Thursday, May 28, 2015

Progress Amid Frustration

It's been a hot minute since last I posted but in our defense, the past month has been absolutely crazy! Between our insane work schedules, dealing with House B, good weather FINALLY arriving in Pittsburgh, family visits and trying to plan our summer, the blog slipped.  Fortunately, we were able to continue regular site visits and take some progress photos.  It's really starting to look like a home.

First, the good.  A while back I was rather concerned about a sad, sad bowed, twisted and apparently half tree bark stud that was in our master - specifically right where we wanted to hang a tv.  Our PM's fix was to install a 15" wide piece of wood between the problem stud and the other studs.  We're fine with this - we now have something relatively solid to use for the tv bracket.  Guardian did come back out and properly marked the cable & sound locations & they all look great.  The drywall crew did a relatively nice job on their finish work - after hearing so many horror stories I wasn't sure what to expect.  There are a few areas that are not ok but I'm going to employ a wait-and-see attitude for now.

Now the shady.  I don't know where RH gets off treating their customers like we have nothing but time for them.  We received an email (I think it was 17 words - one of his longest) from our PM stating that our pre-drywall meeting needed to happen either "next Tuesday or Wednesday at 10 am." I think we got that on a Friday.  Uh, no.  I was due in WV for work the following week and J has this little thing called a job too.  It's how we pay for the house.  Crazy logic, I know.  I responded with "that doesn't work for us.  Tuesday at 6pm is do-able."  Our PM then had the guts to say that the meeting would have to be with the SR.  WHAT???  I'm so so sorry that you might have to stay late one day but you're the freaking Project Manager.  You know what happens when I have to meet with someone or something needs done?  I STAY LATE.  THAT'S HOW IT WORKS.  This meeting is required by RH of their people, not by the customer.  Sorry, but you knew we were only available on Fridays. I'm still irritated that J had to use PTO for this meeting.

We found out that our request to have the light switch for the garage moved to the house side was denied.  I honestly don't think the PM marked anything down, then said that the electrician wouldn't allow it to cover his tail.  He did complement us on our choice to move the basement window - due to our grading, we didn't need the well (aka mosquito breeding ground).  They totally forgot to install our gas line in the laundry room (remember THAT discussion?) J asked about adding an electrical outlet in the garage since there are only near the house door and one in the ceiling.  Yes, for an entire garage there are 2 outlets.  And our worthless SR (who bounced to another community and won't return any emails) neglected to mention anything about that.  Of course it's far too late to do anything and we get to hire an electrician to install a new circuit after close.  Fantastic.  I think these bozos have completely forgotten about their precious survey.  I could remind them but honestly, right now she's looking at a 6.  Maybe.  I don't really care if she gets in trouble, maybe she'll learn not to be a waste of space.  (there is obviously no love lost between us)  On second thought, it's probably a good thing I couldn't make this meeting.

One other random - we were the victims of some vandalism!  A window in our bonus room apparently had a rock thrown through it - not sure if it was from the construction site next door or what.  Regardless, RH gets to buy us a new window.  Maybe that one will come in the same day as the broken one in the office, the missing one from the basement and the one in the master with the broken seal.

Final frustration of the month was when I visited the site Tuesday.  I was locked out!  Previously, the garage door wasn't locked so we just lifted it and walked in.  I suppose they wised up and locked it.  I climbed onto the porch to try the door...locked too.  I could've stuck my hand through the deadbolt hole but didn't feel like splinters would be worth it.  Fortunately, that missing egress window in the basement came through.  It's right at ground level & I climbed right in.  I was a bit disappointed to see that all they were storing in the garage was some drywall mud.  I thought maybe our cabinets/flooring had been delivered but no.

Back to the good...we made our first big appliance purchase as Mr & Mrs!  Last night we took advantage of Home Depot's Memorial Day Sale & scored a sweet Samsung french door refrigerator with the "food showcase" feature.  It was weird to be so excited over a refrigerator but cool at the same time.  Next up is our La-Z-Boy design presentation...since we scheduled them to come measure our basement & great room to help us choose furniture (complementary in-house design service), we locked in their 30% off Memorial Day Sale on anything we buy from this presentation...Huge Score! Comfortable furniture, here we come!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

You & Who's Army?

