Sunday, March 31, 2013

Our Exterior Color Selections

We made out exterior color selections yesterday.  I met with Elizabeth, our RH SR and played around a little with the available colors.  Ryan Homes has a requirement that doesn't allow a house next/across to each other of the same model/elevation as well as not allowing the same siding/stone/brick color.  This is a good thing in the sense that the homes wont all look the same, it's a bad thing when you're in the middle of homes your selections are pretty slim.
Florence - Elevation K

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kitchen Selections & A Disappointment

Well, we've made our final kitchen selections with the exception of the refrigerator that we'll purchase closer to closing.  I'm mostly happy.  There's one annoying piece of information that I've learned that I didn't expect would bother me as much as it really has.  I'm not sure how to get by it and I'm not sure there's anything that can be done about it.

Now, here's what has me very bothered.  Apparently there's been a change in the cabinet design.  The original design had the cabinets above the range and microwave as below:
The Model - These cabinets are all flush with each other
New Design - These cabinets are NOT flush with each other
I think it's very ugly.  Not only that, but they include the crown moulding on JUST that cabinet with the new design, while the all the others will be plain, unless of course, I select the addition of the moulding - which I don't really like anyways and isn't in my budget :(  It's going to be an eyesore.  It bothers me a great deal.  I tried to let it go, but the kitchen is the most important thing to me in this house.  My mother, my son, and I spend a lot of time in it either cooking or baking.  It's also the central location for us socially when we get together with friends and family.  Ug *holding back tears of frustration*

Update:  I believe we've reached a compromise with RH to add crown moulding to all the cabinets at a discount.  

And now... drum-roll please....

Friday, March 29, 2013

Our Ryan Homes - Homeowner's Guide Chapters 1 - 3 Overview

When we signed our Purchase Agreement, along with a HUGE pile of paperwork, we received a white binder homeowner's guide.  I immediately started reading it (I read everything, if not at the very moment of receipt then later when I have more time) and using postie notes for concerns and questions.  It's too bad it's standard size and all our paperwork is long, otherwise I would use this as our central document holder and information source.  We're actually in the midst of Chapters 2 and 3 at the same time - so by no means is this a chronological step by step.
 There's a nifty little Table of Content and introduction for every section.
  1. Introduction
  2. Purchasing Your Home
  3. Arranging Your Loan with NVRM
  4. Construction of Your Home
  5. Closing on Your Home
  6. Quality and Customer Care - What to Expect after Closing
  7. Glossary of Terms
  8. Appendix A - Homeowner's Maintenance Guide & Warranty

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is RH ENERGY STAR® Certified? YUP!

Ryan Homes boosts it is 100 percent ENERGY STAR® Certified and third-party verified to deliver energy saving.
Honestly, I wasn't sure what that meant so I spent a little time finding out.  I get a monthly statement from my utility provider to tell me where a efficient home sits, where an average home sits, and where mine sits on electricity usage.  CRAZY - I am consistently WELL over any average home, let alone an efficient home.  This only shows my electric.  My gas usage and water usage is crazy as well. :(
I browsed my dependable fellow Ryan Homes builders bloggers and learned that those who mentioned their utility bills reported some sort (usually large) decreases in the amount due!

I visited the Ryan Homes website (yet again!) to read the energy promise and remembered as part of my purchase cost estimate being provided a little graphical representation of where the home I selected sat on the HERS index.
I also stumbled onto a bit of the information (listed below) they provide as to WHY Ryan Homes are energy savers.  Now, with all this information I just can't wait!  I hate my current utility bills, they're as much as my car payment!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rite Rug Appointment

We've just finished our appointment with Rite Rug for our flooring selections.  We're pretty happy with the selections we've made.  I would expect a few more posts about how pleased we are as I progress through our decorating plans and our selections next to the cabinets we select.

Our SR, Kim, knew before hand what our initial cabinet and granite selections were so this made the appointment go very quickly.  Much more quickly than I anticipated.  Kim was all business and was very efficient with moving us through our options/colors.  She told us what was popular and what was trending and she only offered an opinion when we asked and I'm glad she did.  Some people hesitate to give their own opinion, so I was pleased when she had.  All the selections we made were not a part of any model we viewed so that is a bit scary - but we're pretty confident that the choices are beautiful and go well together.

