Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flooring Meeting - Creative Flooring

Tonight, we had our flooring meeting.  I was expecting it to take a couple hours, since somewhere in the blogger world, I read that it takes a couple hours.

This, though, did not take nearly that long.

We were the last appointment of the day, and the sales guy was definitely rushed.  I felt like I couldn't really ask many questions, and I actually had a lot.  Like, "do we HAVE to stick to the Ryan selections, or can we go custom?"  I'd really like to explore a more environmentally friendly flooring option, like bamboo, but I didn't feel like I could ask about it because the dude was in such a rush.  Oh, and it was a bazillion degrees out, and the flooring place's air conditioner had blown.  So, he was hot, irritated AND in a rush.  Not the time to ask about custom options.

They had one mistake on the order form - we are putting vinyl in the downstairs "office" to turn it into a cat-mudroom.  They had it listed as standard carpet.  No biggie, but I wonder how things get lost in translation so easily.

The cat-mudroom is the only area in the downstairs that will have anything but hardwood.  So, the biggest decision was really, what wood color are we getting?

We didn't ask about any upgrades, or the wider planks, and now I wish we had.  I'm sure it would have been too expensive, but it would have been nice to price it out.

So, we picked the base level hardwood.  At the model house, we had liked the "gunstock" color, but the showroom had a bigger sample of it, and we didn't like it as much.  We ended up going for cherry.  I'm a bit skeptical of the cherry, but I'm sure any color will look nice (that's what I'm going to repeat to myself over and over and over, at any rate).  Our cabinets (until we change our minds) are the maple cognac (?) ones.  So, here is what it will look like:

The floor looks a little less red in the picture, and its a wider plank than we would have, but you get the idea.  The hardest thing for me was figuring out how the wood would look with the cabinets.  That's a LOT of wood in one place.

Once we had the hardwood picked out, it went really fast.  BF deferred to me on most things (not worth the discussion?) but we did debate the carpet quite a bit.  I like a light carpet.  He likes a darker one.  I think we compromised:

The color looks different in the picture, but you get the idea.  Its beige.  One of the 200 different colors of beige they had for us to choose from (just like the siding!).  In case you are super curious, here is the back of the carpet sample:

Its a Shaw.  Color is "custard".  Upgrade C.  Some sort of warranty; don't remember what.  Note the significant difference in footwear between me modeling the carpet, and the carpet model.  :)  I think this means the carpet will last a long, long time....

Now back to vinyl.  There were only 5 or 6 types of basic vinyl to choose from, so that was quite easy.  We choose one with a large tile look for the cat-mudroom, and one with a smaller tile look for the upstairs bathroom and laundry.

And finally, the bath.  They had 9 variations on upgrade C to choose from.  I don't even know how we arrived at that particular level of upgrade, but so be it.  That's what we got, and here's what we choose:

I have no idea what its called.  I definitely like it, but wonder already how I'm going to clean those little tiles.  You can't tell from the picture, but they vary in their depth.  Its probably a soap scum nightmare waiting to happen.  But its pretty, at any rate.

BF is thinking that he likes the darker cabinets now, so we may have to go back to the model and re-think.  I want him to LOVE the kitchen cabinets, so that he will want to spend lots of time in the kitchen he picked out, cooking up gourmet meals for his woman.  :)

Its starting to get more and more real....

Sunday, May 29, 2011

NVR Mortgage App and some other stuff

We had to go back to the model house to sign more paperwork this week.  We didn't finish signing the disclosure forms on the first round, because there was some questions that our sales rep couldn't answer so we knew we had to go back.  Turns out, she also forgot to have us initial several other pages of stuff.  Sort of annoying, but no big deal.

The visit back to the model allowed us to ask more questions and take a closer look at some options.  We added the recessed lighting in the kitchen.  I'm still ambivalent about it, but BF really wanted it.  We did a quick calculation in our heads and decided that it would likely cost more than 500 bucks to do it ourselves later.  

I also looked at the siding colors again.  No revelations there.  Still thinking and wondering.  We did, however, go back to the lot and take a look at the houses around it.  The other side of the street was developed in 90's; the one next to it was developed by a custom builder several years ago that then went belly up (hence Ryan Homes taking over).  Lots of tan, light yellow and taupe.  Guess we will fit in just fine.  :)

The biggest thing that happened this week was that we sent the mortgage application in.  BF had already sent Mark, the broker, all of our account info so he could fill in the blanks.   The application was fedex'ed to us after he filled in the blanks.

I felt a little weird about filling out the application without being able to ask questions on the fly to the broker.  We are really smart, but I don't understand things like origination fees and how they get their discount rates.  The last time I filled out a mortgage app, I sat at the dude's desk and we went over it line by line.  I didn't particularly like doing it at my kitchen table.

Because we were filling it out on our own, I took a really close look at everything and re-did calculations that he had done.  I also found out that he had screwed up our account info.  Some accounts that were mine were listed on BF's page, as was my mortgage.  It honestly, was just a sloppy job.  So between that and some calculation problems, we called the guy.

