Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Even superheroes need tips from this guy!
with Fr Ned and my sponsor Rick following Easter Vigil
Happy Easter to everyone!   We had a late night with the Easter Vigil at our Church last night.   For the past few months, I have been in the RCIA (Catechism Classes) at the local Catholic parish.  Last night, was a culmination of this process.  I received my Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion all in one night.   It was a great experience and I feel that I have been accepted into a loving community.   This week had been a busy one with Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Saturday.  


On Saturday, between the Morning prayer service and the Vigil, we decided to go out to the house and take Toyota up on a promotion they had sent out.  From now until 4/22, you would get a 50 dollar gift certificate  if you test drove one of their cars.   Despite the fact that I had a bad taste in my mouth from previously owned Toyotas, we thought it would be fun to do it and get paid to do it.   So, we chose this pretty, ice blue Highlander and the salesman let us test it unaccompanied so we took it to the homesite, which wasn't too far away to check the progress from the last time we were there.  This was like killing two birds with ones stone--so to say.

As expected, the house had been sealed up but there was visible progress outside.   The deck was completely finished and looked great!  The next decision is what stain to put on it.   The electricians had been through and installed the ovens and corrected the discrepant light on the garage.   Looks great but it is different from what is on the lighting document.  So, I will be comparing the two to see if we were given a cheaper light.  They also started the concrete forms in preparation for laying in what is to be our sidewalk and driveways.  

So, for the first time, the ground was dry enough to enable me to walk around the house.  Here's a good pic of the back of the house.

So how did our test drive go?   The Toyota Highlander was a mere, "meh".  Peppy but boring styling and cheap plastic interior--the same things that pushed me to buy Subarus in the first place.  The pillars were thick and blind spots were atrocious.  But, the kids had fun and I have to admit, it was fun to drive something that wasn't a million years old (my cars are of the older variety).   Thanks Toyota, for the gift card, I'm taking the family out for lunch!

Arrived at the house in a flurry of activity inside and out.  Carpet is finally finished!  This is a sign that the construction on the inside is nearly completed.  The house was unusually warm and there was an installer on every floor in between the pad and carpet phase.  The banisters were still in curing/drying and did look rough.  We figured that the shallacking will come later.  The deck builder was feverishly at work and had just framed the deck.  It's gonna be a big un.   When looking at the options for the house, the deck is a big consideration pretty fairly priced for a professionally installed deck.  Brandon told me that this guy is pretty good.  Looking forward to my first BBQ at the house.


Since alot of the remaining interior jobs dont take more than a day, we had anticipated that the house would be sealed up.  As for the outside, the snow from yesterday hadn't completely stopped, but it did not stop progress on the outside.  When we arrived, we noticed that the rain gutters and downspouts were installed and the deck was being built.  As for the deck, it is a pretty consistent design that Ryan has used for ages.  We see this same design in our old neighborhood of older Ryan Homes.   Just a day over two weeks until closing.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Carpet and a Renegade Window

The Bunnies are King sized here!
What are the odds? Two mascots and we're not on vacation.
Because of no soccer games this morning, I did not have to get up too early on this lovely Saturday morning.   After a little breakfast, an Easter egg hunt and lunch at Chik fil A,  we moseyed over to the homesite not expecting too much activity but it was business as usual.   The carpeters were inside and the siding guys were finishing up the house and taking their scaffolding down.  Usually what begins my homesite visit is a quick outside picture from the same designated spot and this time, while taking this I noticed a broken window on the second level floor.   Before I had a chance to react to this, one of the siding fellas came up and told me that the window was broken when it slammed shut--hard.  They were in the process of getting a new lower pane.  The screen was all mangled, I do expect them to remedy this whole thing--freaking out was the last thing from my mind.

Wow.  When carpet goes in, that is usually one of the last phases for the inside.  It really hit home that they were very close to done on the interior.   The interior was OK for the most part, but we found a few dings, bad drywall that showed through the paint.  I am expecting that they will remedy that but will go over the interior slowly and break out the green tape to mark this.  Today was kind of hard with so much going on with the carpeting.

