Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pre-Construction Meeting ... FINALLY

Warning: This is a long post! The list of questions looks a bit excessive but I thought it may be helpful information for future home builders!

We finally had our pre-construction meeting yesterday! After we got delayed for a month it felt like it would never come! It was pretty good. We kind of knew what to expect just from reading a ton of blogs about the experience.

First thing we did when we got there was drive around the development. When we first bought our lot there was only a line of twin houses built a few years ago by another builder (Ryan Homes bought the rest of the land from them), but there were NO Ryan Homes houses yet. Last time we were there, about a month ago, the model had most of its siding and then there were a few foundations poured, but that's about it. Yesterday, there were like 5 houses! They aren't all done but they are all at least framed. They put these homes up so quick, it's crazy!

Then we went inside and met our project manager for the first time. His last name is Roof .. Really? How do you not become a home builder with the last name Roof? Anyways .. he seems like a nice guy, and most importantly, he seems like he really takes pride in his job. He also has a sense of humor which is very much appreciated by us! I don't know how to talk to people who don't have a sense of humor! He's also a dog person like we are so he understands our concerns about putting a fence up ASAP.

Here are some things we discussed:
  • We started off with basic introductions and then we went over our options. He confirmed we're getting the Palermo, Elevation E, all siding, and then confirmed all of our options. We just had to let him know if we were good to go. Everything was correct so we signed and then moved on. I'm hoping we didn't miss anything!
  • He talked about when/how he will update us. He'll start off by calling us every Friday (maybe Monday if he doesn't have time on Friday) and let us know what was accomplished that week and what to expect the upcoming week. He personally prefers talking on the phone because he said its more personal, and he wants to get to know us a little bit. After the first few weeks he's fine with contacting us strictly through email if we prefer that.
  • We had a whole conversation on when we are allowed to visit. He said he only wants us to go inside the house when he is there too, because it can be dangerous ... buuuut his work hours are basically my work hours so I may have to break those rules a little bit .. maybe. I honestly think they say that to avoid liability if you do get hurt and because they would rather you not snoop around and tell them what's wrong all the time. He explained that he normally notices something that is wrong early on but it doesn't mean it will get fixed straight away (but it WILL get fixed because he doesn't tolerate sloppy work).
  • Timelines: He should be able to break ground this week sometime. He is just waiting for the approval to get started. He said once he gets the approval he normally starts the building process that day. He'll call us the day they break ground or the day after. From that point it should only take about 100-110 days until close which would put us closing around the last week in October.
  • Questions - We compiled a list of questions and sent them to him ahead of time in case he needed to do some research. He had them all printed out and ready to go so we just went down the list one by one. I'll post the list at the end of this post.
  1. We're getting sod in the front AND back yard
  2. We are now getting a double vanity in the secondary bath too! (they allowed a last minute change)
  3. The door to our office is one of the doors with windows (not a solid door like we all thought)
  4. Deck (trex materials) is brown with white railings. Stairs will be center facing the back yard.Our PM also described our deck as a HUGE deck! Love it!
  5. We have plenty of room from the side of our house to our property line to add a double gate to our fence.
  6. Our egress window is basically just a big walkout window (will not include a well/won't be covered) because our property is sloped enough that it could almost be considered a walk out. This will bring in a lot of natural light into our basement! 

Here is a list of our questions and their answers - this is a list we compiled from looking at MANY blogs

