Thursday, January 29, 2015

Vertical Garden Wishes

One of the things I really would like to do is have my own garden.  However, I am really not into manual labor so I don't know how that's going to work, lol.  But seriously, I always wanted an Aerogarden because they seem so easy!

This thing can grow herbs, tomatoes and even strawberries!  I love the idea of having it available all year round because its indoors- no pesticides, no bugs and no pests (except for my darn cat).

But in that search I came across vertical gardening and in particular the Tower Garden.  

This beauty is based on the idea of aeroponics.  Basically, you grow the plants without soil.

Now this I can get into- no dirt!   I also like the idea I can use this indoor or outdoor and that I don't have to be expert gardener to make it happen.  Plus its all organic! The major drawback:  the system is costs over $500.  My husband of course thinks I am nuts.   But we eat a lot of spinach, strawberries, string beans and I love okra and squash.  Adding this to my Aerogarden and the dwarf Meyer lemon tree, I can have that garden I always wanted without upsetting the HOA.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

There is a new woman in the house

And her name is Alexa (Echo that is)

Our family pretty much acted like this except we played Pharrell and Lauryn Hill, lol.  My son even told it that he loved her.  After a few days we got bored.  It reminds me way too much of Siri- the voice that never understands a word I say.  At this point it works like a rather large iPod that can access the web.  Nothing new here.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

I just so happened

To take a peak at the goodies that was left in the garage.  Wowee!  I am more than excited.

That's not all- my dry wall is all mudded and taped. 
My soon to be gourmet kitchen and morning room 

Family room 


Living room with its wonderful bay window

Master Bedroom

I love my tray ceiling 

Beyond that I am more than pleasantly surprised that the RH's energy efficiency program is not all hype.  My home currently is insulated and drywalled but the HVAC  is not switched on as of yet.  Despite it being 40 degrees on the outside I found the house to be quite comfortable on the inside.  I even thought I was imagining things until I went back into the garage and immediately noticed the temperature difference.  Now that's saying something considering the finished construction project will be over 4000 + square feet.    

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Never thought........

I never thought I would feel so nostalgic over lot I ALMOST purchased.   Well yeah, turns out I do.  My new neighbor and fellow blogger just put a sold sign on good ol' lot 41.  While I am happy for her and her family, I kind of miss the walk out basement we nearly had- silly right?  But I will be okay since I am inviting myself to her home on a regular basis, lol.  I wonder what she is going think when she reads this?

Congrats LOT 41

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Difference between CAT 5, CAT 5e & CAT 6 cables

For you guys who are prepping for your Guardian appointment.  We chose cat6 because of the multitude of technology we have in our home currently and with the knowledge that we may upgrade a few things.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Siding

And one of my fabulous red shutters is up.  When I first drove up to the house today I kept wondering why my house looked so strange.  Then I noticed she had only set of eyelashes (shutters) in place.

In fact, it looks like they ran out of siding.  I could be wrong, but in any case I am starting to see my colors come together.  Now just imagine, my door the same color as my shutters?  What do you think?  

I also noticed workers delivering a ton of stuff from an over sized truck.  I wonder what goodies they brought this time?  New reason to check out my home this weekend. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Temporary Blinds and Vertical Gardens

I wish I knew about this when I purchased my first home!  While we were discussing the need for window treatments, an interior designer informed me about temporary shades or blinds.  Excuse me?  Yep just purchase them at Lowe's or Home Depot.

When I got home I searched the web and sure enough there is such a thing and best yet the only install tools you need is a pencil and sharp scissors or a box cutter.  Wow! Now I don't have to rush to get my home set up.  But now the decision is which one?  I have narrowed it down to two major companies: Redi Shade and Quick Fix Instant Blinds.  Installation is the same for both but one uses clips to hold the blinds in place after install and the other an adjustable cord.

I am leaning towards the Quick Fix as I am looking for something durable (able to withstand my children) while we take our time to make our house a home.

