Sunday, September 25, 2011

Egress Wildlife Preserve

This morning, while putting grass seed in sparse sections I noticed the grate over the egress window wasn't fully over the covering.  No problem, just slide it a few inches in place right?  Before I did so I noticed a small toad, we'll call him Mr. Toad, trapped in the egress window opening.  I went back into the basement, opened the window and removed the screen for the egress window.  Mr. Toad let me pick him up and put him in the grass a few feet above.  I slid the grate back in place (only off a few inches), replaced the screen and locked the window.

Fast forward to this evening, I figured I would double check that nothing was down there, sure enough Mr. Toad was back in the egress window.  Before I opened the window, I saw something else move!  This was a slightly smaller toad, her name is Mrs. Toad.  I repeated the rescue only this time left the screen off the window expecting my new pets to want more attention!

Anyone else have any critter issues in their egress window?  A few months prior, my wife was in the model where she rescued (not my word) two mice by putting the grate in at an angle.  She didn't have to touch them to free them.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Been busy at both work and the house.
  • Garage
    • Walls Finished / Primered / Painted
    • Floor Epoxy Coat completed

    • Utility Sink Installed
      • Installing a splash gaurd soon
    • Garage Door Opener Installed Today
    • Replaced one bulb socket with shop light style 4-ft fluorescent (much better!)
  • Family Room
    • Installed surround-rear in-ceilng speakers.  This was really easy, although very messy (cutting holes in drywall).  I recommend the Polk speakers for this, install and cleanup took maybe 35 minutes for both.
  • Overall
    • I found these neat power outlet / Nightlight things Lowes.  They're about $12.50 each.  They take a normal dual power outlet, and makes the upper outlet a LED nightlight.  I put one in each full bath, the main hallway and downstairs in the living room.  They shut themselves off when they sense light.  Hope they last a long time!  They look cool and make a nice flush setting.
  • New Pool Table!
    • Well sorta.  We're having our new (actually used) pool table delivered and assembled this Wednesday.  The table is about 20 years old but is much more user friendly when it comes to transportation.  Now I just need to get rid of the damn table in the garage
      • PS - Older tables are actually better than newer tables, generally regarding construction and quality.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Laundry Room Cabinets

Put the cabinets up today.  Had to take down the wire shelf that came with the house.  Unfortunately it was attached with drywall anchors.  Be very careful when removing them.  If at all possible, pull the nail out before pulling the anchor out.  I did cause some drywall damage which took a little while to fix with joint compound.

Once that was fixed, I painted the room light blue (hard to tell in pictures).  The cabinets are from Home Depot and cost about $100 each.  Using old textbooks and a level, hanging the cabinets was pretty simple.  I mounted two 2x6's behind them to make them easier to reach.

Anyway, pictures below.  Let me know what you think.

Getting things in the Basement

This question is for the Milan owners out there.

Have any of you been able to get a couch into the basement?  I was unable to get a 3-cushion couch downstairs because of the angles / lower ceiling in the mudroom.  We also have a pool table that could not be taken into the basement due to the size.  The egress window isn't even close in size.

At this stage, I'm looking at disassembling the entire table, taking it down piece by piece and reassembling it in the basement.  Does anyone have any advice?

Pre-move Projects

I wanted to apply the Quikrete Epoxy to the garage floor prior to the actual move.  I figured it would make more sense to do it before the garage was full of clutter.


Wall Prep - Ryan Homes does not finish off their garage space.  They do put up drywall with a simple one-coat tape seam.  But this seam is not the same 'clean' look you would see inside the house.  This meant applying at least one coat of joint compound (Spackle) to the walls and ceiling.  I didn't bother doing the ceiling mostly due to lack of ambition.  This was easy to sand down before applying primer.

