Friday, April 24, 2015

Building Our Verona: A New Addition!

Building Our Verona: A New Addition!: We spent 8.5 years in our last house debating whether we wanted a deck or a patio.  Needless to say, when we moved out, the construction st...

Breaking ground!!!

Here is our little piece of land highlighted in yellow.  There is about 20' of space between the houses on the side, so that gives us a good little amount of space.

The ground has been broken and the molds for the foundation are ready to be placed in.  This is going to be the longest summer ever!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Road to the Ravenna: DIY Iron Baluster Upgrade - Angled Handrail

Road to the Ravenna: DIY Iron Baluster Upgrade - Angled Handrail

Little Rant

I can see a trend in some of the blogs about Ryan homes that people would ask and get told "no" and seemed to be bitter about it or would state, "someone else got it, why can't I?".  As long as you are respectful and reasonable with your requests, then you should be able to get the things you want, as long as they are offered in your division.

You don't go to Burger King and ask for a Big Mac, so take the time to research Ryan Homes or any builder, before you choose to build with them. Find out what options they offer and what they can not offer. Not only will this make your home building process more fun and exciting, but it helps the next person out behind you by creating a positive experience with the builder, who might be more flexible in the future if customers acted appropriately.

A little nugget of helpful information

We are expecting to break ground this week, so I will post pictures as soon as we get them from our SR.  Our PM is on vacation this week, so its nice to know our SR will fill the gaps in his absence.

Little nuggets:

We confirmed there are no upgrades for the faucets, bathroom or kitchen.  Our selection sheet during our Pre-Construction meeting listed "upgrade1" for the faucets, so I thought I would ask as others homeowners have mentioned they were able to upgrade theirs.  What was nice to find out is that the granite will have 3 holes for the faucet and will come standard with a sprayer and soap dispenser.

Ryan homes does not offer any different types of sinks.  You get a standard 50/50 stainless steel sink that is mounted under the granite. Our SR said RH used to offer a 70/30 sink years ago, but few people got them so they stopped offering them.

Ryan homes does not offer beveled edges on the granite.  Kinda sad about this as I would like something more than just a square edge.

Finally, one thing to keep in mind is that each RH community operates like their own business, per our SR. I told him that I saw other pictures online of homes with the beveled edges on the granite and he explained that some divisions may offer that and some do not.  Unfortunately, my division does not offer that.

I'm pretty satisfied with that answer and it makes sense, when you think that the homes are built at a certain price and have a certain profit margin built in, the pressure is on the PM to make sure he comes at or under budget for the home.  If everyone was allowed to deviate based on what they saw in a different state or community, then the home building process becomes less streamlined and the process takes longer to plan and build because are worried about why someone else got more outlets or more shiny door knobs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Side note...

I ran across another blog that mentioned having access to the Ryan Homes Advantage website.  I was not informed of this website, but maybe will be at a later time.

The link is:

Has anyone been told about this and what exactly does it offer?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ryan Homes Elevation "E"

Forgot to post these earlier.

Our elevation "E". We did not chose the same colors.

Here is a layout of where our windows will be.  The HOA has some requirements on the number of windows that must be in the house, so we ended up getting the living room window and the windows in the morning room for free!

Another elevation drawing.  We will have the layout for the circled image.

Pre-Construction Meeting

I gathered some questions from other blogs for our telephone meeting today. I currently live on the west coast and the home is being built on the east coast, so that is why we did not do our meeting in person.  Our realtor was unable to make it but we have been in good hands with the RH Rep from the beginning.

We also went over our options and reconfirmed with the PM our color choices for cabinets, flooring and granite.  Everything was good to go from what I could tell, so we should not have any surprises along the way.

Since, I've been through this process before, I didn't ask a ton of questions and really just let the PM talk through the paperwork, which was about 10 pages and I only needed to sign 2 of them and send back.  I figured it best to let them build the house and not worry about the small things because there is nothing I can really bring up to change or add at this point:

Estimated timeline for build? Start building next week, be done by mid July

Smooth or rough ceilings? Smooth

Have the appliances changed? Model numbers? GE brand.  I didn't put much thought into this at the beginning since stainless steel was included and no other options were offered, nor did I ask.  Researching the model appears to be the basic stainless steel appliances, or one step below the GE Profile Series.  The appliances are Energy Star rated and we will try to upgrade them through the PM if possible later.

Recessed lights over each shower? Recessed lights that are have protective glass covering

Can the granite backsplash lip be removed or not installed?  Yes, we can make the request to no install the 4" granite backsplash so we can do our own backsplash later.

Are cabinets installed in laundry room? Will they include crown moulding?  Wire Shelving installed

Outlets on landing of stairs, or top and bottom?  Top and bottom of stairs, nothing on the stairs

Extra insulation in laundry and bathrooms to reduce bathroom sounds?  Nope.

What is the height of shower head? Can it be raised?  PM is about same height as us and says the shower head is probably at 7' high, which is good for us tall people!

Type of light in laundry room, recessed?  Standard light fixture

Can I have my own inspector? What is the process?  Yes, just coordinate with PM before hand. PM will let us know a week or so before the milestones so we can arrange to have someone come out.

Will landscaping be installed before or after closing?  Before

Are any items completed after closing?  Nope.  If you are building in the winter time, this may change due to seasonal changes.

