Thursday, March 31, 2011

Construction: Day 6-9

Drove be the house on Tuesday afternoon to check in on the progress.  Not many obvious changes.  They were digging and (only what I can assume as) getting the plumbing ready.  They said they would be pouring the foundation in the latter part of this week - so I'm very excited to see that milestone!

 We've got plans to check in on Friday - so hopefully there will be lots of concrete to photograph!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Paint Plans

Remember this post?  It showed (most of) our design choices for the house.  The hardest choice was paint. 
The Husband wanted to go darker and strong to really put the white woodwork on display with 'Montgomery Sand'.  I was a little more hesitant and was leaning towards 'Autumn Tan' for a lighter look.  We decided to go with the darker shade, and I feel really pretty good about it.  I think it's going to have to go on the walls before I can know for sure.

The builder is painting the whole house one color.  This means The Husband and I have already starting discussing what rooms we would like to change.  Having an open floor plan creates some issues with painting because it makes it very hard to know where to stop the color.  

Here is a refresher of our floor plan:

We are using the dining room as The Husband's office.  This was the first room I knew I wanted to paint.  It is open to the foyer - but it still feels separate enough to stand alone with a color.  Even the model home had a different color than the rest of the house:
Although that blue is nice, it's a little frilly for The Husband's "executive office".  

The Husband and I love the t.v. show Modern Family.  A few weeks ago we were watching and I noticed the blue in the entry way/stairwell of the Dunphy home.  We both loved it.  After some googling... I came across THIS.  She knows exactly what colors are in TV show homes.  awesomesauce. 

So, I now unveil:  Benjamin Moore, 'Labrador Blue'

I think it's a great color that can work for a "man's man" office.  I think the grey tones make it look fresh and modern too.  We love it so much we're even considering it for 2 of the walls in the kitchen as well.  

What do you think???

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Construction: Day 3-5

On Friday evening we drove by the house again.  We found that they filled in the the homesite and leveled it.  They also started doing the "rough in" of plumbing.  I am very confused about the placement of pipes - but I have to trust that they know what they're doing - and I'm an idiot.  

 This photo is taken from the back corner of the yard.  You can see that the back of the house will be slightly elevated in the back to create a level home.  I image we'll have a few steps down from our back porch to get into the yard.  

The weather was beautiful on Friday evening.  So The Husband and I decided to take a walk around our new neighborhood.  We are building in a new area of the neighborhood - so we are actually one of the first houses being built.  Right now, it's just open land and it's so beautiful and peaceful.  It really feels like we're out in the country.  I know that feeling won't last long... but for now - we're enjoying it.

On our walk - we spotted a family of four deer.  Awesome, right?

Wanna know what's NOT awesome?  We also found this on our homesite.  Either our builders are having a fun time while building the house - or some neighborhood hoodlums have decided to 'hide out' with their bong on our property.  Either way, it doesn't leave me thrilled.   

The pipes in the back right corner of the house seem to make sense - as that's where our master bath is located.  However, the pipes in the center of the house are what is leaving me confused.  That may be where the kitchen is located - but that leaves no pipes for the guest bath.... I tried measuring it out but I couldn't tell for sure what they were there for, and again, I have to assume the builders know what they're doing.  

Things are really progressing.  We got a phone call from the builder letting us know they're going to finish up the plumbing early next week and get the cables out for the foundation and they should be pouring our foundation by the latter part of next week.  They said once they get the foundation laid - everything will move quickly and the house is will appear before our eyes.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Construction: Day 1-2

Holy Cannoli.

There is "movement" on our lot.   Things are happening. Shit is getting done!!!

As a reminder:  This was "before"

And now... look at our (soon to be) house!!!

They knocked down all the oak trees that were in the way of the house - and the cedars.  
(those of you allergic can thank me later for killing a few of the evil texas cedar).
If you want a re-fresher of our floor plan... click here.  

As I mentioned before we have a greenbelt behind us.  No backyard neighbors, and we get to look out into the wooded area. 

This is the front left (if you're standing in the street, looking at it) corner of the house.  

This is the back of the house.  Look at those awesome trees that will be in our yard!

The view when I'm standing at my (pretend) front door.  Obviously, there will eventually be houses there.

This photo was taken at the back left corner (when looking at the house from the street) of our backyard - looking onto the backside of the house.  We're thrilled with the size of the yard.  That was something that was very difficult to visualize with all the trees everywhere. 

