Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Permit Update - but STILL no approval

I called the county permit office again and the engineering department finally supplied the required information (on Friday 2/22).  Now that just needs to be reviewed and the entire packet sent to a supervisor for final permit approval.  No word as to when this might happen though.  How about today, that would be good ;)... 

My SR said it would take about a week or so to be put on the start schedule after Ryan gets word of the permit approval.

Well, at least this gives me an opportunity to practice having patience.  I guess someone thought this is something I lacked. LOL.

The other thing that burns me a little is that our future next door neighbor's permit was submitted to the county on 2/19 (27 days after ours) and they have their approval already.  Seriously???

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Building permit delay

Dear Charles County "Engineering Department": You are not on the nice list.  Please get your act together and submit the required information so our building permit can be approved.  You have only been asked for it three times.  It is not that difficult, really it's not.  Thank you. :)

Our building permit application was received by the county on 1/23.  There are a few departments that need to give approvals for the permit to be issued.  Well, every other department has done their part (most did within the first week).  But the engineering department is still outstanding.  I made a call yesterday to try and find out why the permit has not been issued. I found out that there was an issue with the proposed grading and that the engineering department needs to provide some additional information (info on adjoining lots so they can determine everything is going to work together).  They have been asked three times to provide the information and still have not done so.

Out of curiosity, I looked at other recent permits for my neighborhood and it generally takes less than 20 days to issue the permits - some even take just a week. Little annoying that ours had to be the one to take so long and actually delay the start...

We had been told we were were supposed to break ground on 2/25 but with no permit yet, and it being this late in the week, it's not looking like it will happen.  BOO!

My camera is charged and ready to go and I have old shoes in my car for my trips to the site.  I guess for now I will continue to admire my orange and blue topped stakes =)   Wonder if they will let me keep them to use to make a wall art piece for the garage (just kidding)...

Monday, February 18, 2013

New appliances!

Earlier today, I went to h.h. gregg and took advantage of a pretty decent sale (plus the MD sales tax holiday and SMECO's (electric company) current rebates for Energy Star appliances) and bought our new refrigerator and washer/dryer.  This was the first time I'd even been into h.h. gregg and I was generally pleased with the prices, selection, and service I received.  I'm super happy and now I just need the home  to put these in!!

The refrigerator we chose is the Samsung 31.6 cu. ft. french door refrigerator.  It is big and beautiful.  This fridge received overall favorable reviews, and I think it's going to be great for our family.  Size-wise, it will fit nicely as far as height/width but it may stick out an inch or two more than I would like it to. Even so, once everything's in I don't think I'll notice it all that much.
Samsung RF323TEDBSR

For the washer/dryer we chose the top-loading LG 5170 set.  As I mentioned before, I've been really unhappy with my current front-loader and wanted to go with something different.  This washer has a lot of nice features, the dryer has a steam function and like the refrigerator, both are pretty highly rated.   Originally, I picked the white because I didn't want to pay the extra $$ just to get a different color, but when the sales rep heard me say I would have liked the color for something a little different, he gave me the color for the same price as the white :)



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bring on the boxes

Another sign this move is a reality - I'm packing my first box!  Hey, I have to do something to fill the time while waiting to break ground (not like I don't have a full time job, long commute, 2 kids and a home to take care of) :)

My (wonderful) mom found moving boxes on sale as Lowe's - .97 for the medium size.  This is better than I've seen anywhere, even in bundles on the internet.

We have a list of things to do to get our current home ready to put on the market for rent (so wish I could sell but that's another story).  Thankfully we can do most of the work but I need to hire a handyman to do a minor project or two.  I admit to being kind of daunted by what needs to be done and the relative short time we have to do it in.  Pitfalls of procrastination I guess.  The great thing is that with building new I will be able to move into my new home and only have the "fun" stuff to do.

As far as I know, I'm still scheduled to break ground 2/25.  I keep checking the county's permit inquiry site and there are 2 pending items (engineering department and soil conservation). I wonder if I need those approvals to begin?   I'm going to email PM on Monday just to check in and make sure we are still good to go.

