Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pictures ... at last!

I must start this off by saying ... this one's for you, Bob. 

Goodness.  I hope that I don't begin procrastinating on other things in my life like I have with getting these pictures posted.  And the worst part is I don't have ones of the basement or playroom taken (or the third bedroom, as it is for the new baby and isn't complete yet).  I'll take those tonight (I can hear you saying "Suuuuure...") and add them to a follow up post.

I can obviously tell that I am not used to the time it takes to clean a larger house.  And our drive home is a little longer now each evening, so that cuts into a lot of the extra time I used to have.  The majority of the posts on this blog were written when we were living with my in-laws, which meant when I came home from work, there was no housework to be done, my daughter had already been fed dinner, and my dog was living with my parents for the summer.  What else was a girl to do but blog?

Okay, okay.  Enough of the excuses.  Here are the pictures already!

Master Bedroom.  Behind me is the master bath.  Door to the right of the bed is the closet.

Morning Room.  Slider off to the side that leads out to the deck and patio.

Kitchen / Breakfast Bar

Living Room

Dining Room

Daughter's Room

Upstairs loft

Alternate view of upstairs loft.

Kid's Bathroom

A yard!  Our yard came in VERY fast and VERY well.

View of deck and patio (taken during move-in weekend, so no yard here!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My First Frustration

Okay - pictures - I have good reason for my delays! I have them all taken - they just need uploaded and added on here and I hope to do that in the next couple of days.

I do have quite a few updates, though. I cannot believe we have a yard. Sure, it's a little patchy here and there and we're still going to seed-over at the end of the month, but we are very, very impressed with what came of the hydroseed sprayed by Ryan Homes. In fact, my husband has had to mow two times already!

We have come across several things here and there that needed tended to by Ryan Homes. At our 3-week review our PM walked through the house with us, going over everything that I had noted that needed touched up, fixed, etc. There were no questions asked at all and he was more than happy to schedule the appropriate parties to fix what needed fixed. Here is an idea of what was on our list:

  • Stain needed touched up on stair banister
  • Dents in hardwood slats by basement
  • Scratches in hardwood in half bath
  • Laundry room door not latching
  • Fridge door swings open super fast - needs adjusting
  • Screw holes needed patched and painted on the exterior of the slider in the morning room from where the safety gate had been prior to getting our deck built
  • Microwave vent won't turn off, so we had to unplug the microwave
  • Garage door working intermittently
Almost everything is scheduled for the 27th of this month to be fixed. This includes the flooring company coming back out to replace the slats that are either scratched or dented. We ended up having to call GE Appliances about the microwave. A tech was out within two days and had the part needed shipped to our house via FedEx and is coming back to replace it. The garage door company was out last week but couldn't get it fixed. They think there may be an issue with the outlet that the opener is plugged in to, and suggested we have the electrician look at it. Our PM was at the house today with the electrician and I don't have an update on this yet. I hope it's fixed.

Since these things are being handled quite efficiently (the delay until the 27th was our choice due to our inavailability), I am not frustrated with them.

But there is one thing I am frustated with.

This past weekend, even those of us in Northeast Ohio felt the strength of Hurricane Earl as he brought 45-55 mph winds through the area. My husband and I laid down for bed Friday night and you could have easily convinced me there were people right above us in the attic moving around ... or hanging off the side of the house right above our heads, pulling siding off. We can't exactly explain it, but I can say that it was LOUD. Loud enough that we were able to pick up the sounds easily on our phone's voice recorders so we could play it to our PM. Granted, I know the winds were strong, but never in my life have I been in a house - let alone a NEWLY constructed house - and heard noise like this. Then it happened again Saturday night. And again Tuesday night. Friday and Saturday I may have been willing to give a free pass to because the wind was very rare and strong ... but Tuesday night was nothing out of the ordinary. My husband even went up into the attic at one point to make sure everything looked intact - it was THAT loud.

