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Filtering by Tag: Home Build

The Edge of Summer

The sun has been shining, the grass is green, and summer is in the air. We're still in that magical window when it's nice to be outside for most of the day without fear of withering from the heat. The press of the last few months is just about to see its release. I've got a long weekend and then I take my board exam next Tuesday. I feel pretty confident about my readiness, but I'll still crack the books daily til Tuesday. 

The transition to fee basis at work has essentially completed and my schedule has normalized itself for the most part. It's really nice to have a three day workweek at the most. It's funny how quickly that became the norm for me. The default schedule should be three days for three weeks and then a week off. I'm working half as much and bringing home more than double my Federal pay (with consideration for no increase to my pension and no 401K matching).  It's really the perfect work scenario for me and my capabilities. I can complete exams more thoroughly and faster than any of the people I have worked with so far. I'm sure there are others like me out there, but we all have a fairly unique skill set that gives us distinct advantage over other examiners. Nearly thirty years of continual Federal service including the twenty three years of active duty has definitely paid off in my current job.

I haven't really been able to settle in and take advantage yet because the last few months were occupied with the end of the Berklee semester and then the beginning preparations for the board exam. Thankfully, the board schedule is transitioning to a ten year cycle after this.  My goal is that by the time I take the next board, we'll have paid off this house, built or bought our house in the country and I'll be well ensconced in my bespoken home studio.  That mostly depends on a steady state for my current work situation. I'm relatively confident that the C&P program in general won't go anywhere soon, and I'm mostly optimistic that the role of the examiner will stay the same as well. The prevalence of laziness, incompetence, and ambivalence in the Federal service actually plays to my advantage. There's no shortage of work for me, and this allows me to maximize my time/salary in a way that's really unmatched anywhere else in the job market that I know of. 

Don't count your chickens...

but we're getting the preliminary offer from Royal Crest to refund us our earnest money. I say preliminary until I see the balance in our checking account go up by $11K. We're pleased by the offer, and surprised. The pessimist in me thinks they must have some offers on the property and know they won't be losing any money. In fact, they may be able to make more money with the changes in the market. In the meantime we've essentially decided on a different new home in Grand Prairie built by First Texas Homes, which is a builder we've been looking at for a long time. We were very close to buying from them when we decided to go with Royal Crest. We're meeting with their sales rep and our realtor tomorrow to most likely sign a contract. 


Awaiting feedback

We have been funneling all of our issues through our realtor including our intention to cancel. Yesterday we got a request from Royal Crest to summarize all of our problems with the home build. Reviewing old emails I typed up a 6 page narrative of what led us to request a cancellation of the contract. We sent it back through the realtor last night and we're waiting to hear their response. I don't have high expectations.

The bottom line is the contract states they can keep most of the earnest money with the exception of $1000 if we cancel and I honestly will be surprised if they agree to do anything that isn't legally required. I re-read my narrative this morning and while I'm biased and I may not see it from their point of view, after reading the summary I can't imagine anyone not agreeing to compensate us in some way.

We will accept either a full refund of the earnest money or to have them finish the home to our desire without charging anything additional. This would have to include fencing the backyard, and the standard landscape package. 

Based on their previous actions, I will be really surprised if they try to accommodate us in any fashion. I fully expect to look elsewhere for our future home and I'll also be surprised if we recover any money.


if you don't watch Game of Thrones (or better yet, if you haven't read the books by George R.R. Martin) that will make absolutely no sense. Translate: more photos. Back to the subject of GOT, holy sheepshank, Batman!! They did it, they actually didn't change Jaime Lannister's unfortunate outcome from ASOS. I would have been somewhat surprised and very disappointed if they had, but that is such a critical plot point in the overall arch of the series that I was actually worried they might change it. For the Stephen King fans, just think Misery (book version) in the upper extremity.

Anywhens, here's a few more photos. We ran cat6 & coaxial to 4 additional locations on Saturday. The standard package includes 3 locations and we had chosen the theatre, living room and master bedroom. The A/V guy (who I lovingly refer to as Goober the fat ass from the 19th century), wanted an additional $40 per line and he wasn't going to consider Cat6 or anything else foreign sounding to his delicate southern ears. It was a little more pain in the assy than desired, but the process was significantly easier than it would have been after drywall is installed. And we saved a donation of $320 bucks for Goober's beer/bbq fund. We ran drops to both guest bedrooms, the office, and the bonus room. We skipped the library(dining room), garage, and patio. We considered those, but the only place I'm likely to install anything later will be the patio and they already installed sideboarding since the patio is an exterior.

I don't actually anticipate needing a TV out there, but I can see listening to music, so I may eventually install a couple of in ceiling speakers, but that area is fairly easy to access from the attic, so when the time comes it should be relatively painless. Also, while we were running our wires, the gas line contractor installed the lines for the cooktop, indoor fireplace, and outdoor grill.