First, Kim pulled out our initial cabinet selections.  There were 2 initially selected.  I had her pull out 2 others for us to look at.  We haven't made our final selections on cabinets but picked our flooring to match all of the options we're considering.  Although, due to seeing our flooring we've already decided to upgrade our cabinets to a higher level.  We mainly stayed within the A level items for floors aside from the main floor because of our budget.  We tried not to look at any of the higher levels to avoid tempation.

Guardian Appointment

Well - we had our Guardian appointment.  This meeting was for selections concerning low voltage wiring: structured wiring, phone/cable outlets as well as our home security, networking and intercom systems.

I thoroughly enjoyed this meeting and I think our SR was fantastic.  Like everything else with this process, we went in prepared, knowing roughly what we needed and an idea of what we wanted.  We had previously used a copy of our floor plan from a brochure to mark out where and what we wanted in each room.

He started out with offering a few rough numbers in our wiring counts.  That was extremely helpful in deciding exactly how many jacks of what we needed.  The items offered were: cable, phone, network/data.  We, then, covered what "extras" were offered and we selected the additional Flat Panel Pre-Wire.  This will put the wiring/cabling inside the wall for our large family room TV.  Woot - no need to see those unsightly tangled wires anymore!!!

We talked about some other items that Guardian offered, but I think we made it clear we weren't open to those types of options.  The central vacuum seemed cool enough but we're not going to have carpeting on one entire floor and it seemed to be an extravagance that we didn't really need.  The Intercom System doesn't seem necessary.  I have quite a voice and can shout just as easily as pushing a button. :)  The Home Audio System seems neat but no where near being in our budget.

We then covered the Home Security System.  Initially, when we started this process 2 weeks ago, we weren't going to select any security system.  But, I dug in for researching one and learned a few things.  Installing a system isn't cheap.  Monitoring a system also isn't cheap.  There are other companies besides Guardian, but since they don't work directly with Ryan Homes there are no discounts.  My decision was to go in with the attitude if we could be offered some sort of incentive we would elect to have Guardian install and monitor the system.  Luckily for us, Bret, the SR was friendly and sensed we needed some urging.  Ok - maybe he didn't 'sense' it - maybe he saw/read my notes.  LOL!  Silly me, I was sitting right next to him with my little notepad open.  But, it turned out very well in the end with a little free monitoring.

Here's the thing.  After getting home and spending a night researching even more I came to realize that there are some grey areas for me.  I'm going to e-mail our SR for Guardian and see if we can have another consultation.  It could possibly be too late, as we've signed some paperwork.  Fingers crossed we can work it out.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

NVRM Appointment - So Far So Good :)

We've just had our NVRM appointment.  It went fairly quickly and we left feeling much better about building our home.

Of the appointments we've had scheduled for this process this is the one I was most concerned about.  First, you always fear the worst when it comes to financing.  You can never be sure about creditors.  There are many factors that go into the approval process that it can leave you nervous and sleepless.  It has me.  The second reason is because I've read so many bad things about NVRM.  There are many bloggers out there that have run into a lot of problems.  My impression thus far is pretty positive though and I hope it stays that way.  We did our homework, we had all the initial requested documentation ready, so, perhaps that will keep us on the straight and narrow.  Our hope is that this is smooth going for not only us, but for NVRM too.

First, we made our introductions.  We then provided all the requested documentation.  That was fun to gather together.  It seems like they want everything, from every part of your life.  I guess it's better to have it all from the beginning than to have to scrambled to get everything together and possibly hold up the loan or ground breaking.  This part required careful scrutiny of Beth, our loan officer.  We ended up only needing a few additional documents and those only because of bad copies.

We next walked through our credit reports step by step.  Explaining what was bad, good, and great.  What was great about Beth is she actually provided information on how to make your credit report look even better.  This was extremely helpful to me personally because mine isn't great.

The next step was to walk through the financing information. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Options - UG!

