Sunday, March 29, 2015

3/29/15 - Our Tile and Flooring Selections

This is probably the visit that we've been looking forward to the most.  It gives us the chance to really see how our home is going to come together and to give it a touch of our own style.  Amorette and I had the chance to walk through a couple of other Ryan Homes developments in our area a few weekends ago and one of those models was the Ellington in the Liberty Ridge Community in Williamsburg.  After we got over the shock and awe at how absolutely massive and BEAUTIFUL that house was we spent a good bit of time walking through it and taking it all in.  One of the things that we completely fell in love with were the gorgeous hardwood floors throughout the entire first level.  We knew we had to have them in our house.  When we got back home I did some research online and found what I expected to find, that hardwood is a level 3 upgrade and very expensive.  So we went back and forth over it in the two weeks leading up to our flooring appointment and finally decided that this was going to be the house we'd always wanted and for it to be what we wanted it to be, it needed to have that floor.

When we were driving up to the studio at Advance Flooring and Design to meet with Aly we were discussing what we wanted to do and we had pretty much made our minds up that we wanted to do the hardwood in the foyer, hallway and dining room at the very least and perhaps the great room too if the budget would allow.  We had read online that it was worthwhile to upgrade the padding in the basement at least, and that the carpet selections that were "included" left a bit to be desired.  So knowing all that, we walked in with a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do and what we wanted to spend.  We stuck to it pretty closely too!

Here we go!

Foyer, Hallway, Dining Room, Powder Room

Hardwood - 5" Handscraped American Nantucket (upgrade)

Great Room

Carpet - Greystone Seattle Mist (upgrade)
Padding - Tahoe (upgrade)

Stairs, Upstairs Hall, Bedrooms 2, 3, 4

Carpet - Greystone Seattle Mist (upgrade)
Padding - Tahoe (upgrade)

Hall Bathroom, Laundry Room

Vinyl - Station Square X2013 (upgrade)

Master Suite

Carpet - Greystone Seattle Mist (upgrade)
Padding - Tahoe (upgrade)

Master Bath

Tile - Sandalo Castillian Gray (upgrade)
Listello - MV20 Whimsical

Kitchen and Morning Room

Vinyl - Station Square X2013 (upgrade)


Carpet - Greystone Seattle Mist (upgrade)
Padding - Tahoe (upgrade)

Basement Bathroom

Vinyl - Station Square X2013 (upgrade)

I think that covers it all.  We really wanted to do tile in the kitchen/morning room and the hardwood floor in the great room, but it just wasn't in our budget to do.   We may add the tile in the kitchen and morning room down the road, but for now we are very happy with everything that we've chosen.  We plan to paint most, if not all of the house once we get past our 10 month/ 1 year inspection and we really enjoy doing colors and accent walls so hopefully the choices we've made will go along with the colors we have planned.

Aly at Advanced Flooring and Design was an absolute pleasure to work with through all of this.  Our total appointment took about an hour and she went through all of our choices and questions with a smile on her face and gave us a lot of useful insight as well as helping us choose wisely while staying within our budget.  It was a very enjoyable experience all the way around.

Next up is my appointment with Steve at Structured Wiring of VA to pick out the cable/audio/data choices for the house.  I'm going to this one alone as I've pretty much been given free reign to do what I'd like.

More to come soon!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

3/28/15 - Quick Update and a Little Excitement!

Today was our appointment with Advanced Flooring and Design to pick out all of our flooring options for our new house, and since we were making the drive up to Williamsburg anyway, and since my mom was nice enough to watch the kid for the day we couldn't resist the temptation to stop by the model and visit our new home (in spirit) and our awesome site agent Zach Farrow.

I have to say that every time my wife and I walk into the Misthaven model we can't help but get excited.  It's that nervous, I can't believe we will have this soon type of excitement.  For two people who have spent the last few years yearning for a bigger place, our new house will truly be a dream come true.  To finally have some space to spread out and to have a home that's all our own and to not be connected to our neighbors will be so nice, and to be fortunate enough to have a place as beautiful as what we will hopefully have is a little surreal.

