strumzilla

‚ÄčA blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Mustang Creek

More updates

They finished the roof for all practical purposes. We had to meet yesterday to do the pre-electrical walk through as well as meet with the A/V guy (Randy). During the electrical walkthrough we discovered that Ben was planning for a small countertop at the edge of the kitchen when we initially requested a regular size countertop. This is what we showed them in the pre-construction meeting, but for some reason that's not what the architect saw or put on the plans. Ben the builder was anticipating the smaller shelf size as well as a single level island (we wanted a two level) and that's actually what was on the blueprints. I'm learning the hard way how to interpret blueprints now.

We're meeting with him this afternoon to work out a compromise so we can get the layout we want without ruining the ergonomics and workflow of the kitchen. The A/V guy is apparently stuck sometime in the early 2000s and wanted to wire the house based on his needs and not ours. We're just going to get the standard package and then update as needed in the future, because this guy wants to charge about triple what we would need to do it ourselves and he's suggesting technology that is outdated right now, and we're trying to plan for 10-20 years in the future.

Our realtor is interceding with the builder and we've gotten promises of satisfaction, but we'll see what that means. We were on the fence about just absorbing the earnest money and moving on, but we've decided to see what RC does to rectify the problems. It's also not insignificant that the market conditions are not going to improve as the housing market in this part of the country, and even moreso in our specific little patch of southwest Fort Worth is only increasing in demand and value. If we pass on this house and rent another year, we may lose quite a bit of buying power.

All that being said, not everything or even most things are going poorly. The electrical contractor/owner actually came out after work hours to do the walkthrough with us since I can't get out of work until 4ish. He was very accommodating and he actually had some insight and suggestions related to the house/kitchen layout that were very inciteful, even if not directly related to the wiring. Ben the builder was feeling bad about the kitchen miscommunication and he was offering us some changes/upgrades in an attempt at damage control (I think). He gave us a vent in the media server closet as well as an extra light in the bonus room. We got separate circuits for the media room, bonus room, and the treadmill in the garage.

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. 

 

Sweetness...

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.

Foundation...

and empire? (that's a Heinlein reference, in case you were wondering.) (and you were). Read a book, sheesh.

Anywhat,

here are some more photos we took on Saturday after they finished.

Front porch/door.

Looking down the front perimeter from the left side of the house.

From front door looking back left towards home theatre.

Front door looking towards back patio.

Left side with two guest bedrooms and bathroom looking towards home theatre.

Home theatre with sunken front with the intent to create a modest stadium seat arrangement and hopefully get the center of mass of the screen down to eye level at the primary viewing position.

The next few shots are of the back patio which is outlined by the slightly lower margin. That back square is the spot for the fireplace and a current bone of contention. After seeing it in person, this doesn't look like it will adequately accommodate the fireplace I envisioned, so I'm asking the builder what we can do to include extending the slab portion across to the depth of the solitary square. I want to have some low brick or stone walls on the right side for seating and possibly a slot for firewood storage. 

As you can see above, by extending the length of the kitchen, we essentially lost porch space outside the breakfast bar area. If we extend the slab out even with the fireplace square, we should have some usable porch area on that side as well. 

The two pictures above show the master bath/shower. 

Garage.

 

The Dominion?

...or perhaps the demesne? The seat of House Hightower? The Dominion of House Hightower. Adequately pompous and douchey if I do say so myself. And I do be do be do.

Now that we have that out of the way (for today, at least) on to updates. This part will be really short. There aren't any to speak of, not really. We did have a meeting with Ben the Builder on Monday to discuss changes to the back patio. Our original request was based on the home theater extending towards the backyard and thereby providing a longer wall to put the outdoor kitchen/fireplace against. When we changed the direction of the home theater towards the left side of the house, we lost about 10 feet of wall. Unfortunately no one (including RC) thought to have another look at the outdoor kitchen and what affect the shorter wall would have.

With only about 10 feet of wall to work with now (there's a door in the corner), it would have been ridiculously tight to have the countertop, sink, barbecue top, and fireplace all in that space. We settled on having RC create a square pad at the outer border of the covered patio to place the fireplace, giving us 10 feet of space for the sink, countertop, and barbecue grill. That way we will maintain the view (for what it's worth) out of the living room and keep everything flush (ish) against the left wall. The fire place angles out at 45 degrees to cover the main seating/table area that we intend. Our porch isn't overly spacious at the moment, but it will be adequate for us two and the dogs, and it should be okay for entertaining.

We envision expanding the patio size outwards and adding some landscaping features over time. These are mostly upgrades that we intend to tackle ourselves. If we do expand the patio with concrete or equivalent, that is one exception where we might hire someone because we hear it's more cost effective if you are going to pour a large amount of concrete. I'm not sure how expansive we will want to go at this point. We will definitely want more space, and we're thinking about a hot tub at some point in the future as well. I don't see a pool happening, neither one of us would use it enough to justify the expense.

