Saturday, March 31, 2012

Done with Decisions. Done I say, DONE.

Having a month and a half of time to make all of the decisions seems like a great idea but man am I tired of thinking about it and second guessing myself.  Thankfully I got a promotion last week which has allowed me to add in a few things that I didn't think I would.

Some of the major final decisions:

-Gray staggered tile in kitchen- I tried to get away from this but had to go with my gut and nix the laminate in the kitchen.

-Scottsdale cabinets in Maple Cognac- I was leaning towards maple spice (fairfield) but the color just looked so flat.  I like the angles in the Scottsdale and will appreciate the deeper drawers and thicker boxes.  I also added the molding (a rip-off @$390 but don't think I can match the color easily on my own)

-Impala Black granite in kitchen- wait. no, dakota mahogany.  Or. maybe... Uba tuba? no, Dakota Mahogany. I've been all over the place with the granite but ultimately settled on the Impala black.  I'd like to do a colorful glass backsplash in the future and think that it's neutral enough to not limit my options.  Removed standard 4" granite backsplash so I don't have to take it out when I do my own tile backsplash.

-Upgraded faucet in kitchen- did this so I could get the 60/40 sink, not for the faucet.  I think the faucet is an eye sore and will replace it with a goose neck style one...

-TV level outlets in living room and master bedroom, as well as an extra outlet in the coat closet (to eventually hold media server components).

-5.1 surround prewire in living room

-No security system- with taking on my first house I don't see it wise to throw on another $45 monthly payment contract on top of that.  It's a safe area and who wouldn't be afraid of a 6"4 guy who weighs in at a whopping 155 lb??

-4th Ceiling fan rough-in in loft/office area

-Removed all wire shelving in closets- I design closet products for Rubbermaid so... nuff said... I've already designed and purchased my custom closets.  Left the wire in the pantry and linen close though, but I'll likely replace it with the tight mesh wire.

-Removed all cement from my teeny tiny yard- 10'x15' between the garage and house... I to use every square inch of this space and there will be no concrete.  I will lay pavers to connect the two doors but want as much grass as possible.

So- with that said, I have signed my final change order and will not be making any more changes.  I know my posts have been very option heavy but those days are gone now.  I'll put together a final specs tab to capture it all, but now I wait for the other units to sell and then you'll get the infamous staking / foundation post!

Cheers guys - thanks for all of your input on my decisions!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just a quick update -

Flooring and Granite - met with Rite Rug for a second time today to discuss doing tile in the kitchen.  I'm going to go with it as my gut was telling me to.  But doing so has made me rethink my granite and I think I'm either going to go with Uba Tuba (level 1) or Imperial Black (level 2).  This will be based on what the final cost of the cabinets I want is, which I'm still waiting on from my SR.  I expect them to be quite a bit as the Sonoma cabinets are full overlay (tiny gap between each cabinet door), but I think that makes a huge impact on the look of a kitchen.  The Dakota Mahogany is great but I think it will limit my options with colors that I may use in the kitchen down the road.

I would also like to have them install the kitchen tile staggered to make it interesting:

Question - I was encouraged by the woman showing me the flooring that if I plan to do my own tile backsplash that I request that they not install the 4" granite piece along the back wall.  Did any of you do this and do you recommend it?  I plan on doing my own backsplash down the line and could see that being an advantage.

Guardian meeting tomorrow - any tips? regrets you wish you had done? things I should stay away from?
Current plans - surround prewire only, adding a few outlets here and there, prewire for undercabinet lights(?)

Fiberglass tub and showers - the bathroom in my 2nd bed room has a fiber glass tub with simple glazed white tile surround.  Is it worth the $150 for the tile surround or should I just do full fiberglass as it's easier to clean?  I plan on eventually renting out that room so it will be in use by someone else.  Home makers out there - what do you suggest?

That's all I can think of for now - thanks in advance for the input!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Second Thoughts...

So I'm having second thoughts about the flooring in the kitchen.  I currently have nice looking laminate floor (cherry) but I've really come to love this gray tile I put in one of the bathrooms.  So - I was thinking about doing the kitchen floor in the gray tile and I really like the way it looks.  Whether it will look in person how it looks on the screen may differ but I think I may go with it (about the same price...).

I was also worried about having the laminate in a wet environment like the kitchen (dog bowl area is notoriously dribbly)...

Let me know what you guys think!

Cabinets - Maple Spice, Sonoma style
Countertop - Dakota Mahogany granite
Tile - nameless gray tile (Daltile)

(I put three representations of the granite, not sure which one is most correct)

My current choices are in my previous post... I'm glad that they still have to sell 3 more units until they start building so I have time to figure all this out...

