Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How the rock turned out (and other updates)

We have been in our home for a little more than three weeks now, and we've been busier now than we were before we closed (which didn't seem possible since things seemed pretty crazy then). Ah, but virtually all of the moving in is done, and so are the 10 ceiling fans that Lauren installed (reason No. 8,067 why my wife rocks!).

All of that work has really paid off (I'll share a few pictures of that progress momentarily), but first I wanted to provide the final update on our rock. As some of you recall, we had been asking Ryan to get the developer to grade our backyard and remove what we thought was a decent-sized rock. Then, one month before closing, we found out just how big that rock was.

Yes, that was the view from our bedroom window. The rock was going to be way too big to take out (even that smaller rock would create issues). Our property line basically ended at the back of the big rock, so we had at least 85 percent of it on our property (and, as you see the corner of our back patio in the bottom left of the photo, it didn't leave us with much back yard). 

Once everybody realized that the rock wasn't coming out, we had a dilemma. Ryan, to their credit, offered us the chance to switch to a different lot. But, by that point, the interior of the house was 80 percent done, and logistics (starting school for the kids, finding another temporary place, etc.) made that impossible. Besides, it would have been quite strange to build basically a carbon copy of the house somewhere else in the neighborhood. 

So, we decided to keep the lot. Thankfully, we had a buyer's agent who helped us negotiate what to do with Ryan. Our sales rep Amber and our PM Abe wanted to help, but they were limited in what they could do. But, two weeks before closing, we finally got approval for everything we wanted by the regional manager. Abe, as demonstrated by this deck by another blogger, is very creative and great to work with. He had a great idea for us, and put it to work. Here's how our rock looks now:

Yes, we are quite happy with how it turned out. The retaining wall spans the width of the backyard, and there are trees flanking the rock on both sides. 

Here's a view of the right side of our yard. (yes, a few trees need to be replaced, but Abe has already assured us that will be done during our 30-day follow-up).

It made for a nerve-wracking final few weeks, as we had to wait and see how everything turned out, but we are thrilled with the final outcome. Without the rock, we would have just had a small backyard, but the rock has really added a lot of character back there. A few folks in our neighborhood have already said how nice it looks, and we are happy with it all. 

There are a few issues remaining for us, including a bit of a drainage problem in the back, a creak in our upstairs hallway, and a couple minor things, but those will all be addressed at our 30-day appointment. We have really been blessed to have Ryan as our builder, as it turns out. They really worked with us, and helped us create a home that we are really proud to own. 

Sorry for the long post, but I do want to also include a few updated photos of the inside of the house, so people can see just what we have been up to. The rooms aren't finished yet (we still need to hang pictures, change some bedding, etc.) but at least you get a general idea. 

This is our son Alden's room. He has what is considered Bedroom 5, with the two-foot extension for Elevation L. With the twin bed, his room became quite spacious.  

This is our daughter McKenna's room. She got the extra window for Bedroom 3, and as it turned out, that gave us an extra window in the bonus room too. 

Here's our kitchen. We'll be adding bar stools and a few other things later. 

Here's our family room. How much would you pay for those two couches? We got both of them for a total of $800 including tax and delivery from Ashley Furniture. They are the Darcy model. We're pretty good at finding deals. 

Here's a peek from the back of our modified bonus room. This is our play room, and we've played lots of Rock Band and NBA Jam already. 

A view of the bonus room from the front. The entry to the room is at the left of the picture (notice the door at  the far left). It has two ceiling fans, and a closet in the back. 

Just like our cat Zelda, we're pretty worn out by everything, but we are quite content at the same time. 

We wanted to say thanks to everyone for your encouragement and support. The rock issue was stressful, but seeing how everyone else has handled their own situations (some even worse than ours) really helped a lot. Good luck to all, and happy building. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Closing one chapter, beginning a thrilling new story...