In other news- I want a vertical garden.  Okay I didn't want a vertical garden until I saw this:

Isn't it cute?  Except that some of the reviews are not so good, like ease of watering, construction and the fact that sometimes the water drips on the wall.  But I still love the look of it.  Fresh herbs for cooking masquerading as art.  I still may get the Aerogarden (yes that thing is still around) so I can grow my herbs, start some lavender and keep fresh spinach and maybe strawberries around.  Oh, and I also ran across a post about growing your own lemons indoors

Can you imagine the fresh smells in my house if I can pull this off?  Rosemary, Mint, Thyme and Lemons, yummy.  What herbs would you grow? Will you try the lemon tree? 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Philadelphia Home Show 2015

We braved the wet weather today and ventured out to the Philadelphia Home Show.   The kids were excited.  Please read the previous sentence with a hint of sarcasm.  If you were interested in cabinets, windows and gutters then this was definitely your year.  They were everywhere!  And not what we needed.  Our main goals were closet design and interior design and maybe some landscaping.  

I was so focused on my search that I totally forgot to take pics!  My poor iPhone thanks me, ;)

The first booth we stopped at was a local business named Victory Closets.  This is a local guy who claims to have pioneered a totally new concept in closet design at a cheap price.  Oh yeah?  Show me:

The beauty of the system is that you can re configure the closet space for whatever suits your fancy.  And the price is fantabulous compared to other closet designers.  The only drawback is that the wood comes in only one wood/ color/ stain: coffee maple.

We also stopped by a couple of interior designers: Absolute Living and Concept 2 Design.  Both companies were rather friendly but neither one jumped out at us.  I guess that will come when we do the consultation services.  They both provide some of the same services- consultation, built ins, custom window treatments and the like.  However Concept 2 Design comes straight out of Perkasie and they are sometimes hired to create those model home looks we all love so much.  

There was a sauna exhibitor which gave my husband the great idea of installing one in the basement instead of a second powder room.  He then suggested putting the sauna in our walk in closet.  And take the extra closet space we just gained? I love you but no. 

One of the last vendors we visited was a salt water hot tub exhibit.  This is one my husband's dreams.  We really don't have a place to put it but he is definitely plotting and planning to get it on our property somehow.  I must admit they do look pretty nice

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dry wall is up!

I was determined to stop by the house today.  Pre Drywall was 9 days ago and the last time my PM spoke to me he said that they were waiting on the plumbing inspection before they could insulate and put up the drywall.  We I guess we passed because my home is about 95% drywalled.  I didn't take a lot of pics-
Morning room with my home specs taped to the window

Family Room- can't wait to see my fireplace

Still love this window!

Gratuitous pic of tray ceiling in master bedroom

Told you- about 95% complete
Arched gateway to my new fortress of solitude!

I also noticed that the work on the siding has begun.  I was so torn on if the siding was too dark, or not dark enough.  I desperately searched the Internets for my exact color combination but quite a few came back with that icky 60's green color.  

Not too dark and with the stone we chose I think will it make my siding look a little greener.  So this Wednesday I will do a drive by to see if they have started that part.  
I also had a little conversation with my neighbor to the right.  Her kids were so cute, immediately trying to call her back over when they noticed she disappeared.  "Mommy!  Who's that?"  Don't worry little one, I'm not trying to take your mommy away, lol.  

PS- my "L" key is stuck.  Do you know how annoying it is to type a whole post and having to pause to pound the darn key so that it will type? Ugh! 

PPS- just found out you can set the time for your blog!  Now I know you guys wasn't answering me at ungodly hours of the night,  

Friday, January 16, 2015

What can I say

The Philadelphia Home Show is in town! Buy your tickets online for a discount.  This year they are reportedly doing free parking with shuttle service to the convention center.  Sweet!  I have had more than my fair share of PPA's little love notes.  Half of the time I didn't even know we were dating.

If you have read Thrifty Decor  Chick then you know her latest post is all about the reasons why she loves blogs.  On quite a few points I would have to agree with her.  Which brings me to the point of this post- why I blog and read blogs.

