Sunday, August 31, 2014

End of Week 3!

Wow! Since I updated they have done so much to the house!!! We have a 2nd floor and a roof!!!

This is what it looked like Friday evening (8/29)

Brave man on the roof!!!

We weren't able to go by on Saturday (we were deal hunting for appliances all day! More on that later!)

We went by today (Sunday 8/31) and they had finished putting plywood on the last part of the roof! We also got to go inside and check things out for the first time since the 2nd floor went up!

Looking straight on to the house and then views into the garage. Hubby & Sweet D were checking it all out. 

Side view of the house, looking out of the front door, looking up to the 2nd floor, and our fireplace!

Other side view of the house, looking out of the morning room to the left, looking out of the morning room to the right, and then looking at the house from the back of the property.

I think we are 2 weeks ahead of schedule right now. They should be putting up shingles this week and starting work on the inside!  My fingers and toes are crossed that we are going to be done by October/early November!!! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Week 3 Update!

I've been traveling for work this week so I haven't been able to swing by the house.  They've made a ton of progress!
2nd floor is up!  And windows!
Because of my crazy schedule, Hubby had to schedule the meeting with our new PM while I was out of town.  The meeting went pretty well, although he was surprised to hear that the new PM has not even been inside the house yet?  Hubby typed up notes (he is seriously the best!) so I would know everything they talked about.  I'll post those tomorrow.

Closer view of the house - I'm in love!

The new PM said that the trusses were delivered yesterday and should be up by tomorrow (8/29), roof and tar paper down over the weekend, wiring/plumbing/HVAC contractors in the next week (9/1-9/6), so pre-dry wall meeting should be sometime the week of 9/8!!!
I drove by after my flight came in (because I'm obsessive like that).  They were still hard at work at 7:15 pm, so I didn't get out to take pictures.  It looks like they added roofing to the porch over the afternoon.
I can't believe how fast things are moving now!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ceiling Fans

We are going to have 8 ceiling fans in the new house.  EIGHT!  When you come to see us, you'll be BLOWN away :)

We have a ceiling fan in each of the bedrooms and the loft upstairs.  Downstairs we have them in the morning room, family room, and study.  I love having air move and we both wanted overhead lighting in every room of the house.  We only did the rough-in, so we'll need to purchase all these fans!
I recently ready another blog (I can't remember whose!), that mentioned buying ceiling fans ahead of time to help space out the cost.  I'm having a hard time deciding if I want to have the same ones in each bedroom?  Have a different one in each room?  Pick out 2 or 3 and repeat in the house?  And then when it comes to finishes, I'm also having a hard time.  We've done Oil Rubbed Bronze for all of our fixtures, so I feel like I need to continue that with the fans.  I'm not big into mixing and matching, so I think keeping it all ORB will be best for us.
Here are a few options that I like: 
This might be nice for the morning room, family room or the master bedroom since it's more expensive and a little more unique.  This one is by far my favorite!
Pretty standard - we like clean lines, nothing frilly.
Another option if we wanted one light vs. the 3 or 4 prong light.
This one is more modern, but I kind of like it.  Seems a little hotel chic'.
How many ceiling fans did you opt for?  Do you have any suggestions for other ceiling fan options?  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Start of Week 3!

We were really excited to swing by the house last night to see what progress had been made in a day (ha!). We got to the house around 6 and they were still hard at work. We drove around a little to kill time, but they were working so we decided to grab dinner since Sweet D was hungry. We came back to the house around 7:30 and the workers were (finally) packing up so we could walk around and take pictures. It's definitely a great thing they were working late, it just makes it hard to "rome" around the lot (haha). 

They have almost all of the exterior walls up and they started putting up the 2nd floor flooring! 

They put in the steel beam in the garage, and it looks like they leveled out the ground by the entry stairs. 

You can see some of the closed ceiling here along with more walls. 

I love this view from our soon to be morning room!  All of those trees in the back will be staying, I love how wooded our section of the neighborhood is!

Also, we were really happy to see that the garage service entry-way was moved to the correct spot!  We are very pleased that this was easily corrected. 
So far, so good for customer service Ryan Homes!

I don't think we'll be able to head back out until Friday because of work schedules and traveling.  I'm hoping hubby can swing by to check it mid-week!  I don't want to miss anything!

