Welcome to Our New Home

Our New House 2014Well, it’s taken me longer to finish this blog than it has to build a new house!  I kind of quit right there at the end.  Must have gotten busy or something.  I’m going to try and get this updated and finished without boring you too much.  Needless to say a lot has happened since my last entry.

We closed on the new house on 5 Sept.  Everything went like a charm.  It was hot that day.  We had gone over to the other side of town to buy a new refrigerator and then had a 1:00 pm appointment back at the title office.  We figured we could make it over and back and have some time for lunch.  Andy wanted to meet us at the house around 2:30 or something like that.  He had our keys which is surprising.  I figured they’d give them to us at closing.

Anyway, we got the fridge bought and was heading back to the title office when Erica called and said the title company was running late finishing off the paperwork.  We said we kind of knew that since they hadn’t give us a final closing cost number which we were waiting on.  We had to go to the bank and get a check for whatever amount they wanted but they had to tell us first!

So the meeting was pushed back to 1:30 and around 1:15 or so Erica called back and told us they have our closing cost number.

We said, “Wow! That’s too much! We can’t do it!”

Justing kidding!  We took that number and went to the bank near the title company and they proceeded to cut us a check.  That took a little longer than expected so by the time we got out of there it was a little past 1:30.  We got to the title company quickly only to find out they were still not ready.

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What’s Happening Now?

It’s about time I gave everyone an update just in case you haven’t heard directly from either my wife or me.  I kind of doubt that since it seems the house is all we’ve been talking about for the last month or two!

Ok, so where are we now?  Well, there has been a lot done since I last wrote.  The house is clearly a house.  We’ve got some nice tile laid throughout the house and it looks pretty good.  They have gone in and painted all the walls and put in crown molding in the formal dining room.  Everything looks just great.

Kitchen cabinetsWe also have cabinets, lots of cabinets.  We chose a dark wood so they look very rich!  We have cabinets in all the bath rooms over the toilets and all the bathroom vanities are also in the same color.  There’s a very nice while marble counter top on all the guest bathrooms while the master bath room has the same dark granite that we choose for the kitchen.

When we saw the granite in the kitchen the first time, it was covered in plastic.  The other day when we went back into the house, it had been completely uncovered.  Also, all the plumbing has been installed.  We have some really deep sinks in the kitchen.  They are stainless steel and under-mounted so you can’t even see them unless you look down into the sink.

New sink new graniteAll or most all of the electrical work has been done, light switches are in and I guess they’re working but I don’t know since they haven’t actually turned on the electricity. I do know it gets very hot in the house without most of the windows open.

Oh, yeah, they put in the drive way and sidewalk up to the house.  We have only one step up from the sidewalk to the house which I had clearly stated was acceptable.  Not two or three, but one!  I wasn’t all that serious but I think the Wilshire Home people took me as such.  Still, I like the idea we only have one step.  Oh, and the hot water heaters have also been installed.  We saw those just yesterday and my wife even turned on the water!

With everything that has been done, we are really getting close to having a completed house, rather we are getting close to having a home!  We got a call from Andy Cobb, our Wilshire Home salesman and he talked with the construction manager, Matt, and they have decided the house would be done probably by the end of August!  Wow!  That’s great!

closingdaySo, we’re looking at a closing date of about 4 September which is the middle of the first week in September.  That will work out perfectly.  We are committed to the apartment until 26 September and our household goods are paid up in storage until the end of September.  So, I think we’ll take our time moving.

We had someone out to measure the windows yesterday.  We were at the house for about an hour and a half and it was hot.  The guy said he needed to measure every window and he did just that, measured every single window in the house!  Whew!  I almost melted by the time he got done!  Monday we have another appointment at around 2:30 pm for another window measurement session.  It’s going to be a hot appointment since it’s been about 103 degrees around here lately.  I know the A/C unit hasn’t been installed at the house yet so there’s no way to keep it from being pretty hot in the house.

Soon, I think they’ll put in the carpet.  We have yet to see that or feel the lush pad that we’re having installed.  And they haven’t installed the hard wood floor in my study.  So there’s still a few key things that have to be done.  But we’re almost there, almost!

Oh, yeah, they scrapped the paint from the windows on my study door!  I have two very nice looking French doors going into my study and my wife has two going into her sewing room.  These are very classy and just set everything off nicely!  They fixed the pantry by putting shelves on all three sides.  You can still walk in but now we have storage all around which is the best way to use that space.  And we had noticed there wasn’t an actual linen closet in the master bathroom.  We asked about that and they built us a bunch of storage shelves right in the master closet.  They also added another entire hanging shelf all around the closet in the master closet.  Now we have room to hang shirts up top and pants just below.  That’s really going to be neat and convenient.  Seems like Wilshire Homes is doing everything we are asking them to do and so far, they haven’t charged us any extra money.  Of course none of the stuff we’ve asked about probably cost them much anyway!

