Saturday, June 13, 2015

Locking with NVR

If you've read my first NVR post Adventures with NVR, you'll know that we struggled with the decision to use NVR vs NFCU (Navy Federal Credit Union) for our mortgage. To quickly recap, our main reasoning was that NVR will sell us off whereas NFCU will keep us for the duration of the loan, and the interest rate with NFCU is consistently lower. NVR however was offering $5000 toward closing were NFCU was offering $1500. While the $3500 difference in closing cost, it's peanuts over the life of the loan if we ended up with a higher interest rate. So the plan as we left it with NVR was that about 72 hours out of locking we would get a GFE from NFCU and NVR would match the interest rate.

When we received our closing date of 28 July we spoke with our LO from NVR and she told us it was a good time to obtain the GFE from NFCU so that she could take it to her superiors and get approval to match the interest rate.  So that's exactly what we did and received a quote of a 3.625% interest rate which is pretty much exactly what's it's been since we started this process. NVR was quoting us at 3.875, so enough of a difference that we were willing to switch to NFCU if we couldn't get the rate match, and our LO was aware of this.

Our LO came back with an offer for us, they were willing to give us the 3.625% rate with a fee of 0.75% of the loan. This means we would have to come to closing with $3000 out of pocket, basically they were eating up some of our $5000 closing cost incentive. After running the numbers we saw that NVR would beat out NFCU by a few hundred dollars in this case but, to be honest, that wasn't enough to make us stick with NVR. A few hundred dollars over the life of the loan really is nothing and we had originally agreed to use NVR if the matched NFCU. Well charging a .75% fee wasn't matching NFCU in our opinions since their rate was the 0/0 rate.

We decided to play a little bit of hardball and told our LO that we would only stick with NVR if they matched NFCU's rate without charging a fee. She said she understood and took the info back to her superiors. When we didn't hear from her for 2 days we figured she couldn't get it approved, and were prepared to move forward with NFCU. After contacting her to see what the story was she told us that rates had actually increased a bit and she was waiting to see what they did that day so she cold continue the discussion with her superiors. When we heard that their rates went up we really figured it was the end of the line. We contacted NFCU to see what we had to do to start the process with them.

Surprise! The next day we got a call from our LO saying that NVR approved the rate without any fee!! So we would get our full $5000 incentive for closing as well as the matched rate to NFCU. We were pretty surprised and very excited. We locked right away and are now just awaiting our settlement day! Don't be afraid to negotiate a little, they really want your business and if what you are asking for is reasonable you may just come out on top.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

HVAC Concerns

The MSS and Purchase Agreement list the HVAC System as "92% Efficiency Gas Furnace System Zone 2." We understood this to be a dual zone HVAC system, meaning thermostat upstairs and downstairs to control each independently. Makes sense given the square footage of the house and the fact that it's called "Zone 2". Well apparently that is not the case at all. We were speaking to the the PM last week while at the house and he told us that you get a dual zone HVAC system if you get the optional 3rd floor (attic bedroom or rec room around here, no basement options). Otherwise it is a one zone system with a manual damper in the attic. This means we could climb into the attic to manually close adjust the entire upstairs or downstairs and redirect the airflow. We were not thrilled with this and wish we had known up front. It's hard to imagine us wanting to climb up into the attic very frequently to adjust the airflow. I can't say it would have been a deal breaker but it's disappointing to find out after being under the wrong impression.

So where to go from here? My husband gave our inspector a call because he is also a Class A Contractor, and a no nonsense kind of guy, who we felt would give it to us straight. He said this is a common way of doing things now, but did have a recommendation for a way to improve the situation. Unfortunately we won't be able to have a true dual zone unless we have a new system installed, but he recommended asking the PM to wire the upstairs for a second thermostat. Once we take ownership of the house we can call in an HVAC company and have them install a second thermostat and an automatic baffler instead of a damper. Basically it will still work the same way, but we won't have to be climbing up into the attic, we can control it from the thermostat. He guessed this would run us around $800-$1000.

