Are We Really Going to Build a House?: May/June/July 2015

Even though I’ve been a Realtor for over 10 years, I was never tempted to move. Oh, I’ve seen many beautiful homes and I’ve (jokingly) told my buyers – “if you don’t buy this… I will.” I didn’t mean it. Until now.

Last spring, I showed a house in Carlton Pointe that was built by ICG Homes. My clients didn’t choose that house but I couldn’t get the neighborhood out of my mind.

About the same time, we decided to get a quote on adding a screened porch to our existing home. After exploring that option, we (really, I) decided that we should consider moving. I set up an MLS search for homes with screened porches. That was a must. Richard agreed, reluctantly, to go looking. If we liked the screened porch, the kitchen was too small. If we liked the rest of the house, the screened porch was only 10×10 which was too small.

In early May, a Carlton Pointe home showed up in my search and I remembered being out there earlier in the year. That particular house was not “the one” – however, I drove by another with an “open house” sign and went in. I fell in love immediately.

It took my breath away.

I tell my buyers that they will “know” as soon as they walk in. How very true that is. I looked at that house three times that weekend. And, on Monday it was under contract. For someone else! Not us.

But, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

For the next several weeks, I researched every house in the neighborhood. I spent too much time on the ICG website! We looked at plans and drove the neighborhood a dozen times looking at lots. By now, we were talking with Sherri Felton on Jim Allen’s Team and with Ryan Perry from ICG Homes. We knew we wanted to live in Carlton Pointe. We wanted Ryan Perry to build our new house. We just needed to finalize a plan and pick a lot. At the end of June, we did just that. We would build The James plan on Lot 171. Contract. Deposit. Done! Oh, my gosh – are we really going to build a house?


Preparing the Site and Making Selections: August/Early September 2015

I had no first-hand experience with building from the ground up. Of course, we had heard nightmare stories from people who had built. 

But they didn’t have Ryan Perry with ICG Homes as their builder. From seeing his finished homes, we had no reservations about the quality or attention to detail he would provide. Prior to signing a contract, he was very responsive and patient in providing quick answers by email or text. Sometimes that changes after the sale. It has not. He and his team get an A+ for communication! 

Back to the screened porch that started this entire journey. 10×10 – no. Not even 12×12. Our new home will have a 12×32 screened porch across the back of the house and will include a fireplace. Ryan calls it my “other house”. 

While ICG was preparing the site, pouring footers and doing the foundation, we were visiting Lowe’s and Home Depot, looking at appliances, creating boards on Pinterest and working ourselves into a frenzy over all of the decisions to be made. And then we met with Stacey Stone, Kevin Hayslett and Rebecca Cothran, our “selection team” and it all came together. Stacey guided us through the day as we picked cabinets, hardware, granite, flooring, plumbing, light fixtures, tile, and our exterior colors and materials. Just like that.


The House Goes 3D: Mid to Late September 2015

On September 16th, I drove over to Rolesville on my lunch hour to see if anything was going on at our job site. I did not expect to see the first floor framed in! Walking through it was surreal. Looking at the plans is one dimensional, but when I walked in, it was almost like a 3D video game. I walked into another realm!

And at our next visit after this, we were pleased to see trusses and a second floor!

Soon after this, at a “state of the house” meeting we had with Ryan, things went better than imagined. He had questions, I had answers. I had questions, he had answers—and suggestions. It was a great meeting. Several things were clarified, a couple of things were adjusted, and some decisions were postponed. In the meantime, more meetings were scheduled to make selections. Granite and lighting decisions must be finalized as we attempt to stay on budget. Our timeline is tight, but still doable assuming we don’t make a lot of changes, things come in on time, inspections go well, and we don’t have bad weather. Fingers crossed.

Ryan followed this meeting up with a 4-way phone call with Stacey, Kevin, and me to be sure we were all on the same page. We confirmed the range hood with Kevin, we’re going to meet Stacey to finalize faucets and lighting, and Ryan is confirming the meeting with trades for next week. It is very nice to not wonder what’s going on.