Ok, so that’s where we are now.  Getting very, very close to having a house again and getting out of this claustrophobic apartment! Help! Help! Get me out of here!!!!

Locking-in An Interest Rate – A Real Pain!

I think we’re within 60 days of actually closing on our house.  No, I don’t have any concrete proof that we’ll close within 60 days but according to our salesman, the construction manager has some incentives to be done within 100 days of May 15.  I think he put it that way just to confuse me.

percentageI had to find a calendar and then count 100 days from May 15 which brought me to about mid-August.  Now why didn’t he just say that in the first place?  See why building a house is so stressful!  Even if it doesn’t happen until the first week of September, we’re still close to 60 days away.

So what’s my point. Well, I’m getting there.  I was thinking, honestly, I was, about getting our interest rate set and then Erica, our brilliant Real Estate friend emails me that I should be locking in my interest rate right now.  She said that interest rates were starting to move up and I might want to get mine locked in now if that was possible.  Since I hadn’t heard a thing from our finance guys, I decided to find out from them when I could “lock-in”.

Erica had already found out that the financial guy managing our account had once again, changed.  Someone by the name of Ben (this is an alias to protect the ignorant) was not in charge of our account.  I hadn’t talked with or seen this guy since starting this whole mortgage financing activity way back in March.  I think they had pulled my credit report and decided that was all he needed to know about me and my wife.  I guess that’s good but I sure would like to know they are getting things done.

Anyway, I finally made contact with him and asked about locking in my interest rate.  He had no idea when we would be closing on our house so I enlightened him.  He seemed to accept what I said so he did a bunch of spreadsheets showing me various VA interest rates and costs associated with each. Apparently, you can lower your interest rate by paying additional “discount points” which are about 1% of your purchase price.  Well, this is already getting complicated.  The worse thing he was telling me was that interest rates were going up.

calculatorSo I looked at all the information he sent me, these were estimates of all our closing costs, any incentives provided by Wilshire Homes and the finance company, any monies already paid towards the home, and any monies we had committed to pay (downpayment).  It was a lot of numbers.  I haven’t crunched this many numbers since I last worked and that’s been 5 years ago!  But crunch numbers I did.  I also asked Erica to crunch the same numbers which she did probably a lot faster and better than I did.

Finally, after a few hours I decided to ask Ben to do one more spreadsheet with us paying two discount points and a lower interest rate.  I wanted to get our monthly payment down to something as reasonable as possible and not have to rob a bank trying to take enough money to the closing table whenever that time comes.

So, around 4 pm, Ben gave me our newest spreadsheet analysis and it looked pretty good.  I directed him, sounds official, to “lock in” that interest rate and Erica agreed that was best for us.  The time is important to note because the finance office closes at 5 pm and you have to lock-in by then or the rate could go up by the next morning.  But we met the 5 pm deadline by at least a few minutes!

So now we know what it’s going to cost us to get into this new house and how much we’re going to have to pay each month.  No, I’m not going to tell you either of those numbers because you really don’t want to know!

08db189e28d5df54b57752531e955027The day after I got our interest rate locked in, Erica sent me an email telling me that the Texas Vet Land Board home loan interest rate just jumped UP almost half a point!  That’s about the biggest jump in a long while.  But, we’re already locked in so it has no effect on us!  Hurray for doing what you should do when it’s time!  Now wasn’t all that really exciting?

I’m Still Here – As Lazy As Ever!

Boy, I’m am getting real lazy about keeping this blog up to date! And that’s a big understatement! I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone who’s been reading this just quit!

I have excuses, but most are pretty lame. Like, uh, my wife has been posting pictures and updates on Facebook so I didn’t feel the need to blog, or how about, we’ve been on vacation and I’ve been talking to most of the people I know about the house so I didn’t have to write about it too!

But, I intended this to be a historical record of our house being built so I had better start writing some history! And since I haven’t posted since 19 May, this will be a lot of catching up!

You wouldn’t believe the changes in our house. Last time I wrote, we were looking at the plumbing going in just prior to the foundation being poured. Well, we’re way, way beyond that now. The foundation has been poured, set and hidden by all the framing work.

Framing started on new foundation!
Framing started on new foundation!

The framing went up really, really fast. We went out to the house one evening and saw a lot of boards standing up and stuff being supported by other boards so much so that we didn’t dare go into the house. A few days later, we came back and the walls were all framed and we even had a roof. They’ve been busy putting up the weather paper (I think that’s what it’s called) on the outside of the house getting ready to start some stone and brick work.