We spoke with the PM who seemed very willing to wire this for us, and we picked a spot for the thermostat on the 2nd floor (pretty much directly above the first floor thermostat). I have mentioned that a few times we've been given an enthusiastic 'yes'  from our PM and then when it comes time to deliver we've been told it's not possible. Hopefully that will not be the case here and we are trying to stay in close contact with the PM to ensure this is done before the drywall goes up.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Closing Date

We received official word from Ryan Homes that our closing will be July 28th. While we are glad to have a date, and feel as though we are moving forward, we were a bit disappointed to hear it will be end of July. All along we were told middle of July was a 'conservative' estimate of when we would close. We asked frequently if that was still a realistic target as a 'conservative' estimate and were told yes all along the way. The phrase our PM liked to use was, "I want to under promise and over deliver." Sounds great!! We'd like that too....and it turned out not to be the case. Really the only issue, besides the desire to get into our new home, is that we rented an apartment until the middle of July figuring we'd be covered. Thankfully our apartment had not been re-rented and we were able to extend for a few weeks to cover us until after closing.

Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't get pushed back any further than that. From reading blogs I've seen many accounts of dates being pushed back numerous times. Hopefully we can avoid all of that! At least we won't be homeless for those few extra weeks!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pre-drywall Inspection Report

The report from our inspector was sent to us and our PM via email this morning. It's an itemized list of all the issues that were found along with pictures to accompany just about each item. I'm going to list them all out so you can see what kind of things are picked up during this type of inspection so I apologize that this post is going to be huge.


1. Fire seal all areas where penetrations are present through the floors and ceilings.

2. Install a proper size and fitted 2 x 4 blocking under the garage beam, right hand side.

3. Flush up the 2 x 6 stud left of the garage steps. Then secure all studs where they do not twist at the base plate.
4. Add shims and blocks at the exterior door frames where larger gap is present and especially at the hinges.

5. There are larger holes drilled into the floor joist than needed. Special braces are needed on several areas to give back the proper support.

6. The exterior wall studs at the kitchen hood vent area are bowed inward. Have replaced as needed to be flush.

7. The exterior stud on right side 1st floor is broken at the top plate from 10 nails popping it off. Brace as needed.

8. Clean the mud off the ceiling joist seen in the living room.

9. The subflooring is not secure properly in the front left bedroom seen beside the metal poll.

10. The metal poll upstairs is improperly installed at the floor and base plate. The fabricated and design if for a different layout. Have corrected.

11. The wall is separated at the top for the metal pole to pass and the wall needs better support to each half.

12. The drywall nailer plates seen above the upper wall plate is not secured flush. This will cause the drywall to not be level. Secure all plates to be solidly flush.

13. Remove the wood block from the wall of the master closet.

14. Secure the master bath shower plumbing pipes where seen coming through he wall.

15. The roof sheathing is missing many of the required sheathing clips between the roof trusses.

16. Sink many nails around the walls that are sticking out more than 1/8”


17. The middle landing is not level.

18. The middle level stair tread is damaged and dip in the middle.

19. The gaps in‐between the stringers and landing platforms need to be filled and secured better.

20. The middle landing tread is not level with the landing itself.

21. This is the time to add liquid nails and bracing to the stair system to assure minimal movement and squeaks.

22. Remove the excess nails and liquid nail seen at the stair landings.


23. The water pipe was cut apart under the laundry room, for the drain pipe to pass by. It was never re‐worked and open pipes exist.

24. The plumbing pipes in the area has been taken loose from there clamps. Re‐work.

25. Re‐work the dryer vent pipe to be round instead of oval.

26. Secure the laundry box on the left side as it is on the right side.

27. Sink many of the nails that are sticking out of the braces.

28. Add blocking behind the soffit rake boards where butt joints are present.

29. Add blocking behind the fascia boards where they do not meet the roof joist. Having gaps creates movement and not keep it from staying straight.

