Thursday, July 19, 2012

Final Destination: FLORENCE!

Its been about 2 weeks since we finally moved into our new house and started the process of making it our home....our place of zen.

Our first stop post-closing was at Home Depot..... to buy gardening supplies, much to my husband's chagrin!!! One of the first things I noticed during our pre-closing walk-thru was the bare bone landscaping. Wanting to  add my personal stamp to the exterior, I decided to jump into this head on!!! The only downside: Neither my husband nor I have ever done ANY gardening!
My husband tried his hardest to convince me to tackle this task once I had read a little more on the subject or have some landscapers come do the job, however being the impatient person that I am, I refused to budge and finally he had to give in.... poor chap :))

                                                                   Post Closing

Thanks to the helpful tips from the Home Depot employees and several sore muscles later, I finally managed to add some color and fencing to the exterior.
The best part: My husband loves it and started assisting with the gardening once he started seeing results. :))



We always knew that we would need a back-splash in the kitchen since we cook a considerable amount and wanted to avoid oil stains on our walls. We started looking for back-splashes several months prior to closing and after intense searching finally settled on a back-splash we both liked, at a price we were willing to spend. It took 3 days for the professionals to get the installation done and we are both pleased with the final product. The back-splash in our opinion compliments our cabinets perfectly and enhances the appearance of our stainless-steel appliances.

In these past two weeks we also slowly started the furnishing process. We are now done with the two bathrooms, powder room, one guest bedroom, part of the basement and part of the  master bedroom. 

                                                                    Powder room   

                                                                     Master Bath    

                                                                 Guest Bedroom

                                                              Part of the Basement

                                                        Part of the Master Bedroom

While we are still a long way from completely furnishing our house, the journey so far has been spectacular!!!

 However, this post would mark the end of my documenting this process. I want to thank everyone who ever stopped to read my blogs and  especially those who left suggestions and comments. Thank you for being a part of our journey and Good Luck on your ride to build your own paradise!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Two Months Flew over the Florentine Nest....

In the last 2 months while our lives got hectic....our home steadily edged towards completion. The begin of this time period started with our Pre-dry wall meeting. This meeting was pretty straight forward. We met with our Project Manager who went over the location of the different items we were installing in the house. We had our realtor with us during this meeting, which turned out to be a boon!

Over the course of building our house, our Realtor has become our mentor, someone to turn  to when in doubt. Having been in the business for a very long time, she knew the right questions to ask, and the loop holes to look for. Through this process I have come to the realization that having a person who is knowledgeable by your side, is a definite plus!! It not only reassures you that someone has your back, but it also (on some occasions) protects you from being taken for a ride.

One of the major curve-balls we successfully dodged during the pre-dry wall meeting was... "The Siding Color"! Those who have read my previous post on sidings, might remember that we had initially selected Autumn Beige as our siding color, however, having read several blogs, I started having doubts with regards to the color being "too pink". Despite my doubts, my husband and our sales rep managed to convince me that the color was not really pink, so we decided to stick with it.....until, during one particular drive-thru to see our house, I came across a home being built in our community with an autumn beige siding....and guess the color it appeared to look like....PINK!!! Over the next one week I frantically exchanged emails with our sales rep explaining to her that there was no way I could live with that color...I even had her accompany me look at this other house to verify if it really looked still did..atleast to me!!

                                                            Autumn Beige Siding

 Finally our sales rep came through for me! Having pulled several strings, which included getting in touch with her manager,  during the pre-dry wall meeting she gave me the good news that our house would no longer be would be SANDY TAN!!!

In the next several weeks we also met with Guardian and finalized the location of the wiring and the surround sound system etc. After that, time flew by and what was once a wooden frame shaped into our beautiful home!!!

                                                                  Kitchen: Before 

                                                                   Kitchen: After

We wanted to have a potfiller over our range, but Ryan Homes does not have it as one of their  up-grades, so we  asked to have a water line installed over the range with the intention of putting in a pot filler later. However, our PM surprised us by asking us to bring in a potfiller and having it installed for us!

                                                                        Pot Filler 

                                                          Morning Room: Before                               
                                                                   Finished Product

                                                                Master Bath: Before



                                                                  Basement: Then  


                                                                   Before: Wooden frame

                                                                  After: OUR HOME


Monday, March 19, 2012

Rome wasn't built in a day....but Florence was FRAMED in less than a month!!!

A Picture is worth more than a thousand words so I will let the story unfold with the pictures below....assisted by a few words :))

                                                                    Land Staked

                                                                 Ground Broken

                                                               Foundation Laid

                                                               Basement Built

                                                              Framing In Process

                                                                    Roof Laid


                                                             First floor & Stairs


                                                                   Family Room

                                                             View from the backyard

                                                                  Morning Room



......& That's how our  Florence was FRAMED!!! :))

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Wheels are set into motion...Pre-Construction Meeting and Ground Breaking

After two months of lull, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. In the last two months we changed our minds on almost everything a zillion times...asked our sales rep a million questions...had thousands of doubts....fought with each other at least a hundred times a week until we completely exhausted ourselves...atleast mentally! In this chaos we somehow managed to finalize our mortgage lender at the end. We decided to go with a local lender over NVR, only because their customer service and customer handling was much more to our liking than that of the latter. For the closing however, we decided to stick with NVR Closing, only coz we are informed they are one of the best in the area.

