Friday, March 8, 2013

Pre-Construction Meeting: Done! Done! Done!

March 8 - We met Lauren, our sales representative, and Drew, our project manager at the model home near our community.  We met there because the model that will be in our neighborhood is only a foundation at this point.  So, we learned a few things before the meeting.  First, Salsarita's Fresh Cantina has kid's eat free days on Sundays and Mondays.   We are always seeking information for kids eat free places where we move.

We neither endorse nor publicly support Salsarita's.  Their food may be terrible where you live, that sounds like a personal issue.  Our food was quite good, cheap, and quick.  So, there's that.
We also started to learn a little bit about the traffic around our community.  First, it took us nearly 45 minutes to travel less than 10 miles across town.  We hit every red traffic light.  Then, when we almost made it we found ourselves stuck on a bridge that is normally four lanes.  (Un)Luckily, it had been reduced to three because of power line and tree maintenance.  So, there we sat only a half of a mile to our destination waiting for the cars ahead of us to turn left at a "Yield on Green" light.  Grrrr!  So, we were a little late to the meeting.

Okay, so it wasn't this bad, but the frustration was still there.
After making our humble apologies, our meeting began.  So, Drew began walking us through all of the information.  First, he gave us his contact information and let us know that he would be on site or at the other houses in the neighborhood on the weekdays with the exception of Tuesday.  He told us that if we had any questions or issues he would be available.  Also, if we wanted to see the house we would be able to do so.  We could just not do anything dangerous in the house.  There goes Bryan's chance of dressing like Spiderman and hanging from the rafters.

Second, he told us some important dates:

  • Estimated Start Date: 3/20/2013
  • Estimated Pre-Drywall: Week of 4/22/2013
  • Estimated Pre-Settlement Date: June
Note the "Estimated" as others I have read have become very anxious about any delays.  We understand that permits can be delayed.  We also understand that there are multiple inspections that will be occurring from outside parties that could result in delays because of fixes and additions.

Third, we reviewed each of our optional upgrades that we requested.  This was very good because some items were incorrect, but he corrected them.  The sheet had the incorrect flooring in the kitchen (laminate, ahhh!) and an additional window that we deleted.  These were amended.  However, we found out some items that we overlooked.  First, no recessed lighting in the basement.  We thought that Mark had mentioned that the recessed lighting was in the basement and the kitchen.  That's a no go.  We are good on the kitchen, but not the basement.  We asked that the basement lighting in the room that will be eventually be the media room be only a rough in.  Drew said that it would not be a problem and that he would give us the light if we ever choose to install it.  We also thought that all of the cabinets would be the Maple Spice.  Nope.  Only the kitchen will feature these cabinets.  The vanities in the master and guest bathrooms will be oak.  This is the standard.  It will be okay, but it we may have chosen to upgrade if we would have caught it earlier.  

Third, Drew re-covered all of the warranties.  Lauren and Mark had both covered the warranties as does the binder that they provide.  However, we are firm believers in repetition is key and it shows that they take the warranties very seriously.  Here is a breakdown of the warranties from Ryan Homes:

  • 1 year warranty
    • Workmanship & Materials (Drainage Materials)
    • Concrete & Asphalt (Porches, steps, foundation walls, basement & garage floors, welled exits)
    • Masonry (Foundation walls)
    • Metals (Porch and areaway rails)
    • Woods and Plastics (Rough & Trim carpentry)
    • Thermal and Moisture Proofing (Damp proofing, insulation, roofs, gutters, downspots, louvers, vents, siding, trim, stucco, caulking)
    • Doors and Windows (Condensation & humidity, interior & exterior doors, garage doors, windows)
    • Finishes (Drywall - ceilings & walls, ceramic tile, finished wood flooring, resilient floors, painting, carpeting, hardware)
    • Specialties (Fireplace)
    • Kitchen counters. vanities, and cabinets
  • 2 year mechanical warranty
    • Plumbing (Water supply, sewers, fixtures, drains, septic system, piping)
    • HVAC
    • Electrical systems
    • Fire suppression and sprinkler system
  • 10 year structural warranty
  • 1 year drywall warranty
  • 1 year yard settlement warranty
    • The yard will be sodded and they will fix any areas where water may pool for up to one year.
  • Post Settlement Follow-up service
  • 10 Month Service
  • 3rd Party Quality Inspection on every house
  • 3rd Party Energy Star Inspections throughout the construction process
There are, of course, multiple manufacturer warranties that will cover much of the items well beyond when those with Ryan Homes expire.
Next, Drew discussed the Energy Star Efficiency standards and how they go beyond the minimums for what qualifies.  He explained the efficient windows, insulation, HVAC, and all of what goes into making a very tight house.  He also told us that our house would be so efficient that the bathroom fan in the kids/guest bathroom would be on an automated system to vent the house from time to time.  This keeps the air circulating because it is too efficient!  Wowsers!  Drew also stated that the Energy Efficiency experts would test the house to see how much air escapes before we close and the building is complete.  Energy Star shoots for less than 6% air going out and Ryan Homes goes more for the 2-3% range.  What a difference that will make!  Our house will not only be Energy Star certified, but it will be tested, graded, and approved by them!

Thirdly, Drew discussed the lot size, driveway, and lawn.  We were extremely happy with the measurements.  In our area, houses are practically built one on top of another.  "Yards" equal about the same size as a prison cell, just without all of the amenities.

Not our current backyard, but not uncommon around here.
So, our dimensions were:

  • Lot length size: 115.54'/118.90' 
  • Distance from other houses: 23.3'
We know it is not huge by any means, but it is a good distance for a neighborhood around here.  The kids will be able to play in the backyard and ride their bikes!  It will be like the days when we were younger, which by the standards of our 10 year old was right about the time when we hung out with our pals Adam and Eve.

He also discussed with us that there will be an inspection that occurs a few days before closing.  This is when an outside party comes and inspects the entire home.  We are not allowed in the home and neither is Drew or any Ryan Homes representative.  Everyone is locked out except these inspectors.  Drew has to fix items that they find.  We and Drew are only able to re-enter the home post inspection.

Finally, we had a chance to ask our questions.  We have been reading many, many blogs about people building a Ryan Home.  These have been immensely helpful in this process because while some have been very emotion-driven, others have been very strict and demanding with the process.  They have found issues along the way and have offered some sage advice.  One such advice was to ask questions during the pre-construction meeting.  Many of the questions came from Building New: From Dust to a Dream, This is Our Journey.  Admittedly, this one smells a little like a PR blog created by Ryan Homes, but the questions were helpful never the less.  Another one that was really helpful was Charissa's Ryanhomes Venice Model - Pittsburgh as she was very critical (in a good way) throughout the building process.  She pointed out issues that we would have easily overlooked. Here are the questions that we asked, the italics are the answers:

  1. How often will we be able to view the inside of the home while under construction?                              We will be able to view basically anytime as long as it is safe.  Drew will be onsite or around the neighborhood most days of the week.
  2. Smooth or rough ceilings?                                                                                                                                               Smooth!!!  We had popcorn ceilings in our former home.  Yuck!
  3. Drainpipe in the garage?                                                                                                                              This was one item that people often opted for or complained that they did not have.  We have never owned, rented, or lived in a home with a drain in the garage.  So, this one was strange, but we asked anyway.  Drew said that this is really helpful in some areas that see heavy snowfall.  However, our garage floor will have a pitch that will let any water drain right down the driveway.
  4. Will there be shelves in the closets?                                                                                                       Yes, there will be wire shelving and rods in each closet.
  5. Where are the hose bibs located?                                                                                                                 Drew said that there are standard places where the bibs are located as they try to avoid where decks would normally be placed.  He said that we could work with him to choose our bib spots if we would like.  This is not a big deal, we just did not want it in the middle of the house in the back.
  6. What outdoor lights are standard?  Can we upgrade the lights or add more?                              Drew pointed out where the standard lights are going to be.  There will be one over the front porch, two of the sides of the garage, and one in the back.  No upgrades.
  7. Where will outlets be located?  Will there be one in the laundry room?  Will there be one in the master closet?  Is there an outlet on the kitchen island?  How many outlets are in the garage?                                                                                                                                           They install the outlets by code which is every 6 feet or so (hard to remember).  There will be an outlet in the laundry room.  No outlets in any closets.  There will be one on the kitchen island and one in the garage.
  8. Where will the attic access be located?                                                                                         The laundry room.
  9. Will a Jacuzzi tub fit in the basement bathroom in the future?                                                     No.  The Jacuzzi tubs are too long for a bathroom of this size.  
  10. Will the lawn be seeded or sodded?                                                                                                       It will be sodded, but it is not guaranteed by Ryan Homes.  We have to take care of the lawn with watering.  They do have a warranty on the grading of the lawn for one year.
  11. Will there be sidewalks?                                                                                                                    There will be sidewalks!  
  12. Will there be a deadbolt on the door?                                                                                           Yes, there will be a deadbolt on the front door.  Safety first!
  13. How long will it take to build the house?                                                                                       The estimated delivery date is June, but it cannot be narrowed to a specific date because of delays that may occur because of weather, inspections, and permits.
  14. What inspections will happen at each stage?                                                                                          There are many, many inspections that occur throughout the process.  This includes county inspections and Energy Star inspections.  The data from these inspections will be available through county websites.  
  15. Will the garage be sheet-rocked?                                                                                                            The garage will be sheet-rocked, but it will not be finished or painted.
  16. What is the best way to reach you if I have questions?                                                               Drew gave us his cellphone number, e-mail, and contact hours.
  17. How will other homes next to me/across from me be positioned?                                                          Drew showed us where the other homes would be on the community map.  There will be a good distance from the other homes and no scroogy wompus stuff going on.   [Look it up, kids.  It's a phrase, I assure you.]
  18. Will there be extra floor supports for high-traffic areas?                                                                      They have extra close supports for the flooring.  They exceed the standard here.
  19. Can we extend the driveway/get more concrete poured?                                                             We did not ask this one.  We thought about it because our daughter will be 16 soon enough, but by that time we will be flying around in Jetson cars right?  Stupid George Jetson!  Where's my flying car that folds into a briefcase?!?!  
  20. Will the windows have screens?                                                                                                                         Again, another weird one, but there were so many people complaining about no screens that we thought we would ask.  Drew assured us that there will be screens.  Then, he explained that some areas where homes are being built have different codes.  Some areas do not require gutters, our community does.  Others do not require items that we may believe are standard.
  21. Can we move up the cabinets above the refrigerator to be flush with the wall?                         We thought this might be a sticking point, but it was not.  The plans show the cabinets to be flush.  So, there will be no need for a little stool that we will have to use to get to that weird small cabinet above the fridge.  Bryan always feels like the candy man from Willy Wonka when he has to do that and that scene is just creepy anyway.
  22. What about home inspectors that we hire for the pre-backfill, pre-drywall, and pre-settlement?                                                                                                                                     Drew said that he does not often have buyers who hire their own inspectors, but it does happen to give them a piece of mind.  He said that they are sometimes costly, but we are welcome to hire them at any time.  He also said that there are many third party inspections that we will be able to access during the construction process.  We may hire one for the pre-settlement meeting, but perhaps not the others.  
  23. What other questions do home buyers have that I may be missing?                                                  Drew had some interesting ones that we did not think of:
    • When can we measure for blinds?
      • We can measure after the drywall is hung.
    • Will there be gutters?
      • Yes, there will be gutters.
    • Why do we have a white door when we requested a black one?
      • The doors arrive white, but are painted on site.
It was a really good and productive meeting.  Drew seems like a competent, intelligent, and most importantly, an honest person.  He has been building with Ryan Homes for 18 years which is just less than our sales representative, Mark.  Drew was very direct in his statements and he did not appear to be "selling" himself.  This was a very good sign for us.  

Lastly, we have received some sad news.  I know this entry is getting long, but why are you reading for this long and complaining now?!  Mark has been given the opportunity to advance in the company and return back to Ohio.  He will be leaving very soon.  Mark was a great help along the process and really helped us to shape the home that we are creating.  He was essential in making our decision to purchase a home at this time.  Sure, he's a salesman and that is what salesmen do, but it was good to have someone who worked with us and say "You should buy even if it is not with us".  We will miss him as the process continues, but we wish him the best of luck. 

On a brighter note, we will be left in the very capable hands of Lauren.  She has been instrumental since the signing of the paperwork. She has been at every meeting, walked us through the "choosing the colors" craziness, and has been our point of contact from the moment that Mark began considering the other position.  She has been really great and we are lucky to have her working with us.  
Next up: The "Neighbors Get Together" and finally getting a SOLD sign!

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