We Broke Ground!

We have officially began construction on the house! We were slated to break ground Wednesday, but due to weather, we were pushed back to Friday (March 7th).  Chris and I anxiously awaited 4:30 pm to go check out the progress.  We were amazing at home much got completed in just one day’s time…and are super excited to see further progress this week!  Below are some photos from Friday!

 

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Hanging out near the excavator 

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Preconstruction Meeting

So, we had our Preconstruction Meeting last Wednesday (February 26th).  We are so anxious and eager to get the building process started, so this meeting was extremely exciting.  We met with our Project Manager, our Sales Representative, a second sales rep, and a PM from another area.

Ironically, we already had the chance to meet our PM at the beginning of this entire process.  It was a snowy, bitter cold day in January and we were out driving around the area looking at communities and houses for sale.  We noticed Ryan Homes had a model and decided to stop in and check it out.  We’ve always been slightly obsessed with the idea of looking at open houses and getting ideas for our own house/seeing what we liked and didn’t like.

As we walked up to the door, we noticed it was locked.  A sign on the door stated that the model was closed for the day due to the cold temperatures.  We were halfway down the sidewalk and a man comes out of the house, inviting us inside.  Just so happens, this was our PM.  He was super helpful and kind, and let us walk through the house, even taking the time to answer our questions, even though that is NOT his job.

Meeting with him helped to solidify our decision to build with Ryan because we were pretty confident that our experience would be good.

Anyways, at the preconstruction meeting, we went over all of the features within the house and any changes that we had selected.  This is just standard to make sure that all of their ducks are in a row and match with what we had chosen.  There were several changes that he was not aware of,  which was easily taken care of.

He let us know that we can come look at the house at any point during the construction as long as we visit with him or a Ryan rep.  I guess there is a liability issue if we are walking the house without supervision.  Anyways, he is more than happy to accommodate us when we are free to walk it, which I am certain will be once a week.  Can’t wait!

We were supposed to break ground last week, but due to the extremely cold temperatures, it was pushed back to this coming Wednesday (March 5th). They cannot pour the foundation if the temperature is below a certain point, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.  Next week looks just as bitter as this past week, although by Friday, it is supposed to get into the upper 30s!  Its going to be a real heat wave, I am sure.  Gotta love Central New York.

In addition to the pre construction meeting, we purchased a washer/dryer set at Best Buy.  It was an open box model and we were able to get the matching set, plus the risers for a great discount.  Retail price for the washer/dryer plus the risers was about 2,900.  We got the set for just under 2,000.  SCORE!

 

And in about an hour we are headed to Syracuse to get another steal on a refrigerator.  We found an open box deal yet again at Best Buy.  24.9 cu foot Stainless Steel French Door refrigerator originally $2,000, on sale for $1,367.  Exactly the price range we were hoping to spend.   It has a built in ice maker, adjustable and spill proof shelves, LED lighting, and I’m sure other features that I know absolutely nothing about!

That’s about it for now.  I hope to be updating in a few short days and posting pictures of the daily progress!  They said from this point on, we are looking at 90 days or less until closing!  Let the games begin 🙂

Final Change Order

Its been a while since we have posted, and not for a lack of things happening….. rather because too many things are happening, and its hard to keep up with LIFE!  Approximately one week after our selections we had our final change order meeting, in which we had to finalize the selections we made for the house.

We were pretty confident with most of our choices, but there were a few things we decided to change:

1.  Outside House Color Scheme– After driving down the development and noticing many, MANY gray houses, we decided to switch to a natural almond color siding with maroon shutters and a black door.

2.  Stone Front– Changed from Dakota Ledgestone to Bucks County Ledgestone

3.  Fireplace Stone– Since we changed the front stone but still loved the original stone we selected, we decided to use the Dakota Ledgestone on the fireplace.  We are really excited about this change.

4.  Cabinet Colors– We originally chose the maple spice, but decided that color was not something we could live forever with.  Plus, in looking at it over and over again, we realized that color is actually pretty dated anyways.  We decided to go with a darker color with a cherry undertone- The Tahoe Cherry Bordeaux.  I think it will contrast the floors very nicely!

 

5.  White Spindles– we added the white spindles going up the stairs and into the loft area.  Originally we left it with the half way.  But it seems as though it would be too closed off, especially in the loft area.

This is the cabinet color we selected! Granite is NOT the same, but appears to be similar.

 

The spindles we chose.  Will definitely open up the space more, particularly upstairs.

 

I am fairly certain that this is a house with the natural almond siding (this is NOT our house).  The stone color looks like the one we chose as well, but again I am not certain!

 

Selections and Pre-Wiring Appointments…..WOW!

On Wednesday we had our selections and pre-wiring meetings.  The weather was disgusting (snow day!) and we were worried that they would be cancelled.  Chris got out of work at 1 so that we could make it to our 3 pm appointment.  When he got home, he suggested that we call to make sure our appointment was still on because of the weather.

