Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some updates and Building Advice

I haven't updated in awhile.  Sorry!

The tub is fixed.  I'm pretty happy with it.  You really can't even tell where the cracks were.  There were some contracting issues with the original person who they had coming to fix the tub so that's why it was taking so long.  They had another company come in - Tubmasters of Rochester and they did a fantastic job.  He said he couldn't fix it perfectly (it looks pretty darn good to me though) but that was because 2 people did a crappy job before him.

With all of the settling from the winter, there will have to be some fixes outside the house.  Hopefully it will happen within the next couple weeks.  We are on the list of repairs.  We need our front walkway replaced as well as our sidewalk.  They both sank and cracked.    They are being replaced NO problem.  In addition to that, we're getting re-graded and re-seeded.  I can't wait for that - I'm getting tired of mud!!  I long for grass!   Soon they will also be repainting our pillars and front door (they both needed another coat of paint, but it was too cold).

On Wednesday we'll be having a wall and french doors added to our formal living room.  I'm very excited about this.   It was something I meant to do during the process of building but in all the chaos and excitement, completely forgot.  Which may not have been a terrible thing because we're adding this wall, doors, and getting it all painted for about $1400.  It isn't part of our mortgage, and I'm pretty sure it is FAR cheaper than the upgrade with Ryan would have been.

Later in May (basically as soon as the walkway is finished and yard graded) we will be getting the front of the house landscaped.  We are also excited about that.  It will just be nice to finally have some COLOR and plants in front of the house!!  We are pretty sure we've finally decided on a company to go with (I'm really thankful to my neighbors who have made recommendations to us) and just need to nail down a date.  

They are starting the 2nd phase of our neighborhood!!  Holy Moly, did we buy at the right time!!  The base prices of the houses have shot up at least $40,000 and most of the lots carry a price tag of an additional $7-$10,000.   When we bought our house, we got a great deal because they were just introducing the Ravenna - if someone was buying our house TODAY the base price plus the lot is more than we paid for our ENTIRE house!!!!!  That's not including elevation or any upgrades!!  We really lucked out.   And boy, our property value is going to go up, up, up!  Not looking forward to the tax assessment though.  It's a little sad to see all of the trees go and have new people move in, but also exciting at the same time.


Any questions about your home building process?  Please feel free to ask! 
My biggest piece of advice for anyone building - especially if you want to stick to a budget - is to watch your upgrades.  Upgrade STRUCTURAL things - things that would be very difficult, costly (or impossible) to change later.  Don't worry about the cosmetic stuff as much.  Those things can always be changed for a FRACTION of the cost.  

Some examples:
Central Air:
Central Air was not included with our house.  I've heard it is included in some areas, so this may change from place to place.  I can't remember specifically what the cost was for us to upgrade to Central Air was, but I've heard people report it being in the ball part of anywhere between $4,000-$5,000.  That is RIDICULOUS.  Do you know why?  Because all you are really paying for us the condenser unit.   When they put in your furnace - they are putting in all the duct work they need for central air as well.  So everything is all set and ready to go.  The day you close on your house you can turn around and sign a contract with the company that installed your heating system and have Central Air installed for $2500 (that was the price we were given the day we closed).   That is a HUGE difference!!   But wait!  If you wait until January (we closed in October) you'll get a letter from the heating company advertising a special on Central Air.  We ended up having our Central Air installed in March for $2100 - TOTAL.  Big difference from the original upgrade price, wouldn't you say?  And now we're not paying interest on it on a 15/30 year mortgage either!

Morning Room:
Get the morning room.  Just do it.  To add our morning room was approximately $12-$13,000.  I can't remember exactly.  It was worth every penny.  It is a 200 square foot room, so do the math.  Approximately $65 per sq ft to put that on.  We asked some contractors what it would cost to put that size morning room on the house later and they said to expect to pay $100 per sq ft - so $20,000.  Big difference!  And I have yet to hear anyone complain that they should not have gotten the morning room.  What I have heard from at least 2 people in my neighborhood that didn't get the morning room is that they desperately wish they had!  Also, get the island.  Just get the island.

