Thursday, September 25, 2014

So much progress in so litle time!

Things have been moving along so fast at the homesite, I can't even keep up!   Ryan homes certainly employs some speedy workmen!

The day after our "pre" construction meeting I went down to the site and found our foundation being poured.  We sat around and watched for a little while and got some nice views of them pouring the slab for our driveway.

Cement truck at work

Slab is poured
driveway being poured

Apparently there was a mistake made when pouring the slab.  I'm guessing someone read the blueprints wrong because there is a two foot lip of house foundation slab that is sticking out into our garage.   We were supposed to have two extra feet because we chose the garage extension, but it was supposed to be two extra feet of garage space, not house space.   The PM caught the mistake early on, and the house was framed property, and they are supposed to come out at some point with saws and remove the lip of concrete and make the entire garage floor flush.    I'm going to keep my eyes on this, and if I'm not happy with the outcome, I'll be making them fix it until it is right!

A few days after the foundation was finished framing began.   We showed up in the early afternoon on the first day of framing and found the entire first floor has been nearly completed!

Front of house
Front door and walkway
Everett checking out our new home
Side view
Back of house
The pile of lumber
I was wondering where they were going to store our lumber, since our street is mostly built up, and they used the lot behind us for storage.

We returned the following afternoon to find that the whole house was framed!

Front of house
Front door and window
Side of house
Back of house
The awesome framing crew saw me outside taking pictures and invited me inside for a closer look.  I didn't want to get in anyone's way or slow down progress so I quickly checked out the living and dining room and then left.

Garage (you can see the lip of extra slab, its the step up that the tools are resting on)
Living Room
Dining room
Looking into kitchen and morning room
View up the stairs (hopefully we never see daylight coming through the roof again!)

Everything was moving incredibly fast, and by that following Friday all the pre-drywall work had been completed. I was also very pleased to hear that the PM had nothing but praise for the team working on our framing and even told me that they would be the crew he would hire to frame his own house. 

 We chose to have a private inspector come out and actually used a company that I had found recommended on another Ryan blog.   The inspector we used was Lance Keller of Keller Corp and we were really happy with his services.  His report was very thorough and easy to understand and his prices were reasonable.   He only found three small items (which were quickly addressed), but the piece of mind was priceless.  I also feel like if the PM and crew know that you are going to use an outside inspector (I told my PM at the pre-construction meeting and he noted it on our paper work in capital letters!), even if it is subconsciously, that they will pay a little extra attention to make sure everything is right. 

I have been really surprised by how quickly everything is moving, so far we have had no delays and are still on track for a late Oct completion.  I spoke again with our SR and PM and both have confirmed that the house will be fine to close in Dec even if it is completed earlier.  The PM told me that it is actually nice to have some extra time because that way we can address any issues before we take possession of the house.   That is actually a real plus, I'm sure I'll be visiting the house at least weekly once it is completed, and any thing I can find that can be fixed before our actual move in will make it so much easier and cut down on my 30 day punch list.  I have a feeling it is much faster and easier to go through the PM to get things fixed BEFORE we take possession, than dealing with the Ryan home hotline post move-in.

Our PM also told us he is not going to lay the sod until closer to our move-in date and that he will have the home cleaned on extra time prior to our move in, which all sounds great.   Since everything seems to be satisfactory, I'm not going to push about getting our money refunded that we paid for the delayed build.   I don't want to cause a big fuss now, just in case something goes wrong in the future (I'm looking at you extra garage slab), something that going to need a big fix and some extra goodwill in the future.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pre-construction meeting!

This blog has been quiet for a few months, but all that is about to change because after 4 long months of waiting, it is time for construction to begin!  We requested a delayed build, so our experience is not typical of the Ryan Homes building experience, but I am really excited (and a little nervous), to finally break ground.

We had our pre-construction meeting last week and overall it went very well.  There were a few things I wasn't 100% pleased about, but for the most part I was happy with the information we received,  I felt like all my questions were addressed, and I was very impressed by the overall attitude and professionalism of our Project Managers.

When we drove down for the meeting, I had planned to arrive a little early to go look at the site and also to get a picture of the boys with the "sold" sign, before work began.  Imagine my surprise when we pulled up to our homesite and saw this

Front of the house
back of the house

Our "pre-construction" meeting, wasn't exactly pre-construction!   I am really of mixed feelings about this, I am happy that things are moving along, but I also would have liked a heads up that they were planning on starting construction prior to our meeting.  I had been calling the sales office to check in about every month or so, just to make sure that everything was still on schedule and to try and get an idea of when they wanted to schedule our pre-construction meeting.  I was really hoping for a few weeks notice prior to the meeting, so I could arrange childcare.  I had last spoke with my SR in the middle of August and I asked if we could possibly schedule the meeting for the 2nd week of Sept, since my mother would be in town and could watch the boys.  She said that we still weren't on the build schedule, but she would let us know.  Well, about a week later she called back to let me know that we were ready to start building and that we needed to schedule our meeting for the last week of August.  I asked again if we could push it back by two weeks (remember we aren't closing until Dec), and she told us that it couldn't wait that long, but made no mention that they already had permits in hand and were getting started.  If I had know that they were ready to start I would have pushed to have the meeting prior to ground breaking, as it is I'm not particularly thrilled with the lack of communication.

