A brand new home

Soon, my family and I will be the proud new owners of a brand new home, in the brand new Harvest Green community in the western outskirts of Houston. Building the home has been quite a process, with some thrills and quite a few disappointments, too. In this website, I will document all we’re going through as we watch our house coming together – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It all started with my move to Houston, from our long-time family home in Pennsylvania. The job up north went away, a job down south materialized, and before I knew it, I was living in Houston, in a small apartment, away from my family, on a mission to find suitable new housing for when my wife, two sons, and daughter would join me after the school year ended. A familiar story for many Houstonians, for sure, as the metropolitan area has boomed in recent years, attracting many new residents.

I knew the general area where we wanted to live, somewhere between the current location of my new job (in Sugar Land) and the location it was rumored to be moving to in a few years (in Katy). That area has seen a particular boom in growth recently, with many new developments going up as the new Highway 99 makes it easy to get up and down the western reaches of Houston’s suburbs. So starting from the very first weekend after my arrival, I was out looking around, at new homes going up in communities like Aliana, Fieldstone, Long Meadow Farms, and Cinco Ranch. Resale homes were on the radar too, but my family was keen on starting this new venture in a new home built to meet our needs, so I focused on new construction.

And there was plenty to choose from, model home villages galore! Myriads of builders tried to entice me with flashy layouts, media and game rooms, grand entrances, roomy kitchens, the works. Problem was, most of them would not be able to build a home to be ready by the time my family arrived. There were fewer than six months between my arrival in Houston and the reunion of our family in early summer – not enough for most builders to construct a home. Then, a few weeks after driving my trusty Subaru into town, we found out about Harvest Green, a master-planned community just west of Highway 99 so new that nobody lived there yet. The community concept, focused on farming and edible gardening, was attractive to us: among the hardest things to leave behind in Pennsylvania was our mature garden, built up over 20 years with home-grown trees, shrubs, and perennials, so we were eager to get back into gardening, learning about sub-tropical horticulture in the process.

Since Harvest Green was so new, there were plenty of lots to choose from, and a few of the builders promised they could build a home to be ready by late June. A few of their models looked enticing, so my wife was soon on a plane, so that we could make a decision together on where to build our home, and more importantly, with which builder. The two prime candidate builders were Perry Homes and Highland Homes, both of whom offered five-bedroom models that would fit our family of five, and perhaps even all the assorted belongings we had accumulated over the past twenty years (no basements in Houston, which puts storage at a premium – more about that later). Both builders had the reputation for building good homes, but with quite different styles – Perry tending toward the more formal, Highland a bit more down to earth. We had a day to make up our minds – and in the end, we selected Perry. Their 3798 floor plan felt a little roomier than the Highland plans we had seen, and perhaps more importantly, Perry had a nice cul-de-sac lot that would offer us a slightly larger back yard, compared to the nominal size in the subdivision. They say everything is be bigger in Texas, but that doesn’t apply to lot sizes in new developments, which are decidedly tiny. So a wedge-shaped lot with a little extra room to garden was attractive.

So we signed a contract, forked over the first check for $3000 earnest money, and were officially in the home-buying business. We selected many of the builder options that same day, including the elevation (the layout and appearance of the facade of the house and its roofline). Following the trend in new construction around here, we selected a stone-and-brick elevation, which meant we had to select the particular brick and stone types – so the next day, we ventured out into other developments with Perry homes, maps in hand to show which homes had which stone and brick selections – and found a few combinations we liked. The brick we liked best and the stone we liked best weren’t a very good combination together, so we decided to pick the stone and selected a matching brick – the same combination as we had seen on a few of the homes in Cinco Ranch. As it would turn out, our home’s stonework would look rather different from those homes – but more on that in a later post.

As I’m writing this, the home is nearing completion – it could be done within a month. I’ll write more about our many experiences along the way in future posts, and will document further progress as it happens.