Saturday, February 28, 2015

We Have an Address

We just received a "Change of Address Acknowledgment" from Ryan Homes giving us the address to our future house.  Before, we always referred to it as Lot #58, but now we have a street number.  Needless to say, we are pretty excited about it.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Amended Subdivision Plat recorded

The original layout of our Subdivision was changed because of a Power Line Easement that was added.  The street our new house is going to be built on was moved about 50' west.  I'm not sure if the road was built, but all of the underground utilities (water storm, sanitary) had to be dug up and relaid.  Then, the current road was put in.  The lots were reconfigured to fit the new layout.

We contracted to build after all this work was done.  But, the amended Subdivision Plat had to make it's rounds to all the necessary government officials to get signatures for Final approval.  And now that it is complete, the home builder can submit plans for construction permits.  So, were are finally underway and hopefully we can break ground soon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Landscape Buffer Trees

No official word on where the landscape buffer will go yet, but we do know what trees will be on it.  Also, found out it will only be 3' tall, not 4' or 5'.  But, the trees will be more mature, around 5' tall.

Siberian Spruce
Colorado Spruce

Now, we don't need a Christmas tree.  We will have several to decorate along our backyard.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I have just added a couple neat calculators I created to my blog.  You can find them by clicking here or at the top of the page on the tab labeled "Calculators".

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How to Make Money on your Blog

You may have noticed I have ads on my blog.  Hopefully, not too many.

I have placed these ads (though not necessarily there content) to allow me to make a little money off of my blog.  I encourage you to do the same.

If you would like additional information on adding advertisements to you blog to make money, please check out my page on "How to Make Money on your Blog".

If you have any other tips, please leave a comment below.

Friday, February 20, 2015


We are now waiting...

Ryan Homes has to get the necessary permits to start digging and for the rest of construction.  They have told us it will take at least 3-4 weeks and mentioned the delay is due to the large number of construction permits being issued and the current backlog.  I'm sure this is partially true.

However, I know for a fact that the Subdivision Plat has just been conditionally approved (about 10 days ago) and permits can't be pulled until the plat is finalized.  I expect the plat will be fully approved when the Planning Commission meets again in early March.  Once that is done they can apply for building permits.  So, we are waiting until late March/early April for ground breaking.

Another update on the Landscaped Berm:
I spoke with the Township Zoning department and they confirmed they are concerned about the same things I am with regard to the construction of the berm.  They have let me know they are "keeping a close eye on the issue".

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Landscape Berm Update

I spoke to the county engineering department today.  The person I spoke to said the developer cannot put a landscape berm on my lot without having an easement.  Currently, the 15' backyard easement is only for utilities, per the Plat.  So, unless the Plat gets revised to allow a berm, they cannot use that easement.  I don't see them revising the Plat again, because that would delay construction by another four weeks, since the Planning commission that approves the plats only meets once a month.

So. we'll see what the developer does.  However, we may not hear anything until late spring.  Our consolation is that the developer is required to install the landscape berm before the subdivision can get final sign off.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Landscape Berm

The back side of our lot sits about 150' from a mild, four lane (two lanes each way) highway.  There is not enough noise that it constitutes the need for a wall.  However, our township has required the developer (not Ryan Homes) to install a 4-5' mound and landscape it with trees, similar to this:

However, there is a problem.

The road is about 50' from the edge of it's Right of Way (ROW).  (They can't build it in the ROW)
Next, there is about 30' designated for a Drainage Channel (opposite of a berm) Easement. (So, they can't build it there).
Lastly, there is a 70' Overhead Power Easement.  (The power lines are pretty high, but I don't think the Power company is going to let them plant trees there that close to a power line).

That leaves the varying 3'-15' (my lot only has the 3') green space for a the landscape berm.  It is starting to sound like the berm will take up part of my backyard, which is not what I was originally told.  Also, the Plot plan does not show it this way.

Waiting now to see what the official plan is...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Columbus Home and Garden Show

I braved the weather and went to the Columbus Home and Garden show today (  It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.  Plus, there were a lot of raffles and freebies.

There were lots of exhibits, including Landscaping, Home Improvement, Remodeling, etc.  My favorite was Pete DeLois' Recreations Outlet.  They had trampolines, basketball hoops and play centers.  I think we might buy a trampoline and basketball hoop for the house.

I also gave my contact info to several house painters to get a free estimate to paint the house and talked to a couple fencing/landscaping guys about installing a split rail fence and patio/deck.  Plus, there were two solar panel companies there.  So, I got to talk to them a little about solar as an option.

There were also three water softener/filtration companies there.  Anybody adding a water softener to their house?

Friday, February 13, 2015

How to find your Subdivision's Recorded Plat

I know some of you area having a tough time finding information about your lot.  So, here is a step by step process to find the recorded plat for your subdivision.  (Keep in mind that not all Counties have Subdivision Plats available on the internet.  You may have to visit your County's Auditor/Recorder/Engineer office to obtain a copy for a small fee.)