HVAC, more plumbing

The roof is essentially finished, and they have started on the HVAC ducting, some plumbing. They reframed the fireplace as it was originally in the wrong spot, and they framed out the home theater bar although it's smaller than we want. We have asked Ben the builder to frame it two feet wider so it will accommodate three people across. They also gave us some bonus storage space under the bonus room stairs.

More framing

A few more in progress shots to include our installed well. The house is beginning to take shape. It's cool how you can see the arch of the living room within the arch of the roof. You can also start to see the shape of my bonus room above the garage. We decided to pass on having a chimney as it would be superfluous with a gas fireplace and just be another maintenance item but with no function. The outdoor fireplace is a regular wood burner but it's self contained and doesn't pass through the roof. 

Ohhh sweet nectar...

I don't know what that means precisely, but it usually means something good. And oh yes, my friends, this is good. Here are some pics from the framing. I think they've done this all in one day so far.


House front with office on left, library (dining room) on the right.

House front.

Left side with as yet unframed guest bedroom on the far left. 

House front looking towards as yet unframed garage.

Slightly zoomed in from previous shot.

As yet unframed guest bedroom at left front of house. 

Guest jack/jill bathroom with home theatre in back.

Ohhhh yeah. Zee Home Theatoooorrrrrr.....

Back side of house looking towards the breakfast nook. We'll be getting 6 more feet of concrete added to the little sliver of porch you see there. 

Back patio looking in to living room where worker is cutting wood.

Another shot of the front left. 

Looking at the back patio wall where the outdoor kitchen will be placed into the home theater. 



I spoke with Ben the Builder and he said it should be possible to get the extension of the back porch like we are requesting. He said they could do it when they pour the driveway. He estimates it will be $5-6 per sq ft, so that should be something we can cover in cash. Since we wanted it to be flush with the existing patio, it may run a bit more since I'm assuming they have to make it thicker, but it should still be feasible. Ben estimated they would have the lumber delivery early this week and our house might starting taking (more) shape by Wednesday. Updates forthcoming.


Above are the countertop choices. The top left granite with the red flecks and copperish streak will be the kitchen countertops. On the right the slightly darker flecked granite that continues the copper color will be all the other countertops in the bathrooms, home theater, and outdoor kitchen. The white sample on the bottom is cultured marble that will be used only in the laundry room. We managed to get colors we were happy with within our allowable choices.


The stone tile above will be for the kitchen backsplash. We're going to use the darker tiles on top in the larger size with the lighter color in the bottom picture for smaller tiles so it will be sort of the accent color. Many of our finish choices are lighter since the cabinets and hardwood floors will be darker.

I'm also looking at getting a custom painted set of tiles for behind the cooktop. We're trying to see if we can get this asian floral/tree pattern that has similar colors to the countertops and would look nice and understated. We have to see if the company in question will expand the image across multiple tiles.

The Gold tiles (not to scale) are the choice for the bathroom floors and wall/shower tiles. These are ceramic (or maybe porcelain?) but they have a variety of textures as seen above to give them more of a stone feel.

That very descriptive and interesting picture above is the wall color. We ended up settling on a fairly neutral beige that is really similar to the wall colors in our last two houses, but it's a compromise that's unavoidable when you start considering the other colors and the need for some contrast so we're not overwhelmed by dark colors.

The chateau brown (as used in chateaus, apparently) is the choice for the home theater walls. We were given two paint color choices and we could have used them however we wanted, but we decided to go with beige in every other room. It's all flat paint, not counting trim colors. The home theater walls needed to be a bit darker to absorb reflections.

The 3 pictures above show the hardware. This is a pretty standard material & color in home construction now, it's almost identical to what we had in our first Carothers home in Killeen. We like the color & material both, so why fix what isn't broken.

We had multiple options for the interior doors but we ended up liking what Royal Crest had in their office so we chose that, as well as the trim colors.

The old world texture on the right (not the color) is an option for two rooms in the home where they will go ahead and manually apply the texture when painting. We chose the two biggest rooms, the living room and home theater.

We didn't find the specific door we wanted. The two doors above represent what we hope to combine. The door on the left is a bit too "prison doory" to use Aeyong's real estate jargon, and I agreed. The door on the right's glass insert was bigger than we wanted. We're asking RC to give us the door on the left with the upper pane all glass so we have a half door sized glass insert (with a pattern to be chosen later). We really like how the wooden planks in the door evoke the hardwood floors we hope to get. That's another finish you won't see yet, because we're trying to find out if it will cost us more for our preference. We were quoted for scrubbed hardwood floors in the office, dining (library), and living room, but that was for 3 inch planks. We definitely prefer the 5 inch, so we're going to try and get them to change to those. We originally envisioned those being a really dark stain, but we're starting to think a little less stain will be preferable since we have dark furniture.

Yes, we actually got to choose the roof color. We went wild and chose the weathered wood, which is apparently what every other home in Mustang Creek already has (or close to it). We just couldn't see having some bizarre roof color that would call attention to itself. We figured the pink elephants and flamingoes next to the car on blocks would take care of that.