Friday, June 27, 2014

Floored by Flooring!

Thursday we had our appointment with Rite-Rug.  Our only major complaint was the availability to schedule appointments during convenient times.  We both had to take some time off of work to make the appointment.

Upon entering Rite-Rug, we were welcomed by.... no one.  I counted 3 people that were sitting at their desks and didn't lift their heads up even though they had to have heard the hanging jingly balls bouncing against the doors as we walked in.  We walked around and found our sales person who was in a back corner and had a "Selection Center" sign on the wall.  Our sales person was friendly, so that was a good thing, and was helpful in making our selections.

Coming in to the appointment, we knew that we definitely wanted to upgrade the carpet padding to 8 lb and that we wanted to extend the hardwood into the dining room, powder room, and hallway.  The choices were a little overwhelming since there were a lot of combinations that could be put together and mix and matching different levels/upgrades.


Here's what we found out about carpet.
  • Level A is the standard and does not have stain protection.  There were only a few color options available.
  • Level B included stain protection and had a few more color options. 
  • Level C had some nicer designs, textures and colors and seemed to be made a little better than both A and B.
We decided that we definitely needed Level B, if for nothing more than the stain protection.

We also felt that since the family room will be an area where we will be spending a lot of our time, the upgraded carpet Level C would be a good investment.  

Here are our final carpet selections:
  • Level C in the Family Room
    • Intuitive/Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea

  • Level B in the Basement, Stairs, and Bedrooms.
    • Collinsville/100 Sahara Buff
Sahara Buff


Our included options for the home included Hardwood A in the Kitchen, Morning Room, and Foyer.  We will be putting hardwood in the dining room, hallway up to the family room, and the powder room. The differences to us between Hardwood A and B were pretty significant.  B brings a few more colors and 3.25" planks. The overall look of B is smoother and more refined.

We initially decided on upgrading to Hardwood B - 3.25" Dundee/Mocha. After some second guessing, reviewing other blogs and talking to both of our mothers, we determined that with our Cherry Java cabinets the Mocha would just be too dark.  Nora went back on her own the next afternoon and changed our selection to Saddle, which we feel is going to look awesome in the house with our other selections.

We also decided on Black Cherry stain for our railings which will have the white spindles.

Master Bath

There were 4 different tile selections, A, B, C and D.  Selection D was significantly more expensive than the other options so we decided not to even look at those choices. The ceramic tiles included with the upgraded owners bath (A) are just basic white or almond colored tiles.  B was almost the same as A but with a few more colors.  C had larger (12x12 ) floor tiles, (10x14) wall tile, and accent pieces.

We'd already made the decision that the Kitchen, Family Room, and Master Bathroom are the areas of the house that we wanted to focus attention on.  Having already decided to upgrade the Master Bathroom by adding granite counter-tops and upgraded cabinets, we decided to go ahead and upgrade to level C tile.

Also, after looking at our choices, we decided to change the Burlywood Granite to Santa Cecilia Light to keep a lighter, less busy feel in the master bath.

Our Master Bathroom tile selections:

  • Floor
    • 12x12 Dorian Gray
  • Wall
    • 10x14 Dorian Gray
  • Accent
    • Universal Mosaic

Master Bathroom Selections!

Second Bathroom/Laundry Room

Choices for our second bathroom and laundry were a bit easier.  For both we went with the same laminate vinyl flooring.   

We know that we could have probably gotten some of these and other upgrades done at a lesser cost if we went with an outside contractor after we closed, however for the convenience and knowing that it will be done, to us it is a wise decision and expense to take care of now.  

Only our Guardian appointment left, which is in a week and a half.  Hopefully we've made some good selections and we can start to sit back and enjoy our home being built!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Colors, Cabinets, and Granite, Oh My!

Wednesday afternoon we met with our newly assigned SR at a nearby Ryan community to go over our color selections and review our options.  We met for about an hour which was a lot quicker than we anticipated, but we already had an idea on the colors that we liked which made this process easier for us.

Exterior Selections

The SR showed us a few different exterior color schemes.  We had to stick to these color schemes and there were no variations that could be made, which I guess is a good thing so that your neighbors don't make any crazy choices!  The only color scheme that we couldn't choose was with gray siding since the neighbors to our left have gray siding, which was fine by us.
  • Siding
    • Sandy Tan
  • Shutters
    • Dark Berry
  • Stone
    • Bucks County Ledgestone
  • Door
    • Marooned

Exterior Colors!
Bucks County Ledgestone

Now on to our cabinet and counter-top selections!


