Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Private Home Inspector?

To all that are reading who have had a private home inspector for new construction, I need your help! I would love to know how much you paid for you pre drywall inspection and final inspections? Did you agree that it was necessary? I would like to go ahead and nail down (ha, get it?)  an inspector now so I have a heads up for our pre-drywall meeting in April.  Oh, and if you could share the square footage of your house that would be great too! It's my understanding that many base their prices on that.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ground breaking!

Got word today from the PM that they broke ground on our lot and will be pouring the concrete next week when it's warmer. Here a few pictures.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Flooring and Kitchen selections

Hardwood floors came standard in the kitchen, foyer, and powder room. We did a level one upgrade to Hickory wood. Hickory is the hardest of the woods so it won't dent or scratch as easily. We have basic hardwood floors in our kitchen now and M really can't stand how easily they show smudges. For that reason we got a matte distressed finished hardwood (Armstrong's Fall Canyon) opposed to the glossy look we have now.

Our realtor advised to not upgrade the carpet because everyone is going to have to replace the carpet sooner or later so go ahead and take what is free and let the kids and pets ruin that and then replace. That way you are not paying 30 years of interest on something that will only last for a few. So we got the standard carpet choice in Rockport. We did upgrade the pad in the Grand room and stairs since it is going to be such a high traffic area but we did not in any of the rooms upstairs. 

This is the banister stain that comes with the floors.

We ended up changing the dinning room and living room to hardwoods and I kind of regret spending the $ to do that but I think it will look nice. We went back in forth with the family foyer room flooring (the entrance by the garage, right outside the powder room). We were able to visit a home with our floor plan and they had the standard resilient vinyl in that area and it didn't look bad and I did like the idea of having that for dirty shoes so it would be a true "mudroom" but in the end we went with hardwood in that room as well.

We selected the standard flooring in the bathrooms. It would have been quite a bit more to upgrade tile for the shower, tub, and floor in the master bath and we were able to see the standard tile in the same floor plan as ours and I actually thought it looked nice. It went well with cabinets and bronze fixtures we are getting. So we got 6x6 ceramic tile in biscuit for the master bathroom and in white for the guest bathroom. We also stuck with the basic resilient flooring for the laundry room.

Cabinets and Granite
We first decided to get the Espresso cabinets which is a level 1 upgrade but later changed it to Rushmore's Painted Glaze Hazelnut. These were the cabinets in the model we first visited and K immediately fell in love with them so even though it was level 2 upgrade we decided to change it anyway (cabinets are a pain to install on your own). Granite was standard in 4 choices. We had a hard time deciding between New Caledonia or the St. Cecilia Light. We thought the New Caledonia would be too dark and was told the Santa Cecilia Light would go great with the red undertones in the floor so that is what we settled on. We heard the Santa Cecilia Light does not have the gold waves in it like the regular Santa Cecilia does so I'm crossing my fingers that is true.

For the bathroom cabinets we went with Fairfield Square Maple Honey which were the standard option. We had originally picked out a marbled quartz stone for the master bathroom counter top but later found that wasn't available because our counter top is so long in that bathroom. So since they told us wrong RH gave us a free granite upgrade which I liked even better because it was FREE. So we went with the "Wheat" granite which I thinks looks great with the cabinet. What do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Word about Upgrades

Like I mentioned before RH was being very generous with the incentive money to entice buyers from the beginning. It is our understanding that since this is the region's first true master-planned community and is garnering a lot of public attention, the developer wanted to get this project started as quickly as possible (the faster they build the houses, the sooner they can break ground on the much anticipated "town center"). Compared to many other RH communities, Potomac Shores already included many standard selections such as a front porch, hardwood floors, and distinctive "Tidewater architecture" (both internally and externally). As their promotional incentive they were also  giving $40,000 to be used in whatever way we saw fit - upgrades, closing costs, or to even buy down our interest rate. On top of that they also included a finished basement.  We had already decided that we would not pay extra for a finished basement because we knew we could get it finished for less on our own and we did not need that space for the time being. So our sales manger offered to give the cost of that back to be used on other upgrades that we knew we wanted more. In the end we decided to use $21K to pay for all the closing costs and buy down the rate one point. The rest was used on upgraded options.

