Thursday, January 31, 2013

Susan Jablon Mosaics - Awesome Customer Service!

I just had the nicest conversation with Susan Jablon of Susan Jablon Mosaics!  I purchased our 1x3 inch Vanilla Bone White Frosted Subway tile sample from her.

To refresh your memory it was this one:

My biggest concern for our kitchen backsplash is it competing with our very busy granite counters.  Susan Jablon specializes in custom mosaic blends for these types of projects, but I had never really considered using a blend because I was worried it would give the area to much "action".  Susan suggested that I try a tone on tone blend, which means a mixture of the same color tile, only in different finishes.  So along with my square foot of the regular Vanilla Bone Frosted tile, she is also sending me a sheet of the frosted and gloss glass finished mosaic blend too!

I was skeptical at first and so Susan took a look at the photos on my blog and she seemed very certain it would give us the look we are going for.  I don't have a pic of the tone on tone blend, but it probably looks alot like THIS except she is putting it in the offset configuration rather than the straight line.  I will definitely take photos of it when it arrives!

Along with her custom mosaic blends, Susan also has tons of different tile shapes and sizes available for immediate shipping and probably one of the biggest color selections of glass tiles I have ever seen!

If you are interested in checking Susan Jablon Mosaics out, you can click HERE to go to her website.  She even has a custom mosaic designer so you can create your own mosaic blend!


Our FHA Approval came in this morning! I am so FREAKIN excited!  Our SR said that our closing is penciled in for 15 February, but she wants to double check with our LO and LP at NVR to make sure it jives with them.

Too bad neither of those people are answering their phones!!

UPDATE: Looks like our SR has been talking to NVR.  I think she is working out a time on 15 February.  I told her the earlier the better because I have work obligations that day and won't be able to take a full day off.  Of course I have back-ups but that is a absolute last resort!

Now all they have to do is submit everything to underwriting for final approval.  I suspect our LP will be contacting us soon for updated paystubs.

Did I mention that our SR is off today and tomorrow? And she is still working this out for us!  I'm telling you, Lauren is AWESOME!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pre-Settlement Demonstration

I am just so impressed.  The walk through went off without a hitch.  No huge issues were spotted, just a few touch ups needed here and there.  Got a bunch of photos too.  I took my tile samples along as well and was able to narrow it down to two colors, but the SIZE is yet to be determined.  Maybe my followers can give their opinions on that.

Anyway, like I said before just some touch ups needed.  I didn't say anything about the guest bathrooms listello and towel bar because really when it comes down to it, its the guest bath, I won't be in there much and we will have a shower curtain up and you won't even see it.  We didn't really go out of our way to look for any mistakes but did point them out if we saw them, and Adam even caught a few we didn't see, so it was nice to see that he was TOTALLY on it.

I am really excited about our appliances.  Adam ran our dishwasher thru a cycle and you could BARELY hear it! I did mention how other's were having issues with getting theirs to completely dry their dishes and he said yes that is normal because it is really a Energy Star certified piece of machinery.  He told me that if we use a drying solution it would REALLY help with that, so we will have to pick up some jet dry once we move in.  Hopefully for those of you having issues with your dishwasher can try that out too.

We learned more about our range too!  It heats up SUPER fast and also has convection baking!  Very excited about that feature.  And of course we learned more about our water heater (R2 D2).  Very cool piece of equipment in our utility closet!

Ok so lets start with the tile.  So we really LOVED the arabesque kind but its simply not going to work with our space.  Perhaps if we had more wall to work with it would have been fine, but its a really small area to work with so we felt it was just over powering.  The arabesque tile is about 5 inches high so its a pretty big tile.  We are deciding between the khaki subway tile, which is also available in mini subway tile too so that it part of the decision we had to make.  There is also a frosted Vanilla Bean color we got which we also like.  It is also in the mini size.  My plan is to order a square foot of all three (regular subway tile - Khaki, Mini Subway tile - Khaki, and Frosted Vanilla Bean Mini subway tile) and I think that will help us decide.  For now though, I have pictures of the frosted Vanilla Bean mini (just one tile) and the khaki subway tile.  Let me know what your thoughts are...

This is the regular size glass subway tile.  It is also available in mini, which might make it easier to install in this sink area...

This is the glass frosted version in mini.  I really think purchasing a single sq foot will help visualize better.

Another thing that I am TOTALLY relieved about is the granite and cabinets colors together.  For some reason in previous photos, the cabinets were WAY orange.  These new photos are a better representation of the color and the granite looks just fine with them.  CRISIS AVERTED! I won't have to paint the cabinets after all.

