Dec 312013

I’d intended to share this as things progressed but life got in the way. While exciting to us, it’s not a custom build so there’s not a ton to write about. We had probably 10 major decisions to make and then just watch it take shape.

1. Pick a location and lot – We went back and forth and back and forth about building vs. buying and when it came down to it we just didn’t find anything we wanted to buy so we were going to hold out and just rent but kept looking at new builds just in case. Then this neighborhood came along. Initially when we looked they only had small lots and we were set on 1/2 acre or more so we kept looking but right before July 4 they opened up some larger lots and that was it. We only had 4 to pick from and ended up going with the one with no premium with a nice flat back yard. We’ll have a few different backyard neighbors but we’re okay with that. Half an acre on mostly flat land…with room for a volleyball net (which was part of the picking criteria funny enough) – perfection in our eyes.
2. Pick a Model – at the time, the builder offered 5 models. When we looked at the neighborhood initially and priced things out with the smaller lots, we’d settled on the Jefferson Square. It had the right features and was at the right price. When the larger lots opened up the base price went up but we still loved the Jefferson Square. It really was a no brainer for us…there were only two models we liked and could afford and the Jefferson was one.
3. Pick an elevation – even within the models, they had different frontal configurations (or elevations in builder speak). Some were all brick, some were all siding, they even had a cottage-ish feeling one that was pretty. In the end we liked the mix of stone and siding which was actually less expensive than the all brick so it made it even more affordable.
4. Pick Architectural options for that model (bigger bathroom, 3rd car garage, sun room) – this is where it got a little fun. The models came with a base configuration and we could add architectural options. We opted for a sun room off the kitchen which also gave us a bigger bathroom off the master. We also added the third car garage (we can’t have sheds in the neighborhood so the third bay will be our “shed”). A few windows in the basement and that was pretty much it. We didn’t go crazy. The base model was so much larger than our last house that we didn’t want to add more than we really needed. I didn’t want to have to clean all that extra space:).
4. Pick siding/stone/exterior colors – this was actually one of the harder decisions. You see a 4in x 4in square of siding and a 2ft by 2ft square of stone and are expected to envision that on a full house. I’m pretty good at imagining but this was tough. We changed our mind twice and spent hours touring other neighborhoods by our builder in order to try to get an idea of what we were looking at. I don’t think my husbands nerve’s rested until he actually saw it up on the side of the house done. That said, we’re really happy with our choices.
5. Pick insides (granite, cabinets, floors) – Granite and cabinets were pretty easy to pick. Floors however took us a long while..and may trips to the store to try to find bigger swatches of the flooring to compare to. Again, you’re working with like a 2ft by 2ft square of flooring and have to imagine that throughout your house. I was pretty set on what I wanted…DH on the other hand struggled. In the end he’s very happy with our choices but it was not without some stress.
6. Electrical/Audio viz options – The house has a base elec package that matches code with the area. Then you can add lights, fans, pre-wires, alarms, surround sound etc. We tried not to get crazy with this but hubs loves his audio stuff. So, we ended up with a surround pre-wire (since he didn’t like their speakers) that took us over an hour to decide where to place the pre-wires. I’m still not positive they’re in the right spots but it’s not the end of the world to have to change it at this point. Just a PIA. We also opted for the alarm system on the house for extra piece of mind. Plus it has door chimes to let us know when the kids open doors – so important to me as they get older.

Ultimately, I’m really glad we only had a few options to pick from (for the most part). There are a few things I really wish we would have had a choice on (like the sink…it’s a 50/50 split undermount and I would have preferred an 80/20…) but for us, who are so indecisive when it comes to stuff like this, the limit was welcome and necessary. Since this is our long term house, anything we don’t like, can be changed in the future (like hardwood in the hall way upstairs, upgraded carpet once the standard stuff wears out).

Over all, it was a great experience. The builder (Ryan Homes) did a great job of responding to our wants and needs when they could. The nature of these types of builders and the speed in which the homes goes up means that we don’t have a ton of flexibility even in places where it seems like it wouldn’t be a big deal but they definitely did what they could. Also,DH was very attentive and was at the house almost daily once the walls were up which allowed us to catch a few things before it was too late (or to ask for small alterations while it was still easy to do them – like raising the shower head). I would say that they were able to accommodate 90% of what we asked for. All in all the house is beautiful and we couldn’t be happier with it.

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