When we called, they told us that the model home was actually closing due to the weather and that we would have to reschedule.  We were extremely disappointed because we had been counting down the days until this appointment.  Also, with our work schedules, its almost impossible for us both to make it to a middle of the day appointment.  They gave us a few alternative dates to choose from, none of which seemed to work. 

Luckily, they decided to let us keep our appointment because of our disappointment and inability to be more flexible 😦   So we headed to the model in Clay in what seemed like a blizzard.  Our selections appointment was scheduled for 5pm and our pre-wiring meeting was scheduled for 3pm.  But, when we got there, our electrician was meeting with another client, so we were able to begin selections first.

We had a blast picking out colors.  We seemed to agree on everything (well, almost everything).  The few times we didn’t agree with each other 100%, we were both willing to make a few minor compromises and still feel very happy overall.  I was actually surprised at how easy it was.  I’ve read many other blogs and talked to other people who have built, and I know it can be quite a nightmare to choose things.  

We tried not to think too deep into it, because I could see how we would easily drive ourselves crazy wondering if what we chose was right.  The first thing we got to pick was the outside color of the house.  This includes the vinyl siding, shutters, and door color.  We also chose the upgrade of the partial stone front, so we had to pick a stone as well.  Ryan Homes gives you several color schemes to choose from, and doesn’t really allow for much flexibility within those schemes.  So basically you pick a scheme from a predetermined set of choices.  The end.  This made is easier for us, but I could see where someone with very specific choices in mind may not be too pleased.  

The other piece to it is that you cannot have the same color choices as the people next to you.  This allows for some variety in the community.  So some of the selections were already taken off the table.  We looked first at Natural Almond Siding with maroon shutters and a maroon door.  Chris really liked this option.  I was hesitant because it was the first color scheme we saw, and I didn’t want to choose the first thing without looking at what else there was.  The other almond choices were boring, so we looked at the Graphite Gray options.  We ended up choosing Graphite Gray with Dark Navy Shutters and a outer space door with Dakota Ledgestone on the front for the stone choice.   

The picture below shows the color scheme (ignore the brick—that’s not ours!)

Next we selected the flooring and cabinets for the kitchen.  We fell in love with the first option for hardwood: the gunstock color.  The plank size is 2 1/4.  We originally wanted the larger 3 1/4 planks, but decided to save the money as I don’t think it will make that big of a difference when all is said and done.  Plus, we had already started to get crazy with the upgrades and this was one I felt that we could do without.  

Choosing the cabinet color was a little more difficult.  We’ve spent the last two years watching millions of HGTV shows where they make over kitchens.  We’ve always liked the idea of a contrast between the floors and cabinets.  I like the modern kitchens, but also really love a traditional color hardwood, so I wanted a combination of the two.  Since we agreed on the hardwood already, we really needed to find a cabinet that worked well.  We ended up going with the maple spice cabinet.  It was significantly cheaper than the one we originally selected during the purchase agreement.  That made me kind of excited.  The maple spice is lighter than what I had envisioned for us, but with a price like that… maybe I will learn to love it.  

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The left cabinet is the Maple Cognac and the right is the Maple Spice we choose.  It looks darker in the picture-for some reason the iphone was making them look funny…but this is a general idea.  The floor we choose is the one all the way to the right…again doesn’t look identical, but close… not exactly the modern colored cabinet I had in mind…but I liked the contrast….

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The wheat is the granite we selected for all of our bathrooms including the master.

 

 

 

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The tile we choose for the bathroom floor, 5 foot shower, and the listello tile that will go in the shower.  LOVE THIS choice!! 

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Another view of the hardwood floor sample (this one looks closer to what it actually is), as well as the floor choices for the remaining bathrooms.  It is just a simple vinyl but I liked how it was light and neutral.  The cabinet is the maple cognac, which we ended up going with for the secondary bathrooms.

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The tile and listello again matched up with the cabinets for the master bath- maple espresso…love this cabinet, its super dark… it looks really nice in person.  The granites were the different options for the bathroom.  We chose the wheat one seen in the pictures above. 

I don’t think we took pictures of everything…the carpet is one thing that comes to mind.  We ended up going with a neutral light tan color. I think we were getting so excited and focused on the choices that we didn’t get all the pictures that we wanted to.  

The pre-wiring meeting was successful as well. We really liked Dave, our electrician. Unfortunately, a lot of the lighting that we wanted/needed to do came at an additional upgrade price.  We ended up spending about another $3,000 to add some lighting/wiring options.  We needed to add wiring for the TV so that we could mount it to the fireplace.   One expense after another, it seems!  But its going to be all worth it in the end, when we hopefully end up with everything we want and more!

