Friday, June 19, 2015

A "Lot" has changed!

In just a few hours we will be closing on our dream house. We have been living in a hotel for the last four nights because the buyer of our condo would not do a rent back until today so we are really ready for this! The movers are coming this afternoon. I thought I would post a picture of us when our lot first became sold. We were going to do a retroactive post about why we picked the lot we did but of course we never had time too. Basically, we got the best lot available that didn't have a lot premium. The exterior lots (the ones backing to the trees and / or the ones in the cul-de-sac) were about $40K more than the interior lots. We really wanted a lot that had a view of trees so when we first visited PS we were pretty disappointed about that but decided to take a tour of the neighborhood anyway. While driving around on the golf cart we passed a lot and K shouted "STOP. This is it! This is our lot!". A corner lot that had trees across from it and just beyond the trees you can see the golf course. It is beautiful and since we didn't have to pay that lot premium we were pretty happy.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pre-Settlement Meeting (and don't listen to all those complaints)!

We had our pre-settlement meeting last week and everything went great. There were just a few minor things we pointed out that our PM marked to be "cleaned up". There was a scratch on the kitchen floor so he will be replacing that board before we move. The day before our meeting I took my parents to see the home and we had noticed a puddle right beside the basement door. It was just about gone the next day and our PM is almost certain it was from the door being left open when the sprinkler was running but he is going to keep an eye on it. He also said it would be  very rare for a walk out basement to leak and even more so for a RH walk out basement to leak....especially with our grading (you really couldn't ask for anything better than what we blessed about that as the yard is the main reason we wanted a single family home).

We are very excited but it also hit us all the work we will have to keep track of (mainly with the lawn and just general maintenance). We've never had a lawn before so it will be new to both of us. We had no idea the work involved for new sod but we are going to love it. Some of the trees already looked "distressed" but that will be part of what the HOA's is in charge of so we don't have to worry with that. We did confirm  that we will have to maintain all the other landscaping (we weren't sure if the landscaping "upgrade" package included maintenance as well. It does not but we didn't think it did so that is fine).

I also want to say that we have been very impressed with our PM thus far and RH's in general. When searching for a new builder we saw  A LOT of complaints about Ryan Homes. Well, I think they were paying attention tho those complaints. They seemed to have put so many  new policies into place now and have stopped using many materials they use to use. We were also told that they now have to do a mold inspection almost 5 times before Settlement and that there is an entire regiment in place if mold is very to be found (which rarely is at this stage). We had never heard complaints about mold from Ryan home owners  but we do know 2 personal stories about mold in other new homes (Toll Brothers and Pulte) so it was a worry of ours since I'm highly allergic to any mold / mild dew.

Another thing to keep in mind about those complaints is that it really depends on the PM and who they decide to subcontract with. I found out today that one of my coworkers use to work for Ryan Homes. According to her Northern Virginia has (or at least had when she was working there) the highest customer service rate compared to the other areas RH's builds at. So when reading the complaints pay close attention to WHERE  (state and region) they are coming from. When considering buying any new construction home do some research on the PM first. We actually asked him right off the bat what his credentials were and which community he worked for before this. We were shocked at how much experience he had. We even knew some people in his old community so we asked how they liked him and we heard nothing but praise. If you notice a community is going through a lot of PM's that are not sticking around long that may be a red flag.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A "Lot" to choose from

We've got sod, landscaping and a painted garage...and it looks grrrreat!!!

Loving the "iron grey" garage

A 3/4 view showing the nice landscaping job
Maybe it's since I'm a guy, but the house is really just starting to become a reality for me. The only way I can really explain it is to compare it to having our first son, Patrick. He only started to become "real" to me when he was born. It's so different for women than it is for men. As men, I feel like we have to see it take shape before we can truly begin to imagine all the possibilities it holds for our future. I think women share a much more intimate and personal connection to the home building process. Just as they have a profoundly intimate, personal connection to the life that is growing inside of them. Us men, we just want it to be done and finished so we can start wrestling with it, or throwing the ball with it, or (on the more nurturing side of things) read to it. My wife and I (mostly me, to be quite honest) had to prove some things to ourselves before we could dare to dream that the dream could become a reality. Well, as Napoleon Hill famously said, "whatever the mind of man (and woman, thank you very much!) can conceive and believe, it can achieve!" It will be all the more sweeter knowing that my family, still small, will, God-willing, grow up to know that big things often have very small beginnings.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kitchen and Floor pictures!

Just a quick update to share some more pictures.

I love these hardwood floors!!!

Family Foyer aka "mudroom"

Laundry room

Laundry room and utility sink

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Chronicles of Potomac Shores: The Brick, the Blunder and the Builder

First, the good news - we got an offer on our condo! She came in a little low at first but our amazing realtor negotiated and got EVERYTHING we wanted including waiting to close until the house is ready. Right now we are scheduled to close on both houses on the same day, June 15th. And she is OVER-qualified! Woohoo! Inspection has already happened and they are asking us for NOTHING.
The appraisal happened today, but we won't talk about that, everything being "still under investigation and all..."