That is one nice element of having the one acre plot and well water. We can see eventually adding a koi pond and some japanese/asian influenced landscaping (I'm especially fond of their minimalist approach that engenders multiple interpretations) but still being able to maintain a big enough yard for the dogs to do their thing.

The other "update" is that we will meet with RC on Saturday morning to discuss finishes/colors (brick, flooring, countertops, cabinets, paints, orangutans, breakfast cereals, etc.). We have a good idea of what we want, now we just need to find out if we can afford it. Our price already includes granite countertops in all areas except the laundry room, and hardwood floors in the office, library (dining room), and living room. The relative quality level of the finishes will affect the price however. I don't think we necessarily care about the fu fu level (real estate term) on the cabinets, but we do want nice countertops and ideally we would like one of the more visually striking very light (almost white) colors to offset our dark cabinets & floors. I have a feeling that won't be available in the level 1 list. As I understand it there are 3 levels of granite countertops (at least for RC) and we were quoted the price for level 1s as part of our overall home price. Hopefully we can find something we like without adding to the budget.

The Framing...

a new TV series from CBS, possibly. John Deter was a honest cop, and in this town, the life expectancy of a honest cop is about, well, let's just say it's less. Less than normal. Because honesty is not valued as highly in this town, is what I'm saying. Because, criminals, obviously. Anywho...

In the context of this post it's considerably less dramatic as I'm talking about 2x6's and home construction. RC put out the frames for the foundation and they will ensure it's up to atomically precise standards with ye olde surverory rangefinder things on legs here in the next day or so. Aeyong had dropped by and snapped the pics (including the future home theatre, and yes it's spelled theatre, because I said so) and we'll go back and make sure the numbers match up with what we requested. The home theatre (see, you're not even noticing it now), is really the only critical room as far as precise measurements go. If the other rooms are generally close to what was promised we'll be fine.

I'm still working on a title for our home. I've read too many epic fantasies and played too many video games to not have a formal name. If I can't have a moat and a drawbridge I can at least have a pretentious title with a seal or something equivalently douchey.

Blueprints discussed

We met with them yesterday (a day later than planned thanks to a long day at work courtesy of our perennially absent examiner, no names mentioned), and went through the blueprints and discussed our changes. They seemed surprised by the home theater dimensions but we were able to show them we requested 15x25 on the original documents, so they're going to fix that. We are waiting for an estimate on the cost of the bar, but they predicted it could be done for around $3K, so that's definitely worth it for us. We were able to move some lights around as they had recessed lights in several places that we didn't really care about so we changed four of them for in the home theater. We also got them to agree to install an equipment shelf on the left wall of the theater that will open up to the guest room closet and give me access to my a/v rack from behind. That should eliminate the frustration of installation and upgrades to my a/v gear in the future.

We made a few other modifications here and there but it's fairly close to what we originally requested. They predicted 10 days to get the blueprints back, so that means they'll probably not break ground until the first week or so of February. That will push us into an August completion and most likely a September closing date. Maybe they'll be able to build faster than predicted, but I'm not holding my breath. We will be having ongoing meetings with them to choose cabinets, counters, and other finishes and colors. It's nice to be involved in each step, but we always have the feeling we're missing something critical. We at least have the experience of our first house to know a little better about our preferences.

No house can be perfect because there will always be little tweaks and changes you want to make, but this house is shaping up to be really close to our ideal. This house gives us a slight case of deja vu because the front layout and kitchen area are really similar to our first home. The foyer, office, dining room, and kitchen are almost identical with only a slight difference in kitchen design. The locations are all the same, so we get the same feeling walking in the front door of this house as we did in our first house. It's probably not that uncommon because there are only so many basic home designs among all builders. Things can get decidedly different with custom builders or in other countries, but in Texas at least, the home builders only have so many stock plans and they just make tweaks to separate themselves.

Hallo there...

Not much new happening here in strumville. We did go ahead and sign the build contract and we're moving forward with the home in Mustang Creek. We've done the preliminary design and we meet with them tomorrow to see the blueprints, to which we're already going to make some tweaks. We asked for a 15x25 home theater (we now have a 13x20, and it's a decent size but needs a little more elbow and furniture room) and the blueprints are showing a 16x22 which is dangerously close to a bad ratio with the 10 foot high ceilings. I don't profess to really know what I'm talking about, but in acoustic room design you never want to have a size dimension that's half/double of one of the others. This creates standing sound waves which I think is equivalent to feedback which can be a serious detriment to good sound mixing. 19-21 feet is a no fly zone with the 10 foot ceilings, so we're going to insist on the 15x25 that we requested (the inner dimension, not the outer walls).

We're also asking them to add a bar to the rear of the home theater and I have a feeling that's going to add another $5K to the price at least, but if they can do it for that much, we'll get it done. We're hoping to make this home a true turnkey experience where we don't have any sense that we should change things substantially. There will always be tweaks over time, but we're hoping they'll mostly be cosmetic diy projects that we can handle and not major home renovations. We're hoping to get our dream home that we'll be satisfied with in the long run.