Monday, August 25, 2014


I'm having a much harder time picking out our fridge vs. our washer/dryer.  My hubby wants a side by side and I want French doors.  I think the compromise will be French door in the kitchen and side by side in the garage :) One thing I can't decide is if I prefer the 3 door version or the 4 door version. I'm also totally swayed by the latest and greatest gadgets, so I'm trying not to make decisions based on that (but it's sooooo hard!). 
Option 1
LG 30.3 cu. ft. French Door-in-Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel, MSRP is $3,700 (is on sale right now for $2,774).  This is one that has wooed me with the fancy extra door for small things that you want to have easily accessible.  I like how big it is - 30.3 cubic feet will fit so much food!  It also has great reviews, so it's not just fancy - it's well liked too!
Option 2
Frigidaire Gallery 27.8 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel, MSRP is $2,399 (not currently on sale).   I love this one because it is smudge proof!  I got to test it out and see it in person and it's true - NO SMUDGES!  With an almost 2 year old, I think this may be the most practical.  It's slightly smaller than the LG above and doesn't have all of the fancy features, but the smudge proofness may be the winning point!
Option 3
GE Profile 28.6 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel, MSRP is $3,099 (now on sale for $2,598).  This one has good reviews and honestly, I like that it's the same brand as the stove, microwave and dishwasher.  I have a need for things to match. 
Option 4
Samsung 31.0 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel, MSRP is $3,599 (now on sale for $2,998).  Not so sure about this one, I mostly like it because it is huge.  It also has lots of fun gadgets.  The reviews aren't fantastic, so I doubt we'd pick this one. 
Are you excited about picking out appliances?  Do you have any fridge recommendations?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

End of Week 2!

I probably should have waited until today to update, but it's so exciting right now to see how quickly things are moving! We went to Sweet D's new daycare yesterday for her to check it out and we went by the lot afterwards. They worked later than normal because they were still going strong after 5 pm. We drove by but didn't take pictures because I didn't want the guys working to think we were crazy people :)

We went back by today and got to walk around and see all of the framing. It is crazy how quick this stuff goes up!

A few different angles of the house. 

View of the back of the house as you come through the neighborhood. I get so excited when we pop over the hill to see the house!

View from the front door looking down the foyer. Please note the giant jug of red juice that was left behind. The amount of trash that is all over the place is kind of crazy to me. I can't believe they don't pick up after themselves!

I must say that I was pretty oblivious to the details, I was more wowed by the walls going up. But hubby inspected things a little more closy and noticed how poorly the nails were placed in the walls to the framing. Is this normal?

Hope y'all are having a great weekend!

Washer & Dryer

I've been thinking about appliances, specifically our refrigerator and the washer/dryer, since our house comes with a stove, microwave, and dishwasher. 

One thing I'm trying to figure out is if we can take advantage of some sales now, but delay delivery until November - to anyone that has already built, how did you handle this???

Washer & Dryer
We had a front loading washer and dryer in our last house that we bought new.  I had to have them.  And then I hated them.  The washer always smelled like mildew no matter how much we let it air out or cleaned it.  And the dryer was AWFUL.  It ripped holes in almost all of our clothes and we HATED it.

Needless to say, we are very excited to get something new.  After reading and researching, I think we are going to go with the Maytag Bravos XL 4.8-cu ft High-Efficiency Top-Load Washer and the Maytag Bravos XL 7.3-cu ft Electric Dryer with Steam Cycles.  They've gotten great reviews online and I love the sleek new look of the top-loaders!  I'm in love!  Now I really hope we can find a good deal on them over Labor Day weekend!

Thanks to Young House Love for doing the research and pointing me in the direction of these beauties! 
Have you picked out your washer/dryer?  Are you going to do top-loading or front-loading for your washer?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Week 2 Update!

We stopped by the house today on our way to Sweet D's new daycare orientation. We were excited to see that framing had begun and a wall is up!

We talked to our new PM yesterday and he said that we can have the garage service door moved back where we wanted it! Hooray!  We are going to meet him next week. He confirmed that he will do email updates every week or week and a half. We are also welcome to call anytime for an update.  Hopefully we'll get off to a better start with him.   

View of the service door placement and where we'd like it to be.

 View from across the street. 

View from our soon to be front porch!

Progress, sweet progress!  At this rate, I really hope we'll be done on the earlier end of the estimated delivery date (anywhere from November 1 - 20).

