Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pallet Project - USA!

Every home needs some "Merica in it.  So I rounded up some pallets and created a US Flag that is 43" x 36".  I put it on the ledge in the stairwell going to the basement, since we are down there often to watch movies anyways. You can do about and design with any product by googling it, so nothing too hard to make.  This is just an idea on what we did.

Accent Wall

Just finished making an accent wall in the basement.  Since I get to decorate the basement, I figured I would start with something simple.


2" Brad Nail Gun.  I used 1 5/8" nails
Air Compressor
Orbital Sander
Jig Saw
Rubber Mallet
Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

2.5 packs of Antique Laminate Flooring from Lowes
1 matching transition strip to finish the right edge of wall with a clean line
2 sticks of quarter round for left edge and top of wall.

The only tricky part was cutting the top part as the left side of the wall was 3/4 higher than the right over the entire length.  The easiest method I found was to measure 2.5 feet at a time and make the cuts, as its easier to get a straight line at 2.5 feet then the entire length of the board.  I used the Jig Saw to cut the top pieces since I dont have a table saw to cut at an angle.  Maybe Christmas will be good to me???

I recommend taking the face plates off whatever you have on this wall as it makes it easier than trying to cut around and it looks better.  We will eventually replace the covers with something that goes better with the flooring.  For perspective, the tv is 60" and mounted on a full swinging arm. I didnt take it off during the install of the wall, as I could just move to either side to make room for the boards.  I also ran the boards to the edge of the wall mount as 1) you wont see it and 2) it was not worth the time and effort to cut little pieces to fit inside the mount.

I may add rope light behind the TV to give it a nice glow when watching movies, but we are still undecided on what we want to do, as we usually leave the single basement light on, as seen in the bottom picture, while we watch movies.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Back splash

Just finished the biggest piece of our backsplash today. It was pretty straightforward for my 1st home improvement project. Other than the standard tools, I used a Dremel with a diamond blade to cut the tiles to fit around the outlets. The tiles were 12x13 and left a 6.5" gap to the bottom of the cabinets that was much easier with the Dremel because each tile is small and ceramic. A tile saw would ruin the entire square. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fixing Surround Sound connectors

I wanted to use banana connectors from my receiver into the surround sound outlets instead of stripping wires. I think it's cleaner and easier to move things around in the future. The Guardian plugs will work if you want to strip your wires. However, I discovered the surround sound wires going into the Guardian plugs were put too far into the screw and prohibited the banana plugs from being fully inserted. It's a simple fix to pull the face plate out and pull the surround sound wires out a bit to fit the banana plugs.

If you don't want to mess with this, then ask your guardian rep to make sure you can fully insert the plugs.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Closing completed!!!

We got the coveted Ryan Homes bag filled with useful goodies!!!!
Everything went well with closing. Took about 2 hours of which  30 min was waiting for the forms to go through QC and a copy made of all the forms for us. Our loan officer was in touch with us routinely so there were no surprises at closing and we knew exactly what we would be getting back.
A note for people using a VA loan:
We had a last minute surprise that we had pay off and close one of my credit cards for debt ratio, which is no big deal. The problem is that the VA recently made this change and we didn't find out about it until the day before closing. That left me scrambling to get my reward points cashed out from Cabela's as I would lose them when the account was closed. This can be avoided by making sure your card balances are low or zero, prior to applying for the home loan. NVR bases your debt ratio off that initial credit pull, so keep that in mind and use the info how best fits your situation.
All of our pre settlement blue taped items were fixed during the week. Can't say enough good things about our PM. We should have very little things to address at the 10 day and 30 day marks.
We will be posting more pics of how we decorated as we get the projects done and as funds allow, lol.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pre-Settlement Walkthrough

We had our pre-settlement walkthrough last friday and everything went well. Not sure how 2.5 hours went by so fast, but it was a good chance for us to go over all of the features with the PM.  The PM did a great job, as usual, in explaining the walkthrough process and what to expect over the next week.

I printed out a list of questions or things to go over that I found on another blog, but did not need it.  I read over it and felt that some of the questions were not necessary but everyone's experience is different.  I have built new construction homes before so I am familiar with the process and we have been to the house several times during the build process and nothing has stuck out at this point.

We had our realtor there to help and they have been through other Ryan Homes but with a different PM, and they were glad to see that very little had to be addressed.  I've thought of hiring an inspector to come out, but figured I would do that before the 30 day mark so that we can have a good run through of the house and we would have a list of issues at that point, if any.


Wife may have gone overboard with the blue tape, but its her home so we gotta keep her happy!  I did not think until after we were done that in my previous home we only marked stuff that was 1-2" or longer or was a dent.  Minor dings and scratches didnt need to be taped.  That would have made sense as there were a lot more of the "minor" things that got taped then actual issues to address.


Shingles over morning room appeared to be scuffed and damaged.  It was a small area, maybe only 4 or 5 rows and only about 2 feet wide.  Not sure what happened but PM noted that it was not normal.

Only the master bath had a toilet paper roll thingy installed.  Not sure how this was missed by us previously, but they will be installed.  Heaven forbid we have a central "wiping" area in the house!!!!

Shower door was not installed level and was crooked.  PM noted that it was not normal after trying to adjust rubber seal.

Some of the HVAC seal material had dripped onto basement floor.  PM had noted this before we got there and was going to have it removed and/or paint the unfinished section floor as the glue stuff most likely would be removed easily.

NOT A FIX, but just FYI, there was some gaps in the stone of the front of the house where you could see through to the mortar backing.  THIS IS NORMAL.  We thought there wasn't enough mud between the bricks, but a layer of mortar is built around the frame of the house and allowed to dry before the bricks and mud get placed on it.  It allows the brick to stick better to the house and creates an extra layer of protection.

Nothing else was notable and everything else turned on and off and flushed and drained as expected. Overall, we are very satisfied with the build of the house, knowing we have one of the best PM's around.

We will be closing later this week on the house after we do one more walk through to verify the items identified have been fixed.  One thing I found helpful is ask the PM what the tolerance is for something before taping it.  Some items are allowed a variance, like trim or walls that they can off by before they need to redone.  Knowing this ahead of time saves the effort of marking every little scratch and sets a reasonable expectation on what can be fixed at the 30 day and 10 month mark.  I've read some blogs where this has been an issue where people didnt want their baseboards filled with caulk because they were off the wall by 1/4" and wanted them redone or the wall redone, but that is within the building standards.  Not everything is going to be perfect in a home and you just have to accept that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


We are within a week of the house being complete and then closing next week.  So far the process has been smooth with no issues.  We go check out the house about once a week to see what was added and how things are coming along.  A couple things to note:

1. There will most likely be dings and scratches on things, but they will get fixed.  I'm not being over optimistic as we would have thought moving appliances in the house and routine touchups would not cause any damage. But it happens and its not worth getting worked up over, unless its a major hole or issue.

2. The sod could have been laid down better, so we went around and fixed the seams that were overlapped or just not put down tight.  We did take pictures of some of the larger gaps and spots where it looks like left over pieces were used to fill gaps.  We discussed this and will monitor it to see how the sod takes before closing.

Front of house.  Loving the earthy/lodge look and feel to the home!

Kitchen from the living room.

Our huge fridge!  The doors do no bang against the drywall so that is good!

A couple problem areas in the lawn to watch over time

Living room from the kitchen