Jul 30, 2012

Update on Flooring, loan pre-approval and we're moving in with family

We went to our second appointment with Rite Rug last week. As I mentioned previously, we felt a little bit rushed at our first appointment. After returning home, I had second thoughts about the honey oak laminate wood flooring that we selected. I emailed the sales rep at Rite Rug and she scheduled another appointment for us.

The second appointment went a little bit better. It didn't take much time at all. We pulled all of the level F laminate wood flooring out and placed it next to the spiced maple cabinets.  After going back and forth over a few, we decided on the Mahogany/Orient Silk. It's the darkest of the level F selections. We also changed the color of our handrail too. I can't remember what it is though. I'll have to check and update the Our Selections page.

I do have to admit, I was a little bit nervous about the bigger pattern of the mahogany, but it's growing on me! Our appliances will be all black. I think this flooring is going to provide just the right amount of contrast.

I can't believe how hard it was to select flooring! I thought it would be pretty easy to go in, look at the selections and choose. Boy, was I ever wrong! The carpet and vinyl we're pretty easy to choose but I completely stressed about the laminate wood. I think it was a mix of there not being enough to choose from and me over-thinking the whole thing. Whew! I'm so happy that part of the process is over.

There isn't much of anything else going on right now. We're just waiting on the pre-approval from NVR. Our loan originator is AWESOME! She's been so much fun to work with. We've been trying to get our credit score up a little higher so we can qualify for a better interest rate. We met with her for about three hours one evening to discuss everything. She gave us some really solid and honest advice. We followed everything she said to do and we'll know soon if it paid off!

The next few weeks will be crazy busy for us! We're getting our house all packed up to go into storage. The lease at our current house is up on August 31st.

We decided to move in with family until our house is finished instead of extending our lease. This started out as a 'worst case scenario'. I mean, who really wants to move back in with their parents that live in the middle of no cell service WV with 4 kids in tow? Mom, if you're reading this.. I love you but you need to move out of the hills and closer to Cleveland!

After a LOT more thought, moving in with family became our 'best case scenario'!  Can you say...no rent or utilities for 3-4 months?! The only downside is, Joe has to stay in the Cleveland area for work. Thankfully, his brother lives nearby and offered him a place to stay rent and utility free. God, I love our family! We are beyond blessed when it comes to family.

I'll have to do another post all about how this is going to work for us. 

Have you ever moved in with family while you're house was being built? I'd love to read about your experience. Please feel free to leave a link in the comments section!   

Jul 17, 2012

Flooring that we're not so sure about

We finished up our flooring appointment a few hours ago. I'm not completely happy with the experience. I thought this would be a pretty easy meeting. I was wrong.

We had discussed our budget for flooring well in advance. The way we look at it is this: whatever upgrades we do, will be rolled into our mortgage... do we want to be stuck paying for flooring for 30 years when we'll probably only get 10 or less out of it? I don't. I know Joe doesn't either. If we ever decide to sell our house, the flooring will probably need to be replaced anyways.. we have 4 kids at home!

Our plan of attack:
  • Stick with standard flooring and upgrade to laminate wood if the price is right.

Important things to keep in mind:
  • Maple Spice cabinets in the kitchen
  • Standard ugly-ass Oak in the bathroom (I'm going to paint these suckers). I haven't mentioned how much I despise oak yet have I? Stick around....

Other important factors:
  • I don't like carpet in the main areas. Bedrooms are ok.
  • We have 4 kids at home!  

Our meeting started out kind of awkward. The sales rep had a sample of our cabinets on the table. It was the wrong cabinet sample. After grabbing the right cabinet sample, she told us to grab our countertop selection. We haven't had a meeting yet to select our countertops. She told us to go ahead and choose one. REALLY? Ummm.. we haven't even discussed what we want yet and you want us to select a countertop in the next 3 minutes?

We took about 3 minutes and selected our top 3 choices based on NOTHING. Remember, we haven't even discussed what type or color of countertops we want yet. Do we want dark? Do we want light? What about something in between? What are the benefits to light or dark colors?  

We moved on to talk about what type of flooring goes in each area of the main floor. It goes a little something like this:
  • Living Room - Carpet
  • Great Room - Carpet
  • Powder Room - Vinyl or Laminate
  • Foyer - Vinyl or Laminate
  • Laundry - Vinyl or Laminate
  • Kitchen - Vinyl or Laminate
  • Possible Morning Room - Vinyl or Laminate
  • Dining - Carpet.... WAIT.. Whhhaaat? Did she just say CARPET?
She did. I told her that I was under the impression the dining room had vinyl or laminate. It doesn't. That's an upgrade. A $350 upgrade. Are you kidding me? Nice. Ok, so there's an upgrade we have no option but to pay for. Can you imagine what carpet in a dining room would look like after 4 kids finish eating? 

