Monday, December 31, 2012

How to Create a Countdown Clock

Steps to create a countdown clock for your Blogspot blog:

1. Go to a site that let's you create a countdown clock and create your clock.  Here's one such site:

2. Copy the html code after creating your clock from the creation site.

3. Return to Blogger. Go to "Layout" and click on "Add A Gadget"

4.  Scroll down through the "Basics" gadgets once the pop-up screen comes up.  Scroll down and select the "HTML/Javascript" gadget.

5. Paste your countdown clock code in the pop-up box that opens when you select the "Html/Javascript" gadget.

6.  Congratulations!  The clock should now be on your page.

Happy New Years!

Happy New Years RH Blogging Community.  Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013 in our new homes!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

January 2nd...

If they don't break ground January 2nd, I am going to break bad January 2nd. If they won't dig a hole I will do it myself! Let's get this show on the road!

Just a vent. That's all...Please send construction vibes our way so they start on Wednesday!

Can you tell we are a little...eager to see our home?!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ode to the Hole... I'm losing it!

Oh hole, oh hole, where art thou
Our brown canvas lies bare, waiting for you, like the trees waiting for their summer foliage
Our hearts remain empty without thee
Waiting...wishing...desiring for our days to become complete in your company.

Others have found their holes
Like young fawns uniting with their mothers out of the womb
We wait for your presence in our life and to fill you with finest slabs of concrete
To complete you with santa celia granite, saddle brook floors, and soap dish-less showers
For you shall provide the foundation of our daily lives for years to come.

Oh hole....Oh hole

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Garage Door Openers and Fans--What did you get?

We are beginning to look at ceiling fans and garage door openers for when our house is complete...well, started :-)

We have fans already for the 3 bedrooms and are looking for one for the Master and the morning room. We are being very picky about the one in the morning room! We also are looking into the Chamberlain 3/4 HP Diamond Plate Garage Door Opener, but are open to suggestions! Also looking at the Genie Silent Max 1000. To those of you who didn't purchase these things through Ryan, what did you get?


Friday, December 21, 2012

Pre-Con went well

Had our pre-con today.  Our PM is really nice and seems like he'll be great to work with.  We got to walk our lot and see it staked.  The yard is huge, especially for metro-D.C. standards and we get a little extra space beyond our lot that goes to the edge of the forest preservation area.

Of all of the little favors we asked of the PM, we only got approval on one, which was the chase under the driveway for future wiring, but that's fine. They had good reasons for not doing the others.

The excavating should start on January 2 and we should be under roof by mid-January. Of course, the first snow flakes fell today, so we are hoping that's not a bad omen.

We also met more future neighbors today who have a little girl around our oldest son's age. Everyone has young kids, which is going to be great.

Pre-Con Day!

On our way to Pre-Con!  That's all...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prepping for the Pre-Con Meeting: Great Questions

Tomorrow morning is the big day! We just wanted to share some great questions our friend who used to work for Dan Ryan Homes shared with us to ask in addition to all the ones we have (some may repeat, but we figured it is still worth posting!):

Talk about each and every room in the house, the basement, the garage, and the exterior.  Also talk about each of the options you selected, and look at the blueprints - ask them to tell you how to read the basic things on them at the meeting if you need help.  The buillder builds off the blueprints, so look at them - a lot of questions get answered there.

In each space, make sure you know what finishes are going to be installed and what they look like.  Keep asking - what does that look like?  They should be able to show you an example in the model, or in a book, or on another house.  You saw the flooring when you did your selections.  Pay attention to location also.  For example...

Flooring - Color/Type - Where are the flooring breaks between rooms?
Cabinets - Color/Type/Upgrade?/Drawers?  Doors?  Height?  Knobs/Handles? Locations?
Faucets - Color/Type/ Picture?  Locations? 
Sink - Size/Color/Type/ Picture?
Countertops - Color/Type/Backsplash?
Toilets - type/size
Vanitys - type/size/location
Pedestal Sink - type/size/location
Windows? - Location/size/type
Exterior and Interior Doors - Location/size/type
Door Knobs - type/deadbolt?
Lighting fixtures- type/location/picture
Light switches/plugs - type (location is normally set for you - if you have special requests, let them know)
Cable outlets - location/number?
Phone outlets - location/number
Closet/pantry shelving - type/location?
Trim - what trim is used in house?  locations?  Crown Molding?/Chair rail? 
Bathtubs/showers - type/size Tile or Fibergalss finish?  Color?
Shower doors - type/location
Rails - type/color/see picture
Hardware - Toilet paper and towel rods - location/type
Fireplace - location?surround?mantle?hearth?
Heating vent covers - location?type?
Appliances - see pictures of these.  color?  What appliances do you get?