My reading list is all about new construction homes.  Why? Because this is the phase of life I am currently reveling in.  This blog is about writing down memories, exactly as I see them and exactly how I feel them.  Blogging is cathartic, it releases the stress of making a major decision where you are sure at every turn you are going to regret something.  Making it public is like baring my soul (okay not that dramatic but you get the point, lol)  In return I found a community of people who may not have had the same experience but can empathize with me because they can just imagine the trauma my little heart goes through with each and every step.  And this community is willing to share their personal stories about their own little missteps and near mishaps and the things they just so happen to get right.  We rejoice and we cry and we oooo and ahhh over those masterful enough to DIY their way to a gorgeous home.  We hiss and boo at the villain until one lone voice speaks up and clears the dust.  We love supporting one another and when needed, pull someone back from the edge.

What I find amusing, is the few people who are afraid of them.  Yes people actually fear the written word- isn't that so 15th century?  But alas these are the people I am truly wary of.  Anyone who can't enjoy these blogs for what there are- antedoctal information with lots of love must have something to hide.   Which for me says there MUST be some truth to the info I can find here.  I was told long ago the scariest person in any room is the one who is well informed.   I like to be scary, lol.  But it shouldn't be that way.  If you know your stuff or is at least willing to find the information then you have nothing to worry about.  Or is your biggest worry being exposed?

In any case, this new home construction thing  can be so stressful!  I will continue blog to release my stress and I will continue to read blogs to assure myself I am not the only one.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Some people

I was in a pretty okay mood today until.........

So if you have been following this blog you know that I was in discussions about closing costs and easements (trail and community space) with RH.  My mood was doing pretty well when as promised one of the sales managers called me.  I think someone viewed me as a difficult case (I just refused to be bounced around, that's all).  I got my husband on the phone and we were given a resolution to our closing costs, problem solved.  I even explained to manager S, the reason why my email was so testy.  He also discussed my concerns about the trail and the community space.  I have part of my answer and for now, I am satisfied.

Then out of the blue a lovely person tried to get snippy with me over my concerns about the blasted trail!  For clarification folks- the trail is supposed to run along side my lot.  That trail will help define my backyard space- which if you have been following this blog- seems to be shrinking by the minute.  My posts have never, I mean NEVER mentioned that the trail belonged to me exclusively.  Thus my quip about a letter writing campaign with my neighbors.  Yes it is for the community.  And all of us pay HOA fees for these spaces which is why I have every right to know when it will be built.

So please do me a favor, if you feel the need to be a little "tart" with me over a presumed subject- please re read the post BEFORE posting your comment.  Then think about what you are going to say before you say it.  I am not a shrinking violet and I have been known not to be so polite.  In other words, I will rip off your head and hand it back to you.

Sorry gentle readers if that offended some of you but some people............

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Now its just He Said

Quick update on the closing costs:  Apparently my little email got their attention.  One of the managers is suppose to be calling me tomorrow.  Right after the LO for NVR attempted to make a call today (left my phone at the office while I ran to get something for lunch).  If you word things just right- they will jump pretty high, lol

Update on the the trail:  I have been informed in no uncertain terms that the trail and the community space would not be completed until every last home is sold and all the homes are built.  Looks like my lot situation will be in limbo for about another year plus- best guess.  There are still 20 lots or so to be sold.  Typically takes about 3 months from the signing of the purchase agreement for them to get started on building your home (they had only 1 home being built before my house started the snowball effect) plus another 3 months to build the house, if there are NO complications.  Our PM has already said he will be starting one new home a week until the end of March.  That means if they magically sell all the homes tomorrow then the last of the ground breaking will begin towards the end of September.  I doubt they will do anything that December, January or February.  See how this is shaping up? Again it was reiterated that this was the developer's responsibility not RH.  And leaves lot 14 caught in the middle.  I think I will start a letter campaign to the developer as soon as I move in.  If you are a neighbor feel free to join  ;)

Update on the Update:  My SR just contacted me to let me know the trail will be completed in March and community space at the end of the building process.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

He said She Said

Today we were in contact with our loan officer to discuss the possibility of reducing our closing costs.  He was very helpful but in the end all the reductions suggested ended with us still paying the closing costs- with an interest rate no less.  He admitted that he works with lots of builders and that they rarely offer to pay part of closing costs if it wasn't originally written in the contract.  Hmmm.  He then directed us to speak to our SR.