And last but not least, all of the photos I took!

Master bedroom

Window in master bath

Double vanity in master bath

Roman shower in master bath

Master closet

A view down the hall from the master bedroom

Guest bath, including towel bar

Vanity in guest bath

Linen closet in guest bathroom.

Our little laundry room.  The plan is to add more shelving above or possibly some cabinets.

View from the stairs into the living room

more of the living room.  I love our floors!

A fuzzy pic of the landing to go upstairs.

Full view of the completed kitchen

Our little pantry.  We will probably replace the wire shelves with solid wood ones.  Another project on our DIY to-do list.

Another view of the kitchen

Kitchen and living room

Living room from the dining area.

That door on the right is the finished powder room

Stairs going down to the first floor

View of the foyer from the stairs

Our little family room.  This will be Mike's man cave.

Huge closet by the garage door.

Stairs and foyer from the garage/closet area.  To the right is the utility room and the door between the stairs and the front door is a roughed in powder room which will serve as a closet until we can finish it.

Walk through in 1 hour and 15 minutes

I can't leave until 9:15 or I will show up too early and it's KILLING ME to just sit here.  Mike is at work and since its right around the corner from our house, he will meet me there.


Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Getting Real!!

Our NVR Settlement Processor called today to introduce herself!  Just one more step in the process of becoming homeowners.  She was so nice and didn't sound rushed at all, even though I am sure she has tons to do! So a big thank you to Talia!!

I also spoke with our SR today to get the down low on the FHA approvals.  She said they expect the approval this week and even if the approval were to come in on Friday, there shouldn't be any problem with closing by the second week of February like we had always planned for. She also promised to call or email as soon as she heard anything.  Fingers crossed we heard from her soon.

She also commented that she was very surprised I managed to stay away for yet another weekend.  I am pretty proud of myself for sticking to my original plan, although I will admit I was ready to make the 40 minute drive yesterday to go see it, but Mike guilt tripped me into staying home.

1 DAY, 14 HOURS, 42 MINUTES & 35 SECONDS until our walk through!

Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am to have Lauren our SR and Adam our PM?  I feel like it's been a while so I just thought I would post real quick about them.  They ROCK!

Seems like they always have the right things to say to make me feel better.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Upcoming Pre Settlement Demonstration

And there are so many worries going through my head.

For one, as the days go by, I become more and more upset about the height of the listello in our shower.  As many  times as I have seen it in other Ryan Home's bathrooms, I KNOW it is not supposed to be that low.  I should have said something about it when I saw it and now I'm sure we are stuck with it.  It simply looks like shoddy work.  THANKS TAC TILE.

I've heard horror stories of it taking MONTHS for Ryan to fix items on the punch list, when really they should be fixed before closing.  Although I am sure it happens less than most of the time. But I still so desperately want to go visit today and "blue tape" everything I see.  It will give them more time to fix everything we see.  I don't want to close until 99% of our punch list is done.  Is this asking too much?  This will also allow Mike and I to enjoy our walk through on Wednesday.  Mike says we aren't allowed to go.  He is making me stick to my original plan. BOO!

Sorry for the rant, I really dislike posting negative things, but I had to get it off my chest.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Let the countdown begin!

The cool countdown widgets do not work with the Dynamic layout I have chosen for our blog, so just in case anyone was wondering....

5 DAYS, 0 HOURS, 52 MINUTES & 19 SECONDS until our Pre Settlement Demonstration!!! WOOHOO!

Still no word on when exactly our closing date is.  :(

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tile- Decisions, Decisions

Mike and I have been trying to decide on a tile for our kitchen back splash.  We got word last week that Adam WAS indeed able to remove the 4" granite back splash from the wall which is EXCELLENT news.  The problem is, this means that our wall has no protection from splatter and water damage so one of the first DIY projects we have planned is installing tile back there.

Mike has expressed to me (after making him come with me to the tile store) that he doesn't care what we get as long as its easy to maintain.  So the decision is left to me!

Just to refresh your memory, this is what our kitchen looks like (minus the 4" granite piece on the wall).

The picture is a little fuzzy but you get the idea. And here it is a little closer....

There are a lot of dark brown, black and tan colors in the granite.  It has been very difficult finding something that I am happy with, but here is what I have narrowed it down to...

My top choice is this Ivory Beveled Arabesque tile.  (found HERE)  I think having a lighter back splash will bring the lighter colors out in the granite. 

I LOOOOOVE this tile.  They also have it in a grayish tan color found HERE.