Primer - Never underestimate how much primer you will need for fresh drywall.  For a two-car garage (walls & ceiling) I used 3.5 gallons of paint.  I thought 2 would do the trick but made 2 trips back to Lowes for more primer.  Painting the ceiling was without a doubt the hardest part.  I went through 2 roller cages using the 6-ft extension pole.

Paint - After going through the ceiling primer, I decided it looked good enough that I wouldn't put a color on the ceiling.  Instead I used simple contractors grade interior latex "Off White".  This went on fairly easily and I used just under 3 cans worth.  I ended up returning the 4th can.

Floor Epoxy Prep - Swept out the garage floor and hosed it down with water.  Combined the "Bond Lock" chemical to the floor and essentially just scrubbed it in with a tough-bristle floor brush (small broom).  I tried to get as much of it out of the garage as possible because I wanted to epoxy the next morning.  I didn't, but a squeegee would have been helpful.  Just using the brush, I was able to get enough out for it not to puddle so it could dry overnight.

Floor Epoxy Application - The epoxy kit comes with the actual 'epoxy' as well as a smaller can of hardener.  You have to mix the hardener in the epoxy and stir for 3 minutes.  Then close the can and sit it out in the sun for 30 minutes.  Then take a 2-3 inch roller and paint the trim as well as any joints.  Once that's done, I used a regular roller cage and began in 3x3 sections.  After each section I would sprinkle the texture / paint chip things to give it that cool look.  The application was not hard, although the 1st can became very thick towards the end and if I waited much longer, would not nave been able to apply it.  The 2nd can remained the same consistency. Will post pictures late.

Utility Sink - During moving day, my friend (who is also a contractor) went to task at installing a utility sink in the garage.  It took him about 5 hours total.  He tapped into the wall adjacent to the powder room and used the hot / cold lines for the powder room sink.  I believe he had to run a drain into the basement but he said it was simple.   He then replaced the insulation & drywall, applied joint compound and attached the sink.

Laundry Room

Goal was to point the walls prior to moving day so we wouldn't have to paint around the large appliances.  We picked a light blue (almost powder blue) to the walls.

I also have a pair of white cabinets to put over the washer / dryer but haven't had the time to put them up yet. Will post pictures once this room is complete.

Ceiling Fans / Lights

My other friend hung the 2 ceiling fans we have bought ahead of time.  He put them in the Family Room as well as the Owners Bedroom.  We wanted to replace the standard Ryan Homes fixtures (the ones with the basic dome).  Lowes has 2 for $20 Portfolio lights that replace these.  I've only got around to changing 2 of 6.

Fish Move

The fish were moved on Thursday.  Their new home has two separate window views.  We have about 10 fish.  Unfortunately our Panda Cory Catfish did not survive the 1st night after the move.  Moving fish is extremely stressful for the fish and this stress can often kill the fish.  Hopefully I won't lose any more, I should know after a week if the rest will make it (they should).


Hey everyone,

Sorry I've been out of touch for so long.  I haven't been online (except my phone) since closing.

Closing went extremely well.  I felt as if we signed less papers there than we did during the initial contract signing.  We signed all papers and were out the door with our keys in 60-minutes flat.  The schedule for the rest of the week is as follows.  I'll have posts walking through these.

  • Wednesday
    • Finish priming garage walls, ceiling & trim
    • Seal Granite, tile grout
  • Thursday
    • Paint garage walls in AM / Afternnon
    • PM - Etching process for garage epoxy
  • Friday
    • AM - Apply garage floor epoxy & traction chips
    • PM - Transport Fish from Apartment
  • Saturday
    • General Moving Day
    • Garage utility sink installation
  • Sunday
    • Acquire Pool table & move
I plan on posting pictures of the special projects (not all posted here) of things like modifications that every Milan on the planet doesn't already have.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Closing T-Minus 2 Days

In less than 2 days we will be homeowners.  Since the walk-through I've made 3 trips with carloads of odds & ends type things to store in the garage.  Most of the stuff moved are oblong items (golf clubs, lamps, skis).   When the truck comes next week, I want the packing process to be boxes & furniture as much as possible, hopefully to streamline the process.

