Archive for the 'House' Category

Surprise House Refinance

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

We had a pleasant surprise in the form of a phone call last week.  It was our bank calling to let us know we qualify for a special refinancing program.  Immediately it sounds like a scam, but the account manager said he’d get a package sent out to us to review.  Sure enough, a few days later we got a package in the mail that very much appears to be from our bank.  I wasn’t the one that talked to the agent, so I gave them a call back later to try and find out more.  With the interest rate drops that happened over the last year I was chomping at the bit to try a refinance to get our rate lowered, but I absolutely knew the value of our house had dropped too much.  You can walk into the model home here in the neighborhood and ask them to build a house 500 square foot larger than ours for $30k less than we paid for this one two years ago.  We’re upside down on the mortgage.  So, I just put out of my mind the option of refinancing.  Well, it turns out (I think I read everything we have from the bank and I don’t recall this in any disclosure) that our loan is only serviced by our bank.  The money actually came from Freddie Mac.  As Freddie Mac has been bailed out by the government, they’ve required some programs be started to shore up their mortgage base.  We qualify for one of these programs.  It’s designed for people like us that are upside down on the mortgage to get a lower rate.  So, if everything goes through we’ll get a rate almost a point lower.  It’s not the 4.5% that would have been possible when the rates really dropped, but every bit helps.  We weren’t having any problems paying before, so we’ll be able to pay it off a few years earlier.  Yay.  Well, I shouldn’t count the chickens before they hatch, but so far so good.

New Dining Table

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Well, we’ve just barely scratched the surface of getting the new house furnished.  We did the “office” (these are really all just bedrooms) first (basically done), started the “gym”, and due to some family coming for an extended visit we’re starting on the living areas.  Last weekend we put in an order for a dining table and it was delivered Friday.  It’s beautiful — even better than the manufacturer’s pictures.  We ordered chairs and a couch this weekend.  Here are a couple of (phone) pics of the table.

GFI Sienna Oval Dining Table

GFI Sienna Dining Table

Appliances ordered

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

We ordered our appliances today (well, technically it was yesterday).  It feels good to get that off the list, but it sure is hard to see the bank account drop so much in one foul swoop.  I could almost hear my debit card groan.  Hopefully, we made good choices that will last us a couple decades.  We decided to go ahead and order them today, because it’s the last day of the big 4th of July sales.  10% off really helped.  We’ve got another rebate form that will help another 5% too.  Top that off with free delivery and it just seemed like a good way to stretch our budget.  And even if this week’s closing doesn’t wind up happening, we’re scheduled for delivery in about a month.  That should be plenty of time to have the house ready for them and them be all setup before we do our move.

More concrete and wood

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Much to my surprise, we had a lot more concrete at the house when I checked its status today. They put in the driveway, path to the front patio, the front patio, and the rear patio. I didn’t know they’d go in so quickly. They looked like they had been there for weeks, and not freshly poured. Also, the inside wood trim is going in. Most of the doors have been put in, the window sills, base boards, and stair trim is what is in process now. Big changes in just a couple of days.

House Status on 5/24/2007

House Status on 5/24/2007

Rough Paint

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Well, it looks like the first coat of paint has gone up.  The change from white to beige is pretty dramatic.

House Status on 05/22/2007

Outside refresh

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

The stone face is up now.  It looks like the siding and trim has been painted too.  Externally, it looks almost done.House Status on 5/17/2007

Drywall is up

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

The drywall is up!  It’s an amazing transition.  It’s one thing to see the walls as a frame and completely different when the drywall is up too.  I mean the difference is that dramatic.  Take a peek.

House Staus on 5/10/2007

Bricked up

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

That’s probably not the proper nomenclature, but we’re “bricked up.” We missed seeing the house on Thursday due to rain (so they probably didn’t do it then anyway), but it up now. I didn’t see any piles of stone for the entry area, so there’s no telling when it will be going up. Maybe they have to have the front door panel in first. The builder said the frame was the incorrect depth, so they’ve got to get the right sized one in first. There was supposed to be a framing inspection (maybe electrical and plumbing too) on Friday. I hope they passed and can start the drywall this week. Here’s a peek:

House status on 5/6/2007

2007 Spring Vesta Home Show

Monday, April 30th, 2007

We went to the 2007 Spring Vesta Home Show on Saturday.  Having been to the South End Home Show last weekend I wasn’t sure how much walking this was going to be, but I was prepared for a lot.  It turned out to be unnecessary.  The show was well organized and setup.  It justified the ticket prices a bit.  There were 7 homes to see and each were basically next door neighbors.  It turns out that the show was more than just seeing what’s out there, it’s a giant for sale ad.  The homes are already sold, but the contents seemed to mostly be setup specifically for the show.  Some things I’m sure will be staying in the homes (ie, garage flooring systems, cabinets, appliances), but much of the other stuff I’m not so sure.  Anyway, we got to see some really cool stuff and have a lot of ideas for the house.

