Monday, October 19, 2015

10/19/2015 - A Quick Update and Progress Report

Well, we've been in the house almost 3 months now.  We are getting more and more settled in with each passing day.  We are down to the last few boxes that need to be sorted out and we've made a lot of progress installing organizing and storage solutions as well as getting some more painting and decorating done.  We've also had to have a couple service calls to address some issues that have come up as well as a pretty big scare a few days ago.  I'll try to give you all a quick run down as well as a few pictures of what we've been up to!

First of all, the good.

We've managed to just about unpack everything.  There are only a few boxes remaining and they are miscellaneous stuff that could probably stay in the boxes forever lol.  One of the big issues that we've had to address in the new house is the storage issue.  Our old house was considerably smaller than this one so over the years we had come up with some pretty creative storage solutions to address that.  In the new house we have all the room in the world, but no real organization so that was something that had to be addressed.

We started down in the basement.  We have an unfinished storage room there that was just a big empty space.  Thanks to a couple of trips to Lowes and a product called 2x4 basics I was able to build a nice shelf system in there that can hold a whole lot of those rubbermaid storage bins and I also picked up some plastic storage drawers to hold some of the smaller stuff.  This enabled us to fit a ton of stuff in that room while having way access to all of it as well as keeping the main floor area clear.  We also decided that room would be a good place for the cat box so I added a small cat door to the entry door to make it easy for the cat and hard for the dog to get to the litter box.

Once that was done,  I moved upstairs to the closets.  We had started on the Master closet when we first moved in, but that had stalled while we were trying to decide what we wanted to do to finish it.  So I went ahead and got to work and got it all done.  We used pieces from as well as Closetmaid, the end result is way better than the wire shelves and didn't cost a fortune either!

With that done, I FINALLY got out to the garage.  I'm a mechanic by trade, so I plan to properly outfit the garage in the near future, but for now I had to do something to get it organized.  I bought some adjustable shelf tracks from Lowes as well as some of the Rubbermaid track organizers.  The end result gave me tons of storage and doesn't take up a lot of space.  I was even able to fit two of the cars in the garage!

Once that was done I started working in the dining room.  It was good old builder beige just like the rest of the house, so after some measuring and a few trips to Lowes I got to work.  First I painted the ceiling from Beige to white, then I started on the trim work.  I added chair rail and picture frame paneling all the way around and then painted the room a combination of semi-gloss white and Pepper Red.  I think it turned out awesome.  I also made a window treatment and a matching table runner for the room from some fabric I found at a local sewing store.  As a side bonus I finally found a table that fit in the hallway alcove between the foyer and dining room a Kirklands, so the space doesn't look so empty anymore!

After the dining room started looking pretty I decided that the kitchen was still missing something.  We plan to add a tile backsplash down the road, but I thought some extra lighting would really set it off.  A little internet searching later,  I ordered led lighting for under and over the cabinets.  It definitely added a nice touch.

Now that I've covered most of the progress,  its time to go over the service concerns that we've had.  Two of them were pretty minor and one of them was pretty severe (though it was handled quickly)
The first issue was a water leak from the powder room toilet into the basement storage room below it.  We put a service call in and they were out to take a look within 48 hours.  The plumber pulled the toilet up and found that the wax ring under the toilet wasn't tall enough to account for our very thick solid wood floors.  It was an easy fix that took less than 20 minutes and there has been no other issues there.  The next service call was for a sewer gas smell in the basement mechanical room.  We have both a sump pump and a grinder pump down there and I was pretty sure that the issue was from the grinder pump.  Another easy visit from the plumber and we found that the lid had come unsealed from the crock in the floor for the pump.  Another simple and quick fix and we were good to go.

The last issue was a bit of a doozy…

I came home from work this past week and when I walked into the house I was hit with the smell of natural gas.  We have a gas range so occasionally I catch a hint of it when we're coking but nothing like this.  I ask my wife about it and she says she noticed it as well.  I have no issue doing things myself but when it comes to something like this I leave it to the pros.  The longer we were in the house, the worse it got, so after checking the usual places, we called the gas company and got out of the house.  A little while later, the service tech from Virginia Natural Gas shows up and after checking the meter outside and finding what he believed to be a pretty significant leak, we headed inside to find it.  As soon as we stepped in the house his last detector went crazy.  It didn't take long to narrow it down to the kitchen, so with my help, we pulled the stove out from the wall and as soon as we did, you could hear the hiss of the gas leaking.