It was exciting to drive by and see that the dumpsters and other debris that had been sitting on "our" lot had all been moved away and we got the awesome news from Zach that we should be having our pre-construction meeting soon and that construction time is right around the corner.  Since we were there, we went ahead and dropped off a check for a good portion of the downpayment/earnest money and also signed the change order for the upgraded appliance package that Amorette and I had decided on.   Zach as always was helpful and courteous and took the time to answer our questions and entertain all our comments and excitement.  It's great to have a site agent that mirrors your excitement and makes you feel both welcome and important.

After our trip by the site, we went on up to Advanced Flooring and Design and met with Aly Maggard to pick out all our flooring.  The whole appointment took about a hour and wasn't nearly as difficult as we expected.  It helped somewhat that Amorette and I had a general idea of what we wanted and what we were looking to spend on upgrades, and Aly made the whole process very straightforward and easy.  She laid out the options and gave her opinions on what she thought we would like and where we should consider putting the extra money and did it all without coming across as being pushy or aggressive, and in the end we left there extremely pleased with the choices that we made and within our budget more or less.  All and all it was a great experience.  I will post another entry tomorrow or at least in the next few days that outlines all our selections once I get to go through the pictures we took and get everything sorted.  After all, what good is a post like that without any pictures??

Before I end this, I want to take a minute to say something about all of the people that Amorette and I have met and interacted with so far in this project.  When we first took on the idea of building our next home, it was a very daunting task.   We both work very demanding full time jobs and the whole thought of everything that it would take to get our new home built was quite overwhelming.  From meeting with the site agent, and the mortgage people, to the flooring people, structured wiring and our project manager, and everyone else that we'd meet in this journey, it was a lot to take in.  Then we started going through everything and I have to say, everyone that we've meet has gone far above and beyond our expectations.  You truly get the impression that the people you're working with genuinely enjoy what they're doing and it's a very contagious thing.  I find that every time we have a meeting we leave feeling even more pleased and excited than we felt when we walked in.  Like the people we meet with are sincerely interested in helping us build our dream home.  There's a lot to be said for that.  In a day and time where it seems like all anyone does is complain, I think it's important to recognize the people that exceed your expectations and make what you're apart of truly enjoyable, and everyone that has worked with us in this new life adventure has done just that.

Thank you to you all.

Stay tuned for all our flooring selections!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

3/15/15 - Our Selections

Ah yes.  the fun/nerve wracking part of all of this, our selections!!  We went into our meeting with our site agent Zach with a whole list of questions.  We had a few concerns about the elevation that we had originally chosen for our house because we had changed our lot and we are now building next to the same elevation that was on our original selection sheet.  I knew from reading through all the other blogs that Ryan didn't usually let that happen, so we wanted to get that cleared up first and foremost.  We were correct in our assumption and were able to change our elevation choice to the one we originally wanted which was Elevation B, giving us the extra bump-out to the bedroom closet and the partial stone layout we really liked.

The rest of the list was made up of mostly little things, many of which were items that I'd read in other blogs that other people had done/wish they had done and that I wanted to inquire about.   Our agent was very helpful in going over everything, and after reading through a few items on my list I realized that most of them were going to be covered in the master list anyway, so we just went through it line by line.

Here is the list of our choices and the list of "non-standard" items we've asked about and are still awaiting approval.