So today when the PM came by for the garage door, my husband was going to talk to him about this. I am very, very curious to hear how this conversation went. I honestly don't know what they could do - but I do know that it makes it almost impossible to sleep in there when it is going on. So we shall see ... this is definitely my first large frustration.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Feel So Connected!

Hallelujah, we have the internet!  I feel so connected again, finally.  I'll be able to upload pictures of the house this evening and get them up to share.  Guardian should be arriving within the next three hours to finish the rest of their work and then I think that is finally going to be it for any installation types of visits that we need ... I hope.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What a PAIN!

This has nothing to do with Ryan Homes. This has everything to do with AT&T and Time Warner Cable and doing everything in your power to simply get phone and Internet service set up. I am now going on week FOUR of scheduling service only to get a call the night before informing me that my request has been cancelled because my address is new. No, wait ... That was just Time Warner. AT&T must have felt it was perfectly acceptable to cancel my orders and just never notify me, leaving me to only discover this when taking the initiative to follow up on my own.

How come my neighbors have all their service set up and are just as new - if not newer - than us?! No one can tell me why.

So here I am, blogging away on my iPhone (thank goodness for 3G), but this won't cut it. I feel sorry for whatever manager is on duty tomorrow morning when my phonecall is answered ...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Green Beginnings!

Landscapers arrived last Thursday (which was 9 days after receiving our keys, for those of you curious) to re-grade our yard, spray the hydroseed, and lay our front mulch beds. It was a pretty funny sight that evening; there are five of us that had our landscaping done that day and everyone was out in their 'yard', fiddling with hoses and sprinklers, getting the seed as wet as possible as we're all anxious to have some grass growing. We were fortunate at the old house to never need to water the lawn ... and we hadn't yet come across our two garden hoses ... so my husband quickly ran to Home Depot and spent close to $70 on two hoses and two sprinklers, one of each for the front and back yards. What we wish we had known was that the very next morning there would be a really nice 75' garden hose and fancy sprinkler left on our front porch by the landscapers. Darn it - would have been nice to save that money. So just a heads up - you may want to hold off just 12 short hours after your lawn is sprayed, as you'll most likely receive this as well (maybe check with your PM to make sure).

The landscapers told us not to have super high expectations from the hydroseed, but to keep it watered morning and night in order to get the most out of it as possible. Last night I was walking down the driveway and when I looked closely, I was able to see a few little strands of grass here and there. I called to my husband to see it - the beginnings of our lawn! Well lo and behold, I am not sure what exactly happened overnight, but this morning when I stepped into the garage from the house and put the garage door up, I could see grass slivers everywhere! It's like the amazing, growing grass! I am sure that we'll have to still re-seed mid-September ... and we're still a ways away from actually having a yard full of grass, but this was some major progress and I am impressed!

Move-In Advice

I consider myself a very organized person, so as I was packing up all of our belongings at the old house, everything was done with organization in mind and my focus was on packing things and labeling them so that I would have as stress-free time as possible unpacking once we arrived at the new house.

Regardless of how organized I tried to be, the fact of the matter was that I still ended up staring at a garage full of cardboard boxes, feeling very overwhelmed. We had the movers place some boxes in their designated rooms, but we had gone to storage on our own, making several trips with boxes prior to the movers coming in an attempt to cutting down on their time and thus the size of the check that I would be writing. It sure did pay off - they quoted us 6 hours originally and had everything moved and in at the 3-hour mark. However, as I mentioned, I was left staring at a garage of intimidating boxes.
 Here is where my (simplistic) advice comes in. I was really able to become most productive once my family and I took to the garage, putting signs up around the perimeter walls - one for each room. Being 6 months pregnant right now, my job was to label the appropriate place on the wall, then direct everyone else moving the boxes to the correct label. Within 45 minutes or so, we had a much more organized area to work from and could then tackle individual rooms in a very organized manner. I knew that night that I wanted to tackle baby rooms, so it was easy to ask helpers to go to the garage and only bring in the boxes in the 'baby room section'.