Monday, March 12, 2012


Picked the flooring at the showroom today.  This was a much more anxious and stressful process than I thought it would be.  When it was all said and done I was mentally drained.

Here's the goods:

Main level and kitchen
-Maple Cognac cabinets (Sonoma), Upgraded laminate floors (wide plank cherry), Dakota Mahogany granite

Carpet (center) - level 3 (nylon) with 8 lb pad - second and third floor

Master Bath - level 3 tile, Uba Tuba vanity, maple spice cabs, slate and glass mosaic around shower
(Same granite and floor tile in 3rd floor bath)

Added two of these to the corners of the shower

Second floor bath - darker gray tile with gray grout (standard counter top and fiberglass shower), maple spice cabs

And now I wait for Guardian to set up my meeting.  Adding a few outlets, data ports and surround pre-wire in living room.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Decisions Decisions

OK - I have a few big decisions that I need to settle on which will determine how much freedom I will have in the flooring showroom tomorrow:

Kitchen Island:

I thought this was a done deal until I added up the costs of it - about $2500 with the granite.  This is currently built into my price.  While It's nice and all having an island with matching counters and storage (3 drawers and cabinets below), I just don't see how it justifies that expense.  The back and sides were thin 1/4" MDF and had a pretty cheap, flexible feeling to them.

I cook a lot and make huge messes so the island is key for me.  But should I go with their island?

Pros: matching granite, matching cabinets, electrical outlet on side, cost rolled into mortgage (not out of pocket), drawers and cabinets underneath.

Cons: it's effing expensive for what it is - simple cabinets with a 10 sq ft piece of granite @ about $80 per sq ft, ho-hum look and feel.


Solid butcher block table with drawers (48" x 36")
Cost: $1200, Savings: $1,280

Island with bar
Cost: $900, Savings: 1,580

Next up:

Upgraded Granite:

Dakota Mahogany vs. Uba Tuba

For my plan it's about $1000 to go from level 1 granite to level 2 granite.  I wasn't questioning my decision to go w/ Dakota Mahogany until I calculated this out.  The sales rep pulled the old "which granite do you like? - I'm not going to tell you that one costs exactly one thousand dollars more than the other".  Oldest trick in the book.

I really like the Dakota Mahogany and think it matches really well with the darker maple cabinets that I'm going with but I'm having a hard time justifying the cost when Uba Tuba seems ok too...

Again - this is already rolled into my price but could the solid grand be better used elsewhere?

Odds and ends:

Raised vanities in bathrooms - I currently have this in the master but should I go ahead and add it to the other two full baths?  I feel odd in a bathroom with the standard height counters - it this a common upgrade that you all have made?

Comfort height toilets - I currently have 2 of 4 toilets upgraded to comfort height - thinking about just making them all comfort height.  It really is comfortable.

Carpet pad - I currently have the first level upgrade - should I just max it out for the upstairs carpet pad?

By the way - there's no better way to take your mind off of stressful decisions than an amazing and exhausting bike ride in one of the most beautiful places in North Carolina:

I <3 NC - born and raised...

I will leave you with a few pics of a model Hepburn that I found online (my kitchen and master will be 4 ft longer :)

Who's tankless?

The tankless water heater is included in my home - does anyone else have one that you're using now?  I'm all for it but just want to make sure I don't have to sit around for hot water to get where it needs to go.

I'm working on a lengthy upgrade post for later tonight as my meeting with the showroom is tomorrow - so be sure to check back for that and let me know your thoughts.  Good news though - my SR said that they can get the cabinets that I want (Sonoma) and he thinks he can get them in any of the colors on the Timberlake site (liking maple honey, maple cognac and maple spice).  Bad news (there always is), I had no idea how much more the next level of cabinets were beyond fairfield and andover - probably $1300 to $1600.  From what I understand these come with 3" deeper drawers, thicker shelves and walls and a longer warranty of 5 years.  Luckily I think I might move from my current level 2 granite (Dakota Mahogany) to level 1 (uba tuba) and save $1000.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Laminate vs. Hardwood

As much as I want true hardwood floors, I know I should get laminates because I have a large dog.  For those of you who have put in laminate floors, how do you like them? Do they rival the quality of the HW in appearance?  I guess I've seen more low end laminate than high end so I don't really know what to expect with the finished product...

Am I right in going w/ the laminates b/c of the dog? Any other things to consider when making this decision?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cabinets and Flooring

They finally called me today and scheduled my meeting at the flooring showroom for Monday.  My biggest decisions for the house will be the flooring color and cabinets - and I have no idea which direction I'll go in.