At our Pre-Construction meeting, J & I made a point to ask our PM & SR if we needed a babysitter when we wanted to visit our site.  Mainly because we are not able to leave work in enough time to make it to the model before it closes but also to get a feel for how much freedom we would have.  The PM stated "no one likes paperwork - just be careful."  To me, that implies that we are able to visit the site as long as we stay out of the workers' ways and aren't morons.

(Hint:  we aren't morons.  We are both licensed civil PEs, he's a certified bridge inspector and I'm cleared to be on all company sites where live gas is involved as well as major construction projects, including compressor stations.  We can handle a home construction site.)

Last Friday, we received a group email stating that "safety is RH's #1 concern" and that any site visits had to be with a RH rep and that he was "sorry for any confusion."  I want to know who was the moron who managed to mangle something or someone and ruined this for everyone.  Seriously, whoever you are, you're a clown.  We shall just see if we listen to this directive - after all, we've signed all of the paperwork given that makes this ours, paid 5% of the purchase price AND I highly doubt that anyone's going to stick around until 7 when we can visit the site.  I'd love to know how they intend to stop a homeowner from visiting, especially when we were given the green light.

Amid all of this excitement, we did get to show off the house to J's parents and my dad (again).  This time we came armed with a level and a square.  We were very pleased to see that the house is quite level, plumb and reasonably square.  Since we're going to install chair rail and crown on our own, that's a big deal.  All of the parents love the house & are looking forward to nicer quarters when they come to visit.  We also drove out to the Palermo model so they would all have a good feel for the finished product.  Positive reviews all around :)

Our other discovery this weekend was what we had initially indicated we would like for cable placement vs what we ultimately decided.  We made quite a few was inevitable.  I was able to email a detailed description of the new locations to our Guardian rep & he confirmed that he would remark and all would be well.

We did send some questions regarding the framing to our PM - he was the one who marked everything in orange.  We were curious about the function of the poorly fitting wood "spacers."  Apparently there are many purposes, including drywall support, nailers and stiffeners at door openings.  Ok, but I'm not buying they're serving any purpose when they're free to move on one end.  Kind of defeats the point but I'll ask more questions at our next site meeting.  We did have one of the most experienced framing crews which was pretty evident - our level doesn't lie!

Not too many pics today - I was more interested in other peoples' reactions than operating a camera.

This tub & I are gonna be great friends!

Not even close.  Our PM is going to see what he can
do about my request to add a 2nd stud since this
will be our tv wall in the master.  And it's just sad.

Not at all a fan of the surround.  And did you know they don't
install the cement backerboard behind the fiberglass walls?
I get it's impervious to water but that's quite a corner to cut.

Always nice to know where the supply & drain lines hang out.
Since these are on the exterior, let's hope they're VERY well insulated.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Random Update

I've done a very good job of visiting the site-I think I've been up there 6 out of the last 7 days. It seems like there are things happening but after the insanity of Framing Week, the little stuff is a minor letdown. #firstworldproblems, I know. When I visited Monday, I saw that someone had been through the house with a can of orange spray paint, marking bad stuff like the broken window, a hole in the plywood in an exterior wall and quite a few studs that had issues (plumb, square, bowed, twisted) as well as that pesky broken truss. Honesty I was a bit relieved that I didn't have to bring it to anyone's attention but you would think that at the factory they would check the walls & trusses and not send out crap. 

Holy Morning Room...too bad they missed some thin spots up above

That's a lot of orange.  Glad they caught this!

Good to know others spotted the problem truss

Not a chance this window passes!

When I visited yesterday, I got a little excited (again). They had delivered our furnace, ac unit, and the ductwork and electrical supplies! Our garage is acting like a garage! Hooray! They also made a few fixes, including repairing the truss. Not gonna lie, it was tempting to grab that paint and mark a few studs I'm questioning but since I had no sharpie to indicate the problem I passed. That being said, 3 holes in the subfloor remain holes. And 1 exterior wall spot too. And let's not forget the master bath's not foggy because it's dry right now. That'll change once it rains.

