Beckley Farms in Berlin boasts a rural appeal and a country feel with its hilltop breezes, sweeping views of nearby Lamentation Mountain, and its lush greenery. It is also just minutes away from the Berlin Turnpike. "Our location here is second to none," says Steve Lucca of Keller Williams Realty.
Its rolling topography is the backdrop for small neighborhoods set into the land. It's the kind of place where backyard barbeques on the deck suddenly turn into impromptu get-togethers among neighbors and friends.
Visitors often tell Lucca that they never realized “this place was here.” Lucca says, “It's like an oasis in the middle of nowhere, but basically we're at the center of the universe. You feel like you are in Vermont looking at the trees and mountains, but three miles in either direction everything you can ask for is at your fingertips.”
That is, if you ever want to leave your new home to drive those three miles.
At Beckley Farms, homeowners can create their dream home with features geared to buyers 55 and up. There are first-floor master suites, spacious closets – “You can land a helicopter in them!” quips Lucca – gourmet kitchens, open floor plans and spa-like bathrooms.
“As long as it can be put in the basic footprint of the models,” says Lucca, “we can do whatever you want. We could literally put an indoor pool in the home as long as it fits the foundation!”
Lucca emphasizes that there are no additional charges for design alteration. “People can take kitchens and put them on the other side of the house. They can double the size of a walk-in closet or add or remove a dining room. Our builder doesn't mind, as long as no load-bearing walls are compromised. There is no up-charge for this. We do it for free.”
Other scintillating standard features include hardwood flooring throughout the downstairs (with the exception of tile in the bathrooms), as well as on the stairs and second-floor hallways. Kitchens have granite or marble countertops, stainless steel kitchen appliances and high-end cabinetry. Some home models also feature standard vaulted ceilings. Most models offer crown molding in some rooms as standard. Master bedroom suites boast double sinks with cultured marble vanities, a soaking tub as well as a walk-in shower.
Lucca also points out that the standard choice of granite or marble surround for the living room fireplace is often an upgrade in other communities that can cost upwards of $1,500.
A small but significant touch, he adds, is that all kitchen cabinets are fitted with upper door cabinets and automatic drawer closures (no more door slamming!) This is indicative of the attention to detail that adds another level of comfort and elegance. Another case in point – decorative brackets on the breakfast bar which support the overhang that allows for seating. Most builders use less expensive metal brackets that add little to the aesthetics.
In addition to the luxury feel inherent in these homes, Lucca says, there is an emphasis on quality construction practices. “We built a very tight product here; our builder is extremely picky,” says Lucca. “Bob (his sales team partner) and I both feel that the builder is our best sales tool. You can take the best house design and the best location and the best piece of property, but if your builder isn't someone people like and like to work with, you can throw it all out the window.”
Quality is especially important to empty-nesters who may have a little more disposable income once their children have grown up and moved away. “This is high-end for a reasonable price,” says Lucca. “We want to offer a level of quality homeowners may not have had before because they were raising children and paying for college.”
Beckley Farms homes are also extremely energy efficient. “One of our clients moved in after he sold his 1,450-square-foot house in Newington. His house here is 1,850 square feet and his heating bill was cut in half,” says Lucca. “He was absolutely amazed.” Beckley Farms also has city water and sewer, as well as natural gas.
Living in a low-maintenance community is another big plus for the 55-and-over crowd. “We moved here in December,” says homeowner Bob Knorr. “It was a great winter to move here and look out our windows and watch them shovel my driveway all winter long.”
Lucca advises Beckley Farms homeowners to leave their shovels, lawn mowers and rakes at their old homes when they move. “We don't even want to see one of those things here,” says Lucca. “No more mulching lawns, no more shoveling.”
One thing you won't have to leave behind is Fido – dogs are welcome at Beckley Farms – or your friends. The homes are perfect for entertaining with models that create one large living space by having the living room, dining room and kitchen flow into each other. The drama is heightened with 18-foot living room ceilings, and in some models, a second-floor balcony that overlooks the main level.
“We had over 20 people here for Easter and you would never know it,” says Knorr. “With our open floor plan we could have had 20 more people and it wouldn't have bothered us.”
Lucca says that most of the residents in the community voted down building a large clubhouse because the homes are so well-suited for entertaining. “Instead,” he says, “we are building a small clubhouse. We try to stay away from amenities that increase condominium fees.”
He notes that the $285 condominium fee is not only extremely reasonable, it brings an added bonus. It includes the usual insurances (outside maintenance, including the roof) and services (lawn maintenance and snow removal), but also offers maintenance of interior walls and ceilings. For example, a homeowner would be covered if water leaked from a second-floor bathroom to the first floor.
Beckley Farms, which offers Cape- and ranch-style homes with two or three bedrooms, will eventually be a planned community of 160 homes. Some 50 homes have been sold thus far. “We are toward the end of Phase II, and Phase III will be starting soon,” says Lucca. The community currently has nine lots available and four existing home models for sale.
“It's a wonderful community of like-minded individuals who enjoy a wonderful quality of life,” says Lucca.
Open houses at Beckley Farms are held daily except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the community contact Steve Lucca or Bob Rekas of Keller Williams Realty at 860-357-2008.
Builder: Jeff Restlar
Price: $299,900 to $379,900
Style: Cape and ranch
Rooms: 5 to 6
Bedrooms: 2 to 3
Baths: 2 to 2.5
Square footage: 1,400 to 2,050 square feet
Acreage: 68 acres
Tax rate: 28.77 mills
Best features: Quality of construction and location
Contact: Steve Lucca or Bob Rekas, Keller Williams Realty, 860-357-2008
Margaret DeMarino is a freelance write based in New Haven.