My question to the bloggers out there who have gone through this (any around Charlotte?) is what to expect?  I'm worried that I will not have many options.  I can sometimes have odd and unique style / tastes and I'd hate to have to settle if all of the offerings are very traditional and limited.

If I'm going to a flooring showroom (RiteRug here in Charlotte, will I be able to choose from their entire selection or will there be a "Ryan Home's" limited selection?  I assume that they'll put what ever I want in as long as I pay for the upgrade.

Same question with the cabinets - I know they offer Timberlake Cabinets, will I be able to choose from the entire line of Timberlake cabinets (  I'm after a more shaker style cabinet with straight lines and no fancy routed edges like this one that they offer:

Thanks for any input you guys can provide on what to expect here - I'd like to have a good idea of what I want/can have before I go in.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Details and options

Here's the post I'm sure everyone wants... the juicy details and options...

Floor plan:



Not my kitchen - but same layout, appliances and island:

Current granite choice (Dakota Mahogany) and cabs (maple spice - may go lighter):

A few shots of the neighborhood:

Fancy houses that will hopefully make my place more valuable :) 

Nice pool that will likely be swimming with kids (no pun intended... well kinda... kinda it was intended...)
Yes - HOA fees are high.  Nuff said.

Cool covered bridge on one side of the hood.

Proposed pedestrian retail at front of development.  A few years off and still up in the air but my door would be about 2 blocks to the right from here.  Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.


Flooring - going w/ laminate due to my overweight pup (60lb) and general durability.  I'm torn between proper HW but I'm going to try and get the most realistic laminate I can find.  Anyone know much about the options I can expect (I have yet to go to the showroom)?

Upgraded carpet and pads on stairs and top two floors (not sure what level but I think it's one below the top level - will figure out in showroom).
Granite in kitchen w/ island
Gas range (can't wait for this)
Recessed lighting in kitchen (7 cans)
3 fan rough ins (LR, and both bedrooms)
Surround pre-wire in living room (no speakers, just wiring)
Data ports and cable in both bedrooms (not sure what's standard yet)
Comfort height toilets in all bathrooms (I'm tall - 6'3" and so are my friends)
Tall man vanities in bathrooms (this is key)
Double vanity in master
Granite (dark) in master and 3rd floor bathroom
full length tile walk-in double shower in master 
Fiberglass tub with tile surround in 3rd floor
Tile floors in all bathrooms (12")
Garage door opener (I wanted to do this myself - but I know w/ everything going on it will be easier just to have them do it)
+$2500 I added in to the price for things I knew I would add later (wiring, surround, possible cab upgrades, etc) I can take out what ever I don't use but most of this is already spent in my head :\

That's all I can think of for now - I'll update as I lock things in.  I have yet to meet w/ wiring and showroom so I'm sure I'll make changes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Introduction and status

I'm currently in the process of building a new townhome through Ryan Homes and wanted to document my experience here to share with others.  It's been a huge help reading all of the other Ryan home blogs out there and there seems to be a lack of blogs following buyers who are currently starting the process.  I figured I would pay it forward and become an active member of the Ryan blog community.

So this post will just be an introduction and an update on my status and future home...

Me - mid 20's working professional (design engineer - product development).  This will be my first home, and is nowhere near what I thought I wanted (eclectic mid century fixer-upper on an old tree-lined street).  But I figured I would save that dream for when I have all the time and money in the world.  Right now - I want to enjoy life and not worry about something going wrong in a old house.  Plus I like nice things and am a bit OCD...

My house - Hepburn townhome plan, there are 5 units in a group and 5 groups on my side of the street.  It is a 3 level plan with 2 large bedrooms and 3.5 baths (loft type area has a full bath), one car detached garage and a tiny tiny little baby yard.  It will be about 1,660 square feet.

Here's a pic of the existing units on the street (I will have the second from the right):

Status - I've added in all of my upgrades (tons of them), picked the lot, gone through current owners homes (they don't have a model of this one), gone back and forth negotiating to get where I wanted to me (for the most part) and signed the contract.  I've completed the application with NVR but will hopefully be using the CHIP program through BB&T which I've been pre-qualified for and have competed the application.  This program almost sounds too good to be true (3% down and no PMI, only slightly higher interest rate than FHA - around 4.25%) but I'm going for it.  All of this has happened within a matter of about 2-3 weeks.  I am the first one to buy in my block of units so he has to sell the remaining four and then they will build (my closing date in the contract will be aug-oct 2012).  Now just waiting on the meeting w/ the design showroom and Guardian.

I'll post soon outlining all of my upgrades / plans for the place...