First and foremost, I wasn’t really impressed with the appliances chosen for the homes.  I’ve done a LOT of reading.  It seemed to me that each house pretty much chose each of the major appliances one shouldn’t.  I was a bit surprised.  At least they looked nice.  There were some nice features to the kitchens in terms of cook tops, cabinets, islands, counter tops, and back splashes, but none of the kitchens stood out and made me go “wow”.

If there were a single thing that was consistent among the homes (which do vary widely in theme and content) it was hardwood floors.  Hardwood floors were almost everywhere.  That’s not to say there wasn’t carpet, there certainly was carpet in some rooms, but I believe ALL the homes had hardwood floors for the majority of the lower level (with various kinds of tiling being the other material).  I’m starting to get convinced of it’s value.

Garage floors are something I am interested in, so I made sure to see all of them.  Particularly, I was looking for something done by Ultimate Garage Solutions.  There appeared to be two homes that they did.  I was pretty happy with the flooring.  I kind of wished the homes had chosen some of the more exciting coloring options, but they were still good.  They also provided their cabinet system (which was cool).  One home didn’t have their garage flooring done at all (and having seen the other homes it made it seem incomplete).  Another home had a really interesting flooring that I had not found in my research.  It was done by Victory Swiss Floors.  This flooring consists of polymer tiles that interlock.  It’s a bit hard to describe beyond that.  You just have to see them (take a look at the website).  I don’t think we’ll use them for the garage, but maybe when we get around to doing the gym and maybe even the patio.  They’re cool.  The other homes used flooring systems from a couple of other vendors.  One type was the Williams floor paint (basically).  The other was some sort of flaked system that didn’t feel very durable to my hand.

Home media systems were an interesting thing to see too.  The type and size varied.  There were a few with dedicated media rooms, while others simply had large TVs in the family room.  I recall two having projector systems.  One was large, the other was larger.  Interesting setups.  The others all had LCD and/or Plasma screens.  One, that I think was cool, had the TV mounted up over the fireplace in such a way that at the press of a button on a remote, a screen came down in front of the TV making the setup look like a framed painting print setting above the mantle.  I may try to replicate that.  It was awesome.  The modern minimalist style is really starting to appeal to me and it would be a great way to help accomplish that.

Something I’ve been thinking about is a screened in porch/patio.  I haven’t figured out how to do such a thing with our house, but it’s simmering at the back of my mind for the future.  Each of these homes had some sort of shaded outside sitting area.  Some were more extravagant than others, but they each had them and now I want one.  A couple of homes had these really cool retractable screens.  I didn’t even know such a thing existed.  At the press of a button, these screens come down from small bays running the edges of the roof and completely enclose the porch.  It’s awesome.

Another something I hadn’t really thought about, but now want are organizer systems.  Each home had all kinds of neat little (or not so little) organizers.  Every master bedroom closet had something and most other closets, pantries, and cabinets also had something.  These don’t just look neat now, they look necessary.  Once the house is done, looks like I’m going to be building a bunch.

All in all, neat show and I’m excited to see the next one.

South End Home Show

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

On Saturday, we spent many hours at the South End Home Show.  We wanted to get interior decorating ideas.  Several of the places we looked at won awards at the 2006 Vesta Home Show, so we figured they would be some good examples.  One word: wow.  Very cool.  It was lots and lots of walking, but worth it.  I had no idea condos in this area would cost so much either.  I’d say a majority of them cost more than the house we are building.  Not all of them, for sure, but the ones that weren’t were mostly of the studio apartment sized variety.  If I were big on urban living and didn’t have hobbies that could use large spaces, they’d be pretty appealing.  The way the south end is developing I think those properties are probably pretty good investments too.