  • What is the best way to reach you?
    • Phone and email
  • Can we visit the site whenever want?
    • We need to visit when he is there
  • How many inspections are there?
    • About 12-13 inspections - This includes the big three (Foundation, Pre-drywall, and Final inspection) as well as the many inspections our county requires (he said he failed inspections once because he provided someone with 12 shrubs vs the required 13)
  • What do we have to do if we want our own inspector?
    • Just let him know that we have one coming around - he didn't seem to mind us wanting our own inspector
  • Will you provide us with weekly updates? How?
    • Yes - By phone at first and then in whatever way we want (email, phone, text, etc)
  • Are you going on vacation at all during our build?
    • Yes - He's not sure when but he will give us a heads up and give us a contact while he is gone
  • Driveway - Width/Length — Can we make it wider?
    • Width is 18 ft and length is about 31 ft. We can make it wider on our own. He recommended we do this through the same person they use since they lay our garage in two phases (Put in driveway and then let it settle for a few months and then come back to put on top coat). He said by using the same guy we'll avoid getting charged extra for a top coat on the addition.
  • Lawn - Sodded/Seeded?
    • Sodded in the Front AND back yard
  • Outside Lighting - What's included? Where?
    • Two lights on either side of garage, two recessed lights on porch, one light by sliding glass door from morning room
  • Hose bibs - How many? Where? Can we choose the location?
    • Two are included — One on either side of the house (1 towards the back on the garage side and the other towards the front of the opposite side) — No, we cannot choose where these go
  • Outlets? How many? Where?
    • This is done by code - There has to be an outlet every 6 feet
  • Landscaping - What's included? Can we choose? Can we opt out?
    • We get a very beginner package of some shrubs and mulch in the front yard. We cannot choose and we cannot opt out.
  • House positition on lot - Direction of home
    • Southwest
  • Yard size
    • Front Yard - about 31 ft to curb and about 80 ft wide
    • Back yard - About 50 ft deep and 90 ft wide
  • Distance from neighbors
    • About 20 ft
  • Distance from side of house to property line (need to know because we want a gate for our fence)
    • 10 ft
  • Fencing - Can we have a privacy fence
    • Yes - We had this confirmed by our Sales Rep
  • Will there be sidewalks? Will you be putting them in or is that up to the community?
    • Yes - PM will put in sidewalk in front of our house but the rest of the community sidewalks are up to the community
  • Deck - Can we see the plans for the deck? What are the colors of our deck? Can we pick stair location on the deck?
    • Yes - We looked at a rough sketch of deck dimensions. It will go around the fireplace bump out. It will be brown with white rails. We were allowed to pick the stair location - We chose the center going out to our backyard
  • Is the garage sheet-rocked?
    • Yes (but not insulated)
  • In there a rough-in for the garage door opener?
    • Yes
  • How many outlets in garage?
    • One on the wall / One on the ceiling
  • Is garage at a pitch (so water will easily flow away from the house)
    • Yes
  • Extra support in high traffic areas?
    • Yes & No - This is taken into consideration when engineers design house but they do not put extra support on top of that
  • Where is the Attic access?
    • In laundry room
  • Can you not install the quarter round so we can install it when we put in our laminate flooring after closing
    • No - The only reason is because they would not pass inspection if they did not install quarter round
  • Flooring Breaks- Where are they? (We were only concerned about where our Great Room carpet started)
    • Lines up with hallway (matched PDF) 
  • Location of egress window - Can we move it so it is not under our deck/in the way of where we want to put our wet bar rough-in
    • Yes! - We moved it to the side of our morning room compared to being in the middle of the morning room. He also confirmed that our egress window will just be a walk out window because of how our property is sloped (it's almost a walk-out lot but not quite)
  • Are windows standard sized?
    • No - We can measure once drywall is up
  • What color paint is being used for the house?
    • Two-toned paint - an off-white color
  • If you have extra paint can you leave it so we can do touch-ups where we see fit?
    • They won't leave cans but the paint manufacturer can send a free touch up kit with the paint used
  • Size of spot for fridge
    • 30" wide x 6 ft tall - This is an estimate! If the fridge we see is very close to those measurements then we should wait to buy it (ex. 28in-30in wide) but if it's a decent amount smaller than 30" we should be good.
  • Will cabinets be flush with fridge or other cabinets? Can we make it flush with fridge?
    • They will be flush with other cabinets - No we cannot bump them out
  • Backsplash - Can we forego the 4 inch backsplash extended from the counter?
    • No - This would have needed to be a custom request (not sure why ... ) but its easy to take off (it's glued to the wall).
  • Do you provide fire extinguishers?
    • No
  • How many smoke detectors? Where?
    • Smoke detectors in each bedroom, each hallway, and one in the basement. There is also a CO2 detector upstairs by the master bedroom
  • Can we choose placement of recessed lights in the packages we bought?
    • No - Only time we can choose locations is if you choose to buy extra recessed lights
  • Is the door to the office a solid door or a door with windows like we saw in the model
    • To everyone's surprise its the window door! Yay!!
  • Single bowl vanity in the secondary bath - How big is this vanity? We were under the impression that it was a large vanity but just had one bowl.
    • Single bowl vanity is only a 30" vanity. We talked about this and showed them our PDF that showed a solid line for the vanity (only showed a dotted line for the bowl and said "optional bowl"). Because of the confusion they let us change this option last minute so we're now getting a double bowl vanity in the secondary bath too!
  • Are we getting two exhaust fans in our master bath?
    • Yes
  • Is there a water softener included? Can we get one? Do we need one?
    • No, no, and no
  • Water heater blanket included? 
    • No - he said we don't need an external one though because the water heaters they use are very energy efficient
  • Sump pump?
    • We have one and it's located in the same room as the hot water heater


  1. Congratulations...Very good questions and helpful info for sure for all future home builders. I look forward to seeing your your building process

    1. Thanks! Our list of questions was realllly long but I thought it may be helpful for future buyers.

  2. So jealous! We close on our old house today, and moved in with my eternal bachelor brother. Ryan needs to build and now!! Lol.

    I'm telling you I get sad when I hear how quick the houses go up in some developments. Ours is so slow it hurts me... I'm hoping for a speed up!

    1. We currently live with my boyfriend's brother so I understand the feeling of living with a bachelor guy! I've been completely over it for awhile now! SO ready to get out of there and have our own place!

      I hope things get moving for you! That would drive me crazy and your SR seems like a huge pain! I hope they get the ball rolling over there for you!

  3. So exciting you got to meet your PM and you liked him! I'm really hoping our meeting comes at least by August (fingers crossed) and that we have a good relationship with our PM.