So, I vowed not to become one of those bloggers who disappeared for more than a few days without providing any updates. Well, as loyal readers can tell (and thanks to all our followers for your interest), it has been a while since our last post. But, don't worry, it has all turned out with really terrific results. I apologize for not providing an update sooner, but we were without Internet for a week, and we've been crazy busy the rest of the time. Anyway, here is a much overdue update on what has been going on.

- We closed on July 19th, but not before a little excitement. I had blogged a while back about the fact that we were doing a loan through USDA, and everything seemed to be going well. But, it took a while before we got the final green light from there (there were no issues, they were just really slow), so we didn't know until two days before closing that we had the go-ahead. That meant a lot of last-minute shopping for things (hello ceiling fans!) and we hadn't even packed because we were afraid closing could be delayed a week. But, it all worked out in the end.

- We have a resolution to the rock issue. I'm going to do a separate blog post on this in the next week or so (I promise to do better with the blogging updates), but the final verdict is, we're keeping our unexpected find. I'll get into more of the details in that next post, but the cliff notes version is that the rock could not be removed without major issues, and that Ryan Homes has gone out of their way to make sure we are satisfied with the end result. The transformation isn't complete yet (it should be done in the next week or so), but we are actually quite happy with the end result. Kudos for Ryan for making a difficult situation turn out for the best for everyone.

- Since closing, we have been quite busy with work inside the house. You don't realize how much work it is to unpack until you start doing it. But we are making progress. Lauren, my super wife, has already installed six ceiling fans and only has four more to go. We have most of our garage unpacked, and even have the kids' rooms nicely done.

Ah, but I know what you are thinking. All of these updates are nice, but where are the pictures? Here are some of the photos to show just how well things turned out for us.

We recreated the scene we've seen on other blogs. It was such a special moment to open the front door for the first time as a family. 

Six months ago, we never thought we'd see these so quickly. But since then, we sold one house (in three weeks!) and bought what is truly our dream home. We are blessed so much by all of this - words can't even express what it has been like. 

Our happy kids. They spent their first day at our neighborhood amenity center Saturday, soaking up the first of many fun days there. We haven't been able to have a lot of those kinds of adventures lately with everything going on, but soon they can look forward to many more days like that. 

A little surprise we had in store for the kids. We put their names on their doors, with a sign that showed a little of their character (guess what Hannah is interested in). 

McKenna shows how happy she is with her new room - now she won't have to share with her sister anymore. 

Alden is becoming my sports buddy. We can't wait to play NBA Jam and cheer on the Panthers in our new home. 

Our last look at our kitchen before we moved everything in. Much of the house doesn't look this neat right now - there are still many boxes left to go, but we have made a lot of progress in just over a week. 

What better way to celebrate than to break out a little Rock Band? Alden and Hannah prepare to sing "21 Guns" by Green Day with me on guitar and McKenna on drums. We look forward to many more "concerts" in our newly created bonus room

I'll try to post more pictures soon, including the final version of the rock. (you won't want to miss that one). Thanks again for reading, and we hope everyone's experience with Ryan Homes turns out as well as ours did. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Even prettier than our home

When I write something for the blog, my wife Lauren usually reads it over and approves it before I post it. But not this post. This post is about her, and how blessed I am to be sharing this special moment, a moment we've been waiting a year for, with her.

When I proposed to Lauren three years ago, I did it with a 40-page book that included many of the emails and texts we had sent to each other (I proposed after she finished the last page). One of the emails I sent her talked about all the moments I couldn't wait to share with her in the future. This will certainly be one of those moments.

This house will be Lauren's first - I had our previous house before I even met her. It is the first house that she's been able to choose the colors, pick out the furniture, and really have a say in how it would turn out. And it has turned out to be almost as pretty as she is (but not quite). :) Going from our old house to our new house has been a roller coaster ride, filled with many twists and turns along the way, but I couldn't imagine sharing those moments with anyone else.