I have ordered samples of each to see if the colors work at all. It's a little on the pricey side but I am hoping it goes on sale at some point.  If not, here are my alternatives...

THIS Durango 2x4 Brick - Tumbled Tile

or THIS Glass Subway Tile in the color Khaki, which I also have a sample for.

I am hoping to have all of my samples ready for our walk through on the 30th which is next week!  Mike and I are DYING to see our home in its completed state.  This past weekend was our first weekend not visiting it since the construction process started. It was very hard to stay away!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Closing Date Update

While we still do not have a firm closing date, Lauren did have a chat with Adam about the FHA paperwork and they both expect it to come back on 28 January, which would still have us closing the second full week of February assuming NVR has their share of the work done. Not 27 February like NVR told us.  She said that once that paperwork comes back they will be able to give us a firm closing date.

From now on I am just going to go to Lauren when I have questions about these things.  She and Adam seem to be the most informed of the team of people working with us anyway!

They are awesome and Lauren seems to know how to talk me down from a ledge too which is an added bonus.

I am no longer a Stressasaurus Rex.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The left hand is not talking to the right hand!

I can already tell this is going to be a problem.  It's also REALLY stressing me out.

Last month, around Christmas time, Lauren our SR called me to tell me that we had to sign a change order/addendum for our address because Ryan Homes had spelled it incorrectly on our paperwork. (the whole row of homes had to be redone) No big deal. These things happen.  I got it back to her pretty quickly.

Fast forward to today, and just by chance I mentioned the spelling change to our loan processor, Chrissy because she and I were puzzled as to why the FHA paperwork (condo approval) could be delayed.  Well, come to find out this was the first time Chrissy/NVR had heard of this particular addendum because Ryan Homes failed to let them know.  While it is possible this change might have delayed the process, whats more frustrating to me is that NVR had no idea there was even a change!  At this point the FHA process is out of everyone's hands because the government has to do their thing, but I think this address change oversight was completely preventable.

Can you imagine how awful it would have been to show up at closing only to be turned away because the street name in the paperwork was spelled incorrectly?  It would have happened to not only Mike and I, but for all 5 of the other units on that street!!!

Add to that, Chrissy also mentioned that our closing date was now listed as 27 February.  This is SO MUCH later than we had expected!!

Why can't they get their act together and start TALKING TO EACH OTHER?!

**I did call Kay our loan officer in the middle of typing this post to chat with her and she did assure me that if the paperwork comes in early they can turn it around in about two weeks so there is still a chance that we could close earlier than the 27th.  But there is still a great big IF in there because there is no telling WHEN exactly that FHA paperwork comes back.  Kay also said that VHDA is usually OK with extending a rate a couple of days past its expiration so that was a relief to hear.  I certainly hope it doesn't come to that though.

The new semester starts up again so I do hope they finally get it all together.  I am not going to have time to track everything down once I get buried in assignments!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Paint - More overwhelming than building a house

I know for sure that we are going to use Benjamin Moore paint.  For the longest time I had planned to go to Lowes and paint match a BM color with Valspar paint, but my NVR loan officer highly recommended using Benjamin Moore, regardless of the higher price, and here is WHY.  She told me that it is the only paint that she uses, because no matter, what you will only have to use ONE coat of this stuff.  She said it goes on smooth and is very durable.  You really end up paying the same amount of money on the other stuff because you have to apply more than one coat of the anyway.

Well you don't have to tell me twice!

OK, so I just wrote a 42 million word post and got frustrated, so I deleted the whole darn thing because it was all over the place.  Mike saw me do it and he laughed at me. :(

I will stick to the basics.  I want to use Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter on the entire main level.  My plan is for a neutral kitchen/dining area and a gray/spa blue living room.  Revere Pewter could work because it is in the gray category but still has enough neutral gray in it to work in the kitchen/dining area.  It is also known as an EXCELLENT color for open floor plans and transitional spaces.

In some lights it is very gray and in others its more beige.  I wouldn't go so far as to calling it a greige though. The first pic below is of it looking more beige, and the two following pictures is of the same exact color looking more gray.

I am so UNSURE about what to do with my open living space!

Homesite Visit - Week 13

Great visit today!  I only took a few photos since you guys have almost seen it all.  The whole row got sod, trees and bushes.  Pretty much everything on the outside is done, with the exception of trim painting and doors.  Door numbers were also installed, which was pretty exciting!

Carpet everywhere was installed.  Its hard to tell how well it goes with the wood floors, but as far as I can tell its a good match.

