Michael Scarani was driving on his birthday when he noticed a "for sale" sign on a Broomall home with major curb appeal.
"I loved the look of the home but had no idea what lay beyond," he said.
When he called the Realtor, he learned that the price had dropped a day earlier, so he went home and returned with his wife, Judith, to walk the grounds.
The property, which dates to the 19th century, included a springhouse, greenhouse, pond, and woods.
"Everything that could entice an artist and architect with three children," Scarani said. "Our house was not even on the market, but three months later, we were moving in."
He said the couple spent significant time updating the home. "The house was not in great shape when we bought it," he said.
Since buying it in 2002, he undertook many projects himself, including refinishing hardwood floors, restoring shutters, adding insulation, and making updates to the springhouse and powder rooms. He and a friend rebuilt the cornice by hand, and Scarani remade 40 brackets to replace those that had rotted over the years.
"Lastly, we demolished the old kitchen extension and built a new breakfast room addition, which the house always needed," he said.
They consider the home a treasure, he said. And at least once, his renovations turned up some actual loot.
"I once had a leak which required me to open a wall where I found a one-ounce gold coin and 100-ounce bar of silver hidden by a previous owner," he said. "Sadly, it paid for the repairs only."
Scarani tried to reuse as much material as possible throughout the renovation, he said. A couple from Lancaster took the dismantled greenhouse pieces (a construction flaw let too much water in). He salvaged cypress from a nearby nursery that was closing to rebuild a workshop.
Today the property's 1.68 acres feature the three-story springhouse with an active spring, a fish pond, detached garage, and a fenced yard with a large deck. Inside, there are five bedrooms, three full baths, and two powder rooms. The new kitchen boasts radiant heated floors and a five-foot island.
Now that they've decided to list the home for sale, Scarani said, he thinks new buyers will be attracted to many of the features that first attracted his family.
"The property is the real draw," he said. "Lawn, woods, pond, three-story springhouse, circular driveway."
The property is listed with Lise Corson at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach for $579,000.