What is the grading of the backyard?  Can it be more flat?  Relatively flat, no grading will be required.

What is the grading of the driveway? How wide will it be? Can 2' be added to the sides so you are stepping on concrete and not grass getting out of car?   Driveway is wider than garage door opening.  I have another house that is similar and had no issue getting out of car and stepping onto grass.  I didnt ask about adding concrete to sides specifically because I know this will not be an issue.

Is the driveway concrete or paved?  Concrete

Can we have copies of the Plumbing, HVAC and electric plans?  Nope

Where are the outdoor lights on the house?  2 near garage, 1 near the front door and 1 near the morning room door.

Is there an outlet on the back or side of house?  Water resistant outlets are on front, back and sides of house.

Can the hose for the dryer vent be recessed into the wall?  Dryer vent is already recessed into wall.

Can left over materials be left in garage so have extra's after closing if needed?  Yes. Tile, carpet, hardwoods and such will be left behind.

Is the Water heater code compliant for the future? Is MD expecting to change efficiency standards thus making current water heater obsolete?   I only asked because in WA state they are changing water heater regulations, forcing many people to upgrade to newer "green" tanks. I was told this wont be an issue as Ryan homes has been building "green" homes in my area for a while and are ahead of other builders when it comes to this.

What type of windows will be installed?  Windows are Low-E and have a 20 year warranty on seal. 

Is the subfloor nailed, glued or screwed?  Is this everywhere?  Nailed and Glued, no screws.

Are their outlets in laundry room, mud room, master closet and garage?  Yes to laundry room and mudroom.  No to master closet.  Garage will have 1 GFI outlet and 1 dedicated outlet for our deep freezer to fill up with venison!!!!!

Is there a light in stairway?  Can it be centered on the window when viewed from outside?  The Venice model does not have this issue.  The PM knew what I was talking about and said the light is already centered on the window, which is not the case for other models.

How close are neighbors home on each side?  More specific to us, but we have about 20' on either side of house.  Good to know regardless so you don't feel crammed next to your neighbor.

What is largest size fridge to fit in Kitchen?

Where will window in basement be located?  Same spot as the layouts previously seen.  The window location will not change.

Will there be trees in front of house or in back?  There will be an everygreen tree in front of house and standard bushes and mulch alongside the house.  The HOA may put in additional trees along the public sidewalk, but no indication was given as to where.

Are there steps in front of house?  Railing?  There will be one step in front of the house.  I don't asking about a railing would be applicable.

Drainpipe in garage?  Nope.  Garage is graded with a slight slope, so anything could be drained out easily if needed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mortgage Approval and Pre-Construction Meeting

We received our mortgage loan approval from NVR!!!!

The loan processor said it was the fastest approvals she had seen in a long time, not sure if anyone else has experienced some difficulties with this process but we will take what we can get.  I will say that our credit was not an issue and our debt ratio was a little on the high side, but it was approved in their automated system so now all we have to do is write MORE LETTERS :(

Yes, even after receiving the loan approval, you will receive a checklist from underwriting on letters that need to be written to explain anything from non payroll deposits into your bank accounts to why your children's names are different on your tax returns (we are a blended family!).

The one thing I have experienced so far is that as long as you go with the flow and get done what is being asked of you, then the process take care of itself and everyone else you meet during the process is more likely to help you out if needed.  I've read some blogs where people had to keep providing documents or trying to explain life circumstances that were bitter about it.  I am not sure how that played out in the end, but you have to know that no one is out to get you or trip you up with buying the home.  NVR and RH want your business, and if you've made it to this point, most likely they will help you make it to the closing table.

Our pre-construction meeting is tomorrow so that is another good milestone!  I've bought new construction homes before so I am familiar with the process, but every builder is different.  I talked with some friends locally who build homes and they recommended letting the builder do their thing.  It does not matter if you have 100 things to go over or 10, they are going to build the house the same way they always have, and a buyer's input or questions is not going to change that process. The key thing is not to become "that customer" for the same reasons as stated above.  I've had builders offer free upgrades or extra customizing before, within reason, if you just play the part of a nice customer.  If there was an upgrade or an item that you wanted, but couldn't afford at the time (wainscoting,  crown molding, and things along those lines), then by all means ask the project manager how much it would cost post build or see if could work something out during the build for a reduced or low cost option.

Please chime in with your experiences or things to ask about at this point in the build!!!

Friday, April 3, 2015

NVR Update

Well, after sending the same documents again and writing letters to explain this and that,  our loan is in underwriting right now.

There was nothing unusual about my financials or credit, but because of federal laws aimed to prevent money being laundered through residential transactions by terrorists, certain things get scrutinized. Be prepared to write letters for any non payroll deposits into your accounts, this includes gifts from family or birthday money from grandparents. Silly right?

Also, if you take any type of loss on your taxes due to business or invest property transactions, be prepared to write a letter. Finally, if you move money around in your IRAs because your a savy investor or have taken a loan out in the past from your IRA, which I have not, you will need to write a letter explaining why that happened.

Most of it seems like common sense when you look at someone's loan packet, but dont be alarmed and work with your rep to get NVR what they need. I used to work in the mortgage industry and some of this seemed excessive to me. Just got to roll with it. Just remember that the more flexible and helpful you are during this process the more likely things will work out in your favor if issues come up later with the loan or build process.