-Misthaven Elevation B with partial stone front and optional front porch
-Finished Basement
-Full Finished Bath in Basement
-Morning Room with Exercise Room in Basement
-Additional Windows in Morning Room
-Additional Window in Living Room
-Finished Exercise Room in Basement
-Dakota Ledgestone Stone
-Graphite Gray Siding
-White Trim
-White Garage Door
-Copper Red Front Door
-Black Shutters
-Side Exterior Door to Garage (non-standard)
-Hose Bib on front of house (non-standard)
-10x20 Concrete Patio Off of Basement (non-standard)
-Window in Exercise Room in Basement (non-standard)


-Kitchen Cabinet Upgrade 1 - Scottsdale Sq Maple Expresso
-Granite Countertop Upgrade - Luna Pearl
-Gourmet Island Upgrade
-Kitchen Faucet Upgrade 1 - Nickel w/ Pullout Sprayer
-Gas Range Hookup
-Appliance Package Upgrade - Stainless Steel GE Profile w/ Gas Range

Owners Suite

-Owners Bathroom Upgrade E w/ Soaking Tub and Shower
-Ceramic Surround Upgrade in Master Bath
-Master Bath Vanity Cabinet Upgrade 1 - Scottsdale Sq Maple Expresso
-Master Bath White Cultured Marble Vanity Top
-Tray Ceiling Upgrade
-Extra Exhaust Fan in Master Bath (non-standard, standard layout only has one in water closet)

Upstairs Hall Bath

-Bathroom Vanity Upgrade 1 - Scottsdale Sq Maple Expresso
-White Cultured Marble Vanity Top
-Nickel Faucet Upgrade
-Standard Fiberglass Tub Surround

Additional Selections

-Gas Fireplace in Living Room w/ Slate Surround
-Whole House Nickel Upgrade
-Carpeted Stairs w/ Metal Balusters
-Tankless Water Heater Upgrade
-Floored Attic for Storage
-Attic Pull Down in Bedroom #2 (non-standard)
-Laundry Tub in Garage (non-standard)
-Gas Line to Rear of House for Grill on the Deck (non-standard)


-Additional Outlets Near Bed in Owners Suite
-Ceiling Fan Rough Ins in all Bedrooms, Great Room, Morning Room and Living Room
-Dedicated Outlet in Garage for Freezer
-Garage Door Opener Install

Whew..   That's most if not all of our first round of selections.   After we picked everything we took advantage of the beautiful day and the rare time without the kid to go look at some other Ryan Homes developments in the area as well as walk through a few model homes, a couple of which were WAY out of our price range.  The nice thing was, we were able to get some design/decorating ideas as well as see the finished product from some other homes.  We left with some uneasiness about our exterior choices and a very good idea of what we wanted to pick out at our flooring meeting which is coming up in another week.  On the way home we called our site agent and told him we had some second thoughts on our exterior selections and would it be ok if we stopped back by to rehash them.  He of course said no problem and when we arrived he walked us down the street to point out another house with our siding choice and really took the time to make sure we were pleased with what we had chosen.  In the end we decided to stick with what we had said that we wanted and were able to go home and not feel like we'd chosen poorly.

So that's that.  We're yet another step closer to our dream house and so far we've stayed in our budget (more or less).   Up next is our flooring appointment with Advanced Flooring and Desgn, to pick out the rest of our selections, followed up with the meeting with Structured Cable of VA for our cable/audio/data wiring which I will be going to solo since all of that is really more for me than Amorette.

Now if only NVR would hurry up on their end and get us that approval!!!  It's soooo stressful!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

3/12/15 - Selling Our Home of 10 Years - 3412 Cricket Hollow Ln

One of the hardest things in our quest for a new home is going through the process of selling our current home.  We've lived here 10 years and have been though so much as parents, as a couple and as people going through the motions of life, that it will be hard to say goodbye.  Truthfully, It will always be home to me.

Over the years we've done many upgrades and home improvements, so we were hopeful that we had both improved the appeal of the house as well as insured that we would get a fair price for it when the time came to move on.  We sat down with Kandy Fisk, a realtor from Abbitt Realty and a high school friend of Amorette and went through the process of outlining the details of the house and what we'd like to list it for.  It was a long process with lots of paperwork, but Kandy was awesome and made the whole thing go very smoothly.   

