Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Baby, it's cold outside. Sometimes.

In true Cincinnati fashion, with a little help from El NiƱo, one day it feels like February, the next, not so much. Luckily we had several days of warmer weather (50 degrees plus) and were surprised to find out our driveway and sidewalks were poured! Lots of progress both inside and out. The stonework is done, front door is painted and the railing and stairs were installed on our porch. Inside the counters and appliances are in, all the carpet is down and it's touch-up city.

After our meeting last Thursday, I really didn't expect to go through the house again until our final walk-through. Sitting at work on Monday though, I couldn't help but feel like I needed to go through the place ahead of time, and invited my Dad to look at it as well since he knows a lot more about houses in general than I do. Luckily, we were able to schedule time on Tuesday afternoon to do this and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to everyone. Take your time, well ahead of closing (not 3 days like me).  While your PM should already have a punch list of things that need to get fixed, you should go through and see what you catch and see if everything is up to your standards. For the most part, many of our things were easy fixes. Drywall patching, paint/stain touch-ups, cabinet doors to be replaced, straightening toilets etc.

They had redone the tile in the master shower so we got to see that for the first time and am I glad it was before our final walk-through. The first tile job they did wasn't so bad. Yes, a weird sliver of tile in the corner and a couple crooked glass tiles, but it was almost acceptable. The second go around, not even close. I guess to not have to cut any tile they just made the grout lines bigger which wasn't attractive in the first place. Then it looked the the accent tile on the back wall was sloped by like an eighth of an inch, high one one side and low on the other. Further inspection on the upstairs bathroom also revealed that the tile wasn't laid flat on the side walls and was basically wavy. There were tons of scratches and chips in the hardwood floors and I'm doubting if they installed the upgraded carpet pad as it didn't feel nearly as plush as I expected.

I wasn't thrilled about it all while we were there. I mentioned it in the list of things we caught in my email to our PM after we were there. I was still less thrilled when I went to bed last night. When I got up this morning, I was beside myself that either I was going to be stuck with the crap tile jobs and/or my closing was going to have to be delayed and we wouldn't be able to move this weekend. Spent the morning trying to decide what to do and waiting for a response to my original email. Consulted the advice of the Facebook group and decided I needed answers.

Sent another email to our PM basically saying, what do we need to do to fix this? He called me back shortly after and I was happy to hear he had already called the flooring guys. They had already been out there and had inspected both showers and all the hardwood. They're going to redo the tile (again) in the master shower, this time with 3/16" grout. (Apparently the first time was like 1/16" and 1/4" the second time.) They are going to see about getting tile from the same batch they used in the upstairs bathroom as the back wall seems fine, just the side walls are messed up. If they can't get matching tile, they'll replace the whole thing. They also marked at least 40 hardwood boards that needed to be replaced.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled all of this is being taken care of, but sad we have to delay closing. Seems like we had the option to go ahead and close and let them come back and do all this work later, but that would be such a mess and we'd have to miss more work. Since we don't have to be out of our current house yet, it just makes sense for it all to be taken care of first. Sounds like our closing will be sometime later next week. I have to travel for work the week after so it will probably be 2 weeks before we're able to move. Hopefully it's gets a little warmer!

Meanwhile I have to reschedule our moving truck, reschedule the delivery of our refrigerator and un-forward our mail, but here are a few progress pics:


Deck for the Porch

Driveway and Sidewalk!


Appliances are hiding

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Paint and Surprises

Since last week's visit, the cabinets are all installed. The trim work is all up and has been painted. Lot's of drywall patching and more painting. All the ceramic tile in the bathrooms is done. The heat was on and so were the lights! Outside all the siding was on. They were starting the stone and the deck.

First - a door update. Last week I mentioned the master closet door wasn't hung to swing out into the bathroom as we requested and the basement door was swinging out into the dining room instead of into the stairwell. Our PM agreed the master closet door would be switched as he had previously agreed to that in the pre-construction meeting. As for the basement door, turns out that's another one of those "rolling changes". Based on feedback of current Calvert owners, the doorway to the basement was too small to get large pieces of furniture down there. I can understand that, we had a similar concern. In an effort to fix that, they made the door six inches wider. Great! Except now because of how much wider the door is, it can't swing nicely away into the stairwell. So we had a decision - we could have the door switched back to the old size and swing in, or keep as is. While I hate that the door swings out, we had already discussed taking the door out anyway as most of the basement is finished and I didn't want the furniture situation, especially because we don't have a walk-out. Bigger door it is and I can almost guarantee it will be coming off the hinges.