In the basement, in addition to any of the above that apply...
Heating system?  Location - Fuel? Service? Warranty?  1 Zone or Two?
Hot Water Heater - Location - Fuel?  Service?  Warranty
Location of Columns and anything else which will impede future finishing.  Columns can't be moved. 
Basement Bath rough in?  Type/Location?
Basement Exit?  What type of door? 
Electric panel location/finish?

Grading - how will the finished contours of the lot look?  It will look different than now in some cases.
Seeding/sod?  What is warranty?  Will they seed in winter?  What if it doesn't grow?
Siding -- type/size/color
shutters - type size/color/locatoin
Brick/Stone - type/size/color/location
What will need maintenance on exterior?  What is painted?
Exterior Trim - Color/location
Window/door features (fancy trim pieces over windows/doors) - size/location/color
Shingles - type/color/see sample
What is off of back door?  Deck?  Covered with rail?
Sidewalk location
Driveway - width?  will they do 2 coats?
Water/Sewer connections - location
porch - size? location?
Steps to front porch?
Steps into house from garage?
Hose bibb location/number?
Exterior electric outlets location/number?
Location of outdoor AC unit?  Heat pump?
Location of water meter?  gas meter?

Drywalled?  Full or partial? 
Garage door opener?
Garage door type/size/insulated? Windows?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Do You Wish You Would Have Done?

Before the final, final pre-construction meeting in two days, I'd like to know if there's anything that you wish you would have done to your house or asked at the meeting, that you didn't do or ask.  Looking forward to your responses...

Monday, December 17, 2012

In brick...maybe

Trying to find our model in our elevation in brick is turning out to be near impossible.  We think the picture below shows our house in brick.  If it isn't, it's so close to it it would be nearly discernible.  Our brick is red, so it is a little different, but you get the idea.  We weren't totally sold on our model/elevation because we've only really been able to see it with siding, except for the one stone version we've found.  Now that we see it in brick, we love it!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homes popping up everywhere... except ours!

It is amazing how quickly what was once an expansive area of dirt has changed into a neighborhood! The house behind us is quickly moving along, the one to the right of us has foundation and so does the one diagonal to us. We are surrounded by houses and construction! The good news is that once our house is done we won't have any construction around us. But, it makes us exceptionally excited for our pre-construction meeting on Friday! We will post our questions as we get closer. Can't wait!!

Here is our lot and everything around it:

 View from what would be our side yard to front of house

 View from side yard to back of house

 Side yard view, right of house

Another side yard view looking at all the houses across and down the street

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crisis Averted

After a night of panic and confusion, we received an email from our SR bright and early letting us know we can do the bathroom upgrade. We will be signing the Change Order this afternoon. Needless to say, we are still a little nervous about anything else that may pop up, but I guess that goes with the house building territory. We still don't understand why there was a miscommunication and why a bathroom upgrade was not even mentioned to us when making our selections or even in the finalization meeting. A friend said "Because you didn't ask the right questions." I guess not! Oh well crisis averted. Time to go back to being excited home builders!

Monday, December 10, 2012

We hit our first snag...

Yesterday we were looking at the schematic layout and noticed something odd... why in the regular bathroom was there no door and there appeared to be a door in the alternative bathroom layout? So what was in the shower? We emailed our SR only to find out that we had the "standard" bathroom and that shower, although separate from the tub, did not have has a curtain rod. Um WHAT? That makes no sense! We were told by our original SR that there was no difference between the standard and alternate layouts. When we met with our current SR for our finalization meeting we even asked if the shower door glass we had was clear and she said yes! But today our SR said that we would need to do an upgrade (at an extra cost of course) and that she wasn't sure we could even do that at this point since the lumber was ordered already. She has an email in to find out and will let us know tomorrow. She then said we could just get Lowe's to come in if we didn't do the upgrade to add glass...why would we have someone come into our brand new house we are paying all this money for and add something else?! We are going to push for this to be fixed obviously.