Final closing costs received & the wire transferred was sent / received by the mortgage company.

We have received a tremendous amount of rain in the past two weeks, the grass is already starting to pop.  Other than that, since the house is ready there isn't much in terms of progress.  I'll post pictures of my various projects as they come along.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pre-Settlement Walkthrough

Today was our final walk-through before settlement this coming Wednesday.  It was the 1st time we saw our house finished.  For the first time, it was cleaned, prepped and ready.  I can't complain at all, our PM did a great job and will be receiving the 10's he strives for (on the Ryan Homes Survey).

There were very few issues.  Couple little areas here and there need to be touched up.  One outlet doesn't sit flush with the wall.  Honestly it was mostly little stuff which was all taken note of to be completed.  We did find out that our over-stove microwave was upgraded (without charge) because GE was out of stock of the model we were supposed to get.  Very happy with that, like an extra bonus!

Stopped by NVR Mortgage to drop off the final piece of documentation and had a nice chat with our Loan Processor.  Our loan is done, she wired the funds for the loan over already and we're essentially done.

I'll keep you posting on Closing as well as the side projects I have planned before the actual move.  It's practically here!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Final PM Progress Update?

My little timer says that it's one week before closing.  Unreal!  I've enjoyed reading everyone's stories (for better or worse) and I can't believe mine is almost here.

Spoke with our PM last night.  The saturation from the rain will do our soon-to-be lawn very well, unless it rains so hard the seed stuff just rinses away!  It should be fine.  The cleaners were in the house yesterday and are finishing up.  Today they will be power washing the garage floor.  My PM mentioned that if I had any plans to paint / treat the floor, do it ASAP while the floor is nice and clean.  I'm just glad he's power washing it, will make the prep stage much easier.  Since our walk-through is on Friday, I guess that was the final update call.

My upstairs neighbors continue to remind me why I'm moving.  Woke up to children crashing around the floor and stomping (literally STOMPING) around.  Just when you think you're getting used to it I'll hear what seems to be like a bomb exploding, then comes the screaming.  It's like clockwork.

Another reminder that the town I live in is a crap-hole was my trip to Home Depot to pick up the "In Stock Cabinets" for 20% off.  I can understand being sold out of them, but they didn't even stock the white "In Stock Cabinets".  I had to go to the next home depot about 6 miles away which is much bigger and better.  I usually try to avoid the local Home Depot (or any HD for that matter) because they almost never have what I need.  Luckily the new house is literally a quarter mile from Lowes.

Will let you know how the Walk Through goes.  Have my wife, parents & Realtor with us for that.  Five sets of eyes should be good right?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Laundry Room Cabinets

Has anyone put cabinets in their laundry room?  Home Depot has 20% off cabinets this week and we're thinking of installing a pair of 30 x 30 wall cabinets over the washer dryer.  My parents have done this (in a larger room) and love the extra storage space it brings.

In our Model home, they have a garment rack / cart in the laundry room (in the little nook area, not all Milan's have this).  Do any of you do the garment rack / cart or laundry cart with the upstairs laundry?  Just curious, looking for a decent quality rack, cart thing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Exterior Trim / Door & Landscaping In!

The final touches of the exterior were completed this week.  The trim is painted and the front door got a coat of "Old Colonial Red".  The trim color is "Almond" (aka beige).  The landscaping looks nice and the wife-a-saurus will be very pleased when she sees the purple shrub things by the front of  the house.  I like how they vary the shrub selection, similar to elevations.  Anyway, at this point I doubt I'll be heading up there until next Friday for the pre-settlement walk-through.  I can't believe it's only 7 days away!  Wow.

Front Landscaping

Rear Landscaping / Trees

Upstairs Hall Railing 

Basement Stairs & Rail

Basement (Finished Section)