Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall Landscaping Spruce-up

We had a change of plans for the weekend.  I was supposed to finish my curtains for the family room, but the weather was just so gorgeous that I needed to be outside.  So we decided to make some updates to our landscaping.

My friend from work is a hard-core gardener and she recently gave me a bunch of iris plants so we decided to make use of them in a new bed on the side of our house.  We also added two rose bushes to this bed.  It looks pretty empty now, but I want to wait until the irises bloom in the spring to see what, if anything, we need to add to it.

The bed is a bit of a mess... we still have some cleaning up to do, but we were both too tired.

With all of the digging we did, we found a lot of rocks, which we are using to keep our mulch in place along the bed at the front of our house.  We got the idea from Our Home From Scratch.  I know a lot of us new home owners have a ton of rocks in the yard, so if you have the ambition to go around and pick them up, this is a functional and pretty way to put them to use.

We also got some mums and pumpkins for the front stoop and moved our planters to either side of the garage.  Our potato vine in those planters went crazy this summer.

And last but not least, we planted our first tree!  (It's actually our second tree, but we're not going to mention what happened to the first one.  Let's just say we hope this one has a better fate than that one did!).

It's a cherry tree, and the spot we chose is a bit sentimental to me.  My parents' house growing up had a cherry tree next to the driveway and it always made me so happy pulling up to the house when the flowers were blooming in the spring. 

I'm hoping we can plant one or two more trees this fall.  It's so bare around here!

Oh, one more thing... if you don't have a burning bush, you should get one.  The nursery dude wasn't kidding when he said it turns bright red in the fall.  It looks so cool!  It's my favorite plant we have so far.

Anyone else doing any landscaping updates?  I need ideas so I'd love to see what other people are doing.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Family Room Chairs Have Arrived!

I was planning on waiting until I had finished a few more things to share photos of the family room (such as the last set of curtains, which are missing from the photo below), but our new chairs arrived yesterday and I'm just so thrilled with them that I couldn't wait to share! 

So.....

drumroll please..........

Tada!!!!!!!!!!!

The plan is to get the last set of curtains up this weekend then share the whole family room transformation with you next week.  I want to hurry up because I need some input from you guys on some finishing touches.  Let's hope I can stay on schedule :).

And here's a picture of some of the autumn decorating that has begun at our house.  I can't wait to do more; I love this time of year!

If you want to see a sneak peak of my latest project that's going on in the kitchen follow me on instagram @colettefb!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

10 Month Inspection Follow Up

We've had a difficult time getting our punch-list items from our 10-month inspection completed.  As I noted in my post about our inspection, we had quite a few issues and we've discovered more since then.

1. Nothing ever happened with our lot grading issue and we've given up on it.

2. The crack in the driveway was "filled", but they didn't fix the erosion under the end of the driveway which caused the crack, so it will continue to crack.  Again, not worth the aggravation to follow up.
 
3. The HVAC technician that came confirmed that we did not have enough air flow through our system, which we previously pointed out to our PM several times during construction, but he assured us that everything was fine.  (In actuality, he was in the process of leaving RH, which we found out less than a week before closing, so he was just trying to do as little work as possible :().  The "fix" for this air flow problem was to drill a hole in our furnace.  What?!?!  That can't be right!  The ducts in the attic that are pinched almost closed need to be fixed!  And ALL of the flow for the second floor is distributed through one little, less than 1-foot duct (picture below).  Again, something we pointed out during construction, but we trusted the builders when they told us that the system was designed by a professional and would be fine. 
 
 
Another thing, which we missed during construction, is that the only vent in our master bedroom is directly above our bed and blows right on our faces while we sleep.  The way our model is, there's only one wall that it makes sense to put the bed on so we're stuck with this.  Lesson learned.
 
4. The biggest issue we've had was with our water softener system for our well water.  After seven, yes, seven separate visits to our house to try to fix this thing (to no avail), Greg finally called our RH rep's manager and was able to get them to install a whole new system.  It's amazing, you can actually feel the difference in the water now that the softener system works.  And the fact that the water doesn't smell and is not brown is a nice bonus too!  It takes a lot to push Greg's buttons, but even he was at his wits end with these guys.  On top of their incompetence, they were not very pleasant to work with.  I am thankful that the manager was able to do something for us, but it's frustrating that it had to get to that point to make something happen... especially with something as important and basic as clean drinking water.
 
5. In the process of fixing our water softener, we had to use the sump pump and found out that the electrical outlet that it's plugged into does not work.  Someone is supposed to come out to fix that tomorrow.  Another lesson learned... check all of your electrical outlets for your 10 month inspection!
 
6. All of our drain field clean outs for the septic system were about 3-6 inches above grade so we asked them to cut them down to be even with the ground.  In standard RH fashion, they fixed all but one of them!  Ugh.
 
7. We have an erosion problem at the back corner of our house, which caused our AC unit to sink about 4 inches.  The cause was the poor design of our down spouts, which outlet water toward the AC unit, which is lower than the down spout outlet.  They came out and leveled the AC unit, but they didn't fix the erosion problem.  We have come up with a solution on our own to mitigate that, but again, poor design on RH's part.
  
 
With all of this frustration and aggravation, I've been asking myself lately whether I would build another Ryan Home.  I think the answer is still yes.  Unfortunately, I think the building problems and poor customer service we've been dealing with are not exclusive to RH, but rather are a sad reality in many businesses in our country today.  It seems like craftsmanship and pride in one's work are the exception rather than the norm these days.  It's all about making money.  That being said, RH still has some of the most reasonable prices around, so if I'm going to have to deal with problems, I'm at least glad I didn't spend a ton of money.  It's difficult to resist such an affordable home, which is why I'd probably do it all over again given the choice.  I would, however be much more critical during the construction phase.  I do wish I had pushed and maybe called a manager then instead of having to deal with it all now.  I think the excitement of building our first home caused us to overlook some things that we shouldn't have.
 
So... now that I am off of my soapbox... the bottom line is that overall I am happy with my home.  :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chairs for the Family Room

We took advantage of some Labor Day sales last weekend and did some house shopping!  Greg was feeling generous and offered me a whole day of shopping with no complaining!  (A whole day to him = 2-3 hours, but I'll take it!).  I have been pining over these chairs from Ashley Furniture for months and months, but the price was, in my opinion, too high for the quality of the chairs. 
 
 
Greg and I have been to 4 different Ashley stores over the past 6 months trying to negotiate the price down to what I deemed to be reasonable.  All four sales people (before this weekend) lost our (almost 1K) sale over less than $100!  Here's one of my many (many) pet peeves:  The first time we went to buy the chairs there were no "sales" going on, so we decided to wait and try again when they had a sale.  So the next 3 times we went they were having "Blowout Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc" sales, but the chairs were the SAME EXACT PRICE as when there were no sales going on!  Those "holiday sales events" are totally a deceptive sales pitch to get you in the store and spend just as much money as you would on a normal day.  {Tangent over... sorry about that!}

This weekend we had slightly more success.  After the sales guy told us that Ashley never ever ever negotiates prices, we were able to negotiate him down to within $20 of the price I was willing to pay.  I was not willing to forgo the chairs over $20 and I knew my chances of getting Greg to come back for another Ashley adventure were getting slimmer and slimmer by the second.  And the sales guy was pretty helpful and not annoying so I kind of wanted to give him the sale.  Customer service goes a long way in my book!

In four to six weeks we will be the proud owners of two of these babies, at which time our family room will be approximately 90% complete!  The chairs are actually part of the same set as our sofas, but I like that they are not too matchy matchy.  Did anyone else score any good deals over the holiday weekend?