So yeaaaaaa! We're so thrilled to see progress.  They said there were going to start digging for plumbing and should have it "roughed in" by Saturday.  I'm not sure what that means, but we'll find out.   It's amazing how small the footprint of the house seems at this point.  I know it's an optical illusion, but still... it's strange.  

We going to see it again on Saturday to see what the builder accomplished on construction days 3-5.  

Monday, March 21, 2011


We are one step closer to home ownership.  The list is slowly but surely getting checked off.
Things left to do:

Get the loan officers:
copies of paystubs for February, March, April and May (from us both)
copies of that random fifth page that went missing from our tax info
copies of our voided earnest money checks
...and a few more that I'd have to dig out my real list to remember.

Blinds for entire house
Mirrors for bathrooms
(and a lot of other stuff that will have to wait until we can beef up the savings account again...)

This weekend we put a big check next to an item on our list:  Buy a refrigerator.

Remember this post where I picked out an LG, and was just waiting on a sale?  Well, a sale came (a big one!) but it was on the Samsung that placed "runner up" that day.  When we took one looked at the clearance price of the Samsung... and it was suddenly bumped to first place and we wanted to take our shiny (silvery) trophy home!

(sorry about the bad iphone images.  I wasn't prepped with my 'fancy' camera because it was bought on a whim!)

Oh yes, that's $700 off the list price.  My in-laws have this same fridge and paid over $400 more when they purchased it 'on sale' a few months ago.
look at all that space!! all 28.5 cubic feet!

here's some more details:

We also scored three years no interest cause the guys at Best Buy were super nice.  They will also hold items like this in their warehouse for up to 90 days and still offer free delivery (when we will have it delivered to the new house).  That deserves a "bam" and "bloop" (a little RHOA aka: NeNe love!).  

What a successful weekend.  Now if I only had a house to put it in.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interest Rate Lock.

Seeing as how there isn't much to talk about regarding the house, I want to document our "rate lock in" process.  Not my most interesting post, but it will surely inform someone in the blogosphere. 

The floor plan was advertised with 10k in free upgrades.  Awesome, but... the advertised $10,000 "free" upgrades is tied to using the builder's lenders.  I did shop around a several banks bit before committing - to ensure we weren't shooting ourselves in the foot.  However, even with the bank's lower rates, when we calculated an additional 10k to the sales price - going though the builder was a no brainer.  

Here has been our timeline thus far:
  • Jan 15:  Looked at about 7 re-sell homes.  Loved one, but not enough to pull the trigger. 
  • Jan 23:  Looked at a few new construction models with B builder.
  • Jan 30:  Looked a few new construction models with H builder.  Made offer #1 that day.
  • Feb 1:  Heard back that offer #1 had been countered.
  • Feb 2:  Adjusted our offer and re-submitted it with earnest money.  Accepted that same day. 
  • Mar 5:  We hit our 90 days before closing (June 2).
  • Mar 10:  We locked in our interest rate at 4.875%.

Things to consider:
  • The interest rates change daily.  
  • The price (aka: points) to lock in change daily.  (especially when you're considering a 90, 60, or 30 day lock).  These points also change based on the market.  (the bank's gotta make money...)
  • Since we started watching interest rates on mortgages they have slowly been on the rise, so we were all for a 90 day lock as long as we could get it for a reasonable price.

On the day we locked in, we got the 4.875% interest rate for the price of 'half a point'.  A point = 1% of our total home loan amount.  Because we're putting down a hefty down payment (15%), our lock in cost was $1,007.
We called our lenders once or twice per week long before our lock in date to "check in" with what the market looked like and what the rates were doing.  A week before we locked in (March 3rd) we were told that it would cost us around $2,000 (approx 1 point) to have a 90 day lock at 4.875%.  We were thrilled on the 10th when the cost was down to a half point.  

photo from here

With what happened in Japan the next day - I'm not sure the market did, or how interest rates were effected.  I have made a point not to even look so I wouldn't kick myself for locking in 'early'.  In the end, we consider that $1,000 to be like insurance.  If interest rates go up, we're covered... and if it goes down - we know we can be happy and can afford our monthly payments with a rate of 4.875%.  

p.s. I promise the next post will come with less text and more pictures.

Monday, March 14, 2011


All this design talk has been fun.  But I bet you're wondering "where's her house?"

yea. i'm wondering that, too.

