Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We have a date for our pre-construction meeting

It's been an interesting few weeks. We've been moving forward on selling our existing home. We were originally scheduled to settle on June 28th. However, the buyer will be out of town on that date now and requested that the closing be pushed until the end of July. Well, that caused havoc with the plans that Lesa and I had already made with Ryan, movers, etc.

Lesa and I certainly were not happy at all about pushing back the settlement date but we agreed. We were able to workout our payment schedule with Ryan so the lump sum of our down payment isn't due until August 1st. In exchange for the concession on date we are requiring the buyer to put down an additional 10% non-refundable down payment. That offsets the risk that I take on moving the closing date out.

On the Ryan front, we've got dates for our pre-construction meeting, May 30th, and break ground date of June 5th. I was a little shocked that we had dates that were so close. Lesa and I are very excited and are anxious to get the building process started.

We had a few outstanding items in front of Ryan that we were hoping to get. Namely replacing the fiberglass shower pan in the master bath with a mud pan that would be tiled. Ryan did offer us the option of the mud pan but it would have cost us $1,800. Lesa was disappointed but she understands that the cost of the non-standard request was excessive.  Unfortunately we aren't able to get the lights above the second floor windows.  The structural plans have already been drawn up and they can't make the change.  We figure it might be something we can do later.

We had some last minute changes with Guardian and RiteRug that we finished up before signing off with Ryan that we would not request any other changes to the house. We changed our grout color from #95 Sable Brown to #105 Earth. Lesa and I felt that the #105 Earth grout was still dark enough to show well but not so dark as the #95 Sable Brown that the floor would look like a checker board.

On the moving front we've selected a mover and have sent our down payment. The mover is a local company based in Zelienople. The hourly moving price was inline with other moving quotes, however, they offered us 2 free months of storage. That's perfect for us with a move out date of July 26th and an anticipated completion date of early/mid September we may end up paying just one month storage cost at the most.

 So we are busy packing everything up and moving all non-furniture items down to my Mother's house. She has been gracious enough to allow us to stay with her for a few weeks instead of finding a temporary place. 

More updates to come as the construction process gets underway.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The long wait

It has been a busy week! I've been traveling and have trips to Boston and D.C. rapidly approaching.

We are still waiting to see when our pre-construction meeting will be scheduled. In the mean time Lesa and I are reviewing all of our selections to make sure that everything in the house will be perfect. I've put in a change request to add lights to the exterior of the house that shine down on the 3 2nd floor windows. The model in our neighborhood has them installed and they look great. Lesa and I are waiting for a price on those. We've also added a cable jack in the basement home office. It will be Lesa's room and she wants to have a tv to watch while she is sewing or doing a craft. It's a $95 change, I reached out to Guardian and they will be adding to our home.

We have an appointment at RiteRug Friday afternoon to review all of our selections. We're going to be taking the kids with us so they can see everything in person.

Finally, we drove over to the neighborhood and took a look at a Mitchner that is being built with the bonus room above the garage. Lesa and I took a look since the model doesn't have this feature. The bonus room is going to be our Daughter's and Lesa and I think she is going to love it. Its huge! It also has a walk-in closet and a private full bath. The bathroom is a little small but quite livable.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The park in our back yard

One of the major reasons we were so excited to get in to Park Place was the number of amenities that the neighborhood offers. Park Place will have a pool, clubhouse, quite a few parks, and many other odds and ends too numerous to mention.

One amenity that I do need to point out is Graham Park. It is a wonderful community park and Park Place connects directly to the park. We will be able to walk or ride bikes to the park whenever we feel like it. In the years to come it will add a ton of value to the homes in the neighborhood.

Park Place Lot 103

This is the plot layout of Park Place. Ryan Homes didn't purchase all of the lots available in the phase 1 of the plan but they did get the majority of them. Lesa and I wanted one of the lots that faced the park but, alas, Ryan wasn't able to purchase them. The developer kept them as prime lots for other custom home builders.

We then wanted to get lot 142 or 143, unfortunately those lots only support Ernest Hemingway models. We looked at the Hemingway but decided that we liked the Steinbeck model more, even though they are essentially the  same house with slightly different room sizes.

