Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Baby's Ours!

Behold, our new Hacienda!
Life calmed down as we got to the house and pulled the minivan into our Garage the first time.  Crossing the threshold into the house as homeowners for the first time was kind of surreal.  This was finally ours.  We got to see this place go up brick by brick and were looking forward to all of the beautiful memories that would be made here.  While the kids ran wild through the whole house I plopped myself on the basement rug to deflate from the day's drama and took it all in.  We finally felt rooted.

Brandon, in typical Brandon fashion had taken care of all the items on the dink list.  Our bannnisters were perfect, the walls were smooth, and the dented cabinet in the kitchen was replaced.  You know, I'm probably going to see him around, but I'm going to miss the daily/weekly interaction with him.   He did a great job with our house and I can honestly say that you won't find a better PM in this company.   If Ryan Homes makes Brandon's method and attitude a benchmark for all PMs, they will definitely prosper and leave a trail of happy homeowners.

Kelly, our SR, has been fantastic.   Though we didn't see her everyday during the building process, she was always there hear our rants, laugh with us at our madness, and run our crazy (and often after-the-fact) requests up the flagpole.   She and Brandon work well together and her presence was felt during the whole process.  Kelly has this unflinching focus on the new homebuilding process and oftentimes can relate as she has been through the process herself.  She's great at what she does and we felt lucky to have her as a friend of the neighborhood.

Aside from the drama surrounding closing day, this has been a great experience and though we were apprehensive at first, building with Ryan turned out to be a good decision.  But as said, whoever you build with, involve yourself in the process as much as you can.   You'll be much happier with the results.  

Funny, as I'm writing this, it feels like the last entry,   Actually, this will be an ongoing blog talking about this now finished product.  Now comes the moving process.  Stay tuned for the hotwash as well.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Closing is an Uphill Climb

Closing day is finally here today!  We've given ourselves a break from seeing the house for the last couple of days, knowing that Brandon is busy taking care of the last minute dink items.  I knew that the painting vendors will have their work cut out for them with alot of the rework to include sanding out the roughness out of the closet walls and the rework on the bannisters.

Todays 900 lb gorilla is NVR Mortgage.   I had printed the Fidelity information that Dean had asked for and shot it over to to Pam to finish up our end of the processing.  In true John style, I accompanied it with a strongly worded email on how trivial it was to have to prove the same amount of money over and over again.  Pretty much, this was the same rant in yesterdays blog entry.  So, with a small delay in the morning, the remaining paperwork was scanned an emailed out.   About 10 minutes later, Pam calls me, saying that they (the underwriters) are going to require a image of the check that I recieved from my Fidelity account that I used to make the earnest money deposit.  

Most people have a breaking point, and I think Pam found mine.  I saw red and told her to tell the underwriter what I thought about his/her request.  How am I going to get a copy of a deposit check on the day of closing from my bank accross town.   This is ridiculous.  When was this scruitny going to end?  This money was not from laundering, drug cartels, prostitution, nor foreign governments.  Why were they doing this to me and at the last minute?   I had been jumping through hoops like a circus poodle in getting these requests fulfilled so that we would have a smooth closing.  You ask, I fulfil.  It was as simple as that.  But somehow the fact that their inefficiency becomes my emergency seems OK.   Look, I know that scruitny has gone up exponetially since 2009.  But, you had 4 months to do this and it's my problem?

So, Pam is subjected to my rant about where they can stick their request and how I'm walking on this.   While seeing all red, I apologized that she and Dean were not to blame on this just some jerk of an underwriter whom I don't know.   She said that she would pass this to her manager.

Also at the same time, there were problems with the appraisal.  VA had screwed up about 8 items on the appraisal and NVR had sent it back.  They promised corrections by noon today.   Pam was waiting to get it to send to the underwriters and she was feeling some frustration because of this appraisal too.  She did ask if I would object to not closing today. So, told her that yes, yes I would.  Why is that?  Why was alot of this falling to the last minute?  True, I can't blame them for the VA screwup.  But we account for these things to arrive at a reasonable closing date, right?  

While this is all flying at fan speed toward the NVR managers office, I gave First Title, the site of closing a call and tell her that there may not be a closing today.  I'm just giving her a heads up.  Kim was pretty nice on the whole ordeal and didn't act surprised.  I guess she has dealt with here share of high strung home owners before.

