Building a new home in Wiley, Texas and I got some questions

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Keith Mickunas, Feb 17, 2002.

  1. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Update: The house is done, see here.
    I've just put a deposit down in one of those neighborhoods where a single builder is putting up a bunch of houses in one area with about half a dozen floor plans available. At this point I've chosen my lot and floor plan and a few updates, but I'm not committed to anything yet. I've got a week before committing to it, and after that I'll still have some time to change some of my options.
    Anyways, this is the first time I've ever done this, so I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at times. The builder is Ashton Woods, and its supposed to be an Energy Star compliant house. I've done a bit of research on both, and haven't found anything bad yet. At least I haven't found an AshtonWoodsSucks.com or EnergyStarSucks.com so far.
    Most of the stuff in the house so far as I can tell seems good. The walls are insulated with R-13, attic walls and sloped ceilings have R-19, and the flat ceilings (which mine has mostly) are R-30. They also seal all the electrical stuff, lumber wall baseplates and windows. Its got double pane high efficient glass, dual zone AC, a 10 SEER AC, programmable thermostats, and some other niceties.
    So anybody have suggestions on things I should look for? Anyone ever dealt with this builder? The BBB has no complaints on them in this area that I could find.
    I'll probably be back with more questions and info as this goes on. As things get more settled I'll be posting a separate HT related thread in the Construction forum.
    Here's the floor plan if you'd like to take a look.
     
  2. Craig

    Craig Second Unit

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    I heard that you should hire your own inspector just as you would if you were buying an existing home (don't rely on a homeowners warranty). Ideally your inspector would visit about three times during different stages of construction to check things out.
     
  3. JamesMart

    JamesMart Agent

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    Hey Keith,
    I noticed your in Plano. I'm in Richardson, and am currently in an apartment, but with my SVS 20-39 PC I need to move out soone [​IMG] Where did you find your house? Was it a reasonable price? I'm looking to buy my first house very soon, and would be interestead in what you have found.
    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  4. Ken Wagner

    Ken Wagner Stunt Coordinator

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    I would ask other people in your neighborhood what they would do different of if they are still happy with the build quality. It always seems you would do something different the "next" time. Maybe talk to others with the same floor plan as yours. Since you will be living there for a while, make as many good choices about low maintenance as possible. Vinyl clad windows and such. If you have a choice of appliances, buying the best you can afford will keep you from repairs or replacements for a good number of years. They are also more energy efficient. Good luck.
     
  5. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    James, I'm going out to Wiley. The house will be about a mile off of FM544 which is 14th St. in Plano. I think its about 7 miles east of 75. I'll e-mail you some specifics.
    Right now I'm in a townhouse which has two neighbors. Because of that I haven't even bothered with the SVS. [​IMG] But once I get the house, that will go in. Before I buy any extra furniture, I'm getting the SVS.
     
  6. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Good points Ken, thanks. I'll have to see if I can hunt down some neighbors there and get some thoughts.
    I do know that this thing has nice windows, and I plan to add tile to a bunch of rooms. I haven't settled on carpet upgrades but my realtor did recommend doing the pad upgrade. The kitchen appliances are GE, the AC is Lennox, but I have no specifics yet. I think I can upgrade the kitchen later on when I go to the design center. My only concern with the appliances is whether or not the oven can have problems from lack of use. [​IMG]
    Energy Star ratings should theoretically mean better efficiency with the windows and appliances. The windows are double pane sealed types. They got a UV coating also.
    I just wish I could have a basement. [​IMG]
     
  7. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    I'm not too keen on the floor plan...then again, I went through every model in the area and dozens of floor plans to find something I liked. By the way, it's Wylie. It's Collin County, but not Plano Schools. Your taxes might be a little lower because of that.
    I don't see a room that would work for a home theater room. Are you wanting a dedicated home theater? And what is the "tech center" supposed to be?
    Also, do you want the master bedroom to be on the same floor as the other bedrooms? Two stories can be nice to spread around in...especially if you have kids. I tend to like master bedrooms downstairs...they are easier to crawl to when the legs are not working. [​IMG]
    What was your criteria for picking this floor plan? (Mine was simple...I needed an enclosed room for a home theater. Everything else was negotiable.)
    I was going to say that the price seems steep...$68 a square foot is more than I paid for my house less than two years ago. But then it appears that house prices have gone up in this area. Bummer.
    Best of luck!
    - Steve
     
  8. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Ditto, by the way, on hiring an independent inspector (I know of one in the area if you are interested).