Just before we left on vacation on 20 June, we walked through the house or through the frame of a house and got real excited. You could tell that we actually had a house being built. Even the electrical wiring was installed. I was checking to make sure all the outlets we had asked for were close to where we wanted them and found a couple that needed changing.

Electrical outlets at 5 ft 2 inches in study.
Electrical outlets at 5 ft 2 inches in study.

In my study, I plan to put a shelf about 5′ up on the wall opposite the entry doors. This shelf will hold things like my modem, router and a few network hard drives which just seem to clutter a desk if not placed out of the way. I did this in our old house and it worked great. Once all this stuff is on the shelf, I can quickly glance at the blinking lights to tell if everything is working like it should. Problem is, all this stuff has to be plugged in to an outlet. At the old house I had to string a cord down to the floor to a plug-in which wasn’t very neat looking and it required a very long cord on a power strip. With a plug-in at 5′ 2″ on the wall, I can just plug my stuff directly in to that and not string any power cords. Wow! What a genius! Thank you, thank you!

Anyway, I had asked for this one outlet at 5′ 2″ and two more down at the bottom in their regular position. Well, guess what? They had put two outlets up at 5′ 2″ and one down at the bottom, just opposite of what I wanted. That figures! I told Andy, our salesman, about this and he told Matt the construction manager who had this fixed pretty quickly.

That’s why you take these little walks through your house while it’s being built. The builder has floor plans that tell them what to do but the guys reading them sometime just don’t do it right. We’re actually not finding many problems. Most of the stuff we do find are easy to fix.

Oh, yeah, on one of our first visits after the framing was up, we found a big extra window in the master bedroom. We didn’t think we had seen this window before in the other homes we had toured. My wife also didn’t like where it was since wall space in the master is getting to be a premium. So, she called Andy to ask about having it removed. Andy called another salesman who’s home we had toured and sure enough, that house had that window removed also. So, when Andy told Matt about removing the window, he said it was perfect timing and it was an easy fix – window gone!

Bow windows in Master Bedroom.
Bow windows in Master Bedroom.

We also go to see our “bow” windows in the master bed room. Do they ever look nice. I don’t think they will give us as much additional space as we had hoped but they certainly add a little class to the place. I think my wife is planning on getting some one to put some custom drapes/shades/curtains, whatever, to cover these properly. I don’t know how we would do that otherwise. Those windows will certainly bring in the sunshine.

We also noticed that we’ve got a curved ceiling above the master shower. I didn’t expect this but it also looks really nice. It’s a big walk-in shower that will have a lot of fancy tile, I think? Boy, we talked about all the tile work, flooring and carpeting at the Design Center but I cannot remember what any of it looks like. My brain is just about maxed out, I think!

Ok, now for the big up date. We just got back from our vacation to Ft. Worth, Enid, and Ft. Cobb. on 3 July. Great times at all three places but now we need a vacation from our vacation!

Our house with stone work.
Our house with stone work.

Yesterday was the 4th of July and since we had nothing better to do and couldn’t wait any longer, we headed out to the house to see the latest changes. We had received some pics from Andy and Erica while away but they didn’t really show us how much had been done since we were gone.

We now have walls, ceilings and shelves! We can actually walk though a house now. There are rooms that didn’t really look like rooms before. We also have doors everywhere and some we didn’t expect to see. It’s amazing how covering all that framing makes the house seem bigger. We have got some really high ceilings in our entry way and in the kitchen and living room area. We’re getting crown molding in the formal dining room which I had forgotten and the baseboards going around on the floor are pretty impressive. We got rounded corners on every wall which I didn’t even think about asking for. In our last house, we had to pay an extra $25 for each rounded corner on a wall and yes, we sat down with the blue prints and counted every wall edge! This time, it’s just the way Wilshire Homes are built.

Our front porch.
Our front porch.

So, we’re really happy with how things are going so far. We haven’t been given anything like a closing date but I’m going to start pressing Andy for something. We are coming up on 60 days prior to our lease at the apartment being up and we have to give them notice of getting another lease or of our intent to move by 26 Sept. I think we’re going to be able to move well prior to that but I don’t know for sure. Andy says they are shooting for mid August but even the first week of September wouldn’t be bad.

We’ve added some pictures that you may or may not have already seen. These are for our benefit as well. We’ve got more pictures that’s for sure but we didn’t want to bore you with all of them!

If you have any questions about this process, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re not done yet but we’re getting there.

A Little Progress Means A Lot!

19 May 2013 – It’s been about a week since we had been to the lot. Last time we were there, we expected to see them about ready to pour the concrete foundation.  In fact, the construction manager said that was to be done on 13 May.  It didn’t happen.

