Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Holidays

Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Hanukkah to all my Ryan Homes Blogger friends.  I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday in your new homes, filled with family, friends and new neighbors!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Siding Defect - Delray Sand

Hi everybody!  We've been in our new home for over three months, and its flown by.  None of the painting, decorating and other projects that I was sure would be done by the new year have been done, but we did finally get the boxes out of the living and dining room.  Its still slowly starting to feel like our home.

There have been some minor issues with the house so far, and our PM has taken care of them right away.  Our garage sink was leaking - fixed (though it took 2 visits).  We had a hose bib that was leaking  - fixed.  One of the toilet handles isn't working properly - we are still working on that.  A couple problems with the drywall were fixed, a window was replaced (manufacturer defect), a couple floor creaks were fixed...  But overall, things have been working well and we have been impressed with the quality.

The most major thing so far is something we almost didn't report.  Months ago, my mother said to me "did you notice that your siding is two different colors?"  No.  I thought she was crazy.  I looked at the siding and never saw what she was talking about, until about a month ago when I drove home as the sun was shining directly on the side of the house.  Damn - the siding IS two different colors.

BF photoshopped this to pop the color difference.  Can you see it?

Its more difficult to see here - look at the window on the top right.

Bottom 3 rows...

Originally, it was only one spot that looked weird and BF debated about whether to report it at all.  I mean, its one of those things where you think your eyes might be doing tricks on you, but then we noticed it in other parts of the house.  But only when the sun shines on it from a certain direction.

Our PM said he had been waiting for a call - the manufacturer had called him to let them know they had a bad batch of siding in our color (delray sand) that went out - it didn't get the proper coating of sheen (or something like that), but they weren't sure who got it.  Yup.  That would be us.

The sheen defect would explain why the different color panels look "duller" than the rest.

The manufacturer rep came out one day to see where the bad patches are.  They have promised to inspect each piece of siding and replace any that do not meet their standards.  I have every confidence that they will.  Our PM wants to make it right for us too.

While its been kind of a pain in the ass to have to deal with this rather weird and unexpected problem, our PM and manufacturer seem to be doing everything they can to make it right.  Can't really ask for more than that.

There may be other boxes of bad siding that got shipped out, so if you have Delray Sand siding that was put on in July/August of this year, check out your sheen carefully to make sure its ok.

I hope all my blogger friends are doing well - post some pictures.  I am in decorating and painting limbo and need some inspiration!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stool, Stool & Couch

I thought I'd take a few minutes on this sleety, snowy October day (BTW, WTF?!) to say hi to my blogger friends and let you know what's been going on in my Ravenna.  Not much, truth be told.  BF and I are settling in, but we still have unpacked boxes everywhere.  Good thing I found the winter coats!

You might remember that I hate shopping.  Hate it!  Detest it!  But we need some new stuff to make the house into a comfortable home for ourselves.

Avery Stool - Espresso
Target Avery Barstool. 
The first thing I decided i needed was barstools for the kitchen island.  The island is great, but without seating around it, its not the gathering place that it should be.  The stool search has proven to be very frustrating.

I purchased two Avery barstools at my local Target  for about $90 bucks a piece.  I generally think Target stuff is of decent quality, but these were an exception.  One the first stool, one leg cracked as we tightened up the bolt.  On the second stool, the legs were about half an inch different in length.  After about 2 hours of fighting with them, we packed them up and took them back. Bennett Barstool.
I then started checking out Overstock, thinking I might be able to get a good deal and avoid going to the mall or a furniture store (hate!).  Ordered the Bennett Barstools for around the same price.  Same general style, same faux leather.  They arrived in a about a week and I tried to put them together a couple days ago.  Same kinds of problems. Cracked parts, uneven legs, general wobbliness. We took them apart this morning and got them boxed back up to send back.

So after a total of about 4 hours of assembly and disassembly, not to mention time speaking with customer service people, we are still without the bar stools that I want!  Grrr.

But we do have a new rule in our household - no furniture that we have to put together ourselves.  Both of these stools were made in China, which is part of why they were so reasonably priced AND why we had to assemble them ourselves.  I'm not a huge fan of China's labor and environmental policies, so I'm going to keep that in mind as we go forward on more furniture purchases.

And so, we are getting a new sectional sofa for the living room, one that is on sale, and made here out of fabric that is made here!  Sale lasts until next Friday.

PB Comfort 3-Piece L-Shaped Sectional, Polyester Wrap Cushions, Brushed Canvas Honey
Pottery Barn Comfort Roll Sectional in Honey Brushed Canvas

To be perfectly honest, even on sale and with the additional 10% discount we were offered, this sofa costs a bit more than I would have liked to spend.  But, it saves me from having to spend any time in furniture stores (bonus), its made in North Carolina (bonus) out of US made materials (bonus).  And its a nice color and comfortable (bonus).  BUT, it won't be here until January (boo!).

So, we've got a new couch on the way, but still no barstools.

Anyone have any barstool success stories?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

30 Day and Dryer Disappointment

We had our 30 day walk-thru on Wednesday.  Our punch list was extremely small.  We asked our PM to fix tire tracks in the yard, fix a weird bubble in the master bedroom wall (from the drywall tape), fix a squeak in the hallway and fix one hardwood board that was cracked and missing stain.  Four things.  The 30 day list on my last home was 4 _pages_ long.