    Also, meeting the neighbors is an excellent idea. My first choice at a lot was in Rowlett near the lake. Turns out, there was a major gas main running through my potential front yard, which caused incredible drainage problems, and was the subject of lawsuits from the people who had built in the area. Needless to say, I did not build there.

    - Steve
     
  9. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Ah, I see I forgot to mention the HT portion. If you see on the floor plan the loft option for bedroom 3, that's what I'm going with. Its not optimal because it will be open in back, but it'll do. I went looking for at least a 3/2/2 with 2 living areas hoping that the second would be good for the HT. In my price range, things are limited a bit, considering I work in Richardson and want to be close.

    The price is less, this doesn't show some of their discounts. Its actually going to be in the 130's with upgrades. A lot of stuff my realtor initially showed me was $70+ per square foot. He had some others in the $50's that were farther out in Wiley but still cost too much. Fortunately my realtor had been shopping for some other people in this area in my price range (or so he says).

    I was told the taxes were good, 2.6% I believe. The salesperson or Ashton Woods was building her own home elsewhere, Allen or Frisco maybe, and it cost a good bit more she said.

    I've heard good things about the schools, some even say they're better than Plano. They're also rather close. This is at FM544 and Springwell if you know the area. Supposedly there will be a DART rail coming in a mile away at some point.

    As for the floorplan, I'm just not picky. Hell, I don't care that much at all. Fuck, I'd just rather have to shop for anything. So I've found something I like that seems to be a good deal. I know some people really like the master suite being away from the others, but I don't care. And I got to thinking, what if you got small kids? Do you really want their bedroom being that far from you in case something bad happens? Imagine this, you're sleeping comfortably downstairs in the middle of the night, all the sudden your three year old girl starts crying her head off because of a nightmare. So one of two things happen, you hear her, get out of bed, go stumbling up the stairs, over the child gate, and in to her room to comfort her. Or you don't hear her and find out she was up all night crying and feel as guilty as can be.

    Anyways, the rest of their floor plans in my price range really didn't have a lot of the stuff I want. These also appear to be the cheaper homes in the neighborhood at least compared to what's going up next, so hopefully those will help my value.

    The inspector is something I'll definitely be interested in. How do you handle that? Is he paid out of your pocket, or can you get them to include his costs in the closing costs somehow? Unfortunately nothing is up on my street yet, so I can't determine problems specific to that street. That's disconcerting. I'll have to go wandering around the south part which has been up for a while. Maybe I can figure out how things are down there. Oh, and they appear clean at the BBB, and my realtor says other clients of his that bought from this company, although not in this development, have been happy.

    The sucky thing is I kind of have to move fast. They want a contract by Friday. Granted after that I only stand to lose a bit of money if I back out. I could gamble and wait, but they might end their incentives ($12k + closing costs + a fridge). Their next phase is going to be higher priced, so if they sold out lots while I was waiting I'd be back to square one.

    Oh, and I'm buying well within my budget. Technically (according to the bank that is) I could get any of these plans with lots of options. But I don't want to do that. I like having money to spend. But that means that if in a few years I get married and what to have kids, I could most likely afford a bigger place if I felt the need (assuming the wife works).

    Hmm, boy can I carry on. This is good though. The more I talk about it, the more I things I think of, and fortunately things keep looking good.

    So Steve, what part of town did you end up at?
     
  10. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    And Steve, apparently the tech crash hasn't affected the house market here. I was shocked to see that. Some of the MLS listings had increases since the original list price. But my realtor said so far he hadn't seen many laid off tech people dumping their expensive homes, which I know there's just tons of around here. And the low interest rates are probably helping sales. I'm looking at 7% right now, although it will be some time before I can lock it.
     
  11. Steve Tannehill

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    Actually, the loft arrangement might work for an HT if you get rid of the window. Or if you leave it as a bedroom and eliminate the window and closet, it could be enclosed. Are they going to let you make mods to the blueprint?

    I'm a bit concerned that you have to decide so quickly. That does not give you much time to consider alternatives, which is of course the idea. If you sign a contract and back out, you lose your earnest money. But other builders are most likely offering incentives as well.

    I don't have a wife or kids to be concerned about, so my house is pretty much the way I want it. Three-year-old kids can find their way down the stairs. I was also VERY picky, because I don't intend to buy too many houses, and I hope to be in this one a while. I would rather endure the pain of shopping around early-on, instead of endure the pain of living in a house I don't like.