I've got to go shopping for a refrigerator and washer/dryer this weekend.  I want to catch the President's Day sales because I think they are the best time to buy appliances other than Black Friday.  I was told by HHGregg that I could buy now and delay delivery until end of May/beginning of June.  The sales guy also said that they will price match within that time (but something does not sound right to me).  Anyway, I am looking at a couple of Samsung french door refrigerators (dang they are expensive-boo) and an LG top-load washer and dryer.  I know the top-load washers are not as highly rated but I've disliked my current front-loader with a passion so I don't know if I can go that route again....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reconsidering my granite selection at the last minute...

Ok, maybe it's just me being ridiculous, but I'm really nervous about my granite choice.  I think I may have done the wrong thing by picking Luna Pearl.  I'm going with the Maple Espresso cabinets; hopefully the kitchen won't be too dark and I'll be able to keep them clean :)

I've seen so many pretty Ryan kitchens with the Santa Cecilia granite so that was my first choice.  However when I went to to the carpet place, they had a counter top done in the Santa Cecilia that was an absolutely AWFUL color (and the new slab sample they had just received was pretty gross too)!  I've definitely never seen that variation of Santa Cecilia before.  The sales rep there (and at the tile place) confirmed that was more along the lines of what has been coming in lately.  So knowing that Ryan has not been very accommodating with some things, and that my SR had already basically told me there was no way I would be allowed to call the granite supplier and coordinate a visit to pick my own slab (why? I would do ALL the work - anyway), I ultimately decided the Luna Pearl would be a safer choice.   The problem is I've never seen more than a 3x3 sample in real life and there are not many good pictures online.  I'm wondering if there is a good reason not many people choose the Luna Pearl (some have started with that then changed).  I'm also worried my kitchen will be really cold feeling.

If I knew for sure I could get granite installed for less than I'm paying Ryan for it, then I would go that route, but there is a lot of counter top in that kitchen (almost 85 sq ft) and I really don't have any idea how much it would cost me.  Plus, I'm running very low as far as cash available to do upgrades.

Additionally, I'm thinking of having them leave the granite "backsplash" off, as I plan on doing a tile backsplash within the year and I'm worried that removing the granite may damage the wall.  Is it a good idea to leave this piece off and just leave a bare wall until I get my tile up?

I'm so close to breaking ground (yea! - come on Feb. 25th) so I'm sure I have to choose really soon.  Do I take a chance on the Santa Cecilia and hope I get a pretty version or do I go with the Luna Pearl??

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I called  NVR Mortgage this morning checking on our approval, and was told I'd have an answer "soon".  I was expecting to have to call later this week but to my surprise I got a call from the loan processor late this afternoon telling me we were APPROVED!

The processor didn't have any specifics, other than to say "we're good" and that I need to let her know when I file my 2012 taxes so she can order the transcripts.   I guess this is all I needed from NVRM until it comes time for rate lock/final approval and  closing "ok" but maybe I'll check in with my LO next week just to be sure.

Pre-construction summary

The pre-construction meeting went very well.  There was a lot covered in this meeting, beginning with a run-through of the actual build schedule of a typical Avalon.  This was very helpful to build a picture of the steps in my head.  Then we went through the blueprints in detail, confirming all of our options/selections; electrical plans, lot and grading plans, etc…  Finally we walked the lot, which was very difficult because it was a slippery, muddy mess; my feet kept sinking into the mud. But I was able to get a good idea of what it will look like.

I did get a little worried for a second.  PM brought up the agreement we signed limiting our access to the home to escorted only (boo).  Then he relieved my mind by telling us that he does not mind if we walk the house pretty much whenever we wanted.  The only thing he requested is that we not go in the dark and are careful to always follow common sense safety rules.  AWESOME!  This means I can feel free to stalk my home without fear of “getting in trouble”.   