Can't wait to see what they get done tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Road Map to Closing

Below is a list provided by NVR Mortgage outlining the process for the mortgage application, approval and closing.  Our processor sent this to us and I thought it was helpful to see it all laid out.
  • Loan Application
    • Loan officer collects all necessary documentation for initial approval of loan
  • Loan Audit
    • Quality Control Officer will inspect file for any errors that may have occurred during initial loan application
  • Initial Processing
    • Loan is assigned to processor and may request further documentation in order to complete file for Underwriting Department
  • Underwriting
    • Loan is then sent to underwriting department to receive full underwrite of file for initial approval
    • This step of process normally takes roughly 2-3 weeks, due to length of time dedicated to each file and volume of loans
    • Initial approval must be obtained in order for Ryan Homes to start construction of home.
  • Loan Approval
    • At the point, the closing processor will collect any documentation that is needed for final approval, which are not time sensitive (i.e. pay stubs, bank statements, etc)
  • Pre-Drywall Meeting with Ryan Homes
    • Call Loan Officer to discuss locking interest rate
    • Contact homeowner’s insurance agency to obtain a copy of the new policy.
    • Closing processor will request new bank statements, paystubs, and any remaining documents that are still needed for final approval of loan.
  • Underwriting Department
    • Loan sent to underwriting for final approval, but underwriting may ask for further documentation for final approval.
  • Loan is Cleared to Close
    • Loan is submitted for Pre-Close File Quality Review
    • Closing processor will collect paystubs, dated within 30 days of closing and any closing documents that are needed.
    • NVR Settlements Services will send preliminary Settlement Statement (HUD-1), as well as instructions for closing.
  • Closing
    • Arrive at the set closing destination with:
    • Photo ID
    • Certified Check written to: NVR Settlement Services
  • Customer Survey
    • Each customer will receive a survey 30 days after closing, in order to evaluate their experiences with NVR Inc.

Was your process similar to this?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Starting Week 2

Hubby and I stopped by the lot today at lunch to see if anything had happened. It looks like they're spreading out the gravel in the foundation today. It also looks like we got a delivery of stuff - not sure what it is.

Still haven't heard anything from our SR about the new PM or the garage door. 

On our way out we saw a truck with framing materials coming in - not sure if that's for us or our neighbors, but we aren't too far off from that now! Woohoo!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 1 - Completed!

We went by the lot on Friday after work and were excited to see the the cinder blocks had been laid for the foundation and decorative brick was also up!

It's funny how small it looks when it's just the  foundation.

Our 2 gripes - 

1. We have not recieved a call from our PM at all. We should have set the expectation that we wanted a weekly update, but I thought they would be doing that. Is that a demanding expectation?
We are also getting a new PM since we met with the supervisor while they were determining who would be the PM long term at our neighborhood. 

2. The garage service door (that we paid extra for) is not in the correct place. We reviewed at our pre-construction meeting we wanted it towards the back of the garage and were told no problem. When we went by on Friday, it was laid out to be at the front.  It's not the end of the world, but it's frustrating when you've discussed something and it is ignored.

We have conveyed both concerns to our SR. He's acknowledged and now we are waiting to hear back. 

What were your gripes during the first week of construction?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Loan Approval

We had our loan meeting on April 29th and had all of the paperwork needed in to NVR by May 5th.  We received our approval letter on June 11th.  So it took a little over a month to get the approval.  I don’t know the usual turnaround time but a month doesn’t seem too bad.  I wasn’t too worried about getting approved, but it was certainly a relief to have everything ready to go!

Even though I thought we were pretty organized and gave NVR everything they needed, the approval email included an attachment that outlined additional information that we must provide at closing (taken directly from our letter):
  1. Copy of earnest money checks with statements showing the money cleared
  2. Provide dated Initial 1003.  Date of application must be verified.
    • I need to research what this is because I’m not sure.
  3. Signed/Dated disclosure of right to receive a copy of an appraisal.
    • I’m assuming our SR will have this?
  4. Verification of sufficient liquid assets to close.  (5% down is required plus 2 months reserves on the subject and 6 months on the current home).
  5. Bank Account 1 – Page 2 of statement from 2/28/14
  6. Retirement Account A – Page 3 of statement from 3/31/14
  7. Provide terms and conditions for Retirement Account B.  The terms need to address if funds can be withdrawn in case of financial hardship.
  8. Retirement Account C– provide a current statement (12/31/13 is the only one on file)
  9. Provide terms and conditions for Retirement Account D.  The terms need to address if funds can be withdrawn in case of financial hardship.
  10. Provide all pages of the Retirement Account D statement dated 3/31/14
  11. Provide Bank Account 2 pages 2,6,7,8 of the 3/11 statement and pages 2 & 6 of the 4/10 statement
  12. Provide explanation for lower wages in 2013.  Base on previous wage it should have been $xxx and the 2013 W-2 only shows $xxx
    • Sidenote: A couple of things happened here.  Part of 2013 I had to pay back benefits for being out on maternity leave in 2012.  Also, I received a promotion at the end of 2013 that increased my salary.  I also x’ed out my salary info – no need to put that out in the interwebs J
The mortgage rate we were initially approved at was 4.625%.  We are working on boosting one of our credit scores to hopefully lower that rate.  We are thisclose to qualifying for the best rates, so we are doing everything we can to get there.  I am really hoping that the rates will drop a little between now and when we lock in our rate!

