Our lot

Our lot

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We have stakes!

 Here's our lot and all of the stakes!

This is the front porch/overhang/step area right before the front door

The back of the house/morning room

The back of our house stake and Dan is at the back of our yard/property line area.

New neighbors!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God,
Psalm 103:1-2

The day we've been waiting for is here!  After many prayers we finally heard back from NVR on our underwriting process!  And it was GOOD NEWS!!! 

When we started this process, we struggled on what was the right decision.  We thought it seemed like this house was where we should be but it just seemed too good to be true and we didn't want to do anything too soon or that wasn't a good idea financially.    It has been right before Lent and during lent we decided to read "The Word Among Us" (a daily devotional) daily.  Dan's Mom had just grabbed one of her old copies and we had been reading out of it.  It's funny because so many days the devotional was about Moses and about God telling him to go to the "Promise Land".  The land flowing with milk and honey.  And Moses of course kept saying no and thinking of excuses.  It just didn't seem possible that the Pharaoh would listen to him!  This really resonated with us.  This home was very much a "Promise Land" to us.  It seemed too good to be true and not possible.  We, just like Moses, came up with every reason why it wouldn't work.  And every reason was pushed aside by God and made possible.  Today, that last reason, was pushed aside.  We got the final approval. 

We are over the moon happy and really cannot even express how thankful we are that God has made this possible for our family.  This home means a better life for us.  So much space to grow.  So much freedom for our kids to run and play.  So much room to enjoy our family.  Closer to Dan's new job.  A better school.  A neighborhood full of kids.  So many blessings.  We can't even begin to list how wonderful this is. 

During Lent, Dan and I had really been praying about God's plan for our family.  We had struggled with what God wants for us and what we want for ourselves.  It's been many years of God inching us closer and closer to showing us his true plan.  And we think we've found it.  After so many prayers, we know that God wants us to leave our family size completely up to him.  Of course that was scary at first.  Just like learning to trust is always scary.  But who better to trust than God? 

We knew that our reasons for not having more children were selfish.  We probably wouldn't be able to afford fancy schools, fancy clothes, fancy vacations...We would be tired and busy and crazy right?!   Learning to take emphasis off ourselves and put it onto God wasn't easy.  And still isn't and I'm sure we'll still struggle.  But we know that this is right for our family and so God will make it work.  He always does.

The blessing of this home continues to show us we are on the right path.  A big fear in trusting God with our family size was having room for a bigger family.  And like always, God casts the fear away.  In this house we have 5 bedrooms and once we have the basement finished, we will have 4,000 square feet.  God doesn't just provide, He provides abundantly.  So what do we have to fear?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guardian Meeting, Changes, and Patience

On Monday, Dan met with Guardian.  Our meeting had been pushed back a few weeks because I got sick the day Dan was supposed to meet with them and he had to stay home and help me with the kids.  Guardian does the wiring for the tvs, home security system ,phone etc.  Thankfully we aren't big tv people so we weren't too worried about this appointment costing a lot (I've read blogs where options might be $2000 more).  We knew that 2 tv connections and 2 phone connections were included and that worked for us.  We did tv and phone in the family room and master bedroom.  Easy peasy no extra charges and we were done.

We had been having second thoughts on our cabinet choice for the bathrooms (white thermofoil).  We basically chose it because it was the cheapest upgrade that we liked.  But since our tile will be white in the master and the granite is light colored too we thought it was all a little too plain.  We decided to upgrade to the Cherry Bordeaux and were between the Tahoe (a little more plain and veneer instead of solid wood) or the Wyoming (more ridges and detail and solid wood).  We were excited to hear that for the bathroom they are actually the exact same price so we upgraded to the Wyoming!  We're excited to have these cabinets instead and it only ended up an extra $200 per bathroom so I think it was well worth it to get deeper cabinets with solid wood vs the cheaper white thermofoil ones.  Here's a picture :

For details on all the cabinets you can check out :

Another thing that we had thought we wanted to have is an outlet on our gourmet island.  We wanted to make sure Dan could do his pancake making there while I cook at the stove.  We were excited to hear that one is already included on our island so we didn't need to upgrade anything.

