Thursday, May 31, 2012

And we're off!

Just returned from the Pre-Construction meeting. And the build has begun. SO PUMPED!

Overall, great meeting. Our PM seems accommodating, as well communicative and upfront. He encouraged emails or phone calls. Highlights:

-- We now have a delivery date: Sept. 20. A week or two later than I was expecting, but our SR had just given us an early September time frame. Oh well. Happy to have a date.
-- We're getting pilings! Our PM did some test drilling earlier in the week, and wasn't crazy about what he was seeing. So they're bringing out the drilling equipment next week (sorry neighbors). But at least we know this house will go nowhere. And this reminds me of what I love about RH: Extra cost to us for the engineer, the drilling, the pilings, etc -- ZILCH.
-- Went over the blue prints and our selections list. Everything was correct. PM had several good suggestions (like where's the cable in the bedroom going, and do you want me to put a plug there?). We got the carriage lights for the side-entry garage also switched by the front door, and he's laying pipe under the sidewalk and driveway.
-- We walked away with the contact info for the pavers (to get a wider driveway) and the electrician (to get those basement-to-attic pipes).
-- Super pleased with the PM's level of detail already.
-- And, they've started excavating and grading. After the meeting we walked the lot and (of course) took pics:

Standing in what will be our driveway.

Looking up from the back corner. You can see the yard slope. 

The lot across the street just got staked.

That little jut-out in the dirt wall is just about where our front door will be.

And they rolled out the black carpet for me ;) Actually no clue what that was about. But good side view of the neighbor's house, also a Waverly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Where bluebirds fly

Drove up to the dirt tonight and saw this:

Other than the rainbow, not too much to report. Blueprints are supposedly in. After many nagging phone calls to our SRs and a stop-in, we finally have a pre-construction meeting set for Thursday. Not sure why this has been so difficult to accomplish. Fingers crossed that it actually happens Thursday and we get started. (Diggers are sitting on the lots ready to go and mocking us.)

So, what have we been doing with ourselves while we wait? First we've been exploring every RH development in the greater Pittsburgh area. We're like RH crack addicts. Well, perhaps dorky bird watchers is a better analogy. It's not so much pre-planned, as the excitement of spotting the RH sales signs and finding a new development. Which leads to the "what model do you think that is?" game. "Is that a Yorkshire?" "Nope, Jefferson, look at that roofline by the garage." (Now auditioning for boringest reality TV show ever ...)

And we've started appliance shopping. Not actual shopping, but we went browsing over the weekend to see what we might like. It's fun to shop when you're not looking at price tags. Which is probably why we both totally fell in love with this:

Samsung 32 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator
Because you know (goes my rationale) we will have 2 teenage boys in this house. We'll NEED the big fridge. I'm not even sure it will fit, but how fun. Plus I do really like how slim the ice maker is inside.

So, any fridge recommendations out there?

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Old house closing ... check! Equity in bank account ... check! Final deposit given to Ryan ... check! Pre-construction meeting scheduled .... well ...

Yup, still waiting on that last part. But everything else today has gone swimmingly. Our regular SR was off today, so we had the alternate. The good news is that we are on the build schedule for next week. Blue prints are in. And now we're just waiting for a call back from our PM (Bill) on when this meeting will be. Although, it may be next Wednesday. Damn you holiday weekend! <shakes fist in air>

But, when we visited the dirt today, we did see a great surprise ... stakes! There's so much construction going on on the street, I didn't quite get back far enough to get the full view of the lot. But some pics:

We're one of the later builds on our street, so we've been the dumping ground for other stuff. Here : mulch.

Stake on the right is the garage corner (we think).


Dirt from a different angle ... oooooooooo ;)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Twiddles thumbs

I'm really horribly impatient. We close on the old house tomorrow -- yea! (Is it appropriate to ask for our equity in small bills so I can roll around in it?) We're supposedly on the build schedule for next week, but .... no pre-construction meeting yet. Need to pop in our our SR tomorrow and see what the scoop is (perhaps the big final deposit check will help). Frankly he should be glad he didn't give me his cell, because I'd be tempted to text him right now and find out.

In the meantime, the husband and I found some cool pendant lights that we both actually like ... a lot! Finding pendant lights (that we will install ourselves six months from now when our house is done and we've moved in) have become this week's obsession.

From: RailroadWare

Itching to get this build started ... and then to make this house our home!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Commence compression

We've almost crossed the finish line. Part 1 of our 2-part move complete. We just spent the first night in our rental townhouse. We've got a few things to bring over and clean up at the old house, but then the movers come back on Monday to move the rest of our stuff to storage.

