Monday, June 27, 2016

Week 6: "Guts" Work Continues

Week 6 - June 20-26, 2016

6/20 - day 36 - HVAC/plumbing
6/21 - day 36 - HVAC/plumbing
6/22 - day 38 - Pre-Drywall Meeting!
6/23 - day 39 - Electric
6/24 - day 40 - HVAC/plumbing/electric?
6/25 - day 41 - HVAC/plumbing/electric?
6/26 - day 42 - visit

Not much new or exciting to report that wasn't covered in the Pre-Drywall Meeting post from mid-week. We don't even have pictures.
It was all "guts" work all the time. Seemingly slow work on HVAC, plumbing, and electric.
We walked through Sunday evening and found almost everything completed.
Electric started after our pre-drywall meeting, so that was fun to see. It did appear that they had heeded my request (thanks other bloggers) to wire the garage carriage lights up to the front door with the switch for the front porch lights. Yay!
Did notice more spray paint notes likely from our PM to the framers on cleanup work we requested and other stuff he seems to have found on his own. Glad someone else is checking that important work!

Looking like this week will be framing fix-ups, insulation, spray-foam, inspections, etc.
Thursday night is looking the night the "elves" will sneak in to insulate the garage.

Can't wait to move on to drywall! This part is so not exciting!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pre-Drywall Meeting

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
3:00 p.m. EDT

Our pre-drywall meeting happened! Can't believe we're already at this step.
I apologize for this post having no house pics. I'm still waiting for Hubs to send them over from his phone, and will add them as soon as possible!

Hubs and I met our PM and his trainee at the house at 3 p.m. sharp. We also met Hubs' friend, T, who is a PM for several other big local builders, and would be acting as our unofficial (free!) home inspector.
We started in the garage, and PM explained everything we were seeing. Because we had snuck into the house over the past couple of weeks, we were pre-loaded with questions. First was the strange lack of plywood in certain spots. PM explained that what we were seeing in those spots was actually dry-lock(?) board, which is apparently standard.  T gave us the DL nod of approval, so  we're okeydokey.

We moved to the basement next, where PM explained the framing, showed us our crappy HVAC unit, and answered our questions about the sump-pump, and the logistics of adding a water jet system after we move in, which after researching, is definitely preferable to a battery backup for the sump. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, this random article from explains it pretty well.  We mentioned to T that we had hoped for a tankless water heater, but that Ryan did not offer that option in our hood. He gave us the idea of quickly taking the crappy 60-gallon one Ryan is installing, and selling it to a plumber friend of Hub's, taking the proceeds, and buying our tankless system, or even a bigger/better regular storage unit. Brilliant. Also had some discussions about layout of the future wet bar and powder room we plan to install with our rough-ins.

Moved back up to the main floor and selected locations for the ceiling fan/chandelier in the morning room (a little complicated by the door swing), ceiling fan rough-in , and 4 recessed lights in the family room. My heart sank when I realized (and T agreed) that we probably should have added additional recessed lights in the family room. 4 just aren't going to cut it. 8 would probably have been the best choice.  He also thought that due to the way the ceiling joists run overhead, that they won't be easy to add later (well, CRAP!)  I'm thinking we'll end up with a ceiling fan with lights in there (plus lamps) to help.

Then the epic battle ensued. I was torn, but had decided that I wanted to install the TV on the outside wall between the windows, leaving the fireplace on the long end alone so that I can decorate the mantel, etc. See this Rome model pic as my inspiration:

My Ideal Family Room Setup

Hubs insists the TV should be installed over the fireplace so it can be watched from the kitchen easily. I see his point, but only really agree to this plan if he is willing to install built-in cabinetry along the entire wall, which helps ease my decorating concerns (but not my sore neck concerns).
We debate this extensively with PM, trainee, and T all chiming in. Note, I am the only source of estrogen in this TV debate; and I ultimately lose the battle. Gah. Hopefully in the end, it will look something like this:

Hopefully what the TV over fireplace wall will look like

The kitchen was fun. PM confirmed which side I would like the wall ovens on our custom change moved double oven/cabinet wall (I chose to the right - closer to the kitchen, vs. to the left, closer to the family room). I explained the plan to run 3 pendant lights down the long island after closing, and asked that all recessed lights in the kitchen (standard) be placed logically around the island, while not encroaching to throw off the spacing with the other lights. He agreed, and spray painted the floor for the electrician to call him to plot the placement when he comes through.