I can't believe how difficult it is for us to select our options!  We have tossed around a list for a few days now.  We've sent a wish list to our SR to send to NVRM to get a better number for the loan amount. 

Staying within budget is difficult.  We want to logically consider our choices and the cost of them.  We'd love to get the deck but we think it's expensive for its size.  It's also very simple and plain.  We know it's not practical for us to plan on building it ourselves later.  Having 2 weeks to make your selections is very difficult!  It could possibly be because 2 weeks is too long, giving yourself more opportunities to change your mind.  Or it could possibly be because you need much more time to plan a house top to bottoms.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Considering Our Selectable Options

Today we sat down with the floor plan of our soon to be new home and the list of selectable options.  There were already a few things that we considered must haves:
  • Upgraded Floors
  • Gourmet Island
  • Recessed Kitchen Lighting
We also marked out some additional selections and you can find those on Our Selections/Upgrades page.  These selections will be based on our final budget which we haven't yet established.  We've left this open  for a number of reasons.  One of those reasons is because we haven't had our meeting with NVR and the consultations with the Guardian Home Technologies and Rite Rug.  Although I've done plenty of research on these, to be discussed later, I would like to go in with an open mind.

To prepare for these meetings we got an extra Florence floor plan from our SR and penciled in what we thought we needed.  We penciled in first the "must haves" for us, where those items would be, and the price of each.  We, then, penciled in the lines we would need for phone, cable tv, and network.  This gives us a graphic plan of what will be where in our home.  I also believe this will help us not go overboard with the things we really don't need.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Visting Ryan Homes Website

I've visited the Ryan Homes website countless times over the last 6 months.  I've also visited other home building websites but settled on RH for many reasons, including our budget.

I was extremely impressed by the simplicity of the website.  It wasn't cluttered and searching for communities and models were pretty easy.  They also provided some helpful information about their process.

If you're interested in building a home, I'd recommend visiting as many websites as you can.  You'll get a feel for what you like.   I'm learning as I go and blogging all about it here.

I've visited many websites of other Ryan Homes customers and that's also been a great help.  So far, we're on track.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Master Selection Sheet, Options, and Cost Estimate

The Master Selection Sheet is another portion of the Purchase Agreement.  I saved it for separate post because this is the fun part!  The Master Selection Sheet, Options, and Cost Estimate are a big part of your Purchase Agreement.  It's your soon to be home on about 30 sheets of paper, written out piece by piece.

Basically the MSS (I shortened it for the sake of my fingers!) is the combined list of the base features of the home, the included options that are given as part of the area, community, etc., and the selectable options.

The features include some of the following items and as you will see, the features are pretty standard and something that should be included in every home. 
# of phone/catv lines
laundry room
kitchen sink

The included options are other options that are provided because of our area, community, or standard for the type of home and include some of the following items.  Again, these options are standard in most homes but go a little above and beyond the basic features.
kitchen applicances
faucet fixtures
fiberglass bathtubs
sliding glass door
two car garage

The best part, the super best wonderful part are the selectable options. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Understanding Our Purchase Agreement

So, we did it.  We began the process to sign the next 30 years of our life over to our new home.  Now to re-read the documents.  I'm definitely not the smartest person in the world, but this is what I've read more or less on our agreement.  I've left out A LOT of the information in these documents for the sake of space and lack of just repeating the legal mumbojumbo.  Please feel free to skip this post.  I just wanted to share my first experience with these types of documents.  Plus, someone might be interested in what types of things they will be agreeing to and signing off on.

The Biggest Case of Buyers Remorse

I experience buyers remorse with any item over $100.  Why?  Because it's taken me a long time to get where I'm at now and I never want to be in a situation that I'm out of control of ever again.  Now imagine buying a house - that's not yet built.  The doubts creep in.  Logically, I know this is just a knee jerk reaction to this very huge commitment/change we signed up for but I seem to lose my grip on reality during my bouts of buyers remorse.  Change is not easy for me, even when it's a good change.

I did not expect to experience it so quickly.  Quite literally, I started sweating our decision the moment I started driving home from our Purchase Agreement Paperwork meeting.