So, I think for now we wait until the Pre-Drywall meeting until we have to deal with mortgage stuff again! 

How was your loan process?  What rate were you able to lock-in at? 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Loan Application Process – Part 2

Part 1

We refinanced our previous home not that long ago, so we knew we needed all of these documents so that was not a surprise.  Our SR had also prepped us to let us know that we would need a lot of documentation (have I mentioned how awesome our SR is? He’s pretty fantastic!).  We sent our loan representative the required documents the night prior so we figured she wouldn’t have much time to go through them because our meeting was at 8:30 the next morning.  We were wrong… she had keyed almost all of the information in before we got there!  What a time saver that was!

It’s been a while since we had the meeting, so I can’t remember everything we talked about.  I know we discussed different loan options, our credit score and how we could improve it more to help get a better rate and any outstanding information we didn’t have with us.  We also played around with the numbers to determine what our payment would be if we put more money down, paid down our PMI, etc.

Overall, it was a pretty easy process since we had everything fairly organized.  I actually told the loan representative that I had heard a lot of nightmare stories, but it was much more pleasant than I had had anticipated.  She laughed and said that it was because we were organized and were buying a home within our means and we had good credit.  We also have stable jobs and had been in our industries for years (we are very fortunate and grateful for this).  Essentially, we weren’t stretching ourselves too thin and had the finances to purchase the house we wanted to build.  We knew this, but it was comforting to hear. 

Funny story – the loan representative said one time they had someone come in with 3 garbage bags of paperwork and they sifted through them at the loan meeting.  It took HOURS for them to pull everything together.  We cracked up – I can’t imagine putting someone else through that!

Helpful Tips:
  • Be organized!  If you’re thinking about the home buying process, start gathering all of this information.  My husband and I are fairly organized, so this is second nature to us. 
  • If possible, go ahead and digitize the information.  It was super easy to just email everything over to our rep in advance of our meeting.  I would recommend scanning things separately and naming them logically. 
  • Create a folder on your computer to house all of info you need.
  • Keep track of your credit and your credit score.  This is crucial!  We started using an app called Credit Karma that updates your credit score weekly.  You can also get your 3 credit reports annually to monitor your accounts. 

Do you have any other helpful tips?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Well y'all, I was really starting to feel like we would NEVER start building...mostly because I'm impatient and I've been ready since we moved out of our other house in mid-July.  But we were very pleasantly surprised this evening when we stopped by!

Here's what the lot looked like on Monday night when we came by (the same as it did on Thursday for our pre-construction meeting). 

It rained for most of the day on Tuesday so I really didn't think much would be done today... Boy was I wrong!

Concrete has been poured!

View from the back looking towards the front. 

View from across the street. All the cinder blocks have been delivered!!!

And just for comparison, this is what it looked like a month ago! 

Okay, it's official. I thought I was excited before... But now it feels real! We're building a house! A REAL HOUSE! HOORAY HOORAY HOORAY!!!

Loan Application Process – Part 1

Our SR helped us set up our appointment with NVR after signing the paperwork for our house.  We met with our loan representative on April 29th.  She notified us ahead of time of what documents were needed for the meeting (although we only got a 24 hour notice of the documents needed, it would have been nice to have a little more time to pull it all together and have it organized).  I hope this list may help someone else who is in the beginning stages with the NVR loan process!