YES!!!  Our Garage is finally acting like a Garage!!

Broken Truss repaired.  J Stew approved

WHY would one take a circular saw partway through load-bearing
studs but leave them?

Oh and our basement's framed! That's kinda big!

View from our bar.  AKA Adult Playground!

Last thing is the view from our front porch and some of the windows...if you look closely, you'll see the U.S. Steel Tower and the BNY Mellon building in downtown Pittsburgh! Not sure the view will survive the rest of the homes going up but for now that's pretty cool!

US Steel Tower just to the right of the post.  BNY Mellon just to the right of that.

Sign Update: still buried BUT they've pasted some sort of "Ryan Homes SOLD" sticker on an upper window. It's just not the same but I guess I'll be thankful some effort is being made!

Problem solved?

This house is taken!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sunday Funday!

For a nice change of pace, J decided to visit the site Saturday morning.  I had him on a mission to find mint for our Kentucky Derby Party and he decided to make a detour.  He sent me word that they were working on the roof!  He did not, however, send me any pictures of said roof.  I got pictures of ginger ale, mint and a traffic jam but no roof.  I was ok, though, he did bring home lots of mint.  One simply cannot have a Derby Party without mint juleps!

Sunday we decided to actually visit the site together and as an added bonus, we took my dad.  He's visiting from Florida and we thought it would be good to get his thoughts, as he's built 3 houses.  All in all, the house got a good report.
He was especially impressed with the ceiling on the garage.  It looks to be 10' high - finally I can open the liftgate on my SUV and not worry about hitting the ceiling!  We are fairly certain that whoever was cutting the spacer blocks between the studs was missing a tape measure and a square (seriously, some of these blocks were held by the edge of the nail, the gap was so big) but nothing appeared to be earth shattering, just a bit shoddy.  We will be asking our PM what the deal is with the insane gaps.

Really?  Was the measuring tape that hard to use?

More excellence with nails

Look at the higher spacer.  It's connected by a prayer and a nail tip

Note how level and even these spacers are behind the tub...

We also found a few more issues - mainly some unexplained holes in the plywood sheeting.  Call me crazy, but that doesn't seem like a good plan for energy efficiency.  Oh, and our patio door is so not installed correctly.  Pretty sure you shouldn't have to prop a box up against it to keep it shut if it's plumb & level.  It's neither of those, and glaringly so.  We were really annoyed to look up and discover a broken truss member.  Did they think we wouldn't notice?  I'm married to a structural enginerd.  I'm pretty sure they'd throw him out of the structural enginerd club if he failed to notice this no-no.  WHY wouldn't they just repair it right after installation???  Shoddy.

Pretty sure that truss member is useless.

Sigh.  I sense this could cause issues with the carpeting

After we visited the construction site, I took my dad out to see the decorated Palermo model.  The drive reminded me why that area was never in consideration - just long and boring.  But he got to see the finished product and pronounced it "quite nice."  That's high praise!  It's pretty freakin' cool to see it in the framing stage but it's really nice to be able to see the finished product - it really reminds you of why you chose the model that you did.  65 days or so and we'll have our finished product!

Sign Update:  Still buried beneath a pile of dirt.  I fear it may never again see the light of day.  Instead of the same picture for the 13th time, I thought y'all might enjoy our daily reenactment of a famous scene from The Lion King.  Finnegan is an oddball and seems to think that this is totally normal for a cat to enjoy tolerate.  He also thinks it's cool if he gets his nails trimmed so clearly he's a Special Kitty...

(Don't be alarmed - the cat LOVES this.  He's bizarre!)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Here's the (2nd) Story!

More excitement!  It's too much fun to drive up and see what they've done at this stage - every day there's another level of excitement!  After seeing them get the first floor on in 1 day, I kinda figured they would knock out the 2nd floor just as quickly and I was right. Of course, not everything is perfect (evidenced by 2 broken windows, a hole in the floor, a hole in a door frame, gaps & all manner of "things that don't look 100% correct to an Enginerd", but I'm choosing to have faith that our PM wasn't full of it when he said he would correct issues mostly before we notified him.  I now have a clock running...