It turns out that whomever installed our stove never tightened the gas line up.  It was unbelievably loose, and by that I mean that it wasn't even finger tight.  We tightened the line and cleared the room and then retested everything.  Thankfully that solved the issue, and the gas guy was nice enough to go through the entire house with me and check every other gas fitting to make sure there wasn't anything else going on.

You can believe that I brought this issue up with everyone that it could be brought up to, and I received lots of apologies and promises that it would be addressed so it couldn't happen again.  Regardless, it could have been a catastrophic problem that very easily could've destroyed our house.  So I encourage all of you, if you think you smell gas, even if it's just a hint, please have it checked out.  We were very lucky, but it just as easily could've gone very bad.

More to come!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

9/5/15 - Getting Settled In, TONS of Pictures and Our 30 Day Check-Up

Hello faithful readers, sorry for the long time between posts as of late.  Now that we are in the house and undertaking all the projects we've been planning, there hasn't been a whole lot of time for much else.  A few days ago we had our 30 Day Post Close meeting where they come in and take care of any issues that have come up since closing so I thought I'd take a little time to go over that and give everyone a peek at what we've been up to since we moved in!

30-Day Meeting

We had scheduled our 30 day walkthrough on the day we did our pre-closing walkthrough so it was set exactly 30 days to the date of our closing.  About a week before the meeting we received an email from Ryan Homes asking us to give a list of the issues that we had and what we thought needed attention.  To be completely honest, we had a really hard time with this.  We knew that it was important to make sure we covered everything, but in truth, we haven't really had any issues.   Our list was as follows.

-Window in stairwell is cracked (it was cracked at close and hadn't been replaced yet)
-The hardwood floor leading down into the basement would flex when you stepped on the edge of it to go down the stairs
-There were a few nails sticking up at the carpet threshold going into the hallway
-There was a board in the subfloor at the top of the stairs that would bump if you stepped on it just right
-There was a small spot on the rear of the house where the soffit was pushed up and not even with the rest.  (Probably from the painters hitting it with their ladder

We feel like everything on this list was minor and quite insignificant with the exception of the cracked window which we'd been told would be replaced, they just hadn't gotten the replacement in yet.  All in all it was really us just trying to have something to put down so we would feel like we were doing our job lol.  Our PM Mark showed up early the day of the meeting with the sub-contractors in tow and took care of every single thing right then and there.  No scheduling appointments or promises to look into it, it was just corrected on the spot.  I was very impressed with this.

I've read many different things the people have posted, both good and bad about their homes after they have taken possession and I am pleased to say that we have been beyond satisfied.  I feel like the house was very well built and have been more than pleased with the attention to detail that I've seen so far.  I've said from the beginning that I felt as thought our PM took a lot of pride in his work, and now having lived here for a month I can say that I still feel that to be true.

And now I get to show off what we've done so far!

I'll stick to the "after" pictures since there are a ton of "before" pictures posted throughout this blog.  We still have a ton more to do, but for having only been here 30 days and working a very demanding full-time job, I'm pretty pleased with what I've gotten accomplished.

First off, the foyer.  We replaced all the nickel door handles with antique bronze to complement the hardwood floors, we added the Schlage Connect locks, and of course painted the walls and ceilings.  We also painted the powder room as well.

Next we tackled the Great Room.  I mounted the TV over the fireplace, installed a ceiling fan, painted the walls and ceilings and got the majority of the furniture in as well as the beginnings of our picture wall.

Then came the kitchen, morning room and pantry.  I painted the walls and ceilings in the morning room and pantry, installed a ceiling fan in the morning room, new adjustable wood shelving in the pantry and designer cabinet pulls throughout the kitchen.  We also converted one of the end cabinets to a pull-out recycling container.  We still plan to do a glass tile backsplash, under cabinet lighting and paint the kitchen, I am just waiting on the tile to arrive.

