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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
And so it begins

And so it begins

Stopped by the lot today knowing it was scheduled to be cleared.  I just so happened to catch them in the act, which was surprising given it was late in the day (shouldn't they be trick-or-treating).

Two guys, one knocking them down, one waiting to chop them up.  Spoke to the fellow waiting, nice guy & sociable, mentioned they can usually clear two lots a day and might work till 11PM.  Asked 'em how much they get for the lumber, he figured maybe $300 for the lot, maybe a little more if there's some good wood in it.

We gave our thanks to the trees, stood and watched awhile, then made it home before it got dark.  Amazing how therapeutic it is watching heavy machinery plow dirt around, almost like watching a campfire.

Lot's of beeping... you've been warned!



Tuesday, October 30, 2012
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New Blog Page - Gallery

Hi Folks,

I've added a new blog page to showcase renders I create using the newly discovered ray-trace functionality in Chief Architect.  Basically, it allows me to (although it takes a really long time to do) create realistic looking photos of Ryan Homes, Rome Model, Elevation N.

Hey, it's fun to visualize!

I'll be adding some others soon, as well as try to get some nice interior shots of the kitchen, and other rooms.  It even does a video tour, so maybe I'll create that too!

Friday, October 26, 2012
More Renders

More Renders

I'm posting these new renders to provide some guidance to my PM when grading the lot.  Far from perfect, and probably more for my entertainment than will actually serve much influence, but the following is my best guesstimate on how things will be situated.  Some notable differences from last renders:
  • Elevation is reversed according to plan
  • Concrete driveway follows terrain
  • Concrete driveway slopes up initially then levels out to the garage
  • Terrain slopes downward in elevation from the South to the North
  • Terrain slopes downward in elevation from the East to the West
  • Terrain around back deck is level for a couple feet before sloping downward to the conservation area

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Precon Results

Precon Results

Yesterday I had my preconstruction meeting, which lasted about 2 1/2 hrs.  We met at a Rome model located a few blocks from my lot, where I was greeted by my SR and introduced to my PM.

Dealing with my SR can feel a little like playing chess at times, strategically raising questions about cost, options, timelines, and what not, but to his credit, I remind myself of the great job he's done thus far orchestrating the affair toward an outcome we all can benefit from (more about this later).

My PM, I relate to very well.  If there is a tangible way to describe it, seeing eye-to-eye may be the result of the similarities between of our jobs, and the level of dedication I recognize toward offering quality over quantity.  I'm in the IT industry.  I develop complex internet-centric software applications.  I seek to harness new technologies and deliver an experience that simplifies the complexity it is driven from.  This construct appears similar to a PM role in the home building industry.  It so happens, in this case, my PM provided a clear expression of his desire to build an interesting, quality home, and also showed regard for communication as a focus to allow this outcome to be possible.

As expected with each meeting, I received more papers, one such is the plat depicted below.  Additionally, I received a lengthy Selection Acknowledgement Report, which covers ever last detail into the construction of my home, and a carbon-copy of the Preconstruction Meeting punch list, which is a document with numerous check boxes stating I was witness to meeting and topics covered.

Adjusted Plat - Home Placement

After going through the punch list, my PM and my SR walked the model house, talking about some of the features.  I had the opportunity to mention a couple contention points that are of high importance to me, to include:
  • A well graded lot 
  • Level basement
  • Properly sealed tubs and showers
  • Solid second-floor construction (no squeaky floors) 
We talked about ways the unfinished basement could be converted into an additional bedroom, while still retaining space for the HVAC.  My PM was willing to entertain the possibility of keeping the electrical box in the basement, near the tank-less water heater.  He also talked about the height required by various refrigerators, and how that may impact the placement of cabinets above. And last to my recollection, we talked about placing the irrigation control panel in the garage, where it is easier to get to.  All great points!

After, going through the model, we headed out to the lot and took a look at my home placement.  I was very pleased with the artists depiction of the home as it's placed on the plat.  Very symmetrical!  Just like last time, I was also very pleased with the size of the lot.  It has a huge span of curb-appeal, with underground irrigation and sod placed near 3/4 of the way back into the property, cutting off about at the backside of the house.  The rest of the backyard will be seeded and strawed.  The elevation is reversed, the driveway will be concrete, and climb a small lip to a fairly level entry into the garage.  The back of the house, the morning room, will be more like an evening room facing WSW, and with the sun furthest South of West in the winter, will provide lots of ambient light through the barren trees.

My PM heard my plea to retain trees, and courteously asked if there were any I'd like to keep.  Previously, back at the model, we rehashed the discussion about needing to remove trees because of the likelihood they'd perish months after settlement, probable cause, because they wouldn't withstand the harsh changes to the landscape during grading and laying the foundation.  I get that.  But, I'm willing to exonerate Ryan Homes for any negligence because there is a chance a few may survive.  What is important, is that my PM was willing to work with me.  Honestly, I couldn't say at that time, which trees I wanted to keep.  So as it stands now, he can clear what he needs in the front, but try to keep as many as possible toward the back where privacy and scenery is desired.

Very cool!

Points that came out that were hence unrealized... well some were clarified just prior to the meeting:
  • Having a rail banister in the stairwell was an upgrade
  • The kitchen did not include a backsplash
  • The driveway would not be concrete
For these items, I'm a little disappointed, but I can accept them as items I could have inquired about ahead of time.  That said, the banister is not a big deal.  The kitchen backsplash I can do myself.  The concrete driveway I wheeled-and-dealed on.

More about my SR...