The most major problem we've had so far is out of our PM's control.  Our brand new Kenmore dryer hasn't been drying clothes properly and I've been walking around in clothes that smell like musty basement for a week.

A couple weeks ago, I noticed that clothes seemed a bit damp when I took them out of the dryer; I figured I was overloading it or hit the wrong setting, so didn't think much about it.  A few times, I re-started the dryer and let the clothes tumble a bit more.  But this week, I noticed that my clothes smelled MUSTY!  Like I'd pulled them out of a moldy basement.  So I paid more attention this weekend and found out that the dryer was not working at all.  It was getting hot, and steamy, but it wasn't drying clothes.

We called Kenmore to schedule a service appointment, but the lady on the phone wanted us to do a diagnosis over the phone.  Somehow, the machine can send a code over the phone.  So we did that, and we were told that the dryer wasn't venting properly.  Hello?  Really?  It was installed 30 days ago, it couldn't possibly have any kind of buildup in the vent.  But, we checked it out anyway.

This is where we learned the drawback of the upstairs laundry:  there is not a lot of room to move the machines around if you need to get behind them.

So, after some acrobatics on my part, I got my ass behind the dryer to check out the vent.  I was horrified at what I found.  The sears delivery people had completely botched the set up.   First, they didn't shorten the vent hose, so when they put it on and shoved the dryer back into place, all of that metal jammed up behind the dryer, basically cutting off the flow of air.  Second, I found the large zip ties that were supposed to be used to secure the hose INSIDE THE HOSE.  Can anyone say fire hazard?

I shortened the hose, and secured it properly to the machine and the wall.  Now the machine is working great, and I've done about 16 loads of musty laundry today.

Morale of this very long story - check your dryer install job!!  Make sure the hose has plenty of room for air flow, and that it is secured.  Don't trust that the delivery guy knows what he is doing, or cares about proper installation.  Second morale of this very long story - make sure your laundry room is big enough to move the machines around and get behind them for repairs and cleanouts.  The Ravenna laundry room definitely falls a bit short on this.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sherwin Williams 40% off Sale

Sherwin Williams is having a sale this weekend - 40% off paints and 30% (?) off painting supplies.  It inspired me to stop by my local store and grab a ridiculous number of samples, which are now tucked behind random light switches so we can try to figure out what they might look like.

I'm not really ready to tackle painting, but the white walls are beginning to depress me, so this sale might inspire action on at least one room.

Right now, the winners look like White Raisin for the family room/kitchen and Brandywine for the morning room.  Still struggling with whether to do an accent wall, or try to break up the color between the family room and the kitchen.  Actually, I'm struggling with how long it will probably take to paint this entire room!

Here's a question for you all:  Did you (or do you plan) to paint the under-side of soffits?  We've got a soffit that runs the entire length of the family room into the kitchen - the underside of it was white in the model house, but I thought it looked kinda funny.  But it would sure be nice to not have to paint it too....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NVR Still Sucks

Yes, NVR continues to be frustratingly inept, weeks after we closed!

A couple days ago, our NVR mortgage broker sent BF an email.  They needed us to sign and initial some additional paperwork, because they had screwed up the paperwork that we signed at closing.

Is anyone surprised by this?  Yeah, I thought not.

The first thing they wanted us to sign was the form that my mother had sent in to document the gift she had given us.  The same document she scrambled to send in to them on their timeline - they neglected to finalize by having us initial and sign it.  After all the crap my mom went through to get them the documentation, I was quite ticked that they hadn't finished the job.

Wait, but that's not all!  They also screwed up our HUD settlement statement, which, as near as I can tell, documents and calculates our deposit money, downpayment, settlement cost and outstanding amount owed to the mortgage company.  I think its pretty serious that they had to amend this after settlement.

I looked at the two versions for about 30 minutes, trying to figure out where the differences were - eventually I figured out (and verified via email) that they had not changed the amount of the initial balance in our escrow account.  We got a check back at settlement of the difference between the initial calculated amount and the final amount, but for some reason, the HUD sheet didn't reflect the change (this would explain why I couldn't figure out why we were getting money back).

Neither mistake was terribly big, and didn't affect anything we paid or money we got back at settlement, but it was annoying to have to spend time trying to figure out that their mistake was minor AND it makes me wonder what other mistakes they made that weren't caught, and that could mean issues for us later down the line.

Morale of this story is, try to check your numbers at closing.  Ask questions - make sure you understand where any overpayments or underpayments are going and where they came from.  And, if you have a choice, run far far away from NVR and use a company that doesn't suck quite so badly.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Double Coupon: Lowe's v Home Depot

Before I forget, I wanted to share a Lowe's & Home Depot tip with you.

When we changed our address with the Post Office, we were offered some online coupons, one of which was for 10% your entire purchase at Lowe's.  Pretty nice, since big box home stores are sucking our wallet dry right now.

I had the 10% off Lowe's coupon in my wallet at the Home Depot checkout.  The cashier kindly offered to see if they could accept it.  Hey, alright!  I'm all for it.  She got on the phone, talked to her manager, then told us that they couldn't take the coupon, but would give us a discount off one item.  The discount she gave us off the one item was about 10% of our entire order.  AND we kept the Lowe's coupon and get to use it next time we go to Lowe's!

File this under: You Never Know until you Try.