The facts - Buyer's remorse is very common.  Everyone talks about having it and it's nothing to be ashamed of.  Nothing in life is certain and sometimes it feeds an irrational fear.  There will always be other possibilities, more opportunities, or better deals if you keep looking for them.

The goal - Reassure ourselves with the pros.  Review the research that lead us to our decision.  Don't get bogged down by the negatives.  Ignore others opinions when they really don't matter.  Keep in mind that this feeling will go away and soon we'll be in our very own home, finally doing all of the things we've been talking about.

I know that I have many sleepless nights ahead of me because of my nature, but one day soon I hope to go to sleep satisfied with our decision and hopeful of our days ahead.  This is an exciting, yet scary process but I know that there's no better time than now to go through it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We Signed The Purchase Agreement!!!!!

I've had several sleepless nights lately.  I roll the pros and cons around in my head.  I ask myself if the lot we've selected/that's available is right for us?  Is the price reasonable?  Is this something we can take on?  Will we be happy in 10 years in our location/home?

It's hard to predict what life is going to hand you and after much discussion with my mother, who will be sharing our home with us - we decided we were going to move forward with building our home with Ryan Homes, NVR, in the community of Stone Lake.  Let the OCD and worry begin!

Our Purchase Agreement paperwork is somewhat of a blur to me.  I didn't sleep at all the night before, worrying about money, financing, the HUGE decision of buying a home.  We didn't start this journey without some initial disappointments.  I don't want to discuss them too publicly, but we're lucky enough (I hope - we haven't gotten the final approval as of yet) that we had a work around.

Our SR learned my characteristics very quickly and had a "Notes Copy" of the Cost Estimate for my notes and comments.

First Stop - Master Selection Sheet. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

County Property Records

I spent some time on my county's website looking at the property records for the community.  I'm not sure what to make of it.  I'm not sure I understand the information that's being given to me on the website - maybe this is another research moment or maybe the SR could explain it to me? 

The community doesn't offer as much as other surrounding communities - like swimming pools and such - but it is unique and the lots are not cookie cutter.  The lot sizes are smaller than other communities.  Also, I've read many blogs where the Florence house price is much lower than what ours is, having similar selections.  This concerns me because, again, we're not made of money.  We wanted the biggest bang for our buck.  And so begins the back and forth and the pros and cons.  I don't believe anyone will be able to tell me what's best because it's all based on personal preferences.  We need to decide what we want and what we want from our community and home.

We have one more night to sleep on it and likely several more calls from me to the SR to talk me through it before the appointment.

I hate being OCD and a second guesser.  To be honest, I'm scared.  I don't want to regret anything.

Good Faith Deposit

A good faith deposit is nothing more than an amount of money that indicates our seriousness in buying the property/house.  It's the step after the reserving the lot.

I researched it a bit and it differs in amounts based on a number of factors, including but not limited to location, builder, and amount of loan estimate.  Typically the amount of your good faith deposit will roll into your down payment, closing costs, or fees.  Fortunately, in most cases, if the deal falls through or the contract is cancelled and as long as the parties are all acting in good faith the money will be refunded.

I've read several blogs and I haven't come across any in which the good faith wasn't refunded or even the original check returned.  What I found a little humorous even is that some of those people even went back to Ryan Homes and resigned for either another neighborhood or even the same lot!

I think I've found a new best friend in our SR.  She's been great with explaining what these new financial words and phrases mean... but this hasn't stopped me from searching out a "financial dictionary"  I'm OCD like that.  I'm a sponge and I want to know more and more about everything.  I've called her quite a few times with questions concerning the expectations of our good faith deposit and the payment plan of it.

Good faith deposits are on the up and up and it protects the parties involved in this process.  I understand it's not only for our sake but that of Ryan Homes.  If we decide to purchase this home we'll have to have partial payment of the good faith deposit on Tuesday.  We have a meeting with the SR then to either proceed or withdraw from this process.  It looks like we may be moving forward.  We like the neighborhood.  We like the home we've selected (although it wasn't the one we initially decided we liked more last year) and my children seem to like it and have already selected their bedrooms.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Visiting the Florence Model Home

I've been talking about buying or building a home for 2 or 3 years now.  My kids have gotten used to this dream.  They often asked things like "when we get a house can I get ..." or "will our house have..."  The excitement or reality of us owning a home is now lost on them.  I believe they actually lost hope that it might actually happen.