 

Overall we are really happy with our choices. 

 

 

Selected Upgrades

Part of the process of building with Ryan is to choose or not choose from the endless list of upgrade options.  Surprise, we wanted them all. But here is a LONG list of upgrades we decided to go with.  I organized them mostly by room so that it makes more sense. Pictures to Follow!

Outside

  • Florence Elevation D with Partial Stone (Bucks County)
  • Flood Light in back of house
  • Extra lighting in front of house
  • Walkout basement
  • Service Door to Garage
  • Extra Light in Garage

Basement

  • Finished Basement (1/2 off)
  • Full Basement Bathroom
  • Granite counters in basement bathroom (Wheat)
  • Maple Cognac vanity

Kitchen/Morning Room

  • Gourmet Island
  • Granite Countertops (Santa Cecilia)
  • 42″ Cabinets (Tahoe Cherry Bordeaux)
  • Cabinet Crown Molding
  • Stainless Steel Appliances (free)
  • Recessed Lighting Package
  • LED under cabinet lighting
  • Pendant Lighting (above gourmet island)
  • Morning Room
  • Rough-in ceiling fan in Morning Room
  • French Doors in Morning Room
  • Optional Windows in Morning Room

Family Room

  • Fireplace (gas) with Stone (Dakota Ledgestone)
  • Recessed Lighting
  • Optional Window

Flooring

  • Hardwood throughout the entire first floor (Gunstock-Level A)

Master Bedroom

  • recessed lighting
  • optional window

Master Bathroom

  • double bowl vanity
  • granite countertop
  • counters-maple espresso
  • 5 foot tile shower with listello (Level C)
  • linen closet

Additional Lighting

  • Overhead lighting in 2 bedrooms and loft

Secondary Bath

  • Granite Countertops (wheat)
  • Maple Cognac Vanity

Stairs

  • White Spindles

Mortgage

So, Ryan Homes partners with NVR mortgage and the two work hand in hand with the process of building a new home.  You are allowed to choose any mortgage company you want, however, unless you go with NVR, you cannot get some of the incentives offered through Ryan.

We signed our name at least 100 times on various papers to go through the application process.   What was supposed to be an hour meeting turned into 2 and a half hours with our unique situation.  We had recently sold our house and had some issues there, which seemed to come back to bite us a bit during this process.  Also, with the wedding and my name change, that became a hassle as well.  Overall, it went smoothly, but we were nervous that some minor glitches could hold us back from our dream home.

Despite not knowing for CERTAIN that you’re approved, Ryan Homes moves forward.  And so we anxiously awaited a call from the Selections Rep to go choose our color choices and specific options for the house!  They informed us that we would hear from them within a week, but being as anxious and excited as we were, we tried to rush it along a bit.

When we finally got in touch with our selections rep, she informed us that she was rather booked and limited for available times.  The other issue is that a majority of the appointments that you need to attend throughout the process are weekdays.  Well, of course, that doesn’t work for me with school.  I absolutely HATE the thought of having to leave early or miss out on valuable days, especially being new to my job and my role.  And with Chris, his schedule is up and down..sometimes he is off for extended periods and other days he is working days or evening and sometimes overtime.  We ended up scheduling our appointment for February 5th, a Wednesday afternoon at 5 pm.

Our Selections Rep also told us that we could schedule the pre-wiring meeting on the same day so that we didn’t have to make two separate trips, since its a little bit of a hike from us.  We scheduled that appointment for 3 pm.

We Picked A Lot!

We signed the purchase agreement for the house on January 20th.

Then we had to decide on a lot!  There were several options to choose from.  Ryan Homes has regular lots that are included in the price of the home, and then they have premium lots.  The lot may be considered premium for a number of different reasons.  In the community we chose, North Ridge, the premium lots either back up to green space that will never be built on, or are larger lot sizes usually on a corner lot.  We looked at 3 different lots.  The first lot seemed great, but we wanted to look at more to be sure.  The second lot was larger, but hard to envision because of its shape, and it wasn’t clearly staked out, so that one was a no-go.  The third lot was steeper, so we decided on our lot- Lot # 131! Our lot is .318 acres.

chris lot sign

jess lot sing

LOT

Our lot had a small premium because its slightly larger and technically on a corner.  There may possibly be houses behind us later on, but there will be a road that goes around the house.

We got to put our SOLD sign up today.  Had to runthrough what seemed like a foot of snow to do it, but it was an exciting moment! Let the games begin!

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To Build or Not to Build

So, we sold our house back in November.  Since then, we have been trying to decide what we wanted to do and where we wanted to live.  We have both always dreamed about building a house, but certainly didn’t know if it was something that would even be possible for us for a long time.

Since November, we have been keeping our options open and looking at many different resources to find a potential home. Sometimes I think we’d spend more time looking at newspapers or searching real estate websites on our phone than we spent actually talking to each other.