(PS - I really prefer Lowe's but Home Depot may have won me over with this)

11 Days

Hello Everyone!

We've been in our new home for 11 days and we are both still trying to get adjusted.  I never imaged how difficult it would be to adjust and feel "at home" in a new place.  Its slow going, but we are making progress every day.

For the first time in my life, we hired movers, and they were absolutely terrific.  Nothing was damaged or lost and the guys were hard-working and very friendly.  If anyone needs a moving company recommendation in the MD-PA-DE-NJ area, I'd be happy to share.

I spent the day after the move unpacking the kitchen - we tripled or quadrupled the kitchen space and I'm still struggling to figure out where to put things so that they are in the most useful place.  I find myself walking around and around the island grabbing a spoon here, the walking around and grabbing a bowl there, then again for a tupperware....  Ah, the problems that come with that gargantuan island.  

The kitchen, before we started using all the counterspace
as a place to store things we don't have a place for yet  :)

42" cabinets are great, unless you are 5'4 - and then only the
bottom 2 shelves are useful.  I seriously am in need of a kitchen stool

I unpacked some of my great-great-aunt's china (circa 1929) and I
intend to use it the next time I invite the girls over.  Except for this, which
I think is a butter warmer.  Anyone?
We had people over a couple days after we moved in - probably not the best idea in the world, but it was nice to breathe some life into our new place.  Official housewarming will happen way down the road, when the 2 front rooms aren't filled with boxes.

So far, I think my favorite part of the house is the front porch.  If any of you out there are thinking about getting a porch and wondering whether to do it or not, don't hesitate.  Get the porch!!!  We are already planning for how to decorate it for Halloween.

Now that things have settled down a bit, I can get back to blogging and sharing our progress.  Hmm, or maybe I should unpack a box or two?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Shower to Shower

Ok people, I have a very important question for those of you with a stall shower.

How do you put your STUFF in it?!?!

I realized today as we were sealing the grout that we've got one soap holder in there, and that's it.  Its really pretty and sleek and fancy, but there is absolutely nowhere to put a bottle of shampoo, or a razor, or a shower poof.  I mean, I could change my hygienic habits, but BF probably would tire of that fairly quickly.

To me, the most feasible option looks like drilling some shower shelves in there, but drilling through that tile scares me!  Not much room for error there.

So, other than a thing that hangs from the shower nozzle, have any of you found any ingenious products for storing your suds in the shower?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Precious

Good Lord, its over (well, except for the packing and the moving, and the moving in and the renting out of townhouse...)

We are now the proud owners of this Ravenna:

Our closing was at 11am yesterday.  BF and I had a nice relaxing morning, then drove to the lawyers office, which was so sterile and unpersonal if I hadn't know any better, I would have thought we were in a hospital.  We signed our names 7 zillion times to all sorts of papers that promised blood, limbs and firstborns if we were caught late with a payment, in default, or sneezing the wrong way.  The absolute BEST though, was the sheet of paper we had to sign for NVR providing a reason why NVR had pulled our credit reports!  I mean, if that just doesn't put the cherry on top of the NVR bullshit sundae, I just don't know what does.  I laughed and signed it, and thought "I can't WAIT to put THAT on the blog!"

We did some errands on the way to the house, and stopped at Sears to buy appliances.  I've had really good luck with Sears and Kenmore products in the past, and I just don't have the energy or desire to wander around Best Buy or HH Gregg and the small appliance stores in the area aren't open when I need them to be, so Sears it was.  With the Labor Day sale and a new Sears Card (that we purposely did not open until after closing was final) we got 35% off our Kenmore washer and dryer, and a really decent chunk off our Samsung fridge.  If anyone wants to know which models we decided on, let me know and I will find them and post pictures.  We bought a 3 -year service plan on the fridge, but nothing on the washer/dryer.

Then we headed to our house to meet our awesome PM, who had our keys there (yes, we left settlement with no keys to the house!) and who had done EVERYTHING on our final walk-through list in 1.5 days.  I can't say enough wonderful things about our PM - from start to finish, he was there for us and answered our questions and did absolutely everything we asked for.  EVERYTHING.

When we arrived at the house, there were new plants all over the front porch!  It looked so good; what a great gift.  There was no name or note on any of the flowers, so I figured it was a gift from Ryan Homes.  Our PM was puzzled when he arrived.  He said they weren't from him and that he had never seen the sales rep send them.  What a mystery.

We eventually found out that they were from my mother, who had driven over after dark the night before to put them out.  What a really sweet and thoughtful gift.  It immediately just made it feel like home.

We still have a long, long way to go.  New appliances are delivered Sunday, we still haven't packed anything and the movers come on Wednesday.  Wish us luck, its going to be a very busy Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Keys will be mine, tomorrow

Folks, it has been one hell of an exhausting week.

We had our first showing, and are having second thoughts about our property management company.  There have been some rather glaring and annoying communication issues that make us both have a bad feeling about it.

Despite saying several times that they had everything they needed, we STILL had to provide additional documentation to NVR this week, including the paycheck stub that I received TODAY, for my paycheck TOMORROW.  Seriously NVR?

The neighbors continue to be both fascinating and completely irritating and horrible.  Which makes me think our chances of renting the townhouse are getting slimmer by the minute.

However, we had our final inspection and walk through and it was quite good.  I can write more later, but we found a couple minor issues that could have led to problems later on.  PM agreed to fix everything we asked and most should be done before we get our keys tomorrow.

