Monday, May 14, 2012

Can It Get Any Worse?

We have run into one problem after another throughout this process.  Either, we have been very unlucky or these problems are occurring across the board to everyone.  I just cannot imagine that anyone has experienced the number of problems that we have. 

When I started this blog, we had already been dealing with Ryan Homes for 3 months.  I did not even go into those 3 months, because I was trying to get off to a fresh start and move forward.  When I get the energy to blog about the unacceptable problems that we have been dealing with (especially the one today that might cause this entire deal to fall through), I will.  In the meantime, let's just say that my husband and I are two very dissatisfied customers.   This is our 3rd home purchase and I am a realtor and I have never experienced this number of problems with a home sale.  I do have to say that my sales rep is a pleasure to work with and she has tried her best to keep me positive throughout this process, but my patience and nerves are wearing very thin.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Few Colors Down, A Few to Go!

Most of our colors have been finalized.  Here is what we have chosen so far...

They are all starting to look the same!
My mom
Kitchen... maybe

Cherry Floor against FP
Master Bathroom
Narrowing it down

Hazelnut Cabinet - My dream kitchen
The 2nd and 3rd bathrooms upstairs
Semi-Final selections minus shag carpet

We originally chose the pictured shag carpet for the basement, but we are changing it to berber tomorrow.  Dina at CTI (Creative Touch Interiors) was very accommodating.  We love the look and feel of the shag, but I think it would be more suitable in a family room, not an entire basement.  I always think back to a story my mother told me about the shag carpet that her and my father had in the 70's.  She said that my father dropped a toothpick in the carpet and they could not find it.  Losing things in my carpet, especially in a large area like the basement, does not go over well with me!  We have berber in our current basement, so we were just looking for a change.  I read stories about shag carpet matting down in high traffic areas.  The shag we had picked out was only a level 2 and had the same durability rating as level 1.  Our berber carpet in our current basement still looks brand new, so we'll just stick with berber. 

In my opinion, the pictured ceramic tile for the kitchen does not go well with Santa Cecilia granite if we end up getting a yellow batch.  My mom and I could see red in the ceramic tile, but the person helping us said that it was brown.  The pictures do not represent the true colors very well.  I called M&R Floors on Tuesday to see if I could get an appointment with a designer (if they had hired one yet).  I explained my concerns about the color and the lady that answered the phone said that the tile I chose does have red in it.  Ugghhh... I knew it!  When I told her who helped me, she suddenly changed her story and said that there are many colors in that tile and that everyone sees it differently.  I told her that my appointment with CTI went much better.  She asked me how so and became very unfriendly.  She said that the guy who helped me was the general manager and that I should appreciate him taking his time out to come in on a weekend to assist me during my appointment.  Wait a minute, I scheduled my weekend appointment over a month ago and the fact that their salesperson decided to quit right before my appointment was not my problem.  She said that she would call me back the next day and to no surprise... she did not.

The tile that I chose is a level C and it is over $2,000 more than the level A ceramic tile, so I want it to match and look good.  Or why bother upgrading?  According to my price sheet from RH, it is $2,000, but according to my M&R Floors it is $2,300.  Hopefully, that will be an easy battle since I have documentation! In the meantime, I have been in contact with Datile via their Twitter page.  They said that their product team will help me find a color that goes well with Santa Cecilia granite.     

I hope that the custom request order for hazelnut cabinets is honored, so I can run hardwood into the kitchen and not have to worry about ceramic tile or which batch of granite I am going to get.  As you can see, the ceramic tile company had the Timberlake Rushmore Painted Maple Hazelnut Glaze cabinets.  I looked at that combination and loved it without any hesitation!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ryan Homes + Social Media

Have you been to lately?  If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of their page, you will find their social media links that I have pictured below. 

I would have added the links to the top of the page where they can be viewed without having to scroll down.  I always stopped in the middle of the page to click on the "Find a New Home" link.  I did not realize until recently that they had joined the world of social media.  They have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ account, YouTube Channel, Pinterest account and even a blog!  As far as communicating with their audience goes, they are doing a great job so far.  They are very responsive.  

I have been very heavily involved in social media for the past few years and I have worked with quite a few major companies on social media campaigns.  I would love to get behind the scenes and see how Ryan Homes is utilizing the information that they are collecting from their social media outlets.  Are decisions and changes being made on the spot or is the information being compiled for use at a later time?     

Ryan Homes is known for their beautifully decorated models.  I have never walked into a Ryan Homes' model that I did not love.  They spend a lot of money on decorating their model homes.  It makes it much easier for potential RH homeowners to choose colors and upgrades based on the combinations that they see in the models.  Ryan Homes should consider creating boards on Pinterest that feature all of their model homes like Stanley Martin has done here.  For the past few weeks, I have been relying heavily on my fellow RH bloggers for color combinations.   Recently, I found a few "Featured Community of the Week" posts with pictures on their Facebook page that have been helpful.

