Thursday, October 27, 2011


The forms are off the foundation, waterproofing is done, and we even have the basement window!!  I was strangely moved today when I got to stop by and take these pictures.  It is a feeling that is hard to evidenced(even though no one can tell but me), by my typing sentences then backspacing them out because they didn't quite capture what I wanted to say.

At any rate, some pictures

When I stopped by, our PM drove up so it was nice to talk to him.  He said that tomorrow the city inspector will be out to look at the foundation and give it his inspection.  Then it will sit over the weekend, and the lumber is coming on Tuesday.  It will be in two loads, and where they are going to put it is beyond my imagination.  But he said they will make it fit.  Framing is scheduled to start on Wednesday, and then its off to the races!!

So thats all for now.  Everyone have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Its not raining, so they're pouring!

I got a call at work today from my wife who told me that when she went by the lot this morning, they were putting the foundation forms onto the footers.  She took some pictures of course.

I was thinking that they were just putting them in place, and would be back first thing tomorrow to begin the pour.  But when she went by after work, she saw this.

So now we have walls!!  I can't wait to drive by and look for myself.  Here is where it starts to get interesting.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Getting my footer in the door...

Well despite the early AM rain here in Ohio, when my wife went by our lot tonight, true to our PM's word we had our footers poured!  She sent me a picture message, along with the text "It looks so tiny", which made me laugh as I recalled how many times I had seen that in the Ryan Homes blogs.

So I guess now we see if the walls get poured on Wednesday, and if they do I would assume framing would start next week if the lumber arrives.  But for now I am enjoying what we have now.  Which is this...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Now THATS a hole!! (Or Day 3)

In my daily sojourn through our community, I spotted the dozer being put back on the flatbed, and the dump trucks headed out onto the main road.  So I thought they must be finished on our site, and drove back to investigate.

When I got out of the car, this is what I saw.

Since the rain held off today, they were able to finish the dig, and hopefully the footers will get poured Monday.  Since ours is the last lot on our side of the street, they had to truck all the dirt to another site in the community, where I guess its being used to smooth out some potential lots.

On a side note, it must have been someones 30 day or 10 month repair day, as there were about 6 trucks with various crews in them.  I was able to spot painting equipment, and I think some drywall stuff in another truck.

Everyone have a great weekend.  I'm guessing nothing will happen on my end.

Day 2

Not much to post from what went on yesterday.  As I thought this rain we are getting here in Northeast Ohio is hampering efforts.

Towards midafternoon yesterday, I received an email from our PM stating...

"Weather is killing us today.  We are going to be close to getting excavation done, but will finish up in the morning.  Footer will get poured Monday, and foundation walls should be poured Weds of next week.  Let me know if you guys need anything."

I thought about emailing him back with one word, "Sunshine", but sometimes people don't quite get my sense of humor, and I don't want to offend this guy.

No pictures of yesterday, but if they are finishing up today, I will get some tonight.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 1

I received a call from our PM this morning telling me that they had begun to dig on our lot.  He said that they were digging to tie into the city septic line, and would dig some more on the foundation, but would have to cut it short due to the rain that was due to come in.

He said that they would finish the dig tomorrow, and pour the footers on Friday.  He added that either Monday or Tuesday, more than likely Tuesday, they would pour the walls.  That was it for the phone call, didn't have any questions to call him back on, so I left it at that.

My wife swung by at lunch time and took the following pictures.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'Twas The Day Before Digging

Sometimes I am not sure if it is a blessing or a curse that we live so close to our future community.  I have driven through there so much that I recognize when things have been done by my neighbors, or in the community itself.  I am sure that when everyone sees my car they are wondering who just comes in, drives around, then leaves.

Once we finally got our approval, I stopped to introduce myself just so no one thinks I am a burglar casing the community.  Everyone I have met so far has been great, and very helpful in telling me how things have went in the community.

Since our dig date is tomorrow, I thought I would take a drive through, and see if any equipment or anything was staged on our lot, and came around the corner to find the big pile of gravel as seen in the picture.

I was really happy to see that, but in listening to the weather forecast for tomorrow and how much rain we are supposed to get, I am not sure if the dig will happen. 

But maybe rain doesn't effect a dig as much as it would pouring concrete? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog issue

BTW, thanks to everyone who is following this blog and in turn, I have enjoyed reading yours.  I have tried to comment on a couple of your blogs, but each time I get a page telling me that I cannot view that page.