Closing is at 11, then we are going to buy some appliances (cross fingers for kick ass labor day sales) and if I'm super lucky, I'll get to go to the DMV!  

Am hoping that one good night of sleep and the prospect of actually living in my beautiful new house will shift my attitude by tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#7 - No More Butts

There are a lot of people here in my neighborhood that drive me insane: the ice cream truck men (there are three different ones!) with their loud kinder-muzak and diesel generators, the kids with their $500 cars, with the $3000 subwoofer, the kids in the street playing bball, the people who just can't figure out what day trash day is and what day recycling day is... Well, I could go on and on.

But the worst of them are by far, the smokers.  The smokers who stand in front of my house, or nearby, and flick their butts into the street, and the parking area.  And trash too.  But mostly butts.  They are everywhere - the parking area, my garden, my yard, the street, the sidewalk.  Its disgusting.  And, I can't for the life of me figure out why its not acceptable to toss your Burger King cup on the street, but its totally cool to flick a burning death ember.

I've tried, oh lord I have tried, to get the neighbors to not do this, but it has been an utter disaster.  The only time I had marginal success was with a guy down the street who had a crush on me and wanted to win me over.  And even then, I'm pretty sure he flicked when I wasn't around.

So, here's to #7 - coming out of my house and appreciating the garden, the sidewalk and the street, without cursing about the nasty butts.

Monday, August 29, 2011

4 Days Until Closing

Well, it appears that our new house is hurricane and earthquake proof.  I can't tell you how very glad I am that the week of East Coast destruction happened the week before we close, and not after we close.  We haven't actually gotten into the house yet (Final walk-thru is Wed) but we inspected it from the outside yesterday.  No siding was off, no shingles were laying around, and it looked like the basement was dry.  That's pretty damn good - there was over seven inches of rain there on Sunday.

I'm pretty brain dead right now - there is SO much going on.  We close on Friday.  We have showings this week starting tomorrow.  I've started changing addresses.  BF is making appointments.  Work is totally annoying.  Insurance company is being a pain in the ass.  Paperwork is flying.  Email box is cluttered.  You get the picture, and I know you've all been there too (or are going to be there very, very soon.)

So, because I have only a few brain cells left, here are some final pictures!

She's done!  Just waiting for that grass to come in
Landscaping in

More landscaping - with natives!

Dining room.   A little dark, but you can sorta see the floor and lighting 

Living room

My bare footies in the silky new carpet

Bathtub.  I guess its time to get some bubble bath.

Shower & private bathroom.

Master sink - i'll try to get some better pix
Family room.  Shiny shiny.

Wood Steps - it wasn't quite dry, but the PM ripped out the caution tape
and let us go up anyway

I know that we were really fortunate to not suffer any damage to either one of our homes.  I hope that all my blogger friends fared as well - and if you didn't, I hope that your insurance company and PM resolves it quickly and painlessly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

#8 - Disaster-Proof (cross fingers)

Those of you who live on the east coast may have noticed something amiss on Tuesday, as the earth shook beneath your feet while you were simultaneously looking at the severe thunderstorm warnings for Thursday and tracking the biggest monster of a hurricane we have seen in a century.  Yes indeedy.  Its Armageddon out there.

And so far, our Ravenna is holding up.

The earthquake did no visible damage - our project manager told us that the house was built to withstand at least the amount of shaking we experienced.  So, earthquake proof?  <check>

Floodproof?  <check>  With 2 sump pumps, good grading and good soils underneath, we haven't seen a drop of water anywhere on the property, despite the fact that we have had almost a foot more rain than is normal for this time of year.  And we've got another foot of water coming as we welcome Irene to our coastline.

Unfortunately, I expect some wind damage this weekend to both my homes.  Winds are predicted to be sustained at up to 60 mph here, with gusts of 75mph.  That's enough to do some serious damage to newly planted trees, not to mention siding and shingles.  But those things can be fixed easily, and are expected in weather conditions that are going to be so severe.

I hope that all my blogger friends take precautions and stay safe as the hurricane blows by.  This hurricane is not a joke, and we will probably be talking about it for a very long time to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#9 - Laundry Tub

I know, I know - I've got a gourmet kitchen, and a basement I can rollerskate in, and a giant bathtub and hardwood floors and a front porch and yet I pick "laundry tub" as #9?  Yes.  Yes I did.

We actually chose to install the tub in the garage, rather than upstairs in the laundry room.  Fact is, I need a place to dump stinky wet kayaking gear BEFORE it enters the house.  A laundry tub upstairs made no sense to me at all - I would have to take muddy, gross things over the hardwood floors, up the steps, across the new carpet and into the laundry room, all the while, dripping mud and gook and lord knows what.

So in the garage it will stay.

No more will I have paint in my kitchen or bathroom sinks!  No more will I have to soak kayaking gear in my bathtub!  Oh!  Even nasty cat boxes might benefit from the tub!

And so, Laundry Tub, you are my #9.

Monday, August 22, 2011

#10 - Kitchen Storage Extravaganza

I have managed to overlook many of my townhome's shortcomings because of my very affordable mortgage and some of its nicer features, like the big backyard (for a townhouse) and the gorgeous sunsets.

