Builder Alan Williams believes that creating the right balance between needs and wants is perhaps the most significant challenge facing empty nesters when designing their retirement home. At the North Woods of Colchester active adult community, “Mature homebuyers have the opportunity to downsize and upgrade at the same time,” says Williams.
"Right-sizing” the home layout to suit a new lifestyle is a key step for mature couples. According to Williams, “It’s not uncommon to find that retired couples are only using about 400 square feet of living space for daytime activities and downsizing to the right-sized space just makes sense.”
The benefits of downsizing combined with tight construction also yield significant savings when it comes to heating and cooling costs. “In the transition from an older home to a highly energy efficient home at North Woods, homebuyers can reallocate the savings to other things that enhance their lifestyle,” says Williams.
Sue and Greg Eckart are among the new residents at North Woods of Colchester who downsized in order to build a home that is suited to their retirement lifestyle. They moved from a 2,400-square-foot home in Old Saybrook to the 1,750-square-foot, free-standing condominium at North Woods of Colchester earlier this year. According to Sue, “We had lived in three custom-built homes but it was time to downsize and simplify.”
The Eckarts say they were looking for a home with an open floor plan in a community where they could have an active social life. On their first visit to North Woods of Colchester they met with builder Alan Williams and, “We just clicked. He was willing to customize and build the house the way we wanted at a reasonable cost,” says Greg.
The customization included expanding the footprint of the White Birch home plan, adjusting the size of every room, adding a sound system and even applying an iridescent topcoat to the bathroom wall finish. “You learn what works and this design worked for us,” says Greg.
The Eckarts enjoy cooking recipes from around the world in their 14-foot by 14-foot kitchen with room for two that includes a pot rack over the wide center island and a five-burner gas stove. “We like to cook so we put money into the kitchen,” he says.
Right-sizing a new custom home does not always mean downsizing. Elizabeth and George Chrostowsky decided they were spending too much time maintaining their 1,800-square-foot raised ranch in Marlborough and now enjoy 3,000 square feet of living space in their customized home based on the White Birch plan. “Our Marlborough home had a nice flow from room to room, but the kitchen was small and I wanted an open floor plan,” says Elizabeth. Anticipating that Elizabeth’s father might someday move in with them also led the Chrostowskys to custom build a total first-floor living home with a spare bedroom next to the front entrance. Another guest room to accommodate visits from their son was added to the second floor.
Creating enjoyable living space was another goal that George and Elizabeth accomplished in their new North Woods home. Elizabeth says, “We tweaked here and we tweaked there on the basic plans.” The Chrostowskys favorite spaces take in the morning sun and connect with the wooded backyard. Their 18-foot by 12-foot heated sunroom is home to their Conure parrot and connects to a 12-foot by 19-foot deck. Below is a brick patio that runs the full width of the home with an entrance to the finished basement that gets plenty of use as a family room.
Reflecting on their decision to live at North Woods of Colchester, Elizabeth says, “We are so happy here. It’s the best decision we ever made.”
Providing total customization based on single-floor living seems to be a formula that is working well at North Woods of Colchester. As the overall housing market is struggling to make a comeback, a mini housing boom is taking place at North Woods. The development is well past the halfway point of being built out to full capacity and there are currently 10 homes under construction that are under contract to new residents.
“Among the reasons we have been successful is that we allow our clients to get involved in the design process and we have a community that is very active individually and collectively,” says Williams.
North Woods of Colchester is hosting a Fall Festival today, Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will have an opportunity to meet residents of North Woods during the annual community Apple Pie Bake-Off on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. Builder Alan Williams will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on all three days. Showings at North Woods are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week. For more information on the community, contact Alan D. Williams of Williams Realty Services at 860-707-4353 and 860-537-5338.
Builder: Alan D. Williams
Price: Starting at $289,000
Style: Contemporary and traditional ranches and two-story homes
Rooms: 4 to 6
Baths: 2 to 2.5
Square footage: 1,300 to 3,000 square feet
Acreage: 78 acres
Tax rate: 30.28 mills
Best features: Affordable, high-end custom homes in a vibrant, mature community
Contact: Alan D. Williams, Williams Realty Services, 860-707-4353, 860-537-5338
Tony Bacewicz is a freelance writer based in Old Saybrook.