Lilly had her birthday party this weekend.  It was a lot of fun and it seems crazy that it will be our last birthday party in this house.  It really makes this all seem more real.  A little bittersweet to realize that we won't have another birthday party, Christmas, or bring home a new baby to this house.  But definately exciting to think about all the memories that we will have at the new house.

Here's a picture of the birthday girl:

And lastly, we are trying our best to be patient on our loan underwriting process.  We went with Ryan Home's mortgage company NVR in order to get free incentives.   We were told that it usually takes about 3 weeks in underwriting.  We got our preapproval and they said that 90% of people that get that will get full approval.  It's been just over 3 weeks now and the waiting is sure making us anxious!  Are debt/income ratio is high due to still owning this home so we just want to be sure that we aren't one of those 10% that don't get the final approval.  It will be a huge relief when we get the final "yes!".  It's also been a little weird because they haven't really asked us for anything.  I guess Dan must have done a good job getting them everything they needed initially because they haven't asked for any further documentation.  We contacted them a week ago and they said they were waiting on employment verification.  We know that they got that last Thursday so hopefully we will hear good news soon.  Any prayers our way would be greatly appreciated:)

Our next meeting is on the 27th.  We'll be meeting with our sales rep and project manager to go over all the plans and blueprints to finalize everything before breaking ground May9th!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Final Choices

Tuesday we met again with our sales rep to finalize everything.  We had to choose locations for hosebibs outside, an outlet in the garage, and where we wanted light "rough-ins" vs "complete lights".  We also made a couple changes.  We decided to upgrade to "oil rubbed bronze" door handles and light fixtures (instead of brushed nickel).We decided to upgrade the padding in the family room to the next level (6lb pad) since the carpet had a longer warranty we wanted the padding to last.  We also decided to add in a basement "rough in" for the bathroom plumbing for when we finish the basement.

The biggest change was to the outer of our house.  We originally planned on doing elevation "a" with partial stone.  I had been getting a little hesitant about it because I wasn't sure if it would look right.  Elevation A is basically all flat in the front so I thought it might look weird to just have half the house stone and half siding.  We also really liked the siding color we chose and it would only have a small amount of siding in the front.  Here's a picture to give you an idea...
It would be like that but the peak of the house over to the left (instead of middle) and there wouldn't be an overhang on the door.

So after going back and forth about it we decided to switch to Elevation "C" and do all siding.  It would save us some money and we liked Elevation "C" better.  We'd also get to have more of the siding color that we really liked.  So here is a picture of Elevation C (but ours will be all siding)...

It essentially gives us the two peaks on the roof like above and the decorative top, overhang on door with recessed light, and the windows on the left are basically double wide windows vs two singles.

The siding color is Spanish Olive (pale green) with white shutters and trim and Ripe Olive (dark green) door.  Here is a picture of similar colors...

And I tried to take a picture of our floor plan so hopefully this worked...

So all in all, decisions are being made and we are one step closer!  We are still waiting for our loan to finish the underwriting process and we have a meeting scheduled for April 27th to meet with our Project Manager and we are set to break ground on May 9th!!!

Flooring Meeting

On Monday we had our meeting to decide the flooring choices.  Most of the things you choose through Ryan Homes (cabinets, countertops, siding, stone, etc), are chosen in their "design center".  Basically the model home that you go to will have a finished basement that has all your choices in it.  So you'll see the cabinet faces, countertop samples etc.  The one exception to this is the flooring.  These choices are all made at an actual flooring store (for us at Rite Rug).  So until you have your flooring meeting all you know is some pricing and you kind of estimate what you'd want. What stinks about that (as we found out Monday) is that you might have a picture in your head and then get to the flooring store and see it isn't an option.

For our flooring, we had decided on hardwood laminate in the foyer, hall, kitchen, and morning room.  This would be an upgrade from the standard vinyl flooring.  We thought that it would just look like way too much vinyl in such a big space.  We initially priced out hardwood.  But as we did research it seemed that hardwood laminate would be the smartest option (instead of hardwood) because it resists scratches and dents and water damage which are probably going to happen with the kids.  When we did our price estimate at Ryan Homes we were told that the price for laminate in those areas had a range which was about $2000 difference between base hardwood laminate and the most expensive.  So we figured we'd end up choosing something on the mid range-not the cheapest but not most expensive either.  That was the only flooring upgrade we chose because even though we'd like the nicer carpet, we thought it would end up stained or ruined with the kids and we'd end up replacing it anyway.