Here’s what we had to bring:
  1. Most recent pay stubs covering a 30 day period
  2. 2012 and 2013 W-2s and 1099 if applicable
  3. 2011 and 2012 tax returns signed and dated.  If we had 2013, then we could use that instead of 2011.
  4. Most recent 2 months bank statements (all pages with name and account numbers on the statement) for any checking, savings, money market accounts or CD’s.
  5. If you hold a joint bank account with anyone who is not on the mortgage loan, please provide a letter signed and dated by the account holder stating that you have access to the funds in the account.
  6. Most recent retirement account statements (all pages with name and account numbers on the statement) for any 401k, thrift savings, IRA, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.
  7. Most recent mortgage statement.  If taxes and insurance are not escrowed, please also provide a copy of your most recent tax bill and homeowner’s declaration page showing premium amount.
  8. If you are not selling your current home, please provide a signed and dated letter of intent stating what you plan to do with it (rent it, etc).
    • Sidenote – we had to do this because we were approved to keep our current home and purchase the new home.  We placed a non-contingent offer in the hopes that with our house going on the market on April, we would be able to sell it by October.
  9. Name and phone number for Human Resources Department to verify employment.
  10. Check for $450 for credit report and appraisal fees made payable to NVR Mortgage.  Please do not date the check prior to the loan application date.
  11. Copies of driver’s license and Social Security Card.
  12. Letter of explanation for any derogatory credit accounts, even if they are closed or have a zero balance. 
  13. Separation agreement of divorce decree, if applicable.

More to come in Part 2!

Did you have to bring everything listed above?  Did I miss anything?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Thoughts on NVR Mortgage

I must admit that I had a pretty negative view of NVR Mortgage based on all of the blogs I had read.  They’ve got a pretty bad rap out there.  There were some positive posts, but it seemed like most people had a pretty bad experience with NVR.  This of course made me feel pretty hesitant about using NVR for our mortgage.

I must say that so far, our experience has been really favorable and we’ve been pleased!  So, for those of you out there reading all of the negative reviews, I think it really depends on your load rep and YOUR attitude/viewpoint/organization skills/follow-up.

<Dear Lord, please do not let this post come back to haunt me> 

Loans today require lots of documentation. I’m no expert, but based on how the housing market crashed; the mortgage industry needed some major regulation.  While it can feel extreme to have to pull together every document relating to your finances, it’s smart on the lender’s part and I can’t fault them for it.  Most people are typically borrowing lots of money and the lender is smart to make sure that you have the money to make payments.  If you go into the process with the expectation that you are proving you are worthy of the lender’s approval, I think it makes a big difference.

My husband and I are pretty positive people; we try to see the good in any situation.  We saw the loan process as an opportunity to make sure we had our information pulled together.  It also created an opportunity for us to have great discussions about our money and what our priorities are. 

So, I guess my advice would be (not that you asked), to approach this process positively.  The more organized you are, the better off you will be!
How was your initial experience with NVR?  Was it better or worse than you expected?

Friday, August 8, 2014


In our previous home, we had a fireplace that was wood-burning.  My husband LOVES having a fire going in the winter… I do not, at least inside.  For wood-burning fireplaces I hate that they stink up the whole house, my hair and all of my clothes.  If it’s outside and at a campfire- great!  But inside, it’s the equivalent of cigarette smoke to me, I don’t like it.  So, in our old house we never had a burning fire.  Sorry BB!

The model house in our neighborhood does not have a fireplace, so initially I wasn’t sure if they even offered them… silly me!  Of course they do… for an added cost.  I think Ryan Homes will do so much stuff… for an added cost.  Want that window - $500!  Want that morning room - $12,000!  But I digress…

Once we found out we could do a fireplace in the Rome on the back wall of the family room or the side room, we had to decide on the placement and the type.  Thankfully, Ryan Homes only offers gas fireplaces.  I love gas fireplaces – all of the ambiance without the terrible smell!  It’s a win-win for our household.

Fireplace Options

·         Slate surround = $3,095

·         Granite surround = $3,395

·         Stone = $5,595
 Stacked Stone 
Round Stone

Now, fireplaces are my husband’s thing.  Because I won the white kitchen battle (my hubby wasn’t a huge fan), I compromised and let him have whatever fireplace he wanted.  I would have been good with the Slate or Granite surround, but BB  opted for the stone fireplace with the PA Sierra Fieldstone.  I think it’s going to look fantastic, very grand in the living room! 

For the placement, we opted to have it on the side wall so you can see it really well when you’re in the kitchen.  We also didn’t want to take up space where either the deck or patio will go if it were placed on the back wall of the family room.
Did you opt for a fireplace?  Do you hate that wood-burning smell inside your house, or am I just a weirdo?