Lauren is so sweet - she has kept my head up when we've faced challenges, and has been such an inspiration to me. It's funny, because just the other day, we talked about how we never dreamed we'd have such a great new house to move into. Yet, in many ways, I feel the same way about being married to her. I never thought I could find someone who could make me as happy as she does. Lauren is a great wife, a terrific mom, and someone who I'll get to wake up next to for many, many years to come. As thrilled as I am about the house, I am even more thrilled about that.

But, for now, I get to look forward to what's next. It will be an emotional day when we get the keys. I hope all my fellow bloggers cherish the moment they get their keys, and appreciate the person they've shared this journey with. I know I do.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The grass is greener on our side of the fence...

O.K., so there really isn't a fence, but we now have grass in the front yard. Seeing the grass, combined with the landscaping, really pulls the house together. We are still scheduled to close in 9 days (aaaahhh!) but we really can't wait. After seeing some of these pictures, you will understand why. :)

We are so thrilled with how the outside of the house looks. They'll of course remove the dumpsters and pressure wash the driveway, but you get the general idea. It's amazing to think we went from making choices from swatches to what we have now. Like I said when we started the blog, "Don't act like you're not impressed!" :)

A nice look at the landscaping that comes with the home. We have some more landscaping to come in the back (foreshadowing!) but we'll get into that in another post. 

Hard to believe we were looking at this just two months ago. Now, we get this...

We feel very blessed to be able to call this house our home very soon. The kids are so excited too, and we can really sense just how close we are to realizing our dream. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our house is almost our home....

When you're two weeks away from closing and you really get that first extended walk into your house, it is an amazing feeling. We had the keys today, giving us an extended day to really look at our new home. We had seen it briefly Monday with our PM Abe, but today we were able to spend a couple hours just walking around and soaking it all in. This house will be our "forever" home, the home that Lauren and I will spend the next 30 years together in (sorry Lauren). :) We've built it with the future in mind, and we could really see that future when we walked in today.

They put up the number for the house. It's such a small thing, but in many ways it is a big deal. 

A good peek at our guest bedroom downstairs, with French doors at the entrance. For those who don't know, this room and the guest bathroom replace the living room and dining room downstairs (and also makes the pantry enormous - 4 x 8 feet)

The guest bathroom. This bathroom is basically identical to the secondary bathroom upstairs. 

A view from inside the guest room, showing the French doors and how the hardwood complements the carpet.  

Here's the morning room with the flooring. We opted to skip the optional windows due to the heat of North Carolina summers (and after the temperature reached 104 Saturday, we are thankful for our decision).  

A good photo of the stairs and spindles. (it's amazing the pictures you can get from a phone nowadays).

The powder room downstairs. 

The glorious kitchen, with the stove and microwave installed. We think having black appliances will reduce fingerprints and also help to pull all of our colors together. 

The refrigerator isn't quite in yet - unless Abe is trying to say he likes it better in the middle of the walkway. :) But you get the general idea of the kitchen with the crown moulding above. 

Our kids are so very excited. We spent three hours at the house today, but we would have been there even longer if it had electricity. (that's coming in the next few days, so maybe we'll bring sleeping bags). :)

Spending so much time at the house also gave Lauren and I the chance to really comb through everything. We found around five things that we would like our PM Abe to fix, including some creaks upstairs and a bit of minor damage to the kitchen floor at the dishwasher. But he has two weeks to fix those things and just touch up the rest of the house. We think that should be plenty of time for him, because the next two weeks will feel like a month for us. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Today was a good day

We are less than three weeks away from getting the keys to the house. I checked with NVR and their underwriters have approved our mortgage and they expect USDA to do the same in the next week or two. We had a brief meeting with our PM Abe at the house about the rock issue (we're getting closer to a resolution) and while we were there, we uncovered some new sights.

This photo was taken last week and we forgot to post it. All of the flooring is uncovered and cleaned as of today.

Today, we arrived just as the tile dudes finished up the tile backsplash. We love the accent clips.

Another glorious view of our backsplash.

Here's a view of our hardwood uncovered.

Kevin and our PM Abe honoring the little-known holiday - yellow polo shirt day.

