Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pre-construction meeting

We had our pre-construction meeting yesterday afternoon, which took about an hour. Basically, my wife and I sat down with our project manager (PM) and our sales representative (SR) and confirmed all the details and choices. The only problem we discovered was that the SR had made an error with the fireplace selection, necessitating a change order. Another minor detail was that the basement egress window needed to be moved elsewhere because it had accidentally been located beneath the fireplace.

Construction is going to take a bit longer than we had hoped. We should still be breaking ground on September 6, but the PM seems to think we won't be able to close until well after Thanksgiving. I believe the long construction schedule is in part because our house will be the very first in a new development, but that's just my guess.

So it looks like we are going to have to stay in our rented apartment for at least another month. We'll probably have to have Thanksgiving surrounded by huge piles of bankers boxes. Incidentally, having moved twice in the space of two years, I can honestly say that bankers boxes are the perfect size and strength for holding household items (particularly books).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Imminent meeting

It has been 83 days since we signed our contract to build a Ryan home. It has felt like forever, but it seems our patience may soon be rewarded. We finally have our first meeting with our project manager scheduled. We will be meeting him, along with our sales representative, on Monday afternoon.

We now know that we should be breaking ground in the week beginning September 5 (Labor Day), assuming the site preparations going on at the moment are completed on time. I am still hopeful we will be able to meet our target date of the middle of November for closing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sense of scale

The First Floor

One of the disadvantages of choosing to build a home in a development that is in the early stages of construction is the lack of a furnished model home. Choosing a home from printed materials is difficult, but my wife and I have had enough experience looking around the model homes of other developers over the years to get an idea of what we wanted. Once we had decided where we wanted to be, it was relatively easy to decide on which model to build - partly by process of elimination. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for actually looking around an example of the home you seek to build.

With this in mind, I searched the Ryan Homes website for the nearest development with a decorated Michener II model. It turned out to be in Brunswick, Maryland. Although it is a solid 150 miles away from where we live in Pennsylvania, my wife and I decided to drive there on Saturday. It took about three hours to get there, but it was certainly worthwhile.

The first thing we noticed when we saw the house is how small it looks when compared to others. Because there is no garage in the front, the house is less than thirty feet wide. As the rendering shows, it looks cute. The “small” theme continues when you walk through the front door. The dining room and living room are both 11' 5" by 12' 6" - plenty big enough for receiving guests; however, they seem small because they are both fully open to the foyer. I prefer to think of the living room-foyer-dining room combo as the “reception area”, rather than separate rooms.

Walking forward into the family room, my wife and I got a bit of a shock. Although the size of the room is a generous 16' 0" by 15' 2", much of that space must be kept empty for people to pass through the room unhindered. You can see how diminutive it is from this picture taken by my wife:

We realized that this would create a problem. We had selected carpet for the family room; however, the only way to pass from the the foyer to the rear of the house would be to cross over the carpet. It was immediately clear that we would need to upgrade from carpet to hardwood flooring, so we called our Ryan Homes sales representative and asked him to prepare a change order.

The kitchen seemed small too, but the combination of the kitchen and the family room makes for a very family-friendly living area where nobody need feel left out. The dinette (which I prefer to think of as a breakfast area) is the perfect size for a family of four to eat at while still being able to see the TV in the family room.

The Second Floor

In contrast to the first floor, the second floor seems roomy. The master bedroom is quite large when taken into context with the rest of the house. I had originally planned to put a 46" TV in there, but after seeing how large the bedroom is I think it'll need to be at least 52". One thing I noticed was that there is an air vent directly over place where my sleeping head is likely to be. I want to make sure that isn't the case in our build.

All the bedrooms are a good size, and they each have plenty of closet space. We plan to have a king, a queen and two singles in our guest bedrooms. My wife thought that the master bathroom seemed a little small, but it was about how I'd imagined it.

The Basement

This was the biggest surprise of all. The basement is enormous. Freed of all the necessary bits and pieces needed on the first floor, the basement is a gigantic open space with all sorts of possibilities. My “man cave” plan will need to be changed, because taking all the space for myself would be just downright greedy of me. My wife and I are thinking of putting in some bookcases and cabinets for storage. We went with the optional full bathroom in the basement, so we could even partition off a part of the basement for use as an emergency (though somewhat gloomy) guest bedroom.


Visiting a decorated model is an absolute must for anyone building a new home. Only by walking around the model of your choice do you get a proper sense of scale and perspective. The trip was of immense value to us, and I would've happily driven 500 miles if necessary.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Independent inspection?

I would like to ask my fellow Ryan Homes bloggers what your thoughts are about getting an independent inspection. My wife and I didn't really think about it until noting that some of you have gone down that route. Is it really worth getting an independent inspection? How much do they typically cost? What point(s) in the building process should such an independent inspection take place? I would love to hear your opinions and any stories that you might have.