One Life, Well Traveled

A Personal Blog

Pre-Construction Meeting

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Today we met Pete Rooney, the Project Manager building our unit (well, all the units at Rock Creek).  He walked us through all the customizations we’ve made, double checking all of our fine points (all those plug locations!).  I am fairly pleased to say that we didn’t need to change anything.  One might say that there was little reason to have the meeting, but for one important point:

Pete is now our point of contact for most inquiries we’re making.

My impression of Pete was quite good.  He clearly listened to everything we said and pretty much wrote down every word (including my request that we be notified at the earliest opportunity when our move-in/settlement date would be as we still have to deal with our rental). He seemed very document driven so that was a good sign.  Our Realtor, Jim, also seemed confident that our investment in two housing inspections (pre-drywall and pre-settlement), both also noted by Pete, would reap a better quality home for us.  I hope Pete doesn’t mind our nosy selves poking our head in with a camera because I imagine there will be many parents, friends, etc we’ll be taking for visits and the like as our patch of air becomes more like a patch of air with some wood, steel, and concrete in it.

I will admit that I am still quite skeptical of the ability of a builder to throw up a home in 90 days (that would put move in toward mid January if they break ground in 4 weeks as they plan, that’s still not certain) but that is what they have maintained since we started this.  Who can say for sure at this point.  There is no doubt going to be a lot of nerve wracking moments left, but now that all the choices and customizations for us are done it definitely feels like we’ve passed some sort of invisible milestone. Hopefully this is a milestone on the road to where we want to be.

Written by Tarsus

September 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Wiring, part the second

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Our second wiring appointment did not take much longer than the first, though this was not surprising as Marianne and I already pretty much knew what we wanted when we went into the appointment.  The contractor was Trinity Wiring, called that because the people who run it are oh-so-irish.  There was serious debating whether or not the guy we met was first or second generation immigrant his accent was so noticeable.

The matter of in-house networking for this house turned out to be pretty straight forward.  Basically, the wiring for phones and computers is the same now-adays.  We can stick the modem and router for our internet into the wiring cabinet and then plug cables into as many ports as we have ports to use (in this case, 3 in the basement, one on the ground floor, and one upstairs).  We can attach a wireless repeater to it if we want (or if our current wireless router doesn’t reach all areas of the house we can add it in as needed.  I already known how to make that work as a wireless repeater).  They don’t provide any routers or anything, but they do provide the wiring.  Score one for not having to run exposed wires all over the house for pets to nom on.

Some things we added:

-Hardwired ethernet ports in the basement for 3 computers, as well as on the ground floor and second floor.

-Wall mounting capacity for two televisions, one in the basement and one on the ground floor.  That includes hidden HDMI ports so gaming systems and DVD players can get access to the TVs without having hanging cords.

-A wall mount for a phone on the ground floor, so we can be called by future playgroups, pizza delivery, and political campaigns (curse that exemption to the no call list).

Things we opted against:

-Home security system.  We plan to have a dog (aka the best home security system in the world).  There were potentially some useful things there (fire-alarm system that would call the fire department) but between the whole “we live in a townhouse community” and the fact that I have visions of the fire department showing up when all we did was burn the roast – yeah, I wasn’t feeling it for the price they were asking.  It’s not like we can’t get carbon monoxide detectors from Lowes.

-Home theater.  Yeah.  I like TV and videogames and all, but that is so not me.

-Matching luggage.  WTF worthy.  Also, not needed.

-Built in vacuum system.  Really also not needed.  Also, a roomba would be cheaper and double as a cat toy.

-Satellite wiring. Tree-line would mean that getting a satellite TV signal would be difficult.  Also, if we were going to upgrade TV again, we’d probably wait until FiOS is available or Comcast gets busted for being a monopoly.  It’s sad I’m not sure which one will come first.

Next up is the pre-construction meeting next week.

Written by Tarsus

September 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Breakfast Tacos

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Today, Marianne made breakfast tacos.  I helped.

First, I diced some potatoes.  Just about half an inch cubes.

Marianne fried bacon in our cast iron skillet while I was doing this.  This meal was the perfect use of cast iron goodness.

Potatoes were fried in bacon.  We cracked some black pepper over it to add a little more flavor.

