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June 25, 2024

A solar-powered mountain home with succulents on the roof is for sale in central Pa.

The owners bought the property outside Carlisle in 1995 and 'built every inch themselves' over a three-year period, the listing agent said.

Real Estate Homes
Central Pennsylvania Home Nieri Creative/Iron Valley Real Estate

The home shown above is listed for sale in North Middleton Township, Pennsylvania, just north of Carlisle in Cumberland County. The property hit the market this month with a $600,000 list price.

Looking for a mountain home with plenty of space to roam, first-class bird watching and a cozy town nearby to ward off cabin fever? How about enough solar panels to keep the monthly electricity bill under $50? The answer may be in central Pennsylvania.

A 17-acre estate in North Middleton Township — just north of Carlisle in Cumberland County, about a 2 1/2 hour drive west of Philly — hit the market this month for $600,000. The bed of succulents living on the roof of the property's rancher home, insulated by 3 feet of soil, immediately jumps out as the most unique feature of the property. And if you're wondering, the roof doesn't need to be mowed.

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"For anyone who wants a balance of being off the grid and still connected to a small city, you couldn't ask for a more perfect place" said Sean Heckman, one of the agents handling the listing with Iron Valley Real Estate.

The owners, both former U.S. Air Force veterans, purchased the land on Waggoners Gap Road in 1995 and "built every inch themselves" over a three-year period, listing agent Toni Reinhart said. The first open house over the weekend attracted a few dozen interested buyers, including one person who flew in from Houston to consider making a move to Pennsylvania.

"We've had some scheduled showings, but lots of people who came to the open house stayed the whole time just to take in the property," Reinhart said.

The listing for the home, described as a "marvel of modern engineering and sustainability," includes dozens of photos inside and out. Aerial views show the woods that encircle the property, which is about 7 1/2 miles northwest of Carlisle.

At roughly 2,700 square feet, the home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The dining room is a solarium and the step-down living room, centered around a fireplace, is flooded with natural light that pours in through its large windows. Two driveways connect to the home at the ground and roof levels. Its electricity and water heating mainly come from photovoltaic solar panels connected to the power grid, providing opportunities for tax credits. Water for the property is supplied by a well system.

Pennsylvania Home MountainNieri Creative/Iron Valley Real Estate

The living room and fireplace are shown in the photo above.

Dining Room PANieri Creative/Iron Valley Real Estate

The dining room is shown in the photo above.

Kitchen Home PennsylvaniaNieri Creative/Iron Valley Real Estate

The kitchen at the home is shown in the photo above.

Aerial Pennsylvania HomeNieri Creative/Iron Valley Real Estate

An aerial view of the estate at 3651 Waggoners Gap Road.

Outdoor Pennsylvania HomeNieri Creative/Iron Valley Real Estate

A shed and a shaded place to sit beneath a thatch are shown in the photo above.

The estate also has a four-car garage, another detached garage with a workshop and a small guest house. Outdoor features include a deck with a gazebo, raised garden, greenhouse space, stream and pond.

The home's roof in particular stands out for its ingenuity. The owners used layers of insulation and rubber sheeting to create a bed for the sand and soil, which provide sustenance for thousands of Sedum reflexum plants that sprout yellow blossoms. The roof contains a drainage layer and is protected from leakage using polyethylene sheeting.

Another notable feature of the property is its wetlands sewage treatment system, the first of its kind to be approved in Cumberland County by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The owners told PennLive it uses two septic tanks to separate solids, and it relies on a series of pools planted with bulrushes and reeds to break down bacteria before the fluid flows into a stream on the property. Water samples must be tested monthly and summaries of the results need to be sent twice a year to the DEP.

The cost savings from energy are not an exaggeration, Reinhart said. In one recent month, an electricity bill came in at just $27. 

Heckman said he's fantasized about buying the property himself, but he acknowledged it's a place that will require considerable maintenance by an owner who's willing to take on the work.

"I'd be taking on a full-time job with it," he said.

The estate is about a three-minute drive to the Waggoner's Gap Hawk Watch, which sits on Kittatinny Ridge north of Carlisle near State Game Lands 230. It's known as one of the most breathtaking bird migration outlooks in the northern continental U.S., showcasing a wide variety of hawk and songbird species along with eagles, falcons and vultures. Carlisle, which has a population of about 22,000 people, is a 15-minute drive away. The city is home to Dickinson College and the downtown shopping district is dotted with art galleries, antique malls and a mix of restaurants.

Heckman and Reinhart, who mainly handle properties in central Pennsylvania, called the estate a rare value given its size and the amenities of the home. They said it would have been the ideal type of property to sell during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If we could have listed this place during the pandemic when people were looking to get their families away from others, it would have sold very quickly," Reinhart said.