Our main concern is what else was overlooked or not appropriately explained to us and what surprises are we in for when our house is complete?! We asked her if there is anything else we should know about so we are not surprised and we are definitely going through everything extremely carefully with our PM at the pre-con meeting next week. We are a little unnerved...

Has this happened to anyone else??

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mark Your Calendar!

Our pre-construction meeting has been set for December 21st!! I hope time goes by quickly!

Pre-construction Questions--Anyone?

We are sitting down as we prepare to schedule our pre-construction meeting and going through questions. For those of you who have been through this, are there any question we should ask or any you wish you would have asked? We found a list on another blog, but we want to make sure we don't miss anything. Thanks in advance!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen...we have a start date!

That's right! We got word from our SR that we start the week of December 31st! Happy New Year to us! She is contacting us tomorrow to set up our pre-construction meeting. FINALLY this is going to begin!

We also stopped by to see how everything has been progressing and WOW! Our back neighbor's house is up and framed! There is a picture in the neighborhood progression timeline. It is getting easier to see how our lot will be laid out and we walked around trying to figure out where our backyard and side yards will be. Since our lot is so flat, our side goes on for quite a way! We are excited to walk it with our PM soon! Two new foundations also sprouted up. It is amazing how quickly everything moves. It has been so much fun watching what started out as dirt and just a few house turn into a beautiful neighborhood!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Last Changes: Stainless Steel Appliances

We headed over for our weekly trip to our development to meet with our SR to change our appliances to stainless steel. With how beautiful the kitchen will be we had to have the stainless. It will really complete the look. We did the second level stainless steel convection range with 5 burners, dishwasher and microwave and upgraded to the french door fridge. We are happy with this choice!

We also had a talk about start and completion date. Looks like we are looking to start the last week of December! Our pre-construction meeting will most likely be the week of December 17th and we are estimated to be completed by the beginning of April!! We will get all these dates finalized Thursday next week when they put out the official start date calendar. We can't wait! We are getting closer to seeing our home begin!!

Here are pictures of our appliances:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting Closer and Another Upgrade

Building is fast and furious in our neighborhood now.  It's actually starting to look like a real development.  Two of our three surrounding neighbors now have their concrete poured.  We should find out our start date any day now.  Our neighbor now not only has a hole, but also has concrete and their lumber is in!

Also, we decided to upgrade to stainless steel appliances.  This may be a mistake with young kids, but I think they will look way too nice with our cherry cabinets and dark stained wood floors.  We had the upgraded black appliances, but we just have our doubts about how that will look with the cherry cabinets.  We figured the kitchen is too beautiful to cut this corner.  We'll be talking with the SR tomorrow about which appliances we'll be getting instead.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our Neighbor Has A Hole!

Our lot and behind it...our neighbor's hole!
Granted, it's not our hole, but it's something. Our neighbor now has his hole and foundation.  That's means we're getting closer!  We're taking in our second deposit this week so that we can get this show on the road.

Also, we made some of the first purchases for our new house this weekend, including ceiling fans for the kids' rooms and guest room.  It's getting real!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Some quick changes and ordering lumber!

Got a call from our SR yesterday.  Apparently in our model, the Victoria Falls, you can't have both windows and a fireplace on the same wall without the four foot extension.  We don't really want or need the four foot extension, but really do want the fireplace.  So, we took the windows off that wall, which saved us about $1000.  We then took one of the windows and put it on the rear family room wall, so now we have three windows back there overlooking the backyard and forest.

There was also a math mistake on our last change order that resulted in an error of $1200 in our favor.  So, we took that money and chose to put the recessed lighting package in the basement for about the same price.  So now we have 13 recessed lights in the basement instead of having to buy several cheap lamps that the kids were sure to break repeatedly.  Sweet!  And we came out $500 better on the deal!

We also got word that our lumber is currently being ordered!  We should know by tomorrow whether they will start building before the holidays or not.  We are very excited over here!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

LOTs of good news!

