Friday, September 30, 2011

Time Flies!!!

It is hard to believe we have been the new owners of this beautiful home for 1 week now...time sure flies when you are crazy busy.  We keep pinching ourselves to make sure this is not some crazy dream we are having.  Let's see if I can remember everything that has gone on in this last week.  The day after settlement was crazy here.  We had torrential downpours most of the day.  We had our movers bring all our stuff that we had in storage....we had a delivery from Raymour & Flanagan(bedroom set, 2 love seats, and man cave furniture) and another from Jonny Janosik(master bedroom furniture and ottoman)...On Monday we had a table delivered that we had refinished and it looks fantastic...there are 2 more pieces being worked on that should be delivered this weekend.  The new and old furniture all looks great in the house and it was nice to see some of the pieces that have been in storage since May.  We have approval from HOA to install our fence and are in the process of getting approval for the sprinkler system.  We have made numerous trips back and forth to our old house.  Our Suburban is giving us problems so that has been slowing us is currently in the shop to find out what the problem is.  It has been cloudy every day and at some point each day it has poured...that's actually a good thing since it is helping our grass get started, but getting the sprinkler system and fence installed is going to be a setback for the grass.  My wife finally beat Verizon into submission and they finally agreed that yes they could install phone, FIOS Internet and FIOS TV...that only took 5 weeks, hours and hours on the phone, until she finally got a manager who would take ownership and contact the Engineer we talked with back in February.  Anyway it is now resolved and installation will be on the 11th...btw...while we were working it from our end our RH sales rep was tracking down the RH Verizon contact person and at the same time we were getting our order finalized our sales rep sent an email saying that their contact said we should be able to get the Triple Play and if we still weren't getting anywhere to call that Verizon person directly.  I told our sales rep to save that contact name and that favor for the customer that has the same problem.  We have a punch list of 45 items which either weren't finished in time for settlement or we found during our 2 walkthrus.  Our two fireplaces don't has a bad part which is ordered, the second one worked during walkthru, but didn't work the next day.  We have a huge hole in the ceiling of one bedroom and 2 more holes in the ceiling of the basement where the township inspector made our PM cut access holes...more on that at another time...they will be fixed.  I have been busy installing ceiling fans...7 installed so far...2 to go...the 2 left are the 15 ft. ceiling in the sunroom and the 12 ft ceiling in the morning room...guess why those 2 are left.  I have been promising to show pictures of the kitchen and while it is not quite finished yet and these pictures are at night I will share them anyway.

Under cabinet lighting on looking from family room.
The cover for the duct work above the vent is backordered till November.
The left cabinet is going to be glass too...that door just arrived and is awaiting installation.
The sink faucet is not the correct model and the soap dispenser has not yet arrived.
The refrigerator is not installed flush with the cabinets and there is more trim needed to finish that installation.
A piece of kickboard is the wrong color(can't see it in pictures)
 Next to Frig:  Avantium Oven, Trivection Wall Oven, and Warming Drawer
 Glass cabinets on the backside of the island
 Recessed Lighting now on too

 The 6 burner gas stove is on fire...just kidding...that's the glow from the warming light that is in the vent hood.  If you look close you can see the pot filler just to the right of the stove.
Just realized I forgot to upload the picture that shows the dishwasher and a closer view of the sink...oh well...will have to wait for another time.

Will add additional pictures as we get areas completed...

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Our PM is a super hero for sure. Between the time we left yesterday and arrived at 9am this morning he had gotten the damaged hardwood flooring in the kitchen replaced and taken care of every item on the inspector list and hired a brand new cleaning crew who were hard at work diligently cleaning our beautiful house. We did our walk through and while we were in the middle of that the inspector showed to do the reinspect. We also had the guy installing our garage door openers and while he was telling us how they worked the inspector called our PM over to talk. Our hearts sank and it was all we could do to pay attention. WE PASSED!!! Our. closing was at 2pm and this was around 11:30. Needless to say we had finished signing all the paperwork and the Certificate of Occupancy finally arrived...whew!!! More to follow, but for now we are going to sleep. Good night from our beautiful new HOME!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kitchen, SPACE, Home Inspection, Major Frustration

#2 - Our new Kitchen is awesome.  I had hoped to have pictures to include, but it just isn't ready to reveal(more on that later).  Between the awesome appliances, huge pantry, fabulous island and tons of cabinet space...well lets just say it is beyond words.