30. Seal around all pipe penetrations where coming though the foundation.

31. The vent pipe on the right side is not a solid pipe as standard. Have solid pipe penetrating the exterior wall.

32. The window self‐flash edges are taped but the tap is not completely sealed properly. Seal tape down properly and add more between the windows that are close to one another.

33. Seal the horizontal cuts in the wrapping seen at the fireplace cap.

34. Seal the cuts in the wrapping around the house to not have openings where water can penetrate.

35. Install wrapping on all exposed wood sheathing around the bottom edges of the house where bare wood is seen.

So as you can see, he found a good deal of items he recommends be corrected, some more serious than others. In the end I'm not sure if these would have been picked up on by our PM or his inspector, but the piece of mind is well worth the few hundred dollars we spent on the inspection. If any of these things can save us time, money or heartache down the road it's definitely worth it. Our PM has a copy of this and I'll keep you posted as to when the changes are made and the outcome.

Pre Drywall Meeting and Inspection

We had our pre-drywall meeting with our PM on Friday May 29th. We had also decided to bring in an outside inspector to perform a pre-drywall inspection. This was initially recommended by our realtor, and after doing some research and speaking with an inspector we felt it was a good idea. Basically he was looking for issues with the framing, plumbing, exterior, and wiring. Things that will all be covered up as soon as the drywall is in place and we'd never know if a problem was lurking behind the walls just waiting to give us a headache.

We were all supposed to meet at 8am, but our inspector was caught in tunnel traffic (if you know Hampton Roads at all you're familiar with the phenomenon), and he ended up being about 35 mins late. That being said, we went through the house with our PM first. My husband had to be back out in CA to checkout with his unit but was able to FaceTime for the meeting, so he was able to see most of what was happening and ask questions. Basically our PM took us around the outside of the house, showed us where drainage piping was, talked about the wrapping on the house, window sealings, fireplace venting, access to the crawl etc. Many of these things will be discussed further in the future when he explains how to maintain the home. We then went into the home and he reviewed electrical outlets, wiring placements, lighting, the plumbing, kitchen layout etc.

There was one thing which we were disappointed in. We chose to have the attic storage option and our PM has been telling us all along that he would floorboard as much of the attic as possible and we'd have tons of storage space. He continually alluded to the fact that the whole attic would be floor boarded. This being said we asked if we could move the attic access out of the hallway and either into the laundry room or possibly the guest room (since it won't be used daily). We both just feel that the attic access right in the hallway is a bit of an eyesore. Over and over we were told this should be no problem and they'd take care of it. Well last week when I was at the house meeting with the wiring co we noticed the attic access is in the hallway. When I called the PM about this he said they framers put it there initially, but it can be moved and he just hasn't been out to the house yet to look at everything. Ok, sounded like we were still on track to have it moved from the hallway. I brought this up again during the pre-drywall meeting and we received a different answer. First off the amount of floorboard space is much much less than we had anticipated. It's basically a large strip down the center of the house. Our PM stated that they can't go out to the edges of the house because it isn't supportive enough. To give you a frame of reference, we had initially talked about possibly putting attic access in the guest room, well the entire square footage of the guest room doesn't have any floorboards over it for attic storage. So that is obviously a wash. It's also not possible to place in the laundry room due to HVAC components and plumbing. That was a little disappointing, though I understand if there is something they just cannot do for safety or code reasons, however, I don't like to feel as though I'm being yes'd to death if something can't happen. We have noted a few instances were we are being told 'oh yes we can work on that' when it seems as though what we asked for isn't even a possibility.

Anyway, off of my rant, we did a quick review of the paperwork to make sure nothing was missing and we were all on the same page moving forward. The only thing we caught was that they failed to rough in the two pendant lights we requested  above the kitchen island. My husband caught this during the walk through (not bad via FaceTime!) and it was on our paperwork, just overlooked. The PM said this would be taken care of.

