Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Adventure is Officially Over...for Now

I've been MIA for over a month now because I didn't want to post until I knew for sure what we were going to do. So here's the scoop:

On March 3rd we got a phone call from our sales rep's boss (knew it was not going to be a good phone call...) When we wrote our first contract back in December, another builder wrote a contract for the same lot so we lost that lot. In order to rectify the situation, Ryan Homes and the land developer worked out an agreement that allowed us to pick another lot, which belonged to the land developer and not Ryan. We wrote a second contract for the new lot, but come to find out the lot did not belong to the land developer, it belonged to another builder. This builder was not willing to sell the lot to Ryan, hence the reason behind the phone call. So once again we were without a lot.

To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. We had spent the better part of 3 months meticulously planning, researching, and selecting every aspect of our new home; but when something like this happens, and happens twice, its a sign (Vegas style with bright lights and sirens). Something was trying to tell us not build in that neighborhood. We've been trying to speculate as to what that reason could be, but as of right now, we're still not sure what that reason is. We ran the gamut of emotions over the past several weeks.. anger, sadness, frustration...none of which should be associated with building your first home.

Along with our sales rep, we explored other options. We looked at several Ryan Homes communities in the area, but none of them suited us for one reason or another. So last night we drove to the model and signed the Mutual Release Agreement which basically voids the contract and allows us to get our deposit money back.

We were to have broken ground on March 16th meaning that our house would have been in drywall at this point. Sad to think about, but I've got to believe that there is something better out there waiting for us.

So for now, my mom is stuck with two additional tenants, luckily she does not mind. I defend my dissertation in 9 days...and we get married in 59 days, so there is lots to keep us busy. We've learned from this experience (especially from all of the blogs!), so hopefully our next attempt at home building/buying will go much smoother. I'm going to continue to follow as many of the blogs as possible and, hopefully, you'll soon be reading our new blog.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Selections

We met with Creative Floors on Thursday and the meeting was relatively painless. We're going to be doing the hardwood in the living & dining rooms as well as the tile in our kitchen & morning room after we move in, so we only had a couple selections to make.

I'm not super crazy about any of the laminate floor options, but hopefully we will only have to look at this floor for a year or two. We upgraded to 8-lb padding upstairs and in the family room. Since we will be replacing the living & dining room carpet with hardwood we kept the standard padding in those two rooms. We chose a neutral carpet that wasn't too dark but dark enough to not show all the dirt.
This is the laminate we chose for the foyer, kitchen, morning room, and laundry room as well as the carpet:

We decided to upgrade the tile surrounds in both bathrooms to level C. So the walls will match the floor and there will be a decorative trim. I love the tile we chose for both bathrooms. They are very similar, but the decorative trim is different.

Master Bathroom

Guest Bathroom

Today we met with Guardian hoping it would go as smoothly as the Creative meeting...not so much. We want a security system installed and were happy to hear it would be free; however, to get an additional keypad as well fire monitoring you have to upgrade (or course). Additionally, we have to have Guardian monitor our house for 60 months at $39.99 a month. I questioned why this monthly fee was so high and the rep justified it by saying we got a warranty as well as the VoiceLink technology. With Voicelink there are no phone calls when the alarm goes off, they just speak directly to you through a speaker located in your house. I still think $40 a month is too high, so we will be re-thinking the whole package. We have 3-days to cancel. In addition to the security system, we want to mount our TV above the fireplace and a TV in our master bedroom, so we would like to have a pre-wires for those as well as a pre-wire for a surround sound system. So, when all was said and done this is what we added:
  • Security system with the value package that includes an additional keypad, a heat communicator, smoke communicator, wireless receiver and key fob: $565
  • Digital pre-wire in family room: $440
  • 5.1 pre-wire for surround sound: $565
  • Digital pre-wire in master bedroom: $330 (I think we may take this out though)
In total we spent $1,900. Definitely was not expecting that and am annoyed that we're at the mercy of Guardian's pricing; however, I'm sure we'll be happy that we have the security system in place as well as the pre-wires.