What would you like to see Ryan Homes do with their social media sites or information collected from these outlets?  Has anyone had any issues resolved or seen any suggestions implemented as a result of posting them on their blog?  What have you found most useful on their social media sites?

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Pre-Construction & Tips

On a good note... our pre-construction meeting is scheduled on Monday, May 14th.  We have a few decisions to wrap up before then regarding extra outlets and extra windows.    

Here are a few great tips that I read about on other Ryan Homes' blogs:
  •  Have an outlet installed in the kitchen cabinets for under cabinet lighting
  •  Add extra recessed lights that line up with the island and replace with pendant lights after settlement or change the placement of the recessed lights that are included
  •  Add an outlet in the master closet or laundry room for an iron
  •  Add an outlet halfway up the staircase for a vacuum or night light
  •  Add an extra hose bib on the side of the house for sprinkler, especially if you have a side load garage... for washing your car.
  •  Add a kill switch at the top of the basement stairs that turns off all of the basement lights (especially for those with kids)
  •  Add a light switch for the outdoor garage lights at the front door (3-way switch - 1 at front door and 1 in the garage (both control garage lights))
  •  Add an extra outlet in the garage for a refrigerator
  •  Add a floor drain in the garage
  •  Run a PVC pipe under your sidewalk or driveway for electrical wires for future post lamps or dog fences
  • Move the location of the doors to the unfinished areas in the basement
Please post any other tips that you can think of in the comment section below.  

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Still Waiting & Loan Approval

As you can see, our lot has gone from brown to green over the last few months.  We hope to see some action very soon.  

I had an unexpected call from the loan processor today stating that our loan had not been approved yet, because our file was not complete.  Keep in mind that we were told by Ryan Homes two weeks ago that we had been approved for construction to start and that construction was being held up due to the permit process.  We had not heard from the NVR Mortgage since March, so we thought everything was going smoothly, especially considering our communication with Ryan Homes.  

When the NVR processor called me today, she said that there was documentation, such as Social Security cards, Driver's Licenses, W-2's and our 2011 Taxes missing from our file.  I asked her if our loan had been approved and she told me that it had not been approved yet.  With this being said, my husband and I were in shock and asking ourselves a lot of questions.  Why was Ryan Homes telling us that our loan had been approved and now NVR is telling us that it had not been approved yet?  Was this deal going to fall through a month into construction?  Why wasn't this documentation collected a month or two ago?  Why have we not heard from NVR Mortgage since March?  What's next?

After a few e-mails and phone calls, we were able to get to the bottom of it.  To make a long story short, there is an approval in place for construction to start.  During the underwriting process (which I was told that we had already went through) the processor noticed that our file was not complete and is now collecting documents from us to get the official approval.  If everything was done properly, these documents would have been collected from us from the beginning and we would have been kept in the loop by NVR.  That would have prevented the confusion today that left us wondering why we were being told two different stories by Ryan Homes and NVR Mortgage.

If it were not for the closing assistance that Ryan Homes offers for using their preferred lender, we would have used BB&T from the beginning.  We processed our last two loans with them and it could not have went any smoother.  

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Trying to Recreate this Dream Kitchen with Ryan Homes

This is my dream kitchen, BUT it is a Richmond Homes' kitchen.  I fell in love with it in a model near my home.  I went back and forth from their model to the Ryan model to view samples, to another Ryan Home under construction with white cabinets, to Lowes to view different cabinets and then finally to Timberlake Cabinetry's website (Ryan Homes cabinet manufacturer).  The cabinets offered by Ryan Homes, Rushmore Painted Maple Butterscotch Glaze, did not have the same warm rich feeling that the cabinets pictured did.  After my many trips from place to place, I realized that the Richmond American Homes'  kitchen had a Hazelnut glaze (brown) and the Ryan Home had a Butterscotch (yellow/orange) glaze.  It makes a world of difference!

I went to Timberlake Cabinetry's website and was thrilled to find out that the Rushmore Painted Maple cabinets are also offered in a Hazelnut glaze.  I submitted a custom order request for the Hazelnut glaze with Ryan Homes.  Ryan's white cabinet choice is very expensive ($6,690) as it is, so I hope they are able to offer the Rushmore Painted Maple Hazelnut Glaze cabinets for the same price, considering they are from the same exact line as the Rushmore Painted Maple Butterscotch Glaze.  I hope to know something this week.