Plumbing lines are in but foundation not poured.
Plumbing lines are in but foundation not poured.

What was done?  Well, it looked like the plumbing was laid in and apparently capped.  Travis, our personal professional plumber, nice to have one of those in the family, went out there and took a look at it.  He had a few concerns which I conveyed to the sales rep., Andy Cobb.  One of the things he saw was that we had no back-flow valve installed near the clean out.  That’s usually installed to prevent sewage from backing up into the house.  He also was questioning if they had done a leak test to make sure none of the fittings were leaking.  And finally, he pointed out that the sewage connection from our house to the city main was going to be under the driveway!

The answers I got from Andy Cobb and verified by Erica, our Real Estate lady, were as follows:  the back-flow valve isn’t required by the county in this area.  Part of the reason is that the sewer system has been dug extremely deep and a backup of the entire system is not very likely.  And none of the other homes built in this area have one.  OK, so I guess that’s that.

On the next issue, about testing the plumbing pipes that were in, Andy confirmed with the construction manager and he said that the pipes were full of water and that they were going to be inspecting them for leaks the next day or so.

And finally, even I could see why having our sewer connection under the driveway might be a problem, but, apparently, the city sewage lines that were put in a long time ago, went where they went and didn’t give any consideration to where my house was to be built.  That’s the way it happens and there’s nothing I can really do about it.  Travis told me that there wasn’t anything that probably could be done but he thought I should point it out which we did.

Ok, so all that was about a week ago.  They still haven’t poured the foundation but it’s getting closer.  The picture below looks like they should be just about ready and I think that will happen on Monday.  (Click on the pictures to get a bigger view.)

Almost a foundation!
Almost a foundation!
We will have a very small backyard, but who cares!
We will have a very small backyard, but who cares!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, yeah!  I about forgot.  We also got a big package of papers from our financial guys.  They’ve been kind of quiet lately.  I didn’t know if there was really much for them to do once I dumped all the financial information they asked for in one day on them a few weeks ago.  But, now they are getting back at us by sending us a inch thick stack of papers and asking Ramona and I to sign and initial on almost every one.
Well, about an hour later we got that done but I had a question about how much money we were going to have to bring to closing on this new house.  I wasn’t seeing the number that I had spelled out like I thought it should.  So, I did what I normally do, I called Erica and she once again, came to our rescue!  I believe she talked to the guys at the finance office and asked them point blank why my number wasn’t showing up.  How’s that for being direct!

She then sent me an email, clearly explaining how the number I was seeing included everything that we were to bring to the table at closing and that number was just about the same number I had when everything was added all up.  So, mystery solved and I could breath a little bit easier.

Financially, we’re very comfortable with the price of the house, and our new house payment.  Neither are as low as we would have liked but then we expected both to be different than our previous house.  So, now we know what we’re going to pay for our new house, for ever and ever!  That’s OK, we just need to get it built and then get moved in.

Not Much Happening!

2 May 2013 – We had a pre-construction meeting today with Andy Cobb and the construction manager who will be in charge of getting our house built.  I, for the life of me, can’t remember his name, but, he probably can’t remember mine either so were about even.

Anyway, we went over the floor plans to ensure he knew exactly what we wanted with the new house.  We moved some walls and added some closet space so he wanted to make sure he was looking at the same configuration we were.  We didn’t actually have very many changes or identify anything that was not already noted in the drawings.  We found out a little more about the look of the windows in the house, especially the back master bed room bow windows.  That’s going to look real sharp and we’re going to have to invest in some non-standard curtains for those.  It only took us about an hour and that was done.  The construction manager said that his crew would probably be pouring the foundation on 13 May.  After that, everything would be moving pretty fast.

We did drive by the lot and noticed they had done an initial clearing of the lot!  At last something had been done.  It was wet that day so we couldn’t get out and see much but we could see where they had pushed a bunch of boulders over into the next vacant lot and got them out of our yard.  I would think that next week, they’ll start framing the foundation so it will be ready for pouring on or about 13 May according to the construction manager.

18 April 2013 – Andy Cobb called and asked if we could come over and look at the new floor plans.  It was about 1 pm and we were not doing much so we took a short drive to the Wilshire Homes model home sales office. Andy was in his office and came out with a set of floor plans that were extremely hard to read!  Very small print since they were probably reduce down from the normal huge floor plan drawing sheets that architects usually produce.  I don’t know why they didn’t just have those available. Anyway, we looked them over and by squinting real had, we could make out some of the measurements for most all the rooms.  That wasn’t really necessary.  All we had to see was that the walls we wanted moved in the garage and the wall taken down in the fourth bed room had been done.  They built Ramona a nice huge sewing room with a big closet/storage area and I have  lots of storage space in the garage. Oh, we also got to see the very nice bow window built into the Master bed room.  That will give us a little more space and be very, very nice. I believe they have the floor plans done right.  We just signed on the top copy and that was that.  Took us all of thirty minutes.  We will still have a meeting with the construction manager sometime next week or so.  Work should also start soon with a survey getting done immediately.