Kitchen Cabinets:
If you have a house with 9 ft ceilings, upgrade the side of your cabinets - they'll look silly otherwise.  Also, get the crown molding on the cabinets.  It isn't very expensive, you have a professional install it and it looks SO nice!

Don't waste your money upgrading lighting (unless you have a house that has a really nice chandelier you can see from the street - in that case - get something nice!  Those things are a PAIN to install later!).  Lighting upgrades are expensive and the lighting they provide is fine.  You can upgrade yourself for much, much less after you move in.  If you want ceiling lights/fans in bedrooms I would have them cut the hole in the ceiling but that's it.

I forget what the exact cost was to upgrade the fixtures in the house from chrome to brushed nickel or to oil rubbed bronze.  Again, the fixtures are pretty decent.  If you can live with chrome for a bit, save yourself the money and get new faucets later - for FAR less!

Cabinet Hardware:
This is one of the most ridiculous upgrades!  I can't remember the price but it was INSANE.  You had 1 choice of knobs and that was it.  For about $150 we got some really nice handles and had them put on our cabinets.  A fraction of what it would have cost if we had upgrades and they look much nicer. 

If you have any doubt, upgrade your bathrooms.  Those are difficult to remodel later!  That's one thing I regret.  I really wish we had gotten double sinks in both bathrooms and wish we had upgraded our master bath.  Our master bath is nice - I love it.  But I do regret not upgrading it!!


  1. I was wondering about your tub. Glad it was finally fixed.

    I agree with everything 100%. If we would have gone with the Jefferson floor plan, we would not have gotten the morning room nor gourmet island and I would have been pissed no matter how much I tried to hide it. Crown molding I do wish we would have gotten on the cabinets, but we saw it as an unnecessary upgrade. I'll ask our PM for info after closing so maybe we can add it later. We only got one bowl in the guest bath, but we get the same size vanity as if we had two. We can add it later. Our knobs were included with our cabinets. We'll change them, the facets, and lighting fixtures over time.


  2. This is one of the first things I put on my blog. Everything you include in the price is now financed for 30 years. Only do structual and things that are cost prohibitive after the fact.

    Also with the morning room you get a bigger foundation so it's like 2 for 1 square footage.

  3. This is an awesome post. I agree, there were upgrades that we could have probably done ourselves, like the light fixtures. And our development is going through a construction upswing too! Starting prices are $20k more than when we signed! The 3rd phase is going in with over 70 houses!

  4. Yay your tub is fixed now you can take many many bubble baths! I do agree with the structural upgrades. Now you need to take an updated picture of your fixed bath.

  5. Yes, Stephanie, I promise many updated pictures very soon! :) I have to show our daughters painted room, the added wall and french doors and the fixed tub, as well as the added hardware to our cabinets.

  6. Hi Kristine

    I was wondering if you ever had the wall and french doors installed. If you have, do you mind sharing them. I am in contract to build a Ravenna and was thinking of doing the same.


  7. Hi,

    We also built a Ravenna, we have been here for about 8 months now and are still struggling with the formal living room. I had 2 interior decorators advise me to add french doors you have any pictures available? Are you happy with the doors?

    1. Hi, just trying to connect again to see if you ever added the doors or the morning room? Thanks.

  8. I agree with all of your building recommendations....we did not go with the morning room. The day they put the back wall up, i have had morning room envy! With that being said, we are adding it next month....2x's more than they said they'd charge. On the upside of that we are getting a bigger room and 12x18 and are putting on a different roof pitch to it. Never the less, nothing like adding 2 more rooms to the place. Like i have a clue what to do with the bonus room & formal living room!

    1. Hi,

      Did you ever get the morning room added on? How did it turn out?

  9. We built the Esquire which is about the same size as the Ravenna. Anyone have issues with the chandelier in the foyer being centered? Looks like they centered it in the foyer, but the huge front window over the entry door is not centered in the foyer. When the chandelier is lit you can only see 2/3 of it from the front street. Looks silly. I'm going to mention it at our final walkthrough next week. On a lighter note, though, the morning room came as an incentive in our development. It is my favorite part of the house!

  10. Did you ever get the french doors and walls filled in? We are building a ravenna and considereing doing the same thing. Please do share!?

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