Friday, March 23, 2012

First Post - Options and Rationalizations


This being my first post concerning our Ravenna build I thought that I would start out by listing all the options that I am getting as well as the non-standard options that I hope to get on our Ravenna.  My family is in the final stage of moving and selling our current home and will be moving into an apartment temporarily before we move into our new Ravenna.  Hopefully this list will help others as well since I have gotten quite a bit of information from others in the community who have written about their experience which I really appreciate. 

This post is on the long side but I have been thinking about these for a while and I wanted to get them all written out.  Please know that these are only my opinions and I can see the merit of other people's choices so I hope others can see some of the logic in my choices as well.  So lets get to it :-)

Options that are confirmed that we will be getting:
  • Elevation 'C' with the covered porch
    • I did not intend to get the 'C' but was forced to if we still wanted to build on the lot that we wanted
    • I do like having a front porch and think it will be nice since we will not have a patio or deck right away
  • Dual Heat System (heat pump)
    • More energy efficient and will be electric with a gas backup for very cold weather
  • Water softener rough-in 
    • Spoke with a 3rd party plumber and he confirmed that he could not do it at Ryan's cost
    • The hose bibs will bypass the water softer so that they only get hard water
  • Morning Room
  • Finished Basement
    • Spoke with a 3rd party and they could not match the cost per square foot that Ryan was offering
  • Basement egress window
  • Full bathroom rough-in for the basement
  • Recessed lighting in the kitchen and the basement
  • Light rough-ins for the 3 standard bedrooms as well as the living, morning, and study rooms
    • I confirmed that there will be at least simple light bulb holders installed so there will be light in all the rooms when we move in
  • Default chandelier in the dinning room will be left off as we will be using that as a play area
    • We are putting our larger table in the morning room
    • We still get the chandelier but we do not know where we will put it at this time
  • Ceiling fan rough-ins for the master bedroom and the family room
  • Satin nickel hardware
  • Extra electrical outlet on the kitchen island so that there is one on either side
  • Extra electrical outlet in the laundry room on the wall opposite of the washer/dryer for irons or anything else
  • Low voltage wiring for the garage door
  • Adding a switch at the top of the basement stairs to turn on/off the basement lights there rather than having to go down to the bottom of the stairs each time
    • I have this problem on my current home and it is annoying when I notice that they were left on!
  • One additional hose bib
    • Located one on the right of the house right near the front corner
    • Located the second on the left of the house in the middle (garage side)
    • Located the last on the left of the morning room in the back so that it is not in the way when we put in a patio or deck
  •  Upgraded shower in the master bath in place of the standard tub/shower
    • 4 foot tiled shower (fiberglass basin) with the seat opposite the shower head
    • Went with this because we have not used our current tub hardly at all and we have the hallway tub if we ever really wanted/needed it
    • This also allows us to keep the linen closet in the bathroom and allows for more usable space in the master closet
  • Double bowl sink in the master bathroom  
  • Moving the attic access that was in the design to be in one of the bedrooms to the upstairs laundry room where it makes more sense
  • Signed up for the exterior garage wall insulation but I may have it removed if it is confirmed that we do not get the space above the garage insulated since we are not getting the bonus room 
  • Upgraded the kitchen appliances to level III (black and no refrigerator)
    • I looked at the costs of these items separately and it was still a good deal to go with Ryan since they would have cost more separately there likely would have been an install cost as well
  • Additional windows for the family room

Things that have been requested but not confirmed yet:
  •  Moving the light switches for the garage coach lights and inside garage lights to the inside wall of the house in the mud room
    • Don't have to reach around the wall to turn off or on the lights
    • I am fairly confident this will happen at no cost
  • Adding a switch for the garage coach lights at the front door entrance
    • If someone is coming up the driveway I can turn the lights on from the front door
    • This should be doable but cost is undetermined at this point
  • Separating the two master bedroom windows so that they are on both sides of the corner rather than just on one side
    • We did not opt for the additional windows for the master but I am hoping that we can do this so that I can look out to the side of the house as well with little to no additional cost
    • I am not sure if Ryan will come through with this but it seems reasonable to me