What’s Ahead?

calendarNow we’re all caught up.  What you have been reading about are the events that have taken place since way back in December of 2012 when we first decided to sell our house and find a new one.  Boy, what a decision that was.  But, it was one we felt like we had to make sooner or later or should I say, the sooner the better or I could just say “Boomer Sooners” and just shut up!

Anyway, this is a post about what’s coming up, as far as I know.  Right now in mid-April, wow, it’s already 15 April, we’re waiting for the builder, Wilshire Homes, to call and ask us to come and see the newly drawn floor plans and discuss them with the construction manager.  This meeting is supposed to ensure that he knows about all the changes that we wanted made and that the right changes have been actually incorporated into the new designs.  This is not a bad idea.  We did make some slight changes so we want to be sure they get it done right.

The only thing is, we’ve been waiting for this meeting for about a week. But, like I said, we need to make sure we get this done right because we only get one chance.

Today, Andy Cobb, the Customer Service Representative, we’ll call him our Salesman, called to say the new blueprints came in but they were wrong!  They had put a wall in the wrong place and the construction manager knew it right off the bat.  So back to Houston they went for a rush re-do. Now we wait some more.  I think we’ll be doing this a lot the next six months.

Once we see and approve the new floor plans, I suppose they will actually begin doing something with the lot.  Right now it’s just a vacant lot with a “Sold” sign stuck near the front.  Hasn’t changed since we saw it the last time.

foundation 1Of course, once they start clearing the lot, then comes the foundation.  Here they put in all the plumbing and stuff that has to come up from the ground and then they pour concrete around sandbags and stuff that make up the foundation.  Don’t know how long that takes but it’s done pretty quickly.

Once the foundation is set and we can walk on it, we’ll really get a good idea of how much square footage we’ll actually get.  Then they’ll start putting up the frame.  This is the confusing part because I have no idea what boards go where so I hope the construction guy gets it right.  Oh, we’ll be able to tell where a wall is and a door goes but it will be fun to just see the framing go up and imagining what a finished room will look like.

roofingAfter most of the framing gets done, the roof will be put on and then it will look like a house, almost. They should be putting the insides of the walls together, in other words, putting up sheetrock and stuff like that.  They’ll start hanging some doors and it will begin to look like a real house.

framingI have no idea how long it will be between these steps but it could be a week or up to two weeks depending on the weather and some what on materials.  Once the walls are up then they should start bringing in the cabinets and setting the toilets, the shower and the tubs.  All the hardware, faucets and stuff should come next.  The light fixtures will start going up and the A/C unit will be installed.  Of course, by now, CPS and SAWS should be out to turn on the electricity and the water.

carpetBy now we should be close to mid-Aug, we hope.  They’ll be calling us out to start looking the house over to make sure we see the right things being done.  I think they will also call us to look over the framing but I’m not sure.  We get to walk through our house and see it almost finished.  They’ll be working on the yard now and putting in the sprinkler system and maybe planting some trees.  If we have to have stairs from the back patio to the yard, they’ll be built now.

Finally, sometime in mid-September, we’ll get a call asking us to come check out the house after we’ve had our own inspector do his inspection.  All the things he found will be noted and we’ll walk through the house with the construction manager marking down things we see that need to be fixed.  Most of this stuff is cosmetic.  Then, about a week before closing, we’ll be invited to take a final, fantastic walk through our newly completed house.  All the granite countertops will have been installed, all the appliances are now in place and every thing is freshly painted and brand new.

Shortly after that, we’ll go to closing and we get the keys!  Hurray!  Now it’s moving time again!

new houseSo, that’s how I see things happening through most of the summer.  I’ll keep writing about our experiences but only as they happen so don’t expect something every day.

Oh, and a special thanks to my beautiful wife, Ramona, who has expertly proof-read each and every one of these blogs before I can release them.  You wouldn’t want to have read them otherwise.

And thank you for reading my blog.

Getting the Apartment to Feel Like Home!

We’re almost caught up to today. All the excitement from the listing of our house, the house hunting trips, the sale of our house and the d7a1382d390925722e15630f8cdf9c55MOVE is winding down. That’s a very good thing. I’m not used to so much excitement and most of what we’ve experienced in the last month, I can gladly do without, thank you very much!

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Stay calm. Everything will be alright!

