New Leaf Stories

First Time’s the Charm

The front exterior of the Cooper, a Build On Your Lot plan

Date Built

Summer 2022

Build Type

Coastal Collection at Riverlights

Plan Name

The Haywood Plan
Bre and Sean Donnelly wanted this place to be special.

They were first-time home buyers searching for a neighborhood where they could build a house and enjoy the community around them.

According to Sean, the decision to make Wilmington home came after a day on the water along the North Carolina coast. He’s originally from Charlotte but spent much of his life in Princeton, NJ, before moving back south. Bre grew up in the Outer Banks, so this part of the state has always felt like home.

The thought of living near the ocean and along the Cape Fear River was very appealing to the Donnellys.

Open floor plan and kitchen island of the Haywood plan in Wilmington
Open floor plan and kitchen island of the Haywood plan in Wilmington

Finding the Perfect Place

The couple toured a few neighborhoods during their search. None of them felt quite right. Then one day, on their final stop, Bre and Sean checked out Riverlights.

It was the perfect fit; near their jobs, downtown, and of course, the beach.

They wanted to move forward with building a home in Riverlights and began the process of selecting a contractor. Unfortunately, the first few meetings didn’t go as well as they had hoped.

“We’d spoken to a lot of builders in the neighborhood and never really felt comfortable moving forward,” Sean said.

That’s when they heard about New Leaf. So the Donnellys reached out to New Leaf Sales Consultant Tyler Henrikson to learn more about the plans.

Just like when they knew Riverlights was the neighborhood for them, the initial interaction with New Leaf sealed the deal.

“I think even just that first meeting with Tyler, we were sold,” Sean explained.

The detached garage of the Haywood plan in Wilmington
The back yard and detached garage of the Haywood plan in Wilmington

Kicking Off Construction

After meeting with Tyler, the Donnellys were ready to move forward. New Leaf would be their builder.

Now, the fun part: picking out a floorplan.

Sean and Bre landed on The Haywood, part of The Coastal Collection at Riverlights.

“We were drawn to the backyard,” Sean said. “With the master upstairs, it had a little more yard space.”

With two dogs (one adopted during the building process), the Donnellys wanted plenty of room to play with their pups and enjoy the outdoors.

Bre said she fell in love with the kitchen colors for The Haywood and the lighting throughout the home. In addition, this plan’s living room is set in the back of the house, adding an element of privacy.

“I really like the living room space,” Bre said. “It has great windows and lighting.”

The Donnellys thought they’d pick out colors and make a few changes to the cosmetic appearance, but they were very happy with nearly everything that came with the design.

“I thought it was a lot of fun,” he said with a smile. “We got to learn a lot. I was like a sponge learning.”

Fun isn’t often a word associated with building a home and working with contractors, but that’s exactly how Sean described the process.

“I thought it was a lot of fun,” he said with a smile. “We got to learn a lot. I was like a sponge learning.”

Bre and Sean noted how New Leaf kept them informed throughout the construction process.

“We always knew what was coming next,” Bre said.

Sean and Bre requested a few changes along the way, like removing a planned sidewalk from the front yard to the backyard. New Leaf worked closely with them to make these changes.

“Both Tyler and Alan [Degen, New Leaf Wilmington Division President] were flexible with the changes,” Bre said.

Primary bedroom with barn doors
Designer bathroom of the Haywood floor plan in Wilmington

Making Their House a Home

The Donnellys have settled into their new place. They go on walks around Riverlights with their dogs and find themselves in long conversations with their neighbors.

“Everyone is just so friendly,” Bre said. “They just stop and talk to you.”

Soon, they want to add string lights to their backyard and install a projector for movie nights and watching sports. As they make their new house a home, Bre and Sean reflected on their New Leaf experience and how the team supported them right down to the moment they received the keys.

“Even on the actual closing day, Tyler and Alan met us at the office and were there if we had any questions,” Bre explained.

Bre and Sean said New Leaf offered them sound advice during a tough market when interest rates and building costs were unpredictable. Even after closing, the Donnellys have asked the New Leaf team a few questions and they’ve been available to help.

“It meant a lot to us,” Sean said. “We just have a lot gratitude for them and the whole team.”

Now selling in Riverlights.

Interested in learning more about New Leaf’s offerings at Riverlights? Contact Tyler Henrikson at 843.568.4761 to schedule an appointment, or browse our Riverlights plans here.