Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Although we settled on January 12, it has taken until today to get a temporary mailbox. I guess this is one of the problems with being the first buyers in a new development. Until now, the United States Post Office has been unable to give us an “official” address or deliver mail. I've been driving to the nearest sorting office to pick up my mail by hand, although some of it has apparently been lost or returned to sender. Anyway, thanks to my project manager we have a mailbox:

After it was put in, I went back to the sorting office and informed them. They said they would start delivering our mail from tomorrow and it should only be a few more days before our address gets added to that all important computer system of theirs.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Laundry room

Here's a picture, at last:

You can see how tight it is in there with the tub, but it fits and that's all that matters. In case anyone is interested, we went with a Samsung WA5471ABW/XAA top-loading washer (love the enormous capacity) and the matching DV5471AEW/XAA front-loading dryer. They have a smaller footprint than most of the fancy machines out there today, but they don't skimp on capacity and options.

If you're lucky, I might show you a bathroom or two tomorrow!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why no pictures?

I still haven't taken any pictures of the inside of our new home yet, although I found an image on the web that gives you some idea:

We are gradually making inroads, but it is going to take forever. Give me another week, and I should be able to take pictures of at least some of the rooms to share with you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Moved in

It has been a week since we moved in, although I use the term loosely. All our stuff is in the house, but there are about eleventy-billion boxes to sort through. My wife has managed to unload and put away all the kitchen stuff and she has done a tremendous job. We've had the chance to cook a few things in there and everything has worked out just fine. The house is wonderful, and we love it to pieces.

We've had one or two problems. The fridge we ordered would not push back far enough because it was being fouled by the side-mounted waterline spigot. Our project manager came back and fiddled with it a bit, and now all is well. A more serious problem arose when we ordered a washing machine and dryer. Modern machines need around 36 inches of depth when you factor in the dryer vent, but our laundry room only gave us about 31 inches before the door got in the way. Part of the problem is that we have a laundry tub, which means we are unable to move the machines away from the door. That being said, it's our feeling that in a brand new house, there should be room to spare in a laundry room once the machines are in. In the end, we ordered a washer/dryer combo that was among the shallowest and then got one of those flexible dryer vents. It's still a tight squeeze, but the door can now close unhindered.

Our house is a mess at the moment, so I have no pictures for you at this time. You'll just have to be patient!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


So, we've done the deed. We are now homeowners again. Closing took about an hour and was fairly straightforward. We did have one surprise, however. Shortly after we move in, we are expected to pay around $4,500 in school tax to cover the period between now and the summer. We were not told about this, so we will have to wait a few months before we'll be able to afford a new bed, washing machine and dryer.

Stopping by the house afterward, we were delighted to see everything all ship shape. We found a surprise gift from our sales and project managers, but I'm not going to spoil the surprise for anyone else who might get it too.


In fairness to NVR Mortgage, we were told about the interim tax payment back in October when we received a Good Faith Estimate; however, it was not something that was brought to our attention in any verbal discussions we had. The moral of this story is to always read all the little bits of paper you get from your mortgage company or broker, and make sure you understand everything. Make sure you understand what is included in closing costs, what is rolled into the mortgage payments, and what costs (if any) are not covered in either of these.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1 - Anticipation

We close tomorrow afternoon. If I wasn't on the eighteenth day of a nasty cold/flu/whatever, I'd probably be bouncing off the walls. As it is, my excitement level goes up to eleven.

Right up until the last minute, we're still getting the odd call or email from NVR Mortgage asking us for bits of information or documentation they already have or should've asked us for ages ago. Just in case, I've copied every single document I've ever sent them to a USB flash drive that I will take with me.

After we've settled, we plan to take a car load of “sit around stuff” over to the house. Basically, it's loose stuff that we'd rather move ourselves. I'll take another car load of stuff over on Friday morning and then spend the whole day there receiving various deliveries and getting the cable hooked up, etc.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2 - Penurbia

One of the things that attracted me to Sadsbury Park was the penurban setting. Although fairly close to the city of Coatesville, it has a distinctly different flavor. It sits in the fringe between rural Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia suburbs and exurbs. It's far enough away from metropolitan areas to have fairly dark skies, which appeals to the amateur astronomer in me, but not so far away that good shopping and services aren't available. There are farms and stores nearby where one can easily source local produce, but also large grocery stores aren't more than 10 minutes away. The area is rural enough to be peaceful, but suburban enough not to feel isolated.

Monday, January 9, 2012

3 - Ryan Homes staff

I first met our Ryan Homes sales manager back in early May, 2011. Since that time, he has gone out of his way to make our home building experience go smoothly. He has essentially functioned as our guide and advocate, making sure we got everything we wanted for the home and gathering essential information to make sure the lender was given an accurate and fair appraisal of the home's value.