As I write this on 7 Apr, we’ve been in the apartment for a little over two whole weeks! Wow! Doesn’t seem that long. Still, we’ve had time to go through every single box in this apartment several times trying to find the stuff we need. Most of it has been kitchen and bathroom stuff. Which brings me to a good question. Who packed all of our toilet paper in a box and didn’t label it! Not nice!

We did find almost everything we need to start feeling comfortable here. Since we have two bathrooms, Ramona has staked one out and I’ve got the other. We’ve got the master bedroom all set up and the closet has most of our clothes hanging up. We’re not really sure where the rest of our clothes might be; hopefully they are in storage!
Sunlight coming through the bedroom windows takes getting used to.

We don’t have curtains hanging in the master bedroom but we do have window blinds. They are pretty good at blocking out most of the sun, but it does get much brighter in this room than it did at our previous house. Doesn’t bother me; I can sleep through anything.e043adad6c7a27b808fc1ed2b2624318

I’ve got both our desktop computers hooked up and running as well as our Internet and wireless system working fine. We have this large cut-out in the small wall separating the living area from the dining area and it has a shelf just about the height of the love seat. I’ve got a huge power outlet surge protector thing on the shelf. It has about 100 plug-in places and I think we’ve got something plugged into every socket! I’m afraid the apartment management is going to come to our place and ask why we’re sucking all the electricity from the entire building!

And of course we have our living room already set up when they moved the stuff in here. As I wrote before, Time-Warner cable is providing our tv service. They have about a trillion channels of which I think we’re watching about three; HGTV, Sci-Fi, and Channel 12 News. Most of the time in the evening, I’ve got Netflix running through our Apple TV do-hicky (scientific term) and we watch what used to be on TV that was good. We can watch “Magnum P. I.” starring Tom Selleck”, “Voyager” a Star Trek series, “Amazing Stories” a real old show, and a bunch of others. This stuff sure beats what’s on TV now days by a long shot.
We are here!

52a75340caefb0fa05e597bc33f4e791
We are here!

We have actually been out of the apartment exploring our new surroundings. This part of San Antonio is really new to us since we usually avoided coming here because of all the traffic. We’ve found that you can avoid a lot of the traffic if you do your running around outside of the normal commuting times. We’ve found a huge HEB (grocery store), McDonald’s, What-A-Burger, Willie’s Ice House, MooYah’s (hamburger/hot dog place), IHOP, the bank and the post office. Wonder why most of the places we’ve found are food places?

We’re also about 10 minutes away from our new house or at least the lot it’s going to be built on. We visited it yesterday just to see if anything had been done, like clearing the lot of boulders, bushes and a few scraggly trees. Well, they’re all still there. It still looks like an empty lot with a bunch of scraggly trees and boulders sitting around. Andy Cobb said he’d be calling us every Monday with a progress update. It’ll be interesting to see if he calls tomorrow.

So, that’s kind of where we are. Getting settled in and now just waiting for the new house to be built. This is a nice place to wait, real dull and boring but compared to the past month, let’s keep it that way!

We Visit the Design Center!

[Editor (Me):  This is my version of what happened because I’m writing the story.  If Erica or Ramona have a different version, don’t believe them. I write almost the truth most of the time.]

I’m going to have to back up a few days and tell you about our visit to the Wilshire Home Design Center.  We did this on 19 March, a day before our move.  This is part of the initial home building process and can be really, really fun if you don’t think about the costs!  I say that because this is where you get to pick out all the materials that make up your house.  No two houses look alike even if they are the same floor plan built by the same builder.  At the Design Center, you pick the color of your bricks, the stone and the paint for the wood trim and just about all the interior colors and stuff.  And that’s just the start.

We had an appointment for 1 pm which we promptly made and were greeted by one of the Design Consultants.  This lady guides you through the myriad of choices that you have to make in order to get your house put together.  We had invited Erica to come with us since she hadn’t had the opportunity to actually go through this process.  And, much to our pleasure, Emma also came to help! Uh, I hadn’t thought that it might be dangerous to have three women picking out stuff for our house!  Oh, and there weren’t any price tags on this stuff, either!!!!!

One of the things that is stressed before you go to the Design Center is that you are paying for the time you spend there so it’s not like you can just wander around and google at all the different materials hanging on the walls.  Additionally, you might not be the only customer they have to help during the day so, they prefer you come ready to make decisions and most of all, pay attention to what the design consult is talking to you about!

7e2feddc52d852e792dba1d757c4e3f3 Well, the first thing she said got my attention real quick-like! She said, if we want to change the standard stone to something else, which we did, the upgraded mortar would cost us an additional $2,000!  Yikes!  Here we were only 5 minutes into our two hour session and we’d already added 2000 bucks to our house cost!  It didn’t get any better, that’s for sure.