But when BF moved in, this became a serious problem:

Tiny fridge, overfilled beyond capacity with healthy food.
And beer, and cheesecake.  Perhaps I'd have more room
without the beer and cheesecake (perfect together).

My "pantry".  In a real kitchen, a cabinet like this would store
big pots and pans.  Without any other storage, my pots and pans are
hanging on the walls and precariously perched on the tiny fridge.
Try as I might, there is zero way to organize this disaster and find where
that weird smell is coming from (rotting potatoes).

In my NEW house, I will have what, 8 or 9 cabinets this size, with pull out drawers, and a corner storage do-hickey and 42" high cabinets and a PANTRY.  An honest to god pantry, with a door, and shelves, where canned goods can live out their days happily organized.

Ravenna Pantry!  How will I ever fill this much space?
Beer and cheesecake will only do so much.
So, #10 - Kitchen storage space.  It will solve all of my problems and I will live happily ever after.

Or, it will just make dinner at home a less frustrating experience.  But, either one is a step up from where we are now!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Less than 2 weeks to go

We have less than 2 weeks to go until we close on our new home.  I'm in total denial.  It doesn't seem real.

On Friday after work, we went up to see the house.  It had been several weeks since I had been able to see the inside of it and I was really excited.  I hadn't seen the wood floors, or the carpet, or the appliances....  Unfortunately, my PM called right as I was leaving work with some mildly bad news.  The tradesmen had just put a coat of stain on the steps and had taped it off - so we could still see the downstairs, but upstairs was off limits until the stain was dry.  A day later.  :(

So, I still haven't seen the upstairs with carpet and finished plumbing!  But regardless, here are some updates from the first floor perspective:

Driveway and sidewalk were poured early in the week.  BF was there when it was wet and neglected to carve our initials in!  Boo.  The shutters are painted, the electricity is on, lights are working and its like a real house!!  They also painted the concrete at the bottom of the house to match the siding color.

Wood floors are in, and they look great.  Right now there is vinyl down on top of them all, we had to peel it back here to see what they look like.  Its still a bit difficult to see how the floors and cabinets are going to look together because of that, but its really nice that they are taking such care to make sure the floors aren't damaged as they finish up all the other details.

Pantry shelves are in!  I'm assuming shelving has been completed throughout the upstairs too, but couldn't check.

This is the alternative placement for the built in microwave if you get a gas range.  I think it will actually work out well here - its right next to the fridge and I can nuke something while BF is working at the stove or vice versa.  With the microwave right above the stove, sometimes things get a bit hectic (note vinyl covering right up to cabinets).  We also got a microwave upgrade, by 2 levels.  Apparently, GE had run out of the standard microwave that comes with the stainless package, and the first upgrade after that, so we got the 2nd upgrade.

I'm starting to warm up to the laminate color, but its still not shiny and fancy.  We are still holding out to upgrade to quartz.  Someday.

Gas range is in, dishwasher is in - all we need now is the replacement door for that one in the corner there...

Stained steps!  They look a bit messy right now - they still have to finish up the details and put the white paint on.

Next week, the landscaping will go in (more about that later) and some final inspections.  We'll have our final walkthrough the wednesday after next!

I wanted to do a top 30 countdown, but have been way too busy and distracted.   Perhaps I'll try a top 10  over the next 12 days.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Verizon Strike Out?

Hey fellow bloggers!  Has anyone who is moving in the August & September timeframe tried to schedule their Verizon hookup yet?  There is a strike here in the northeast that I had heard was only going to disrupt landline service.  Since we didn't opt for a real phone, I've ignored it and beeped happily at the striking Verizon workers. 

However, the BF is having trouble getting through to Verizon to schedule our Fios service for tv and internet and has read somewhere (reddit?) that Verizon is telling people that it will be December before any new hookups can be made.  Perhaps Fios counts as landline service.

You can never believe what you read on the internet, unless its Ryan bloggers, so I thought I would ask if any of you have successfully scheduled or gotten Verizon Fios service...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Renter Drive By

Its getting real.  2 weeks until our final walkthrough, and 2 weeks and 2 days until closing.  I am not prepared in any way shape or form.

I also wasn't prepared this morning when BF found that our property manager had finally gotten our townhouse up on the "for rent" sites.  I've never sold or rented a home before, so to see pictures of my living room, my deck, my dining room and my kitchen lunchbox collection online for the world to see was pretty unnerving.

Also unnerving: someone already wants to see the house.  TOMORROW.  That might explain the family who crept by the house slowly, then turned around and crept by again while I was out weeding the front garden.

I was expecting to use this weekend to clean up and spiff up a bit because the house is a total disaster zone.  How do people move AND have a nice house for strangers to visit?  I just have never understood.

Because I totally suck at checking voicemail on my iPhone, I didn't get the message until 8:30 tonite, so there is no way we can show tomorrow, but I'm going to try to get our act together so they can show it on Friday, even if its not perfect.  Which it totally won't be.

Particularly if I keep blogging instead of cleaning up.  So, more news and pictures coming your way tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NVR Mortgage Madness

Remember a while back, when I indicated that the NVR mortgage application process wasn't all that bad?  Well, I take it back.  Its turned into a damn paperwork nightmare, and because its all via email and phone, its just that much worse.

I have little to complain about, because BF has been handling the vast majority of emails and phone calls (Love him!).  But I'm still annoyed, so I'm going to tell you about it.  In great detail.