So, we went to our meeting Monday and were choosing colors for hardwood laminate, carpet, vinyl (for bathrooms, mudroom, and laundry room), tile (for shower/bath surround), and stain for the handrail on the stairs.  The first bad surprise was that there wasn't a "range" of laminate choices from low to high as we expected.  There was just low and high-so no mid-range possibility.  And of course, the low end didn't look very nice at all.  So right away we were looking at spending more than we had expected.  Then we realized we only got a choice of about 8 colors/types of the high range laminate.  We had pictured a rich dark hardwood laminate.  Not a choice at all.  So it flustered us a little and we had to change the game plan!  We got it between two colors: Bruce Farm Fence and Armstrong Sedona Cherry.  The Bruce Farm Fence was a medium/dark brown, not as dark as we pictured but one of the darkest options.  But it was a more "flat" finish, medium gloss and it has simulated edges (instead of real ridges between planks).  The Armstrong Sedona cherry was a high gloss with actual ridges between the 5in planks and looked just like hardwood.  But it was a lighter color than we originally wanted.  Here is a picture to show it by our cabinet/countertop choices...The cabinets are Timberlake Butterscotch Maple (distressed antique white) and the countertop is Formica 180fx Antique Mascarello.

We ended up deciding on the Armstrong Sedona Cherry that is on the right.  It was lighter than we originally planned but it picks up the distressed color in the cabinets and the quality looks nicer than the Bruce Farm Fence that's pictured on the left.  The awesome thing about this flooring is it has a 30 year warranty!  30 years!!!  So even though it was a higher cost than the cheaper hardwood laminate it should last a very long time.  We also changed from just doing the foyer, hall, kitchen, morning room-to including the mudroom and 1/2 bath so that everthing flows a little better.  So now there will be no vinyl downstairs.

Here is a picture of the flooring in a room:

And here are our countertops in a room...

Carpeting was next and as I said we didn't plan on upgrading.  Well then we realized that just going up to the next level upgrade (there are a few levels) it would give us a 10year warranty against stains and damage and if anything happens they will replace it.  So we decided to upgrade the carpet in the family room since it's so close to the kitchen we thought the kids most likely will have food in there so it would make sense to the have the warranty.  We didn't upgrade any of the other rooms though to save money.  Here's a picture of the carpeting we chose.  It shows the wood laminate we chose up top and then the upgraded carpet for the family room is bottom left (Shaw Sand Swept) and the base carpet for the rest of the house is bottom middle (Shaw Rockport).

Next is the vinyl for the upstairs bathrooms and laundry room and the tile for the shower/tub surround in the master bath.  We chose the white tile (only had a choice of that or almond) and the vinyl for the floor is pictured below it.  The granite for the masterbath countertop is on the left (wheat).

Fingers crossed we made the right choices!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Some pictures of the model...

We went to the Naples model again last weekend to take some measurements of walls and windows.  We wanted to know sizes for curtains, size of refrigerator to buy, and how many knobs/pulls for cabinets etc.  So while we were there we took a ton of pics!  Warning-the pics are of horrible quality because of the lighting and that I had sweet baby girl strapped to me in the carrier!

Here's some of the many many pictures we took...

This is when you walk in the front door-stairway straight ahead on left and living/dining on right (we'll be using these for an office, and probably, craft/art school room)

Going straight down the hallway leads past the mudroom and  1/2 bath to the Kitchen

Morning Room

And Family room to the left

Upstairs-the biggest kids room will be for the boys to share...

Next will be for the girly...

Kids/Guest Bathroom (weird angle but there's a double vanity here too)

Loft to be converted to 5th bedroom-will be a playroom for now

Last bedroom will be a Guest bedroom until it needs to be a nursery (then the playroom may be the guest bedroom and hopefully the basement finished for the playroom)

Upstairs Laundry!  So excited to have it right by the bedrooms!

Master Bedroom (weird angle but coming from the master bath)

Another not so good picture but Master bathroom-left is shower, tub, right is double vanity, toilet room, straight ahead walk-in closet

Building with Ryan Homes-How it works

For those that don't know anything about Ryan Homes (just like we didn't a year ago), here's some info on how it all works!

Basically Ryan Homes is a builder/developer.  They buy a big area of land and make a "community"/or really big subdivision out of it.  This makes the option of building really easy for the buyer.  You don't need to look around for land and purchase it and then find a builder and do all the plans.  It's kind of a "one-stop shop". 

Ryan Homes has different communities and in each community it offers certain homes/models to be built.  In our community, there are 8 different models to choose from.  The Florence, Pisa, Venice, Carolina, Milan, Ravenna, Naples and Verona.  They go from roughly 2000-3000 square feet.  Each model has a distinct floor plan but there are tons of options to make it "your own".  Ryan Homes are NOT pre-fabricated homes.  They are built on site to your specifications.

Each model has a "base price" and that includes the home with the floor plan as you see it online and includes the land it's built on.  This base price seems ( and is )an awesome deal for the amount of square footage and they well thought out floor plans.  We looked at a lot of homes to buy that were built within the past 10years and we couldn't find anything with prices as good.  But....the way they get you is with options.

Each home as you see it at the model (if you visit one) or the online virtual tours is very upgraded.  The base home has the floor plan but probably doesn't have a lot of the features.  For example: every model we saw included the morning room.  But that's not in the base model (and costs $12-13,000 more).  Same for finished basements, upgraded cabinets or nicer carpet, hardwood floors etc.  So thankfully, us having friends that bought with Ryan-we were well aware of this and didn't get too excited for the home and not expect the price to go up a lot with whatever options we wanted.

Another way the price can go up is with "premium lots".  This is basically the land/lot that they think is worth more than others so you have to pay extra for it.  In our community-premium lots are on the golf course, or a cul-de-sac, or just bigger than the average lot.  These "premium lots" in our community can be anywhere from $2000 more up to $20,000 more depending on what you want. 

So-you can easily see how that awesome price can get high pretty quickly if you aren't careful.  We went into this knowing we didn't want to get the price up too high and would rather have more square footage and add options later than get a smaller square footage with tons of options.  But....of course just like I'm sure happens with the majority of people-we found ourself "needing" more options than originally planned!

So as it is now (this could change) here are the options we chose and what we had to go without....

Options we chose...
-Elevation "A" with partial stone (this is the way the house looks on the outside)
-Morning Room (the extra dining area off the kitchen)
-Laminate hardwood floors in foyer, hall, kitchen, morning room
-Kitchen Gourmet Island (this is a HUGE island, we wanted the gourmet to add more counter and cabinet space)
-Upgraded Cabinets-Timberlake Rushmore Square Maple Butterscotch (an antique white)
-Cabinets upgraded to 42in (the ceilings are 9ft standard so the taller cabinets add space and look nicer)
-Upgraded Laminate Countertop (a nicer laminate, the Formica180fx)
-Recessed Lighting in Kitchen
-Stainless Steel Appliances (initially weren't going to do but the black looked weird with the antique white cabinets)
-Double Sinks in both master bath and secondary bath
-Upgraded white cabinets in master and secondary bath
-Upgraded Master bath with glass shower/seat and garden tub (this is another we didn't plan on initially but the glass shower really opened up the bathroom)
-Granite countertop in Master bath
-Loft converted to 5th bedroom
-Basement utility sink
-Extra outlet in garage (only has one)
-Lights! (yes you heard me right!  No lights are included in any of the bedrooms or family room, and morning room) Some we just did a "rough in" and will add our own lights and some come with lights
-Premium lot

Options we had to go without (or chose not to get)...
-Elevation "C" with partial stone (has an overhang over the door and a little more character to the outside of the house)
-Granite countertops in kitchen
-Actual hardwood floors (actually chose laminate because of warranty and durability for kids)
-Upgraded carpet and padding
-Service Door in garage
-Garage door opener (we'll get our own)
-Finished basement (we had to go without this due to choosing the premium lot over the discounted one)
-Some extra windows for morning room, family room, and one bedroom
-Fireplace (pretty but expensive and didn't want to deal with one with the kids)
-Front porch (not an option with the Naples model)

Things we got them to throw in...
-Landscaping package
-About $20,000 off of options

So all in all-we are super excited about everything we were able to include.  We pretty much got our "wishlist" and the only thing we know for sure we'd like to change is finish the basement in the next couple years but that can wait.