Step 1. Google your county's auditor (may be listed under county recorder or county engineer too)

Step 2.  Open the webpage.  Click on the link for something like "Property Search Tools" or maybe it will have a direct link.

Step 3. Find the link labeled "Subdivision Plats".

Step 4. Type in the name of your Subdivision.

Step 5.  Click on the "View Plat" to see the Subdivision Plat.  (This is a plat zoomed in).

On the Plat you will find Easements, Green Space Reserves, Lot acreage, Building setback information and pin locations.  Hope this helps.

Guardian Low voltage selections

I thought I had a post about the Guardian low voltage meeting, but I can't find it.  Must be reading too many other blogs and thought I had made a post also.

I originally met with the Guardian Home Technologies representative on January 26th.  He gave me a quote for a prewired security system, a home audio system for Living/Dining/Family/Kitchen, and for one extra data outlet (you get three cable, data, or telephone for free).

I met with him again yesterday to finalize our selections.

With all of the wireless security systems on the market today, at a cheaper monthly price, we decided to pass on the prewired home security.  We will add something like the SimpliSafe system( once we close/settle.  It's only $15 a month.

However, with technology what it is today, we may opt for the Insteon ( system, which includes a lot more in the way of home automation.  It doesn't offer the professional monitoring, but it does include a nice phone app and integration with a lot of home devices, including the Nest thermostat (

We removed the home audio package from the quote due to cost ($1400), but chose to have them wire it so we can do it at a future date ($600).  We are at the FHA loan limit, so any extra money we spend now will have to be added to our down payment at closing.  (The OHFA Grants for Grads program we are using, has FHA loan rates at 0.25% lower than Conventional, so we are striving for the FHA).

Update: Found out the equipment to add at a future date will be $1500.  I will probably just add wireless speakers to the house later.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Exterior colors

I stopped at the model today to get a preview of the color choices, so we could think about the different options before our meeting on Sunday.  There is a 2 page list of color schemes they have already picked.  You pick out the one you like best.

Here is the color scheme we are looking at:
(Update: We made some changes once we had the siding in front of us)


Brick - Boral (Sugar Creek)

 Vinyl siding - Variform by PlyGEM (Spanish Olive) (Irish Thistle)

Shaker siding - Variform by PlyGEM (Natural Almond) (Sandy Tan)

 Front door - Sherwin Williams (Fiery Brown, SW 6055) (Black Fox SW 7020)

Shutters - Variform by PlyGEM (Tricorn Black, SW 6258) (Dark Berry)

Home Loan Approved

Just got a call from NVR Mortgage that the home loan has been approved.  We weren't expecting it not to be, but it is nice to know it has made it's way through underwriting.

Now we wait until the permits can get pulled and they can start digging...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Plot Plan

We just received our plot plan and it looks like they fixed the lot closure error.  But, I found another mistake: it had the wrong street name.  I cropped the details, lot info and street information, so you won't see the mistake here.

Here is the plot plan.

The lot is currently pretty flat, but they must be worried about drainage (or want to be able to gravity drain the basement sewer) because they raised the building pad about 4' higher than the street.  There is a steeper drop (6') in the back; more than I had pictured in my mind.

There was talk about putting in a 5' high mound behind our property.  I bet they are taking two feet of dirt from the back of the yard and using that dirt to create the mound.  That explains the steeper slope.

However, I am pretty happy about how the lot layout has all turned out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lot error

Even Civil Engineers make mistakes.  I found a mistake on the Recorded Plat.

Today, I used a copy of the revised Subdivision Plat to draw our subdivision in CAD.  I wanted to add our floor plan to our lot to get a better feel for how much space we would have in the backyard.  I know that eventually we will receive a Plot Plan showing this information, but I like drawing in CAD, so I thought I'd do it for fun.

Lot lines are drawn by:
Bearing - includes a direction NorthEast, NorthWest, SouthEast, SouthWest (to determine a quadrant) and angle (measured from 0-90 degrees).
Distance - the length of the line

When I drew the Bearing and Distances shown on the Plat for our lot, I noticed our lot didn't close.  This means one (or more) of the bearings or distances was wrong.  I think I found the error and let the SR know, who is passing this information on.

Fixing this is very important because incorrect lot information can cause serious land disputes in the future.  You may find out you have more or less space than you thought.

Here is the problem I found:


Warning: Long Post Ahead

I am a Civil Engineer, and as part of my job I design residential subdivisions (not the one we are buying in).  One thing you want to look at before signing a contract to build, is the subdivision plat, and if you can, the subdivision construction plans.

Specifically, look for Easements - "a right to cross or otherwise use someone else's land for a specified purpose".  You are generally not allowed to build any structure (pool, shed, deck, etc) on an easement.  These are generally:
Utility easements - where a utility  (water, stormwater, sanitary sewer, gas, electric, etc) has permission to access an above or below ground pipe or line they have on your property.
Drainage easement - where the land is graded to allow proper drainage of a lot (may or may not include underground piping.
Access easement - where some has permission to cross your property to access their property (usually land locked)

First, a little about residential subdivisions:
Most subdivisions are built in phases.  The developer/home builder (HB) only pays to develop only a part of a larger planned development at a time.  This reduces their financial risk if the home buying market slows down.  They will add on phases once the previous phase is near finished.

