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: Royal Crest Custom Homes

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. 

IMG_1075.JPG

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.

Calling it off

We're waiting to hear back from the builder, but we're essentially going to cancel the contract on the house. We have had a succession of problems with the house, mostly in that the house we requested in the beginning has slowly veered down a path of the builder's choosing and away from what we wanted.

The biggest problem (as I think I previously posted) was the kitchen layout being designed inadequately to accommodate what we wanted. We ultimately had to give up an additional countertop/cabinet extension we requested because they simply failed to design the room to fit our request. The frustration is compounded by the the amount of time I spent researching kitchen layouts until I found a picture that not only explicitly showed what I wanted, but also would have fit their pre-existing design without too much adjustment. 

Essentially we've learned that when building a custom home, you better make sure that all (and I mean ALL) of your preferences are very precisely described and documented in your contract or you will not get them. We had the same issue with the type of flooring (we wanted 5in hand scraped and they only included 3in, so we had to pay more), the outdoor kitchen (we requested a kitchen and showed them a picture of what we wanted, but we didn't get them to print "barbecue grill" specifically, so we had to pay for that ourselves), the size of the back patio (we originally had the home theater pointing towards the back of the property but we changed the alignment by 90 degrees and in the process lost a big chunk of porch space that the builder failed to correct and we ended up having to pay for additional concrete). They were also going to charge us more for lower height carpet in the home theater and bonus rooms although this was in our initial request (but not on the magical contract). 

There have been other issues as well and the consistent stance of the builder is that if it's not described specifically in the contract, it wasn't agreed upon and the buyer pays. This despite their promises that we could have all we were requesting in the initial meeting. We learned that those promises are empty if they're not on the contract. 

We haven't gotten their response yet, but I'm expecting they're going to withhold any of the upgrades after the contract (home theater bar, concrete, hardwood floors, stone) so we'll probably end up getting only $3-4K of our $11K earnest money.

HODOR...

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.

 

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. 








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.

Finishes

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.

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.