#1 - SPACE - we feel very blessed to have been able to build this lovely was not without pain and there are some loved ones who will not be able to share this with us, but we know they are smiling and have been right there with  us during the process.  We are so excited to have so much space to have our friends and family share with us.  We are looking forward to the holidays and having our family over.  It will be so nice to have everyone gathered around without being on top of each other or having to constantly dodge around everyone in the kitchen since no matter what the kitchen always draws a crowd.

Home Inspection - Our personal inspector went thru the entire house today and was very complimentary about the entire house.  There is a list of about 30 items all of which are cosmetic in nature...couple roofing shingles sticking up and a couple of siding issues, but the rest is things like caulking missing.  Overall he was very pleased.

Major Frustration - Our PM is about ready to pull his hair out...good thing he doesn't have any.  We had heard from day one that the township inspectors were tough and from our standpoint we figured that was a good thing.  So for two weeks now our PM has been working on knocking out the last items to be complete and he is now trying to get through the final inspection...the inspector comes him a list of things he "doesn't like" and goes away....PM fixes...inspector returns...fixes look's another list of things...PM fixes...inspector returns....fixes look he did the same thing's another list of things....PM is pissed and I agree...the inspector should come, do a complete inspection, provide a COMPLETE list of items, go away, PM fix, come back and inspect the fixes and be done...this is ridiculous...some of the things he is asking to be fixed or changed are in my opinion totally unnecessary and are NOT code requirements but a loose interpretation of the code twisted to his viewpoint...just my opinion though....once we get thru this I will tell you about one particular item that to me is just not right and probably against code.  Anyway, we left today with our PM hard at work on the items on the list.  As of right now RH does not have the Certificate of Occupancy and we can't settle till they do...walk thru scheduled for 9am tomorrow with settlement scheduled for 2pm...prayers and finger's crossed are needed.

Major Frustration #2 - The house is still not totally cleaned and we left on Monday night at 9pm after doing a very complete inspection for painting touchup needs....we left blue tape all over the place...painters were coming Tuesday to do the touchup work and cleaners were supposed to come late Tuesday and work into the evening to clean the whole house top to bottom.  We walked in this morning at 9am and our hearts stopped...the floors were still a mess and there was still dirt and grim all over everything...I thought my wife was going to cry.  Our PM walked in right after us and explained that he just fired the cleaning crew for the horrible job they did on our house and the neighbor's house...on top of that when the refrigerator was slid back into place after installing the cabinet trim above it they scratched the heck out of the hardwood floor(that happened yesterday late afternoon) we walked out today they were in the process of tearing out the flooring there to replace it and they had to also do the flooring in the morning room that was damaged by the falling granite...the new cleaning crew was on the way and the work on the inspectors punch list was being worked on...deep sigh....not sure we are going to sleep very well tonight...the shame of it all is that the house looks truly amazing...we are thrilled.  I wish I could share pictures of the kitchen but it has never looked nice enough to share.

Major Frustration #3 - VERIZON!!!  1 month ago we called to arrange installation of phone, FIOS Internet and TV...still can't get the TV portion resolved, so we said to just install the phone and internet for now...guess what...install date of October 20th...they never scheduled it when we originally called and of course no one ever calls you back so you deal with a different person each time and they tell you don't worry, we will get it taken care of..will call you back later today....we are now on our 4th person in the last 7 days and again they did not call back before the end of the day.

Minor Frustration - We are trying to have a sprinkler system and fence installed.  The HOA is managed by a company until such time as it is turned over to the community.  We submitted the plan for the fence last week and should hear before the week is out.  We are not concerned since there are other fences like what we are planning to install already in the community.  Our neighbor is also having a sprinkler system installed and they were out there today getting ready to do the installation for them....the installer went to get the permit from the township and they wouldn't give him one unless it was approved by the HOA....the HOA doesn't want anything to do with sprinkler systems...that's just crazy...the HOA should just rubber stamp the sprinkler request then...anyway, we will find out tomorrow what our neighbor had to do and then just do the same...heck, the model homes have sprinkler systems....