After meeting with the Guardian rep we signed the change orders and verified our color selections:
  • tan siding with Georgetown Green shutters and white trim
  • Santa Cecilia granite counter top
  • Absolute Black granite fireplace surround
  • cherry stain for railings
We also looked at the lighting package we are going to be getting. Both of us do not like the dining room and foyer chandeliers. They are candelabras and just not our taste, but we like the rest of the light fixtures so don't want to upgrade (nor do we want to pay for any more upgrades). So we may have to live with the lights until we can get something else.

Next up, we meet with the PM on March 2nd and we are slated to break ground on March exciting!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finally Some Updates...

We have spent the better part of the last 3 weeks getting the change orders and lot transfer taken care of, and it looks like we are set to go! We meet with Creative on Thursday to pick out our flooring and meet with Guardian this Saturday, so more updates will be on the way shortly. We are still scheduled to break ground on March 9th, so less than a month to go!

We also need to set up a meeting with our project manager. Our sales rep told us our PM works Monday through Friday from 7 to 4 so we will have to schedule our meeting(s) during this time frame. The problem is I work Monday -Friday from 7 - 3 and my fiance works Sunday- Thursday from 8 - 4:30, so meetimg within the PM's schedule means that one of us (if not both of us) will have to take time off work every time we have a meeting or walkthrough. Is this normal? What have been your experiences? I'm really interested in feedback and want to know whether it should be expected for us to take off work.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Here we go...

Welcome to our blog! My fiance and I signed a contract with Ryan Homes on December 21st to build our first home. Neither one of us has ever owned a home let alone had one built so this whole experience is definitely going to be an adventure!

We received word yesterday that our mortgage application was approved, very exciting (and completely terrifying...). We were expecting to have to submit more bank statements...possibly a blood sample...maybe our first born, but the mortgage process went smoothly (so far... fingers remained crossed).

We had a major issue with the lot we initially chose, but we are back on track with a new lot. Right now we are deciding between 2 lots that back up to open space that is slated to be developed into a recreational area (playground, pavilion, volleyball court etc.). One of the lots has an additional 50 feet of open space on the side, but this space includes a 6 foot bike path. The debate continues so it may end up being an "eenie, meenie, miney, moe..." situation.

We fell in love with the Bainbridge Hall floor plan and have carefully gone over every inch of the house in choosing our upgrades. Here is what we are going to have:
  • Elevation E (adds 2 feet to the dining room and 1 ft. to the foyer)
  • 5th bedroom (gives us a larger master suite that will be over the garage as well as additional closet space)
  • Sitting room in master BR
  • Soaking tub and shower with bench in master bath
  • Morning room with 2 additional windows
  • 4 foot extension on family room (gives us an additional closet off the morning room)
  • Gas fireplace with blower package and granite surround
  • Standard kitchen island (originally wanted the gourmet island, but it was so large that it restricted movement in the kitchen and access to the basement. The model home in MD actually removed the gourmet island because of how awkward it ended up being) 
  • 42" Cherry Bordeaux cabinets in kitchen
  • Cherry Bordeaux vanities in the upstairs bathrooms
  • Granite counter tops
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Upgraded carpet padding
  • Brushed nickel faucets and fixtures in all bathrooms
  • Moen one-touch kitchen faucet
  • Recessed lighting in the kitchen
  • Service door in the garage
  • Utility sink in garage
  • We were offered a finished basement, but have decided to exchange it for upgraded insulation in the garage (since our bedroom is going to be over the garage),an insulated garage door, 1/2 closed cell insulation on all exterior walls, upgraded HVAC,  and upgraded tile surround in upstairs bathroom
We were supposed to meet with Creative Floors and Guardian last week, but postponed those meetings until we got the lot situation taken care of. We hope to reschedule those meetings for sometime next week.

We're looking for a settlement date at the end of May. We get married at the end of June, so we hope to move in after the honeymoon. The next 5 months are going to be very busy!