Any idea where I could have something set wrong, or what may be up?  Or maybe no one wants to hear my

Dig Week!!

Not much has happened since our pre-con meeting.  Just my usual drives through the community to see the last couple houses get finished and look at our stake-filled lot.

However, I did get the Friday e-mail from our PM that this week they will be breaking ground!  He said on Wednesday they will start.

Yay!! Let the fun begin.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


October 3, 2011

Okay, now here we are up to real-time and current as to what is going on with our home.

We had our pre-construction meeting with our PM and Rep to go over everything in our house, the layout on the lot, and finally to walk the lot to see it all staked out.

Our PM has been with Ryan Homes for about 8 years, and seems to be quite capable.  Moreover, all the other people I have talked to in our community have had nothing but good things to say about him and the job he has done so that makes me feel good.

In going over the floor plan and what we have in the house was pretty straightforward, no real surprises that we didn't know about, or anything that they forgot.  Our rep kept checking her sheets to verify everything and it all seemed to be in line.

Looking over the lot layout, he pointed out where all the utilities ran underground, where certain things would tie-in at and how nothing would run under our driveway, just in case anything ever needed to be dug up.  One thing he pointed out was that we would lose a small corner in the front of the basement where the water shut-off would be inside a small closet.  I have seen this before in some models, and don't feel this is a big issue.  Anyone else have this put in their basement, and if so what did you think of the finished product.

He said that we would be in by Christmas, which is fine by me.  But since we don't plan on moving everything until after the first of the year, the closer to the end of December would be better...keep the closing costs down!  Since we are taking possession in the winter, we won't get our driveway or final grade until spring, again okay by me.  Give us time to get the house in order before we are outside everyday trying to make a yard grow.  Also since we may be the only one the concrete people have to come out for, it would be a shame to let any extra concrete go to waste and maybe I can get a good rate on a walkway being poured from the drive to our side door on the garage.  Or maybe a concrete patio in the back.  We will see.

Next we were off to walk the lot all staked out.  Definitely weird trying to imagine a house where all the stakes were, but it gave us a feel for how the lot would be.  Not long on yardage that is for sure.  I think its about 17 1/2 feet between the houses side-to-side, and 28 1/2 feet from the back of the morning room to the fence line behind us, and 38 1/2 feet from the house to fence where there is no morning room.  I can live with that...less to mow!

One thing he pointed out was that the people behind us, when they had their fence put in, the installers didn't follow the property line and they had to move part of their fence in about a foot.  Glad I wasn't the one who had to point that out.

We left the meeting with the hopes of breaking ground on the 12th, which would have been great as its our wedding anniversary, but the next day he called me and told me that getting permits wouldn't happen until at least the week of the 10th, so groundbreaking would be the week of the 17th.  Again, no great concern...gets us closer to the end of December.

Now we wait for groundbreaking...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

NVR Update

August 22 - September 29

Now that all the choices were made, it was time to sit back and relax.  NOT!!!

It seemed that each day that went buy I would check my email about 50 times, call home to see if there was a voicemail there, and pester my wife to check the mailbox as I wanted to cover all possible bases of arrival for the answer for our loan application.

We did call our loan rep once to get an update, since 3 weeks went by and we heard nothing.  At that time he told us that there was a holdup getting some information together from someone they contacted, but it had finally came in and the package was set to go to underwriting the next week.

So we waited.....

About 10 days went by and we got a call that indeed the application got denied by automatic underwriting, and it was headed to a manual underwriting review where an actual human reviews it to see why it was denied.  Also he needed a letter written by me on what I intended to do with our current  home one we closed on this loan.  Since our loan had no conditions written in it for this property, and our income wasn't based on its sale or rental I wasn't sure why they needed this letter, but I wrote them one anyway thumbnailing what I would look into doing once we were safe and warm in our new home.

After about 5 days, our rep called back to tell us the reason why it was denied was because on our credit report it showed 2 loans for our current home and we only told them about one on our application.  Well since there never was a second loan taken out our on home, it turns out that when the lender that serviced our loan sold it to another company, it showed that it was still reporting from the first company.  Once that little problem was taken care of, our rep told us that rather than submit it to underwriting again, he would take that application before their "Review Board".  Which I guess is something that Ryan has in place for loans that need special dispensation for various and sundry reasons.  It made no difference to me, as Ryan doesn't service loans and was going to sell ours anyway once it closed.

