Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ryan Homes Service Calls, Lawn mowing, and Takeout

We've placed our first service call (or two?) at the house. Nothing exciting, which I suppose is a good thing. Basically, we noticed (or Ashley did) on walk through that the microwave door was ever so slightly damaged (sorry, no pics). Also, we've had them come out to repair suspect hardwood boards, as in, larger then usual gaps, chips, etc., In both cases, Ryan homes was prompt and helpful.

On another note of things that have been going through my mind regarding the house is grass, landscaping, and namely, what we're going to do with this yard. I'll warn anyone bothering to read this now, this is not or will not be the most well articulated post ever!
Disclaimers aside, with about 3 acres to maintain, and no lawn mower in our possession, and no budget for one, I'm resigned to chalking up the $$$ for weekly (bi-weekly?) lawn care. I'll admit that ideally, I don't mind mowing the lawn. I was actually looking forward to it. But then I looked at lawn mower prices ($2600+) and the time it might take to mow my lawn (not very rocky or hilly, but I estimate about 3 hours for an amateur like myself). And I've basically resigned myself to the fact that it ain't meant to be this summer.

I know the feeling...


To whom it may concern, in our corner of the woods in MD, we've been quoted $80-$100 per lawn trim. With the low end $80 coming from 2 kids walking around handing out flyers with a picture of a riding lawnmower on it and the $100 coming from the traditional full service lawn care companies. I'd lean towards the kids fyi, not only because they are the most inexpensive, but i kinda liked their approach as two teenagers who want to earn $$ and don't mind undercutting the big companies. But we'll see...

Finally, Ashley and I were down in our morning room the other day, and we saw the darndest thing. We saw a fox, walking through our backyard, and we he turned around, he had a chicken in his mouth!!!😱  We could not get our phones out fast enough. So here's a picture of like, another fox who got his chicken to go (sorry, had to do it). Just so that you can maybe see what we saw smh...

Humans aren't the only ones who enjoy chicken...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

More ceiling fan installation

Wow time flies! I haven't posted anything in over a month, and the first thing I post is about yet another: ceiling fan installation. Let's recap:

  1. I've done the master bedroom
  2. Keenans room
  3. Karmen's room
  4. And now my Mom's first floor bedroom
  5. Still to be done: The living room, which I converted into my office
  6. The guest bedroom...one day
At this point, this was my 4th ceiling fan installation. It should have been quicker right? Wrong! In all fairness, this one took a little bit longer because my Mom bought a different brand then the previous ones I had installed. Also, hers came with a remote kit that had to be installed.

Lessons leaned or things I've noted from this process include:
  • The wires they fans come with are tooooooo long! As in, stuffing them into the ceiling fan casing while trying to not allow the wires to become disconnected is just a nuisance
  • Make sure you have electrical tape on hand so you can wrap the wires together before you put the caps on. That was the mistake I made with my first installation in Keenan's room (not having electrical tape). 
In any event, mission was a success, and my Mom now has a working ceiling fan and light!



Note those pesky wires...


It's working!

Monday, January 30, 2017

And then let there be more light!

Having a black asphalt driveway can be (not) surprisingly difficult to navigate at night, especially when reversing down it as some (ok, just me) have a tendency to do. Also, for some reason or another, we didn't initially have our external lamp post installed at time of moving in. And while the lights around the garage and the garage floodlights do an awesome job of illuminating the parking pad portion of our driveway, I felt as if some runway lighting wouldn't hurt.

After a quick look on Amazon, I found some easy to install and inexpensive solution in terms of solar LED lights. While I was weary of the lights effectiveness, I took a flyer and ordered a set, in part do to mostly positive reviews and the quite reasonable price tag. Night time pictures aren't the strength of my phone's camera, but I'll let you be the judge of their effectiveness. Oddly enough, our PM stopped by our house for our 30 day move in meeting, or maybe it was a pre-30 day meeting? I can't remember. In any event, he put a rush order in to have our lamp post installed and he also noticed the lights I was preparing to install and remarked that he didn't think they'd do much (which in part, I think is what prompted him to put the rush order in, given how sad he thought the lights would be).







Overall, I have found them to be excellent. However, I think in part that's because each of the solar powered LED lights come equipped with a  factory pre-charged NiCAD battery. Thus for the first few nights, they shone bright. But I did notice the other night, that the nights were noticeably dimmer in some cases. I think that's because the batteries have now expended their initial charges, and have been relying on the partly cloudy winter day's to refuel themselves finally. And the results are so so. I'd still recommend them, but I can't give a true assessment until we get some sunny weather.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ceiling Fan Installation: Let there be light

One of the things you may or may not consider when building a new home is: How am I going to illuminate this room? In our case, we decided on ceiling fans with light kits, and purchased ceiling fan rough-ins (at $250 a pop I believe) for every bedroom and the family room. To be clear, it's money well spent. As it gives you the option of not being forced to use lamps or have invasive drywall surgery done later in order to add the necessary components.

Here we are, vigorously patting ourselves on the back
While we were pleased that we got the necessary framework, we then realized that we actually needed to do work--or at least I did. So here was my first home project. Low hanging fruit right? Mind you, I'm an electrical engineer by trade, so I felt as if my efforts in this were definitely minimized by my fiance and father (also an electrical engineer). But I was proud of myself, so that's all that matters right??