When we were first approved for the mortgage, our mortgage guy M1 sent us a list of items we would have to document before settlement.  No problem, we had 3 months to do it, right?

Well, no, not really.  Turns out that M1 the mortgage guy only handles the application.  M2 the mortgage guy handles the settlement.  So, the list the M1 sent us early on had to be completed and sent to M2 the mortgage guy.  Thing is, the settlement part doesn't get set in motion until after your settlement is scheduled.  Which means that even attempting to do anything prior to 30 days out was impossible, as there was no one to send it to.

Problem number one was the transition from M1 to M2.  First of all, can't we get guys with names different enough to distinguish?!  Jeezus.  BF had trouble remembering who he was calling why because their names were so similar.  And, the black hole that existed for several months was pretty irritating. 

The biggest problem so far for me though, has been documentation that involved stressing out other people; namely my mother, who graciously gifted us some money last winter to put towards the house.  M1 noticed the larger than normal deposit and needed gift documentation.  He told me they would mail a letter to my mother, she just had to sign and send back.  No problem.  My mom isn't the best at separating junk mail from real mail (I mean, who gets anything important in the real mail these days?) so I put her on notice and she had been diligently checking and looking for months for this promised letter.  Thing is, the promised letter doesn't go out until M2 takes over, after settlement is scheduled.  Nobody bothered to tell us this piece of information.

Last week, when M2 took over, all of a sudden it was critically important that he receive all of this documentation immediately.  He emailed a form to my mother (email, after checking the mail box all summer!) and requested that she email it back, with a copy of the cancelled check.  Who gets cancelled checks?  Because the source of funds was slightly obscure, she didn't keep records and had to spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone trying to get a copy.  Then, because she doesn't have access to a scanner or fax machine, had to go to tremendous lengths to get the information back quickly.  She went above and beyond and I love her for it, and I hate NVR for putting her in that position when there are lots of other things in her life that need tending to.

While that was my biggest beef, its been a chain of item. They want a copy of my father's will, to document the source of funds from the sale of his house after he passed away last year.  Which I couldn't locate after rifling through my ENTIRE file cabinet TWICE, then had a breakdown.  I have Verizon bills from 2003, and couldn't find my father's will and estate documentation?  I did finally find it (NOT where it should have been), but cursed NVR many times over for wanting it. 

They also wanted documentation of my intentions for my existing home (renting), which I understand, but also wanted justification for why we are moving only 12 miles from our existing home.  I fail to understand why I had to write a letter justifying why I wanted to move out of my starter home.  We also had to document lots of large deposits into our checking - which were transfers from other accounts - some as small as $1,500.  Paystubs, bank account statements... they needed it all.  And we had already gone through this when we applied!

I don't know whether this process is more difficult for this house than it was for my current house because banks have tightened down on the lending process, I actually have money to document now (as opposed to when I was 2 months out of grad school and drowning in debt) or because NVR is making it more complicated than it needs to be.  But whatever the reason, it stressed me out beyond belief last week and I hope we are done, done, done.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Incredible Progress

Things are happening so fast, I just can't keep up.  I have well less than 30 days to go and way more than 30 days worth of stuff to do!  It also feels like there is way more than 30 days worth of work for the tradesmen to do on the house too, but PM is confident that they will meet the deadline.

We are scheduled to do our final walkthru on Aug 31 - we will have our independent inspection that day as well.  Closing will be on Friday, September 2.  We'll have labor day weekend to get our ducks in a row, and the movers will come on September 7.  If all goes well...

Its been a while since I've posted any new pictures for you, so check this out!

The vinyl siding is finished!  Just waiting on the shutters.
The color is Delray Sand.  We like it - its happy and cheery, but
not ridiculously bright

Last week, they finished tiling the master bath, installing the new unbroken tub, and laid the very unexciting vinyl floor in the office/mudroom, bathroom and laundry room.

We also got cabinets!!

Cherry Cabinet (forget the name) and
Brazilian Brown laminate counter

We are both fairly unthrilled with the laminate.  The color is ok, but a little grey for my liking.  The square corner cut looks cheap and/or industrial.  It will be fine for a while, but I suspect we will upgrade sooner than later if we have any money left over after paying the movers, and our property manager, and for our washer/dryer and for our fridge, and for the deck...  Hmmm... Maybe we will be living with the laminate for longer than I thought.

They also installed the railing for the steps last week - it still needs to be stained, but it looks really nice.  I can't wait until they can uncover those hardwood steps!

Later this week, they are supposed to lay the hardwoods and the driveway and sidewalk.  Its really starting to look and feel like a house.  Like OUR house!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Renegotiating your mortgage rate lock...

This blog could also have easily been titled "Always, always ask, even if you think its the most ridiculous question in the world."

We locked our interest rate a couple weeks ago, right when it looked like Congress might not get their act together and pass the increase in the debt ceiling.  Rates were starting to rise a little bit, and we just didn't want the uncertainty, so we locked at 4.75, with 0.05 discount point.

And don't you just know it, rates went down right after that.  Like, down to 4.25, which some of you lucky bloggers managed to snag!  While we are still happy with 4.75, we were a little sick that we had guessed so wrong.  4.5% would be $50 less per month, and save $10,000 over the life of the loan.  4.25% would save even more - I don't even want to do that calculation.