We drove out to our neighborhood so that our SR could show us how our lot would be laid out. When we got there, our SR said that she was talking to the construction people and they want to break ground around Christmas. At first we were a bit freaked out... we need time to get our house sold! But, since they promised us a delivery around April 15th, even though our house will be done in March, we can move in any time between completion and April 15th! This gives us a ton of flexibility! If our house sells, we won't have to rent and move twice!  Also means that we should have a foundation up by New Years! Awesome news :-) Can't wait to visit something other than dirt, although I love my dirt :-)

Then, Mauria (our SR) took the wheel and measured out our lot for us. We got to see where the house would be and how big our yard will be. Our yard is HUGE! When she was going over the space she told us she is so surprised that our lot, which is very big, flat, and has trees to one side, didn't have a premium on it. Her guess is that it was released and sold so quickly that they didn't have the chance to see it and determine a premium on it. Not only do we have a large backyard, we also have a very large side yard!

We are so excited and it really seems like the stars are aligning for us. We will blog once we have a pre-construction meeting scheduled (which should be in the next few weeks!).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Finalization Meeting

As we drove up to our area of the neighborhood the first thing we noticed was a house, oriented like ours, sitting beautifully as you turn the corner. That house was just a pile of wood last week!

This meeting was amazing!! Here are some of the key things that happened during this meeting that brought about unexpected happiness:

1. Turns out we do not have a walk out basement as we originally thought. Why is this good? We save $4000 on whatever they do to make it a walk out, the distance between the door in the morning room to the backyard is way shorter, and, as a result, we can put in a patio instead of what would have been a high and expensive deck! This was what we really wanted and we were amazed at this great turn in events.

2. On Friday new colors and other areas were approved. This meant we could get the darker wood floors at the entry level price!!

We also will be getting a crisp white trim rather than the almond on the outside of the home. We chose from the new colors and picked our brick, a maroon door (the color is off in this picture) and a taupe colored siding (color off on this picture), and black shutters.

3. We found out that due to the placement of our house, much like the house we saw as we pulled into our neighborhood, we will have "high visibility view". This means that we will have BEAUTIFUL views from the upper level of our house. What it also means is that we had to add 3 windows to the upper level due to the HOA covenants to maintain the beauty of what people see as they enter the neighborhood (so they don't see a plain slab of siding). So, Andrew got an extra 2 windows for his room and Evan got an extra one!

4. The shower door in the master bath will have clear glass!

5. We upgraded our faucet again to the highest one so it matches better with the stainless steel sink. It is really pretty. Never thought I would be this excited about a faucet! It really completes what will be a beautiful kitchen.

6. We met the neighbors whose yard backs into our yard...and they are STEELER FANS!!! Bonus, Steeler parties on Sundays!

7. We get to walk our lot next weekend to see exactly how big our yard will be and where out house will be placed. Can't wait to do that!

We walked out of there sooo excited!! Since we pushed our completion date to help prep our house for sale, our pre-construction meeting will not be until mid-January. She said fro the time the first shovel goes into the ground it will be about 100 days. We are estimating beginning of May with any delays. Hoping time will fly and we will sell our house at the price we need to move forward comfortably!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Visit to the model home

On this chilly, windy day we hauled the kids into the car and drove about 40 minutes to go walk through the decorated Victoria Falls model. Each time we see it we love it even more! We took some pictures and they are posted on the hoe picture page. Tomorrow is the finalization meeting... how exciting and scary!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flooring Meeting!

Today was an incredibly fun meeting. We drove to the flooring showroom with the two boys. It is by appointment only, which meant we had the whole place to ourselves. If you have young children you know that this is a wonderful thing!

The first thing we picked out was our granite counter tops. We were pleasantly surprised that, although we were choosing the Level 1 granite, there were several beautiful options. We placed the granite with the cherry cabinets we chose and found the best match. The salesman, Austin, was very helpful when making the choices and had great insight and recommendations.

From there, we looked at the hardwood floor options. With a Level 1 option, we only had a few choices, but were very happy with the wood we chose as it complimented the cabinets and granite beautifully!

