Monday, December 17, 2012

Today In Blank Stare News

What a day!  Got to the lot at 9:55am and it was like Grand Central Station.  Got to see the roof go up and a big delivery of heating and air goodies being parked in the garage. 

The walk through this morning with Structured Cable uncovered the mystery of the 2nd floor that I mentioned in a previous post.   I thought that it was just me being a very visual person that kept me from being able to actually "get" the reverse model layout.  Once we finally got the second level added, I stood in the middle of the space, scratching my head like what am I missing here.  Well today, while standing with my Structured Cable Rep, CM, it hit me... The second level was framed backwards.  First level clearly reversed, second level, not so much. 

1) There was only 1 window (off center) in the Master Bedroom (there should be two).

2)  The two windows and the bathroom window above the soaking tub that should be in the Master were on the left side of the house.  The Master Bedroom is on the right side of the house in the reverse model.
I called my PM, and he said  that the framers were not done yet, but he'd look into it. 
I assume it's not too hard to fix.  The rooms on the front of the house are ok.   

That aside, I think that the cable and wire walk through was premature.. I kind of had to guess where I wanted everything.  There were no walls or perfect framing to really give me an idea of where to put these things.  So after much thought, I will be asking for a do over in the morning. 

The single window on the right side of the house it where the Master Bedroom is. The windows that should be in the Master Bed & Bath are on the Left Side of the house.

Sunday we didn't have a roof & Monday morning at 9:55am,  this is what I saw.  I have to give it to them.  These guys work fast.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's a Wrap on Day 27

We have our second level, a few windows, the missing walkout opening, and we're all wrapped up.  I got a good look at the first level and could make good sense of it, the second level was another story.  Since our Palermo will be a reverse model it's kind of hard for me to envision the space since the Model home is stuck in my head.    Scheduled to walk through with Structured Cable in the morning but I think that I will be hard to make sense of what will be where.  We shall see.   Here are a couple photos of the progress the crew made on Saturday. 
One more blooper that I hope will not go unnoticed... Since this is a reverse model there should be 2 windows in the Owner's Bedroom on the back of the right side of the house.  I see two double windows on the left side & the small window which I believe is the master bath window also on the left side.  Hmmm?  
Dining Room with Windows.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Week 4 Progress

I got a call from Structured Cable yesterday, I thought it was very interesting that he informed me that drywall was going up on 12/20 so we went ahead and scheduled the walkthrough for Monday, 12/17.   

Kiddo has been out of pre-school all week with a nasty cold so he has been getting a kick out of our lunch hour visits to the lot to see the progress. 

Two levels now... hoping for the 2nd floor by week's end.  Things slowed down a bit this week.

Standing in the kitchen looking into the Family Room.  I'm going to really miss that Morning Room.
This seems a little tight without it.   

Basement View.  Still curious as to how this space will feel with the unfinished spaces
closed in. 
Very happy that we added 5 additional windows. I love natural light. 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Sense a Mistake

I went by the lot today and it looks like the crew worked on Saturday.  Walked to the back of the house and saw that the entire back of the basement had been framed in.  I expected to see an opening where the sliding glass doors should be (since I have a walkout basement).  
I don't want to be a build stalker, I would like to sit back, visit every few days and expect that everything goes as planned.

**Update:  I may have panicked a bit.  I've learned from other RH bloggers that in mot cases the door comes later (once it's decided exactly where it should go.)  Honestly, I compare the build to many other the other builds and there is no clear science to it.  I've seen builds where it's there out of the gate, and I've found on another blog that is was done later, as is the case here**

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I messed up

On my visit to the lot yesterday I found the crew adding Brick to the foundation.  10 minutes later, it struck me..  when I couldn't sleep over my first siding choice (silver mist), I submitted a change order to have Spanish Olive siding instead.  I didn't revisit the brick color choice thought.  Uh ohh! 

I don't think the brick that I chose (Grand Caramel) will look too hot with the Spanish Olive siding, dark green shutters, and red door.  I rode past both of the Spanish Olive homes in the neighborhood and they both chose a nice red/orange brick.  