Now for the surprises...

I was able to get a close look at the tile in the master bathroom for the first time. Last time we were there the guys was in the process of installing it. A couple things we noticed were an odd sliver of tile in the corner row. I guess the guy messed up the placement of the tile. A couple of the accent tiles were a little crooked and the corner bull-nose pieces were split down the middle. The guy that was there with us at the time cause our PM was running late said they make the square corner bull-nose, but they are fired at a different time in a different location and usually don't match right. So now they splice together pieces. I can live with that. However, while I was closely inspecting the accent tile he goes "don't fall in love with this shower" and I was like, "why not?" and he said "we're ripping it all out." HUH? Apparently they didn't think the tile work was acceptable (mostly because of the corner sliver) and are making the flooring place re-do it. I have to say, I'm impressed they took that action all on their own and don't accept poor workmanship. So fingers crossed it all turns out much better than the first time around. I made special mention of making sure those accent pieces were straight!

We also were told that they had to move the window in our bathroom. Apparently it wasn't centered correctly so when they installed the vanities, it was obviously a couple inches off. I can't even imagine what a mess that was to move and thank goodness they hadn't installed the stone on that side yet. They did break the lower pane in the process, but they said a new one is ordered and won't be installed until the last minute, just in case it could get broken again. Again, glad they identified their mistakes and fixed them. I just hope there's no issues with the window frame or weatherproofing since it all had to be moved.

Stopped by the next day since I wanted to see the progress on the stone and the deck. Looks like they made of tons of progress so very excited to see where we're at this week since we're getting near the end!!

Perhaps I should consider starting to pack up my current house...

Stone for the side

Dining and Living Room

Railing in the Basement


Upstairs Bathroom

Master Bath

Master Tile

Trim added to Tray Ceiling

Friday, January 22, 2016

So Much Progress!

Just a week ago they had hung the drywall and were waiting for it to dry. I didn't expect much from our meeting this week - probably just finished drywall and maybe just starting on the trim. I was so surprised at how much had been done in just a week!

The tile floors are done. The wood floor in our entire first floor is done. The tile in the 2nd bath surround and the master shower tile were almost done. All the doors were hung and they had just started hanging cabinets. There was already a first coat of paint and the siding was started on the outside. They were working away while we were there and there was stuff laying everywhere so I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked or taken as many pictures.

On top of all that fun we heard they started hanging siding on our side which is supposed to be stone so they had to pull it all down. This whole time we had the wrong bathtub in our 2nd bath. The one we had was made for the built-in surround thing but we were doing tile. Our PM joked with us like "why didn't you tell me we had the wrong bathtub this whole time?" Ha-ha. So that had already been swapped out. The light at the bottom of the stairs still hasn't been moved but he said they'd get to it (if they've already started painting, doesn't that make it harder to move? Just a thought...)

One thing I was surprised about was which direction all the doors were supposed to be hung. The double doors in the basement were supposed to open into the back room. We had even requested they open out into the main room, but were told "no" because it would block the light switch. Well, they were hung backwards from the way they were supposed to be, but conveniently the way we wanted. Our PM asked if we were okay with that, and I reminded him that he was the one that said "no" because of the light switch. So he offered to switch the light switch to face into the back room so it wouldn't be an issue. Why wasn't that an option in the first place?

Then today I was looking at some of the pictures I took and noticed that the basement door was also backwards and was swinging out into my dining room instead of into the stairwell and our master closet door was hung swinging into the closet and we had asked, and been allowed to switch it to open into the bathroom. I just popped an email over to our PM so hopefully they'll get these fixed okay. Just goes to show how much you can miss even when you're there, so take a lot of pictures and be sure to look at them when you have time to take it all in.