    Hope you guys end up getting to break ground this week. That would be huge!! :) And I love that you are getting sod in front and back.. that's going to look so nice. We are praying we get trex decking for our front porch and little back porch, which is what we saw on some models in a community about an hour from us - wishful thinking! :)

    1. Yea I was really relieved that he seems like a nice and efficient guy!

      I'm hoping we break ground too! I can't wait! I'm hoping for today but we'll see. The sod is definitely nice but we're just afraid we're not going to be able to keep it alive with two big dogs! haha! It will be challenging. Hopefully, you will get trex! Every model we saw had trex too. The only time I ever saw wood decks done by Ryan Homes was on people's blogs.

  4. Ah meetings are the best so you can discuss everything and put it right on a pretty plate! I'm excited for you guys! I do believe your deck is way bigger than ours which is a good thing because you have ample backyard space versus us. Bleh. Oooh can't wait to see your home!

    1. Thanks! We're so excited too and your home is looking beautiful! So close to the finish line!

  5. Just came across you blog and while I don't know your PM personally, I have heard good things about him being in the business. He was the PM for a friend of mine at another neighborhood and he did a great job. You are in good hands.

    1. That's really good to hear! He seems like a good guy and definitely seems like he enjoys his job so we're glad we got someone like him to build our house!

  6. Your meeting went along the same lines as ours.. basically, no, no, no, no and no..

    Hose bibs - Seriously, they can easily put these somewhere else. It is dumb beyond reason they can not put them where requested. On the plus side, they use cpvc so it is easy to T into a line and install your own facet later.

    "How many outlets in garage? - One on the wall / One on the ceiling"

    This surprises me, last year we were told the same but then they said a new update had come from corporate that they were increasing the number to 6. You absolutely need more in the garage. A freezer will need one, central vac, the batter backup for the cable or fios etc.

    The cabinets above the fridge is an annoyance.. but they refuse to make them flush with the fridge.

    Absolutely wait until the cabinets are installed before buying the fridge.. and ensure you measure the front and back of the cabinet. Our had a half inch difference which stopped us from buy one of the taller fridges.

    We also asked to not have things installed like toilet paper holder but they refused.

    1. Seriously! Some of the stuff seems just ridiculous. I think it all depends on the PM. Ours seems very "by the book" while other people have some pretty lenient PMs. He gave us some reasoning with the hosebibs. He said he couldn't put it connected to a garage wall because the garage walls aren't insulated.. Kinda seemed like BS to me but whatever. I just thought it would be nice having a hose near the driveway.

      The one thing that really annoyed me was that we can't choose to move our recessed lighting a little .. really?? Why? We just want them placed over the island which is like maybe a foot from where they are on the blue print .. so stupid. I also wanted to see if they could not install the backsplash part of the kitchen counters but he said it would have had to have been a custom request .. I don't understand that either .. we paid for that little extra piece so it's not like it will cost them anything not to install it. It would probably save them money in labor .. He said they just glue it to the wall on top of the counters so we can easily remove it .. why can't he just not install it? I think I'm going to ask again closer to the installation of stuff. I'm hoping he was just a stickler for the rules because our meeting was with our SR too.

      That's interesting that you heard they were increasing outlets in the garage .. we were told by our SR and our PM that there are only 2 and they even showed us the blue prints. We're adding a couple extra in there though.

      Yea, after they told us that size of the spot for the fridge can vary we decided to wait. Hopefully a sale comes up around the time the cabinets are installed!

      All in all though he seems like he's really good at his job. Some of those little things are definitely annoying but the most important thing to me is that he's good and efficient at his job. Plus, he seems like a nice guy.

    2. Yes.. our PM was absolutely 'by the book'.. We went into the meeting having read many other blogs who's PM had allowed changes and we thought that was the norm. It was such a shock when we were met with no, no no.. On the plus side, he was excellent.

      We found it tough to stay positive throughout the entire experience. On the one hand we were building a new home.. on the other, we realized our input outside of what floor, tile etc was irrelevant and reduced to quality control. I think we were able to move a few outlets but that was about it.

      It is a great overall experience and our Ryan Home area have been great about fixing things.. Good luck!

    3. It does get frustrating! We've already had some bad experiences with Ryan Homes but we love the house and really love our community so we just stuck through it! It seems as if they get more and more strict about changes over time. Our SR said it's because people were making last minute decisions constantly which I guess ultimately costed Ryan Homes a lot of money .. idk. I understand not being able to change a flooring choice a week before it's installed but not being able to relocate a hose bib or recessed light before they even start? I'm just going to try and stay out of it and hopefully be happy with the end result! haha! Thanks and I'm glad you enjoy your home!

  7. Good info. We have our meeting with the PM tomorrow. Had no clue this much is discussed. I kind of agree with one of the comments above. Beyond flooring, tiles, carpets..our input is just restricted to quality control once the requirement freeze is over. I know it sounds easy and doable for small fixes... but then because their process is so tight - I imagine they deliver the homes that quick. I had a similar question on kitchen backsplash and some windows( removal of what is standard) and the answer was like expected " no - and might even cost to remove them ;)" . How can u charge something for removal when it isnt installed :) :).