I'm not happy but we moved on. There are two upgrade levels for the laminate wood flooring. We decided to go with the cheaper Level F laminate wood flooring.

Pricing for the Dining, Kitchen and Foyer:
  • Kitchen - $350
  • Dining - $595
  • Foyer - $150
We also added in the following rooms:
  • Main Floor Powder Room - $100
  • Laundry Room - $150
If we're able to add on the Morning Room it will cost another $200 or so to carry the laminate wood flooring out there. Not bad.

After all of that was decided, the sales rep directed us to a rack of laminate wood floor samples. There were about 7 of them. There was one dark, one light and about five or so medium. At first glance, I didn't like any of them. We took a few over to the spiced maple cabinet and laid them on the floor. Nope.. not one of them really coordinated with it.

Joe started asking about warranties for the different levels to see if the higher priced would be worth it. The sales rep wasn't very knowledgeable about the warranties. She just read from the small paper highlighting the warranties that was hanging above the samples.

We ended up pulling all of the Level F samples over to the spiced maple cabinet. I didn't really like any of them. We kept looking to the sales rep for advice but the only thing she would say is, "I like that together". We finally narrowed it down to two and moved on to the vinyl. There wasn't much to choose from so I grabbed three samples that would work for us. The vinyl will only be in the upstairs bathrooms and the basement powder room.

Ok then.. on to the carpet. We held strong and didn't upgrade. The price just wasn't worth it for us. We've read a few other blogs that say to definitely upgrade the padding. I could swear the price sheet our Ryan Homes SR gave to us said the upgraded padding is only $395. Our flooring SR said it was $1895... NOPE.. sorry.. I can live with the standard padding for a few years. Although, I am going to double check my pricing sheet again and ask our Ryan Homes SR about this. I could have mis-read the price sheet.

We pulled all of our selections together and tried different options. Here's what we ended up with... 
  • Carpeting: Shaw - Baseline HGG84 - 00751 Rockport 
  • Vinyl: Armstrong - Initiator 66177
  • Laminate: Bruce Laminate Floors - Heritage Heights Collection - Honey Oak L0008
  • Railings: Scandia Teak
  • Countertop: Formica - Travertine - Matte Finish - 3526-58
After we got back home I started having second thoughts about the laminate wood flooring. I googled Bruce Laminate Floors and looked up our selection. It's OAK! How did I miss this all so important detail when we were at the flooring place? If you recall, I despise oak. I even mentioned that more than once to the sales rep. It may work for other people, and that's great, but I just don't like it.

Now I'm thinking, why did I pick oak? Why wouldn't I look for a maple. Our cabinets are maple. Did they have a maple to choose from? ........ and OHMYGoodness I didn't ask about durability or any of that stuff. Shouldn't our sales rep have brought that up when I mentioned 4 kids at home? What's going to show dirt more.. what will show it less? 

I'm feeling even more confused now. Our sales rep didn't walk us through anything or advise us on what would work best for us. Isn't that what a sales rep is for? I don't pick out flooring everyday or work with it all the time. She does. Now, I'm actually really disappointed with the meeting and I'm not confident in any of our selections.

Wouldn't it be nice if they had a little flooring packet that they gave to you a few days before your meeting? It would have small samples of all your choices. You could look at it in your home and spend more time figuring out what you want.  

I have an email to the sales rep asking when I can come in again. I'll keep you updated....

Jul 15, 2012

The model we selected.....

My dad always dreamed of building a log cabin when I was a little girl. We'd spent hours sitting on the couch or at the kitchen table pouring over floor plans. As we'd read them over we'd do a visual walk through that would go something like this....

Dad: Ok, here's the front door. When you walk in, you'll be in the foyer. If you walk this way (tracing the path with his finger) you'll end up in the living room.
Me: ... and if you go this way, you can go upstairs... here's where my bedroom will be (pointing to the biggest bedroom)!
Dad:  Of course that will be your bedroom (as he laughs)!

I always enjoyed that time spent with my dad. I honestly believe it was one of the top contributing factors in my decision to go to Design School. I'm sure it's no surprise that my two favorite classes were Drafting and Space Planning. I learned how to draft blueprints along with all the space planning rules. I don't use that knowledge in my work, but it has proven to be helpful in the process of having our home built. I'm sure it will help even more as the process goes on!

