of the room. Two tiers of tall windows and French doors to the veranda flood the room with light. More than 5 tons of stone went into the fireplace.

"My father was an old masonry man and he stoned the fireplace -- last one he did," Mr. Arnold said.

Around the corner is the main kitchen measuring 27 by 13 feet. It has red oak cabinetry, flooring and trim and stainless-steel appliances that include a Kenmore range top and Whirlpool double oven, dishwasher and refrigerator.

Dark granite provides a sharp contrast to the warm wood on the counter tops, island and a dining table that stays with the house.

The first floor has a formal dining room measuring 18 by 12 feet, a den with fireplace, a laundry room with Maytag appliances, a powder room and the 22- by-14-foot master bedroom suite.

The bedroom features a bank of windows at one end, red oak flooring and trim, a tray ceiling and French doors to the veranda overlooking the pool. Upstairs are four more bedrooms measuring 18 by 15 feet, 14 by 13 feet, 16 by 13 feet and 20 by 12 feet. The largest one is over the garage and has its own bathroom with shower-tub combination. It would be a great guest suite or in-law apartment.

A large bonus is the Arnold grandchildren's playroom. When asked for dimensions, Mrs. Arnold laughed and said, "Just put big."

The couple boasts proudly of the house's all-copper plumbing and robust framing that includes 2-by-6 studs on 12-inch centers. The exterior is clad with cement board.

"You can have a hail storm and it won't damage it. Hit it with a golf ball and it won't damage it," said Mr. Arnold, adding that it also takes paint well.

There are separate heating/cooling systems -- one for the basement and first floor, a second for the large second floor. Another plus is the outdoor lighting system with a light sensor. No need for timers.

The property has an assessed value of $53,700. Butler County assessments are based on 100 percent of 1969 market values (www.co.butler.pa.us).

Over the last three years, two houses have sold on Reiber Road for $159,000 in April 2011 and $230,000 in December 2010 (www.realstats.net).

Lizabeth Gray: lgray@post-gazette.com.


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