Moved upstairs to confirm placement of the thermostat in our master bedroom, and changed door swings (Master bath changed to swing into bedroom, and laundry room changed to swing into hall). Confirmed placement of attic access in laundry room.
Sadly confirmed that due to the itty bitty sized wood/framing Ryan uses for the attic floor/ second floor ceiling, that nothing weighing anything can be stored up there. It's so weak-looking that I'm honestly nervous about sending my slender electrician nephew up there to install lights and ceiling fans without falling through! PM also confirmed that laying plywood down to store anything will "smoosh" the insulation and cause us to lose energy efficiency. Wuh. Wuh. I guess some portion of the basement will always need to remain unfinished for storage!

PM explained the upcoming county and energy efficiency inspections, and next steps with the house - HVAC and plumbing to be finished, electric to begin, the spray-foam party to fill the million open cracks and holes, and framing to come back for tweaks after his personal framing inspection. I don't think there's another official meeting before our pre-settlement walkthrough, but PM indicated that he would get us back out after drywall is roughed in. Yay! Also confirmed we are still looking like August 22 for the walk-through and closing 2-10 days after that.

We also figured out the timing of when we can sneak in to install insulation in the exterior garage walls/ceiling, etc. I'm still trying to sell Hubs on putting in sound-proofing insulation around the laundry rooms and bathrooms too. But of course, none of this is Ryan sanctioned, so shhhh!  :)
T confirmed my strategy, and thanks to other Ryan bloggers for recommending it!

My follow-up email to our PM after the meeting included these items, some of which we had talked about, and some T had pointed out to us after the meeting:


  • Can we add a stud at the back corner of bedroom #2 (see cable marking), where the wall backs up to bedroom 3’s closet without support? Nothing there to support future hanging TV.
  • Add bracing for wall-mounted TV’s – master bedroom (see cable marking) + family room fireplace + family room wall between windows
  • Basement divide wall by return vent not secured to floor.
  • Framing/toe nailing between loft and bedrooms #3 & 4 very loose
  • Laundry room drain pipe visible in garage – not connected anywhere?
  • At least one hanger not nailed in – can’t recall location, maybe stairwell?
  • Last extra outlet needs to go high up in the mudroom closet - to power the TV components Guardian is wiring for in there. 

  • Front of house - roof soffits on both sides are unattached and short.
  • Hose bibs are on both sides of house, rather than opposite front and back corners as explained at pre-construction meeting. Can we have one installed on the front near the garage?
  • House wrap at back left corner (near morning room) worn through.

After our PM and the trainee left, our Guardian rep. took over (he had been lurking). We didn't get much with them, so it went fairly smoothly. We walked through and picked locations for cable outlets in the basement, family room, study, the bedrooms, and the loft. Placed 2 data outlets, some other crap (something about routers), and confirmed that we wanted the wireless connections for the TV components installed in the mudroom closet.  He was helpful in making recommendations and having us think long-term about which way beds would likely face, where a desk would be, etc. etc. He explained that Guardian would be back out 2-3 weeks before pre-settlement walkthrough to make sure their wiring was in and correct, and gave us some paperwork to that effect. Seemed straight-forward, but I was pretty fried at that point, and probably wasn't listening very well.

This weekend, the nitty-gritty packing gets underway. We're taking small trips over to our storage unit to clear out the house as much as possible now, and hopefully save ourselves a little money on move #1, coming up on July 13!

This is all feeling a little surreal.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 5: A Roof and the Guts begin!