While this is such simplistic advice, I highly recommend it. It was at that point that we became ultra-productive and in less than 24 hours had 90% of the boxes unpacked, contents put away, and boxes broken down.

My Guardian Frustrations

I feel like I have a little bit of built up resentment towards Guardian right now, although it may not be fair of me to be upset with them for these things, but I'll let you be the judge of that.

We spent a decent chunk of money with the options we selected from Guardian and with that amount of money, I expected a certain level of service/assistance to come with it. The selections we made were:

* Outdoor speakers
* 5.1 surround sound speakers mounted in the ceilings in one room
* Pre-wired surround sound in second room
* Pre-wire run to a component closet
* Pre-wire for two wall mounted televisions
* Security system

Outdoor Speakers

I wish I could tell you how these work ... except all we have right now are two pieces of wire hanging down the exterior of our house where I assume speakers should be installed. Maybe it is my own fault, but for the first few days after moving into the house, I didn't call anyone about this because I just assumed Guardian would be out to install the speakers within a day or two. Nope. I finally called yesterday to set up the activation of our security system and mentioned that we still had no outdoor speakers. The gentleman I spoke to seemed shocked.

Him: "You have two blue wires, correct?"
Me: "No - two grey ones"
Him: "Grey ones? Just hanging there?"
Me: "Yes ..."
Him: "Hrm. I'm sorry about that. We'll take care of that."

It'll be another week until that is taken care of.

5.1 surround sound speakers mounted in the ceilings in one room / Pre-wire run to a component closet
I am not the most technical person, but I work in IT and have always been the one in our household in the past to set up any electronic components, etc with no problems. I expected to look in our coat closet (using the shelf to house our components), I expected to see raw speaker wire coming out of the wall, labeled for each speaker, but with a male and female end for each. What I see are what look to be component jacks - one male and one female for each labeled speaker.

After much confusion a few weeks ago, before moving in, and a call to our Guardian rep, I learned that I simply needed to unscrew each 'jack', push my speaker wire through it (which is connected to my receiver at the other end), and tighten the jack. Voila, should be as simple as that. However it wasn't. No matter how tighly we would screw those puppies shut, our wire would slip right back out. We were using the 16-guage wire that was recommended as well.

Finally, after a night of finally screaming out my frustration, my husband drove to Best Buy to purchase Banana Plugs for each piece of speaker wire - we needed 12 total. He spent some time connecting a plug to the end of each raw wire, then was able to plug the banana plug into the jack and finally, we had working surround sound speakers in the ceilings. This only took us over a week to figure out (sarcasm?).

I really feel that one of two things should be done, if not both. Guardian should have a rep come meet with you right as you move in - if not on the same day as your pre-settlement meeting - so they can show you exactly how what you have purchased will work. Additionally, at the time of purchase from them, they should provide you with literature explaining exactly what it is that you purchased, and what else you may need to purchase on your own, or ensure that you already own, to make sure that everything works smoothly for you. I don't know, just something I would expect.

So my advice is this. If you plan to even do the surround sound speakers - and if you have the means - I'd just go ahead and buy the whole kit and kaboodle from Guardian (i.e. Receiver, etc) and let them set the entire thing up for you. Doing this would have saved me hours of frustration, many trips to Best Buy / Radio Shack and about another $200 in materials to properly connect.

Security System
I can't provide feedback on this as Guardian cannot come and set up the security system until your home phone is installed - and that has been a nightmare in itself. More on this when I can comment on it.

All the Other Stuff
The pre-wires for the wall mounted televisions are great - no complaints at all. The pre-wired surround sound in the basement seems to be fine as well - just haven't gotten around to hooking up our receiver yet.

All the while I received our final bill from Guardian, asking that we pay our balance immediately. I am calling the billing department today to let them know that I cannot send them a check until their work is finished and in working order. I hope this goes over smoothly.