The terrific part about finally making this decision: I don't know if this has bothered anyone else, but every time we visited the property site, I hated the fact that, all the property sites either under construction or in the pre-construction had the "SOLD" sign on except for ours....Well.... not anymore :)))

We had our pre-construction meeting two weeks ago which basically was all about going over the selections one last time and meeting with our PM.  It was a fairly breezy in and out affair.... turns out our PM is a man of few words. We left from the meeting feeling confident...till we hit our next road bump a.k.a some more questions...Sigh!!!

Over the next couple of days, while just talking to each other about some common issues, we realized that there were certain things which we had failed to voice during the pre-construction meeting. Basically these are concerns which can be addressed after closing, however we wanted to see if we could get it done during the construction time to avoid the hassel later. Since we have a great rapport with our Sales rep we picked her brain on it. Here goes a few of them which might be helpful:

1. We were unsure if they put soap holders in the bathrooms. Turns out that only the master bath has 1 small soap holder (4x4) the other full baths do not. The full baths may have a raised area where the tub meets the wall but its not a guarantee. We ended up going to Rusmur Floors and selecting tiles matching our granite for 3 shelves and a soap holder in the master and a soap holder for the hall bath. Our Sales rep agreed to allow Rusmur Floor install them while Rusmur installs our bathroom. We however did not include this cost in our mortgage but paid for it up front.

2. I noticed while at the model home for the pre-construction meeting, that the towel holder in the bathrooms were over the toilet flush and not at a sufficient height to avoid even a small towel from touching the top of the flush.  If this is something that may bother you in the future  it is one of our pet peeves) it might be a good idea to let your PM know so that you can select the exact location for the towel holder.

3. The walk-in closet in the master has one rod of wire shelving running all thru as a standard. Since we want more than one wire shelf and want to use this space economically, we asked about getting it customized through Ryan's handyman who installs the wire shelving during construction. This turned out to be more expensive than doing it ourselves later. We do not want any holes on the walls when we got rid of he standard shelving later, so we asked our PM not to instal the wire shelving at all. If you are considering customizing your closet like we are, think about not having the wire shelf put at all. If you have already have a customized closet, please share your ideas with us... it will be helpful!!

4. One of our other concerns is taking care of our lawn and the landscaping part of it. We have been told numerous times already by our PM and sales rep that at least for the 1st yr, the grass will have to be watered twice a day for at least 45 mins... that too when the sun is not all high and bright. Given that both my husband and I have erratic work hours in addition to the fact that we have never done this before, we are pretty apprehensive about ruining the grass before it even has a chance!! We are considering having an automated sprinkler system installed which we are told also adds value to the house. We are hoping to get this done prior to them placing the grass so that it doesn't have to be uprooted later. Our PM provided us with the contact information of landscaper they have collaborated with often and we are trying to work it out with him.     

Amidst all this activity in the background, we also broke ground!! Yaay!! :)) Since we haven't been able to go as often as we want... here are the pics taken a few days apart.

                                                                   First Visit

                                                          Cemented Foundation
I'm excited to see how much is done the next time I drive by for a peek...Will keep you all posted! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rusmur Floors...The one stop flooring shop

This was the appointment I was the most worried about...and by far the only one for which we had done extensive research. Fresh from the meeting with the Guardian rep,we were anticipating an onslaught of extensive information and choice palettes, as this seems to be the pattern for every meeting we have had up until now.  Given the fact that there are so many options to chose from.... hardwood(real or engineered), bamboo, vinyl, laminate, marble, granite....I'm sure you get the picture....we were worried that we would end up liking materials which would put us way over our budget.

The week before the actual appointment, we spent a lot of time scouting Home Depot, Lowes and other local stores, in an attempt to find out the nuances of every material and what appealed to us the most... this, I felt helped us during the meeting, as we had already discussed what were the must haves on our list.

Even though Rusmur floors has many beautiful and cost effective options at their store, Ryan homes allows you a limited choice range which are fairly basic. All flooring materials: hardwood, vinyl, granite, carpet have 4 grade options( based on quality) and possibly 1-3 choices in each grade. As a result of these scant options, finalizing our choices was not that hard.

We decided to go with hardwood floors for the entire first level, stain-resistant carpet for the basement and basic carpet with a thicker padding for the entire 2nd level. We selected granite for all our bathrooms and laundry room and a simple accent tile for around the tub in the master bath.

I have attached a picture of our selection below. The darker cabinet on the left and the granite sitting on top of it, is for the kitchen, while the other cabinet and the tile selections below it, are for the bathrooms. The tiny bit of carpet seen in the left corner, is our carpet choice for the basement.

