Saturday, January 31, 2015

Design Center

Our experience at the Design Center was wonderful.  We were running behind and arrived about 20 minutes late.  However, this didn't seem to bother our flooring specialist.  She was friendly, didn't pressure us into any decisions, and was very knowledgeable and respectful of our choices.

Prior to the meeting I had emailed her and asked for a cost sheet of all of the flooring options, so we wouldn't be surprised and have to make a large purchase decision in a short time.

Because of our latest revisions (see last blog), our budget for flooring options was tight. For the kitchen we had previously chosen the Timberlake Rushmore Square, Painted Hazelnut Glaze for the cabinets.

We selected the Formica (Antique Mascarello) for the counter-tops.  At some point in the future we will upgrade to granite or stone, but for now we are budget minded.

We did, however, upgrade to get the rounded edges, instead of the flat ones.

And for the Kitchen, Morning Room, Foyer and first floor Bathroom we selected the Armstrong Vinyl 66178.  Again, at some point we want to upgrade most of the downstairs to hardwood or laminate floors, but for now it will be the resilient vinyl.

Here is a picture of them all together, taken at the design center.  The colors may be a bit off in the photo we took,  The ones above are from their websites.

For the bathrooms, we kept the standard cabinets, Timberlake Fairfield Square Wheat.

The downstairs bathroom has the same vinyl as the kitchen, but the upstairs bathrooms and Laundry room has the Armstrong Vinyl 66177 resilient vinyl.

The counter-tops for all the bathrooms is the standard, solid white cultured marble.  Here is a picture of it all together, taken at the design center.

Lastly, we settled on the standard carpet (Shaw Baseline 00747 Thornwood) with the standard padding.  I'm not really happy with it, but it is affordable.  It will probably be the first flooring upgrade we make after we move in.

So, what do you think?


I have been poring over other blogs of people building the Ravenna model.  We originally we going to build Elevation C, but since we weren't adding the bonus room over the garage, we weren't going to get the gable over the garage.  Also, I found out we wouldn't be getting the upgraded carriage style garage door, which kind of bummed me out.  So, we made the switch to Elevation M.

This is a computer representation of Elevation C (with side garage):

This is a computer representation of elevation M (with front garage):

 This is an actual elevation M (with front garage):

First off, our house will be a side garage with the floor plan flipped.
The difference between the elevations is the included gable, the upgraded garage door, a 2' extension in Bedroom 3, and the additional exterior touches.  With elevation M, one of the "craftsman elevations", you get a metal roof over the porch, shaker siding for part of the face, and additional architectural detail at the porch and gables.  These all gave the house more character.

Other changes we made are removing the Laundry tub, the double vanity bath in the upstairs second bathroom, and removing the owner's bath upgrade.  This still keeps us within the FHA spending limits.

Sold sign

The boys got the opportunity to put the SOLD sign on the lot today.  Digging starts in April with Closing expected in June/July.



 And after:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Lot

Our, almost half-acre, lot is in a cul-de-sac.  Ryan homes will be landscaping the front and will also being laying sod for everything else (that's a lot of sod).  There are only homes on our sides.  The area behind us is designated green space (no one can build there).

There is curb and gutter for the street in front and sidewalk.  Our garage is a side entry, so our driveway will be nice sized and arranged nicely to add a basketball hoop.

We are a part of a Home Owner's Association (HOA) which does limit some of the things we can do, such as add a shed.  But we still have a lot of space.

Once I get a copy of the plot plan, I will post it here.

Financing - NVR

I wanted to dedicate a blog post to the financing aspect of this home building experience.

We are working with NVR Mortgage, owned by NVR, the parent company of Ryan homes.  We chose to use them because of the incentives (free options) they provide.

In a new build, you typically need a construction loan, and then a final loan.  However, this is different case, because the builder takes care of the construction costs and then you don't make a payment until after closing (June or July for us).  Instead, you are in a contract, which if you break has stiff financial consequences.

We met with our Loan Officer (LO) last week to turn in all the financial information and get "pre-approved" although nothing is final until the application makes it's way to underwriting (takes about 45 days).  I don't expect any road bumps, but you never know.

We don't apply for OHFA until 60 days prior to closing, about the same time we lock in our loan rates.  So, everyone pray that rates do not go up much!

Flooring and Counter-tops

This Saturday, we are meeting with the Design Center folks to discuss all the color and pattern choices for the counter-tops, resilient vinyl flooring, and carpets.  We have already decided on the cabinet style: Timberlake Rushmore Square, Painted Hazelnut Glaze (shown below).