A good rule of thumb when trying to stay on budget with upgrades is to always select the things that cannot be changed after you close or would be harder / more intrusive to change. So I thought I would take the time to start from the top and list what came standard, what we chose to upgrade, and what our selections were (and I'll include some pictures along the way).
Architectural and Structural Options:
John Smith Model Elevation A (upgrade) with brick to grade on all 4 sides (this is standard for the front but since our lot is a high visibility lot they gave us the other 3 sides) in the Iron Gray color scheme and castle rock as the brick color - K was fine with just the standard "C" elevation but M really liked the "A" frame that came with that elevation and since there is no possible way to change this later we figured we needed to go ahead and spend the money now!
Here is a picture of what our color scheme will be - WE LOVE THIS LOOK! 

Castlerock brick


John Smith "Elevation A"

Since we plan to finish the basement on our own we decided to get the three piece plumbing "rough in" but did not get the wet bar rough in. Our Project Manager (PM) confirmed that we will be able to tap into a line from the bathroom plumbing for the wet bar later on when we are ready to complete the basement and he said he can give us names of subcontractors that have done this kind of work for other houses in the community.

We also got the double patio door for our walkout basement. This will bring ample natural light into the basement and it would provide a separate entrance if we ever decide to use it as an "in law suite" (or we may even rent it out). Update - You can not add a basement kitchen in Prince William County unless it is zoned as a multifamily unit.

Other upgrade options we "opted in" for include:
  • Fireplace
  • Soaking tub in master bath (K loves her baths!)
  • Turned the sitting area of the master bedroom into a 4th bedroom.
Structural Options we could have gotten but decided NOT to:
  • Deck
  • Extension in Grand Room
  • Bay Windows
  • Upper level balcony
  • Third full bath in the guest bedroom
  • Laundry room upgrade

In our next post we will share pictures of our flooring and kitchen selections. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why Potomac Shores? It's a Destination for a Lifetime!

When K found out she was expecting we knew it would just be a matter of time before we would need to move out of our smallish townhome style condo and into a single family home. We really liked the idea of new construction and with the housing market just starting to recover, we found the prices to be the very favorable (actually, in most cases we found that new construction prices were LESS than a lot of the resale homes on the market). One of the main reasons we wanted to move to Potomac Shores was to be in Prince William County (currently live in the City). K teaches in PWCS so we really loved the idea of our son being in the same school system she works for and knew he would be getting a "world class education" in PWCS.

My mother in law actually found Potomac Shores first and told us about it but we were convinced it was out of our price range.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that they had recently added a new floor plan that was in our price range, The Hampton. However, I was not a fan of it. It was only a few more sq. feet than our condo and had a 2 car "tandem garage" which seemed pretty impractical for us. Then I fell in love with the next floor plan up, The John Smith, but it was about $25K out of our price range (as you can see they have a colonial tidewater theme going on with the names of their models and by the way, all their models were created by Ryan and NV Homes exclusively for Potomac Shores so they are brand new floor plans). Although they were offering quite a bit of incentive money we decided it wasn't the right time. A couple months later on a rainy Sunday afternoon I decided to check out their website and I noticed a price difference on that floor plan. Thinking it just hadn't been updated in awhile I immediately emailed the sales rep and found out they had just dropped that particular floor plan exactly $25K for their Fall Savings promotion!

We were looking for more than just a home....we were looking for a community. One that had plenty of walking trails and a strong commitment to the conservation of Nature (M is a conservationist at heart and studied conservation biology in college!). Potomac Shores was exactly that. It was a true planned community with plans for 10 miles of walking trials, a community garden and orchards and over 800 acres of land reserved just for conservation. Not to mention plans for the near future town shopping center next to the Potomac River, a VRE station, a sailing marina, and "canoe club". The website has beautiful photos and does a much better job capturing the vision of  Tidewater living so check it out -

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Envisioning the Dream


So why did we decide to start a blog about our new home? If anyone had invited me to read a blog about their new home, I'm sure I would have completely ignored it. In today's era of blogs about everything and nothing, who would want to read yet another one about spending a bunch of money on a home? Seems a bit narcissistic. Well, here are the reasons why, dear reader:
  1. To help other prospective buyers who may be considering building in Potomac Shores
  2. To solicit feedback and advice from people we trust (after all, it can be hard to envision the whole picture when you only have a small sample of granite to work with).
  3. To personalize and commemorate this experience so our children can see how our house became their home.