That left us with the choice of lots in the middle of the plan or along the edges of the plan. Lots 113-118 backed in to a hill, and had virtually no back yards. Lots 102 - 106 are bigger, however, the lots had shared driveways. We share a driveway with lot 104, a nice family we ran in to at the Park Place model a few weekends back. They were very friendly and look grounded, Lesa and I were pleased that they were younger and hope we will get along with them well.

Anyway, back to the lot. We decided to take lot 103, it will give us room for a small fenced back yard for Jett to run around in and it will only ever have views of wilderness. Lots 102-106 back to a small retention pond and behind that a mature forest. We can live with a shared driveway, a small concession.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yup, our sold sticker

The required sold sticker photo. Lesa was being camera shy :)

Ryan Homes Park Place artistic renderings of common areas

These are the two artistic renderings of common areas that Ryan is giving out on Park Place. The number of parks in the neighborhood is staggering.

The whole family is looking forward to using the pool at the community center.

Our selections

Well the fun part of the building process kicked off in late February. We selected all of the options in our home. Lesa had a blast selecting the flooring, cabinets, and counter tops that will be going in to our home.


Lesa and I looked at each of the available facades for our model. We wanted a full front porch which meant we could choose between a colonial look (elevation C) or a cottage look (elevation M). After quite a bit of consideration we went with elevation M. We felt that it would be a unique look that probably wouldn't be selected by many other buyers, it was a $17K upgrade, but we feel that it was worth the cost.

On color selection we actually couldn't get what we really wanted on the exterior of our home. We wanted to go with a dark red siding with a tan highlights, unfortunately Ryan doesn't offer red in our neighborhood. After looking through the available options we settled on Spanish Olive siding, with Sandy Tan siding for the 2nd floor shake. The trim will be white, and the stone will be Autumn Ledgestone. The metal roof on our front porch will be black. Our shutters and front door will be Farm House Red. Lesa and I were bound and determined to get red in the color scheme somehow. Overall we are pleased with our exterior selections and we feel that the home will have a warm and welcoming ambiance.


Well, Lesa and I went nuts with upgrades on the interior of our new home. We selected damn near every upgrade that was available.

The one  thing Lesa and I both agreed on was that we didn't want hardwood floors anywhere in our new home. After 10 years of having a Bruce hardwood floor on the main floor of our current home we knew that we were tired of the maintenance and problems that accompany wood floors. With active children and a fairly large dog maintaining a hardwood floor in pristine condition is next to impossible. It was an easy choice to go with ceramic tile instead of wood. Lesa and I will have a ceramic tile entryway, kitchen, and all of the bathrooms. We also opted to get the ceramic tile surround in the master bedroom (with the SA60 listello accent) as well as a ceramic tile back splash in the kitchen (with the SA60 random clip accent). Each of the bathrooms, basement powder room, main floor powder room, bonus room bathroom, 2nd floor bath, and the master bath with have matching ceramic tile. Yeah, its a lot of tile. We selected the Daltile Fidenza (FD02) tile with a sable brown (#95) grout. We like that the grout will pick up the colors in the cabinets, tile and granite selections we've made.

One question people keep asking is about our tile and grout selections. Our tile is light and the grout we selected is darker. Its actually a nice combination. We found a picture of what it looks like (next picture), yes it is a bathroom but the wall is our tile and grout combination. Lesa and I think it looks very rich, warm, and welcoming.

In addition to ceramic tile the bathroom cabinets will match the kitchen cabinets, we've selected the Wyoming Cherry Bordeaux cabinets for the entire house. These are the top of the line cabinets offered by Ryan Homes, the portfolio select line. We have also selected to get cabinet hardware installed in the kitchen and the bathrooms with a brushed nickle finish.  We've also opted to go with granite in our bathrooms. We've selected the wheat granite counter tops. Lesa and I wanted to keep the same look and feel as we had in kitchen, unfortunately we couldn't get the exact same granite so we picked as close as we could.

For counter tops we have selected Santa Cecilla granite for the kitchen. Lesa and I liked the look of the granite and felt it would go well with the rest of our selections. The picture below will give you and idea of what the counter and cabinets will look like together.