So, BF asked me if I thought we could change our rate.  "No."  I said.  "Its called a lock for a reason.  We've locked it.  We are screwed."  But, I agreed that it couldn't hurt to ask.  And so the next day, BF called our mortgage guy and renegotiated our rate.

Did you hear that internet?!  It IS possible to change your rate lock!

I don't know exactly what BF did or said, but mortgage guy agreed almost immediately to lower it to 4.5%, with the same discount rate.  The going rate that day was less than 4.5, but I don't think it had crept down to 4.25 yet.

I was totally blown away.  I would have never bothered to even call and ask such a silly question.  And now we are saving $50 a month!

I thought he might not come through with the paperwork, but he did, and today we mailed back the rate lock paperwork with the new rate.  Absolutely amazing.

So if you are out there, watching rates plummet and kicking yourself in the ass for locking too soon, it doesn't hurt to call and ask!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Closing Date!

I was going to post some more pictures, but forget that.  We have a targeted closing date, and its WAY SOON!!!

PM wants to meet on August 30 or 31 for final walkthru and is going to try to schedule the closing on September 1!  Just in time for my friends to get their asses over to my house(s) to do some labor day labor!

There is now a cage match between Excitement and Anxiety going on in my intestines.  Which one will win out?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bathtub Problem, Fix & Another Fix

So much has been happening at the house, and in the neighborhood, I can hardly keep up.  Our neighborhood has only 14 available lots.  The first one is totally done, with landscaping and a mailbox and everything.  They must be settling this week.  Ours is supposed to be the next one finished, but two others are up, with tyvek and roofing.  I'm getting a bit jealous because I feel like they are catching up with us!  Its amazing how the small field is changing.  I hope we like the end result.  :)

A while back, we found that the garden tub has some chips in it.  One on the back, and one on each of the front sides.  Our PM was quite pissed when I pointed it out on our pre-drywall walk through.  He assured me that it would be taken care of, which I had assumed meant that they would order a new tub.

This weekend, the house was wide open (not really happy about that) so we went in and did a comprehensive look at the drywall that had been installed. I was dismayed when I saw this:

See that rounded bit of the tub - its been repaired with some
kind of compound/spackle

Same deal on the OTHER side of the tub
I mean, listen, you and I know that I'm going to screw that tub up almost immediately upon moving in.  I'll drop something on it, scratch it, bust it, spill wine in it, but _I_ want to be the one to do it, not the tradesmen.  There was another repaired spot on the back, but I didn't take a picture.

Long story short, I was miffed by this pretty crappy repair.  I sent a nice, but firm, email to my PM pointing it out.  On Sunday at 10:30pm, he responded.  10:30pm!  But it wasn't the answer I wanted.  he explained that the fiberglass guy had been out, and that it had been repaired, no structural issues, yadda yadda.  I wasn't too happy, but bided my time until I could respond more firmly that I wanted a new tub.  End of story.

Luckily, I didn't have to.  I rec'd an email very early this morning from PM saying that the tub would be replaced.  He must have seen the same hack job I did.  So, no fight, struggle.  It just got taken care of.

Obviously there are going to be things that go wrong, but they are all getting taken care of almost immediately.  Our PM has said several times that he is building our house as if he was building it for himself, and I honestly believe him.  

Lots of drywall pictures to come.  I'm sure you can't wait!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Bloggers?

If you are a new Ryan Homes blogger and I don't have your blog listed on my blog list, let me know that you are out there!  All the people whose blogs I started reading when we started this journey are all settled happily in their new homes and not posting anymore (ahem! pictures please people!).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Congratulations, you are getting concrete!

I'm blogging to you from my back deck (a deck I will miss very much when we move) - its the first time in weeks that it has been cool enough to sit here and I am really enjoying it.  And hoping that my new back yard will make me forget about this tiny little yard and deck!

I had a bunch of updates to share with you this weekend, but now I've forgotten most of what I wanted to tell you!  While I think about it, here is a picture of House from this weekend:

Concrete porch poured, but otherwise doesn't look
much different from the outside

Back of house.  I was surprised at how little roof area there
is in the back.  I eventually may put up solar panels, so more
roof is better.  I guess its the garage that makes it look small

Things are progressing nicely.  This weekend we spotted some minor holes in the caulking/spray foam jobs and notified our PM.  He was on it immediately.  BF actually stopped by the house mid-afternoon and caught him there, so they were both able to walk through the house together (again) pointing out things that needed to be, or were going to be fixed.  I'm kinda jealous.  House is not anywhere near my daily commute, but BF drives by it 2x everyday.  Everything we have asked for, had concerns with or had questions about was immediately addressed by our PM.  He still continues to impress me and if he can keep this up, he is definitely getting all 10s.  Maybe 11s.

We had a surprise that makes me really, really, really happy.  We are getting a concrete driveway!!  YAY.  I despise asphalt for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because it just doesn't look as nice as concrete.  We were originally told that we would have a concrete sidewalk (good) and concrete "apron" (good) but that the remainder of the driveway would be asphalt (boo!) unless we upgraded (double boo!).  But we were keeping expenses down and BF liked asphalt better (something about melting snow and less shoveling).  Well, we found out this weekend that Ryan is going to be giving everyone a complete concrete driveway now.  YAY!  The story went something like this: "record plan yadda yadda, covenants, yada yada, confusion with the county, yadda yadda, free concrete!"  Sounds like Ryan did some cost calculations and figured that the extra cost of giving everyone concrete far outweighed the hassle of trying to figure out where the confusion was on the driveways with the county.  Good move Ryan.  I am with you 110%.  They poured the driveway on the first house to be completed last week and it looks really nice.  I think its really going to make the neighborhood look super spiffy.