When we signed on February 2nd they said they like to have 120 days between contract and closing.  Fine, we agreed to close on June 2nd.  

It is now March 14th and there has been exactly zero noticeable progress.

They keep assuring me they're doing "soil testing" in Dallas and they will finish on schedule... but that means my house will be built in less than 80 days.  I'm not claiming it's impossible to build a high quality home in 80 days, but they're going to need to start proving it to me.  Like yesterday.

I'm getting impatient and cranky about the whole thing.  

... and Cooper wants is GD yard.  Stat.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

After shopping mania on Saturday, I could not process all the information we were thrown about blinds.  One of the great things about our house is the windows, and natural light that make it feel bright and open.  

Natural light = Windows
Windows = Texas Heat Pouring into my House
Heat in Texas = Constant Air Conditioning
Constant Air Conditioning in Texas = Big Money.

We know that blinds + curtains are a must in Texas, and we don't want to pay the electricity bill without as much coverage as possible.  I have already converted The Husband to a believer about the cost-savings of window treatments.  Our current apartment has faux wood blinds and we were still paying a fortune each month to ensure we weren't sleeping in a pool of sweat.  I purchased some heavy duty curtains for all of the windows and we immediately saw a significant difference in the hottest month(s) of the summer.  

The builder had offered to put in blinds for $1,000 added to our financing.  We tried to negotiate them into our price, but no luck.  The blinds they offered were exactly what we had in our apartment.  Not terrible, not great.  However, being budget minded... my whole goal was to find these blinds (or something better) for under $1,000.

I love a good spreadsheet, so while I was shopping I created this one.  HD and Lowes went back and forth on the best deal (depending on the size of the window), but overall - we got a higher quality blinds for the entire house for less at HD.

Here's my spreadsheet... with the grand total!

Yep... that's right $17.70 under budget.
(not sure that was worth the 3.5 hours of shopping... but, I'll take it).
They are better quality blinds than what the builder offered anyway.  I'm quite pleased. 

Also, we could subtract an additional $120 (bringing the savings up to $137.30... which is going towards 'mac daddy sectional' fund) if I can talk The Husband into installing them ourselves.  We are educated people... it can't be THAT hard, right?

Have you installed faux wood blinds? Pointers?  We're going with "DesignView" Brand.  If you have any first hand knowledge... please let me know!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shopping Mania.

Saturday was crazy.
The shopping extravaganza was even more than this pro could handle.  I was completely wiped out when we got home.  Thankfully, Dominos delivered pizza for nourishment, so I could daze off into space for the rest of the night as my brain (and feet) recovered.

Good news:
I think we narrowed the refrigerator choices down to one (or two... cause there is a Samsung that I keep looking at too...).
I think we found great mirrors for the master bath.
I think we a good options for the guest bath mirror situation.

Bad news:
Blinds are expensive.
Refrigerators are more expensive. 
They STILL haven't broken ground on the house.  grrr.

We are most interested in purchasing a refrigerator from Best Buy (if possible) because we already have a credit card through them - and they offer 18 months no interest on large purchases.  We love the 'same as cash' kind of financing... so we were hoping they would have the goods we needed.  

We also looked at Lowes and Home Depot.  Lowes had an great deal on a Samsung refrigerator we really considered... but using our 18 months no interest ended up outweighing the extra savings of the Best Buy fridge. (Plus, I later read online the Samsung ice maker is like a "jet engine")  

And here is our winner:
The LG LFX25976ST, 3 door Refrigerator with Ice and Water Dispenser.
"Smart and Handsome.  If you've ever been frustrated with a refrigerator this LG unit may be your answer.  We freed up that valuable top-shelf space by moving the ice maker to the refigerator door.  The water dispenser is extra tall so you can fill nearly any size container.  And it comes iwth a 4-compartment crisper system for extra convenience.  Oh, an dit comes with your own Exterior/Interior Styling Package, so it's quite stylish too"
(says the LG website)

We didn't purchase today, because The Husband and I love a good sale.  With Memorial Day being just about one week before we close on the house, we're hoping they will knock a couple Benjamin's off the price during that holiday weekend.  It will also give me some time to be sure, sure, it's the one. (aka: obsess about the comparisons between it and the Samsung) 

I stopped by the model home this morning and took some measurements of the mirrors in the bathrooms and made my best guess on scale of what individual mirrors should be.  Armed with my 'best guess' we hit the stores to find something as close to my numbers as possible.  