After some simmering down, and noting that legally, refusing to provide information may not legally get me off the hook of walking away from the whole deal, I called Amy to order the Fidelity check image from the bank.  After lunch had dissipated some of the urge to punch out NVR underwriters, I called Pam to see if the VA appraiser had come through with the changes.  As for the check image, PNC requires 6 hours to process.  Can't do anything about that.

Pam tells me now that the check image is now a non-issue and that the underwriters are busy with the appraisal and preparing the letter to send to the closers.   Maybe the urgency is to get rid of us once and for all.   Closing at this point, was still a maybe, I wasn't holding my breath. 

So I went home early as planned.  Pam had called my house on the way home and said that we were on for closing.  Time to get to the church on time.

We were delayed getting out of the house, and as luck today would have it, there was a wreck on the highway on the way to the closing site.   What an uphill fight today has been. ARRRGH.   After alot of pounding on the dashboard and pushing a minivan to it's mechanical limits, we arrive at First Title 5 minutes before 4 o'clock.   Brent, at First Title was the only one left at the office as we were the last closing of the day.  Let's do this!

The closing went quicker as planned.  Copies were made and we were given a pile of papers and a ton of keys which in this process means we survived!   Yay!  A homeowner at last.  Now this home (or rather, this mortgage) is ours.   Now the sky was blue, the birds were chirping, it was 80 degrees and felt like a true Spring day.  Peace in the universe has now been restored.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NVR Mortgage goes business as usual.

Today was an uneventful day at work.   Nothing out of the unusual the first half of the day and things were going quite well.   Did you ever have that eerie feeling that things were too quiet?

Around 3 o'clock, Dean from NVR Mortgage called with another document request.  The underwriter wanted to know what was the source of my earnest money.  Yes.  Proof of the earnest money on the 11th hour on the eve of closing.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?   This dip&^%$ had over 4 whole months to ask me about this, but now his/her inefficiency is our emergency?  First we had to prove that my checks were real and provide copies of the cancelled checks, Second, we had to prove that they were out of a real account, by giving you the statements documenting the activity of these checks, and now you want to see how it was deposited into my checking account?  Is this for a loan or a security clearance?  Sorry for interrupting your solitare game and making work for you Mr. Underwriter Guy.   I'd make USAA underwrite this loan but to qualify for incentives, I'm using NVR. 

NVR, you should reevaluate your underwriter anyway.  Why would you even break ground on a house if the customer is even remotely questionable on any facet of the finances?  Mr. Underwriter, if you're using me to prove how tough you are, pick another customer.  You may not be too pleased with the results 

Maybe this is a way they mess with the customers they don't like.  Maybe the underwriter is related to someone at Westwood Insurance.  You guys hold the money and the house.   Keep this crap up and you can keep both.  It's a great house, I'm sure you'll like it.  I would be sad, but I'm sure USAA Mortgage and another local builder can help me get over it.  Yes, I said it and you can't even fathom how serious I am about this.  

In the morning, they will get the documents proving the source of the funds are mine and that is all.  If they are going to pend my loan because of an over proved legitimacy of my earnest money, I'm going to walk with my earnest money and take the kids to Disney World and we're eating lobster and steak every day while we are there.  I'm tired, real tired of this.  If the underwriters are this bad, makes you wonder if they get any business at all.  Stay tuned.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Walkthrough and the New Neighbor

Well, the walkthrough day is finally here, which also meant 55 hours until we close and we can call this ours.  Prior to the 0900 appointment, Amy had made arrangements with one of our friends up the street to watch the kids while we could walk through in peace and quiet.  When we arrived, Brandon had the house opened,  the appliances turned on and llights lit.  

Brandon took us through every room of the house, explaining the operations of appliances and windows and how to care for the various surfaces of the house.  At the same time we had our list of discrepancies for Brandon to follow up on.  We had a nice walkthrough list that was posted on .  Thanks for this.

Brandon, in his usual fashion noted those on his own dink list to pass onto the vendor.  This is the thing we have loved about our concerns.  Noted and acted on.  Now the next 48 hours will be a little tense for all those doing follow up work.  Now the house is pretty much signed sealed and will be delivered on Wednesday.   