After about another week went by, we got a call that we had APPROVAL!!  "Conditional" approval that is...  We needed to satisfy a couple conditions before closing, and I did these right away.  They needed a couple bank statements, and copies of checks we wrote for our deposit, and a child care statement for the VA on who and how much we pay for our childcare.

I was worried that since the approval took so long in coming, that our tentative closing date would be pushed way back, but during one of my many stops in the community to drive through it I stopped and talked to our rep and she showed me the Ryan timeline that is in effect while everything else(flooring, Guardian, colors, loan approval), is going on.  And even though we had no approval yet, as long as it didn't go past our dig date, everything was still on track.  That was a big relief to me, yet still didn't put me totally at ease since we had all the excitement built up from what had happened so far and I would hate to loose all that if the loan didn't go through.

Even though at that point we hadn't gotten the approval call, our Rep wanted to set up our pre-construction meeting, so we set that up for October 3rd.

Next up...Pre-construction meeting.

Colors and final choices.

September 12, 2011

Since it was getting close to the cutoff date for our final selections, we made an appointment with our rep to make the choices for the house colors, and the additional upgrades from the master selection sheet.

Here is what we chose for the house.

  • Graphite Gray Siding
  • Black Shutters
  • Burgundy Entrance Door
  • White Exterior Trim & Accent Color
  • Georgian Gray Shake Siding
  • Bucks County Stone Color
  • White Garage Door
  • Dimensional Black Roof Shingles
  • Aspen Ledgestone Fireplace
The additional upgrades we chose were:

  • Recessed lights above fireplace
  • Laundry tub in basement
  • Cabinet and vanity hardware - Satin Nickle finish
  • White Cabinets in Owners and Secondary Baths
We initially chose the additional coach light for the garage, but in doing some of the paperwork, the rep found that it was included with our elevation, so that cost came back off.

Previously, I mentioned there would be more information about our pine railing for the stairs, and this is what happened.  When we made the purchase agreement, we chose the railing and spindle option for our staircase, which in the Venice model used to be the lower part of the staircase, and when you turned on the landing, it was a capped wall going up to the second floor.
Well, it turns out that Ryan has changed that, to now when you pick the Railing option, it goes all the way up to the second floor.  Since we were already under contract, we would get that option at no additional cost!!

A nice little bonus that since we are the 5th(and maybe last) Venice in our community, no one else will have.

Next up...NVR update

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rite Rug

September 1, 2011

Having looked at numerous Venice models to see what flooring looked good, and taking ideas from the Ryan e-community we headed into our flooring meeting having a pretty good idea of what we wanted.

We had a price for flooring worked into our original sales figure so we knew as long as we didn't go over that, we were good to go.

The sales rep was very good in taking the time to answer our questions and letting us place combination after combination together to see how they looked.

The one must-have that we got was to upgrade the carpet pad.  We didn't go up too high a number hopefully that choice doesn't end up costing us in the long run.

Here are our choices.

  • In all bathrooms, powder rooms, and laundry room we choose the "Canyon Creek" tile.  While it was an upgrade from the base level, it was what all the models we toured had in them, and we grew to like it.
  • Baseline carpet in the finished basement, family room and upstairs. "Thornwood" style.
  • 6 lb. carpet pad throughout, except in finished basement.  Maybe we will get lucky and they will bring a big roll of 6 lb padding and do the whole place!
  • Laminate flooring in the foyer, kitchen, morning room.  "Native Cherry"
  • Railings stained in "Traditional Cherry".
  • Counter tops in "Butter Rum Granite" Formica.

Here is what it looks like all together.

Next up...color choices for the house, and final upgrade options.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


August 31, 2011

This was one of the meetings I was not looking forward to. I had read from some that it can be a high-pressure sales pitch, and also a meeting where the cost can get out of hand with all the neat things they offer.

Prior to the meeting, I had an idea of what we needed for the house(cable hook-ups in every bedroom), and where the phone jacks would be.  Our model came with 2 cable and one phone outlets, and the finished basement gave us one more of each.  Since we would use the 2 cable outlets in the family room and the master bedroom, that left the other 3 needing ones.

As for the security system, we were on the fence about that.  From seeing that its a contract-based system, and some of the incentives others received from signing up, we thought we would see what was offered before we made a choice.