After choosing what we wanted the outside of our house to look like, we then moved into the back of the design center and really started picking out stuff.  We had our choice of kitchen cabinets, light or dark wood, different stains, and a whole bunch of stuff. Then came counter tops.  Do we go with the standard or upgrade our granite.  How about floor tile and then carpet.  How about a regular carpet padding or do we want to get an upgraded and cushy pad?  Man, there was so much stuff to choose from that I figured we’d be there for the next two weeks!  I couldn’t tell 489e808940f8092385cbf4af01dbc2b0one carpet quality from the next nor could I tell what granite looked best with the cabinet color we picked out. When I’m in a kitchen, I’m looking for food, not how it’s made.  I was totally lost.

Luckily, Ramona and Erica were there and they knew exactly what they wanted.  As soon as the design consultant said pick something out, I grabbed whatever was closest to me that looked kind of nice, I guess, and said, “That’s my choice!”.  Of course Ramona and Erica couldn’t and wouldn’t do that.  They would kind of look at my choices, wrinkle their noses and then walk around picking about 10 different samples of the same thing, then talk about each one and finally, finally, say they liked this one the best.  Usually, it was the first one they looked at or even some times it was the item I picked out in the first place! Ha!

While Erica and Ramona were busy picking stuff out, the Design Consultant would arrange everything on this huge table so they could see how all the colors fit together.  I didn’t see anything.  We had a door cabinet, a hunk of granite, some slabs of tile, and a patch of carpet all laid together and I thought it looked like a pretty good pile of stuff.  Still, the Design Consultant, Erica and Ramona were all oohing and ahing about how great everything was going to look together.  Of course Emma did the best; she was watching a movie on the iPad which was a lot more interesting that what I was doing!
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Actually, I was interested in the stuff we picked out.  Quite a bit interested because everything tagged higher than Level 1 meant that this item was an upgrade and would cost extra.  Remember when you go to the ice cream place and ask for a 10-scoop cone.  They quietly mention that the extra 9 scoops are going to cost extra but you don’t pay any attention to that!  Well, same thing here.  I’m not sure what exactly Level 1 stuff was but we didn’t have a lot of it.  We had some Level 2s and 3s and I know that granite counter top was a Level 4, yikes!  I did tell the Design Consultant that I wanted the fattest carpet pad they had so she grinned real big and grabbed what probably was a Level 300 piece of foam and said this stuff was the best!  Ca-ching! $$$$

Did I mention there was another Design Consultant setting at a desk with a laptop in front of her listening to all our conversations.  I finally figured out that she was recording everyone of our selections and racking up all the prices.  I had no clue how much this stuff we had picked out was costing us.  I knew that we could get up to $22,000 worth of options for only $11,000 but I figured there was no way we were going to spend $22,000 in options anyway!

With the Design Consultant leading the way, we finally got all of our options picked out.  Some had to be priced by their construction people since we asked for a change in the basic floor plan.  There were also some other things that had to be priced out so we couldn’t get a summary of all our options until we met with Andy Cobb at Wilshire Homes on the 23rd of March.  I was kind of wondering just how much all this stuff was going to costs.  Instead of wondering, I should have been worrying!

Still, Erica and Ramona had a blast picking out everything.  It was like being in a candy store for them.  They have a good eye for what goes together and what doesn’t.  It’s part of the house building process you have to do, so you might as well have fun doing it.  I walked out of the Design Center feeling like we did pretty good and I think our new house will look great.  Ramona also thinks it’ll look great and now she can hardly wait to get into it!

We finally met with Andy on the 23rd to go over our options list.  When he called to set up the appointment, he said he was surprised by the list we generated!  He didn’t explain what he meant by that so I was really, ah, intrigued, by the time we got there.  He handed us two sets of papers, one just had all the options from the Design Center and the other was the home contract with the base price of the home and all the options listed together.

Well, I headed straight for the bottom line!  Lord have mercy!  Ramona and Erica, not me, had racked up $68,000 worth of options!  Of course, you subtract the first $11,000 (those were my options and they were free) and that still leaves $57,000 in options!  Ramona and I both agreed, we’d have to trim this back quite a bit!  So, we got to work.
Nice, expensive walk-in shower. NOT needed!

ceb3d34087999b55555587f9833f459cOne of the first things to go was a $3,900+ walk-in shower!  Now I knew we had seen a real fancy walk-in shower at one of the models we visited.  And it was nice, but for $3,900; it wasn’t that nice. The standard walk-in shower is really nice also, so we told Andy to get that out and put in the standard.  He can do that by just lining through an option item.  We went on down the list and crossed out a few more items, but when we got right down to it,  there were a lot of stuff that only cost less than $500 and deleting that little doesn’t really do much to the total cost of the house.  No, your house payment over 30 years isn’t going to change much even if you drop it by $5,000.  So we decided to bite the bullet so to speak, and just deleted some other stuff we really didn’t feel strongly about and just stopped.