The husband noted that this is a little like Frank Lloyd Wright's compression/expansion practice. (Wright likes to take you through a narrow space and then release you into a large room.) Fitting analogy since we've gone from a 2800 sqft house to a 900 sqft townhouse, then will burst out to the 3900 sqft of finished space in the new house (unfinished basement not included). Also fitting, because we got engaged at Falling Water. =)

There is something very first apartment post-college about this teeny townhouse. Maybe it's the fact that the living room, dining room and kitchen are all one space. Or maybe it's the well-worn carpets or the brown (yes brown) sponge paint. It's amazing what seems perfectly fine when you know you're only going to be dealing with it a few months. Life is an adventure. Wonder where I can buy some milk crates?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A 'man cave' for the couch averse

A guest post from the husband: 

Big Dreams, a walk out basement and a woodshop with a separate door.

I’m a pretty hyper person that likes to tinker and build things.  A problem solver that likes things like tools and gadgets. To see them in use and to break then down and build them back up.  Building, breaking, refining and creating - brings a sense of peace to me whether I learn how something works or I’ve just created something from scratch that has a use.  I rarely read the instruction manuals for things.  Not because I think I know how to build it better but because my mind tends to see how things fit together “automagicly.”  Also, I get so amped up about building something that I start into assembly and get ½ way through before I think about pulling them out.  This tinkering/problem solving ability led me to a career in IT.  

Anyway, because of all this, I’ve always wanted a workshop.  One where I could create little projects for myself to keep my brain occupied. A “man cave” for the couch averse.  As we move forward with our Waverly, the one with the unfinished basement with the extra service door, my dreams will come true.  I’ll get to build a workshop that is roughly 19’ x 25’.  It will have its own service door so I can bring in equipment from the outside and not track it over the wife’s new carpet.  It has its own mud sink, so I don’t need to go upstairs or even use the future basement bathroom.  A house for lawn equipment, woodworking tools, power tools, benches and shelves…. Yes boys, this will be my wonderland. 

In the build out, I’m planning on adding sound-deadening insulation to the ceiling and the separating wall (as it’s right below the family room). I’ll also add a blowout vent for a future dust collection system to keep it as clean as possible. Thankfully my father-in-law is an electrical contractor and loves this idea (also thankful that he seems to like me). So,  he’ll assist with running all the new electrical that I’ll need for bench plugs, power tools, shop lights and the lot.  

Sound Solutions

Dedicated Collection Vacuum

Tool Storage

Do any of you guys out there have any recommendations?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Old House Nostalgia

In four days, we move to our rental. In 10, we close on the sale of this old house.

To the house, I was just a blip. Just six years of the 120 it's seen. But to me, it's been quite a chapter.

I had my second baby in this house, battled the baby blues, got a big promotion, saw my marriage dissolve, found myself in a whirlwind romance, got married, and built a life as a blended family. This house saw it all. I potty trained two boys here, saw them both crack their heads open, hosted holidays and dinner parties, practiced baseball in the backyard and painted the bedroom as our first married project.

I've shed more tears in the shower, spent more time leaning wistfully against the door casings, and done more laps chasing little feet on these hardwood floors.

Thank you old house. I leave you a stronger, wiser, happier woman. And I hope that your next chapter echoes with as much laughter but, perhaps, a few less tears. I know my next chapter will, as well.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


After reading so many blog entries about problems with NVR, I'm almost embarrassed to say we've been really pleased with them so far (knock on wood!). Our agent has been fantastic ... and frankly so are our SRs. Feeling very lucky.

I've read several entries about people who were missing paperwork, etc. Our agent sent us the following list of stuff we needed to bring to our very first meeting with him, and it made everything go smoothly. From my experience with other mortgage companies (new mortgages and refinance), it looks like a pretty standard list. Since there seems to be a lack of communication with some agents, I thought I'd share it:

1. Last 2 months bank statements (all pages). Please document all large deposits.
2. Last 2 years tax returns and W-2's or 1099 statements.
3. Last 2 paystubs
4. Copy of listing agreement on current home (if applicable) or a fully executed sales contract if your current home is under agreement
5. Most recent statement for any asset account (ie retirement account, stocks, etc)
6. If you are renting, landlord name, address and #
7. If recently married or divorced, a copy of the marriage license/divorce decree
8. If you pay out or receive child support or alimony, copies of the support/court order
9. If you are starting a new job, a copy of the offer letter
10. If you are receiving a relocation package, copy of what you are receiving
11. Copy of your driver's license
12. Copy of your green card, if applicable
13. Copy of your social security card
14. If you have filed for bankruptcy in the last 7 years, copy of all bankruptcy paperwork
15. If you currently own a home and escrow taxes and insurance, need payment book to show escrow is included in payment
16. If you currently own a home and pay your own taxes and insurance, copies of tax and insurance bills
17. Check to mortgage company to cover appraisal and credit report costs

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday excitement

I figured I probably should balance out yesterday's whine about stuff I wish I had, with a more positive post. Plus, we're throwing a kids party today for our now 5-year-old (5 is awesome!), so I thought I'd channel that happy energy.

