Monday, April 30, 2012


One of the things we knew we would be giving up by building with RH was the opportunity to have my father, an electrical contractor, wire our home. We completely understood that it wouldn't be an option, and we understood why. Even though he's not doing the wiring, his input has been really helpful. Thought I'd share.

Now vs. Later
We went in to the electrical looking for what was easier to have RH do now, and what we'll do later. We are not finishing the basement yet (which will give us much easier access for adding wiring on the first floor) and hopefully we'll have luck getting our PM to install a pipe from the basement to the attic (to run future wiring upstairs).
What RH is doing:
- Recess lighting. Price per light was pretty standard for this area. And it's a lot easier to do now, rather than cut in later.
- Prewire for ceiling fans. Same as above. We got rough-ins done in each bedroom and the bonus room.
- Flood lights. This surprised me. I initially thought this would be an easy add later. But the expert (Dad) said no. Hard to access those roof lines. We got two.
- Prewire for four pendant lights over the kitchen island. We'll buy and install our own later.
What we'll add later:
- Upgrading light fixtures. We either skipped fixtures all together (fans, pendant lights) or are getting RH basic. So many more options available either at Home Depot/Lowes or supply house.
- Extra plugs. Those are pretty easy adds (according to my father).
- Under-cabinet lights. We did get the upgraded trim package on the cabinets -- which provides an edge to hide the lights. There are a lot more options in under-cabinet lights than what RH offers.
- Garage door opener. Ditto on options.

Lighting placement
One thing we did note in walking the house with my dad was that RH's placement of both recess lights and switches were a little off. Small example: Eyeball lights above the fireplace are typically placed 3 feet from the wall -- RH put them more like 2 in our model. The model had a million recess lights in the kitchen -- and yet there is a large dark area right in front of the extended laundry. We plan to work closely with our PM to make sure our lights are placed most effectively (ditto on the switch placement). Fingers crossed that they are accommodating. We've added:
- 4 recess lights to the family room, plus 2 eyeballs above the fireplace
- 4 recess lights to the living room
- 6 recess lights to the morning room
- 1 extra recess light to the backstairs (they were dark).
Our kitchen upgrade already came with 8 recess lights.

Other than that, we're just packing and counting down to build!

Friday, April 27, 2012


It's hard to write that title without hearing it in Robert Stack's voice. (Dating myself by this reference? Perhaps.)

But I digress ...

-- Thanks all for the feedback on the microwave issue. Did some research. Read all the manuals. And put in a panic email to my SRs. (Warned them that this is surely only the first of the crazy emails from me.) They called back this morning. Clearance will be 19-20". More than I currently have between my gas stove and microwave. We're going to go with what we had planned. If we do run into overheated, melted microwave issues down the road, I'll post an eating-crow update. Still, it was good to be aware of the potential.

-- Also thanks for the feedback on moving twice. After four quotes, we hired a moving company yesterday. We're moving to our rental Friday, May 18, and then the remaining stuff goes to storage Monday, May 21 (avoided the Saturday time-and-a-half charges). We had briefly toyed with a partial pack, but decided to pack everything ourselves and save some money. We did opt to do storage with the actual moving company rather than rent a unit. It's partly for convenience and partly because I liked the idea that our upholstered furniture will all remain shrink-wrapped, the wood furniture will remain wrapped in heavy moving pads, and all items will be containerized in wooden crates (rather than tossed into some warehouse). Storage cost is based on weight, so we will try to put what we can at my parent's house and in the garage at our rental. Let the packing begin!

Construction is scheduled to begin in a month and three days. Waiting is hard, but I'm sure the packing, moving, closing on this place and end-of-the-school-year craziness will keep me otherwise occupied.

(FYI, Robert Stack hosted Unsolved Mysteries. Google it.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dream kitchen

The other night in the car, my 8-year-old asked all of us what our favorite part of the new house was. His was the yard. (Funny, because I think the yard is kinda small, but I won't tell him that.) Mine, by far, is the kitchen.

The kitchen in the model is definitely what sold me on the house and on new construction. My current kitchen is nice. I designed it myself a few years ago. But the room is not big. I did what I could and we've got good cabinet and countertop space, but there's not a ton of room to move around. There's no way you could fit wall ovens. Realistically, how often am I going to use 2 ovens? But the thought of a Thanksgiving that is not an oven jigsaw puzzle has me giddy.

I was not settling for less than I wanted in the new kitchen, so we got:
- Morning room
- Gourmet kitchen island
- Premium II stainless steel appliances with the double wall oven configuration
- Scottsdale Square Maple Espresso cabinets (with the "enhancement" package -- sounds racy, but means extra trim)
- Luna Pearl granite countertops
- Brushed nickel fixtures
- Pre-wiring for pendant lights, which we will buy and add later

One thing we didn't like about the gourmet island in the Waverly was that there was only room for two stools at the very end. There's always someone sitting at our current kitchen counter when one of us is cooking and the kids also do homework there (usually while we're doing dishes). Our SR is awesome and suggested we extend it. We had to pay for it (of course), but for (more or less) the cost of the extra granite, we will be able to move the island a few inches and add a 6" overhang down the whole side.