So since we signed the contract back in December things have gone pretty smooth and the last week it has been total craziness.  Here's hoping that the next post is done with keys in hand.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who's the Master?

The next two items on the countdown kind of go together and is definitely a place where we splurged a little.  Our two girls are all grown up and out on their own and it's time to spoil ourselves...

#4 - Master Bedroom - One thing for Ryan Homes is they do know how to design a Master Bedroom and that is usually one of the areas that can be upgraded...we went all the way and added the Luxury Owners Suite option...the result is a 16'5" x 20'11" Main Bedroom which we are adding a King-sized bed to...because we closed off the family room(instead of 2 stories tall) this adds a sitting room which is 9'0" x 14'6"...we will have a nice comfy couch with a TV in this room.  The 3-car turned garage option allows the entire Master Bath to slide further toward the front of the house which produces even more space in the 2 walkin closets...more space then we will know what to do with...lets just say that the smaller of the two is more then twice as large as our existing closet.

#3 - Master Bathroom - Oh my...can you say columns in our bathroom...whattttttt!!!!  That's crazy.  This room has been described as many things, but one of our new neighbors called it a luxury resort hotel spa bathroom...have to say we kind of agree.  6' jetted soaking tub beneath a huge window flanked by the two columns and a huge tiled deck surrounding it.  2 separate vanities...each the size of a normal double bowl of DH's favorite's...his very own vanity with tons of storage space and no sharing!!!  We were thrilled to have had the separate shower with the seat and thanks to our blogging friends HW, who's idea we copied, we have added the Moen Spa System to the shower...Digital control panel lets you control the pressure and temperature from 4 body jets and a huge rain shower head...not only can you control all of that digitally, but each of these can be stored as automatic settings for each individual and the real kicker is the remote control which you can use to activate the shower from anywhere in the room so it is the perfect setting for you when you get more jumping out of the way of the cold water that always comes blasting out first or having to stand outside waiting for things to come up to temp....perfect temp and pressure...oh my....we did spoil ourselves!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Countdown Catchup, Landscaping, and Ceiling Fans Galore

Note:  PM continues to pull thru - Granite Breakfast Bar has been re-cut and installed and this time it is solidly in place.

#8 - Walk-in Pantry - This ties in with the Organization.  In our existing house we have "pantry" stuff all over the a standalone cabinet in our breakfast room, in the laundry room on shelves and in the garage.  We are looking forward to all the space right off the kitchen to organize it more stacking stuff on top of other things just to keep it sort of close by.

#7 - Man Cave with a Bar and Space - When we finished the basement in our existing house we purchased a front bar and had a custom back bar made, moved our family room furniture to the basement, and bought a 45" Mitsubishi that was HDTV ready before there was such a thing.  However, the basement did not have heat or AC so we installed a little electric fireplace which provided "some" heat in the winter and had the fan running in the summer to keep it comfortable...not too bad a Man Cave, but the new one is beyond expectations...our PM has done a fantastic job of taking the bar design and building it to include the column that is right in the area...he added filler pieces to the base cabinets so they go right up to the column and he had the top granite made longer so it extends out and curves around to run right into the column...really really nice job...throw in a nice set of comfy couches, a 60" Plasma, a pub table, and awesome surround speakers...well lets just say the Man might not come upstairs!!!

#6 - Solarium - When we decided to get the solarium it was more to get the storage space underneath then it was for the actual Solarium...even though we both loved the room and all the windows, we just didn't really know what we were going to do with it...well now we's going to have a wine bar theme and we have already been in the room and watched some gorgeous sunsets.  While the furniture and decor is very much up in the air for this room, the theme has us very very excited for what the end result will be.

#5 - Sunroom - This is truly one of our favorite rooms in the house.  Being at the back of the house, the sun will come up on that side of the house...we are looking forward to sitting there drinking a cup of coffee, reading a book, or just relaxing listening to some music.