We also took a few measurements for some appliance purchases. We measured the area for the refrigerator since the floors and upper cabinets were in and the laundry room as I'm looking at some large capacity front-loaders.

The measurement's I pulled were:

  • Bottom of cabinet to floor: 72"
  • Width from wall to first side cabinet: 39"
  • Width of wall inset behind refrigerator: 35"

Laundry Room:
  • Width of Washer/Dryer area: 62"
  • Deptch of Washer/Dryer area: 31"
  • Width of doorway: 31"

Any finally a few pics!

Started the Siding

Upper Kitchen Cabinets

Master Bedroom

Master Shower Tile

2nd Bath Tile Surround

Double Doors in Basement

Stuff Everywhere

Laundry Room

Friday, January 15, 2016

Drywall, Rate Locking and a Closing Date!

Drywall is all up. The have to do a couple more coats of the joint compound. With the super cold weather we had last week the deck guy didn't get to start and the stuff is taking a while to dry. They had fans blowing and a propane heater in the basement (at least it was somewhat warm in there now). Cabinets and doors had all been delivered and were stacked in the garage (forgot to take a pic so will try to grab one next time if they haven't already started installing them).

We double checked all the stuff that was supposed to be taken care of after our pre-drywall meeting and everything looked good. I'm somewhat concerned about the placement of the light box in the dining room. It's so hard to tell right now where things will sit, so I'll just have to wait and see when we get the furniture in there. We did notice the light at the bottom of the stairs wasn't centered. At first our PM said it couldn't be, but I pointed out the model's is centered so he said they'll fix it. That's the kind of stuff I look at and say, how could the electrician look at that like, yeah, let's make that light off center...

It's funny, some rooms seemed smaller and some bigger with the walls up. The laundry room and 3rd bedroom for example felt tiny, but the master bedroom and bathroom feel bigger. Hopefully they'll make lots of progress on the trim and tile when we visit next Thursday.

We were told at our pre-drywall that the house would be done on 2/12 and that's when our walkthrough would be. I'm trying to plan movers and have a conference for work I'm supposed to attend at the end of February so I was anxious to get our closing date. We were in daily contact with NVR last week as we were well within 45 days of closing and could save some money by waiting to rate lock. The rates have been a bit unpredictable lately. They bumped up after our original NVR meeting in September. The Fed meeting voting to raise interest rates didn't seem to help much either. Things stayed fairly elevated through the end of the year. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your situation, the world economy, oil prices and a million other factors I'm sure started to bring the rates down. It was getting to the point where every day was a gamble. Up today, down tomorrow. We gave them a couple days and went ahead and locked. We ended up paying a portion of a point I think to bring the rate down a bit, but it will pay for itself in less than 3 years and we plan to be in this house at least that long. (Tip: It's not worth paying for extra points if the time it takes to make up the difference in interest is longer than you plan on staying in the house.)

Anywho, once we locked we asked NVR when we were scheduled to close and they said Ryan sets that up. It had been a few days so I emailed our SR and asked if she knew when or how we'd find out the closing date. She reached out to their office and I got an email immediately from them (so not really sure what the delay was...) They confirmed our walk-through on the 12th and said our closing date was scheduled for the 17th. A whole five days later... I didn't understand why they scheduled it five days out, especially when our PM said we could close anytime after the walkthrough. Granted the 12th is a Friday and the following Monday is Presidents Day, but still, impatience wins.

I emailed them back and asked if we could move up the closing date. I didn't hear back for a couple days so I had to follow up (kind of annoying). She got right back to me and said they ask that they schedule the closing at least two business days after the walkthrough and she'd have to check with our PM if we can do it sooner. I let her know no one ever told us that and if moving it back was a big inconvenience, don't worry about it. She got back to me today and confirmed that we CAN close on the 12th later in the afternoon! Already less than 30 days away, it's so close I can taste it!!!

Kitchen, Entry, Dining Room


Living Room

Master Bedroom - loving that tray ceiling!