He called us back at 8pm, and went over all of our questions.  We fixed the errors, initialed them, and sent it back in.  He explained the discount points  (I'm still hazy on that) and some other things.  My advice to you:  ASK ABOUT EVERYTHING and whether there is a cheaper option.  Title insurance is one - they set you up with a premium package - you can get that cost reduced by 20% or more, depending on which state you are in.  I think there is still some room to bargain a bit, so don't be afraid to ask some tough questions.

Next step:  Flooring appointment on Tuesday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ryan Siding Selections

When we decided to drop the partial stone facade from the Ravenna, I knew my life was going to be difficult.

I've been making fun of new developments in my area for years and years and years.  "They are all BROWN!"  "Who wants to live in a brown vinyl box?"  Brown, tan, light tan, dark beige, light beige and white.  That's how they all look.  And you drive by, and think, "ick."

And when our sales rep showed me my vinyl siding choices, that's what I thought.  "Ick."

I'm really disappointed.  We have 7 choices for color: Brown, Tan, Light Tan, Dark Beige, Beige, White and Taupe.  I hate them all.  I wanted green.  Sage, Clover, Grass or something.  Or maybe yellow.  Hell, I would have considered purple (exaggeration).  But definitely not brown.

Then she pulled out the color scheme book, so we could see the shutter door combinations.  The problem though, was that she didn't have any of the shutter samples.  Just a piece of paper with the colors; and we all know that the color on a piece of paper doesn't reflect reality.  How am I supposed to pick a color scheme when I can't see the actual products I'm choosing?

The BF doesn't much care what the outside of the house looks like; I think I care more about that than I care about the inside.  When I pull up to the house, I want it to scream "this is your house and I'm awesome.  And I'm green."  But clearly, that's not going to happen.

One of the things that got me even thinking about a Ryan home was when I saw the cottage elevations that were featured on some of the virtual tours.  I did lots of google image searches and found lots of colors, and schemes.  None of these are offered in my area and its just kind of disappointing.

Its making me rethink the stone - with stone, I wouldn't care as much about the rest of the house being beige.  But, its expensive, and probably wouldn't increase our resale value (not that I'm already thinking about selling).  And its not going to happen, so, I've got to put on my big girl pants and deal.

I've got to pick the colors by the time we sign the final papers after the mortgage approval.  So for now, I'm roaming around the area, taking pictures of houses I sorta like. I'm thinking that with taupe, green shutters might make the house look more green.  Anyone have a taupe house?  Or a taupe house across the street?

I can't believe I'm thinking about a taupe house.

Flooring appointment is next week.  Given my indecision on siding, that appointment should be great fun for everyone involved!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Contract Signed

Its done!  The contract is signed, the check was handed over, and the sold sticker got put on the plot plan.

(I don't know why we didn't get a star.  I want a STAR!)

We were in the model home signing paperwork and asking questions for nearly 3 hours.  THREE HOURS.  We went over some of our choices again and stuck with most of what we had chosen originally.  As soon as I remember what they were, I'll list them.  :)

Something we are still thinking about is the recessed lighting in the kitchen.  We haven't added it yet, but our sales rep showed us what comes standard for lighting in the kitchen and it looks like it might not be all that useful, or pleasant to look at.  Anyone have any opinions on recessed lighting v. regular?

So, even after 3 hours, we aren't done yet.  We do have to set up the standard appointments with Guardian and the flooring company, but in addition, there were questions about the County disclosure form, which had changed since the last time she signed a contract.  There was a new question, and not one of us could figure out what it meant.  Once we figure it out, we'll drop off that section back to her and we'll be on our way.  I was a little disappointed that we weren't able to complete the entire process yesterday, but would rather fully understand what we are signing than rush into it.

We also didn't pick our siding and shutter colors yet.  More to come on that.  I'll need some help from the blogger world, I think....

We had made reservations at a nice restaurant to celebrate the signing of our contract, but it didn't happen.  When we came home, I took a 3 hour nap and woke up just completely drained.  Its been a hell of a week at work, at school and with the house and I was just emotionally spent.  We went out for ice cream instead.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


When we picked up the contract so we could check it out before signing it, our sales rep also handed us a large folder stamped NVR.  Yikes.

I was expecting to not have to do any mortgage paper work until after we signed the contract, so I immediately started that little panicky feeling in my stomach, coupled with hot flashes.  Things are really crunched right now and I don't have time to look up all my financial info before next weekend.  I've been moving money around, closing accounts, opening accounts, making IRA contributions and quite frankly, because its all been done so recently, I have no idea what money is where.  And don't have time to figure it out until next week.

(of course, I have time to blog, but that's besides the point).

Luckily, the only thing we really had to do this week was sign the permission sheet so the loan officer could check our credit scores.  BF sent them over yesterday morning, and by the end of the day we had our pre-qualification.  I guess that's all we need to sign the paperwork.


Next step:  Call and schedule our contract meeting.

Am I really doing this?

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'll take what's behind lot #1 please

Lot # 1 is officially on hold for us.

We called Jennifer, our sales rep, this weekend to discuss what was going on with lot 4 (the wooded one) and lot 1.  Lot 4 was still potentially under contract, so we told her to put a hold on #1 for us.  We want to be fully informed as we move forward, so we had her print out a copy of the contract so we could read it at home, and so our lawyer could take a look at it.