Once we got most of the main areas downstairs done, we moved upstairs.  I started with my son's room first.  He loves sharks so we had to give him a bedroom that showed that off!  New paint, fan, light fixtures and a few other touches as well as taking off the closet door to make that a little sitting nook with his desk in it so he has a nice spot at the window to do his homework.

After we got his space all squared away we finally got around to doing ours.  We had bought a new bedroom set for the new house so we went ahead and painted our room before it was all put in place.  We did the walls in soft white color with a hint of gray and then did an accent wall behind the bed and a accent in the tray ceiling as well.  I also added an outlet and cable/data hookups behind the tv for a cleaner appearance.   We also replaced the big sheet mirror in the master bath with two wood frame mirrors and replaced the light fixture with one that was a little longer to better fit the new mirrors.

Once that was done, we gave the laundry room a quick coat of painted and finally hooked up the washer and dryer.  I have more plans for the space with some cabinets and a nice countertop, but that will come a little later on.

The last space I've done so far upstairs is the craft/scrapbook room.  My wife is an avid scrapbooker so I wanted to give her a nice place to do that in.  The theme for that room is creative/classic Dinsey so there will be lots of other things going in there as it all gets put together to bring out that theme.  The paint colors used are "Disney" colors to keep it true to the spirit.  I also added a closet organizer to do away with the one wire shelf they gave us there and added some recessed lighting to the room as well.

Now we move down to my favorite part of the house..  The basement.  I have lots of plans for this space, since it's just the three of us in the house we can use this whole area for recreational purposes so I figured I would do it up right!

First, I got the exercise room setup as a nice playroom for the kid.  He likes superheros and Spiderman so we thought that would be a pretty good place to start.  A comic book wallpaper border, fresh paint and all the toys and video games a kid could want took care of that!  We also put a nice sized table in there for him to work on his puzzles and legos at so he doesn't have sit on the floor.
Once that was all done I got to do the part I'd really been waiting on.  The Theater Room!!  This whole room got painted in a nice muted gray, including the ceiling and benefitted from a very nice in-ceiling surround sound system.  I opted to handle the installation of this myself and sourced all my own equipment.  I've been EXTREMELY pleased with the outcome.

The first part was getting the speakers mounted and figuring out the proper screen size.

Once that was all done, I ordered the screen and got to painting.  It took a couple of coats to get it to look even, but the end result is awesome.  Even my lovely wife approves!

The finished product is a space that is not too over the top, but perfect for a nice movie night!  We plan to change up the seating in here to something more theater like, but we haven't gotten that figured out just yet.

The rest of the basement, or the "main part" I painted a deep red.  I was afraid it would make the room feel small and dark, but with the bright white trim and all the lighting down there it really turned out nice.  I should also mention that I've replaced the majority of the CFL bulbs in the house with LED units.  I can't stand how long it takes for the CFL bulbs to reach their full brightness so they had to go.

I even added a little "movie nook" thanks to some help from IKEA

Getting to the outside, we installed a very nice Larson Security storm door and got all the video cameras up and running. We're adding a deck and a fence in the near future so I'll be sure to get some pictures of that up too!

I think that just about covers it so far.  We've still got tons of things we wanted to get done and lots of decorating to do, but it's all starting to come together and feel like home :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

8/19/15 - Two Quick Pics

Finally getting things settled in so I thought I'd post a teaser picture so everyone  see what we're working so hard on.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

8/16/15 - Two weeks In!

Sorry everyone for the lack of posts, between work and all the settling in I haven't had much time for anything else. It's pretty crazy to me that we've already been here two weeks, time really flies.  I wanted to make a post about where we're at with everything and what our impressions have been so far.  There will be a future update with pictures once we get a little more done, so check back for that a little while later.  

First things first, the progress we've made. 

We plan to pretty much paint the entire house so that's been the big priority at the beginning so we can get the paint down before everything is in the way.  So far we've painted (including the ceilings) the foyer, powder room, hallway, great room, morning room, master bedroom, master closet, laundry room, the kids playroom (basement exercise room) and the kids bedroom.  Next up is the office and then most likely the basement.  

More or less all of the furniture is setup in those rooms as well.  We've followed the paint, clean, then furnish approach.  We'd already purchased new furniture for some places so that was on hand and ready to go.   Setting up the kids play room was a ton of work between the video games and toy organization and all the other stuff, but we had family and friends over this weekend to celebrate his birthday so it was a pretty important priority to have that done in time. 