Included in our original agreement was kitchen cabinet upgrade 1.  After reviewing the cabinet selections, while some of the choices we liked, we ultimately decide to upgrade to the kitchen cabinet upgrade 2.  The selections in this upgrade have a solid wood center, instead of the veneer, and to us have an overall nicer look to them.  Plus, the Cherry Java that we originally liked was in this upgrade. We opted against adding any handles. 

We decided on Santa Cecilia granite.  None of the other options really stuck out to us and we like that there are some darker streaks in the texture that should blend nicely with the cabinets that we selected.

Cherry Java with Santa Cecilia


The standard bathroom cabinet selections are pretty limited, a light oak or maple color.  We decided that this would be fine for our second bathroom, but for the master bathroom we went for the vanity upgrade 1 and selected Maple Espresso.  Since we were making these upgrades to the bathroom and we knew that we would want to upgrade the tile when we visited Rite-Rug,  we selected Burlywood granite.  What a great master bathroom we are going to have!

Maple Espresso with Burleywood

For the second bathroom we went with the Oak Honey Cabinet.

Oak Honey Cabinet

Other Options

Here are the other options that we decided to add:
  • Exterior Floodlight
  • Address Stone
  • Exterior Gas Line Hookup
  • Paint Package 3 tone
    • Sun Dew paint
      • We went with the paint package so that we would have the entire house painted a color other than white and we could focus on just painting accent walls.  There were a couple of paint color options available but we liked Sun Dew the best.    
Sun Dew - 7SW688
  • 1 Additional Recessed Light for Kitchen
    • We like the look of having pendant lights above the gourmet island.  The kitchen comes with 9 recessed lights.  After speaking with the SR, who contacted the PM, they agreed to center 3 recessed lights (2 existing and 1 additional) over the island so that we could swap out and put in pendant lighting.  Here's a picture from someone that has done the same thing and where we got this idea.
Kitchen with Pendant Lights

WOW how quickly these options add up!  An upgrade here, an add-on there, and before you know it $$$$.  Our thought process for where to add upgrades or options was to make them in the areas where we will be spending the most time - the kitchen, the family room, and the master bathroom!

Rite-Rug appointment tomorrow, more selections!!!  Whew, this is exhausting!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Another Visit to the Model

Today we took a drive over to the Venice Model with Nora's parents so that they could walk through and see the model that we purchased.

Venice Model
We have one more week out of our 14 days to make any changes so it was a good opportunity for Nora and I to walk through the model again to see if we missed or wanted any options.  The nice thing about this model is that it doesn't have all of the upgrades and has some of the standard features which we were able to see.

We were looking at potentially upgrading our faucets to brushed nickel, but the chrome that was in the model seems to be nice enough until we decide to change them in the future.

We did a little prep work on our colors so that we will be ready for our meeting on Wednesday with our SR.

  • For the cabinets, we are considering Cherry Java.

  • For the granite in the kitchen, we are considering Santa Cecilia.

  • Shutters - Winestone

  • Siding - Sandy Tan

  • Outside brick and fireplace - Buckcounty Ledgestone

  • Exterior door - ?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rite-Rug and Guardian Scheduled

We received calls from Rite-Rug and Guardian to schedule our appointments.  Rite-Rug is scheduled for Thursday the 26th and Guardian on Monday July 7th.

We will also be working with another sales rep for the remainder of our process.  The sales manager assured us that we will be well taken care of and we are scheduled to meet with the SR on Wednesday the 25th to go over colors, cabinet, and granite selections.

We are considering getting hardwood flooring in the dining room, powder room, and hallway leading to the family room.  We feel that it would look a lot nicer this way instead of the carpeting as you can see in the pictures below.  Looking forward to going through our options together.

Venice Model Carpeted Hallway

Venice Model Carpeted Dining Room

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

NVR Loan Appointment

On the 18th we met with the NVR loan officer at the Orchard Springs model/sales office to go over our loan application.  We emailed the majority of our loan documents to him prior to the meeting utilizing the checklist that was provided to us.  We were assigned a loan officer from another territory because the one typically assigned to the area was busy.

Our appointment was scheduled for 5:30, however the LO showed up about 45 minutes late because he went to the wrong community and got lost on the way.  Not a huge issue for us, he did call us to let us know that he was running late, and it gave us a few minutes to chat with both the sales manager and project manager who were at the model home.

Our project manager let us know that he has been with Ryan Homes for about 9 years and currently lives in a Ryan home in a neighboring community.  He answered a few basic questions for us before our LO arrived.  We look forward to working with him, we feel like we are in good hands.