This will be my 3rd house, and my first new construction. We currently live in a 120 year old Dutch colonial. Before that, I had a 1940s Cape Cod. With that in mind, here's some of the things I'm most excited about in the new house:

- Insulation! Current home has zero insulation on the first and second floors. Brrrr.
- New windows! I'm sure my SRs think I'm crazy, 'cause I practically pet the windows in the model. Ones in the current house are original. I'm looking forward to laying in bed at night and not feeling a breeze blowing across my face.
- A master bath! Right now we've got a bathroom per floor, which means we share a small bathroom with two kids.
- My own sink and vanity! With our bath upgrade we'll have to separate vanities in the master bath. Already decided mine will be the one you can see when you enter the bedroom. Because one of us likes to put away her stuff after she's gotten ready ...
- A family room! We use our living room like a family room now, but I'm psyched to have a modern layout with a family room off the kitchen.
- Space to entertain! I'm already planning the house warming party (in my head). So much space to host parties.
- Mud room! We got the extended laundry, and I can already hear myself screaming, "Don't you dare put a foot in this house! Leave those dirty shoes and clothes in the mud room!"
- Garage! Garage! Garage! Somehow I'm in my mid-30s and have never had a garage. Not at rentals, not in either of the other houses I've owned. Closest I've gotten was a driveway and a shed at the Cape Cod. Current house doesn't even have those. No more being plowed in and no more early morning window scraping!

Happy Saturday. In the words of our 5-year-old: "Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Booty shake!"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Druthers

We're still packing and still waiting for construction to start. In the meantime, I've been reading all of the other building blogs and thinking a lot about our options, our floorplan and the house in general.

Don't get me wrong, we are building our dream home, or as close to it as we can get right now. But there are little things that I might change if I could.

So, my druthers (if RH would do it and I could afford it):

- Luxury shower: You know, multi-head with a rain shower and even steam. Like this fancy shower.

- Slightly larger study: I telecommute full time, so I live in that office. My husband and I talked about making the bonus room my office, but I really like the location and light of the study. If I could have a just 2 or 3 more feet.

- A true chef's kitchen: The fancy professional stove, the sub-zero freezer, etc. Apparently RH does offer a professional kitchen upgrade in some areas (so jealous BD!).

- Jack-and-jill bathroom between two comparably sized rooms. The j-and-j offering in the Waverly is between the smallest of the bedrooms and the middle one. Didn't seem fair to one of the kids. So, we're sticking with a hall bath and the kids get rooms almost the same size. (Now accepting bets on when they get out the tape measure.)

- Full front porch. With a porch swing.

Not a terribly long list, so I guess we're doing pretty darn good.

What would you get if you had your druthers?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I've decided packing is like child birth. There's some magic hormone that makes you forget how much it absolutely flipping sucks. There has to be, otherwise no one would ever do it again.

We're about a week into packing for our move into our teeny tiny summer rental. We're up to our eyeballs in boxes, and trying to sort out what's going to our rental and what's going to storage. There's an immense pile of garbage outside of stuff we've purged. And, in addition to people stopping by to pick up the broken 8-year-old umbrella stroller, my husband caught someone actually digging through our garbage can the other day (because yes, that's where we pitched the gold bullion).

Six years ago I moved back to western Pa. from Virginia, and I got a partial pack (the movers did the kitchen and other breakables). I swore then that if I ever moved again (and of course, I was never going to), I would spring for the full pack.

Well, here I am six years later, now with two kids instead of one, and lots lots more crap. And, foolishly I decided the packing was too much money.

I think I'm taking a cue from Nick of "New Girl" and make a video to my future self with the follow advice:

"Dear future self,
You are not allowed to move again unless you have enough money to:
a. Have someone pack absolutely all of your stuff. That includes grandma's punch bowl and the kids keepsakes that you classily keep in a Yuengling box.
b. Sell the house fully furnished as if you are some billionaire on "Million Dollar Listing," allowing you to abandon all your possessions and start over again. The kids will live without keepsakes. "

Clearly packing has already caused brain damage. Two weeks until move 1, three weeks until closing on the old house and four weeks until construction begins.