Ken Portnoy is a friendly enough guy but he likes his privacy. Ken doesn't mind having neighbors. He just doesn't want them too close. "I like to go out and get the newspaper without having to say hi to six people," he says.

When Ken went house hunting nine years ago privacy was his number one priority. It certainly wasn't curb appeal. The house he bought in Egg Harbor Township was custom built in 1984 but was suffering from years of neglect.

But it had plenty of privacy. The house sat on a 2½-acre lot in the English Creek section of Egg Harbor Township off Asbury Avenue, a country road lined with horse farms. It was one of a handful of homes on large lots in the cul-de-sac community of Saddle Ridge Estates.

Ken says that despite the feeling of privacy, the house isn't that far removed from civilization.

"Some people think it's in the middle of nowhere but it's really not," he says. "You can get to the Hamilton Mall in less than 10 minutes."

And, if the new owners like, they can become gentlemen farmers.

"It's zoned to keep up to four horses," Ken says.

Ken, who was divorced with a 12-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter, had no intention of raising horses. He wanted to direct all his energy toward updating the house. Built by prominent contractor Hank Keifer, it had 4 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths and a floor plan sorely in need of updating.

"It was unkempt when I bought it," says Ken, who owns and operates a hauling service called Affordable Removal and Site Cleanup. "Every room had wallpaper that I had to take down. The kitchen was a mess."

Over the next few years, the house underwent a major facelift. The kitchen and baths were remodeled and the floors throughout the house replaced with tile and hardwood. All the windows were replaced with Andersen Windows, wood trim was added and vinyl siding was installed on the exterior. Ken also installed a 90-foot-long wraparound porch made of maintenance free TimberTech.

Ken did much of the work himself.

"I did all the trim work, the cabinets, the bathrooms," he says. "I had somebody do the tile work, the siding and the framing for the porch. I did all the landscaping, the stone wall. "My girlfriend, Rinsai, did the landscaping in the back yard."

In the kitchen, Ken removed the center island and installed granite counters, new cabinets, stainless steel appliances, tile backsplashes and under cabinet lighting. He installed ceramic tile in the foyer, hallway and kitchen and new hardwood floors in the dining room, living room and upstairs hallway.

The bay windows once found in the dining room and kitchen are gone now, replaced with sliding glass doors to the huge rear deck.

A sunken family room has a wood burning fireplace set into a floor-to-ceiling brick wall. Sliding glass doors open to a spacious unheated sun room that Ken says is toasty even in the dead of winter because of the amount of sunlight it receives.

Upstairs are four bedrooms, a remodeled hall bath and an enormous partially finished bonus room above the garage that could be a game room, den or bedroom. Pull-down steps lead to a storage attic. The master suite features an expanded bathroom, which now includes a tiled walk-in shower with bench seat, a whirlpool tub and granite vanities.

"I always wanted a hot tub and it didn't have one."

The house stands at the end of a long blacktop driveway that leads past a manicured front lawn to a two-car garage. The beautifully landscaped back yard features expanses of decorative river rock and includes a deck that overlooks an in-ground Piper pool and a gazebo. "The pool was here but I replaced the liner, the concrete surround, the filter, the pump," Ken says. "It's basically a new pool."

Both the front yard and back patio are irrigated with a built-in sprinkler system.

Amenities also include a second floor laundry nook, three zones of hot water baseboard heat and two zones of air conditioning. Ken's house is framed with 2-by-6 boards which allows for more insulation.

When Ken sells the house he plans to build a smaller house on a large lot with lots of privacy. And not just any house.

"This house is too big for two people. I want to build a log cabin in Egg Harbor Township," he says. "There's a 5-acre lot I'm looking at."

An open house at this property, which is listed for $409,000, will be held Sunday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information call Monte Rose of Balsley Losco Real Estate at 609-872-6589 or 609-4577

Contact David Enscoe:

609-272-7087