We were at the house today and there is still a bunch of work to do and TONS of cleaning....there is blue tap all over the place and we found more things that need tape.  The hood vent over the stove is now installed but the venting needs some sort of cowling installed.  The foyer light fixture is still not in.  The basement bathroom fixture and pub table light have finally arrived so they can get installed.  One base cabinet has the wrong color base trim installed so that will need rework.  Correct Kitchen Faucet has not yet come in.  All of this quite easily could be completed before Thursday, but the item that has us most concerned is the 3rd inspection failure for the gas line.  It has yet to pass the pressure test and we are not sure what the problem is.  That's a pretty important thing to get right!!!

Landscaping - We finally got RH to agree to allow us to have our own design installed and at the time they agreed to give us a credit for the "landscape package".  The credit they offered was ridiculously small....especially since it was supposed to cover 33 shrubs, installing shrub beds, and mulching it all.  Needless to say we told them to forget it and just deliver the 33 shrubs and we will see if we can figure out how to use them...we do not have the backyard yet figured out, but perhaps we can figure out something to do with some of them around the back of the house.  As for our actually landscaping, we will be having a sprinkler system installed, our shrub design with trees(RH had no trees included at all) and some accent lighting.  We finalized plans for our fence and submitted that to the HOA for approval.  We are also having a few of our downspouts run underground and extended out away from the house and shrub beds with popup diffusers on the end to control the water flow.

Ceiling Fans - WOW - we spent the afternoon trying to make decisions on all the ceiling fans we need...9 in total...after many hours at the orange and blue stores we finally loaded up the car with 8 fans...made decisions about all but the master bedroom and we think we have that one picked out too, but that meant another trip back to the orange store and we were too tired and hungry at that point!!!

Thats it for now...Go Phillies...Go Eagles...Go Hawkeyes....Happy Building!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


For those of you that have granite countertops with a small breakfast bar between the kitchen and morning room please inspect it closely to make sure it is firmly attached to the wall it sits on.  We had an accident at our house today that could have resulted in a serious serious injury and we would feel horrible if it happened to one of our eFamily members or worse yet one of their children.  Our punch list guy was at the house banging out the list of items still to be completed when he rested his hand against the granite counter top while working on something else and the whole granite top let loose and fell off the other side, hit the floor, and broke into numerous pieces.  Fortunately the only damage was to a few planks of hardwood and the granite could have easily landed on his foot or worse yet a child sitting on a stool at the bar.  I know those aren't pleasant thoughts but it was very scary...his hands were still shaking when we saw him.

Upon inspecting the adhesive that was still firmly attached to the granite it was very apparent what had happened.  The top of the wall that the granite sits on was still covered in dust and debris and the adhesive that was attached to the granite was totally covered with the same dust and debris.  They had never cleaned the top surface of the wall and the adhesive stuck to the debris instead of the top of the wall like it normally also appeared as if they didn't use enough adhesive and when a little pressure was applied the granite slid right off the other side.

Our PM was all over it and within minutes had called the granite company and flooring company to order emergency replacements for both.  I am sure the conversation with the granite company will not be as cordial when we aren't around.

Since most of us have added the morning room and the little breakfast bar is a common feature with the morning room I want you all to carefully and safely inspect the granite to make sure it is firmly attached.  While this is not a pleasant post we will have at least gotten the word out and if it helps someone else avoid serious injury...well so be it!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fireplaces...Foyer...And More

#12 - When we bought our existing house we were thrilled that it had a wood burning fireplace.  Thrilled until we realized it was a lot of work just to get a fire going and then you had to keep a constant eye on it to keep it going...needless to say we rarely had a fire burning.  When we remodeled our family room and kitchen we put a propane tank outside the house and converted it to a gas fireplace and now when it's a little chilly we just flip it on and instant fire.  So, that said, one of the requirements for a new house was to have a fireplace in our family room...almost all Ryan Homes models have that option...we were thrilled...when we were walking thru the Avalon model and got to the basement and discovered that there was a georgous stone fireplace there...well lets just say it took our breath away.  For our family room we went with a formal look with white mantel and black granite surround and hearth.  For the basement we went with the Bucks County ledgestone and we love the fact that the mantel is a big piece of stone.  This area will have to love seats and an ottoman for a nice cozy reading area.

