Three-year resident and advertising professional Iain Williamson agreed: “Yard maintenance is a pain. My kids do so many different sports that I’m out with them all the time. I have a two-tiered deck that’s easier to maintain, and with all the trees here, it feels like I’m in the woods.”
The 130 homes in Great Oaks, variously called cluster, zero-lot-line or patio homes, have little private turf, with lots generally running from 3,400 to 4,800 square feet. But they do offer plenty of outdoor living space, with multiple and often multi-level decks and patios. And, true to its name, the Fairfax City community is canopied by towering oaks and other mature trees, giving its 30 acres — 21 of them dedicated to green space — a wooded feel that is enhanced by the homes’ earth-tone wood-and-brick exteriors. The planned neighborhood, built from 1973 to 1983, earned recognition for its developer, Lester H. Shor, including an award from Better Homes and Gardens for “Better Neighborhood Planning.”
Great Oaks includes 15 models of contemporary homes (Richardson termed hers “a ‘Brady Bunch’ house”) ranging in size from 1,850 to more than 4,000 square feet. The homes have a modified open floor plan, large windows and two-car garages, usually in the front of the house, a design that camouflages the spaciousness of the interiors.
Two-year resident Carol Khalil said she had never considered buying such a contemporary house when she and her husband, both lawyers, were searching for their first home. “But we came in the dead of winter and there was so much light coming into the home it was amazing,” she said.
The community is governed by a homeowners association that charges a quarterly fee of $292 to cover landscaping and maintenance of common areas, maintenance and snow removal on the privately owned streets, and operation of a small pool. The neighborhood has a tidy, cohesive look, thanks to the HOA’s architectural control committee, which oversees exterior work, from building additions to maintaining mailboxes.
New resident Mo Wali quickly became familiar with the committee when he began outside work and received a committee letter reminding him of restrictions on exterior paint colors.
“It was no big deal. They had a lot of colors to choose from,” said Wali, a finance professional who was recruited for the HOA board soon after moving in. “I don’t mind the restriction, because it keeps the value of the houses up.” Khalil said she has mixed feelings about the restrictions. “It’s a pain when you’re doing the changes, but on the other hand, when you come into the neighborhood it has a great look, almost a ski-chalet feel.”