We had a quick walkthrough of the house with Abe today and he answered a few minor questions we had. We didn't have doorknobs on our closet doors in the bonus room, but he explained that they are coming. We will get "dummy knobs" that match our other knobs, but don't move or lock. Since our bonus room closet was a modification, those knobs were not included in the original order of knobs. 

Speaking of knobs, it's harder to visit our house because it's locked every day now. Boo!!! We'll have to make arrangements with our SR Amber to pick up the key. Thankfully, we only have to do that for a couple of weeks.

Our final walkthrough is still scheduled for 2 weeks from today (YIKES!) and everything is right on schedule. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

21 days.....

It's hard to believe that we're scheduled to close three weeks from today. The house is coming along quite nicely - we should have electricity in the next few days - and my parents are coming from Florida for their first look at the house this weekend.

When they get here, they'll see a house that is really close to finished, as these pictures demonstrate:

Interior lights are going up quickly. We have outlet covers on, and could have electricity soon. (It'd be nice to have it this weekend, since the forecast high is 103 Saturday - yikes!)

The workers have been really cooking in the kitchen too. Just need the stove and refrigerator.  

We're really happy with the color of the railing. It really makes the spindles shine. 

A good look at the light in the stairwell and the spindles. 

A good look at a coach light on the outside We have one at our front door, and two for our garage. 

The time is getting close - but we are ready. Almost everything is set up at this point - the movers are scheduled and so is the furniture and washer and dryer delivery. There are only a couple loose ends with Ryan left. We are still waiting for final approval on our loan, but all indications are that everything is fine. We also don't have a resolution to the rock situation yet, and that may continue pretty close to closing (and perhaps, beyond closing...). But we're not thinking about that right now, we're just enjoying the progress we are seeing and looking forward to sharing it with family this weekend. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

For those without a rock, we salute you...(with flooring pics)

We're still waiting for an update on our massive rock in the backyard. Ryan Homes is getting their regional managers involved to try to work something out with the developer. We've made it clear that we'd much rather have no rock at all than anything else, and Ryan Homes is really trying to make this work. (it may just come down to who pays for the removal of the rock - Ryan or the developer). But, we don't expect any kind of resolution for several days.

While we wait for the rock to be resolved, there have been many other much more positive happenings at the house. Closing is less than four weeks away, and the house is really coming along fast. We've started checking every few days, but the locks are probably coming soon on our doors. But here's some of the exciting things that have happened in just the last week:

The pillars have been painted and so has the front door. Just waiting on the trim for the garage door windows and coach lights for the front at this point. 

Cabinets and faucets are in the secondary bathrooms now. 

Take a peek at the flooring in the secondary bathrooms (we also used it in the laundry room). 

Hooray Uba Tuba black granite. We really like it with the Maple Cognac cabinets. 

Our 60/40 sink, with the disposal on the big side (it's a little different than usual, but that's how I like it). 

Getting the appliances here too. Might be seeing the doors locked soon. 

A closer picture of the granite with the tile. The tile backsplash should be coming soon. 

Here's our kitchen floor. We are really happy with it. 

That looks cool. (get it?)

Here's a photo of the shower with the brushed nickel enclosure and nice corner caddy, along with some crazy girl who entered our house (only kidding Hannah). 

Another look at the shower (and that is just a reflection of the window above the tub). 

We can not wait to use our key for this in less than four weeks. 

We can get mail now! (but please wait on sending us any bills people).

There is also another update that we wanted to share. In a previous post, we mentioned how someone in our neighborhood lost their Florence right around the final walkthrough, and were unable to close. There is a good news/bad news update with this. The bad news is that the buyer could not get the home in our neighborhood back (it sold in five days). But the good news is that the buyer ended up buying another Florence in a Ryan community just 10 minutes away. It was an inventory home, so they should be able to move in quickly. 

We're happy that they were able to get into a Ryan home, and that neighborhood is quite comparable to ours. So maybe everything worked out for the better. 

Now, we're hoping we can say the same thing about our rock. We're keeping our fingers crossed.