So now we know the total price of our new house.  Our budget died with the first Wilshire Home price increase so we weren’t paying much 007f2e55cc108988006d8d873c8f6ad1attention to it anyway!  We wanted this house to be really, really nice and I think it is going to be just that.  Sometimes you just gotta’ do what you want to do and pay the consequences.  Even though this new house is going to cost us a little more than we expected, we know what our limits are and we’re just fine.  Anyway, we can blame it all on Erica!

Oh, yeah, yesterday, the 22nd of March, we closed on our Fairlong Trail house.  We handed over the keys and got a big fat check for our part so there’s some money in the bank already to pay for this wonderful, brand spanking new house were going to get built very soon!

We Buy a House! A Big House!

We’re slowly getting things done and one of the biggest thing to do is move.  I’m not looking forward to that day!  It’s going to be a lot of hard work.  More on that later.

Before I get into moving, we did have to do one small thing prior to our actual move.  We had signed a 30 day contingency agreement with Wilshire Homes and now that 30 days were up.  We needed to either sign a real sales contract or do another contingency.  On the 9th of Feb, we decided to sign a sale contract for the Miami II house!  All that really meant is that we could now lock in the current price of the house and then get ready to pick out our options (upgrades).

Almost made to order houses.
Almost made to order houses.

Unfortunately, Andy Cobb, the Wilshire sales rep. informed us that the house we wanted just had a new price increase!  It went up a total of $10,000 due to lumber costs or at least that’s what he told us.  Well, that just about blew the whole thing!

Still, we went ahead and signed a contract at this new price because again he was saying that another price increase could be coming in as short as a month.  Now I don’t know if he was just blowing smoke or not.  I do know that a lot of houses in the area we’re going to build are not cheap.  I suppose they could raise the price anytime they wanted and we wouldn’t know why but I told Andy that any other price increases would just push us out the door.  He assured me that if we signed today, our price would be locked in even if a price increase on all the other Wilshire Homes was announced tomorrow.

Miami II without options 001One of the things that attracted us to the Wilshire Homes was that a lot of their standard features had been upgrades in our recently sold D. R. Horton home.  Things like granite counter tops were standard for Wilshire but we had to pay to upgrade to Wilsonart in the D. R. Horton home.  Tile in the entry and wet areas was also standard where as linoleum was standard for D. R. Horton and it cost us a bunch to upgrade to tile. Our floor plan had a three-car tandem garage, i.e, one car could park in front of another with the back two side-by-side.  I can’t remember all the other standard features that we recognized as upgrades in our previous house but Wilshire Homes also didn’t have a problem with changing the floor plan like moving walls and extending areas.  Of course they would charge you for doing so, but they would do it.  If you wanted a wall moved or put up in a D. R. Horton home, it just wasn’t allowed.  You gotthe standard floor plan with no changes.

So, we changed ours to give us some more room like we wanted.  If you look at the floor plan on the left and focus at the word “Breakfast”, you’ll see a window there and an open space between Bedroom 2 and the three car garage.  We had seen an almost finished version of this floor plan with that space filled in so we wanted to do the same thing.

Ramona needed a sewing room so instead of just trying to adapt one of the bedrooms, we would take out the wall of bedroom 2 and move the tandem garage wall back a ways to give her a really nice large space.  Plus she would get some more storage space so all of her stuff wouldn’t just be sitting out in the sewing room.

Miami II adjustedI also got part of the space in the garage to use for storage which was just perfect.  I only have one vehicle  so I certainly didn’t need space for three cars but I could use storage space.

So, here’s our version of the Miami II floor plan. This is going to be great!  Look at all that storage space in the garage.  And Ramona’s sewing room will be a perfect setup.  Not only is this house going to be huge but it will have all the rooms we’ve really wanted but never really had in our other homes.

Notice that the Guest Bedroom, bedroom #4 is a completely private suite with it’s own bathroom and walk-in closet. I haven’t figured out how much I’ll charge people to stay there! It’s gotta’ be a bunch since we’ve gotta’ pay this place off someday!

So this is the house we’re going to get built and live in for a long time.  It’s probably our very last house and I think we both know that.  We don’t think it will be too big because if all our family and friends do really want to visit, then we’re going to have the room for you.  That’s an open invitation to all of you reading this.  Come September or when ever we move in, you all have a place to stay if you want to visit San Antonio.

And I probably won’t charge you anything!  Ramona wouldn’t let me!  Darn!