I can't cry over it now.  I'm just going to accept it as a mistake on my end and be optimistic that it will look fine.   
 The tree debate is still on going. I didn't walk the lot with my PM at the Pre-Con meeting, Kind of wishing I did now.  I have a meeting with my SR today and 3pm and will bring it up to him first. 
See the evidence below. 

What do you think?
1)  Should the trees should be cleared back as far as the neighbor's trees?   
2)  Should trees that are dead & have fallen over be removed?
See the neighbors yard on the right.  His has been cleared to the green sign that I circled in red.  The sign just indicates that the space beyond the sign is a Resource Protection Area that must remain in a natural state. 

Dead trees that have fallen over.

Lot narrows on the right side.  I'm assuming this is why I couldn't have a morning room. 

Brick Choice - Grand Caramel

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 12

Tried my best not to visit until the weekend but as I drove by the highway exit towards the build, I could not resist.  Here's what I found: 

I can't understand why this part is so open.  I do have a walk out basement, but I've compared this to other blogs with walks outs and none are this open. Any thoughts?  Dont laugh, I know, I'm totally clueless!

A little waterproofing.

View of the lake.. I'm going to talk to my PM about the trees.  There are way too many as compared to my neighbors

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 10: It's going down, Basement!

Finally.. drove by the lot and saw that the forms are going up for the basement walls!  With the time change, it's usually dark when I drive by the lot so this morning I went early and got a glimpse of the action. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 5: Nothing

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  Sadly, there has been no progress since Monday.  Of course, I didn't expect any work to be done on Thanksgiving but we've had some pretty great weather the last few days so I thought we'd see more progress.

I guess I was just soooo happy that they started clearing the lot that I thought, ok, this is it.. better luck next week, I guess.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 1: Clearing the lot

I was so happy to drive by this morning and see work being done. I'm embarrassed to say though that I was too shy to snap a picture so I got a drive-by pic (LOL). Can't wait to go back this evening (once they're gone) to get a good one.

WooooHoooooo! My Monday is going to be a great one. I feel like a kid on Christmas.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Palermo Peeps... I have a ? for you

I'm so confused about the stairs & railing. I'm getting a capped wall??? No clue what that is. Even after asking for an explanation, I'm still not clear.

What did you choose? If you chose something there.

**Update** I think I figured it out. I guess the capped wall will have to do but I'd really like the balusters.

Here is a photo from the Palermo model. 

Here's an image from Google.  This is the capped wall .  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

At The Starting Line

All went well today at the pre-construction meeting. It took about 90 minutes to go over everything.  My PM seems like a pretty thorough, Get-Ir-Done type of guy.  One slight hiccup though, my last change order didn't make it into the plans.  Luckily, I save everything so I provided a copy of it to my SR like "Here it is, I signed it and delivered to you, SR".  Quick fix. 

We'll be breaking ground on 11/14 and our ETA for completion is 2/21/2013.  Not bad.

Our lot was staked and was much bigger than I expected.  Since our home backs up to a natural lake our backyard will only be cleared back by about 25ft.  Anything past it falls into what is called an Environmentally Protected Area designed to keep the lake in its natural state.  With that though, we gained a decent amount of buffer space to the left of the house where the drainage easement is.   For us, it just means that if we build a fence we must make sure that runoff can flow freely down to the lake & for hubby, more grass to cut

I'm praying that everything goes smoothly & stays on track.  So far, I'm pleased with the experience.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Preconstruction Meeting Scheduled!!!

My SR just called me (yes, this late) with good news.  Plans are in and the Pre-construction meeting is scheduled for Wednesday @ 4pm.  We'll break ground the following Monday 11/12/12. 

Going to bed with a super smile on my face & doing my happy dance. 

To all of you who've done this already, what should I expect?  How should I prepare?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Heartache and Loan Approval

Boy oh Boy, the last six weeks have been a roller coaster!  But I finally received loan approval on Halloween Night. 

