Friday, May 30, 2014

Decisions, Decisions!

The best thing (at least so far!) about building a new home has been the options list.  When my sales rep handed it over she told me, "some people go over it line by line, but some people don't look at all", who are those people and why are they building a house??!!  Seriously, the options list is like your birthday, Christmas and the 4th of July wrapped up into one ream of paper.  Unfortunately the list is also where budgets go to die, it is really easy to get carried away! 

Probably the most important thing is to go over the list carefully, and make sure you know exactly what everything is, and exactly what you are (or are not) going to get in your new house.  With Ryan homes you get 14 days to make structural changes and 30 to make cosmetic.  After that it is up to your sales rep and project manager's discretion and its likely going to cost you even more.

I found the blogs really helpful when it came to options because it helped me visualize what I wanted, and it also really helped because I almost missed two really important upgrades that I would have been disappointed if they hadn't gone through.

With no further ado- on to the options!

We chose elevation C for our Rome, because it had the all important extra two feet on the loft.  When we were touring the Rome model we overheard someone explaining to a perspective buyer that some elevations had an extra two foot bump out in the loft area that increased the square footage by 300 ft.   When I learned this I was very excited, because one of the drawbacks of the Rome was that the loft was smaller than in the McRae we were considering from Ryland Homes.  I knew we were going to use the loft as a play area, and my boys have lots of toys, so I wanted to make sure we'd have enough room for storage and enough space to play.  The extra two feet brought the dimensions of the loft area up to 14.6' by 15.1', roughly the size of the living room we are using as a playroom currently.

As an even extra bonus our community was offering an incentive for elevation K, alternate elevation I, which was exactly the same price as elevation C, so we were able to get it at no additional cost.

We also decided to just go with siding, and not add the partial stone or partial brick because we'd rather spend the money inside where we will see it everyday, as opposed to spending it outside for our neighbors to enjoy (sorry neighbors!)

Rome, Elevation C pic from
When it came to color choices we didn't have a lot of options.  We have neighbors on all sides, and since we can't have the same color as them, it did cut down on our choices.  We also weren't interested in a white or tanish home, we were looking for something with a little more pop.   We went with Irish Thistle with Dark Berry shutters and Black Fox front door color.  All of the trim will be white and the garage door will have arched windows.
The flash washes the colors out a little, but here is the siding, door and shutter sample

Here is a picture of a house with my siding, shutter and door color, ignore the tan parts, my house won't have that detail

As for our other decisions, we added

  • Two foot extension to the garage (this will be really useful for storage)
  • garage door opener (standard option in our community)
  • morning room (we got it free with the May promotion in our community)
  • extra morning room windows (I'm really excited to have a true sun room!)
  • Gourmet kitchen island (the regular island is standard, so it wasn't much cost to upgrade)
  • cabinet crown molding (standard in our community)
  • brushed nickel cabinet hardware (standard in our community)
  • tile backsplash level A
  • upgraded kitchen faucet (comes standard with the granite)
  • cabinet color- maple cognac timberlake (the maple cognac is standard in our community)
  • 42" kitchen cabinets (comes standard)
  • Kitchen granite color- Santa Cecelia (granite is standard in our community)
  • black appliances (standard in our community)
  • Gas range
  • large single sink

here is a pretty bad picture of our cabinets and granite

here is a picture of a model home with our granite and cabinets (our kitchen will have a different layout)
 Family room
  • fireplace rear wall with Venetian Gold granite surround
  • fireplace blower with remote
Master Bath
  • soaking tub and shower with seat (the separate tub/shower is standard, it was a little extra to add the larger shower)
  • ceramic tile (comes standard)
  • double bowl sink (comes standard)
  • vanity color- maple honey timberlake (may be upgrading this at our flooring appointment)
  •  granite vanity top- wheat
  • brushed nickle fixtures
Kids bath
  • double bowl sink
  • vanity color- maple honey timberlake
  • ceramic tile floor 
  • cultured marble vanity top
  • brushed nickle fixtures
  • attic storage with pull down stairs
  • level 3 trim package with crown molding, chair rail and picture frame molding in dining room

This is the crown molding in LR and picture frame molding in DR
  •  pine stair with white balusters (this one I almost missed, I didn't realize that it wasn't standard, thanks fellow bloggers!  I would have been really upset if I realized too late and my entry hallway would have had two weird half walls extending into the space )

if you look through the doorway you see the stair banisters, without the upgrade you'd just have two half walls extending into the hallway, weird! 
Electric and wiring 
  • 7 ceiling fan rough-ins (family room, morning room, loft, and 4 bedrooms)
  • dedicated circuit in garage (for fridge)
  • 4 recessed lights in dining room (I really hate dark dining rooms and chandeliers don't give off enough light)
  • 2 recessed lights over fireplace
  • recessed lights in kitchen (we are moving the location of one and changing it to a light rough in- because..)
  • adding two light rough-in over island (those two with the one recessed light we are moving and changing to a rough in will become pendant lighting over the island)
  • adding outlet to pantry (for my future wine fridge)

  • 10x12 patio (standard in our community)
  • hardwood in Foyer (standard), 1st floor powder room (standard), kitchen (standard), mud room, dining room, living room, morning room, first floor hall
So that is what we have so far!  Next week is our flooring company meeting (Rite Rug in this area) and we have to choose our tile, carpet and hardwood.  I might be changing our master vanity color (I'm afraid that the maple honey will look too washed out with the wheat granite if we pick a beige tile color), and I know we are going to upgrade the carpets and pad and add tile flooring for the kids bathroom.   When we have that appointment I'll be sure to post an update, and I'll try to get some better (non-flash) pictures of our color choices.  Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

That's a LOT of choices

The first choice we had to make was our lot.  Our community offers two lot sizes a 60' homesite and a 70' homesite.  Now neither of these is very large (I'm really jealous of the 1+ acre lots Ryan offers up north!), and the Rome is a larger house, but even so, we originally were considering one of the smaller lots, just because they were significantly cheaper.  We walked around and took a look at what was available but nothing really caught our fancy.