The rep emailed a packet of what they offered before our meeting and the costs, so that helped make some of the choices beforehand.  We knew we wouldn't want a central vacuum, whole house audio, security cameras, and I was going to handle the flat panel purchases and audio.

Once we met the rep and got down to business, he was not high pressure at all and really let us make our own choices.  He answered all the questions we had and where we were on the fence about certain things, he just did his best to tell us things from both sides of the issue.

What we ended up going with was...

  • The Base Package Security System
  • 36-month contract (6 months complimentary)
  • Additional Keypad in the Master Bedroom
  • 6 Pack Outlet Package
  • Pre-wire for rear speakers in Finished Basement

We went with the additional keypad upstairs because without it, the motion sensor was essentially useless for nighttime use as you couldn't arm the system downstairs and then go upstairs without setting it off, or come downstairs in the morning without disarming it first.

We chose the 6 Pack Outlet Package because we needed at least 3 more at $100 apiece, and for an extra $195 we got 3 more hookups in any combination of phone, cable, or data.  We chose to use them for data connections near the Basement and Family Room televisions, because even though we will have a wireless router for our Internet, having a dedicated wired connection will hopefully provide a better signal for any Internet usage from the Blu-Ray.

I opted for the pre-wired rear speakers in the Finished Basement, because even though currently I have a surround sound with the speaker wires ran along the floor board with wire covers painted to match, I thought it would be easier and more aesthetically appealing to just put some mounts above the couch and mount them that way.

We got out of that meeting for more $$ than I wanted, but not enough to really hurt the bottom line. Lets hope flooring would go as well!!

Next up...Rite Rug


August 22, 2011

Today was our appointment with the NVR loan officer.  I knew this was gong to be different from the last time I took out a home loan in 2002, due the changes in the economic landscape but I wasn't prepared for how drastically it had changed.

When we signed our papers 5 days earlier, I was given a from with everything that we need to bring to this meeting.  Well...somewhere on that form it should state, "This is just a partial list.  After we do your application, be prepared to to provide much more information, sometimes more than once.  Also if we feel its in our best interests we may or may not require a full body cavity search to make sure you are not hiding any financial information".

All kidding aside, while NVR was the most emotionally taxing part of this journey, I do realize the close scrutiny is warranted.  Hindsight being 20/20 of course, if bankers and lending organizations did this much due diligence before, the housing mess wouldn't be what is is today.  But I digress...

Once he ran our credit, crunched the numbers, and looked over all the information we had on hand, he felt that the application looked good enough to send off to underwriting for their approval.  He cautioned us that given the end-of-month approaching, Labor day coming, and general time frame needed, that it would be maybe 3 weeks before we could get and answer.  He also outlined what steps would happen if a denial was met at any point along the way, and what the options were with each  one.

We figured if it was meant to be, it would all work out so we left the meeting with a laissez-faire attitude having not gotten too emotionally invested, and still having a roof over our heads.

That would all change in the coming weeks once we met with Guardian and Rite Rug for our flooring!  Once those choices were made, coupled with our drives through the community to look at our lot, we started to get excited about what may come.

Next up...Guardian

Upgrades and Options

August 17, 2011

So having decided on the model and lot location, it was time to make our choices of upgrades and options, see what incentives were available and negotiate on our final price.

Again, I can't say enough how helpful all the other Ryan bloggers have been as I read their journeys in building with Ryan on what options to definitely pick that one may not have ordinarily considered.

Here is what we initially chose:


As I was using my VA eligibility for this loan, Ryan has what they call a "Military Heroes Discount" which is good for $1500.00 towards either closing costs or upgrades, which was a nice little perk.  And the monthly Ryan incentive in place at the time of contract was a free finished basement.  This put us close to our number, but still a little over.  Our sales rep made a phone call and got some more $$ taken off as incentive, and that put us where we felt comfortable.

Once all the numbers were hashed out, away the printer went and spit out AT LEAST 100 forms we had to sign or initial or both!!  What we didn't know was at the end of all that we would get a little form called the "Option List"...which is a list of ALL the options we could put in a Venice in our location.  We were told to look it over and if there was anything we wanted to add, a change order could be generated with no problem and it be added to our build.  As long as it was within the window of change time frame. 

