Sunday, July 31, 2011

A couple of changes

We dropped in on our sales rep yesterday, and he very kindly allowed us to make a couple of minor changes to our options list. My wife wisely decided that our bathrooms should have white cabinetry to go with the white tiles and white tubs. Wooden cabinets would've looked a bit odd. We have also chosen to have hardware (knobs) on all cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.

While we were there, the sales rep was able to show us some of the fixtures and fittings we had not been able to see, and we were very impressed with their quality and appearance. He also gave us a better idea of when we would be breaking ground and how long it would take to do the build. Basically, we should be breaking ground at the beginning of September and closing around the middle of November.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Time frame

Our sales guy called today. He confirmed what I'd mentioned in my previous post about the road alongside our development being closed. He said he would call us again in a week or two to schedule our first meeting with the project manager. I asked about the time frame for construction and closing and he said that he expects we will be breaking ground in September. Closing is still expected to be in mid-November. I'm dubious about that construction schedule, which would be anywhere from 60 to 90 days. Does that sound right? Meanwhile, I'm still worried about a potential interest rate hike that could turn the whole project into a disaster.

My wife and I have been discussing Thanksgiving. Our closing date is projected to be just before, but there is a real possibility it could be delayed until after. Either way, we will probably be knee-deep in boxes and partially-dismantled furniture. It's certainly going to be a messy affair this year, but it would be wonderful to have Thanksgiving in our new home.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Not a pretty site

Please excuse the pun, but I couldn't resist. My wife and I took a drive out to the site where our development is going to be yesterday and I snapped a couple of shots:

You can see the farmhouse that I mentioned in an earlier post in the background. That building will remain, and our lot will be fairly close to it. The entire development is a bit of a mess at the moment, but the crews have been working feverishly in the ghastly heat.

For the next 30 days, the road that runs past the development will be closed to all traffic. Apparently, the curve in the road is being straightened. A slight hump is being smoothed out as well, so it should make it easier for people leaving the development to see oncoming vehicles. This means we won't be able to see the site again until late August, by which time I hope the crews will have completed all the road and utility infrastructure on site.

In the meantime, my wife and I will be hoping those worthless tools in Congress will have resolved this crisis over the debt ceiling. The ceiling should be raised immediately and independently of any other spending/taxes discussions. The behavior of lawmakers over the last couple of years has been disgraceful, but in the last few months (since the 2010 elections, basically) it has been especially appalling. As soon-to-be homebuyers, we depend on the interest rate remaining low; however, the rate will skyrocket if the debt ceiling isn't raised within a few days.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How do you like your steak?

Just a quick post about one of my favorite options. One of the very first things I asked for was a hook-up for a gas grill. I'm quite partial to the odd burger, so being able to plug my grill directly into the main gas supply without having to mess about with propane tanks makes me very happy. As an added bonus, the exterior gas supply could potentially be mated to a generator in the event of some sort of disastrous power outage. Anyway, our hook-up will be on the side of our morning room close to our side porch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Field

Called Sadsbury Park, the development my wife and I have chosen to make our home in is still in the very early stages of being prepared for home construction. At this point, most of the work being done at the site concerns excavation, public utilities, grading and road preparation. The site is unsuitable for visiting because there's no asphalt down yet. A few months ago, the area was little more than a field:

This image is from Microsoft's Bing map service. The farmhouse you can see in the lower right of the picture will actually remain, although most of the adjacent buildings have gone already. I don't know when Ryan Homes will be breaking ground on our home, but I know it will probably be immediately after they begin work on their model.

Why we chose the Michener II

For us, the biggest selling point of the Michener II was the design and layout of the kitchen. My wife wanted a kitchen that would open out into the family room in a way that kept the two areas connected. Most modern houses have the kitchen, dinette and family room in a line and this can make the kitchen seem detached from the family room; however, with this layout, the kitchen and family are intimately connected. Anyone in the kitchen will be able to interact with anyone in the family room as if they are in the same room.

Another selling point was the location of the stairs. Most homes have centrally-located stairs leading away from the front door, but the Michener II design has the stairs to one side. Firstly, this makes the reception area (living room, foyer, dining room) more open and connected. Secondly, it helps to keep the finished area of the basement (where you might entertain guests) separated from its bathroom and the unfinished basement area. Thirdly, in conjunction with the second floor bathroom, it helps to create a “privacy division” between the guest bedrooms at the front of the house and the two bedrooms at the back (which include the master bedroom).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


In the middle of June, I had a meeting with Guardian. My wife bravely handed this responsibility off to me, but I restrained myself. I had spent a great deal of time researching everything in advance, so I was well prepared for the meeting. I had put together a packet which included lists of desired equipment, speaker packages, data outlet numbers and locations and other stuff. I knew what I wanted, but much of it would be contingent on what Guardian would be charging.

A key need was for comprehensive ethernet wiring using Category 6a wiring for a potential 10GBASE-T network. While this might seem extreme, I wanted to provide for the inevitable expansion into carrying multiple channels of high definition video over the home network without compromising other internet-related tasks. The plan was to provide data outlets in the family room, morning room, finished basement and bedrooms that would be fed from a network switch housed in the unfinished basement. Unfortunately, Guardian are unable to provide Cat6a wiring at this time, so they have agreed to run cables that I will be providing myself. Meanwhile, Guardian themselves will be providing the following:

  • Alarm system
  • Premium 5.1 surround speakers and wiring for the family room
  • 5.1 surround speakers and wiring for the master bedroom
  • Wiring for a 7.1 surround system in the finished basement
  • Cable TV outlets in all the bedrooms, the basement and the family room
  • Ceiling speaker pairs for the living room, dining room and morning room

I will be providing all the amplification and network equipment myself, so basically Guardian is doing mostly wiring. They've also agreed to install an in-wall subwoofer, provided by me, into the family room.


Early last month, my wife and I had meetings with several people as we moved through the early stages of the home building process. Following our initial meeting with the sales guy, we had a meeting with an NVR Mortgage representative. The process of applying for a mortgage is tedious, but we were well prepared. The mortgage was approved a few weeks later. The application was based on an early estimate of the sales price, but that has since changed. Hopefully, we'll have no trouble getting approval for the higher number.

Shortly after, we had another meeting with the Ryan Homes sales guy. In this meeting, we made some significant selections. These included:

  • A morning room
  • A finished basement
  • A full bathroom in the basement
  • Recessed lighting in various places
  • A premium kitchen with stainless steel kitchen appliances (including a double oven)
  • A stone fireplace

Next, we met with the flooring people. We picked out some hardwood flooring for the main reception areas of the house, the “resilient flooring” for the remainder of the first floor and carpet for everywhere else. We chose the highest quality carpet padding, but went with the cheaper carpet option.

Our next meeting was with Guardian, but I will expand on this in my next post.

The beginning

A month or two ago, an opportunity presented itself that would enable my wife and I to get out of the rent trap and buy a home. It has long been our desire to build a new home, because we have always dreamed about having our home arranged in a certain way with certain things. We are fussy that way. I stumbled across news of an upcoming development and decided to drop by the sales office and get some details. After looking at some of the available properties and chatting with the sales guy, I knew I had found something worth bringing to my wife.

The following weekend, I took my wife out to the area where the development would be going up and then we went to see the sales guy together. We walked out of the office two hours later having made a firm commitment to buy a model called the Michener II. And so began the long process...