From Little Things, Big Things Grow

I began to write about new construction as a list of pros and cons for the buyer who is contemplating a resale over a new home. To be honest, I’m more of a storyteller than a journalist so here’s an equitable dose of fact and complete subjectivity.

When I was a kid, I spent hours in school daydreaming about the future. It didn’t bode well for my future knowledge of most subjects, but I have to believe my brain cells are firing on all cylinders with the workouts my dreams gave them. Working with buyers sets this constant need to envision things on fire and keeps my passion strong on days in April when my fingers and ears are tired of my iPhone and my kids want more from me than I have the time to give.

Imagine a flip book that begins with shaking hands with clients for the first time, traveling from Alexandria to Ashburn hoping to find the perfect home, deciding on new construction, watching the builder pour the foundation, walking through pre-settlement with happy faces, driving Dukes of Hazzard style to closing, toasting to their settlement in their new kitchen a few months later, watching them plan their wedding on Facebook, catching up at happy hours, and finally scrolling through their wedding and honeymoon photos and thinking about all the awesome things yet to come for this bright effervescent couple.

There are a lot of reasons I like new construction, if it’s in the right location. Most builders are doing really cool things with layouts right now. Even if they are borrowing ideas from other cities and designers, at least most of them are doing unexpected things in areas that could easily tap into tradition and keep things cookie cutter. Check out the Brambleton Brownstones and teleport to Brooklyn for awhile. Visit One Loudoun and see the Chicago-style detached homes that are stately on the outside and lavishly open on the inside. Drive from Aldie to Gainesville, or even go north on 15 towards Lucketts and find gems that give you every amenity you could hope for in charming locations. For the most part, builders are always offering some type of incentive (a fully finished basement, a porch off the master bedroom, closing cost assistance) and though you will pay a premium for building new, it should be relatively maintenance free for 10-15 years.

I think Northern Virginia as a whole has done a wonderful job of finding areas to develop that are in keeping with the history of surrounding land and amenities. I love that homes in Creighton Farms have views of 200 year old stable fencing out the kitchen window. I like the craftsman doors and tin roofs on the townhouses Van Metre is building near Brambleton Town Center. I even have clients building in Fredericksburg and it’s just an all-around smart floorplan with views of an old barn from the palatial sunroom.

About 10 years ago I watched my then-future-in-laws build a home on endless acres in upstate NY. Talk about a dreamer’s paradise. I watched as extended family helped to carry or install pieces of the home and it was exciting to watch Jason’s parents in a new stage of retirement build from scratch and create a new adventure. And from that initial footprint, a sunroom has been added, rooms have been repainted, toddler beds have been added, and the ideas are still in motion.

If it’s the right spot for my clients, I love the dream that building new represents. I simply like to watch things grow. It’s why I loved working in construction for so many years, it’s why I hope my flowers will bloom in the spring, it’s why we measure our kids’ height on the basement column, and it’s why it warms my heart to think about the beautiful young couple from my imaginary flipbook charting their own course with the home that’s right for them, in a neighborhood that’s thriving, with the space to grow and grow. Hmmm…maybe 20 years from now when our daughters are starting their own families or traveling the world, Jason and I will break ground on a new dream.

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