We walked back by the model and told our Sales Rep that we were going to walk over to the other side of the community to check out the larger lots, when he told us that one of the lots had a significant discount because it was owned by the developer.  I didn't get the whole story, but something about someone purchasing the lot, and then deciding to switch to a basement homesite, but either way it was our gain.  We walked over to check the lot in question and I couldn't believe it, it was perfect!  We wanted a flat lot with a flat driveway and a flat backyard for the kids, and this was completely, totally, absolutely, level!  There was a small rise in the back of our property, but that was on our behind neighbors property, not on ours.  It isn't too much of a rise, so I'm not terribly worried about water run off, and we happened to luck into meeting our next door neighbor while we were checking out the lot, and he confirmed that they didn't get any water.

An extra bonus was that our lot is very close to both the pool and playground.  It will be a very easy walk that I imagine us doing on a daily basis. 

At this point I was really feeling like this house was meant to be, with the lot discount, it was only a few thousand more to get the extra space, which I think we'll really enjoy and make good use of with the boys. 

Our lot, the property line is right at the edge of the rise in the back

Another view of our lot, looking back towards the street side.  That's an Avalon Isle next door, its a beauty!

Here is a picture of the rise, the land slopes away from our property, so I hope that will help with water issues.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Begin at the Beginning

Hello Everyone!

I'm starting this blog to chronicle the building of our new home which will be the Ryan Homes "Rome" plan.  When we got serious about signing the paperwork and committing to build, I began to scour the internet for information about Ryan homes, the new building process and the Rome model.  Along the way I stumbled upon a wealth of information in the form of blogs written by fellow Rome owners and Ryan Homes builders.  I have already learned so much from reading (I haven't read all of them yet, but I'll get there!), that I figured I could also pay it forward to the next set of new home builders and share my experiences.  I also thought some of my family and friends might like to follow along with the fun.   We are building in South Carolina, and since most of the blogs I have been reading deal with Ryan Homes developments in the Virginia/MD/Delaware/PA area,  I thought a southern perspective might be welcome.

I'll use this post to do some quick introductions and tell our backstory, and then over the coming days I'll fill in what we have done so far, all our options choices and upgrades (that's the fun part, right?).

To tell you a little about ourselves, our family of four (me, Marissa; my husband, Mark; and our two boys, Everett and Foster) moved to the Charlotte metro area in February.  My husband just finished ten year of service with the US Navy, and we are now transitioning to civilian life, and looking forward to putting down real roots and NEVER MOVING AGAIN.   We've moved a lot in those ten years and we have lived in some awesome places (Pensacola, Florida; Old Town Alexandria, VA) and some awful ones (like our current run-down rental house).  Our move to Charlotte happened rather quickly, so we decided to rent for a year, and use that time to find the perfect place to call home.

 It was during the move to our current rental home that the idea of new construction seemed like the best choice, I was scrubbing 10 years worth of grime off the kitchen cabinets when I thought "wouldn't it be nice to not have to do this the next time I move, wouldn't it be nice to live in a brand new home".  We have lived in so many places and dealt so so many less-than-ideal living situations, that the thought of having our own place, built from scratch with all our preferences and choices (no more carpet in the dining room!!!), just seemed like nirvana.

I spent some (alright tons) of time scouring Zillow for pre-built homes, and I also took it upon myself to visit every new development in our area (which was no small feat).  We narrowed it down to the Ryland Homes Mcrae  or the Ryan homes Rome  I liked that the McRae had a downstairs bedroom and full bath for guests, that the living room/dining room were on opposite sides of the front entry way (seems more spacious), the larger bonus room, and the larger master vanity.  I didn't like that the eat in kitchen disrupted traffic flow, that the laundry room was between two bedrooms, and that hardly any upgrades came standard. 

With the Rome I liked that I could get attic storage, a 2 ft bump out for the garage, a morning room for free, that glorious gourmet island, a big pantry and linen closet, and that enormous master bedroom with two huge closets, plus lots of extra upgrades standard.  What I really missed was the downstairs bedroom and bath along with smaller bonus room.

The Ryan homes community also had lower HOA fees than the Ryland, and it offered a pool complex with 2 story waterslide, lazy river, jr. Olympic pool, and zero entry splash area; a nice playground; and a huge club house with a gym (seriously, its going to be living at a resort!). 

The two homes were about equal in price, but Ryland had a shorter commute for Mark, but Ryan had sidewalks and a better school district.

After much back and forth the Ryan Rome won our hearts, the amenities and the schools were better and I honestly couldn't stop thinking about that amazing kitchen island and morning room (I've always wanted a sun room).  Two weeks ago we signed the purchase agreement and I've had zero regrets.  I'm really excited about this whole process (and a little nervous), but I know the end result will be worth it and I can't wait to get into our new home and start this new chapter of our lives.

I'll end with a photo of Everett modeling our lot!  Next stop, Rome!