While I wished we had nicer options to chose from, we still left the appointment pretty satisfied with the selections we made..... and for once we did not change "ANY" of our choices 24 hours that is a first for us :)) !!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Power outlets and electrical wiring...a complete no-brainer...but not while building a home...who knew deciding about them would be as traumatic as pulling out teeth!  We went to meet rep from Guardian totally unprepared. By the time he was done with us, we were sucked into a whirlwind of information but still had no decisions made.

Contrary to what I believed, Guardian does more than just electrical wiring for cable, data and phone. Technology is so advanced, that now there are some really amazing things that can be done in a house which I especially hadn't known up until this meeting. I sat there watching my husband and the rep talk about things in a language which might as well have been in Greek...thankfully one of us understood it! :)))

We did our research on all that he showed us AFTER the meeting.  Some of the things which we had to chose from included:

1. Home security system. They provide security sensors for all the doors only and motion sensors for the room with one keypad. For added keypad or security sensors for the windows there is an additional cost. They also offer security cameras but that does not have recording capabilities, so pretty much is like a monitoring system....but only if you are actually at home.

2. Lyriq: I thought this was pretty cool, unfortunately the price was not. Basically they install inbuilt speakers in rooms of your choice such that if you play music in one room, you can hear it in the other rooms.  We found wireless speakers at Best Buy which had the same capabilities but is not in-built and also way cheaper. 

3. Home Intercom System: This one is just a regular intercom system only you pay for every room you install it in.

4. Surround Sound System: They have 4 grade levels in this. The first 3 grades have Klipsch speakers. The 4th level is the Bose sound system. all the packages includes an LG DVD player, receiver, sub- woofer, amplifier and a universal remote.  They also have packages where they just pre-wire your home. However the DVD player, amplifier, woofer and remote are not included in this package.  

5. Central Vacuum: I hadn't heard of this one before this...its pretty fancy but at the end of the day a vacuum cleaner is just a vacuum cleaner.

After scouting around for all our options we decided to get only the security system with an additional keypad and the surround sound system with Guardian. Per the regulation of the home builders association, Ryan homes provides all their homes with a power outlet every 7 feet apart. That's a lot of outlets up until you actually start thinking about the furniture, TV and other electronic placements.  The power outlets can't be moved, for every additional outlet there is a an additional cost (as if the prices weren't adding up already).  

For now I think we are ok with all the wiring and outlet choices and placements...but heaven forbid I decide to rearrange the furniture...Oh well that's another topic all together.  

Friday, December 30, 2011


We met with our Ryan homes representative for the first time after signing our property papers to finalize some of the choices we had already made and to pick a color for the siding (i.e. the exterior of our house)....sounds like a fairly easy task right??....WRONG!!!

Every time you think about the money your putting in to build your dream home and realize you will have to live with the choices you make for several years to come, even simple decisions start looking daunting.

Ryan homes has a policy which does not allow you to select colors which are used upto two houses next to your own. Based on this, our Ryan home rep gave us a few options and we immediately gravitated towards two colors 1. Autumn Beige 2. Sandy Tan. As it was nearing their office closing time, we were a little rushed and ended up finalizing Autumn Beige as the color we wanted to go with.

On returning home, I started scouting blogs of other Ryan home owners to look at the popular siding selections and was shocked to find that autumn beige looked almost pink!!! (check this blog to see what I mean:

Worried about our selection, the next day we drove to a Ryan home township about 40-50 mins away from where we live. This township not only has the Florence model home but also several different Florence home constructions.  This time, looking at the swatch in natural light, the autumn beige did seem to have a pinkish tinge, while sandy tan had a touch of green.

Driving down through the community we fit into the role of stalkers almost perfectly. After our second drive thru the neighborhood we started getting dirty looks from the residents and had no options but to leave....however not without pictures of "Florence" style homes in both Autumn Beige and Sandy Tan.

                                                            Autumn Beige Siding
                                                                Sandy Tan Siding

We still haven't decided on the color we want on the siding, but we did call our Ryan home representative and let her know that we had changed our minds about Autumn Beige. I don't want a house which will have a remote chance of looking pink! In case you people have some suggestions or comments for us that might help us select a siding color, please let me know as we need to pick one soon!!

One mistake we made when selecting the siding color initially....we looked at the color choices in artificial light. The small swatches look very different in natural light Vs. indoor artificial light. Also, we let ourselves be rushed into making a choice without having given it too much thought and ended up regretting it pretty quickly( I don't want to imagine how much more I would regret it if I had waited until after the house was painted!!..YIKES).

I have realized in the few weeks that we have dealt with Ryan homes, they don't give the buyers too much time to make decisions, in the bargain, sometimes you end up making choices which you like, but don't necessarily love! However, this is "YOUR HOME".... if your going to build it from ground up, put in all that time, money and effort you should "LOVE EVERYTHING" about it not just LIKE somethings...This is my new only if it worked!!! LOL!