On my way out to the car at the conclusion of the walkthrough, I saw a what appeared to be a rather large crawdad right under my front tire.  Luckily I saw him too else my Sube would have turned him into pate.   Now this little guy was one of the largest crawdads I have ever seen.  He was about the size of a langosteen and the only explanation of where he came from is that he probably lived a really nice life in the retention pond behind the house far, far away from the natives of Louisiana--this is our first neighbor.  

This crawdad was about 6 inches long!

I guess The reason for his enormous size was because folks from Ohio don't generally eat crawfish and the lack of human predators enable full lives for these mudpuppies   I love a tasty tender crawfish, but  for this little guy, we decided to put him on Lot 10 and gave him a pass on our next crawfish boil.  Hopefully, he will make it back to the pond before Lot 10 breaks ground.  Good luck little guy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Finished Product

We have finally arrived at the eve of the final walkthrough.  Most everything has been done and we are waiting for the following to be finished before closing:
- Carpet and floor leveling in basement
- Bannister stain and finish to a darker shade.
- Dent in one of the kitchen cabinets

As you have probably expected from us, we wil have a dink list ready for Brandon.   For the exterior, due to weather, we will not have everything done but will be given a signed note that they will do the following.
- Paint on the exterior
- Sod and landscape for the yard.
- Hay and seed in the back yard.

After closing we will be making the following improvements immediately
- Fence
- Custom Kitchen Island (We weren't too fond of the boomerang island that Ryan offered)
- Wood/Laminate flooring for the first floor.
- Custom Tile in Master Bath

Besides those items, I think we are done. so without getting wordy, here is pretty much the finished house:

Front View





Friday, April 5, 2013

Finishing Touches.

Today, the day began with a trip to the house to meet Brandon and the painter to discuss the finish on the Bannisters.   We took the bannister sample and compared it with the work done in the house and indeed the sample was much darker than the finished product.   Brandon explained that they will try and refinish the horizontal pieces of the bannister to get them darker and that will run into the morning of closing on Wednesday.

We did get the issue of the uneven floor in the basement on Brandon's radar and he said that he would get the concrete guys to come and even things out.   In order for this to happen, the carpet in the basement had to be removed which can prove to be a daunting task.

Re leveling and Re carpeting of the Basement.

While discussing the uneven floor Brandon had explained that the carpet in the basement was 2 different shades and RiteRug had agreed to come back and redo the basement carpet.  What a coincidence.  In any case, the carpet would need to be pulled up regardless.   Kudos to Brandon for finding that discrepancy.  We definitely would have missed that. 

Later today, we came back and used the driveway for the first time.   It was a little difficult to maneuver a minivan into the garage, so both Amy and I are needing a little practice.   The yard was graded and aside from the items on the upcoming dink list and the work on the basement floor, the house is pretty much finished.  We are pleased with the product and will be looking forward to Wednesday.  We can't wait to finally call this home. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Better Wrong than Right

Not much to report today.  I did get the what I hope is the final documents to Pam at NVR for processing the loan.  We went back and forth in discussion about the omission of the fireplace from the final appraisal.  We did qualify the loan amount without it, but wondered if it need to be totally correct for other purposes.  Funny though, this appraiser was hired by the VA and not Ryan.   It just leaves me miffed about how accurate these guys are.  Could they be partial contributors to the 2009 housing crisis?  How can you leave an entire fireplace out of an appraisal and make a note about how our house is missing it?

What I did learn from NVR is that not all homeowners involve themselves in the construction progress.  They show up for the walkthroughs and receive the keys at closing.  I don't know about you but if you have a few hundred thousand bucks at stake, you'd better see how it is being spent.  Because of this we have been shamelessly in touch with the entire process to the point of asking relatively stupid questions.  Hey.  Stupid questions are the ones you don't ask, right?

Now, I doubt you are one of those lasseiz faire owners, otherwise you wouldn't be reading blogs, right?

I spoke to Brandon and insisted that the railings were too light compared to our selection chosen at RiteRug.  Instead of going back and forth over the phone, he suggested that I meet him at the house tomorrow morning to discuss the discrepant railing and the uneveness of the floor. 

After work today we went back to RiteRug and take a good look at the sample we had chosen  in November.  The sample we had picked was not there because they had lent it out to Brandon.  Makes sense so we will find out what we can do about it tomorrow.