OK, an awkward discussion point came out at the precon meeting where my SR informed me of his knowledge of my blog.  How was he informed?  My LO told him about it.  So it appears NVR is now present to my publicly-expressed perception of Ryan Homes.  In the meeting, I graciously offered to take anything down, or strike out any comments/names if requested.  He asked, out of courtesy, if there were any friction points that I try to resolve it first through him before writing about it online, and then stated he was glad I had all good things to say about him, his cutie stand-in, and his other assistant.  OK, that sounds fair.  But for my readers, and future readers, and other fellow blog writers, and future writers, this is a tale akin to David & Goliath, or perhaps less biblical, aphorisms like The Pen is Mightier than the Sword.  There is no doubt that perception detailing the quality of a mega-builder like Ryan Homes could impact their business in either a positive manner or a negative manner.  As gargantuan as RH is, especially in today's climate, and the ever deflating value of the dollar, I don't expect the loss of potential business to be a casual affair for them.  And while NVR may have "conveniences", I believe they also have padded prices that are obscured such that the less savvy (like myself) are likely to be duped into believing it's somehow a necessary part of the process, or like the "incentive" that somehow it's a good deal. To be candid, while it's going to be nice having a morning room, and I am sure I will love it, the incentive to get it is an insult, a feeling like trickery.  But I've talked about all that here, so hopefully RH will review their business model, and treat their clients the same way they wish to be treated.  The real point of this discussion, however, is to say I'm beginning to see my publicly-expressed perception is really a counter-weight to the 800 lb. Ryan Homes gorilla, to help ensure we all arrive at settlement clear and satisfied and with good conscience. Stated another way, and as was discussed during the meeting, this is about "balance".  If we can all proceed with reason, good faith will arise, and I will glad to canvas the internet with my personal positive dealings with Ryan Homes, ranking them with excellence and honors.  With that said, no need to wait, I wish to give my tremendous thanks to my SR for making the deal happen, living up to his word, taking an extra step when I was being difficult, and genuinely expressing an interest in his welfare as a representative of his employer.  Thank you!

Now back to the precon.

Tomorrow, I should have a staked-out lot with specific clarity how the my home will be positioned.  I will try to decide if some trees will get to stay.  Given a better picture into the placement, I should also have an updated set of Chief Architect renderings showing how the lot may be graded, and with these, my PM will contribute ideas, and use them to help shape the landscape around my home.  Now that is awesome!

I think the fun is about to begin... Nuff for now, thanks for reading!

Friday, October 19, 2012
Precon Scheduled

Precon Scheduled

Voice-mail from SR, pre-construction meeting scheduled for next week, 10/24.  Non-standard request for back deck stairs came back at $2995.00.  Hmmm... seems spendy!

Would you pay this much???
Monday, October 15, 2012
Walking the line

Walking the line

The property line...

Took a trip through the forest today around what is I expect Lot 95.  It does appear to be remarkably bigger than I thought, but even walking it, it's hard to ascertain where the house will go, how much space it will take up, how much front yard there will be as opposed to how much backyard, and how many trees will be left standing when my house moves in.

I'm definitely a tree-hugger, so I hope there will be many left standing!  So the ones that are, I ask forgiveness now, since their bothers and sisters will soon perish!

A moment of silence...

OK, thank you!

Here's my vid.

Monday, October 1, 2012
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Further down the rabbit hole

Last week, I headed over to the Ryan Homes, Waverly model in Fox Creek, which is where I can usually find my SR busy managing the demand of new prospective homeowners.  My SR, Aaron, wasn't there, but fortunately his assistant, Megan, was.

Heading further down the rabbit hole, I committed to writing my second earnest deposit check.  Now I'm $10,000 invested in what I hope to be a successful outcome with Ryan Homes as my home building partner.  I can't decide if it takes a certain stupidity to let go of that kind of cash, or if it takes nerves of steel, because as of this moment, the only tangible asset I've got is a photo of me standing next to a "SOLD" lot sign 95, and a 3" legal binder full of scanned documents.  Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, then much like the other folks who have stepped before me, it should not be long before I'll have more photos, and eventually, that shining new set of keys everyone is talking about.

Talking with Megan, which BTW is way better looking than Aaron and Winston combined, got me thumbing through the elevations book.  I hadn't previously had the chance to look at them all, this being the big stack of papers which, as I discovered, goes into a great bit of detail about how a Rome may be built.

I'd asked for a copy of the big stack of papers, hoping to look through them in leisure, without having to take up anymore of Megan's time.  Trying to be of great help, Megan wanted to ensure I was getting the most recent revision, so she gave my SR a call (t'was his day of rest) to find out.  As was found out, releasing copies from the big stack of options was a big NO-NO, since they are technically "blue-prints" that if released, might afford me the opportunity to just go out and build the Rome myself.  Now I'm no architect, but my perception of what blue-prints are and what these papers were varies considerably (too many 1970's flics probably).  Also, I'd hardly expect taking these Copyrighted documents to any other builder would be of any use.  I could be wrong.  If I had to guess, these are the real reasons copies are discouraged:
  1. The plans often go through a myriad of changes and formal revisions
  2. Copies may end up as public domain, out on the internet where prospective buyers can review without necessarily having a SR to bias them through process
  3. If a change or revision is significant enough, prospective buyers would have former knowledge to potentially non-profitable options Ryan Homes no longer cares to support. 
I'm going with reason 3.

Nonetheless, Megan was sweet enough to let me take a couple copies, first floor plan, second floor plan, elevation N, and if I needed more to ask my SR for them.  To respect the possibility of getting my SR in trouble, and dear sweet Megan, I've decided not to post them here, but I'm impressionable ;)

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