    I'll send mail with the inspector, etc. The inspector was out-of-pocket, but under $500 for the series of three inspections (one at foundation, one at framing, one before closing).

    Oh, and unless the refrigerator included in the deal is a Maytag, you could probably do better looking for a sale at Sears. I agree with one of the other comments that you should get the best appliances you can afford. They should last longer, and they will add to the resale value.

    Cheers,

    - Steve
     
  12. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    If I go with the bedroom instead of the loft its way too short. And I can't make major changes to the floor plan. I'll keep the window cause losing it might hurt resale, but I'll just cover it good. I'm thinking a good set of blinds, and perhaps a large curtain to cover that entire wall, give it that theaterish loook.
    The kitchen appliances are GE. I don't know the upgrade options yet, but I'll probably put my money into things like cabinets, tile, an extra sink in the master bath, etc.. I can see the reason for changing those, but I don't want to bust my budget on that side. If its really an issue, that's something I can do later on. Cabinets and tile and such are much easier to do now. The fridge is an incentive, its either that or a washer and dryer which I have, but there's no cash back option.
    The time is a bitch. But my realtor is fairly convinced that there's no other new developments in my price range, location, and floorspace. He's had trouble finding nice used homes in that range. Most of the stuff is quite old, and I just don't like that. If I could just find me a rich wife, then all my troubles would be over. [​IMG]
     
  13. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    Can I just say I'm really finding this thread an interesting read? I'm across the way from you a little in Coppell, and we're thinking of buying our first house in this area - this thread's *really* good info for us.
     
  14. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    So where's Coppell at? I'm not sure I've heard of that town. Of course, I've only been down here 2.5 years, so I still don't know where all the suburbs are.
     
  15. Steve Tannehill

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    Coppell is north of DFW airport.

    - Steve
     
  16. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    Whoops, sorry, Keith. Coppell is North of Irving/Las Colinas, west of Carrolton. Not Plano - just in the general neighbourhood.
     
  17. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    I didn't think a 10SEER AC unit could qualify for EnergyStar. I thought it had to be 12SEER?
    Think about the glass shower separate from the master bath tub. It was the best option I picked for my house (nearly 8 years ago).
    Ceiling fan boxes, cable outlets and phone jacks in EVERY bedroom, plus the living room and family room. Make sure they use good wire (get Cat6 for your phone wire). Better yet- have them "home run" cable and phone to a central location (utility room) and make that your hub. I REALLY wish I had done that.
    Since you have no kids, I'd opt for the loft over the bedroom. It can be easily converted later, if need be.
    New homes here in Orlando are about $100/sq. ft. Laughable, considering just about no one in our tourism-based economy can afford that. Then again, they're selling like gangbusters, but I can't figure out to whom.
    Todd
     
  18. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Energy Star recommends not overdoing the AC, but I have yet to find an actual SEER rating recommendation there. If you see such info, please send it my way.

    I'll check on the home run possibility. Another friend that works for a cable company was pushing that also.

    So you like the shower wall option that much? I was thinking of cutting costs there, but it may add an extra bit of class to the bathroom.

    They're using CAT5 for the phones. Unfortunately I only get 3 or 4 drops for cable and phone, and additional ones are expensive. So I'll probably end up with one bedroom without drops, however with attic access that may not be an insurmountable problem. Hmm, and if I get the home runs to the utility room, one bedroom is right on top of that, so I could easily run wires to that room.
     
  19. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Here you go. I couldn't remember where I saw it.
    http://www.epa.gov/nrgystar/purchasi...specs_ashp_cac
    For an EnergyStar home though, it may be about the total package, not the individual components. As such, they may be able to slip the 10SEER in there. The cost to go to 12 should be
     
  20. Kurt B

    Kurt B Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll second the 'home run' wiring. We build 3 years ago and we ran two cat5, coax, and fiber optic from each room to a central wiring closet just for future use. Cable is inexpensive and pulling it while the walls are open for future expansion worked well for us.

    With the popularity of wireless lans, the home networking need may become less of an issue, but I still run the wired LAN for some security aspects.

    You mentioned the builder only did so many drops, can you get in and run some additional yourself?

    The suggestions of an inspector are right on. I'm 'very very' picky, and found some items to correct. The inspector found some small items I never thought of that was corrected up front during the building phase.

    Good luck,

    Kurt
     

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