Here's what I found:

Guest Bathroom Option #1:  Hemnes Mirror (Ikea)
It's 23 5/8'' x 35 3/8'' and I could hang two of them, vertically.  My only real hesitation is the 'black-brown' color they show.  It looked black in the store - but it was difficult to tell.  However, it's 100% wood - so I could (theoretically) stain them if it really bothered me.   I think I'm going to keep looking before I pull the trigger on this one.
Best part:  $49 each.
photo from

Guest Bathroom:  A non option... but I love it (Lowes)
It is an espresso finish (makes me happy!), and is 32'' in diameter.  Sadly, it is about 1.5'' too large, and won't fit in the guest bath... but it too small for the master.  This photo doesn't do it justice... I wish I had a place for it. It is $79.98 each.  Ouch.  But it's so pretty. 
photo from lowes

Option one and only for Master Bathroom:  Martha Stewart, Saranac (Home Depot)
It's 30''x36'' and I would hang two of them, vertically, over the sinks in the master bathroom (photos of the model home set up).  These are a little longer and just about 2 inches thinner than I imagined... but I think they will work really well.  And I love the color.
Also something awesome:  $49 each!
photo from Home Depot

We were so overwhelmed with the blind pricing/options - we're unsure.  All I know is the Lowe's people were super nice to us 'newbies', and that sure counts for something.  We were so tired, I think we'll attack the blinds another weekend.  We're also starting to wonder if it's not just cheaper to pay the builders to do the blinds.  With the cost of installation - we may come out even, and we *could* just bring that extra money to closing to make up the difference.   I need to do more measurements and math (not my strong point) to be sure. 

I feel really good about mirror and refrigerator selections.  I'm going to hold of on buying until I see sale.  I've done my spreadsheets - and the 'decor' budget we have set over the next year or so is going to be tiiiight... and I want to spend as little as possible on items like this.  
(As I'm trying to ensure we can squeeze a mac daddy sectional and some master bedroom furniture into the budget, eventually).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mirror Mirror on the Wall.

Both bathrooms in our house come with the giant mirror that spans the entire vanity.  

Evidence (master bath):

Evidence (guest bath):

Ideally, I'm wanting to tell the builder to leave the mirrors out of the plan completely.  All though they are not awful.. and very typical of this kind of home - it's not my preference.
I know my husband, and I know how priorities change... so I'm worried if I go with the large mirror it will be there forever.  

Ideally, I could get two separate mirrors... a la the following:

This one actually kind of "speaks" to me.  (sorry for the bad quality - it was found on google images):

We will have the white countertops, the oil rubbed bronze fixtures, and I'm pretty sure those are the exact lighting fixtures we're getting too.  The above photo shows (I think) black fames to match the ORB finishes.  Initially, I assumed the frame should match the cabinet stain... but now I'm not so sure.

I feel like the two mirrors are much more 'custom' looking... but talking The Husband into buying mirrors when one comes "free" with the house will be tricky.  However, I think I'm up for a challenge.

for sale on Overstock

also for sale on Overstock

What do you think?  
A wood stained finish on the mirror?
Black mirror to match the ORB?

I'm going to keep the faith that I can find four mirrors (two per bathroom), that I love... on the cheap.  If not, I'm thinking we'll go ahead and do the giant mirror in the guest bath and 'fancy up' the master.  


In other house news... the loan process sucks.  I feel like a show dog jumping through 1,000 hoops.  The husband has been too busy with work to participate much in this sucky process.  Not fun.  I don't know how anyone does all of this in 30 days for a re-sale home. 

color me overwhelmed cause it's a lot of work that I was not anticipating.
for some reason... I feel like the color overwhelmed would be purple.  A dark purple. 

We're also going tomorrow to start window shopping for fridges, blinds, lawnmowers and mirrors.  The husband 'owes me' for dealing with this loan stuff all on my own, and has told me that I have free reign over the plans on Saturday and he'll go along with it... I have planned a day of:
 checking out the house
meeting with the tax guy
a quick (ha!) trip to Ikea to look at blinds and mirrors
a trip to Best Buy to look at fridges
a trip to Lowes to look for blinds, mirrors, fridge and lawnmower
a trip to Home Depot to look for blinds, mirrors, fridge and lawnmower
poor husband. He has no clue what he's in for.  

me, on the other hand: can.not.wait.