Week 5 - June 13 - June 19, 2016

Framing Continues

6/13 - day 29 - A roof! We have shingles on the roof!
6/14 - day 30 - Electric service installed
6/15 - day 31 - HVAC rough-in begins
6/16 - day 32 - HVAC continues ?
6/17 - day 33 - ?
6/18 - day 34 - family walk through
6/19 - day 35 - no work

Pre-Drywall meeting date confirmed:  6/22 (day 38)

The roof being shingled on Monday was the last noticeable progress on the outside this week. Which is good, because that means the work moved inside, and won't be as affected by weather.
PM's text (which I had to initiate again) confirmed that we could expect electric and HVAC work to begin, we confirmed this with a family walk-through on Saturday evening. Not much exciting to report, unless duct-work is your thing. But we definitely began to notice problems.
Biggest one: we appear to be missing walls in a few places. Now I'm not a trained builder...but I'm pretty sure we need those.

First spot with just wrap over framing: top corner of garage.
Second spot with just wrap over framing: A crap-ton of the attic. For real. Did they think no one would notice? WTF. Maybe the guys who would come to install the siding would have realized it when there was nothing to nail to?

Luckily, Hubs has a long-term customer who's a former Pulte Homes project manager, and now owns his own construction company, who offered to act as our free(!) private inspector. He's scheduled to join us at the pre-drywall meeting this coming week. Let's hope he's brutal. :)

And with no further ado, pictures.

Day 29:A shingled roof!

Day 31: Fireplace rough-in

Day 34: HVAC Ductwork

Day 34: BoBo Brand HVAC Unit

Day 34: Look Ma, No Walls!

Day 34: Something missing here too...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 4: Framing, Take II

Week 4 - June 6 - June 12, 2016

Framing Begins 

6/6 - day 22 - framing finally begins with a little bit of work on the garage!
6/7 - day 23 - Garage I-beam placed, and first floor almost completely finished
6/8 - day 24 - First floor finished, second floor started
6/9 - day 25 - second floor finished
6/10 - day 26 - We have a roof!
6/11 - day 27 - Hubs walk-through. Interior framing + Rest of windows, front door, and morning room doors installed.
6/12 - day 28 - First family walk-through of the house. :)

Oh happy day! Drove past the house on my way home from work on Monday, and found a crew still hard at work around 5:30 p.m. Looks like they started the framing with the garage.  Can't wait to see the progress all week!

We stalked the house daily this week, and saw crazy amounts of progress. In 6 days we went from having only a foundation and basement, to walkable house on Saturday and Sunday. Insane!!

Hubs walked the house for the first time early Saturday morning - pre-crew arrival. Got several of the pics below. Munchie and I joined him on Sunday, while attempting to hide from the workers on other lots. It was completely crazy to be walking through OUR house. Almost an indescribable feeling. I'm not saying I cried, but someone must have been cutting onions nearby...

Side note - get ALL the extra windows. I'm regretting the few we skipped. Maybe try for a custom one in your big master closet. That room is going to be DARK.

Warning: These pictures are in no semblance of order. They are date-marked, however. I fought Blogger, and Blogger won. Sorry about that!

Day 27: Basement Framing - Sump Pump pit?
Day 27: Morning Room from hallway

Day 28: standing in princess suite. Looking left through the wall is the loft, then front corner bedroom.
Bonus points for spotting Munchie and me through the laundry room at the top of the stairs.
Double bonus points for knowing that I'm begging Hubs to make sure I'm not in the shot.

Day 28: Morning room and egress well. Sort-of wondering if it might have been better placed in the nook to the right side. Ooops. Live and learn.

Day 28: side angle. Sort-of regretting not getting the extra window in front bedroom.