What we didn't get: Fridge - we'll have to buy our own. Microwave - I mentioned this on someone else's blog a few days ago, but in our area, code requires microwaves to be mounted very high over gas cooktops. I'm 5'3" and would need a stepstool to put food in there. So, we're going to have them wire for a regular height, and add it ourselves later. (Apparently a lot of folks in our area do this.) Under-cabinet lights - We'll add them ourselves later. Backsplash - Also adding later (excited about cool glass tile or even glass and stainless options I've seen at Home Depot).

I can't wait to cook and entertain in this kitchen. Now, if only they'd hurry up and break ground ...

Current kitchen. 

Kitchen in the model.

Color choices: Espresso cabinets and luna pearl granite with our hardwood.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moving ... and moving again

Did anyone else have to move into temporary housing?

We really could not afford to build the house we want without selling our current home. So we close here May 24, our build starts May 30 and they are saying it will be done around the first week of September. In the meantime, the hubby, two kids and I are moving into a 900 sqft townhouse for the summer. I'm fairly optimistic that we'll be able to deal with the space (or lack of) OK. It's summer; we'll be outside a lot. (Or so I'm going to keep telling myself. Expect "pulling my hair out" updates in August.)

But, it means we have to move twice and put a lot of our stuff in storage. I've had 4 movers out in the last couple of days and gotten some estimates. The moving part is all coming in about the same, but storage varies. And how do you judge? Climate controlled vs. not? Containerized storage (they put it in big pallet boxes) vs. storage in a unit?

Any advice or wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday visits

Last Tuesday we finally told the boys (8 and days shy of 5) about the house sale and the new house build. Everything had just fallen into place, and it was the first chance we had with them to show them the lot and the model. They are beyond excited, and their joy made me all the happier. The only hiccup was that the almost-5-year-old was a little confused that we won't be getting all the "stuff" that was in the model. An air hockey table may be in our future.

After we ran around the model (literally -- two staircases makes for good chases) and kicked around in our dirt, my 8-year-old suggested that we make this a Tuesday night ritual. Visit the lot each Tuesday night. Sounded like a plan to me!

So it's Tuesday and we went to our lot tonight. Our build isn't supposed to start until late May, so it's the same as last week. But it's fun to see the progress on the others. The Waverly next door to us is nearly done; framing is up on a Victoria Falls up the street and the Jefferson on the cul de sac is getting brick.

For now, this is our dirt:

Sold! Our lot actually starts at the green box and goes to the right.

Sideview of our lot. 

Friday, April 20, 2012


Oh, Guardian. So many fancy things, so amazingly overpriced.

This might be the one area where we did a half-way decent job of containing ourselves. Our sales rep was very nice and didn't do a hard sell, but he did try to convince us that a home theater system would really improve our lives (and we'd lose 10 lbs and look 10 years younger too!)

But in the end, we considered the following: my husband is a former IT guy, my father is an electrical contractor. And, we're not finishing our basement. So additional wiring, if we want to add anything, could be added pretty easily, and much more cost-effectively.

What we got: basic up/down wiring (components below the TV) for two mounted flat-screens (family room and sitting room), 2 extra cable outlets, and 2 extra data ports (mostly we'll count on wi-fi).

And, we did go for the security system. I've never had one and never had an issue (we're moving 5 miles away to a quieter neighborhood), but still we decided to try it for a year. Guardian is installing for free since we signed a 1-year contract. I'll be interested to see if we keep the service active after that.

Anyone already have security systems and love (or hate) them?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Floor it

When we went to our local flooring place to pick out our selections, we thought, "How hard could this be?" I mean we know what we like, we have a rough idea of our budget and we are willing to consider cheaper alternatives (engineered wood, etc).


By the time we left there, everything including our budget was out the window (and yes, this explains the "number crunching entry below"). And yet, we were happy as clams.


We wanted hardwood and dark hardwood. There were not a ton of great dark options. We actually liked some of the hand-scraped wide-plank engineered wood, but they turned out to be just as expensive as a level 3 hardwood. Our flooring rep also steered us more toward the real wood -- good options for refinishing etc. As we were debating colors and size, she pulled out a non-standard option that she could do for the same price as a level 3 RH pick. It's Mahogany. It's wide and there's a lot of variation in the color of the boards (which we loved). The hardwood will go in the foyer, kitchen and morning room.

