With two growing teens, Wallingford residents Ed and Karen Doukas had outgrown their small ranch after a dozen years and wanted a bigger place in the same area of town.

The couple knew they did not want to move their kids, Amanda, 16, and Eric, 12, out of their school district, which narrowed the field of potential properties. Plus, the couple wanted a newly constructed home, further limiting the number available, according to Ed Doukas.

"I did a lot of work to our home the first time around, and I knew I didn't want that again," he said. They didn't find any new construction projects in their part of town for more than a year. "It was frustrating, but we didn't want to move just for the sake of moving."

They were open to visiting a few other properties, but most were older homes that were too small or needed too much updating.

Doukas knew his family's next move would likely be permanent, and he wanted to be sure they got the right place. "We considered expanding our house," he said. "But we knew we'd just wind up with a 1950s house with an add-on, and it just wasn't what we wanted."

Eventually, Doukas saw an ad for a custom home project a few miles away. Called The Willows, it is advertised as the first single-family neighborhood project built in town since 1995. It is the joint effort of Verna Properties and Sunwood Development, known as VW Homes, with plans for 65 houses on North Farms Road, between the center of town and Route 68.

"We looked into it, and it seemed like a perfect match," Doukas said. "My wife and I walked the fields. It's all old farmland. We picked our lot, and it's got beautiful panoramic views and spectacular sunsets."

Working with Willows sales director Karen Kline, the couple settled on their lot location, selected the Hickory model from a half-dozen choices and added some upgrades, including maple kitchen cabinets, a floor-to-ceiling dressed-fieldstone fireplace, and a fully tiled master shower.

They listed their home at a competitive price, got two full-price offers after an open house and sold it within a week.

Though they had to stay at an extended-stay hotel for nearly three weeks, the family is now settling into their new home.

"For all of us, all the routines, everything is the same," Doukas said. "It just feels like a vacation."

— Kathleen Schassler