Day 27: Mystery hole. *Might* lead to a leak down the road...LOL

Day 27: Windows, roof & wrap

Day 27: Family room and stairs from morning room. Best thing ever: NO BULKHEAD!!!
Day 23 - I-Beam Placement

Day 23 - First Floor Framing Continues

Day 22 - Framing Begins with the Garage

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


So, if you read my earlier posts about the sale of our current house, you know that we sold in 4 days back in March. We accepted the offer with the furthest closing date, taking us to July 15.
We needed to avoid taking a credit hit which would affect our mortgage approval, so a short-term apartment rental was a hideously unattractive option.

At that time, our realtor, a friend of my husband's since childhood, offered us the in-law apartment attached to his home. It was sitting empty, currently being used for storage. We offered payment, but he told us to only  pay the difference in utilities. Of course, we had already more than "paid" for it with the minimal/no work commissions from the sale of our house and purchase of the new. This apartment was the perfect solution because we wouldn't need to change our daughter's daycare, and would keep us close to the house under construction, and of course, save us money we could use for purchasing furniture, etc. in the new house. We were thrilled.

In the meanwhile, several of our wonderful friends have offered us their basements, spare bedrooms, au-pair suites, shore houses, etc. etc. We thanked them profusely, but ultimately turned them down due to the drive time for our jobs, forced daycare change, etc.

Hubs had been calling and texting our realtor/friend for at least the last month or two, trying to nail down a time where he could come help clear out the apartment, move all of the storage stuff down into their basement, and see what furniture, household items, etc. we would need to bring with us. We needed to begin packing everything that could go into storage, and measure for the fridge we would need to rent. It appeared he was getting quiet stalls and brush-offs, and I was getting more and more concerned.

Then last Friday night, almost exactly 1 month before closing/ homelessness, Hubs received an ugly text. Realtor's wife had changed her mind, and was no longer going to allow us to use the apartment. For what reason, I have no idea. I almost threw up, and spent much of Saturday morning in stressed-out tears.

We called our closest friends, in fact, the same friends that we had lived with back in our early 20's, when we were all starting out. They welcomed us with open arms without question. Even considering the fact that we now have 3 kids between us! Now THAT is a friendship you can count on. :)

So, now we're planning to move into their basement/ daughter's bedroom (while she is away at camp for the summer). Then I spent much of the day yesterday coordinating the daycare move, which will happen next week.

This is fun, right?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 3: Framing (Doesn't) Begin

Week 3 - May 30-June 5, 2016

Framing Begins  Wood Delivered

5/30 - day 15 - (Memorial Day) confirmed no progress, no wood delivery.
5/31 - day 16 - driveby, no wood, no progress
6/1 - day 17 - no visit
6/2 - day 18 - Wood delivery!
6/3 - day 19 - driveby. Officially 1 week with no progress. PM confirms, framing to start 6/13
6/4 - day 20 - Awesome "meet the neighbors" BBQ!
6/5 - day 21 - no progress.
A dissapointing week for sure. Officially 9 days with no progress at all. Why? Good question.
The high point of this process so far was Saturday afternoon's first neighborhood event! We met almost every family in the 38 lot development. The earliest residents hosted, and have been in their home for just about a year. I can genuinely say that we are going to have some awesome neighbors.
I met some friends of friends, and found out that our next door neighbor is best friends with one of my coworkers. Small world.
Bad news:
  • Sounds like taxes will be higher than SR estimated for us (shocking no one).
  • Some homeowners have basement water issues
  • Township/developer battling over who/when they take ownership of the open space we back to. Right now, it's an overgrown field full of weeds, grass, and surely - creatures.

Good news:
  • Utility bills are coming in extremely low - like $100 for a full  month of gas & electric heat and AC low! I guess Ryan isn't lying about that home efficiency thing. :)
  • There were a couple of high school and college girls in the neighborhood who apparently like to babysit. SCORE!
  • There are adorable twin girls who are 6 months younger than ours that will end up being in her kindergarten class in a couple of years. Yay!
  •  Neighborhood FaceBook page is now up and running!
  • People like our PM.

Day 18: Wood delivery, 3 of the 5 stacks