Samoan Mahogany Latte 3 5/8 (plus the dark oak stain for our railings)
Carpet was actually an easier pick. We went neutral and did the whole house in the same color -- Bare Mineral. I do hate the feel of cheap carpeting, and once we put this in, I want it to last. So we did the level 3 carpeting, as well as the #6 pad. We sprung for the #8 in the family room.

Bare Mineral carpet with our hardwood

The Tile

Confession: I don't really like beige tile.

After spending so much time looking at fantastic and hip kitchens and baths on, I was disappointed with RH tile choices. We looked at all the tile. All the beige stone tile. Saw stuff that was just OK, but nothing that really spoke to us. We were on the verge of not upgrading anything and agreeing to rip it all out later, when the sales rep told us to follow her. She took us out of the little RH back room and into the showroom. We totally went off the reservation.

For the "luxury bath", we went with Naveli Carrara floor tile (it looks like Carrara marble but it's porcelain) and white subway tile for the walls. The accent tile is black and pewter glass tile with a bamboo pattern in it. We went with the espresso vanity and meteorite granite in there.

Master Bath floor tile

All the components together - Our glass tile is the black and pewter one

Love it

Since we blew the bank on the luxury bath, the other bathrooms did get upgraded, but not quite so lavishly - Toasted Almond Travata tile, with the Andover Square vanity and wheat granite tops. Not my favorite, but it's livable and I'm sure the kids could care less.

Stuck with laminate in one spot: The extended laundry. With two boys, I wanted an easy-to-wipe-up mudroom.

I can't really say enough great stuff about our flooring rep. She turned what could have been a disappointing trip into a fantastic experience. I can not wait to soak in the big tub and look at that glass tile!

Number crunching

Well, we heard back from our NVR person today. After reading about some others' less-than-fantastic experiences with NVR reps, I feel very lucky. He was responsive and extremely helpful. He even put together multiple cost estimate sheets so we could see what would happen to our monthly payment if we cut some of our selections.

After some serious budgeting at home tonight, we realized that we don't need to cut anything -- hooray! Well, not from the house. We do need to start eating out a lot less. And that might be better for the waistline and the wallet.

That's not to say there weren't things that never made it into the selections in the first place. If I had unlimited funds, we would be getting the fancy oak stairs, hardwood on the whole first floor and I would somehow convince RH to do a full front porch on this elevation (talk about a non-standard option). But all-in-all it's pretty darn close to my dream house.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Selections (part 1 of many)

Since we've had this in the works for weeks before we could actually pull the trigger, we had already gone through and made most of our selections. I sat down tonight intending to jot them all down in a separate tab for this blog. Well, 2 hours later and I've only made a dent. There are soooo many selections that you have to make. It makes me thankful that we aren't building a custom home. I can only imagine how intense that must be.

A few notes on the selections I did manage to recount:

After seeing the model, we knew we wanted the Waverly. And my husband quickly fell in love with a lot where we can have a walk-out basement. Our community is a small one -- just 24 RHs, plus 13 more from another builder. It's one long street that winds around a hill (plus two extra cul-de-sacs). Most houses either have hills going up in their backyard, or slope down in the back. Even though we're waiting to finish the basement ourselves later, we couldn't resist the walk-out. My husband loves to do woodworking, so we're also going to turn the basement media room into a wood shop -- with a service door and extra laundry tub.

Other basic upgrades: The morning room and extended laundry were musts for me, and we also loved the luxury master option. We did debate a good bit on the bonus room. In the end, we decided that the extra space for guests, and additional office/den space, was worth it.

Despite the fact that they're not all listed here yet, we have made the selections. BUT (isn't there always a but?), we did come in a few $$$$ more than I had anticipated. It all adds up so quickly! I'm waiting to get the final mortgage numbers back from NVR to see if we can pull this off, but trying to brace myself in case we need to make a few cutbacks.

Is there anything that you had planned on for your home that you had to give up because of cost? Still happy with those decisions?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pulling the trigger

We're doing it: building a new home ... and blogging!

This (the home, not the blog) has actually been a few months in the making. My husband and I married a year ago, and he moved in with me and the kids. We love my old house, but we decided to put it on the market in February and look for a place that is ours together.

Must admit, I had previously been pretty snotty about "new development," but I randomly popped in to the model in what will soon be our new community and absolutely fell in love. Two steps out of the extended laundry and in to the gourmet kitchen, and I was totally sold on the Waverly. I dragged my husband up a few days later, and he fell just as hard (thank goodness)!

And then we waited.

We had to sell our current home before we could move forward. It only took seven weeks to get it under contract, but they may have been the longest seven weeks ever. (Cleaning, showing, cleaning, showing, cleaning, showing ...)

So finally we're under contract, the sold sticker is on our lot and we're ready to move forward!

We're looking forward to having an outlet to share our experiences, and get plenty of feedback and advice from the RH blogger community.