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A new start on the farm

If you’ve ever taken a drive in the country and imagined living among these pastoral landscapes, you’re not alone. More and more people are making their way out of the crowded cities, seeking open spaces and a relaxed lifestyle. Bill and Janet followed their dream to a 300-acre parcel outside of Washington, DC, where they are making a new start on the farm they purchased in 2018.

Living in Montgomery County provides an easy commute to DC. The calm, country atmosphere throughout Maryland’s largest county boosts its appeal to people who want to include urban activities in their lives, without settling in the midst of it all. 

This is what Bill and Janet were looking for—and they wanted to share it with their family. Bill, an immunologist, and Janet, a biochemist, were paving the way to retirement when they began their search for the ideal location. They found farm land outside Poolesville that fit their vision of idyllic life. It was a working farm for over 100 years. In the 70’s over 150 head of Black Angus cattle were grazing in the fields, and since the early 80’s, more than 220 acres have been farmed with soybeans, corn, and winter wheat. As this property is part of the Maryland Agricultural Reserve, Bill and Janet are committed to continue farming the property as it has been for over the last 100 years.

The sprawling property came with enough dwelling rights that eventually the couple’s two daughters and brother-in-law could build their own homes on what will be a family homestead.

Building on the dream

Land? Check.

Permits? Almost check. Because there was a home already existing where they wanted to build, Bill had an exemption that allowed him to tear down the home and build a new one in its place. He still had to acquire permits, and chose to pursue the well and septic permits on his own.

The next step was finding the builder who would be able to transform the couple’s vision into their dream home.

Like many homebuyers, they started their search online in July 2019. After evaluating several local Maryland builders, they narrowed down their choices and then visited the Kettler Forlines Homes model in Poolesville, MD. And the search ended there.

The couple fell in love with the Bradley floor plan’s design and openness. The single-level home offered the style they wanted. The next step was to see this design being built, as one was under construction at The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing, Kettler Forlines Homes’ Poolesville neighborhood. The home was framed up and Bill says he was impressed with the quality of the workmanship.

Bill and Janet worked with George Neill and Tom Kettler to make adjustments to the Bradley floor plan. They configured the first-floor den as a home office. Then, they converted the plan’s office space off the kitchen into a second pantry, dramatically expanding the already-plentiful storage space.

They decided to finish the basement, an option that would nearly double the home’s living space. They added a bedroom with a bath and a kitchenette with a wet bar that included a refrigerator and microwave. This change created a living suite that would be great for family (“We have a big family!”) and guests. Together, they have 5 daughters—3 live in Maryland, 1 is in Virginia, and the fifth daughter lives in Oregon.

Committed to the schedule

Before finalizing the deal, Bill wanted to be sure that Kettler Forlines Homes could stick to the promised schedule. He took note of the way the various projects were scheduled. With the crews they had in place, there wasn’t the worry that is often associated with some builders—that the crew would be pulled from one job to move to another, more pressing one. “We could tell that Kettler Forlines Homes also had the resources to build multiple homes at one time. They wouldn’t fall behind on the schedule.”

Feeling good about the plans, the price, and the people, Bill and Janet signed the contract at the end of August 2019. “The price was good, very competitive,” says Bill.

That faith was secured as Bill watched the steady progress on the new home. As soon as the permits were issued in January, the previous home was demolished and the new one was staked out. The 2,600-square-foot foundation was poured in January, thanks, in part, to the mild winter weather. The home was framed within a week. 

From one week to the next, Bill ventured out to his homestead, marveling at the scene of his dream becoming a reality. The crews were kept to no more than 8 workers, and they maintained their social distance, so the construction continued safely.

While the home was underway, Bill steered his attention to restoring an old horse barn on the property. An avid woodworker, he created a workshop inside the new and improved barn, another dream for him. He is busily working on constructing built-in cabinets for the family room.

Bill and Janet moved into their home on the farm this summer. They have a view of the pasture across from the house, where wildflowers have grown, well, like wildflowers! They situated their home on the land where the garden used to be. Watermelons and pumpkins have cropped up on their lawn, taking their natural place on the property. They can also watch the activity of the deer, wild turkey, and even a resident fox. The pond is home to ducks and their daughter raises rabbits on the farm, expanding the farm feel.

“This home feels like the glove that perfectly fits our hand. We felt at home the first week.”

Over the past year, Bill has been working on the building permits for the other lots so that their other family members can eventually share the joy that he and his wife are experiencing.

Follow your own dream

This year has caused people to take a fresh look at their vision of “home sweet home”. What does your dream look like? If you’re thinking of building a home on your land and the Maryland/DC area sounds like the right place, please reach out to George Neill at Kettler Forlines Homes. Be sure to check out the homes and lots available at The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing in Poolesville. Whatever you choose, we’ll work with you on every detail and every step to make your dreams come true.