Doug and Susan Walker live on one of the shortest streets in Somers Point. In fact, their house is one of only three homes on Warwick Avenue, a one-block street off Ocean Avenue that dead ends at the wetlands. But they also have one of the longest back yards in town. In fact, their "yard" stretches all the way across the meadows and Steelman Bay to Ocean City.
The Walkers bought their bayfront house in 2002, shortly after they were married. They wanted a place in Somers Point, where Susan's 12-year-old daughter, Dana, already attended school. They considered building a new house on an empty lot on Warwick Avenue but ended up buying the existing house next door.
"We really liked the views and the open floor plan," says Doug," who owns a well drilling business. "And we got a really good deal."
Doug and Susan made extensive improvements to the house over the years. They replaced the vinyl and stucco exterior with a stone facade and a more durable HardiePlank cement board siding. They enclosed a second-level deck and converted it into a large four-season sunroom with wonderful view of the meadowlands. They remodeled the kitchen.
But Doug's first project was installing a geothermal heating and cooling system that drastically reduced their heat and air conditioning bills. The system includes an irrigation well that cuts down on water bills.
Doug also replaced the roof, extending the roof line and adding solar panels. The electricity those panels generate runs the heat pump that warms and cools the house.
"With the geothermal and solar panels it's a win-win situation," Doug says. "Our gas bill is about $30 a month, the water bill is about $35 a month and our electric bill averages about $70 a month."
Susan, a former art teacher, put her mark on the house as well.
"She redid the kitchen and the hardwood floors," Doug says. "She has an eye for color and style."
The house is built on pilings that the Walkers enclosed to form a three-car garage. The living room, kitchen and two bedrooms are on the second level while the third level is devoted to a master bedroom suite and a loft
The 2009 kitchen remodel added a long z-shaped island, granite counters, new appliances and a built-in wine rack.
The living room has a vaulted ceiling, a gas fireplace and two skylights. Two sets of triple casement windows look out over the meadows.
"We see all kinds of wildlife," says Dana, now 22. "There are tons of birds. And it's really nice at night. You can see all the lights in Atlantic City and you can see the Ferris wheel in Ocean City all lit up. On the Fourth of July you can see the fireworks."
The second level also includes a powder room, a a butler's pantry and a large laundry room with front loading high efficiency washer and dryer.
Two first-floor bedrooms share a full bathroom. Each bedroom has a private street-facing deck that Doug installed a couple of years ago along with two dormer windows on the third floor.
A carpeted staircase leads to the upper level where a large loft, which Susan uses as an art studio, overlooks the family room.
The master bedroom has a walk-in closet, a private bath with whirlpool tub and walk-in shower and a covered fiberglass deck with a glorious view of the wetlands and bay.
When they sell the house, the Walkers plan to split their time between a home they recently purchased in Cape Coral, FL and a waterfront house they own in Mott's Creek in Galloway Township.
"We're going to beep bop back and forth," says Doug. "Our ultimate goal is to have a New Jersey home and a Florida home."
Doug admits to having mixed feeling about leaving his house in Somers Point.
"What I'll miss most is the sunrises," he says. "I get up at 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the morning and I love to sit on the deck and watch the sun come up over the bay."
An open house at this property, which is listed for $749,000, will be held Saturday, May 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information and directions call Michelle Ruggles of New Vistas Corp. 609-485-2005 or 485-2077.
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