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!!