Choosing to Build: Our Story, Part 1

The idea to build came nearly a year ago: we’d grown out of our 1100 square foot condo, and, after acquiring a few extra home goods due to the wedding, were in need of a larger house. When some inheritance money came our way, we knew we would use that for a downpayment on our new home.

We’d been living in Cherry Hill Village, an idyllic neighborhood with lots of new construction, for about six years. Since we loved the neighborhood and it was still growing, we inquired with the builder and got some initial ideas of price, timeline, and availability. We reviewed floor plans and walked through empty lots. We imagined ourselves building in CHV. Once the idea of building was planted in our heads, both of us realized it was something we really wanted to do. From there, previously owned homes were no longer on our radar.

We also drove around quite a few other Canton neighborhoods to see what else was out there. Truth be told, while we loved CHV, the lot sizes were incredibly tiny — the neighborhood is touted as a “front porch community” with small lots but lots of parks and common space. Looking elsewhere in Canton proved just how small the lots in CHV were — but just how expensive a large lot could be (and how boring other neighborhoods in Canton are!). If we were going to build in Canton, we were going to build in CHV.

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Cherry Hill Village

Once we made that decision, we called the builder and were recommended to a mortgage broker. An initial pull of the numbers weren’t encouraging — our credit would need to be drastically improved before we went forward.

So we set towards making things right with our finances. Some poorly handled (by the Department of Education) college loans caused Troy plenty of strife, but he did his best to get them back on track.

In the meantime, two major things happened. First, Troy accepted a new job over an hour northwest of our condo. We talked for a long time about the pros and cons of him taking such a job, and in the end, the opportunities that the job will eventually offer won out.

Second, our condo association proposed a 75% increase on our already expensive monthly dues. To give you an idea, the new dues would be nearly half of our entire mortgage payment — not very appealing to a potential buyer. We already knew we wanted to sell, now we knew we needed to sell quickly.

A few months had gone by and, as I had recently gotten a promotion, we created a new budget for the home we eventually wanted to own. We began narrowing down our search so we were equidistant from our respective jobs (him in Grand Blanc, me in Ann Arbor). While we looked at Howell, South Lyon, and Whitmore Lake, we really wanted to live in Brighton. Not only do my best friend and her soon-to-be husband live there, but we have gotten to know the area, it was close to my parents and siblings, it had great schools, and was the perfect mix of city and country.

One of the first builders we visited in Brighton was Allen Edwin. At first glance, we loved their semi-customizable floor plans, their commitment to quality, and the location of the community (on a golf course, only 3 miles from stores and freeways). We met with our sales counselor, Teresa, for the first time in April. We did a preliminary price out of the house we would want to build. We picked out a lot we liked (not loved) and got a chance to walk through a couple different models. While we were pretty excited about the whole thing, we also had appointments with two other builders, and took the weekend to think about it.

The following week, Teresa called us to tell us a lot had opened up and, based on what we had told her, would be perfect for us. We drove through the neighborhood again to view lot 105 and she was right — it was perfect! Not only was it one of the largest in the sub, it was a corner lot that backed up to a treeline and was on a secluded street away from the main drag going through the sub. We immediately called Teresa back to put down a deposit and sign a contract.

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Lot 105

To be continued…

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3 thoughts on “Choosing to Build: Our Story, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Choosing to Build: Our Story, Part 2 | Stieve Says...

  2. CHV looks a lot like Southwood down here, designed by the same people who did Celebration (the planned, Disney-esque community down in Orlando). They are very cute but the small lots are not my preferred way to go. Backing up on the tree-line is a great place to be, though–is it a protected area?

    • Jennifer, CHV was actually modeled after Celebration! Unfortunately the builder used the same materials in Michigan that were used in Florida, which led to a lot of structural issues. Long story short, we are lucky we got out of there before our ceiling collapsed due to ice dams. :-/

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