The less enjoyable aspect of selling our house and of the move in general is having to go through and clean/declutter our house.  We started with renting a space at a nearby storage unit that gave us a ton of much need space off site and then we begin the never ending task of cleaning and organizing and boxing up our lives and our junk that we want to keep and throwing away some of the clutter that we simply don't need any longer.  The whole process took a few days and during it we also went ahead and repainted the master bathroom of our house to bring it more in line with the color scheme of the rest of the house.  Nothing like a last minute project!  

On March 16th our listing went up!!

One of the things that you don't really consider when you're selling a house that you're living in is when it comes time to show it.  It's hard enough trying to keep it spotlessly clean and organized while you're trying to live in it at the same time, but having to pack up and hit the road when someone wants to do a showing is a bit of a challenge as well.  Every morning before work we have to do the walk around to make sure all the beds are made and everything is put in it's place.  No dirty dishes sitting out, no trash sitting out, everything clean and wiped down.  It's a nice bit of added work on top of the already hectic task of getting up, dressed, the kid to school and us to work on time.  Our hope was that it would sell quickly so life could get back to some degree of normal.

Five Days Later..

Yep, you read that right, 5 days after the house went on the market we had an offer.  After a little back and forth we came to agree on the price that we wanted for the house and signed the paper work.  The best part is, the buyer agreed to wait until the 15th of June to close so that we can stay in our house and in this area until our son is done with the school year.   That makes things sooo much easier on us and on him.   We  still have to find a place to stay for the remaining month or two until our new house is finished, but at least it won't disrupt the school year.

Next up is our 14 day meeting and all our selections!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

3/6/15 - Our Trip to NVR Mortgage

This is probably the most stressful part of this whole ordeal and by far the one that I've read people have had the most issues with.  My wife and I walked in to this meeting basically expecting the worst.  You know the deal, bait and switch, promise one thing then slide something else in at the end, etc, etc.   To our surprise, we encountered none of that.  Our appointment took place March 6, 2015 at the NVR office in Williamsburg.  Our loan agent, Shane, had sent us a welcome letter before our meeting that welcomed us to NVR and outlined in detail all of the information that we would need to bring with us to our meeting.  Thankfully my wife is very organized and diligent in her file keeping so she was able to put everything together pretty easily and neatly which I am sure lead to how smoothly things went.

We had a whole bunch of questions about the whole process, we bought our current house 10 years ago and many things have changed in the lending world between then and now.  Another issue that we have is that we are still living in our current house and wanted to set up the mortgage to not be contingent on the sale of our current home.  We do plan on selling it and are hoping to have it sold before closing on the new house, but we wanted to get the ball rolling with Ryan Homes since it's new construction and will take time to be built once we get the required approvals and all.  Shane was extremely helpful without giving us the impression that he was out to get over on us.  We were very upfront with him over what money we had to work with, what our expectations were and what type of payment we were looking for.  He went over all of the options that were available to us and how they differed between the upfront costs due at closings to the mortgage insurance and so on.   He also went over the best way to structure our loan to take into account that we haven't yet sold our current home and the ways we could change that down the road if our house does sell before closing.

All in all it was a good experience.  We gained a ton of knowledge and left feeling like we were where we wanted to be all the way around.  He ran all the numbers through the system and everything came back ok so now we wait for our official approval.  In the meantime we have our 14 day meeting, our flooring meeting and our structured wiring meeting, on top of the meetings with our realtor to get our house on the market and hopefully sold.  Oh yeah, and we also have to clean/de-clutter/touch up our current house, all while we both work full time and raise our son.

No stress there lol.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

3/1/15 - This is how it begins..

After spending countless hours reading through all of the blogs that I've found regarding building a home with Ryan Homes and all of the helpful information that I've gained thanks to those blogs I've decided to start one of my own.  This will serve as a way to chronicle the build of our new home for us and will hopefully be a resource for others that may come across this on the great big internet.