We've managed to unpack around 75% of our stuff too which has freed up the garage enough that I was finally able to park in it tonight, which makes me very happy.  The majority of the stuff still in boxes is either office/scrapbook room stuff which still isn't set up and clothes which will be gone through once the rest of our custom closet is finished.  We designed a very nice layout through easy closets and had Ryan leave out the wire shelves so once that's all done I'll do a short write up about that. 

We've also installed a lot of different things that we bought before closing, from the storm security door and window blinds and shades, different light fixtures and ceiling fans to different door knobs and hardware and the camera system.  Every day has been a long list of projects and we aren't even close to finished yet.  Once more is done I'll post a huge update with pictures and some write ups to show all our hard work off.  

And now the observations and realizations we've had in our first two weeks in our new Ryan home. 

Far and away the biggest thing here is the size of this house.  Coming from our townhouse which was 1250sqft of which 250+ sqft was the finished room over the garage that was my son's room we knew it was going to be an adjustment but we had no idea just how much of an adjustment it is.  From having everything on a single floor to now having the house spread over three floors it's so hard to get used to.  I know there are many of you that have even bigger houses and I'm sure in a year we won't feel like this, but for the three of us, the move from our townhouse to this 3400sqft house is just crazy.  We sit and talk about what we're going to do with all the space and I've yet to figure it out lol

Secondly I have to say that I'm impressed so far with how solid the house feels.  I think that's a big testament to our PM for the quality control, but the house feels very well put together. No squeaks rattles etc and no real complaints with fit and finish either.  I'm sure as it settles in things will come up, but so far so good 

Lastly I have to say that I seriously under estimated the amount of work it would take to get settled in here.  I knew it would be a challenge but man it has sure worn us out. 

Stay tuned for more to come.  Once we get some of the decorating done I'll get pictures up for everyone!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

8/2/15 - 2 Days in and Tons Left to Do

Phew.  It's been a crazy couple of days.  Before I go any further I have to give huge thanks to my friends Sam, Meghan and Paul for helping us move yesterday. It was most definitely back breaking work and we couldn't have possibly done it without you guys.  

So the last couple of days have been a whirlwind.  For those that haven't been following along, my wife and I had crammed most of our worldly possessions into a 15x25 storage unit because we were subletting a small apartment to cover the time between selling our old house and closing on this one.  So for the last month and a half we've been living in about 900 sq/ft with only the bare necessities and not a lot else.  The storage unit was completely full and what wasn't able to fit was stuffed in the apartment along with our two beds, desk, sofa, and all the random stuff we'd bought for the new place. 

To give you an idea of what that looked like:

We closed on the house Friday and had to be completely moved out of the apartment by today and as an added constraint, our storage unit's rent renews Tuesday at $275 for another month so we really wanted to get everything out of there to avoid having to pay another months rent for it to sit empty.  Oh and did I mention that we planned to paint
A good bit of the house too?

So after renting a u-haul (which was a disaster) and calling in favors with some friends from work, we dove in.  The nice thing was that the storage unit was only a mile and a half from the new house so the many trips it took didn't take all that long.  The bad thing was it was very hot and the apartment was on the second floor and of course the house is three levels so it was grueling work. Oh yeah, did I mention we had to move our front load washer and dryer upstairs too? :(

As of tonight though, I'm happy to say that were all moved!  The apartment is clean and empty and so is the storage unit!

We are no where close to settled in and it will no doubt be a while before we are, but the hardest part is over with, it's all moved (and all in our garage lol)

I managed to get this whole upcoming week off of work so I plan to hopefully get a lot of the settling in completed.  We've already starting painting too, so stay tuned for the pictures that will be sure to follow!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

8/1/14 - First Night in Our New Home!!

I'm far too tired to write anything meaningful here, but I wanted everyone to know that tonight will be our first night spent in our new home!!!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

7/28/15 - Final Walkthrough

Today we met our PM Mark out at the house to do our final walk-through.  We had gone over the high points with him a few days ago, but when we were there then, the house wasn't quite finished and hadn't been cleaned yet.  Today was the first time we've seen it all cleaned up and I have to say, it's beautiful!!!!   