Would you be surprised if I told you that I've spent countless hours reading over Ryan Homes floor plans? No? Gosh, I don't think I could count the hours if I wanted to! But, it's all good... we FINALLY made a decision, and it was tough! Ryan Homes has some really great floor plans and we could picture ourselves in two different models (that fit our price range).

We went back and forth for about 3 weeks over the Florence and the Venice. There were things that I liked about both.  Here's a quick break down:



  • The wider space as you walk from the Foyer into the Great Room.
  • The completely open space in the Basement.
  • The corner pantry.
Didn't Love
  • The downstairs Laundry Room.
  • No real Mud Room.
  • The fact that you walk through the Laundry Room to enter the house from the Garage.
  • Smaller Bedrooms.
  • The Gourmet Island.



  • Upstairs Laundry Room.
  • An actual Laundry Room with space.
  • Bigger Bedrooms.
  • The Owner's Bedroom Closet.
  • The Gourmet Island.
Didn't Love
  • The narrower space as you walk from the Foyer into the Great Room.
  • The smaller formal Living/Dining Room.
  • The separated space in the Basement.

Which one did we finally decide on? We decided on the Florence!

Our decision weighed heavily on the fact that we have 4 kids at home. We had to think about how each space was going to be used. The bottom line is: We enjoy spending time together as a family.  Smaller bedrooms with an open basement were more important to us than bigger bedrooms and a separated basement. The location of the laundry room became secondary to that. I can live with the laundry room location in the Florence. Plus, I really like the open feeling when you walk in the front door of the Florence.

Here are the structural upgrades that we've decided on so far:
  1. Loft closed off into a 4th Bedroom.
  2. Finished Basement.
  3. Powder Room in the Basement.
We're on the fence about adding on a morning room. We really want one but it may push us over where we want the total cost of the house to be. This is something we need to decide on soon. We only have about 7 more days to make structural changes!

Did you add on a morning room? What are your thoughts?


Jul 11, 2012

How we selected our homebuilder

Making the decision to build a new home was a big step for us. Joe and I have done a lot of research. We feel this is the best decision for our family. We'll have to make a lot of sacrifices, but it will all be worth it. The next few months are going to be very exciting!

One of the biggest decisions we've made so far has been which homebuilder to go with. To help us narrow down our choices, we did a lot of driving. We drove around all of the new developments in our area. We found a few that we really liked as well as a few that we didn't.

Some of the things that we looked for:
  • community amenities
  • available lots
  • amount of traffic
  • flow of traffic
  • house sizes
  • stage of development for the community as a whole

If you can find a big development with a section that's a few years old, you'll learn a lot! We were seriously considering one homebuilder until we saw some of their houses that were a few years old. The shutters were horribly faded, the wood around the windows was rotting, siding was bubbling out and driveways were cracked. We quickly crossed that homebuilder off of our list!

After we narrowed down our list of homebuilders, we visited a few model homes. This was my favorite part of the process! I LOVE walking around the model homes. They're all professionally decorated and look so pretty. They help you imagine what the home will look like painted and furnished.

Model homes are decorated to sell homes for the homebuilder. I made sure to keep that in mind after reading about some tricks that decorators use to stage the spaces to make them appear larger. 

Here are a few things I noticed in the model homes we walked through:
  • Use of smaller apartment size furniture
  • Use of mirrors
  • All interior doors removed from their frames
  • All lights turned on
  • Upgraded recessed lighting throughout the homes

After narrowing down our decision to two homebuilders, we walked through recently finished (or almost finished) homes by each. This gave us all the information we needed! We saw the quality and level of craftsman ship that each were delivering. We quickly and easily made our decision......

Ryan Homes will be building our 'Castle'! 

Have you had a home built by Ryan Homes? Are you in the process of building one now? Leave a comment below with a link to your blog.. I'd love to connect and read your journey! 


Jul 10, 2012

The Start of a New Adventure

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. We just started on a new adventure and we'd love for you to follow along! We're building a new house and we'll be blogging our progress along the way.  The main purpose of this blog is to document our adventure so we can look back on it as a family years from now and remember the fun times along with the struggles.

After renting for about 13 years, we decided to take the plunge and buy our first home. We started looking at existing homes and soon became frustrated. We couldn't find anything we liked or anything that would fit our big family and lifestyle. We always assumed that building a home would be way out of our price range until we drove by a new development and saw the pricing on a flag at the entrance. When we got home, we looked up the builder's website. We quickly realized we were wrong, we could build a home for less money than buying an existing home.... and so begins our adventure!