The refrigerator was installed and working, but still not pushed into place.  Our new range was already delivered which is awesome, but it was sitting in the middle of the dining room.  I suspect this was because they were still working on getting the vent installed for the microwave. 

I was a little bummed when Mike pointed out a piece of trim that had been ripped off the backside of the cabinets on our island, which it seems happened when they were maneuvering the dishwasher.  It was just laying on the floor so I placed it on the counter so no one would step on it and break it.

Our washer and dryer also got installed.   They were just the basic model but I was surprised to see that they had a few more fancy options that I've never seen before. And the garage door opener was in too!  And last but not least our roman shower in the master is complete. 

At this point there are a ton of very small things to do.  There is a little less than 3 weeks before our Pre Settlement Walk-through so I am certain it will all be done by then.  I was planning for this visit to be our last before walk through, but since those things I was worried about haven't been taken care of, I think we will visit one more time next weekend in hopes it will set my mind at ease.  At that time I plan to go through with blue tape to mark anything that we see so that there is less to worry about at walk through.  I REALLY don't want to have to obsess about those things when we get our demonstration so I can focus on learning about my new home.  Hopefully Adam understands this!  

I am a little disappointed to see that a few items that I emailed Adam about two weeks ago, still have not been addressed.  The issues were, paint on the cabinet trim near the dishwasher (it wasn't splatter, it looked like someone didn't realize it wasn't covered when they painted the baseboard trim white) and also the malfunctioning window in the master bedroom.  He never did respond to my email, so I wonder if he never got it...

I know the granite issue is still outstanding while he consults with someone about it.  I stared and stared at it today when we visited, and still just couldn't move on.  I tried to force myself to be OK with it, but it just really bothers me the way it looks.  I'm eager to see what it looks like once it's gone.  I have several samples of tile that I want to stop by with to see if they work with the granite and cabinets.

It looks very real now, right?


Carpet on the stairs heading up to the third floor.

Fancier range with the "warming zone"

Roman Shower complete!

This is a clearer pic but it still doesn't look as bad as it does in person.  The brown outlet makes it worse, lol.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Closing change AGAIN! & a granite update

Well, we are back to closing around the 2nd - 3rd week of February.

This makes way more sense. 

Lauren our SR was very shocked about the February 1st date, because she knew that the condo approval from FHA hadn't come in yet and we definitely needed that to close.  SO she did a little calling around and come to find out, the scheduler was not able to see that our loan was of the FHA persuasion which is why the mistake was made.

Glad we got it all worked out though and no harm done, except for a little freak out on my part.

I also had a chance to chat with Adam today about the granite back splash thingy.  He said they haven't actually done anything yet, because he wants to talk to the guys who will do the work first to assess the aesthetics of it, but he doesn't think removing it will be an issue.

Serves me right....

Earlier this week there were rumblings that we may be closing on February 1st.  In the back of my mind I was thinking, "but how could this be?!, we've always been told the middle of February!!".  I took it with a grain of salt because so many different people have said many different dates, this was just another to add to the list.

Well, today I got confirmation that, barring any weird stuff going on, we WILL be closing on February 1st!

I'm excited and terrified all at the same time.  THAT IS 3 WEEKS FROM NOW!!!

We can't have our first mortgage payment until April because we REALLY don't want to pay both rent and mortgage together in March.  But because its the 1st -5th of the month, they typically offer interest credit to close during that time, making the first payment the following month.  If we decline the interest credit, we will have our first payment in April, however we will still have to pay the entire month of interest at closing which we were not planning for.

Remember last week when I had a minor freak out about the granite?  Well right now, this is a bonafide, real life, Cami Kotwicki freak-the-smurf-out situation.

Did I say I was excited?! I AM VERY EXCITED!  But I fear we may have to push back closing to accommodate our budget.  :(


Monday, January 7, 2013

Update on the range - SMURF YEAH!

Just wanted to post a quick update that our AWESOME SR & PM worked out the range issue and we will definitely be getting the one we were expecting and not the one that is currently sitting in our kitchen.  WOOHOO!

If I could give my team an 11 on their coveted Ryan Home's evaluation, I totally would!

Still no word on if Adam is able to remove the granite trim from the kitchen counters.  Hopefully we will hear back about that later this week.

Useful Tools and some home decor

Today I read M's post about important things to look for at your pre-settlement walk through (find it  HERE), and  it prompted me to look for an important tool at Lowe's today.  We are now proud owners of two cheap and nifty tools that will allow us to test the outlets of our new home, and in the future will assist us with any electrical projects we may have.