#11 - Grand Foyer - Our first house you walked thru the front door right into our family room.  Our current house you walk thru the front door with the closed in stairs right in front of you and hallway to the back of the house.  We will now have a real foyer to walk into...A Grand Foyer!!!  We love that the steps are off to one side of the foyer.  We are thrilled that we went with the upgraded stairs...thanks to our sales rep for explaining why we really should make that upgrade.  The stain on the stairs and banisters looks fantastic and we love the look of the turned banister at the base of the stairs.  We LOVE the windows surrounding the front door and the huge window above that with all the trim work around it on the outside.  As you know, one of our favorite pictures is the foyer from the second floor hallway.

#10 - Collaboration - Huh...what does that have to do with a feature of a new Home...collaboration is what is making our house into such a wonderful Home....My wife and I collaborated with our sales rep who collaborated with the Main Office and our PM who collaborated with all the suppliers and contractors and worker bees and us to make this house into what it is going to be.  Without that collaboration it would just not be the same...but I must say, the collaboration from all of our eFamily has been huge as well...we got many, many, many ideas from all of you and hopefully you will be able to see those little pieces in our wonderful Avalon.

#9 - Community & Neighbors - The area we live in is just AREA.  From the beginning our neighbors have welcomed us in.  We have had the wonderful pleasure of meeting almost everyone in our cluster of homes.  This new neighborhood is part of a larger community which has the feel of small town USA...with community events(parades, crab feasts, music festivals,etc) happening all the time.  We are sooo looking forward to being part of an active community again and not just living in an AREA.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Old and Media Heaven

#14 - 1st Floor Bathroom with Walkin Shower and Comfort Height Vanity and Toilet.  Hmmmmm....getting old...walkin...comfort height...Yes we are getting up in years and did these upgrades with that in mind.  We can still make our way up the stairs with our muscles aching and knees popping, but just in case down the road we can't for some reason...well we are prepared!!!  Just realized we do not have a good picture of this bathroom.

#13 - Media Heaven - not just a man cave:  You got a taste for this in the post about #15 Exercise Room.  With Guardian's help we will have Audio speakers in 3 rooms(solarium, sunroom, exercise room) and outdoor speakers for the patio all being controlled by a receiver that will be in the hall closet.  Each of these rooms has a control for controlling the speaker volume and changing the source.  This same receiver will drive the in ceiling surround sound speakers in the family room as well as control all video to the TV above the fireplace in the family room.  Wiring between the hall closet and this TV will handle just about any video source as well as a direct internet connection to the TV which is a Panasonic 55" 3D Plasma Smart TV.  A 3D BlueRay player will also be in the closet.  This receiver will be able to access the computer in the Study via ethernet connection to display photos and play video on the TV as well as play music to any of the set of speakers.  In addition, this receiver has AirPlay functionality which means we can send music directly from our iPhones from anywhere in the house to the receiver and then out to any or all of the speakers.  The receiver and all other components will be controlled with the Logitech Harmony 900 RF remote control.  For all you guys out there who constantly find themselves helping their wife get the audio/video devices set to the right input/output settings I highly recommend a Logitech remote...they are extremely easy to set up, with the push of one button you can watch TV or play a video and if it gets out of sync your wife just hits Help and it walks thru a series of yes/no questions to get things back in sync.

The Basement Man Cave will have a similar setup as the family room with a 60" Plasma with surround speakers in the ceiling and the wet bar area at the back of the media area.  The receiver in the basement is just like the one in the closet so it can access all the same sources.

The only curve ball to all of this is we contacted Verizon to arrange for installation of Phone, Fios Internet, and Fios TV and they are telling us that Fios TV is not available for our doesn't make sense because our neighbor to our left who just settled in May has it, the neighbor directly across the street has it, and our neighbor at the end of the block who also settled in May has it.  They even installed the orange Verizon tube in the ground from the street to our house when they dug the trench and ran the electric.  My wife is now multiple levels up in the Verizon Customer Support chain and they called today to say it is looking hopeful...they are sending a technician out to certify our address...if all goes well we should be good to go.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

20 Day Countdown - Late Start

Will do some catchup here on a 20 Day Countdown, but first a couple more pictures for the reveal:

1st Floor Study - hardwood flooring finally finished - they ran short
 Living Room into Dining Room with Stairs
 Dining Room
 View from Dining Room thru Kitchen to Morning Room - It is a very very cloudy day and look at all that light!!!
 Basement Fireplace - Bucks County - stonework was just done today

And here are the first 6 items on the 20 Day Countdown!!!