At the end, he stated that he was very confident he could get the house done within the 90 day build time and it was more likely that any delays to closing would come from the NVR Mortgage side (especially the appraisal).  He advised me that as I get closer to the day that it would be important for me to continually (stressing continually) follow up with them to make sure things proceed as they need to.  I already had it in my mind that I was going to do this but hearing him strongly advise it just confirmed.  I’m sure he’s seen his share of NVR Mortgage delays and mess-ups. 

I didn’t feel rushed at all during the meeting and I got most of my questions answered.  The ones that were not were things that can be addressed later.

On the lot, there was some additional progress past the stakes.  Yesterday they cut the front curb and silt fence then made the rocky construction entrance.  More progress is always exciting. 

As of now, we are scheduled to break ground February 25th and the projected build time is 90 days.  The permits and loan approval are still pending and need to be done before breaking ground.  I can track the permits through the county’s website (yea), and NVR Mortgage has already gotten a call from me this morning J  Supposedly our loan is still in underwriting and we should hear something “soon”.  Ok, the application was put in on January 10th, and did not go to underwriting until sometime last week.  GRRR.  Not funny NVRM.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pre-construction Monday

Tomorrow is the next step in our journey - the pre-construction meeting.  I'll be meeting the PM for the first time and I admit to being very curious as to what he's going to be like.  I see so many stories of other Ryan PMs being super (and unfortunately some that are not as good); just hoping we luck out and have a good one.  They are building a lot of homes in my neighborhood right now, and are selling more, so he is a busy man.  That's ok - I'll be at the house every day enough to try and make sure nothing slips through :)

I've spent a lot of time doing my homework for this meeting and I have a lot of important questions written down to discuss.  I've also got a lot of detail-type questions, just to be sure I know exactly what I'm getting.  I'm hoping for a nice long meeting to get as much addressed as I can, but I'm sure a busy PM may not appreciate that very much :)

Any suggestions for the pre-construction meeting??

Friday, February 1, 2013

Surprise - Sticks!!!

Because I just couldn't help it, I drove by my lot today after work.  I wasn't expecting to see anything but to my surprise I have stakes!!!  Is it bad to say that was the highlight of my week?  :)

I couldn't step out on the lot because it was a muddy mess and I had heels on, but sitting there in my car it hit me: this is real - our house will be built here.  I CAN'T WAIT!

So I sat in my car with a big cheesy grin on my face (like a crazy person) taking pictures with my phone of dirt and wooden stakes.  I cringe to think of what my neighbors are going to think of me over the next couple of months.  Hopefully they will have been there and will understand.

Of course I could only guess at what all the stakes meant, but I think I figured some of it out.   I'm fairly certain the 4 blue-topped sticks on the front, right-hand side of the house show our garage.

Note to self:  put flip flops and camera in car - for the "unexpected" drive-bys.

I'm still super happy, but one thing did sink in.  This is a very small lot for the Avalon.  It's an odd shape - wider in the back than in the front and shorter on one side.  In fact, I'm not quite sure who decided it would be ok to allow this model on that lot, but they did.  Now, we did not want a lot of land and we knew the yard was going to be small but not this small; the backyard is nonexistent. In this case, we were definitely buying the house not the lot.  But I do have to admit to feeling some disappointment when I saw exactly how little surrounding land there actually is and more important, exactly how stinkin' close our house will be to the street :(.

If I could do it over, I would definitely had the SR or PM walk the lot with me to get a feeling for exactly how the house would sit on the lot before signing a contract.  I don't know if we could have changed our minds, as there was not really any other lot choice for an Avalon (except those nearer to the power lines with lot premiums), but I would have liked to have been prepared.  I hope it's not bad that I have any type of negative feelings about this, and like I said in my original lot choice post, I'm sure the wonderful house will make me overlook the lot shortcomings.

I noticed the lot next door has now been sold.  This is great because it means their heavy (messy) construction will be done by the time we move in.  The SR said they are building a Victoria Falls, I wonder what elevation it will be?