As I glanced over this 6 page list, I knew there was going to be something else to add, but hopefully not too much.  Once all the forms were signed, we made an appointment with the NVR loan officer for the following Monday to do our application and submit for financing.  Our rep also made calls to the flooring rep and Guardian rep to call us to schedule those respective appointments.

We left the office with all our copies, nifty little Ryan Homes while vinyl Homeowners Portfolio folder, and Volume 1 of our Homeowners Guide.  From there it was off to our lot to put the "SOLD" sticker on our lot sign.

Next up...NVR

Starting Out

So the journey begins...Once we decided to build a new house instead of buying pre-existing, we had to first select a community.  School district was first on our list.  Next came location of the community.  Tied into location was the cost of whatever model we chose, as there was a 30K difference from the lowest starting priced community to the highest.

Two models made the final cut, the Florence and Venice.  As I stated in my introduction, there were details that had the Venice come out as the winner.  After the model choice came the lot selection, and where we decided to build there were only two lots left.  One had a 4K premium attached to it, but when we thought about it, for us it wouldn't be a premium location.  The other lot seemed small...which it was, but its hard to envision how the house would end up looking.  So we thought about it for a day or so, and walked the community talking to people who already lived there, and everyone we met had only good things to say, not only about the community, but the Ryan experience itself.  So we decided to move forward on the smaller lot, and a Venice model, elevation K.
Next came the fun part...picking out options.  From lurking on all the other Ryan blogs the advice  of adding as much as possible before final negotiation was in the back of my mind.  Also there was the sage words of "This part can get real expensive...real fast".  We had a price point we didn't want to go over, having already looked at what we could buy already on the market, so our thinking was to put as much as we could up to that point and decide what we could live without if need be.

Next up..our choices.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Hello blog readers!

After deciding that it was now time to move from our current home, my wife and I did a lot of thinking about what we wanted in our next home and where that home would be.  We knew that even though our family size would get no bigger, our house now was too small for the 3 of us.  Location-wise it was convenient for shopping, commutes to work, and all the other assorted things.  But we open enroll our daughter in another school district, so we had hopes of relocating to that district.

We went to many open houses, and while they were nice each one never seemed to have the total package.  I am sure everyone can relate to that.  So like many others before us, one day we went to a Ryan model and explored our options for building new.

That option created MANY more choices to narrow down.  But first and foremost had to be the location of the community.  Sadly, Ryan hasn't built in the city we wanted to live in for 10 years so we had to consider another city that had "Excellent" rated schools.  That narrowed the choice down to 2 communities.  One was prohibitively expensive, both for total price and property taxes.  The other was not the first choice because of lot size.  But after taking the time to walk through the community and really looking at the lot we wanted and talking to some of our prospective future neighbors we felt that the smaller lot size was an okay trade-off for getting a home with what we wanted in it.

So then came the decision of what model to choose.  This community has 3 basic ones, but as I am sure everyone has experienced there is always one or two others that made it in.  We had a choice between the Sienna, Florence, and Venice.  There is one Pisa and Milan in the community also.  I liked the Florence, but my wife didn't because of the stairway to the basement being in the front of the house.  I thought it was quite contemporary, and if we put one of the 15-lite doors on the entrance to it, no one would mistake it for a coat closet!  I lost that battle.  She liked the Venice, but I didn't because it had 4 bedrooms, and I thought it was too much house for us.  But her list of likes(2nd floor laundry, split-staircase, kitchen size, etc.) far outweighed my one dislike, so that was our choice.  But truth be told, after I had the opportunity to go through a Venice by myself and spend about an hour there really getting a feel for the layout and size, I feel this was the right choice for us.

We are lucky in the area we live that there are several Ryan communities within an hour of each other.  So I would say that once we settled on the Venice that we have been through at least 5 models of it.  And between the 5, each has had something that ours will have and that has helped put the concept of the house into some reality.

I have waited to start this blog until we knew that the building would happen.  As everyone that has dealt with Ryan knows, once you sign the purchase agreement the wheels start turning in respect to flooring, Guardian, color choices, and of course NVR.  We signed the agreement on 8/22, but didn't get NVR approval until 9/28 and had I started the blog before now, it would have been no fun to end it suddenly.

So, I will do an entry for each step that has occurred up until now to try and flesh out how we have gotten here and what we have done.  But for now its off to our pre-construction meeting where we finally see the lot staked out and meet our new best friend(I hope), our PM!