We've heard that there is some maintenance on concrete.  PM told us that they would seal it prior to closing, but that we shouldn't put salt down to melt snow and that it should be sealed every once in a while.  Anyone have any info on this?  I did some googling but couldn't seem to find a really good resource on how to care for your brand new concrete driveway.

I hope we find out when they will pour it.  I really want to write our initials in it!  :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Locked In @ 4.75%

We locked our rate today at 4.75%, with 1% origination fee and .05% discount.  Don't ask me what it all means, but basically, the "origination fee" is their mortgage brokerage fee, with fancy terminology.  For our mortgage, it will cost several thousand dollars.  We could have bought a lower rate (4.65) and paid some points, but calculating it over the long run, I'd rather have the cash in hand now so we can get some furniture, or a deck, or a garage door opener.

We are a little close for locking in, but with the debt ceiling debate/hostage situation in DC we were really anxious about what rates might do under the various scenarios that could happen: no debt ceiling increase (super bad for rates); short term extension in debt ceiling (uncertain markets make bad rates); or an actual, honest to god agreement (which will probably happen now, and rates will plummet back down to 4.25 or 2.5). 

I'm happy with 4.75 but we are still taking a chance.  60 days from now is Sept 23.  BF talked to both our sales rep and PM today about it.  Our originally scheduled completion date was August 30, but PM changed it to Sept 15.  He is still telling us that it will be the first or second week of September.  But, if there are any major delays, we could run out of time on our 60 day lock.  So, its a little anxiety inducing.  However, I think we will have a little more control over the house and our PM than we do of Congress.  Maybe a lot, come to think about it...

So, cross your fingers for me that all goes smoothly over the next 60 days, and that I don't want to cry when rates actually end up dropping in two weeks!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Inspections Hootinany

Hello bloggers!   I'm back from my work trip and seemed to have brought the stifling temperatures with me.  You are welcome!

Things progressed a lot while I was away, and we had our pre-drywall meeting and our independent inspection yesterday.  On the hottest day of the year.  We sure know how to pick em.

Our pre-drywall inspection took almost two hours, I think we were just moving pretty slowly because of the heat.  Even though it was only 8am, it was already in the high 80's with 120% humidity.  And we were walking around in a house that had been closed up all night, with no AC or electricity.  Fun times.

The house looked great.  Totally solid.  No weird bowed wood, no giant knots in any support beams, no big gaps, no slanty walls.  Our PM was great, I really like him.  We walked all through the house and talked a little about how it operates, and how air flows.  We asked a lot of questions, and got all of them answered.  Not sure I remember the answers though...

As for mistakes, we found only 2.  They hadn't installed the microwave socket in the correct place.  We are getting a gas stove, and code requires the microwave to not be above it (something about giant balls of flame), so its being moved to a spot right next to the fridge.  Our PM hadn't noticed that, so I was quite proud for figuring it out.  Also, the soaking tub was badly chipped in 3 places.  PM was not happy about that, but said it would be taken care of.

Also, the PM was not happy about this:

We actually found it in the basement, tucked into a pouch that was holding HVAC paperwork.  Hey man, its been hot - who wouldn't sneak into the basement for a cold one?  Even if it was a cold Bud (ick!).  Other than that, and a cigarette butt in the basement, the house was totally clean.  I'm sure they made sure it was cleaned out for our scheduled visit, but its really been mostly clean on our unscheduled visits too.  Way less trash laying around the construction site than at my actual house.  :)

This is where my cabinets will go!

Where the fridge and microwave will go

Tradesman hard at work in 100 degree heat
filling holes with pink goo

giant hvac

This is the little nook in the living room.  I was thinking about adding some bookshelves.
Need to be very careful not to drill into the water lines....
Its like there is a giant octopus living in our ceiling

Or one of those air puffed wiggly arm person displays at the car dealership

Chipped bathtub.  :(

So, at 4pm (and 125 degree heat index) we met our independent inspector, who had already been there for a bit wandering around the exterior.  We walked the house with him for another half hour or so.  You know what he found?  One metal plate that was missing from the half wall in the kitchen.  That was it.  In the whole house.  If he hadn't been so impressed and complimentary of the PM and the job he was doing, I would think he was just not paying attention.  But he kept saying "he  (PM) beat me to it."  All the things he normally finds on houses, he wasn't finding.  No holes, not bowed wood, not gaps, no code violations.  Nada, nothing.  I'm having mixed feelings as to whether we got our money's worth!  But for a couple hundred dollars, having a professional verify our gut feelings about the house was worth it.

We are really glad we went with Ryan and are feeling very confident about the outcome.  While I was shuffling through some old paperwork, I found some letters that I had written to the developer/builder of my current house 10 years ago (which was also new.  boy am I spoiled).  I had totally blocked all of those problems out!  It was bad - very bad.  I won't go into it, but this experience with Ryan is so much better than my last experience with a local (synonymous with corrupt) builder.

Lots of other news but this post is already WAAAAY too long, so more later!