A few years ago, my wife and I decided to move our family back to the Washington DC area because my mother was getting too old to live alone. Our plan was to buy a house that was big enough that she could move in with us.
So we set out on a mission to find the perfect house. These were our criteria:
- a basement that would work as a semi-separate apartment for Mom
- the basement needed an easily accessible ground-level entrance
- the basement apartment needed its own laundry hookups
- finally, the basement apartment needed its own full kitchen
- a 2 car garage
- enough room upstairs for the 4 of us to not feel crowded living with Mom. The kids (ages 2 and 7 at the time) needed a place to play where they could be loud without bothering her.
- space for a potential live-in aid if Mom ended up needing one
- a good school district
- within reasonable commute distance of downtown
- close to Mom’s doctors, which were mostly clustered around Shady Grove Hospital
For a location, we settled on upper Montgomery County. Our initial search area included much of the 270 corridor. Rockville, Gaithersburg and Germantown. Unfortunately, the search did NOT go well.
We found zero houses that met our criteria. The biggest problem was the ground-level entrance. A lot of houses had them, but then you had to walk up a hill around the house to get to the driveway…that wasn’t helpful. Even if we converted a basement after purchase, the entrance issue was a deal-breaker.
We searched for a few months before deciding we were better off building something to suit our purposes. My mom’s financial advisor recommended Clarksburg, MD. I grew up in DC, and I’d never heard of Clarksburg. Turns out it is the next town up 270 after Germantown. It’s basically at the Milestone shopping center (Walmart / Target / Home Depot) and not far from downtown Germantown.
We flew in from the west coast to take a closer look and fell in love with Clarksburg Village. It’s a beautiful little neighborhood, it is right off 270, and it is surrounded by state parks. Most importantly, the residents fit our profile very well: Families with small children. Our kids would have plenty of playmates their age.
So the next question was who should build our house? We settled on Ryan Homes. It wasn’t a hard decision…their model home was beautiful, and their reputation was better than other builders we looked at. We talked to some people in the neighborhood about their experience with Ryan Homes and they all had good things to say.
Ryan gives you a few basic models and allows you to make customizations. We chose the largest, the Charlotte Bronte model. We also got all the upgrades: finished attic, morning room add-on, kitchen hutch, hardwood floors, extended Master Bedroom with the large Master Bath and jetted tub, and (of course) the finished basement with the extra bedroom and lines for kitchen and laundry. We also had a walk-in shower added in the basement. Between the 4 levels, it is around 5,500 square feet: 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths.
Now we just had to find the perfect lot that would allow us to have the walkout-basement. The Ryan team was helpful here. We looked at a few options, and after consulting with the construction foreman, we chose a corner lot that was perfect. The ground-level back door would open on a flat path that lead right to the garage. Exactly what we wanted.
To make a long story short (too late), we bought the house and Ryan Homes built it. Then we added the 2nd kitchen and laundry in the basement. We moved in 3 years ago, and we’ve been very happy here.
Unfortunately, my mother passed away last year. This leaves us with much more house than we need and we are thinking about selling it. If you or someone you know is looking for a nice house that is perfect for a multi-generational family, let us know! We’re not going to officially list the house with an agent at this time, but would sell it by owner if someone were interested.
Marie & Issa (pronounced like “Lisa” without the “L”) – email us!