Our LO was friendly and extremely thorough with the application process.  He provided us with a lot of valuable information and made the process as easy and painless as possible for us.  It was a looooonnng process but should hopefully make underwriting and approving our loan an easy one.  It took us about 3 and a half hours to get through all of the documentation and completion of the application.  We were only missing a few documents that we need to get together and was told that the typical time frame for a decision will be about 28 days.

Overall, despite being a long process, we left feeling good knowing that we got this part out of the way.  And now we wait...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Visited the Model and Signed our Purchase Agreement!

We signed our purchase agreement on June 13, 2014!

We started the day by meeting the sales manager at another nearby Ryan Home community where they had a Venice model.  This model used to be the original model and sales office at this community and from our understanding was in the process of being converted back to the owner/investor.

An interesting sidebar about the Ryan Home models that we learned is that all of the model homes are purchased by investors and then leased to Ryan Homes for their use. Sounds like a pretty smart and sound business model for their business and was something that we didn't know.

The model home was a bit messy inside with a lot of the sales office furniture being stored in the living room, however it did give us a good idea of the true size and livable space that we would have.  Walking through the model confirmed that this was the home for us and we drove back to Orchard Springs to discuss our options and pricing further.

We had a few days to go over the options list and pricing and decided to make a few changes, mainly removing the 3 car garage and basement bathroom.  While the 3 car garage would have definitely be nice, we feel that if we do end up needing additional space that we can always get a shed for the backyard.

For the basement, we were told that changes were made to the floor plan and that a powder room was no longer available in the basement and that they only option was a full bath. This was space that we didn't want to give up due to the layout of the basement in the Venice and taking up too much room.

The sales manager told us that the section where the bathroom was in the model home would be finished without the bathroom, however we discovered that it would actually be sectioned off as a storage room.  The sales manager stood by the error in his statement and submitted a change order request to ensure that we will get this area finished.  So definitely a win for us and a huge plus for Ryan Homes and the sales manager!

Here are the list of options that we finalized:

  • Elevation B

  • Finished Basement

  • French door for basement

  • Morning room

  • Gourmet kitchen island

  • Kitchen cabinet upgrade 1

  • Granite countertop kitchen upgrade 1

  • Range gas hook up

  • Upgraded stainless steel appliance package (we went with the package above the standard - nicer range and better dishwasher)

  • Gas fireplace with the stone veneer, higher hearth

  • Owners bathroom type E w/soaking tub with shower seat and ceramic

  • Banisters with white spindles

  • 2 additional outlets - additional for garage and kitchen island

  • Recessed lights over fireplace

  • 8 recessed lights - 4 in family room and 4 in master bedroom

  • 5 ceiling fan rough-in's - all bedrooms and family room

  • Floor drain in the garage

  • Hardwood A in Foyer/Kitchen/Morning Room

  • Dining room chandelier (we will be using the living room/dining room as a formal dining room)

All of this totaled to about $57k in options.

Nora and I took a few minutes to take a quick walk and gather our thoughts and came back to the sales manager with a counter offer.  Our offer was accepted and we signed our purchase agreement and addendum's!!!  We ended up receiving about $32k in incentives and all in all we feel that we received a fair price for the home.

Paperwork Signed!

Picture taken a day later, hence the different clothes for you eagle eyes!

We're looking forward to beginning the process which will have the home completed in late October!

Meeting with the NVR loan officer, choosing our colors, working with Rite-Rug on flooring, and working with Guardian are next on our list.  Hoping that the process continues to move smoothly and that the level of good service continues!

2nd Meeting - Initial Pricing and Options

We scheduled another meeting to discuss pricing and options with our SR.

Adam went to this meeting himself to get some preliminary pricing and ask a few more questions.  Upon arriving to the sales office, Adam was met by the sales manager, who was covering for the SR, as she went into labor earlier in the morning!   We were told that all went well for baby and mother, so that was good news to hear.

The sales manager was expecting that we would be coming in to discuss the Palermo (which he studied up on before I came in), so we threw him a bit of a curveball with our decision on the Venice.

The sales manager was a very down to earth guy, we had a few laughs and he definitely made me feel comfortable through our meeting. It was obvious that he hasn't been on the front line for quite some time, something that he openly admitted, but was very knowledgable about the process. Anything that he wasn't 100 percent sure of he took note of and promised to get back to us with the answer.  I got the sense that he was honest, was not pushy, and truly wanted to find the best deal and home for us.  The customer service levels that we have received thus far in the process have really been great and we're hoping that this level of service continues.