One night, we found a piece of property we thought we might be interested in.  Not being able to wait, we took the puppy out at 9:00 pm (on a school night!) and made the 20 minute drive to look at the land.  It was dark, of course, and we really couldn’t see anything.  However, aside from the land we did see a house for sale that caught our eye as well.  We decided to inquire about both, and from there we met our realtor.

Our realtor wanted to get us pre approved for a loan before we looked at houses that were not necessarily in our price range.  So, we met with a mortgage broker one afternoon shortly after seeing the land and the house we were interested in.  On our way home from that meeting, we drove through a Ryan Homes development just to browse around and see if there was anything for sale.

We drove by a house with a model sign out front, and decided we would stop in and take a look.  Due to the extremely cold temperatures, the model was closed.  Fortunately, there was a man there (turns out he was the project manager for the development), and he let us in to take a peek.

Needless to say, we pretty much fell in love with home we saw.  The PM answered our questions easily and even though his job doesn’t require him to sell the houses and show them off, he took the time to walk us through it, and get us in contact with the Sales Rep for the community.

Meanwhile, we decided to look at the other house we were interested in.  Our realtor also set us up to look at several other houses in the area, just to get an idea of what was available and help us make our decision between building and not building.  After look at several houses, we couldn’t seem to ignore the fact that each one was missing something.  We couldn’t place our finger on exactly what was wrong with them (they were all relatively new, with good upgrades and features we would want)….but they weren’t “the house.”

We realized then, that we really wanted to build, and we wanted to build with Ryan.  The model in our community is a Ravenna model, but this model was too large for us right now. So we decided to take a look at a local Venice model and a Florence as well.  The Venice and the Florence have a similar floor plan.  The major difference between the two is that the Venice had a large upstairs with larger bedrooms and closets.  Also, the laundry room in the Venice is on the second floor, vs. the main floor in the Florence.

After looking at the Venice, we were almost certain we couldn’t live without it.  Unfortunately though, the base price on that house was a decent amount more than the Florence model.  We knew we wanted to add some upgraded features in the house to make it our dream home, and so we decided to go look at the Florence.  We were nervous the entire trip to the Florence, feeling like we were being set up for disappointment.  However, we were VERY surprised when we realized just how similar they were.  In the end, we decided the Florence was perfect for us!

Now, we just needed to see if we could make it happen.  We sat down with our sales rep several times, to hash out ideas of what we wanted in our house.  She made a list of the items we wanted with the price points to give us an idea of the cost for the things we wanted.  She tried to stay within our price, and helped us to think realistically about some of the things we said we wanted.  For example, the granite countertops.  We have always wanted them, but she reminded us that those could be put in later, and that job is relatively easy to do.  So we took out some of the items we thought were must haves, in order to keep it within our price range.

Then, our sales rep took us through a Florence model home in the community we would be building in.  She wanted us to see a home that wasn’t a model.  This home had very few upgraded features.  She wanted to show us that we could still build a beautiful home, even if we didn’t do EVERYTHING that we said we wanted.  WELP, that had the opposite effect. We liked the layout and the floor plan, but we were pretty bored by the place.  Again, we continued to think the same thing:  if we are going to build, we want it to be done right! However, with the cheaper price, we were willing to think about it.

When we left that night, we went home and looked over our paperwork and pricing options.  After the meeting, we felt confident that we were heading in the direction that we wanted to be in, but when got home, we started to second guess some of the choices.  After all, if we are building the house of our dreams, we want it to have the things we want it to have.  If we didn’t, then we would have settled for some of the other houses that we looked at.  We knew we needed to go back and see if there was anything they could do to make the cost more affordable for us.  We researched online and read the blogs written by other Ryan Home buyers.  We found out that Ryan will sometimes negotiate prices on upgrades and other items in order to make it more affordable for the buyer.  Also, sometimes they run special promotions on various house features (ex- half of a finished basement and free stainless steel appliances).

So, we had another meeting with our realtor, and the sales rep (who, kept her patience with us throughout the process and has been the most helpful person we could have asked), and we revamped our list.  We included EVERYTHING we thought we could possibly want.  We explained that we weren’t going to build unless we could build it the way we wanted to, and if that wasn’t going to work, then we would have to wait to build or look at more options.

After putting in everything we wanted, they gave us a quote (obviously way above our budget).  We told them that we needed to get all of those items for our budget, or else we cannot build.  So, our sales rep got in touch with the sales manager to see what they could do for us.

After waiting for several days on pins and needles, we finally got an answer.  Between various incentives and upgrade discounts, they were able to take about $30,000 off the price of the house.  This is something our sales rep said she has never seen before.   We were very excited and surprised…..

So we pulled the trigger…and decided to build.

AHHHHHH!