Today I took my children and myself to visit the Florence model home and from the second we stepped past the office into the home they've been very enthusiastic!  They took off immidealty to wander the house at lightening speed at first, then circling around to join me again to go through it one room at a time.

This is the first time in a long time they've bubbled up with excitement and actually started talking about all the things they loved about having a house.  It was a side a very rarely see.

Just look at these pictures!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

This is all so fast...

So, over these last few days, before our scheduled meeting with Elizabeth, the Ryan Homes sales representative today, I had been doing a lot of research on Ryan Homes, quality of homes built by Ryan Homes, and customer service satisfaction.  I spent a lot of time on their website, on blogs, on home building sites, and customer complaint websites.  Some of the information I found was very scary.  There was also an overwhelming amount of positive information as well.

To be honest, the negative reviews are scary to me.  I'm a limited income single mom with the hopes of finding a good quality home that will last the years for myself, my mother, and my children.  Money doesn't grow on trees around us.  I've always been a person to read reviews and to do my research, but I also to go to the horses mouth.  I knew that no matter what I learned that we planned to attend the appointment, if only for informational purposes.  Let's compare our process.  I found this on the Ryan Homes website:
  1. Reserve a Homesite
  2. Personalize Your Home
  3. Make a Purchase Agreement
  4. Apply for a Mortgage Loan
  5. Complete Your Down Payment
  6. Construction Begins
  7. Go to Closing and Move in

When I walked through the model home's door I saw a very smiley face.  I introduced myself and my mother to the SR and peeked a little at the framed site map and model home floor plans, but it took 45 seconds for us to walk into the office and get right down to business.  Sometimes you just have to skip the fluff.  I didn't want to get too hopeful and wander too much around a model that may not even be within our reach.

Our Process

Friday, March 15, 2013

Is it Trash?

On Sunday afternoon, I was doing my normal week end rounds to pick up the neighbors trash and toys from my yard and street.  I dread this part of my week because I have to pick up gross things that have been discarded by inconsiderate people.  Every time I think one day soon I will have my own space, I won't have to put up with landlords, always fearing of pissing off the wrong people, or eviction threats.

During this routinely day dreamy cleanup I happened to glance at paper I had just pulled out of a wet gutter and see my name on it.  I open it up and it's a flyer from Ryan Homes - Home of the Month.  Is it a sign?  Is it trash?  I set it open on the counter to dry out and go on about my day.

I mention the flyer to my mother a few days later and explain how the deal is really good.  I mention it's a limited time offer on only 1 lot and she encourages me to give the Sales Rep a call.  Since it's already 2 weeks into the sale I had little faith anything would come of it.  The next day I give them a ring, I told my story about visiting the model before and driving through the community often and mention the flyer - UHG - but of course, the house sold and the SR is out.  I was deflated!  The lady that took my call was so very kind though and said she'd try to get in touch with someone to see if anything else was being offered.  I didn't expect a call back because sometimes things are just too good to be true.

Not much later, however, my phone rings and it's the assistant saying that we could get a similar deal!  Woot!!  But she wanted to send me the pre-qualification paperwork to get started and schedule an appointment later that week to meet with the SR.  EEK - the dreaded financing part.  It's one thing to dream about a home but financing one is a nightmare from what I'm told.

Oh, but what could it hurt to give it a try?  If not now, then when?  I agree to setup an appointment with the SR for Saturday and set about getting the information to my mother.  Our plans were to set ourselves up with a home to share, with enough room for her, her grandchildren, and myself.

It was a little rough going at first.  We got the wrong forms, twice.  That was a sign or so we thought.  We got a call saying we would be getting the right forms sent to us but of course it was too late for us to handle the paperwork that day.  We'd have to fill it out and bring it with us to our appointment.  Well, I guess if it's not something you have to work for it's not worth having... right?