Our project manager has delivered a fabulous home. He's kept us informed about every stage of the construction process and answered all our questions. It looks perfect, and my sense that the quality of the construction is very good has been confirmed by independent inspections taken before the drywall and settlement phases.

Although we picked a home from a list of pre-designed models and then applied options, our two managers have somehow managed to deliver an experience more similar to custom home construction. The finished home reflects our needs and desires just as a custom design would have, thanks to the work of our sales and project managers.

4 - Space

In 2008, my wife and I moved out of a 2,500 square foot single family home into a 998 square foot apartment. This was only supposed to be a temporary arrangement so we weren't all that bothered about it. We had to put at least half our stuff in storage and use one of the rooms of the apartment to store the rest. In 2010, we moved to a bigger apartment with an extra bedroom that gave us a bit more breathing room because events beyond our control had conspired to keep us renting.

On January 16, we will be moving into our new home. When you include the basement, it has well over 3,000 square feet. Our stuff will finally come out of storage and there will be plenty of room to put everything. Our old house was built in the '50s with a somewhat idiosyncratic design that wasted much of the space; however, these new houses are tailored to the modern family and designed to make better use of the available space. In fact, this was an important factor in the decision to buy a new house instead of an older one.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

5 - Stone

Echoing the look of our fireplace and the farmhouse next door is our exterior stone. I would've like to have seen it extended further down the side of the house past the side porch, but I think my wife will be able to tidy it up with some smart landscaping.

Friday, January 6, 2012

6 - Kitchen

I'm really glad we went with the highest level of kitchen appliances. They all look superb and expensive. The double oven is going to be extremely handy when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas. The “Uba Tuba” granite looks like a million dollars, and we're going to be getting it sealed before we move in. The “resilient” flooring looks and feels like proper tiles, but it's going to be much easier to maintain. The combination of recessed and counter lighting works really well. I can't wait to put the fridge in there next week to complete the picture.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

7 - Morning room

The morning room will definitely be my favorite room in the house. The amount of light we'll get in there is wonderful, and the view is reasonably attractive through these big windows.

The room has two speakers fed by the surround sound system in the family room, and we will be installing a ceiling fan (see previous post) soon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

8 - Fireplace

Nothing really needs to be said. It's absolutely gorgeous, even with the crap left on it by the guys still working there. All I need to do is flick a switch and boom - a beautiful log fire. Worth every penny. It looks like it's been there for a hundred years.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

9 - Basement

Before renting, my wife and I lived in a house with a small, unfinished basement. I had to duck or dodge to avoid whacking my head on the solitary light hanging from the low ceiling. I hated going down there, but I had to do it all the time because our laundry stuff was down there.

In our new home, we have an enormous finished basement with an eight-foot ceiling, recessed lighting and a full bathroom. Part of it will be used for storage, another part for housing a treadmill and an exercise bike, and the rest will eventually feature a home cinema setup with a large screen, 7.1 surround system and a little fridge. In the mechanical area, I'll have our home networking equipment and a freezer. An unexpectedly large egress window provides plenty of natural light.

After pounding away on the treadmill for a few minutes, I'll be able to walk straight into the bathroom for a shower and then flop down in front of the TV with a cold drink from the fridge. Maybe it'll take a little while to buy some of this stuff and set it up, but in the old house it was never an option. With a couple of sofa beds, it'll make a great spillover bedroom for guests too.

Monday, January 2, 2012

10 - Getting out of the rent trap

Time to begin our 10-day countdown. Coming in at number ten is my relief at finally getting out of the rent trap. I know a bigger percentage of people prefer to rent nowadays, but I've always been a great believer in home ownership. It's something deeply ingrained in the English and I am no exception. Home ownership gives you a sense of liberty because you are basically free to do whatever you want with few constraints. Our home will be part of a community that has a home owners association, but the power of the HOA is really limited to what happens beyond the walls, especially in the case of a fully detached house like ours.

My wife and I have been renting for four years, and we've hated it. We hate having noisy neighbors who drive noisy cars. We hate climbing eleventy-billion steps with all our shopping. We hate not having a garage for our cars. We hate not having central air conditioning. We hate sharing the water and heating bill with families who have eighteen showers per day and have their heat turned way up with all their windows open. We hate having to close our windows because people are smoking nearby. We hate having half our stuff in storage. We hate that the portable, in-wall air conditioning units are basically nests for stink bugs.

The worst thing about renting, however, is that you essentially pour money down a drain. A house is an investment. For the most part, your monthly payments go toward the purchase of your home. But rent payments aren't an investment at all, so when we saw our rent go up to the same amount as a mortgage payment, we knew it was time to buy.