Yes, we know its a standard contract.  But its written to cover Ryan Homes' and the developer's asses; not ours.  I know that thousands of people sign them each year, but we are risk adverse and I want to understand everything I'm getting into before signing it, and forking over a ton of cash.

Dropping by to pick up the contract also gave us a chance to see the house again.  Each time I see the house I'm reassured that it feels like the right choice.  It is a bit big, but every time I see it, it almost seems smaller!  I'm just trying to justify it in my head, I guess.  We were seriously looking at the Venice model too, but the Ravenna is going to work so much better for us.

I got to take my mom over to the lot yesterday to show her where it was and the other lots we were looking at.  I'm 35 years old and my very own person, but its still nice to have mom say I'm making a good choice.  She even took a video of the lot.  Yes, that's right.  A video.  It has no people, just a panorama of the front yard and the street and the stormwater pond.  Moms are silly like that.  Maybe if you are lucky, I will figure out how to post it here!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Lots

BF just compared our lot hunt to the fairy tale Goldilocks.  I always thought she was a little high maintenance and ridiculous, but now I'm realizing... I am her!

We have narrowed our lot choices to three:  lot 4, lot 3 and lot 1.  Lot 4 may come available on Saturday, or it could be locked down, so we are feeling pressure to make our choice.  So here comes Goldilocks...

Lot 4 is too loud.  Lot 3 is too exposed.  Lot 1 has too many neighbors.  Which one is going to be just right for my mid-afternoon nap?

I really thought it was lot 4 - its wooded on the one side, faces the stormwater area and would only have one neighbor on the south side.  We did find out that the neighbor has chosen to install an outdoor speaker system, which we aren't so keen on.  It is really close to a road and the railroad tracks, and the lot is a weird shape that makes the very back of the yard pretty useless.  I spent about five minutes today trespassing on the lot trying to visualize what it would be like to sit in my morning room or back deck, listening to the birds.  And the motorcycles.  And Billy Joel blaring from the speakers next door.  And, I wasn't in love, though I still love trees.

Then I went across the street to lot 3, which is flat and devoid of any vegetation and surrounded on 2 sides by a dry detention basin.  I've been around the block long enough to know that these basins can be fine, but you get a bankrupt or feuding homeowner's association and the pond stops being maintained, and then you either get a nice nature area, or water in your basement, or both.  In addition, the house is totally exposed.  People driving have a clear view of the front, the side and the back of the house.  No privacy at all - at least until trees get planted.

Lot 1 is the furthest lot from the railroad and main road.  There is an existing house to one side that is meticulously maintained and a hedgerow on the other side - beyond the hedgerow are houses with really big backyards.  And old people.  Old people are usually pretty quiet.  There would be a new house behind it eventually too, but the backyard could eventually be secluded.

After pouting and pushing and expressing our interest in lot 4 to our sales rep sixteen million times, we might be leaning towards lot 1.  Its the safest bet, the most usable space, the quietest and has a really cool street address.

All this thinking, as my neighbors next door are having a raucous party that is literally shaking my walls, and as the train rolls by.  The difference in the two neighborhoods is striking, and while I like where we live now, any of the three lots is going to give us more privacy and more quiet.  I'm sure whatever we decide will be a good decision, because its going to be much better than where I am now!

Thanks to you guys who posted comments the other day - I really appreciate the input and thoughts, and am a bit aggravated that Blogger shut down and lost them!  But, invaluable advice nevertheless. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lot Lines

I drove directly to the development today after work to time it; its about forty-five minutes from door to door.  Except I don't know where the second door is going to be.  Or if there will be a second door.  BF and I spent about a half an hour on site looking at each lot (there are only a few) and weighing the pros and cons of each one.  We don't really like any of them particularly (more of that story to come) - how do you choose between three or four options when you are indifferent?  Several of the lots back up to an older part of town, that is close to a major road.  The road noise was louder than we would have thought possible, but more of a consideration is what might happen in a few years to the tiny railroad crossing hamlet of houses that look like they've outlived their useful life?  If a Wawa or Royal Farms goes up right behind a house we've mortgaged ourselves to the bone for, we are going to be pretty unhappy.  So, what to do?

Its tough to get excited about spending 300k+ and moving when the available lots aren't exactly perfect in every way (not that I could even tell you what exactly perfect in every way is!)

There was one lot that we loved - it was wooded on one side and sort of secluded, but we over thought it.  The woods are privately owned and not protected open space, so the owner could do whatever he wanted to property that I know we would eventually feel was ours.  Plus, it was very close to the railroad tracks - within 500 feet.  The train doesn't run often, but it runs at night and I'm a light sleeper.  I know Ryan homes are supposed to be air-tight, but I don't know how sound proof they are.  So, while we were considering all of these things, another buyer started the contract process on it.  We simply waited too long.

Its the story of my life.

So, how did you make your lot decisions, not knowing who would be next to you, what their house would look like and whether they would think that planting plastic tulips in their yard counted as gardening (true story)?