Just as we were finishing up our private inspector arrived. The PM couldn't stay because he had other meeting, but they were able to meet and exchange info. We decided to use Quality Home Inspections based out of Newport News VA for this and our subsequent inspections. Floyd, the owner of the company, performs the pre-drywall inspections himself and we were very satisfied with him. He is also a Class A contractor which I liked because I felt like he could really look at things from a builder's perspective as well as an inspectors. He went through the house with a fine tooth comb, snapping pics and putting blue tape in quite a few places. He explained some things to me (my phone died so my husband couldn't be present for this one) along the way, and I was able to see what he was talking about in most instances though sometimes the builders jargon got in my way. The plan is for him to email the report and pictures to me as well as the PM.

I spoke with the PM briefly following the inspection and he told us that the items in the inspection would be addressed and pictures sent of the changes. I'll post the report when we get it so you can see some of the things that they found and what they look for in a pre-drywall inspection.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Doors and Windows and Wires Oh My!

My husband has to be out of town for about a week and a half so we made sure to take one more drive by the build site right before he left. The house now has windows, doors, stairs and all the exterior wrapping. Here are some pics! They are from Tuesday, May 19th which was Day 21 of building.

Top window is a bedroom window, bottom window is to the dining room and back window is morning room

Two bottom windows are living room, to top middle are loft and each side window is a bedroom

The doors all start off white then are painted the chosen color

Today, on Day 23 of building I met with a rep from Protection by Design to review all of our wiring choices. We met at the house, and did a walk through to make sure they knew exactly where we wanted our wiring placed. It was fun to walk through the inside of the house now that it's all framed. Today they were installing the HVAC system and it was a buzz of activity. Here is what we currently have as our wiring choices. It's changed very minimally from our initial diagram (, but we did move a few things around. Also we have a few days to mull it all over and make sure we are happy with it before they begin installation. 
First Floor Wiring

Second Floor Wiring
The SR from Protection by Design told us that they also throw in a network cable as well as a video cable in the attic. This way if we were to decide we wanted something additional in the future we have those wires installed. He said it is also a good backup to have in case a wire gets cut somewhere along the way. That sounded good to us, we are all for adding things that will help out in the future. Ryan homes installs smoke detectors to code, and Protection by Design will install a smoke detector as well (usually right along side Ryan's) that will be connected to the monitoring system (if you sign up for monitoring), meaning it will contact the emergency services. So we will take the next day or two to make sure we are 100% confident in our placement choices and then contact the rep if we need to move a location of a wire. 

We really tried to think about our future in the home, as well as potential future owners and what would be desirable. That's why we have a cable outlet in each bedroom. We thought about where we planned to put the beds and chose a spot on the opposite wall for the outlets. This is the same reason we wanted two cable outlets in the Master Bedroom. One where we feel it will be opposite the bed, and one in the sitting area where you can put some chairs or a love seat (we saw this in a few models). Same can be said for why we have two cable outlets in the family room, one on each opposite wall. We plan to put our television against the back wall (and the surround sound will be oriented that way) however we felt it smart to add a cable outlet to the opposite wall as well in the event we change our minds about the TV placement or if future owners choose a different wall.  It's so easy to add at this stage of the game and much more difficult/expensive down the road, so why not make sure we have plenty of options.

Lastly, it's looking like we will be ready for the pre-drywall inspection next week. The PM will do his own inspection, however we have decided to bring in an outside inspector as well. This was recommended by our realtor and after looking into it we feel it's a smart decision. It's a very good way to catch things that won't be seen once the drywall is in place, but could cause problems in the house down the road. We have decided to use Quality Home Inspections (, and have the inspection scheduled for next Friday, May 29th which will be Day 31 of building. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes

We can't seem to stay away from the build site, especially now that each can show dramatic progress. It's so exciting!! We were there Thursday and the first floor was framed and had floor boards on it for the second floor, but the second floor wasn't framed at all. We stopped by again today and...

There's a house on our lot!!!!! I was was totally surprised by how much they got done in the past two days, and they were hard at work today as well! Can't wait to see what the next few days will bring.