On 10/19 I got a call from my LO at NVR informing me that my loan application was denied.  I was stunned!!  When she delivered the message, it was like she was pulling straws trying to help me understand why.  IMHO when you drop a bomb like that, please have all of the information available. 

Anyhow, to sum up a long story, my Debt to Income ratio was a little over the percentage that NVR would allow (but not close nor pass the maximum that the FHA 30 year fixed allows).  NVR told me early on that due to my DH's student loans he would not be able to apply for the loan with me so I applied alone.  With less than perfect past credit, I'm assuming they viewed the loan as risky.  Now we all know that NVR turns right around and sells the loans to big banks, so I think, had they approved my loan, they'd have a hard time selling it on the secondary market. 

So, the alternative was to pass my loan off to a Broker who would easily approve the loan because their requirements were not as "strict" as NVR's.  I kept being told that "NVR is stretched" and "they are nitpicking everything". 

I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a young adult who like many others in America, struggled to pay credit card bills, loans and monthly obligations and still remain afloat.  In the past couple of years I've worked diligently to pay off credit cards, clean up my credit, boost my score and save money so that I could get to this point.  It has been a long time coming.  The denial was like a slap in the face.. like WOW, you work so hard and think you're there, but not quite.

Thankfully my SR is terrific and assured me that this happens to about 30% of the loans they make and 95% of them are approved.   He told me not to view it as a bad thing, because it was not. 

The Broker quickly approved the loan with all of the documentation I submitted to NVR with all of the terms I agreed to.   

I feel it is important to share my true testimony because I honestly thought I would never see a score above 650 a year ago, let alone be on my way to owing my very own home.  There may be someone reading, that like me, was discouraged and thought they'd never see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I'm happy to say today I am debt free (no credit card balances, no car payment, no student loans) and blessed to be able to provide for my family and build the home that suits me.

Lets get this ball rolling already!   :) 

Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm so excited & I just can't hide it!

I won a $2,000 gift card for living room furniture from Rooms To Go!!!

We visited their grand opening a few weekends ago & entered our names in their grand opening prize raffle. My name was drawn & the store manager called me today. I never expected to win & totally forgot about it.

That's one room down!! Woo hoooo!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Reading your blogs make me realize how many things I missed.  i.e additional outlets, what type of doors we're getting in the basement ( I assumed sliding came with the rear masonry wall) & not negotiating for something else since I couldn't have a morning room  :(

I'm gonna make sure I put in this "infamous" survey that I felt rushed and now my home is lacking because of that :)  j/k (But I really did feel rushed through the selection process.  How can you really tell what your getting from the MSS?)

A little frustrated that I didn't think of EVERY thing. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ohhhh, the Agony!

Waiting to hear back from NVR is so nerve-racking! Today makes the 8th day that the loan has been in underwriting. How long did it take before you received your official approval?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Floors and Tile and Carpet, Oh My!

Today was a pretty good day.  Got word that my loan has been moved to underwriting and also had a meeting with Creative Touch Interiors to choose our flooring options.  .

Let me just say that I am a very, very indecisive person.  I make technical decisions year round at work  but when it comes to something that directly relates to me... I need some help when deciding.  I went in feeling confident that I would stick to the budget and have a good idea of what I wanted but that quickly changed when the Representative pulled out the floor plan and options.   The representative, Ali, was AWESOME.  She had a great sense of style and easily nudged me in the right direction when color choices just weren't matching up.     With lots of help from her, here is what I chose:

Kitchen Cabinets - Tahoe Cherry Bordeaux
"Faux Granite" Laminate Counter Tops - Antique Mascerello
Kitchen Floor Tile - 12 x 12 Russet
Grout - Earth

Cherry Hardwood Floors in the Foyer, Powder Room & Mudroom leading to Garage.