I was also contacted by my SR today who said she spoke to management about the closing costs as well as my trail.  The trail is still up in the air (I am shocked!)  But she then directed me to speak to my LO to see about rolling the closing costs into the mortgage. Sigh

I kindly wrote them an email to the effect of "I will not play phone tag and I will not be sent this place and that place because no one wants to be responsible.  Do not contact me- contact each other and  once you guys figure this out, call me"  I am quite sure they have been very successful at putting people off by doing this very tactic- but its not going to happen today.   The novelty of" he said she said" was dead to me by the time I was a junior in high school.

My other point of contention is the non answer,  no answer by my PM in regards to my recirculating kitchen fan/vent.  I texted him and had planned on making a call but work was rather busy today.  In addition, I am now in the midst of training a new hire.  Not a big deal but it does require I pay attention to everything to make sure all my patients are happy and healthy and the new hire knows how to make sure they stay that way.

In the meantime, I will have my contractor meet me at the home to take a look at the potential wet bar with the not so easy plumbing.  I really didn't want to have issues with RH- and truly they are minor in comparison to some of you guys, but me and aggravation don't get along too well.  I'm aggravated.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pre Dry Wall Inspection

My pre drywall inspection was today, in the rain.  So glad I didn't have to be there, lol.  I was actually feeling sorry for the inspector but after I got my report I am GLAD that it did rain.

First and foremost, my husband and I have always said that we would do pre drywall inspection as well as a pre settlement inspection.  One or two neighbors did exclaim "But isn't that expensive?"  I always responded with "It's a lot cheaper than any possible repairs that would cost me nothing if they were fixed before I moved in."

I received my inspection report by email only a few hours after it was completed.  Love it!  While reading the report I was very surprised to discover that in my place my PM actually walked the house with my inspector.  Score one star for M.

My report boiled down to a few issues that should be repaired BEFORE drywall.  He stressed this many times as he noted that they were preparing for insulation.  I guess he was worried that they may just cover up any defects.

Problem #1

Jack strap (what the hell is that?!) missing in the corner as soon as you walk through front door and on the second floor in almost identical spot.  (BTW if you google "jack strap" some non construction images pop up)

 Problem #2

Water ponding in area before entering master bath (see why I am glad it rained?)  He also noted a water leak in both bathrooms only because of the angle of the pipe and probably because vent collars had yet to be installed.
Can you imagine the disaster this would have been?

Problem #3 

Window in back left corner was not plumb- which would answer on the problem written on the floor

Problem #4
Plenty of water in pan beneath high efficiency furnace

My inspector was also concerned about our kitchen vent/ fan.  He noted that it appears to recirculate the air and not blow out to the exterior of the home.  He question if it was written that way in the contract.  I do understand his confusion- shouldn't the kitchen be an exhaust?  What if you burn something? Or you happen to be cooking fish? Don't you want to blow those things AWAY from the home?  I will question my PM tomorrow on this (even though he was at the inspection)

There were couple of other minor issues that need to be corrected like vent in the kitchen needed to be properly secured  but otherwise things are looking good.  I will definitely follow up and make sure these issues have been repair before drywall.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My new crusade

Before I begin, I really need to thank my neighbor to the right for allowing us to use his electricity for our sump pump until they turn on our electricity.  You absolutely rock!

I went back to house to check to see if they started all the repairs and fixes that have all the orange day glo paint on them.  The only thing I can see that they have done is reframed the doorway to my bathroom.  The attic access still has to be moved to the 3rd bedroom from the 4th
The PM drew the arch on the floor to show them which way the door should swing 
I stopped by to talk to my SR and ask a few questions (complain).  I truly feel that there wasn't full disclosure on a few items.  Like the fact the free buffer of trees was going to take up 25 feet of my lot.  I was specifically told that I would have a lot of side yard- not that most of that yard would  be trees.  I was then informed that it was in my contract (no it wasn't- that was mentioned at pre construction AFTER I asked) and that it was because I chose to build a CG.  Really?