Two of the biggest dinks on the work is garage door to house entry door and the cabinets.   Because this was the main entrance for all of the work, the door posts were dinged up and there was a small dent on the door.   I didn't expect the door to be blemish free but I did expect it to be fixed to look perfect (yes, perfect).  Also, there was a dent on one of the kitchen cabinets.  For this price point of a house, I do expect better fit and finish and I am confident that Brandon will remedy that.  

But, now, with snow in the forecast, I doubt much will be done to the house on the outside.  I will take some time and do a pre walkthrough walkthrough.  I'd love to arrive at closing, knowing that I won't have too much to call Ryan Homes back for because it was taken care of before closing.   Hey, we can dream, right?

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Home Stretch (no pun intended)

Here we are, 2 days past the beginning of spring and it feels like January.  Poor Puxatawney Phil, he's getting death threats on the internet.   Hopefully, the little guy gets paid well with all of the pressure he has to endure.  I, myself, tweeted a suggestion for Groundhog Sushi (PETA folks, you can just chill).   For Monday, we have a forecast of 5" of snow.  That may affect progress outside.

On the NVR side, things are looking well but they are taking document requirements to a whole new level.   Maybe it's the paranoia resulting from the housing crash of 2009.   Last week, Pam our processor has requested copies of our statements of the accounts from which we wrote our earnest checks.   They wanted to see the account activities for those months.   Though it's not too wild of a request, I'm wondering why.   I already had to send copies of the cancelled earnest check that I sent them and now they need proof that it rolled out of that account at that time?   These doc requests are weird and I am not blaming Dean nor Pam for these pointless requests, they're just getting it from above.  With a bit of lollygagging on my part, I finally got these to her.  Hopefully, we won't have to submit a blood sample or DNA test to finalize closing.

Well, true to her promise, Amy dropped in on the progress and it looks like, aside from the carpets, the house is almost complete on the inside. In the kitchen, the microwave, ovens, and dishwasher have taken their place.   Door knobs are now on the doors.  Hopefully the the scraggly knobs that are now securing the house aren't the ones we are stuck with.   In any case, if they can't be made to look like new--problem for the PM.


To our relief and Brandon's credit,  they leveled the uneven concrete in the basement, formerly marked with an X.  I guess closing is more likely now!   To the concrete guys:  you LIVE to do concrete another day.

This morning, Brandon had given me a call with his weekly update.  Next week, there is going to be more work on the exterior, namely the grading of the yard, and the porch is going in finally.   With the porch being the star of the show, we are definitely looking forward to seeing this go in.   In the interior, painters, drywall, and trim will be going over their work.  Remember those bricks that I had pulled out?  Brandon moved all of those into the garage--a gold star for the PM!  What a good guy.

We will probably do a drive by this weekend since I haven't seen the house all that much this week.   After taking  look at our countdown to closing, we have a little over 2 weeks left.  Definitely the home stretch.


Somehow, this week, it's been hard catching someone at the homesite after 5pm.   Trim is pretty much done and after a few days of this I told Amy to pop in on the house after dropping off Mikey at pre-school which is around lunch time.  Most likely there are tradesmen there so the house would be open for a impromptu walkthrough.  

Progress did move but they are for the details now.   Today the bannisters were stained with the dark finish that has so dominated in our furnishing choices.    With the white spindles, they look pretty darn good.   Wish I could afford the iron spindles though.  

The coated wire racks were all installed in the laundry room and closets, helping that completed look along as well.   Avoiding as much mud as we could, we took a survey of the outside and saw that the siding was actually pretty well done.  I hadn't looked at the north side of the house, but our central AC unit is in and ready for hopefully a good Summer!  Our yard light was finally installed and  all that was left to do on the outside was the deck, the porch, and some trim on the vents.  