Luckily it appears that everything was laid out correctly, but it would have been a real problem if there had been a mistake with the house layout.  Even something seemingly small like forgetting that we had added the extra two feet to the garage would have been an issue at that point.

While we were at the homesite we met our two Project Managers, and they seem like really great guys who are detail oriented and seem to want to build the best home possible.  I was a little nervous since I am trusting them with my newest "baby", and I have read on other blogs stories about PMs that were not very approachable or who seemed more concerned with getting things done as quickly as possible instead of getting things done right.

We then headed back to the model home for the official meeting and it all went really well.   The PMs went through everything line by line and confirmed all our choices, colors, and add-ons.  We did catch one mistake, they did not have that all of our fixtures were supposed to be brushed nickel, but that was quickly address when I was able to show them the change order.   Other than that small item, there were no mistakes or oversights.

I also felt very good about the two items that we are doing that are not part of the typical Ryan home, the pendant lights over the island and the 4 recessed lights in the dining room.  We discussed what I wanted at length, they seemed to really understand what I was looking for and they took very detailed notes.   They suggested that I go to the Rome model nearby and measure out exactly where I want the recessed lights in the dining room, and they will put them right where I want.  They also said that if I didn't like the placement of the lights, that they could be moved prior to putting up drywall.   I feel much more secure, and I really got the sense that they wanted it done right.

They also were really helpful when it came to my questions about the molding over the fireplace.  I had been asking (and not getting very satisfactory answers) about what type of molding was going to be over the fireplace.  In the model home they have the white crown molding with three picture frame moldings.

You can see it here, over the mantle is painted white with crown molding, and there are three picture frame molding squares.  It works fine with this mirror mounted over the fireplace, but I have a picture that I intend to hang, and it won't hang right with three squares in the way. 

The PM confirmed that with the level 3 molding package (which is what we have) that this is what our fireplace would look like.  I'm so happy I asked, because I was told by my SR that there would be nothing over the fireplace, it would just be the mantle hung on the wall.   The PM even went one step further and agreed to put one molding box over the fireplace, to fit my picture.   I'm so excited that I get to have my picture perfectly outlined with molding, and then with the eyeball lights, its going to look awesome.  Its little detail like this that make building a home so awesome.

For those of you that might be curious as to what I  am planning to hang above the mantle it is this picture, my second favorite piece of ancient art, a print of a Roman mosaic from Pompeii of Alexander and Darius at the battle of Issus.  Yes, I am an archaeology nerd, that, and the gold frame is going to look awesome with the Ventian Gold granite fireplace surround.

There was one other small hiccup in the meeting and that was with the wiring of the coach light switches.  I had asked my SR if I could have a switch at the front door to control the coach lights on the garage, she said it would be no problem, I would just have to bring it up with the PM.  Well, the PM told me that I needed to do a special order for that, and it was too late now.  Booo!  Well I guess its not the end of the world, because my other two (even more important) switch issues were resolved in my favor.  One issue I had was that in the model home Rome that I visited  the switchplate for the kitchen lights were smack in the middle of the wall between the entrance to the dining room and the entrance to the foyer hall.  I guess I can understand why they would do that, because it would be equidistant between the dining room and the foyer, but the fact is I'm not going to be using the light switches like that.  I wanted the switch to be as close as possible to the foyer hall so I can easily switch them off on the way out the door, I don't want to have to walk into the kitchen when I'm already running late.   I've lived in many homes, the upside to which is I know what I like :)  When I discussed this with the PM, he told me no problem, they have done it before, yay!

The other issue I discovered in the model Rome home was that the mudroom did not have light switches that controlled the lights in the foyer hall.  I was really concerned about this because I knew that stumbling through the dark to get to a light switch would really piss me off every time I had to do it.  The PM did not have the electrical blueprints with him, but he was able to look it up on his ipad, and then confirmed and e-mailed me that the new Rome blueprints include a light switch in the mudroom for the hall lights, double yay!

Our main meeting lasted about an hour and then I had about a half hour worth of questions at the end.  I found out all sorts of important information like the granite is sealed, but the grout isn't, that the ceiling fan rough-in have two switches (one for the lights, one for the fan), that we can't get rid of the switched outlets in the bedrooms (boo!), and that there is an exhaust fan in both the water closet and over the shower in the master bath.

When we concluded the meeting we discussed the timeline- concrete laid Sept 2,3- lumber arrives Sept 9, pre-drywall around Sept 23rd, house finished end of OCT!!!!  I was not thrilled to get this information.  We paid a premium for a December delivery, and I was initially concerned that they would make us close early.  I asked our SR who was sitting in the meeting and he said that we could wait until Dec to close, but I'm not happy about the house sitting around empty for a month and a half.   When we signed the paperwork, I asked about the build time and I was assured that the house construction wouldn't be started early, that they would wait to build so that the house would be finished in Dec.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do about this, I may ask to have the premium refunded, since the house will not be finished in Dec as per the original agreement.   There is a lot to think about. 

After the meeting I went back to the house to get more pictures, I was really interested in how much backyard space we were going to have and I am happy to report that we have plenty of space for a swingset!


more backyard

inside of the house with large plumbing pipe sticking up

Looking into the house from the driveway