Master Bathroom

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3

Upstairs Bathroom


Basement Office (aka Exercise Room with the wall pushed back)


Monday, January 11, 2016


Finally got our current home on the market. Anyone looking to move to Northern Kentucky? We're in Independence, but right on the edge of the city. It's just a few minutes to Florence, Crestview Hills and both I75 and I275 which will take you right into downtown Cincinnati.

9883 Codyview Drive, Independence, KY 41051 - MLS/Listing # 451006

Pre-Drywall Meeting

We had our pre-drywall meeting last Tuesday. They were in the process of putting in all the insulation. Our list of things to go over was pretty much confirming everything we changed or added was right. Things that had to be addressed:

  • They missed installing the extra outlet we had put in the laundry room
  • We also had asked they add blocking above the fireplace to mount a TV
  • One of the outlets in the master bedroom was shown to be under a window in the electrical blueprint, but was put between the windows instead. As the room is smaller than our current master and we want to put a dresser between the windows, we asked the outlet was moved so it could be pushed back as far against the wall as possible
  • We opted for a single light box in the dining room instead of two recessed lights and they had centered the light in the room where it was supposed to be like 5.5 feet from the one wall
  • I also requested that all outlet or light switch boxes are checked to be level and the same height on the walls if they are side-by-side (I'm a little OCD when it comes to those types of things and I know there are some that are not straight in the model)
  • Light to be added in the upstairs storage closet since the rolling blueprint change had it be a regular closet but we had them switch it back

Our PM was right on the ball with everything and it all got taken care of. Plus, he promised me all the plates would be straight (he probably was laughing at my neuroticism) I also followed up with a request to double check the two recessed lights and the ceiling fan rough-in were on the covered porch as there's still no deck so we couldn't go out there ourselves. 

We also made sure to take lots of pictures since this would be the last time we saw everything behind the walls. If you have an Android phone, I highly recommend taking some photo spheres, they were super neat! They were starting drywall on Friday and starting the deck so I'm sure it will be so different the next time we're there!

Here's our rough checklist for the meeting and then a few pics.
  • Check all cable and data connections (Guardian) that they are all installed and in the right place
  • Single light in dining room instead of two recessed
  • Recessed light placement in living room
  • Placement of added outlet under the window in master bath
  • Orientation of laundry room (washer on the left, dryer on the right)
  • Extra outlet in laundry room
  • Switched outlet in master tray ceiling, confirm placement (we added this at the last minute and never said specifically where we wanted to put it, but our PM was right on it and put it in the least conspicuous place possible. Bonus point for him!)
  • Extra outlet in unfinished basement area for deep freezer
  • Ensure at least 60 inches of clear wall space in dining room for china cabinet
  • Placement of outlet on window wall in master bedroom
  • Fan rough-ins in master, bedroom 2 and covered porch
  • Blocking above fireplace for tv
  • Take pics
  • Look for empty spaces to later add storage/small closets

Space behind laundry room where HVAC runs, can totally fit a closet in there.
Insulating the kitchen
Fireplace (Husband for scale)
Stairs to 2nd floor
Tray ceiling in master
Laundry hookups
First picture in the basement (still waiting for the right and not broken window)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Quick Visit

Had a quick meeting early last week. Hadn't been in the house in almost two weeks because of the holidays. Lot's of progress. The framing is about finished up. The windows were in and they were working on the doors while I was there. Garage door is in. Party wall is up. Electrical was done, Guardian was done and it looked like plumbing and HVAC were just about done. 

On a side note, I have to say so far, I've been really impressed with Ryan, our PM and the construction thus far. I know we're only about half way there, but I expected there to be something wrong or some sort of disappointment at this point (sadly) just based on what I know about the construction process and things I've heard about Ryan. Not to jinx anything, so but so far I couldn't be happier with how things have gone and only hope that continues.

Next week is our pre-drywall meeting! I have a list of things to double check on, placement of outlets and switches, thing we added etc. I'll post my list and the outcomes after the meeting.

But until then, here are a few pics of the progress.

Garage Door

Looking into the master bath, through the master closet, through the laundry room and out the garage door.

Master bedroom, drywall has already been delivered. 
Bedroom 3

Covered Porch - it looks huge, I'm so excited!

Standing in the living room looking at the dining room and kitchen and the front door (being installed).