Amy's going to hold steady with here Monday-Wednesday-Friday visits to the homesite until closing.    We may not catch all discrepancies, but we can strive for 100 percent perfect.  The goal is to get the discrepancies on the radar before closing, else it's going to be a long wait to get them to tend to it.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Great Brick Treasure Hunt

Happy St. Patty's day!  Nothing really goes on, but we like coming out to the house and poking around, even if we couldn't get inside.  There seems to be always something to look at or check out regardless of how accessible the house is.

With the siding finished, we wanted to check it out and see if there were any spots that needed rework.  With the ground still semi-muddy, we decided to leave it for another day.  I wandered over to our front-porch-to be and found that they had thrown the loose and broken brick over there.  It wasn't going to be a problem, I figured that they would have top filled it with gravel before pouring the concrete in the forms.   Now, for the broken brick, I thought it was a very earth friendly way of reusing resources.  However, in the mounds of broken brick were quite a few good bricks.   These good bricks cost a ton of money and I thought it was a waste to just use them as filler for a porch.  I pulled them out (there were about 100) out to be saved as spares and will tell Brandon my plan.   So folks, the likelihood of a small reserve of bricks at your home will be pretty high.  If you would like some of that retained, request it or check the site on your visits and save your bricks.  

There were about 100 of these bricks found.

Have you ever been to Home Depot and saw how much bricks/pavers cost per brick?  There will always be a project that you can do to improve your home that will look great made with the bricks that match your house.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Siding is Done!

Siding is Done.  I'm really digging the shutters.

Today, the siding guys finally finished the front gables and installed the shutters.  This really looks good!   I'm going to have to bring in some boots on Monday and take a good look at the work.  We took a little stroll inside and found some trim that was in need of correction.   With the siding guys finishing and locking up the house, the QA for the trim work will have to wait for another day--soon of course.    Looking forward to seeing the porch, columns, and railings to complete the look of the front of the house--can't wait.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Break in the Weather and More Progress

Happy Friday Everyone!  It's been a great day as far as the house is concerned.   If I haven't told you all already, We just entered the 30 day lock period for the mortgage and so we have been waiting for the points on the percentage rate to be ideal before telling NVR to lock it in.   So, for the last couple of weeks, it's been quite a nervous game.  What really sucks about this period in a construction situation like this is that you really only have half of that to lock in your rate because you have to have your rate locked 2 weeks before closing.

For the last week, I have been emailing Dean at NVR Mortgage everyday to monitor the points on the mortgage rate.  Last week, when we entered our 30 day lock period, the points were getting less and less appealing.  I was starting to get worried.  The last 4 days we saw some recovery on that and decided to go one day past our target point rate to lock.   Today was that day.  We locked in with what we considered an optimal point rate.   This was even better than the terms at USAA.   Thanks for this one.  Now, if everything goes right, I won't have to take money to closing---too awesome.

So all of this left me rather elated and I practically skipped out of work.  We arrived at the homesite and both Troy, who was doing the trim and our siding guys were wrapping up their day.  The great thing about this group of tradesmen, they do really treat the homeowners nicely when we arrive at the site to take a peek.   

Our  Drop in Cooktop
Siding's almost finished.
Microwave has arrived.
Well the remaining doors were all put up,  the microwave arrived and the cooktop was installed.   Plumbing had installed all of the interior faucets, toilets, and drains.   Today Troy finished the trim in the basement.  He also warned me that the bannister leading down to the basement had been damaged and they were ordering a replacement.   Our siding friends had finished all but the siding from the gables.   Once the gables are completed and the shutters are on, it is going to look great.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

And Then There was Light(s)

This morning, I met with Brandon for a general walk through on the recent progress of the home. I was about 10 minutes late due to a new route and traffic, so I pushed Brandon's scheduled a bit.   
Dining Room Chandalier
Picking up from yesterday's posting, lighting had been installed in the house and now we have lights!   There was an odd trio on outside of the garage.  Two jelly jars and a torchlight.   Brandon and I did not understand the combination but knew that we had an extra garage light put in because it looks better that way. Maybe the discrepant light is a placeholder.  On the inside the recessed light areas were installed and for most of the rooms without significant light fixtures bulbs were installed.  The latter looks friggin ugly but we will be changing those out for nicer ones once we close.  Ultimately, all lights should at LEAST be goldfish bowls.  If I get my way, maybe I can get a disco ball in the Master suite.   

