Build or Buy?

Hubby and I have spent the last couple of weekends checkout what is on the housing market here in Northern Virginia.  About a year ago we started looking and decided maybe we should add on instead …then we put it on the back burner…and again we are looking at our options.  We love our 1940’s dutch colonial and adore our huge yard and established neighborhood but we are outgrowing our house.


We live in Falls Church in an older neighborhood called Sleepy Hollow.  We love that you get a big lot (we have .5 acres) and have tons of room from your neighbors, I just can’t imagine looking out my window and seeing in my neighbors house.  I say that and we will end up in one of those homes.  We have a small number of areas we are willing to move to mostly so we can keep my husbands commute as short as possible.  Plus with all of the businesses in Falls Church it’s nice to be close in case of an emergency.

If you live in our little pocked of Northern Virginia right outside of DC (within 10 miles) you know how crazy expensive it is.  Of course the farther out we go we could get more for our money but we have just decided the quality of life is so much better without the commuting.  I used to drive to Baltimore Md for my VP Corporate job and I couldn’t imagine doing it again.  Plus we are spoiled with our big lot and mature trees.

So for now we are scouring the open houses on Sundays and working with our realtor in hopes of either finding the perfect home or deciding to pull the trigger on a renovation.  I have to admit I enjoy the open houses (except for the prices!).  I feel like it’s important to see what is on the market to make an informed financial decision.

Have you ever had to decide to build or buy?  Do you have an architect or builder you have used in our area and really like?

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13 Responses to Build or Buy?

  1. Mimi McGeorge says:

    We live in Arlington in the Cherrydale neighborhood and recently completed a home renovation/rebuild. Our house was originally a 2br/1ba bungalow and we turned it into a 4br/3ba. We were struggling with the same questions as you. We love our neighborhood and our location, but we weren’t sure if we should buy or build. We love our builder. Ryan Fubini with Enhanced Roofing and Remodeling did a great job. Quality work. I highly reccomend them. Good luck!

  2. Marnie says:

    Kelly. I live up the street from Theresa Stifel. We ended up buying a house that we could not live in without renovating it. What that got us was a home with nothing salvageable but the colonial brick walks making up the house. They just don’t make them like they used too. Never thought I would buy a fixer upper but I had a great realtor / contractor and now we have our family home with everything we want. Without the crazy sticker price. It can be done. You just have to find the right house.

  3. Mary Ellen Francis says:

    Kelley, Tom and I have built numerous homes over the past 42 years, including our former home in Stoneleigh. We recently built our LAST one – I told Tom they will carry us feet first out of this one. We used an architect by the name of Laurie Perl who is located in Oak Hill. She was easy to work with and we are more than pleased with the final product. She also does additions/renovations and is a realtor. Here is her website:
    Mary Ellen Francis

  4. Steffanie says:

    We stumbled into building a brand new place. First, we were in Old Town and moved further out in Alexandria because of price. Then, we went from being within walking distance of everything to (hope you are sitting down) Warrenton. It’s been a big change but the floor plan we built was over $1.1 in Alexandria and we were nowhere near that in Warrenton. Plus, I just couldn’t stand living through a remodel. Who knows what unexpected expenses you will come across? I wanted a house for a set negotiated price and for it to be built.

  5. Claudine Fay says:

    We live in Falls church right on the city line. McLean schools/poplar heights pool, and love our street in particular. We bought the house at a great time and we are location spoiled- just can’t imagine moving outside the beltway. We just decided to pop the top on our house for a major renno and we are really happy to get all the finishings we want. We believe we will have good equity in the house after renno so you just can’t beat that! We are very happy with the builder we chose (he mainly does Arlington and falls church). If you have the ability to move out for 4-5 months while rennos take over it’s all worth it in the end
    I say!!! Good luck!

  6. Janet says:

    Kelly, If anyone can live through a renovation and maximize it with personal, well-edited touches, it’s you. We faced the same decision point ten years ago in our N. Arlington Westover/Overlee neighborhood. We loved our 1920 bungalow, loved the neighborhood, loved the schools, but it was too small. We added an addition and really paid attention to the work of Sarah Susanka ( when deciding what it would and would not include. We worked with a great builder who drew the plans as well, and we lived in the house — with two small children and a dog — for the entire project. We loved the result and I would do it all over again! Right now we are picking new exterior paint colors for a refresh after 10 years. Contact me if you would like to come and see it.

  7. Cathy Quinn, Falls Church City says:

    Kelly, Our kids are buying our home and we are moving to the Broadway.
    We are excited and so are they. David is already planning an interior remodel. Lot isn’t as big as Sleepy Hollow, though. Good luck Cathy

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