There were incentives that were being advertised and we wanted to be sure that we took advantage of them. What we discussed were the following incentives:

  • Morning Room included

  • $5,000 towards elevation upgrade

  • 4 light rough-ins

  • 1 ceiling fan rough-in

  • Garage door opener

  • Granite Level 1 - Kitchen

  • Hardwood Level A - Kitchen and Foyer

  • 42" Timberlake Maple Cognac Cabinetry

  • Stainless steel Microwave, Range, Dishwasher

  • Recessed lighting in kitchen

After our 2 hour conversation, we put together some options and pricing, and I was on my way home to the boss lady with our initial price quote to review and discuss!

Additional options that we had quoted:

  • 3 car garage

  • Finished basement

  • Bathroom in basement

  • Banisters w/white spindles

  • Gas range hook up

  • Fireplace with stone veneer

  • Upgraded owners bath with soaking tub and ceramic

  • 2 additional outlets - 1 additional for garage/1 additional for the island

  • 8 recessed lights - 4 in family room/4 in master bedroom

  • 5 ceiling fan rough-ins

  • Floor drain for garage
Lot's to think about!

Location, location, location

Our initial plan was to purchase a house within the next one to two years, however we stumbled across an amazing area and dream location that we couldn't pass up. The development is located in a small township with preservation easements surrounding the area.  The quiet and semi-rural feel in a smaller development is just what we were looking for and we fell in love with it instantly.

Phase 1 of the development consists of 22 lots, we chose lot 22 which was one of the last three lots available in the development. Phase 2 will bring another 27 or so lots beginning in the fall and this will be the last phase of the development.

Phase 1

One of Nora's requirements for our home was to be able to look out our back yard and be able to see the trees and have a bit of tranquility while drinking her coffee in the morning. While there will be a home behind us, the layout of the development and the preservation easements will still provide us with a nice view of nature.

We are paying are paying a premium for this development, homes here are about 20% higher than similar models in neighboring Ryan developments, however we envision ourselves hopefully living here for the rest of our lives and the location is well worth it.

A lot of trees that will need to be removed from our lot!  Doesn't look like much right now.

Our Lot!  #22!

The corner lot will provide us with a nice sized yard that we will be able to take advantage of. Since the road leading to the development is out of the way and will only be used by those living or visiting the development, we don't have the typical corner lot concerns if we lived on a major road.

We took both sets of our parents through the neighborhood and they like the area as much as we do.

We are already envisioning how we want to design our landscaping that will provide us with just a bit more privacy in our backyard. A lot of fun projects to come!

Meeting our SR and Decisions

We met with a very nice and very pregnant SR who provided us with a lot of great information on the homes and developments in the area.  She was extremely friendly and patient with us and was able to answer all of the questions that we had.

When we were reviewing floor plans, we were initially looking for a floor plan with a first floor bedroom (Nora's thought that if our parents needed to stay, if she broke a leg, or for when we were old and gray and too fragile and gimpy to walk up the stairs to our bedroom). We didn't want a ranch style home and the SR provided us a few different options with the first floor option for us to review.

As we talked through the floor plans, we ended up deciding that a first floor bedroom wasn't necessary and that it made sense to both of us that we would move forward without it. When we get old, fragile, and gimpy we will just get one of those sweet rideable roller coasters (stair lifts) for old people to take us up the stairs.

Sweet Ride
We liked the Palermo with the first floor home office and that was the model that we thought we would be selecting after leaving the office that day.

After taking some more time to look through all of the floor plans that were available, we decided that the Venice would be a better fit for our needs.  The bedrooms are a little bit larger in the Venice and we decided that we didn't need the first floor home office.  To us, the design and layout, is perfect with a lot of usable space and will be big enough to for us to grow into and start a family.

With the morning room and finished basement we would be looking at about 3,000 sqft of usable living space and is perfect for our current and future living situation.

Venice 1st Floor

Venice 2nd Floor

Venice Basement

Our journey begins!

Hey, look at us! Sold!

So, we bought a house!!!  Purchase agreement signed and initial options selected on Friday the 13th!  We are both excited about our journey towards building our home with Ryan Homes.

Throughout our decision to build with Ryan Homes,  we spent time reviewing blogs and taking advice by other Ryan Home owners and have decided to also share and document our experiences with the home building process.

2014 has been a great, busy, and memorable year for us. Newly engaged, starting a new and exciting job, and now building a new home!

Join us on what we are hoping is a positive and enjoyable process!  We will document the good, the bad (hopefully minimal or nil), and the ugly (hopefully we don't experience this!)