Everything together

We then picked out tile for the Master bath and the second bathroom upstairs (the downstairs bathroom has hardwood in it). We added 2 ceramic corner shelves to the shower in the master bathroom, which will be very convenient! I didn't get a picture of our tile in the bathrooms, no idea why! They are a regular neutral color. We decided to upgrade the laundry room to ceramic tile, this is what we picked:

Next up, carpeting. We decided to go with base carpeting upstairs and in the basement, but opted to upgrade the padding to keep spills from seeping through. We did Level C carpeting for the family room and we are very pleased with our choice, which will go well with our gray couches. It is very plush and has flecks of color in it (black, grey, beige undertones).

Family room carpet

Although they look similar, one is for upstairs and one is for the basement (one is slightly darker)

This was definitely the most fun part and made building our house so much more real! Once we were done with the selection process (only took a little over an hour), we drove to our lot. Looks like they are prepping for the giant storm heading our way and put down some kind of hay mixture to protect the dirt. I am glad we are not building right now because I would be freaking out!

Looks like they will be releasing the cul de sac lots soon. We realized how big our lot is compared to the regular sized ones. This just further validated that we chose an awesome lot! Next up: scheduling the finalization meeting!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Met with Guardian today

We had our electrical meeting with Guardian today.  I never knew there so were many ways to up-sell :-).  Actually, some of the options they offered were pretty neat.  Although, I didn't find their pricing to be competitive at all...$390 to install in-wall wiring for a tv?  I am no handyman but that takes me about ten minutes to do.  Plus, they don't actually hang the tv or even include a wall mount. I could have a handyman do that same thing for $100 or less.  Plus, I wouldn't be paying interest on the handyman's work.

We did add a couple extra tv cables in the kids' rooms.  I also signed us up for the security system.  I might change that tomorrow though, as I really don't need another $40+ monthly bill coming to  us, especially since we are already paying a premium to be in a safe neighborhood.

Other than that, it was a pretty standard meeting.  We got to see our floor plan, which is actually reversed from the normal.  I'm not sure I'm digging it yet.  I think I'm used to the orientation where the garage is on the right hand side.  Hmmm, I may have to sleep on that one...

Sunday, October 21, 2012


We went to our site today to see if any progress has been made.  Granted, corporate still hasn't even approved our paperwork due to an overseen, unsigned document, but it hasn't stopped the construction crews.  These guys move fast.  We noticed that a house had an entire second floor built by the time we came out of our brief meeting with the realtor.

 We got the chance to visit our site and take a picture with our sold sign.  The shared driveway is already in!
Our shared driveway leading to our lot!

Our street looking at the future cul-de-sac.
We are so happy with the lot.  While our neighbors across the street paid a premium to back up to woods that will never be built on, we too have woods right next to us that will never be built on because it is a forest preservation area and we didn't pay a premium.  My wife, who has never lived in a detached house, was taken aback from the silence. All she heard was the rustling leaves and birds in the woods.  We have a beautiful view and couldn't be happier.

Looking from our driveway towards what will be our house
This week we're meeting with the electrical folks at Guardian and next weekend is our meeting with the flooring folks.

Our silent woods

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meeting with the lender

We met with the lender today.  It's a scary proposition to promise and guarantee things and expect certain interest rates when you are talking about something that won't happen for another six months.  Nevertheless, the papers are signed.  Now we cross our fingers, hope that the timing works out in the process and that our house sells.  Eeeks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If you're interested, a video tour of the model of our new home:

And so it begins...

We just signed the papers yesterday and already we have our financing meeting tomorrow and Guardian just called this morning to set up the meeting for the electrical.  These people move!

Here are some pictures of our lot.  As you can see, the neighborhood, including our lot, is still pretty much just dirt.  As you can also see, we managed to get a very large lot, next to open green space WITHOUT paying a premium.  The boys are going to love it. We are so excited!

Our lot is just dirt...for now.

The lot layout.  Plenty of room for the kids to play.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 1 - The Dream Begins

It's official!  We signed the paperwork today to begin the process of building our dream home.  It's almost surreal. Our two year plan to eventually move, turned into a four week plan.  A combination of low interest rates, penetration pricing in a new development, and a rapidly rising valuation of our home pushed things faster than we expected, but we are excited!  Our lot is huge, our house is going to be beautiful and we'll be living in a resort community, which features lakes, pools, tennis courts and 30 miles of walking trails.

In two days we meet with the lender to review our financials and then we begin talking to the flooring and electrical contractors.  Stay tuned!