By Dave Enscoe, Advertising Department
Sean and Shannon O'Brikis are spoiled. For the past 18 years they haven't had to pay a gas or oil bill. That's because their house in the whimsical village of Dorothy is heated entirely with wood.
"We have 10 acres of property and there's wood everywhere with easy access to it," says Sean. "When we built the house we wanted to utilize the resources and be more self sufficient."
The custom-built Cape Cod isn't warmed by a wood-burning fireplace - it gets all its heat from a state-of-the art wood boiler located outside the house. The boiler consists of 5-by-5-by-6-foot firebox that delivers heat to the house through underground pipes. The heat is then circulated through hot water pipes and blown through ductwork."
"You just stock it with wood every two to three days," Sean says. "We use it for our hot water and to heat the Jacuzzi and the pool. It also supplies under-the-floor radiant heat to the garage."
Sean says the wood doesn't have to be cut into pieces that will fit into a stove or fireplace. It doesn't even have to be split.
"The firebox will take a five-foot long log that's 36-inches in diameter," he says. "We throw in green pine, any kind of wood you want. We have a lot of dead wood lying around but it will burn anything."
&rtab;The house does have a backup heating system. "We have a wood stove in the house for aesthetics and we have a propane heating system as a backup," Sean says.
Sean and Shannon, who own their own business, were living in Egg Harbor Township when they bought the two 5-acre lots 1995. At the time they had a baby girl and a son on the way. They couldn't have picked a more off-the-beaten-track place to raise a family. Dorothy is located in Weymouth Township, a rural 12-square mile community with a population of 2,715. It's hidden away in the extreme southwest section of Atlantic County.
"We liked the neighborhood and the school district," Sean says. "We also liked the fact that it was secluded but still had amenities like police, fire and trash pickup."
The house Sean and Shannon built features an open floor plan with four bedrooms, three full baths and a second floor office that could be a fifth bedroom.
The first floor has two bedrooms, a large living room and a country kitchen with granite counters, ceramic tile floors and stainless steel appliances including a Sub-Zero refrigerator.
The first-floor master suite has a private bath with a tile floor, granite topped vanities, a walk-in shower and Jacuzzi tub. Two more bedrooms, the office and a family room are located upstairs.
The many upgrades include 3/4 inch tongue-in-groove maple floors, Berber carpeting in second-floor family room and bedrooms, natural oak trim and solid oak doors. There's also a security system, an in-ground sprinkler system and a whole house stereo system with outdoor speakers. An enormous attached garage has three bays and can accommodate up to eight cars.
"We have all underground utilities and the house is also wired for a backup generator that you just plug into the side of the house," Sean says.
The lovingly landscaped grounds are also home to vegetable gardens. An above ground pool surrounded by a Trex deck connects to another 16-by-30-foot deck with a built-in five-person hot tub.
After 18 years, Sean and Shannon are ready to make a move and it's not because they're empty nesters. But since their children will both be in private high schools this fall, they'll have some flexibility in choosing their next home.
"Our daughter will be a senior at Our Lady of Mercy Academy," says Sean, who coaches the crew team at the school. "And my son graduates from Weymouth Township School next month and will be going to St. Augustine Prep. It's a good time to move. We're looking for a place on the water, maybe a on the Great Egg Harbor, Tuckahoe, or Maurice rivers.
An open house at this property, which is listed for $399,000, will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information and directions call Millie Messina of Century 21 Glencove-Morris, 609-703-6719.
Lot size: 10 acres
Style: 4 bedroom Cape Cod