Master Bathroom
Vanity:  Maple Espresso
Shower, Bath & Floor Tile:  Fidenza Caffe
Listello:  Stone Radiance, Morning Sun, Tortoise & Mushroom
Grout: Earth
9'' Corner Shelves

Kid's Bathroom
Vanity: Maple Spice
Vinyl Flooring:  Intiator 66204 (will be in the 2nd floor laundry too)
Bath Walls:  6x6 Artic White Ceramic Tile

Standard Carpet & Padding
(Left)  White Fox for the Great Room & Basement  (Right)  Wool Skin for the Dining Room and Second Floor

And we're off... (to underwriting)

I got a call from my Loan Processor (LP) on Wednesday (9/19/12) asking for additional documents & information.  I thought that I was pretty thorough in providing just about everything during the loan application but I guess not.  She requested letters, more tax documents, my 401k plan statements & my position's salary key to verify my income with a service called "The Work Number".  I spent most of the day trying to recount reasons for deposits and writing explanations for those deposits.  Most of which came from selling things via Craigslist :) 

I also had to write explanations for a teeny-tiny derogatory item on my credit report that was paid off sooooo long ago.  I couldn't wrap my brain around why it even mattered at this point.  But none the less I submitted all of those documents a few hours after her request. 

I submitted the loan application on September 4th so I was a little disappointed to learn that 2 weeks later we were still so early in the process. 

She emailed me this morning to say that my loan has been moved to underwriting and that generally it takes 7-10 days for approval.  I hope so!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Love Thrifting!

Pinterest has become my best friend when it comes to looking for new DIY ideas and home furnishing tips.  I've always been rather crafty when it comes to putting things together and doing things myself so I think that I'll try and do a lot of that in our new home. 
via Heart Tree Home
I fell in love with this chair via Pinterest and have been on the hunt to find something similar that I can refinish for my home office.  I visited a couple of thrift stores over the weekend but had no luck finding a chair silimar to the style but I did get away with some other great items.

I own a small event planning business and I'm always on the hunt for things that I can use for display and decor.  I found 3 great trays that I'll add to the inventory.  I purchased all three trays for $5 (SCORE!)

Also found eight mustard colored plates at the Goodwill that I'd like to use for in our new home.  The color would be great for a fall themed dinner and I'm already looking for napkins and rings that would compliment the dishes.  They were half off so I purchased the set of eight for $3.75 (SCORE!)

On top of those great deals, as I was checking out I found a bag of Beer Bottle Caps.  Immediately my mind jumped to the Basement and the bar area that I'd like to build.  The Basement will be the area of the house that we spend the most time in since we love to entertain.  I got the entire bag of caps for $2 and will think of some funky idea to incorporate them into the bar area.  Whether it be framed, in a vase, or some other idea like this bottle cap table top for example.  I'm sure I'll think of something.  If not, they will most definitely be used at the next male centered event I plan. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cable & Wiring...

Met with the cable & wiring folks at Structured Cable on Friday (9/14) & the meeting went much better than I expected.  I expected to be bombarded with High-Tech features and over the top prices but the prices were reasonable (in my opinion).  I took a good friend with some knowledge of the industry to the meeting & he would probably beg to differ. Most of the things I wanted to add he'd shake his head at and insist that I would come out a lot cheaper doing it myself.  Luckily, I have a week to finalize my options but so far I think I made good choices. 

I've included the prices in case anyone in the local market is curious as to how much these options run. 

The Standard Package includes 4 single port jacks of your choice in any location.  I chose the following:
3 cable jacks (Master, Bedroom 2 & Bedroom 3)
1 phone jack for the 1st floor office