So what about my outlet wiggle room?  No answer on that one but I didn't really expect one.
I also wanted to know when they were going to finally build that darn trail?  You know the one that will run directly beside and behind my home?  I need to know as this will affect how much yard I actually have left. Apparently, the developer is in charge of that part and my SR can only go on hear say about when that will go down.  In our community (and probably in all of the RH communities) the lot does not belong to RH until we sign a purchase agreement and put down a deposit.  In my case that happened in November.   This also means, RH can not touch and improve upon (move dirt) without the developer's permission.  Guess who didn't get permission yet?

I was told that have to be patient. Again, really?  There are 20 lots left to be sold out of 54 and all the home sites seem to be going fast.  Wouldn't it be prudent to begin work on the features you sold us on? No? Then how about this- I need reduced closing costs to be a happy woman right now.  Just so happens my SR will be meeting with her managers on Monday and this will be brought to their attention.   I will also get in contact with my NVR Mortgage contact.  The goal is to shave off $5000 or more of the total.

In general- I still love my home.  I walked my framed out castle today and started to envision where furniture would go and possible paint colors.  I stood in my bedroom and smiled at the fact I wouldn't be so cramped anymore.  I pondered about a mini green house on my deck.  I know my family can be REAL happy here but part of that is getting my kids a yard to play in and items placed and set where WE as a family find it convenient.

I will end this post with pics of my soon to be fabulous home
I am so short even the head of my home gets cut off! 
This will make one awesome foyer

Just had to get the arched window completely in the shot

Friday, January 9, 2015

We got a call from our PM

Correction:  I got a call from our PM today about where to place an extra outlet that we have.  Excuse me? We have an extra outlet?  Where does it go?  We choose? Wow!
I immediately called my husband who argued with me about the fact that we have it.  Look, I am only reporting what our PM just told me.  Can I put it my craft room?  Why?  Because I want one up high in that room for my equipment.  Put it in SC's room.  He has enough outlets,  But not next to the data link.  Yes he does.  No he doesn't.  Look I will call you back later.

I did call my husband back with the PM on the phone so he can hear everything I told him straight from the horse's mouth.  Like I made all that stuff up, hmph!  The PM did come up with a good comprise: put that extra outlet in our walk in closet.  Good enough- that means we BOTH get use out of it.

Now  for a little clarification.  Our current PM is not the one who told us it would be easy to add the wet bar later.  It was the previous one whom we never met in person.  Kind of glad he moved on after all the trouble he caused (got to blame someone right?).

If anyone cares to know- our part for the range has come in and the repair guy will back out tomorrow.  Probably arriving at the same time as the plumber.  Yep- my kids stopped up our toilet- again.  This time a plunger nor our auger can fix it.  They tell me I'm not allowed to put a "FOR SALE" sign on my kids.  sigh

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pre Drywall Walk Thru

Our pre dry wall meeting was today and I barely took any pics. I was more interested in trying to keep as warm as I possibly could!  Today's temp was 16 degrees not including the wind chill. 
Everything was going pretty good until we got to the discussion of a few parts he promised he would make changes on during a our pre construction meeting.  All that talk we got about wiggle room with outlets was basically bull.  He will  not raise one outlet in the exercise room to eye level, he will not pull the outlet from the bedroom into the walk in closet and I didn't even bother to ask about the outlet on the tray ceiling.  In addition our plans to build a wet bar on our own, may be a little tougher than when we were originally told.  We asked repeatedly- how easy will it be to get a water source from the 3 piece plumbing to the space under the morning room?  Oh- real easy.  So Easy, Very Easy.  Today we got "That may not be so easy."  WTF? Well why didn't you say that in the beginning?  He did offer a suggestion:  we could take the plumbing through the ceiling over to the 3 piece rough in plumbing and have a separate unit installed in the sink.  Keeping that in mind I did take a pic of where that plumbing would have to run.
The other issue I am having is the amount of land taking up by the barrier needed for the trail.  The trees are suppose to take up 25 feet of the property and its starts approximately 20 feet away from the home. The very back of the home is 13 feet away from part of the trail.  When we decided on the lot- it was with the understanding that we would get a lot of side yard vs backyard.  Now it seems like it will be a small patch of grass.  Great if you don't like mowing the lawn.  When I appeared irritated with the size he said he will double check to make sure he was right.  Le sigh.  I guess my kids will have to play mostly in the park and on the community space.  Lastly- the framers will have to come back to re frame the door way to the bathroom.  Apparently they placed it exactly where the 5 foot vanity is suppose to be.  