Items that I have debated on or agonized over:
  • Additional morning room windows
    • I got vetoed on this one since there is a desire to put things/objects on or beside the wall.  We all have to compromise sometimes...
  • Making the first floor study a bedroom and making the bathroom a full bath rather than a half one
    • I have aging family that there may be a possibility that they could come live with us although it is not certain
    • The cost to do this seemed expensive for a scenario that may not happen since my family will try to stay in their house as long as possible
    • Worst case the room can still be used as a bedroom and we can help them upstairs for showers or with the half bath still being useful
  • The bonus room
    • Positives
      • I liked the room and it was a very good deal for the extra square footage
      • It makes the roof line look a little nicer in that it make the line run the length of the house with the window also created over the garage
    • Negatives
      • I had to ask myself though what we would really use this space for and could we use the money that we would spend on that for better uses
      • We are already getting a lot more space in the house
      • I would not want the kids in there being loud while we were in the master bedroom
      • The bonus room cuts into the 4th bedroom making it smaller
  • Granite countertops
    • Positives
      • They look nice and help in the value of the home
      • They are solid and they pull heat away making them cool to the touch
    • Negatives
      • Cost
        • At some point way may get different counter tops but this is something that we can differ and still have nice countertops in the meantime
      • Maintenance
        • I am concerned about making sure the the granite is waterproofed since I have read that it is very absorbent
        • Since it is absorbent it is more prone to bacteria
      • Radon (This is all unproven either way so I make no claims here!)
        • Granite does emit some but it is inconclusive how much or how dangerous it is since some cuts have more radioactive material than others
        • I think that is similar to the scares of radiation from excessive cell phone usage and I think it will be fine for those who use it in reality
        • Information at the EPA web site
        • Of course the EPA said that they would finalize their study at the end of 2011, but guess what it is the end of March 2012 and no update.  I'm totally shocked that they are delayed...
        • The possibility of radon was not the deciding factor but it definitely put the question in my mind if it was worth it
  • Recessed lighting in the basement
    • I do not love spending extra for the recessed lighting in the basement but I think that it will make a difference in the way it looks and when the kids are running around down there there is less chance of a light breaking for some reason
  • Finished full bath in the basement
    • I got the rough in but I originally intended to get the bathroom fully installed
    • I reviewed the cost and the needs that I have currently and it is something that I can definitely defer until later
    • People can just walk upstairs to the half bath if they need to use the restroom
    • It is a good project that I can do myself or with a family/friend and I can take my time on it doing it the way I would like
  • More ceiling fan rough-ins
    • I got "limited" to the two in the master bedroom and the family room
    • Would have liked to have more since they can cut down on both cooling and heating costs since they help with the ambient temperature in circulating the air
    • At least I got the two!
  • Extra windows in the master bedroom
    • We do not open the windows that much in the master bedroom for privacy sake so it was hard to justify the additional cost although the additional light would be nice
    • My open request to Ryan of putting a window on both sides of the corner I believe is a good compromise to get light throughout the day and being able to look out the side of the house from the master bedroom
  • Extra window in the study room (first floor)
    • The room is not large so it really only needs the one window
    • I would like to be able to look to out the side of the house, but if I need to look at something I can go to into the half bath and look out that window
  • Laundry room wash tub
    • We do not need a tub like this that often and could use another or wash something off outside
    • Could also add a laundry wash tub in the garage later fairly easily since the bathroom is right next to it
  • Laundry room "nook" for the optional wash tub
    • I have read on some posts that people have not included this nook so that the master closet has more usable space 
    • I think it is a good idea that people had to make the back wall straight across but I think we will use it to fold clothes and iron
    • I am also putting an extra electrical outlet in that room to make it more useful
  • Double basin in the upstairs hallway restroom
    • I don't see my kids needing to be in there at the same time and we can always get an additional mirror and stand/shelves if need be
    • Worst case, we can add a double basin later with moderate effort
    • Can't say that I love that it is not a double length vanity with a single bowl since that creates empty space, but like I say we can put shelves or something else there to take up that empty space
  • Black kitchen appliances (no refrigerator) because the kids and fingerprints and could not justify the extra cost, although they do look nice 
  • Picked smooth top stove instead of gas
    • Easier to keep clean in my opinion
    • Would have needed to move the microwave I believe because of potential flareups with gas
    • The gas stove has the control knobs on the front where kids have access to them
  • Upstairs banister
    • I stuck with the standard wall since it seems safer with the kids running around and I can see them climbing on the spindles or breaking them.  We have spindles on a portion of the stairs at our current home and they pose a climbing temptation as they are
  • Fireplace
    • They are nice don't get me wrong.  I can just see us using the wall space more effectively without it and have more options in moving furniture around, so I did not get a fireplace
Things that I am interested in but are not available where we are:
  • Geothermal heating and cooling
    • It would be optimal to put this system in when you build a home and it has huge energy savings
    • Next best thing is the heat pump which I am getting
  • Attic pull down stairs
    • Not too big of a deal but it would have been nice to have something built in
    • The interesting thing is that Ryan has it as an option on their plans, but they do not offer it seemingly in Ohio since the HVAC and water heater are in the basement rather than in the attic like southern homes have
  • Hurricane rafter tie downs
    • It is not imperative, but would have been nice to strengthen the rafters since the tie downs are fairly cheap and would give me more peace of mind in heavy storms with high wind gusts.
  • Having a third party company come in and wire the home for security before the drywall goes up
    • I do not feel like getting roped into a long term contract a fairly high price so I will have to have someone come in after the fact and sting the wire or use a wireless system

Things that I want to do or try to work in


  1. If I can throw my 2 cents in. This is my second Ryan Home and I kicked myself every time I looked at the walls where I wanted more windows! For the cost it doesn't add more to you're payment at all! I would do more windows in the morning room and master.

    Also that laundry is not very wide. We opted out of the tub and pused the nook out to make more room in the closet. Even if we left it there is no way a normal sized adult will fit in there with an ironing board. I have front loaders and they're a little wider that top loaders but not by much at all. The room is tiny. We put an outlet in here and once they framed the house had the electrician move to above the cabinets in the kitchen for future lighting.

    Lights in the basement (if finished) are very large and balky. Make them show you a picture because there is like 12 or 13 of them. Our neighbors didn't get recessed lights like we did down there and they hate it after the fact.

    You can buy the whole home surge protector and when you start your build ask to meet with the electrician and give it to him. It cost between $50 and $70. We also have a home in Florida and almost every neighbor has one and I know a few people that benefited from it during a lighting storm.

  2. Thanks for the input, I honestly appreciate it.

    I would like to have more windows but there was a strong veto against getting more windows since we keep the blinds closed most of the time now.

    The width of the laundry room, do you know if it is 5'11". I think that is what it says here on the diagram but I am not 100% since it is near another measurement. Also is your laundry room door solid or does it have slats in it?

    We went with the recessed lighting in the basement. I agree that after looking at the photos I wanted to go that route to save on the head room and to not have them so visible.

    Thanks on the surge protector. I think I will do that.

  3. I have no idea how I missed this post before, but you have a lot of good information and thoughts here. I wouldn't try to iron in my laundry room. Although it would make a good punishment if any of the kids really tick me off in the future!

  4. great job... summarized most of the things i was looking for ..