We've selected to go with a darker brown rug (Collinsville 00703 Barn Owl) for the basement and main level. We have light brown and grey rugs in our current home and with active children and pets it difficult to keep them looking their best. Lesa and I felt that a darker hue would offset this problem. For upstairs we kept it simple and went with a lighter rug (Baseline 00743 Shadow) and basic padding. We are hardly upstairs and we didn't feel that the upgrade to a space largely used for sleeping was worth the cost. In the pictures below you can see the carpet selections, tile selections, granite selections. Enjoy our RiteRug pictures :)

The laminate in the last picture is what we will have in our laundry room. Overall with flooring we ended up with $77,875 in options. All in all Lesa and I feel like we are getting an excellent value. A full list of the options we've selected:

Elevation M - $16,995
Finished Basement - $16,995
Home Office Basement - $1,595
Powder Room Basement - $3,900
Granite Counter Tops - $4,695
Wyoming Square Cherry Bordeaux Cabinets Kitchen -  $3,495
Kitchen/Bathroom Cabinet Hardware (Brushed Nickle) - $250
Tile Wall Back Splash   - $1,395
Range Gas Hookup - $275
Study - $900
Owner's Bathroom - Roman Shower - $400
Ceramic Surround Owner's Bath - Included in RiteRug cost
Double Vanity Bathroom #1 - 695
Owner's Bathroom Wyoming Square Cherry Bordeaux Cabinets - $450
Owner's Bathroom Vanity Top Granite Wheat - $425
Secondary Bathrooms Wyoming Square Cherry Bordeaux Cabinets - $400
Secondary Bathrooms Vanity Top Granite Wheat - $425
Bonus Bedroom with Full Bath - $5,995
Oak Stairs/Oak Hand Rail/Base Plate White - $895
Under Cabinet Kitchen Lights - $595
Recessed Lights Finished Basement - $995
Recessed Lights Home Office - $200
Recessed Lights Kitchen - $695
Ceiling Fan Rough-ins Interior (6X) - $1,050
Floor Drain Garage - $400
Faucet Upgrade #1 Bathrooms - $995
Faucet Upgrade #1 Kitchen - $200
Humidifier - $450
Dedicated Outlets Garage (2X) - $400
Handle Set Front Door - $200
Ceiling Fan Rough-ins Front Porch (2X) - $350
Microwave - $325
Guardian Selections (Built-in Speakers Basement) - $1,220
RiteRug Selections (Flooring) - $9,620
Landscaping Package - $895

Elevation -$5,195
Landscaping Package -$895
Basement Incentive  -$3,250
NVR Incentive  -$3,250
Total Incentives -$12,590

Lesa and I are also having our Sales Person price out exterior lights above each window (3) on the 2nd story of the house which will shine down. The model has them and we think it looks great. I expect it to be a few hundred dollar upgrade. 

Getting Started

After 10 years in our current home Lesa and I have decided that we wanted to make a change. When we made that decision we expected that we would be looking for an existing home within Cranberry Township with a nice, level back yard.

Little did we know that we would end up in a neo-traditional neighborhood with a lot the size of a postage stamp. We had known about the Park Place development in Cranberry since its inception a few years ago. Our children played soccer at Graham Park which happens to connect to two neo-traditional neighborhoods (Park Place and BelleVue Park). We had driven through both of them many times dreaming of putting down roots in a neighborhood that offered access to a fantastic park, small shops within walking distance with the amenities of a resort.  A few years ago it was just a dream, the homes in Park Place started in the mid 400's and while we could afford to buy in that range it would have been and uncomfortable stretch. So we kept driving through the neighborhoods waxing poetically on how nice it would be to live in a "Leave it to Beaver" town always driving home to reality. To be fair we live in a very nice place now. Our neighbors are great people, and our home is very nice.

All of that dreaming changed when Ryan Homes bought 20 lots in the stagnating Park Place neighborhood. I suppose there were quite a few people just like Lesa and I waiting on a price drop because 10 of the 20 homes sites were snapped up in just a few weeks of Ryan publicly offering them for sale. We were one of the first families to see that Ryan had moved in to Park Place and we didn't waste any time in going to the temporary Ryan sales office to find out more.

Three days after beginning the process with Ryan we signed a sales contract for a John Steinbeck model, the base price of $269,900 being a large part of the reason, quite a drop from the $400K+ starting price the neighborhood had since its inception three years ago. Our sales person Wes told us that prices were set to increase in the next few days and we didn't want to see that reflected in the price of our home.

So here we are getting ready to take an unexpected journey.

Pictures of what our new home will look like...

Our color selections are wildly different, but this is the elevation that we selected: