Monday, January 30, 2012

A busy week...

Here again begins another busy week, at work and at the construction site.  I stopped by last Friday to take a quick look and everything looked nice.  A contractor was finishing hanging the new drywall where it had to be taken down, all the other walls have been painted.  A lot of work is scheduled for this week:  the siding should be put up and finished, the kitchen/bathroom/entry floors should go in, the cabinets should go in, the doors/base trim/ (door trim?) should go up, and the basement windows should be finished.  Wow, that is a lot for one week.  After that, all that remains is to clean things up, put down the pad and carpet, light fixtures, stair railings, shutters, paint the front door, and a few other things.  The lawn won't be fully leveled, graded, and seeded until late spring, and the driveway and front porch/walkway won't be laid until that time as well.  Look for an update in a couple days.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mess cleaned up...

Well, it is nice to have a responsible PM and builder when things go wrong.  I still haven't been down to the home site, I had to work past darkness again, but my PM sent me an update with pictures and I spoke with him on the phone.  He let me know the progress made, and that the walls where the leak occurred remain dry.  That's quite a relief.  The weather that produced this mess was bizarre, high winds and rain are common to Buffalo, but typically this time of year is filled with snow, not rain.  Anytime you have near horizontal rain you can have water penetration, but it is definitely not what you want in a house under construction.  I owe much thanks and gratitude to Ryan homes for quickly fixing the mess and making things right!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What a mess...

Wow, what a weekend.  I wasn't going to visit the house this weekend because all they were doing was hooking up the furnace, finishing the drywall (which already looked good), insulating the attic, and I think that was all that was scheduled.  Well, I had an itch to visit after church on Sunday and am I glad I stopped by.  The contractor must have forgotten to properly close the front door so it was partially open (probably from the wind) so I took a personal tour and found some seriously disturbing things like MOLD!  Not a lot, honestly just a little, but mold in a house under construction, yikes.  There was also another water leak, the floors were squeaking, the basement had a wet spot, and the siding contractors instaled the starter strip in two different ways, one correct, the other not correct.  I'm glad I didn't miss any of this, though I'm sure my PM would have caught all of it and fixed it for me anyway.

The culprit for all this dismay seems to be that the house was never fully sealed up.  The framers didn't have enough housewrap to finish the job and it was decided the siders would finish sealing the house...well then winter actually arrived in Buffalo, blew off some huge sections of house wrap, and sent water running down the sides of the house and into the walls, as well as into the basement (at least I hope the basement issue is due to water dripping down the walls. 

After seeing this, I promptly drove home and very calmly sent my PM a very nice, but thorough email clearly stating the problems in detail.  I then went to the gym, did some shopping, etc. and came home and hired an architect from my church to inspect the property for me due to my busy work schedule this week.  The verdict is in:  all should be fine.  My PM was very responsive, quickly replying to my email, and assuring me things would be fixed correctly.  My architect met with my PM and sent back a detailed email with photos explaining the seriousness of the situation, but the ease with which it can be corrected.  My PM also called several times, and has since emailed me photos of the repair work.  I haven't made it down to the house yet, but I'm glad to have the photos he sent me.  I will upload them for you to look at.

This is the exterior living room wall, it looked fine, but now it is back to basic.
The back wall is the exterior dining room (front is living room).  The leak was in the corner, near the middle seperating wall.

Now you can see that the house is fully sealed up, for the first time ever!  I will stop by soon to make sure it is all sealed up properly, but I'm sure my PM has done this for me.  I'm very happy that the house is fully sealed, now even if it rains the water should not be able to penetrate into the wood walls.  Of course, let's hope the siders arrive soon because if we get another wind storm before they side the house, they may need to do all of this again.  Let's hope not.

I have to admit, this was a trying weekend.  I like Ryan homes, I have spent years looking at their models, talking with their sales reps. and searching their website, studying different floor plans.  They have some of the nicest floor plans I've found, very thoughtful, very well laid out.  But they have had a reputation in the past.  Over the last 5 or so years, I feel they have made huge strides improving the quality and consistency of their construction.  I have some issues with things they have done with my house thus far.  I'm not saying it is bad, just that things could have been done better.  Overall, as long as they fix the problems, all will be good- or even better than good. Winter construction is messy and difficult so I understand some of the issues, (like cutting a hole in the front of my house to pour the basement floor) but I don't like them.  Things could have been planned out differently, I don't know the logistics that prevented a different timeline from taking place, but I know a different timeline that didn't require cutting a hole in the front of my house to pour a concrete floor could have been designed; same thing with the full sealing of the house, it didn't have to take several weeks.  In the end, this potential cost savings for Ryan homes ended up costing a lot more because they have to redo work already done.  I'm still hoping and looking forward to a well built home at the end of this process.  Nothing appears so bad at this point that it can't be safely corrected.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Drywall work continues

I met with my sales agent and PM tonight to sign some forms and tour the house.  Things look good.  There was a severe wind storm yesterday and some of the house wrap came off, but it will be replaced when the house is sided in a couple weeks.  Today the subfloor was sanded down in preparation for resilient flooring, and carpeting, the furnace was installed-and will be turned on tomorrow, and the dry wall contractor will continue to work on plastering for the next week.  They put on the 2nd coat of 'mud' today and will be back either Friday, the weekend, or early next week to apply the 3rd and 4th coats.  If they actually put on this many layers of 'mud' I will truly be impressed.  All and all, things seem fine.  Oh yeah, they will insulate the attic tomorrow!

Don't expect an update for a week or two, there isn't a whole lot that will be going on for the next week.  Though, the house is scheduled to be finished in about 4 weeks- just 28 days!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Things I'm in need of...

Hi friends,

Here's a request for help in anyway possible.  As most of you know, I'm building a house which is exciting, but also makes me realize there's a ton of stuff I don't have.  So here's my list, in case you have any spares, and want to get rid of your excess, I will recieve with gracious and open arms.

  • Snow shovel
  • Garden shovel
  • Rack
  • Ladder
  • Lawn mower (though I plan to purchase a non-motorized push version, unless someone has one of these)
  • Garbage can (I think the town provides this, not sure)
  • ??? What else do I need to have for a house??? Please forward me any suggestions as I'm clueless to what I will need to keep my house and yard up. 

Thoughts on my Project Manager

I never mention my PM's name out of respect for his privacy, but I want to say a few things about him.  He seems really nice, honest, and straight forward.  He doesn't pretend Ryan homes is building me a castle, he acknowledges that Ryan is a 'value builder' which means you get a nice product for a pretty decent price.  I'm a frugal person and this is something I really value about Ryan homes, a nice product for the money, not a custom built fortress, but something that is new, and probably better built than most existing construction, all for a price that is comparable to existing home prices.

Now to my PM.  I really like how he tries to meet my needs.  So far he has agreed to add a basement window because the basement contractor placed the basement window under the patio door.  He added an electrical outlet in the huge walk-in-closet for me, and even assumed I wanted it for an iron so he placed it on a separate circuit breaker.  He offered to raise the bathroom vanity a couple inches because I didn't like how low it is supposed to be.  He insulated my foundation walls when I was concerned about freezing, he has really listened to all my questions, and met my needs along the way.  I appreciate his willingness to help me out.  Working with my PM has been a very pleasant experience so far; here's to hoping that continues until all is said and done...

The outside

I realized that I've never taken the time to publish any photos of the outside of the house, so voila!

Dry wall is up...

Oh my gosh, I can't believe in two weeks my future house has gone from a concrete foundation to a fully framed house with inspected/signed off electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, and now dry wall hung, tapped, sealed, and ready to be sanded/primed/painted! Oh yeah, they also poured the foundation floor, and garage floor. It is scary how fast this whole thing has progressed.

I suppose by the end of next week, the house will be primed and painted, floors buffed out, resilient laid down, and cabinets/bath fixtures in.  It amazes me how fast this all goes.

From what I can tell things look good.  I put my hands on the dry wall in the areas I was concerned about insulation (which I didn't get to inspect due to the lightning fast progress).  What I found was that most of the areas felt warm like the walls where I know the insulation was well installed.  However, there are a couple areas that I felt probably weren't well insulated and indeed, those sections of wall are cooler to the touch so the insulation quality is definitely affected.  I'm not sure what to do, but Ryan homes does pay to have the house independently performance tested so I will receive a report and pictures of where the house leaks heat.  I think I will wait for those results.
In any case, I'm so excited about all the progress, and I really like the house, though it does look a lot smaller with the drywall up.  Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, January 13, 2012

60 Day Lock

I made my 60 day interest rate lock last week and I'm very happy.  I originally planned on using my negotiated points toward lowering the mortgage rate down to 4%.  But I was able to lock in at 3.75% without using points.  I would have liked to lower the rate even further with my points, but NVR said this was as low as they would go; so the bonus is that I get to use my points to lower closing costs.  That's about 1.5K savings for me which really helps out.  With the lower rate, and points toward closing costs, I'm able to wrap my closing costs into the mortgage and keep the monthly rate at what was first estimated.  That gives me an extra $4,500 to keep in the bank as a cushion, or for a nice deck/patio, or even a future finished basement!

Friday visit

I was supposed to stop by today to check out the insulation before the drywall went up.  After my pre-drywall meeting earlier this week, I was informed that the basement and garage floors would be poured Thursday, insulation would go in on Friday, and sheet rock would be delivered with drywalling begining next week.  When I called to stop by and visit, my PM asked if I recieved his message informing me that the sheetrock was already finished because they were running ahead of schedule. 

I'm a bit disappointed, I was looking forward to inspecting the insulation work, especially the corners, and areas where framing made proper insulation difficult.  Now I get to guess what really lies under the drywall.  I have to say, my PM sent me 6 photos showing corners and hard-to-reach places so I could see the insulation, which was nice of him.  Most of it looks good, but some of the work lookes 'so-so'.  Again, I'm sure it will be acceptable for code, but I would rather pay a little more and get a really well insulated house.  One of the only values in building a new house is the opportunity to really make sure it is well insulated, I hope my house IS well insulated.

Here are the pictures:

Pre-Drywall meeting

I met with my PM this past Wednesday and he took me through the house to see what it looks like before the drywall goes up.  All and all, it looks ok- they call it rough-framing for a reason.  I really like the house, it is small, but open, with plenty of space for a small family.  I'm tired of everyone living in a McMansion-definetly not my style. 

I have some issues with the framing.  Ryan homes hired an Amish group to frame the house and I thought I would be more impressed with their workmanship.  The framing is fine, but I would have thought more attention was paid to detail, there were quite a few areas where the framing was truly acceptable, but could have been done better. 

On a postive note, I like that Ryan homes caulks all the double headers, double joists, etc. to prevent air infiltration.  Of course, the caulking should be done on the outside, not the inside, but it does show some attention to detail that I appreciate.  The electrical looked good, again every joist with electrical was sealed with foam- a nice detail.    The heating also looked good, nice attention to detail sealing all the heat exchanges, and spraying foam into any openings between floors.  My architect friend said the plumbing was well done too.  Overall impression: Nice job so far.

One thing I really like is that the floors feel very level, and the walls look square.  On the downside, Ryan homes designs a dropped ceiling along the middle of the house to run heating, electrical, etc.  But the only thing in a huge part of this run is electrical which could have been re-routed so a huge section didn't have to go in.  I really don't mind, but it would have been nice if my dining room didn't have this dropped section since the only thing running through it is a couple electrical lines.  On the plus side, my PM did offer to scale the drop back since we don't need to add HVAC in it hear in the northeast (our furnaces are in the basement not the attic space).  I asked him to keep it the way it was for uniformity, I thought a smaller section in the dining room would look weirder than keeping it the way it is. Of course, not having it at all would have looked nice. 

I was happy to see that my PM had the construction heater on, heating the basement in preparation for pouring the concrete slab.  That was a nice bit of attention to detail!  So far things are going smoothly.  I can't wait to see the finished house!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sneak Peak

I stopped by to take a closer look at the house the other day.  Here's what I saw:  generally the framing looks good, there are some issues that need to be addressed tomorrow in my pre-drywall meeting with my PM. 

                                                                   Ceiling Trusses

Bathroom Framing

Second floor bathroom drains

Monday, January 2, 2012

Framing began

My PM called to let me know framing began on my house so I dropped by to take a look. Here are some pictures. Overall, things look good, a few 'different' things need to be looked at, but it is early on so it is easy to correct now. Enjoy! I stopped by on Friday and a friend dropped by today, but I'm sick as a dog so expect to wait a while for an update.  P.S.  Nasal infections really suck!

                                                                     Kitchen Window

                                                                  Back Hall/Lavatory

                                                            Back hall door to garage

                                                                 First floor framing