  • (3) Additional Cable Jacks for the Family Room, Basement & 4th Bedroom ($149 each)
  • Basic Security System with 60 Month Monitoring Contract ($299 installed and $26.50 per month for 60 months)
    • The Security System includes 1, Master Control Panel, 1 Interior Siren, 1 Standard LCD Keypad, 1 Motion Detector, 1 Smoke Detector with Monitoring. 3 Door Contacts & 24 Hour Monitoring via a land line. 
    • If you don't plan on having a land line there is a $175 fee for adding the GSM (radio)monitoring and the monthly fee increases to $38.50.  This is a cool feature however because you have the ability to add the Total Connect Service which allows you to control & monitor the system remotely from your smart phone or computer. 
  • Prewire for 5.1 Home Theatre Speaker System ($595)
  • Media Closet  in Basement ($895)
    • This includes a 50 foot HDMI Cable, Infrared Sensor Kit w/ 3 Flashers, 1 Multi-Media Jack & a 4 Shelf Audio/Video Rack.  I like this feature because it allows us to mount the television and have all of the "tv equipment" out of sight.  
  • (2) HDMI Wiring behind the TV to below for the Living Room and Master ($165 each)
  • (3) Power surges behind the TV's in the Master, Family Room & Basement ($75 each)

Other fancy features that they offered where a central vacuum system for around 3k, intercom system throughout the house (didn't inquire about pricing), music throughout the house around $2,300, upgraded options for mounting televisions and tricking out your security system. 

They will even mount Televisions that you own ($465 if you don't have the mounts) and you can purchase TV's and Theatre Systems from them directly. 

Another "decisions" appointment down, One more to go (flooring).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Decisions, Decisions.

I am really having a hard time with the vinyl siding colors I chose. I think it's hard because I can't visualize the color choice on the house. There's only one house in the community with the exact same color scheme (silver mist siding, grey shutters, red door). We drove by to check it out but it didn't "Wow" me.
I think what I'm struggling with the most is that it sometimes looks white & I definitely didn't want a white house.

I really wanted a brick veneer front but once I changed the elevation for A to B, brick went from 4,990 to almost 14,000 so it was kind of out of the question at that point.

I think it would be lovely if Ryan Hones offered a virtual home builder of some sort. That way you could try out vinyl siding on your house, pick your features & see it as you add/delete features. That would have made this process so much easier for an OCD sufferer like me.

I'm leaning towards a green, dark green shutter, red door combo (pictured below)

**Update** I went back and got the Spanish Olive.  Now I can sleep at night.

Spanish Olive, Spanish Moss Shutters and Red Door that I'm leaning towards

Silver Mist, Gray Shutters & Red Door that I chose

Don't know what to do!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Chair Debate...

We visited our local furniture stores over the weekend to get a feel for how we wanted to decorate the place and to make sure we budgeted accordingly to furnish the house.  I've had my apartment furniture for so long that we'll be ditching it.  We'll keep our current queen size bed for a guest room and maybe my current desk.

I have my eye on the following pieces for the family room but there has been great debate as to whether we love or hate this chair.  

Likes:  The colors - blue, tan, green and a light shade of orange.  I think there are endless decorating possibilities with those colors.  

Found a bar stool in the same store that matches the blue in the sofa pillows and the chair which would tie the kitchen and family room together well.  

I love the square shape of the sofa and love seat.  It gives off a very modern look.  

Dislikes: I just think that the chair is very busy, but I love it.  

The very funny thing about it is that my cousin, Ray, and I went shopping together and he immediately hated the chair.  He gave me a strong "No!".  His exact words were "I love the set, hate the chair".  We went to visit to model after leaving the furniture store and what was sitting in the office?  The exact same chair!  Don't know how I missed that the first time, but once I saw it there I loved the set even more.  

For the Basement (which will become our family room) I'm thinking of a nice red sectional with a red chair and ottoman.

What do you think????

The Ball Is Rolling...

The past 2 weeks have been nerve-racking.  From the loan application, to the structural features, I am happy to put these things behind me and confident that I made the right decisions.  I stayed away from a lot of cosmetic changes and tried to think of things that would bring real value to our home.

The Loan Application meeting was easy.. being that I'm very well organized gathering the boat load of documents required to complete the loan application was a breeze.  We completed the loan app on  9/4/12 and hope for a speedy approval process.  We'll visit locking in a rate later but as of today we are doing a 30 year FHA loan at 3.25%.  I don't think it will get much better than that, but I don't see it getting any worse either being an election year and all.