With each phase, the HB pays a civil engineer (and/or engineering firm) to create lots to a size and general layout dictated by the HB.  The engineer reviews local municipality building setback requirements (how far the house can be from the property lines), utility requirements and existing easements on the site.  The engineer also creates a building pad (flat area on each lot) and grades the subdivision to drain stormwater away from houses and to the street and/or swales/ditches.

From this information, the engineer is able to create two sets of plans: the subdivision plat and the site layout construction plans for the builder.  The subdivision plat is a county recorded document that shows the subdivision with all lots dimensioned, all setbacks and easements and any green space reserves.  The lots are also numbered.   A Surveyor will set buried, Iron Pins at the corner of  the lots as laid out in this plan. This is a good drawing to look at to see the easements on your potential lot.

The site layout construction plans, or subdivision plans, are the plans turned into the city and/or county to get the construction permit to begin grading, adding utility work, and paving.  This is a good plan to look at if you want to see the easements and what is buried under those easements.  Keep in mind electric and gas are not generally shown, so if you are digging in the future, call your local Utility Protection Service and they will mark all lines for free.

Later, each lot will get a Plot Plan that shows how the house sits on each lot and where the utilities and easements are at.  But if you wait until you get the Plot Plan, it will be too late to change your mind about the lot, since you will already be in contract.

So, if you have future plans to add a deck, swimming pool or even fencing*, keep all this information in mind, since this could impact not only where you can put these things, but if you can.

*Fencing on easements is a gray area.  Lots of people put fences on easements.  Just remember, if you put a fence on an easement, the party that has been granted the easement has the right to remove/damage the fence and is not required to reinstall/replace it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sheds, Fencing and Solar

We are meeting with our SR this Sunday to pick out colors for the exterior.

Since our Ravenna Elevation (M) has only the partial brick option* we have to pick a brick color first.  Then we will get to look at a pre-color-coordinated paint selection set to go with that brick color.  We want a lighter color brick, almost tan in color, but we are afraid this may limit our other color choices.

I asked about some more questions about the HOA rules and here is what I found out:

The HOA does not allow sheds.  However, I have seen some in the subdivision, so maybe this is not a hard set rule or as some fellow bloggers have mentioned, these can get "grandfathered" in.  I did read a blog (can't remember which one) where they put the custom built shed against the house and used the same siding, so it looks like it is part of the house.  We may do this.

The HOA allows split rail fence.  I like fencing.  (I'm originally from California where it seemed like everyone had fencing, even when you back yard was only 10' deep.)  I do not want the 6' high, can't see your neighbors, fence.  Just one that defines the property lines.  Plus, if we get a dog (I promised the boys) one day, it will help.  I'm thinking about the split rail with wire shown below.

SR is not sure about Solar Panels and is asking for us. Anyone put in solar panels? I know our new home will already be super energy efficient, but with all the current incentives, rebates, tax credits, etc. it seems like it might be prudent.

* Ask your SR if you can change this to partial stone as this blogger (SterlingQuad) did:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ravenna Elevation M Side Garage

We will be meeting with our SR later this week to pick colors for our Exterior.  We are looking forward to this, but are a bit nervous, knowing this will be a big decision.  I asked our SR for copies of the blueprints, but she told me they are copyrighted and cannot be copied.  However, she did allow me to look at the hard copies in the office.

Instead of making copies, I did the next best thing.  Using the brochure for the Ravenna and pictures of the Elevation M I found on the internet, I drew up my own elevation.

Here is a picture of a Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Elevation I made of our future house.  I know AutoCAD pretty well and wanted to create a blank slate of our Elevation so we could try out different exterior colors.  I also used StoneCAD to download and use a better brick hatch pattern.

This is our Ravenna, Elevation M.  Our floor plan is reversed since we have a left side driveway.  Also, we chose the side garage, so the windows on the left are actually to the garage.  We do not have the Bonus room over the garage, but Elevation M gets you the false gable, which is a nice architectural feature.

Please note, this is not an actual elevation taken from any Ryan blueprint plans, just my representation of it.  It may not reflect the final outcome in dimensions or layout.  So, keep that in mind if you use this image.

And here is one color option:

Friday, February 6, 2015

New Home Inspection

So, normally when you buy a house you have the option to have an Inspector look at the home you want to buy.  He/she will inspect the house for problems and potential problems and let you know.

With new home construction, things are different.  You don't need an inspector to look for mold, termites or other older home problems.  But you do want the inspector to look for construction problems.  This is one of the best times to hire a home inspector to look, since he/she will have access during the whole construction process and can look at everything while it is being built.

However, you can expect to pay a little more for this service since the inspector will probably need to make multiple visits to the home site.  I've talked to a home inspector and he's quoting $1000+ for the inspection(s).  I was hoping to keep the price around $500.

Has anyone hired a new home inspector?  What did you pay?  What did you get?