Fried potatoes were served up with the bacon, some scrambled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, and salsa.  Oh, and we took some of the leftover corn tortillas from my attempt at fish tacos (nothing to write about there, yet) and steamed them in wet towels in the microwave to put it all together on.

Mmmmm… tasty flash reflection.

Looks good doesn’t it?  Well, it tasted better.

Decimated!

Madeline wonders where hers is.  Sorry Mao Mao, we ate it all.

Conclusions:

-Next time, use one less potato and one more egg and one or two more slices of bacon.

-Even though we’re frying them in bacon grease, add salt to the potatoes.

-Use these tortillas again.  Omnomnom.

Written by Tarsus

September 4, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Food

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Floors

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We had our appointment to pick our flooring today.  Though there was a great deal of preparation (the designer’s website had us filling out quizzes and such, it came as no surprise our primary “style” was country), and paint swatches were gotten so that we could look against future colors.

Fortunately, the selection process was pretty simple.  Either we’re very decisive or just it didn’t take as long as they were saying (it took us about an hour, the website said 3).  In any case, large pictures are after the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Tarsus

September 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Today’s Appointment: Electrical Outlets

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One thing is becoming abundantly clear, the next few months are going to result in a lot of appointments to make those little (okay, some of them aren’t so little) customizations that make this entire process most like the the fun part of the Sims.  These are things like Electrical/Telephone/Data wiring and Kitchen Cabinets & Counter Tops, and flooring/carpets.

Today’s appointment is to get a few “custom” electrical outlets put in so that we can add things like a wall mounted television.  This is separate from other electrical related appointments for one reason: It’s cheaper to specify them at this point than to do it later through the sub-contractor.  By cheaper I mean by $100 per outlet cheaper, which is not a small amount.  Fortunately, we still get the code-specified outlet every 12 feet without any extra charge, but if we want more than that (or to specify them in a somewhat odd place, such as elevated 5 feet off the floor) it’s far better to do that today than later.

There are two main places we are looking to use this option.  The first is in the rec room in the basement so we can add a wall mounted television if we so desire.  The second is in the kitchen in the nooks behind the cabinets, which will make adding in things like under-cabinet lighting much easier in the future.  It also gives us a place to plug in things in that awkward corner space that every kitchen has.  We’re thinking the Kitchen Aid stand mixer at the moment.

There may be other places we need to specify, we’ll find out as we walk through today.  I plan on bringing a tape measure to pace out a few 12 foot increments.

Update: Five in total.  Three in the kitchen (two by the counter, one over by the table for sewing, etc), one on the long wall in the living room, and one on the short wall in the basement.

Written by Tarsus

August 26, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Built in Appliances

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That house we just ordered?  Yeah, it comes with some appliances in the kitchen.  They’re efficient, made by General Electric, and also black.

Fridge
Range/Oven
Dishwasher
Microwave/Range Hood

Written by Tarsus

August 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

814 Rock Creek Road is Ours

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Yesterday afternoon, we penned a contract with Ryan Homes and NVR Mortgage to build 814 Rock Creek Road.  It will be a Colonial style townhouse, three stories (two above ground and one basement), with a bay window.

But right now, it is just a patch of dirt that we don’t even own because we don’t own the land, just the air (the HOA owns the land).  Now, that air may not look like anything special.  However, its our air and that is worth something.

There were a couple of things that took us a while to smooth out to our satisfaction.  The first was the “fee” to lock in the interest rate on the loan (4.25% if you must know), which while not unusual was a) about double what you would pay elsewhere, and b) totally not disclosed to us.  Arguing that down was a key provision for us and that happened, and we got it down to below what we would have had to pay from our Credit Union.  We also got a guarantee from the builder that if they couldn’t build the house within the time specified in the lock they would pay the fees to extend the lock.

The second was the issue of the bay window, which was a feature we didn’t ask for (honestly, the cats will love it, but we didn’t need it) but we didn’t have a choice to have it or not.  The result was we thought it was kinda ridiculous to pay for it.  We didn’t get it for free, but we did get it at %25 the price originally asked.

These were very minor things, but from the perspective of feeling like we were signing on to something that wasn’t going to bite us in the butt later they were essential.  If we had regrets, that would have been bad.  I’m pretty confident saying at this point we don’t have regrets about it.

Tomorrow we get to pick out the exterior colors.  There may be pictures.

Written by Tarsus

August 21, 2010 at 9:49 am