From what I have read most of the standard (included in base price) options for flooring and counter-tops are unappealing.  So, I have budgeted to upgrade one level.  We are trying to keep the price down, and as much as we want hardwood floors, or even laminate, we plan to go with vinyl and upgrade at a later date.

Here is a picture of the Ravenna with these cabinets:

Options = $$$

Notice how all signs for new home construction say "Starting at..."?  This is because you can add on all kinds of options to your house.  The model homes they walk you through all have tons of options added to make you say "ooh" and "aah".  But options can add up really quick.

Now, I'm a very "Left-brain" kind of person and try not to get blind-sided.  So I did my homework; I checked the county auditor's website to get a better feel for what other people's final home sales were.  That way, I could better gauge of what the final price would be for us and see if we could afford it.

When it was all said and done, here where the options we added:
  • Elevation C Partial Stone Veneer Front
  • 3 piece Plumbing Rough-in, Basement
  • 2 Car Side Load Garage
  • Carpet/Flooring Upgrade
  • Windows, Living Room Side
  • Windows, Family Room Side
  • Morning Room
  • Kitchen Gourmet Island
  • Kitchen Cabinet Upgrade
  • Kitchen Hardware
  • Laminate Countertop Upgrade
  • Appliance Package Stainless Steel (Stove, Dishwasher, Built-in Microwave)
  • Owners Bath Type A with Shower
  • Bedroom, First Floor
  • Windows, Bedroom Side
  • Double Bowl Vanity, Bathroom
  • First Floor Bathroom, Type A with Shower
  • Ceiling Fan Prewire (6)
  • Extra Garage Electrical Outlet
  • Laundry Tub (includes plumbing)
Our finished home will look something like this:

I am not going to post pictures of the Ravenna model, since our home may not look exactly like that.  But, I will post a link to the Ryan Homes website where they have lots of photos and even a video.

The Ravenna

We wanted to buy a home in a particular, top-rated school district, where our boys currently attend.  However, there are income limitations per county for the OHFA program.  So, this limited our search.  We found two new subdivisions with those parameters, each with two builders.

We ultimately settled on Ryan homes in the Woodbine* subdivision because of lot size, easy access to freeways, low tax rates and potential for surrounding neighborhood growth. (There is a Costco coming soon, nearby).

Our Sales Representative (SR) was really helpful and showed us all five floor plans.  We ultimately settled on the Ravenna, because of it's price, size and first floor bedroom option (for guests).

* - Yes, I broke the "no places" rule, but now you know why the blog is called Woodbine Ravenna.

Money, money, money

When it comes to buying a new house there are two big financial questions you have to ask yourself:

What can I afford to pay (and should I pay) per month?
How much money will I need as a down payment?
Well the first one was easy.  My wife and I had just started new jobs (same careers as before) and were now making good enough money to be able to afford a nice home.  Also, the reason we selected this subdivision because it was in our budgeted, monthly price range.

As to the down payment, I was fortunate to stumble on a government program designed for recent college graduates, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency's (OHFA) Grants for Grads program.

OHFA ( has many down payment assistance programs, but I will only talk about the Grants for Grads program.  Essentially, within 2 years of graduation, college students can receive 2.5% towards their down payment and up to 2% towards closing costs.  The 2.5% down payment assistance is tacked on as a interest-free 2nd mortgage that is removed after 5 years of living in the home.  The 2% closing cost assistance adds about 0.50% to the loan rate.

My Ohio Home's Website

As of this writing, the loan rate for the Grants for Grads program is 3.75% for an FHA loan.  Pretty nice.  So, in all actuality, all a potential buyer needs is 1% down (3.5% minus 2.5%) to buy a house.

We will be putting down more than 1%, but we still want to save some money for things we'll need once we move in like a Refrigerator, Washer/Dryer, Blinds, etc.

The journey begins...

I like to use Zillow ( as a search tool when looking for real estate. After many months perusing homes in our price range in the neighborhoods we wanted, I was disappointed with choices available; Nice homes on small lots, overpriced taxes, small kitchens, outdated decor, etc.

Once again begins the journey of someone building a Ryan home and blogging about it.

My goal with this blog is to share our home building experience with family and friends, especially those who do not live nearby, but want to be kept in the loop with our grand adventure. I will try to be vague concerning names and places, in order to protect the privacy of everyone.

Our family (of four) decided it was time to look into buying a house in 2015. We expected to start looking in the spring at already built homes, with no thought to buy a new build.

However, Zillow also lists new homes being built. And this is how I found our future subdivision.