Our Ryan Homes adventure begin Sunday March 1,  2015.  We had been idly looking at new homes for the better part of two years but had never really found "The One."  It had become a common practice on the weekends to hop in the car and drive around looking at houses.  We had gone through the occasional open house and practically wore out the app looking up new houses in the area to go and see, but had never really strayed very far from the location of our current house.   It was on a whim and at the suggestion of my wife's boss that we ventured a little outside of our comfort area and drove up to Williamsburg to take a look at the new Ryan Homes development called Washington Ridge.

Now before I go any further, I should tell you a little about us.  My wife and I are in our thirties, we have a son named Jacob as well as a dog and a cat.  We are both full time professionals and work fairly demanding jobs.  We live in the Western Branch area of Chesapeake where my son attends school at Western Branch Primary (which is a very nice and well ranked school.)  Our current home is a 1400 sq/ft townhouse with a garage that we have lived in for 10 years.  It has been a fantastic home for us and we have many wonderful memories here of our lives together.  We've worked hard at making this a very nice home and while we are very proud of it, we have slowly out grown it.

After much discussion and many hours of watching HGTV we had a basic idea of what we wanted in a new house.  The list is as follows…

-Three Bedrooms
-Walk-in Closet in Master
-Coat Closet
-More Kitchen Cabinets and Counter Space
-Two Car Garage
-Good Schools for the kid
-Ample Storage Space
-Safe Neighborhood
-Laundry room in House (most important)
-Larger than current home ~2000-2500 sq/ft

So there you go.  Not a terribly detailed list, but one that we were pretty set on sticking to.

This brings us back to our trip to Williamsburg.  We drove up there with no real expectations and certainly with no plan of buying a house that day.  We arrived at the Misthaven model home without an appointment and were immediately greeted by a very nice and friendly agent that said he had another family with an appointment coming in, but that he would try to answer any questions that we might have in the meantime.

First impressions are everything and our impression was the house was gorgeous.  It was large with an open floor plan and a layout that we could easily see ourselves living in.  The kitchen was big and bright thanks to the addition of the morning room with all the windows to let the natural light in.   It had tons of cabinets with lots of usable counter space and best of all,  a nice, roomy pantry!   As we made our way upstairs my wife and I kept noticing things that we really liked, from the windows in the stairwell to the half bath downstairs for guests, but it wasn't until we got to the master bedroom that we were really wowed.  The master bath is huge with nice soaker tub and a separate shower stall,  and the bedroom is large with a nice walk in closet.  All the other bedrooms are a good size and it wasn't long before our son was trying to lay claim to which room was going to be his.

We asked a few questions to Zach our site agent and found him to be very helpful without being pushy.   We definitely liked what we saw but still had a few other places we wanted to check out, so we left to continue our looking.  After a few other stops we decided to go back by Washington Ridge to see if the agent was free to answer a few questions that had come up in our discussions while driving around.  (I know, I know, we should have known better than to go back!!)  We get there as the other people are leaving so Zach was freed up to give us the grand walk around.  To be honest, we loved it all.  We even went to a few homes that were still being built so that he could show us some of the different arrangements that are available and so on.  After at least a solid hour of talking and asking questions and going over everything we got to that pivotal moment, the would you like to sit down and see what we could do to get you into one of these of your own, moment.

Two hours later we were driving home saying to each other, did we really just buy a new house?!?!?!

Yep, we sure did!!!!

We picked the Misthaven model with the finished basement and the morning room addition.   Our quest for a 3 bedroom, 2000+ sq/ft home with a little more room for us has finally come to an end in the form of a 4 bedroom 3100 sq/ft home.  A little overkill?  Perhaps.  But it's new, and it's beautiful and it will soon be all ours.  The upside is that with the finished basement it gives us room incase a parent or someone needed somewhere to live in the future and it gives us a dedicated play room/theater room to relax in.  The downside is that we now have more than twice the house to furnish!  I'm beyond excited and beyond anxious at all the waiting and decisions that lie ahead.

There will be many sleepless nights to come!

Our next step is the meeting with NVR the mortgage agent that Ryan Homes uses exclusively.