During this meeting Mark went over the massive amount of information they give you for your new house.  There is a big binder that has the entirety of the information for the house that is there for us, but he had a check-list of things to cover as well.  He explained the applicable warranties for the different parts of the house, the roof, drywall, appliances, flooring, etc.  He went over Ryan's recommendations for cleaning and caring for the different finishes in the house as well as the contact information for the Ryan helpline and the other subcontractors related to building the house.  He explained how they handled the 30-day meeting and then the 10-month follow up and what we could expect with those, and he even gave us some recommendations of his own for a few things as well.

Once we went over everything paperwork wise and talked about the survey (more on that in a bit) we did our actual walkthrough.  As I said before this is the first time that we've been in the house that it has been all cleaned up and completely finished and man what a difference a few days makes.   Everything was postcard perfect.  To say that we are beyond pleased with the outcome would be the biggest understatement.  I've followed a lot of blogs and done a lot of reading about the entire process of building a home and more specifically building a home with Ryan and I've seen varying degrees of issues that people have had at their final walkthroughs and I am pleased to say that we truly had none.  

Now to be fair, we did have an earlier walkthrough a few days prior to go over any issues that we had, but other than wanting the chain on our stairwell light fixture shortened, we didn't have any issues then either.  I believe this is completely due to the the diligence and over-sight from our PM Mark.  I've said in a few other posts that I get the impression from him that he really cares about the houses he builds and the satisfaction of his clients and I think that is truly evident in the finished product that we walked through this afternoon. I kept looking for issues and things that needed addressing as we were walking around and I just couldn't find any.  Everything was as good or better than I expected.  It was pretty nice being able to sign off on the checklist for the house and only have three things on it.  

1. Raise the light fixture in the stairwell a few links.  It sits a little lower than I'd like.  Not really an issue at all, more of a preference 

2.  Replace a window pane in the stairwell.  It was put on the list, but is already in the works to be replaced, they are just waiting on the new pane to arrive

3.  Remove the orange fencing behind the property 

Pretty simple list I think.  No fit, finish or construction issues at all.  Even the things that we'd noticed through our many visits to the house were usually corrected before we ever even had the chance to bring them up.  Again, I have to give the credit to our PM.  He's been 100% on top of this every step of the way.  

Which brings me back to the survey.  As someone that's worked in the automotive business my whole adult life, where Customer Satisfaction surveys are treated as life or death, I can 100% understand the emphasis that they put on their survey.  Mark went over it briefly with us and explained that it's important to Ryan and to him that we fill it out and of course he hopes we are happy with the house and feel as though we can give 10's on the survey.   I think this is something that a lot of people don't completely understand, and as someone that deals with this just about every day I'd like to take a second to cover this.  (if you don't care, or already know, feel free to skip down the the pictures!)  When they talk about hoping to receive a "10" for a score on their survey it is because anything less is considered a failing score.  Chalk that up to an archaic survey practice where anything less than perfect is unacceptable, but the reality is it's a pass/fail survey where perfect is "passing" and anything less is considered failing.  It's important to remember that when you're filling out your survey.  I've had many well meaning customers that loved the service they got at my facility but upon getting their surveys gave us less than perfect scores because they simply never give perfects because there is always room for improvement.  They didn't realize that even though they loved us and brought us cookies at christmas, they had hurt us with their response to a seemly innocuous survey.

Do not get me wrong,  I don't presume to tell anyone how they should rate their particular experience or the people involved, I just want people to understand the reality of the survey because a lot of people simply don't realize that it really is an all or nothing thing.

For us, we have been beyond happy with our PM and with all the other people involved in this process.  It hasn't always been easy and there have been a few obstacles that we've had to deal with, but as of today, we have no issues whatsoever with the people that have helped us build our home and we have nothing but positive things to say about all of them, and our PM Mark most of all.  He's made this a real pleasure for us.  

Now, on to a few pictures.  These are the last ones you'll see before paint, furniture and decorations.  I have about a million pictures of the entire process of this house however, so if you're reading this and would like to see something that isn't posted let me know and I'll see what I can do.

3 More Days to Go!!!