While there a few contractors wandered in to measure for a couple of things- apparently as soon as my inspector is done they plan on putting in the insulation.   I am guessing dry wall will be up pretty soon after that.

Our meeting with Guardian was pretty uneventful.  Our rep did suggest we move our hard wire cable jack  to the family room for the possibility of a smart TV.  You know what that means? SHOPPING TRIP!    

Question:  is it customary for RH to have the plumber do a double sink plumbing job even though you pay for a single bowl sink in the hall bath?   The plumber did exactly that but we are not quite sure why.

Though we are not pleased with the failure of "true communication" and promises not kept, the house seems to be coming along quite nicely.  Hopefully I can use these discrepancies  as a way to lower some of the closing costs by having RH foot some of the bill.  I know some of you guys got them to help with closing costs and I am hoping this will work in our favor.  
Now for community gossip.  There are 3 homes  scheduled to close in March: our Courtland Gate, a Savoy and a Ravenna.  The Courtland Gate across the street from us is scheduled to break ground the 2nd week in February and there is a Bainbridge that will break ground in the next 2 weeks!   In fact our PM said that starting the end of January he should be starting one new home a week until mid March.  I also noticed a couple more lots sold since driving thru a little over a week ago.  

PS- our PM asked if this was the first time we had been in the house.  We sheepishly admitted we had been in it before and he just laughed at us.  Sounds like a green light to me! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Believe it!

Quick update on the range that I will soon be leaving behind.  It's gonna cost me $233 to fix it.  That is a lot cheaper than having to buy a new range but money I can ill afford to shell out right now.  Apparently the control board is not communicating with everything else so the oven does not know it should turn on and get hot.  The part has to be ordered thus turning a 1 hour job into a 2 day event.
To top it off my lovely neighbors parked BOTH of their cars in front of my house forcing me to park around the corner and walk in cold windy weather.   I can not wait until I have my own driveway and a usable garage!

On a side note- my community has changed its home offerings.  Included its current line up is the Florence and the Sewickley.  These homes have smaller standard foot print of less than 2, 000 square feet each.  I am assuming this is an effort to attract buyers that want a smaller home.  Not sure how I feel about this as I think it has the potential to bring down our current home value.  Can someone tell me if I am right on this?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I can't believe this!

Or maybe I should.  I have always held the belief that the biggest money issues arrive when you can't spend the money.
Case in point- I purchased a Kenmore Elite range about 3-4 years back, with the knowledge that I would be moving in the next 5 years (or at the time I had seriously hoped I would be moving).  Today for breakfast I cooked pancakes and I broiled bacon.  I do not fry bacon on the stove-ever;  I will forgo hot scalding splatter thank you very much.

 Every thing was going great.  I decided to bake chicken nuggets for the kids lunch and I turned the oven on.  Twenty minutes go by and I realized the darn thing hadn't heated at all.  I turned it off and turned it on, listening for the classic "whoosh" I normally hear when it has ignited.  Nothing.  Must be the pilot right?  It took me and my husband another 20 minutes to remember that this oven has an electric starter- no pilot light.

I started to set up service with Sears but didn't because they couldn't come out until Thursday and it would be $85 just to look at the problem.  Finally tried Home Advisor, which I had done before and found an appliance repair person with excellent reviews and that worked  on Sundays.  I picked up the phone to call at 3:52 pm only to notice that their Sunday hours are 9-3 pm.   Smacks forehead.

There goes the roasted chicken dinner, with rosemary potatoes and green beans I was going to make.  I had even considered baking a cake.  Instead I will have call the repair place first thing in the morning to set up service and brace myself for a possible $200 bill.  I am so hoping its a lot less than that as the work should take no more than 1 hour but I rather assume the worse and be pleasantly surprised than to have a minor heart attack.