Brace yourselves, I have A LOT of pictures.

We have a second story!

I love our sidelight - makes up for the character-less front door.

Imagine a Restoration Hardware table here...
a girl's gotta have goals!

Lunch Time?  Does this mean we have legit power at the house??

Upstairs front corner bedroom

View from Master to bath, closet, hall bath and the Guest Room

That's our roof!  Lying in a shambles on the ground...

Obviously I had a little bit of fun walking around - I wish J had been able to unchain himself from his project to walk around our house together but I guess we will do that quite a few times over the next, say 30 years or so.  It was cool to walk around and look up at the sky, knowing that it was the first & last time I'd look at it from our second level without swearing due to a hole in the roof :)

Thursday I went back up - mainly to see if they had put the sheeting on for the roof and TADA!  Yes, yes they did!  I found all kinds of fun stuff too - broken windows (that's 2 for those of you keeping score at home - one in J's office (smashed) and our master bath (thermal seal is broken - that's why it's foggy), water coolers, holes in the floor, crookedy studs, the list goes on.  Again, I'm not too concerned but I am going to see if our PM is good to his word. 

Our garage!  Complete with a weird wall I'm not understanding

This guy REALLY doesn't want anyone to
mess with his drinks!

I really am going to love this soaker tub!

Ingenious stair railings - PVC pipe and 2x4s
with the corners knocked off
As for the little surprise in the fireplace - let's just say that I was less than impressed that the HOMEOWNER isn't allowed to have a copy of the floor plans - that really does help when one wants to calculate paint required, flooring needed, knowledge of what's on each electrical circuit and other such frivolous details.  When I spotted the set of plans in the fireplace - JACKPOT!  I did NOT scamper back to my office to make use of our scanner/copier but I make no promises that it doesn't happen at some point in the future.  I will win this battle for I am crafty and have access to nerdy things like plotters.

Look closely...are those our Forbidden House Plans???
(Amateurs - now I have ALL of the info!)

Hahaha - I WIN!  Plans = Found.  Photos = Taken? 

This was just cool - I thought is was a great method for storing the framing sections prior to pouring the basement floor.  Hats off for ingenuity.

Stairway into the Abyss.  Or the basement.
Whatever - it's really dark down there but I was brave!

Shelves?  Nah, it's the framing for after they pour the floor.

What the?  Could that be our basement wall framing?


Things that make you shake your head:

1) Using lumber that is CLEARLY challenged.  It's hard to see but there was a huge missing section out of this particular stud.  That and it's just completely caddywampus up in there.  Let's see if that gets fixed.

That 2x4 is just sad.  Sad and REALLY crooked.

2.  Installing windows that are already broken.  Really?  Why can't you just leave it out until a replacement arrives?

I think this window is struggling too.

3.  Broken/Mangled Door Frames - You think I'm really not going to notice this?  Wrong.  I get paid for my attention to detail.  

Super high quality on this door frame - that's a giant tear
Things that make me REALLY happy!
This is a big list but I'll only use 2 pictures to illustrate.  

1.  Knowing I'm going to have a FABULOUS front porch.  Growing up I always wanted a covered front porch but I had an assortment of stoops.  The last one was pretty cool because it had chairs but this one has enough room for some Cracker Barrel rockers, a railing and space for a big ole' pup to hang out, likely slobbering all over it.  Honestly, I can't wait for that :)

Looking out our front door!

2.  Seeing our house take shape before our very eyes.  Like I said earlier, we knew we wanted a bigger house but we didn't know we were going to say "forget it - now's the time for our dream home!"  At least not initially.  We are so lucky to be able to do this now and not when we'll need to worry about too much space due to small humans leaving.  On the flip side, it's one helluva house for J, me, Vinny, Finn and their yet-to-be-acquired canine brother(s). What can I say - my pets arrive in 2's!

There she is - Casa de Stew!

Sign Update:  Still buried under a pile of rubble.  I have yet to receive any sort of explanation for this obvious campaign to leave the world wondering if a home is being built on Lot 704 and if said lot is "sold."

I swear...this poor sign...I should rescue it but now I'm curious!