All of the drywall discrepancies that we had marked for Brandon were pretty much addressed and all were acknowledged.  We did reiterate the dip in the basement floor's concrete and Brandon assured me that they will be leveling that before any flooring goes in.

Overall on this phase, very pleased with Brandon's receptiveness of our self initiated QA check.   Though this is a pain in the butt for most PM's and very easy for homeowners to set their contruction on autopilot, this will lead to a more satisfied homeowner--especially for the anal-retentive ones.  For Brandon, rework after closing should be pretty minimal since we did QA from the framing stage.  Even though we are novices in the construction trade broke is broke and it doesn't take a genius to detect it.

Things coming up will be predominately external at this point most notably, the completion of the deck and the grading of the front and back yard.   So, that concludes the morning report.  Amy, the kids, and I will be heading out there again this evening to see the days progress.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Her Personality Comes Through

It's been about a week and there have been sweeping changes at the homesite inside and outside.   One thing that was consistent and could always be relied on is all of the mud.   After we arrive at the homesite it's like walking through a minefield in order to keep the mud off the shoes.  Even after move in, since we were the dirt dust and mud from the homesites will be something we will be contending with until this phase if built out.

Today, we had some lines crossed and Amy thought that I was going to be at H&R block for taxes this evening, so she went out there this afternoon.   She ran into Brandon as he was doing the pre-drywall walkthrough with the folks across the street.   I had arranged to meet with Brandon tomorrow morning for a general walkthrough.  

Closet Doors
Master Bedroom Doors
There was a buzz of activity at the house.  All of the interior doors were being installed with the exception of the French doors to the study.   They had finished the masonry on the fireplace and from the pictures that Amy took, they're not too bad.   Interior stair railing was onsite ready to be installed and door trim was nailed in.   I'm assuming that the baseboard trim was going to be next.

Outside, there was progress once again on the siding and this time, they were getting the facade of the house.  This is the point where you get a glimpse of all of your exterior color choices and see how they all play together.   Brandon said that the siding folks  hadn't seen this color combination before and it really looked great.   Once the shutters are all  on the facade, the color combinations are going to pop.  Our siding friends were working on the front and back today.

Fireplace Done!
The eyesore-to-Amy fireplace bricking is now completed.  Actually it looks quite good.   I don't think that Amy will forget the sacrifice of a window to make this fireplace possible. 

We weren't too sure at first but we were very pleased at our exterior choices and how unique our Yorkshire B is going to look  from the others.   Brandon, see you tomorrow!


Guardian Keypad

Bathroom Vanity
Matthew in the double oven space
Progress is still marching along at the homesite today despite the fact that it was horribly muddy.  It had rained earlier and I did not see too much progress on the siding but cabinet folks had been busy.   All of my kitchen and bathroom cabinets were installed.  The Expresso cabinets were looking sharp!   At the same time, I'm hoping that expresso finish remains in vogue for a good long time.  Guardian had been in and installed the sensors and keypad of the alarm system.   It looks like the permanent fixtures are moving in!  The base coat of mortar had been put on the fireplace ready to recieve the fireplace bricks.  We're hoping for some fair weather.  Looking forward to seeing the siding folks finish the facade of the house.   It's going to look cool.

I had a longer session of Church today so, we decided to go out to the house and have a closer look at the work.   I had spoken to Brandon regarding the damaged drywall and the dip we had found in the basement concrete but we needed to make sure it would make it onto the to do list.  The vinyl floor had been installed---looking really good.