#20 - Organization - Everything will have a place and there will be no more stack and pack.  The theme of these first five items is all about organization.

#19 - Craft Room - space in the finished basement to work on craft projects without taking over the kitchen and dining room tables...also a place to store all the board games, kids books, and videos we have accumulated over the years.

#18 - Space - Yes...everyone thinks we are crazy to build this large a house at this stage of our lives...we are looking forward to having plenty of room to have friends and family come over without having to sit on top of each other and tons of space to sleep over.

#17 - Closets - almost every bedroom closet is larger then the largest closet in our existing home.  Looking forward to opening a closet door and not having to jump back out of the way of stuff popping out.

#16 - Office - Having the Study/Office on the first floor is going to be fantastic.  Having a formal place to put the mail, bills to be paid, file things away, shred stuff, and keep all the office stuff organized with a real desk and filing cabinets and the computer and printer all in the same place will keep the rest of the house more organized and will save us many hours of searching where we put something.

#15 - Exercise Room - We are soooo looking forward to having a room dedicated to our health.  The plan is to have an elliptical machine, treadmill, and weight equipment.  We have speakers in the room that are linked to the whole house audio, but will be able to plug our ipods into a jack a play directly to the ceiling speakers so we can exercise to our favorite workout playlist!!!

Happy Home Building!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Semi-Big Reveal

We were supposed to meet the guy to get a quote for the fence.  Since it was pouring we postponed till tomorrow, but we decided to go check on the progress.  We had been there on Saturday and they were diligently working on the painting, BUT they had a very very long way to much to go that I figured they would still be painting all through the week.  Sure enough the painters were still there when we pulled we entered the garage we discover a pile of shoes at the door to the house...that's weird....well we soon discovered why....all the hardwood floors, carpets, tiles, and linoleum on the 1st and 2nd floor no longer had the protective covering on them.  The stairs had also been stained!!!  I felt like I was on one of those HGTV shows and was walking in for the big reveal...the house looks awesome and for the very first time had a finished feel to it!!!

Kitchen has had some major problems but today they made huge progress.  The opening for the stove was not big enough(off by about 1/4 inch) they adjusted the cabinets and the stove now fits.  2 of our custom cabinets for the island came in the new ones were sitting in the garage.  When the electrician went to finish the hookups for the Trivection oven, Wall oven, and warming drawer he almost let fly a few choice words when he opened the box...when he did the initial rough wiring he thought there was only a wall oven and the opening in the cabinets even looks that he has run all the wiring as needed....he is the best!!!

We discovered that the ceiling fan in the master bathroom was no where to be found...we rechecked the blueprints and sure enough it is supposed to be there...I reviewed our video of all the walls and ceilings before drywall and sure enough...there it was...sent PM email with photo of we found 3 holes in the ceiling where they were searching for it...close but didn't find it...guess they didn't use the picture.

Anyway, the painters have made huge progress since last we saw...PM is already placing the blue tape on the walls where touch ups are needed.  The floors, carpet, stairs, and tile all look are a few photos...enjoy!!!
Family Room - Not a great picture to show carpet color
 Hall at back of family room
 Solarium - So shiny and still very dirty
 Stairs revealed for the first time - first coat of stain
 Our favorite photo
 Wet Bar with black granite revealed
 Jack & Jill bath with tile and linoleum revealed
 Jack & Jill vanity UbaTuba granite
 Master Bedroom with carpet revealed
 TaDa - Master Bath tile work revealed

 Funny Picture - Hall of Mirrors
 Master Bath vanity and black granite
 Ahhhhhh - Spa Shower with digital control and remote control
 Spa Shower seat
 3 holes - In search of the missing fan vent
 Living Room into Solarium
 Niche with lighting and trim work all painted

Happy Home Building!!!