We got THIS IDEAL Analog Voltage Detector Meter, which will help test the functionality of our GFCI outlets (the ones in the garage and bathrooms that automatically trip when there is an issue with the circuit) and we also got THIS Sperry 80-480V AC/DC Voltage tester.  Total cost for both including tax was just under $15, so definitely worth the cost!

The reason I got two tools is because the first one by IDEAL will overload the circuit with the touch of a button, automatically tripping the GFCI outlet.  If the GFCI outlet doesn't do what it's supposed to (and lose power) this handy tool will tell you what's wrong with the connection and help you determine why it's not working.  The other tool by Sperry, will help us test all the other outlets in our house to make sure they are working, but also in the future will allow us to test whether power has been shut off to areas we want to do electrical work.  This will be especially handy when we hang our own ceiling fans!

I am a DIY fanatic and get so excited when I get new tools!  Mike isn't into being a handy man, so I get all the cool projects all to myself.  Its fantastic.

Anyway, this weekend we also FINALLY decided on our dining room set.  It took many weeks of debate.  I was originally going to build the table myself, but didn't find plans that I truly loved.  Enter World Market.  I LOVE this place!  They are having a big furniture sale right now and this weekend there was a 10% off coupon in the Sunday paper, so we made our move. 

We got the Verona extension table in mahogany, as well as 4 matching Verona chairs.  To complete the look, we also got two Suzani Hayden upholstered chairs to go on the ends.  The table extends to seat 8 so eventually we will purchase two more Verona chairs to complete the set.

Verona Chair

Suzani Hayden Chair

Verona Table

Other than the dining set, we plan to replace our very broken sofa with something cheap and easy to clean.  The plan right now is the Ektorp sofa from IKEA, primarily because the slipcovers are removable and some of them are machine washable.  So if the cover gets dirty we can wash or dry clean it and if we get bored with the color, we can purchase a new cover with minimal cost.

The only other place that I know of that has sofa's like this is Pottery Barn, and as much as I would LOVE to have a Pottery Barn sofa, it is just WAY out of our price range right now.  So alas, I must settle for my Ektorp at $399.  It sure is better than having a broken couch, right?

Stay tuned for my next non-construction related post, sometime next week.  I'll be talking about wall colors!  I have been STRUGGLING with choosing my colors.  Mike likes white, sigh.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Homesite Visit - Week 12 Mild Freak out!

Let me get my freak out, out of the way.  Good news is, the granite counters in the kitchen got installed!! WOOHOO!   Bad news?  While I knew they were installing the 4 inch granite back splash thing, I didn't know that it would look that awful! When I saw it in the breakfast bar area, I was SO UPSET.  The picture doesn't look as bad as in person.  I just simply do not like it.  I emailed Adam to see if he can have it removed.  I was planning anyway to install my own subway tile backs plash when we move in, so the walls won't go long without protection.  I am PRAYING that he says its no problem!!

Here is the pic.  Its a little out of focus....  see the section that connects the lower counter to the upper?  UGH, its AWFUL!  I know its fixable, but still.  Why didn't I see that coming? lol


 Okay I feel better now that my freak out is over!  On to more important things.

We did have heat.  It was great.  There were no chilly spots or hot spots.  I guess we have that Energy Star 3.0 certification to thank for that!  Our water heater was placed in the closet with HVAC.  It really does look like R2D2.  (M, I am officially stealing your idea of calling it R2D2, anything else wouldn't seem appropriate!)  However, R2D2 is not hooked up just yet.

We had working lights, light switches and electrical outlets!  All of our toilets, sinks and other plumbing fixtures were installed.  The trinity installer was also there working on our security system and surround sound.  He did mention that a jump wire to connect our CO detector was missing.  I sure hope they dont have to rip down any drywall to fix that!

All appliances were there with the exception of the dishwasher.  Nothing was fully installed yet.  I did notice that the stove was not the one we were promised.  The one we thought we were getting had a 5th burner on it and the one that was in our house only had 4.  It also had less stainless steel finish than the one we were supposed to get.  It seems like a pretty substantial downgrade....  Our AWESOME SR Lauren is working the issue, so hopefully it turns out in our favor.

They had to remove the center cabinet to install the vent for our microwave.  This is one of the things Adam emailed us to warn us about so we wouldn't have a heart attack when we visited. 

Everything is looking great!  It wasn't as terribly messy as we had expected which is a nice surprise.  There really isn't much left to do.  A bunch of little things to do, but as far as big things we are just waiting on all appliance installations, carpet, full installation of the water heater and the washer and dryer.  Not much right?  Check out our pics below.