Downstairs Vinyl
Upstairs Vinyl
Part of the foundation in need of leveling.
We broke out the green tape and marked all of the problem areas in the drywall.  Afterwards, we took a level and charted the uneven area of the basement floor.  This we marked with a green tape X.   Though home construction is an approximate science sometimes, this floor issue is going to be a deal breaker.  If this is overlooked or not done, we will refuse to close on the house.  

I will contact Brandon for a walkthrough on Tuesday/Wednesday and go over some of the issues found.  I am not expecting too much pushback from Brandon about it. 


We got up early to get Mikey to his soccer game in Franklin.   Luckily for us it was his last game.  I am sure looking forward to sleeping in next Saturday!   The little team finally congealed and now it was time to go.   Makes me wonder what would happen if they played and grew up together.   They'd be unstoppable!

This thin board was put over the subfloor
Well, now that we were up, time to trudge on with the day despite the urge to go home and crawl into bed.  So, we went to the site after the game.  When we got to the site, there was a husband-wife flooring team putting down a really thin board on the floor of the house.  They would lay it down and spread mastic between the seams.   The siding folks were just arriving as we were leaving.

With temperatures up to 58 degrees over the weekend, it was a great weekend for working outside.   I think out siding guys used it for putting the trim down on the edges of the house. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ceiling Deelies

This morning we woke up to a winter wonderland.  There was about 4-5 inches of snow in the area and they made an inclement weather call at work!  This has been number two this season and you won't hear me complaining.

After 4-5 inches of snow

I contacted Dean today to get a rate quote for the day.  The rate points are getting progressively worse.   Even though I can get the low rate, I'd like to maximize my credits for closing so that we can offset some of the closing costs and buy some furniture!

Ceiling recessed lights with texture.

With a bonus day off, it did make me wonder if inclement weather affects construction.   When we went to the homesite, the drywall crew did not skip a beat and we moseyed our way to take a look.   They were still working at 5pm and it looked like they were sanding the mud that they had put on the other day.  Those guys were coming downstairs covered from head to toe in white dust.  I hope they wore a mask to keep from breathing the dust.   Looking up, they also had the ceiling textured.  Amy asked if we could've had it smooth instead of textured.   It was one of those things that I did not think about during the planning stages...oh well.

With the snow melting and rising temperatures in the next few days, the homesite is going to be a messy place.   

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Drywall: Tape and Mud Phase

Well, it has been a few days since I have written.   A significant thing about this phase of the construction process is that there is only so much that can be discussed about drywall.  The coolest part is seeing the walls come up and not only do the interior dimensions of your house start becoming real, the reality of closing starts hitting you.   Deb, from NVR, handles the closings has been great to work with. You have her direct line and a email that is very reactive.  Dean and Pam from the mortgage side has been coming back into the picture, with closing letters and dates solidified.  

The Changes are on the inside!

Here is the latest picture of the outside of the house.  If you're thinking about how much this looks like the pictures before it and it looks like nothing has been done to the outside, you're perfectly right!!  No complaints to Brandon and his folks but nothing really goes on with the outside of the house during the drywall phase.   I guess it is all about the insides, baby.

I haven't had a chance to take too many pics of the inside during this phase.   The last two times, I have been able to get in the house and look around but because the drywall team was working rapidly in the house, I did not want to get in the way and cramp their process.  From what I can tell, the work has been pretty good.  Remember, I said good, not perfect.  They have been working till about 6-6:30pm hammering and sometimes screaming at each other.   They're men of very few words, but they do give you the look telling you to have a look around and then get out. 

The frustrating thing about this phase is trying to get in and see the house during Brandon's work hours.   You pretty much have to take leave from work to make it happen.   From here on out, Amy's going to meet with him after dropping off Mikey and I'm going to take a few hours off each week to come and look at the progress.   With only 34 days till closing, it shouldn't be a big deal.  Wish us luck on the lock!