We actually purchased ceiling fans a few days before we even closed, so that we could install them ASAP after moving in. And indeed, I decided to tackle installing my first one the day after we moved in. I won't bother you with all the details on how an estimated "1 hr" project turned into a 3hr project, filled with quiet curses, a frightened puppy based off random things falling (screws, tools, etc.,) and a sore back from standing and hunching on a step ladder. But overall, the initial ceiling fan installation, which was in Keenan's room, was 50% successful!

Editors note: Why just 50%? Well, let's just say that someone, namely the editor himself, didn't have any electrical tape on hand. And so while the light portion of the ceiling fan works, the ceiling fan motor wire most have come undone, because the caps that keep the wires in place likely fell off when I was installing it. No big deal overall, as it's winter and the ceiling fan portion definitely isn't needed and I can easily take it down, tape up the wires, and proceed from there. I just don't feel like doing it and will probably hold off til Spring at least.

So it begins
Not as fun as it looks

Ok, this isn't so bad!
Melo is unimpressed




That much closer. Also, notice all of that excess wire...stuffing that in was actually problematic

Success!!! Except, the motor wires apparently came off

Next up: Karmen's room. This went WAY smoother, after the lessons learned from Keenan's room. However, the challenge for this one was that I worked in the complete dark. Seriously, I had flashlights taped to the ceiling and all kinds of craziness. Yet, it worked!! Lights and fan.

Look at those fan blades spin

And the light works

Today, if all goes as planned, I'll tackle the master bedroom fan. Wish me luck.

Editors note: Master bedroom done!!











Monday, January 23, 2017

Belated Post: We Closed!!!!

I don't know where to begin, and I don't have time to really recount everything, however, we are now the proud homeowners of a brand new Avalon! Thank you Ryan Homes and some thanks to NVR Mortgage. We actually closed on time, 1/11/2017. And we began the literal, back breaking work of moving the following day. We've been in scramble mode ever since.

These are not the droids you're looking for
These are not the droids you're looking for

I began this blog with providing some sort of usual information to others who may be considering building a new home, and so I've tried to inexpertly include useful information when possible. Sort of a lessons learned, as we've went along. Now that we're all done, I hope to soon compile the key lessons learned so far into a useful page in and of itself. However, one that does come to mind that we experienced in the process was the loan process, and in particular, NVR Mortgage sort of hand-waived us through the "second mortgage" process.

Again, I plan to refine this post one day, hopefully, but the bottom line is that our first loan and HUD1 estimate was pretty much on point and accurate through NVR Mortgage. But the estimate they provided us on the second loan was always, brushed over and written off by them as an "inconsequential" and something not to worry about. As it turns out, the amount that NVR estimated the second loan (which is not through them) was about $150ish? higher per month then the original estimates. Maybe even $200. It's hard to say because we did not pay enough attention in the process to consider that amount, nor did we shop around for that loan.

One more last minute tidbit was that NVR Mortgage does an excellent job of making your loan process relatively painless. While parts of it can be frustrating, with all the documentation required, having bought 2 homes before, I'll admit this wasn't as bad or as intrusive as some might have you believe. However, part of NVR Mortgage working so closely with 3rd parties such as your title insurance and mortgage insurance, is that they will take the liberty to contact them on your behest to "work with your #s". In this case, in order to qualify for the loan amount and monthly payment that we stated we would not pay a nickel over--NVR contacted our insurance provider and asked them to re-work out policy in order to get our monthly payments lower.

One the one hand, nice! That meant that come closing time, there were no headaches or worries and we were able to close easily enough. On the other hand...it meant we received lower home insurance coverage then we were originally expecting, AND, I feel as if NVR mortgage should have lowered there fees or something themselves, rather than accomplishing the same thing by lowering our insurance coverage. Either way, we're happy to be home, and unfortunately for whomever reads or stumbles across this blog, I'll be updating it and posting to it for years to come!

We're happy!


The puppy is happy!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy New Year: Finishing Touches on our Avalon

2016 ended in a flurry! It was an awesome year, and I'm looking forward to 2017. We're speeding along in the closing process and we're currently scheduled to close next Wednesday afternoon. Originally, I was skeptical about that being the actual closing date do to the well water test. For the uninitiated, I'm referring to the well water test that is supposed to be performed after the home is completed, and can push your settlement date back anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It's essentially a test where  our water is tested for bacteria, nitrates, and any contaminants of local concern.


Originally, we were warned that first time wells typically need to be treated a couple times in order to process the water to acceptable levels. And since the wells cannot be tested until after the home is completed (due to county regulations I believe), we could expect our date to slip some. However, it appears that Ryan Homes has found a workaround and is concurrently testing/treating our water this week. Maybe it means our home is technically done? I am unsure. 

What I am sure of is our excitement level. We've stalked our home at least once a week for the past few weeks. And I've honestly, probably well since past the stage of any useful or new pictures until our home is finally finished! But that won't stop me from posting the random ones I took anyway. 

PS: They are literally, doing finishing touches on the house. They leave pieces of blue tape places where the paint or trim isn't right.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Trim Installed: Trade Deadline Looming

They say life comes at you fast, and they are right. I went away for a week to California (it rained in southern California--Toni Tone Tony lied to me!). Ryan homes, to their credit, has adhered closely to the notional timeline they advertise. Right now, we're in about week 10, which means they've finished drywall, ceramic flooring, and they are about to to the second stage of paint.

I'm feeling extra lazy, so I'll just throw these pictures up of our latest foray into the house and I'll maybe organize them later. But do note, the bathroom tile is looking AMAZING!!!! And I'm going to pat myself on the back because of the "few" interior choices that I made, getting floor to ceiling tile was my idea. And I think it looks, you know, amazing!!!!!