Now, to the actual "brick and mortar" (meat and potatoes, if you will) of this post: it all started with a particular nosy neighbor (I hope that neighbor is not a follower of our blog!). This particularly perceptive plebeian noticed that the brick on the foundation of our house did not look like the brick that was found on all of the other “homes with the Iron Grey color scheme. This prompted our construction manager to ask some questions of the design office, sales team, etc. Turns out the neighbor was right! They had put "Castle Rock" when the design specs called for "Craggy Mountain". A side by side photo comparison will do

Castle Rock 
Craggy Mountain

Now, my wife, the master designer of the homes' options and amenities, swears that "Castle Rock" is the only brick option that was ever discussed with us by the sales team. Furthermore, I can attest to the fact that "Castle Rock" is the only brick option that appears anywhere on our various option selection sheets. Third, we sorta did start to fall in love with the look of the burgundy colored brick against the grey-blue hardy plank siding. We also liked being different and the only home in the community with that combo.

Well, different shall not be tolerated here! 

Craggy Mountain
Craggy Mountain
Potomac Shores spoke to the builder, SunCal, and SunCal promptly told Potomac Shores/Ryan Homes that it was a mistake and the brick must be replaced by the 'Craggy Mountain", the approved brick design for the 'Iron Gray' color scheme (it all gets a bit tedious and onerous, don't you think?)  Here is the new brick, which was literally replaced before I could even raise a fuss (more on that later):

 A quick word about our community and the developer; it is unlike other RH communities in the sense that RH's had to negotiate and present ideas to the developer before the floor plans were acceptable to the developer's master "plan". SunCal wanted all the exteriors to have the same "Tidewater Architecture" theme.  This is the reason why we have floor plans that won't be found anywhere else (although they were just approved to add the Venice and Milan models but their elevations and exteriors have been changed to blend in with the rest of the community). This is also why PS has front porches and upgraded landscaping packages as a standard feature.  

So I called SunCal to see if complaining about the oversight with the brick would accomplish anything. It didn't. SunCal are the ones in charge of our HOA until it is released to the homeowners so we are a little worried the HOA is going to be a huge pain (but aren't all HOA's?) In fact, they didn't return my phone call but instead, went directly to RH/Potomac Shores and told them that the brick needed to replaced immediately. Apparently, they said my voice mail message was garbled and they couldn't understand just exactly what I was calling about. Either way, by the time I got a hold of anyone at RH, I suspect the brick had already been replaced.

I love the bronze finished fixtures in the master bathroom and our "free" granite

Monday, April 20, 2015


We just got a letter in the mail today from Ryan Homes stating that our settlement date is June 1st! That is 22 days EARLIER than we were originally told! We are freaking out as we have not sold our condo yet. Moreover, we've only had 1 offer which was from an investor but we couldn't come to agreement on price. Does anyone know what RH would do in this case if the buyer's original home is not sold before settlement? I know our mortgage approval was contingent on selling our current residence first.

I guess I need to figure out how to change the date to my countdown ticker......

Saturday, April 18, 2015

She's a Brick.... House!

So much has happened since we last updated. The house is coming along so nice. On Easter we went by and wrote verses on the wooden frame (credit for this idea goes to Natasha from

We also noticed that they started to put the brick up around the side. Since our lot is a "high visibility" lot RH's paid for brick to go around the entire house (normally this would be an upgrade...only the front comes standard) and we love it!

I'm so glad we went with the oil finished bronze fixtures!

Yesterday we went back and saw the brick was finished and they had started with the other siding.  In the interior they had all dry wall up and painted and cabinets had been installed!

This is going to be my favorite angle of the house. You can see our yard, the trees across the street and if you look closely part of the golf course green. 

This shot really shows the contrast of the brick and blue siding. I think it looks great!

Master bathroom cabinets in F airfield Square Maple Honey

Dinning room and living room

Rushmore's Hazelnut Glaze cabinets! 
 We finally got our approval letter although NVR Mortgage had to refer us to one of the mortgage companies they partner with because of something weird going on with my student loans. Anyway, it is all straightened out now and we are good to go.

Friday, April 3, 2015

From Foundation to Framing!

A lot has happened since we've last posted so I will try to catch you up with pictures. I had to drive out to PS  a few weeks ago to drop off one of our installment checks. I believe it was a Monday. At that point, it appeared they had just finished pouring the concrete and laid the foundations! This was pretty exciting since it was really the first tangible evidence that a house - our house! - was being built on top of what formerly had been a promising pile of dirt! I took some photos:

I returned with my wife only a few days later to find the house had been more or less completely framed, with 4 walls and that "siding stuff" that says "Ryan Homes" all over it!
Katie enjoying the view (and her Starbucks)

One week later, and this is how things look:
PD likes the look of his future bedroom!
Back yard
"Those stairs look scary, mom"

Living room (aka study and library) and dinning room area
Soon-to-be kitchen
Our fireplace!
Side view

And now we just got word that they are ready to schedule our pre-drywall meeting so things are happening very fast. In fact so fast that we didn't even have time to update this blog!