On 9/7 we meet with our SR to make my final selections, choose siding, counters, cabinets etc. Here is what we chose:
  • Palermo, Elevation B
  • Siding Veneer Front ($1,790)
  • Finished Basement ($10,590)
  • Plumbing Rough In Basement ($1,590)
  • Recessed Lighting in Basement ($795)
  • Recessed Lighting in Kitchen ($795)
  • Kitchen Island ($1,490)
  • 42'' Tahoe Square Cherry Bordeaux Cabinets ($2,685)
  • Standard Black Appliances (we'll purchase our own stainless appliances later)
  • Upgraded Master Bath - Soaking Tub and Shower with Bench ($3,990)
  • Maple Spice Vanities in Bathrooms ($100)
  • Double Bowl Vanity in Master Bath ($590)
  • 2 Windows on the Dining Room Side ($990)
  • 2 Windows on the 1st Floor Office Side ($990)
  • 2 Ceiling Fan Rough Ins- Family Room & Office ($380.00)
  • "Antique Mascarello"  Laminate Upgrade Kitchen Counter ($190)
  • Laminate Upgrade Island ($90)
  • 10x12 Deck ($2,400)

Color Selections:
Red Door
Gray Shutters
Silver Mist Siding (Not sold on this color but couldn't get what I really wanted since our neighbor had it)
White Exterior Trim & Garage
Grand Caramel Brick with Buff Mortar
Black Roof

Flooring & Electrical appointments are up next.. I'd love to add music throughout the house (if the price is right).  Right now the only upgrade would be to have cable in each room.  I learned that you're only allowed 4 wire locations (i.e 3 cable, 1 phone or 2 cable to 2 phone) as part of the standard package.  Not sure what I want as far as flooring at the moment.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We're going to be homeowners....

On Friday, August 24, 2012 - we signed our contract with our awesome Sales Representative (SR) for the purchase of our first home.  It will be a Ryan Home, Palermo Model in a new and exciting planned community in Chesterfield County, VA.  The road to the contract has been a long one already.

We originally fell in love with the neighborhood driving by on our way to our favorite pizza night spot.  The homes were gorgeous, well manicured and sat on a beautiful lake.  There was not one thing I didn't love about this neighborhood.  We stopped in for a tour of the on site Model, the Ravenna and we were in Awe!  I wanted that house so badly.  It was absolutely gorgeous on the inside. At that very moment though, my partner and I were both rebuilding our credit and we knew that the time wasn't right but kept that house in the back of our minds.

Finally in April of this year, we were ready to take the leap but after almost a year of hard work MY credit this time said otherwise.  Luckily there were tons of mistakes that I'd overlooked and after about 4 months my score shot up 61 points and  we were ready.
DS holding his very own SOLD sticker.

Ironically we'd picked out a lot in April that our SR said that he'd "hold" for us, it was a premium lot in the section of the neighborhood that only had a few houses so I loved the fact that it was still under development.  Well, that lot sold (& I don't blame him).  He called us last week with an awesome deal.  There was only 1 lot left in the first area of development but it only had enough "buildable" space for the Palermo Model.  At first I was thinking, what is this reject deal he's trying to offer us?  He offered to drive us out to another community in Chester to show us the Palermo Model since there were none in our neighborhood of choice and he promised that we'd love it.  The Palermo is a new model to the Ryan Homes fleet so we'd be the first to own one in Richmond.

After touring the Palermo I was in LOVE with it.  I really loved the Ravenna but with a formal dining room, an eat in kitchen, a formal living room, family room, first floor office, 4 bedrooms and a bonus room on the second floor... it just felt like sooo much house for myself, my partner and our 2 year old son.  We've been living is a pretty modest apartment for about 7 years so I was thinking.. it will take us a year to furnish this place.

The Palermo just felt, right.  The space was perfect for us.  Since we we loved it and agreed to the lot (which is a premium lot that backs up to the lake) we were on board.  We got the August Incentive plus the premium lot incentive since we agreed to build that model there since it is the only option.  So going into the deal with almost 30k in credit was a plus for me.

Please follow our journey as we build our first home.