Click on the image to enlarge

In the meantime, I had my meeting at M&R Floors to pick out ceramic tile for my backup option of Espresso cabinets (that I'm not 100% sold on).  It was my unlucky day.  The designer that has worked there for many years resigned from her job a day or two before my appointment... the appointment that I waited over a month for!  I had to meet with someone else from another department that was just filling in for the day.  The showroom was small, the lightning was bright (track spot lights hanging from a low ceiling) and most of the ceramic tile that was displayed on the showroom floors was outdated and no longer available.  My mom accompanied me on this trip while my husband coached our son's flag football game.  At one point we had about 10-15 ceramic tiles laying on the floor (with the outdated tile floors laying beneath as a backdrop) and it become overwhelming.  I ended up upgrading to a level C, but did not know if it really matched the granite that we picked out.  Our time was up and we left there feeling uneasy about the choice for the ceramic tile in the kitchen.  I am going to call M&R Floors this week to see if I can come back in and meet with a designer.

If the Hazelnut cabinets get approved at the same price as the Butterscotch cabinets, then I can just proceed with wood floors in the kitchen and save myself a trip to back to the ceramic tile design center. 

I met with CTI later that evening and had a completely different experience.  The showroom was just I would imagine a flooring showroom to be.  Our salesperson was very organized and knowledgeable.  Our appointment with her was perfect!  I wish that we could have picked out our ceramic tile at CTI.  Ryan Homes should really consider sending their DC Metro area customers to one location to pick out all of their flooring.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wood Floor Options - Colors?

We're going to have Bruce hardwood floors in our foyer, dining room, living room, office and family room.  That's quite a bit, so I want to love the wood floor color!  The only problem is that I am not in love with any of my options, so I have the pick the best out the the 3 following wood floor choices.  As you see, our current floors are similar to the Gunstock option.  I really liked the Cherry floors, but they are a little dark.  I didn't like the Saddle (brown) option, but the brown does not look so bad in the pictures.  I'm trying to stay away from Gunstock, because it is basically the same color as our current hardwood floors that we have had for 9 years.  Decisions, decisions, decisions!  

Clockwise, starting with the left: Saddle (brown), Gunstock (yellow) and Cherry (red)

Gunstock, Cherry & Saddle next to my Office furniture

Gunstock & Cherry in my Foyer

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The Beginning Stages - The Options are Adding Up!

I scribbled all over the floorplans for the Avalon in the beginning stages of our search for the perfect home.  We knew what we wanted, but it was adding up quickly (and is till adding up!)!  I carried this floorplan around with me for months as we went back and forth between layouts and options.  This paper floorplan ended up falling apart from being opened and closed so many times!

I learned recently that the option prices vary from region to region.  After reading many of the other Ryan Homeowner blogs, it looks like our options are at the high end compared to other areas.  How do some of these prices compare to the prices in your Ryan Homes' region?

Ryan Homes Avalon - Front
Ryan Homes Avalon - First Floor

Ryan Homes Avalon - Second Floor

Ryan Homes Avalon- Basement

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Here's Our Lot

I took these pictures at the end of January and it still looks pretty much the same, maybe a little greener!  We are still patiently waiting for Ryan Homes to break ground.  They are scheduled to break ground on May 14, 2012.  I'll be there with my camera!

Our 1 Acre Lot

Our neighbor to the right (from the road)... another Avalon
We have about 1 more week to finalize our colors.  If you are building a Ryan Home and have a blog, please share it below in the comment section.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cabinet Choices - Beware!

I just found out that the Maple Espresso Timberlake cabinets that we are being charged over $4,000 more for have veneer doors.  To go with the solid hardwood doors, we have to change our color choice.  The solid hardwood cabinets only cost $600 more, but the color choices are very limited.  If you are purchasing a Ryan Home, please be aware that all of the Timberlake cabinets are not solid hardwood.

Here is the manufacturer's website with a breakdown of the collections that are offered by Ryan Homes: 

Veneer Cabinet Doors
  • Scottsdale Maple Cognac
  • Scottsdale Maple Espresso
  • Tahoe Cherry Bordeaux
Solid Wood Cabinet Doors
  • Wyoming Cherry Bordeaux
  • Wyoming Cherry Spice
  • Rushmore Maple Glaze Butterscotch
Considering this, I am starting to lean towards the Wyoming Cherry Spice cabinets.  I feel like I am getting a much better deal for just $600 more.  I already took the dive for $4,000, what's $600 more?!!!  I was sold on the Espresso cabinets for a while, but I am worried that I will get tired of them quickly.  I also heard that they show scratches, smudges and dust.  Ryan Home Buyers, please give me feedback on your color selection and/or experience with your cabinets.   

I have a custom order request in with our sales rep to see if we can get another color that is offered by Timberlake in one of the solid wood categories.  I am requesting the Timberlake - Wyoming Cherry Chocolate Glaze cabinets.  Has anyone ordered pendant lights over their island?  If so, how much did they charge you?

I would ask my sales rep, but a new rule was just implemented in my region last week... there is a $500 for any custom change request.  We will be charged $500 on our HUD1 for any custom price requests, whether they are accepted or rejected by Ryan Homes.   UPDATE: My sales rep clarified the new rule for me... We have to pay $500 for any custom change request and that $500 will be credited back to us on our HUD1 at settlement.

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