At our meeting with Stacey at Carolina Plumbing Supply we learned that choosing faucets and fixtures is not easy. Or cheap. It’s very easy to blow the budget, especially if you’ve been saving things to Pinterest under “can’t live without”… yes, yes you can…once you hear the price. I did splurge a little on the tub and the kitchen faucet, but the master bath shower system is still in limbo. Next, we went to the Home Center in Apex to revisit lighting packages. I selected Minka-Lavery Overland Park collection, and we’ll most likely look for some fun pendants for over the kitchen island. And speaking of the island, we both loved the Level 2 Ashen White granite, which is $1,200 over our allowance. We agreed to scale back to a Level 1 selection that we could live with. I picked New Venetian Gold from the Level 1 options. That was at noon. By 8:00 that night, I was so uncomfortable with the change, that I talked with Richard and Stacey and we all agreed that the Ashen White was perfect and that we should get what we want. It is a splurge worth every penny. We can change a light fixture here and there but we will never change out the granite. I’m much happier with this decision.

By the end of September, things were really taking form. All the rooms, closets, and even the fireplace are framed! And our screened porch was becoming a reality—its vaulted ceiling is now visible and we are going to love it! I wanted our friend Chip Haver, a general contractor and remodeler, to look at the house and let us know what questions to have ready for an upcoming meeting with Ryan. Our confidence in Ryan and ICG Homes was already solid, but Chip reinforced it as we walked around during this visit. On his way out the door (ok, door frame), he said, “you guys are in good hands.”

Ryan’s team is heads down, get it done, what’s next each and every day. I almost sent him a text asking him when the windows would go in. But, I exercised extreme self-control and was waiting to ask at our next meeting. Lo and behold, they are in! It is now September 30th and we have windows!


Tap Dancing on the Porch: Early October 2015

It’s the 1st day of October and Ryan sent us a recap of our selections made thus far, including where and how much we’re over or under budget. We have picked nice fixtures for the kitchen and master bath, added under counter lights to the kitchen and wet bar, and added outlets and a water line for a refrigerator in the garage. Our most extravagant items are the appliances, but we were prepared for that. The screened porch continues to dominate our vision for this house and we saw these really cool panels at the Raleigh Home Show. The panels slide up and down and turn the porch into a three season room. Guess what? Yep. We want them. They are called Eze-Breeze.

The Parade of Homes began on October 3rd, and ICG has two homes open on the Parade in Carlton Pointe. Despite the rain, traffic was steady at Carlton Pointe during the first weekend of the Parade. It was fun to walk through these homes and come away with no regrets. We are very happy with our selections and choices. We could see the quality of the finished homes and listening to other people’s comments about the homes and neighborhood was great. We also met more neighbors and can’t wait to be part of this community.

Much of the work being done on the house now is harder to photograph. Although, I have to say, I have enjoyed seeing holes in the floor where my sink will be and spotting the wires coming through boxes for switches and outlets. One of the details we noticed was the HVAC ducts are covered with pieces of wood to prevent construction debris from falling in them. Loving the attention to detail of what happens behind the walls. Professionals do things right.

On October 6th, I received several phone calls from Kevin to verify cabinet details and choices before the order is finalized. I really appreciate that he didn’t just guess and assume that it was right.

Remember the screened porch that started this whole thing? By the second week of October, they have the deck on it! I was absolutely GIDDY with excitement. Oh, and the best part is that the flooring is angled! It looks fantastic. I had just seen an article on 45° diagonal decking and how it is stronger, but results in more waste. More evidence that Ryan and ICG Homes does not take shortcuts. Impressed again!

On October 7th, I went out to visit the house during lunch and walked on the deck and porch. Tap danced, actually.


Details Galore: Mid to Late October 2015

It’s October 9th and we are gathered at the house for a meeting with Ryan and the team. Discussions are focused on more details now. Door placement on the porch, where should the steps go down to the patio? We are double and triple checking the placement of outlets, switches, and can lights. The shingles are started and the electrical and plumbing inspections have been scheduled. We will be gone for several days on a vacation that was scheduled well before we signed our contract, and when we return we should see insulation and the exterior started.

We arrived back in town from vacation at around 7:30 pm on October 18th and decided to go out to the new house before we went home. I am dying to see the progress. We saw siding on the left side of the house as soon as we made the turn! With our flashlight we could see lots of pink insulation but very little else inside. The porch continues to take shape; the fireplace is framed in, and the door and stairs are too.

As we left the house, we saw another flashlight walking toward us. Then a voice in the dark identifies himself as an officer with the Rolesville police department! I responded “we are the Smiths and this is our house.” He was gracious and told us he routinely drives through our neighborhood. We chatted for a few minutes and were quite impressed. For the first time, I realized that we aren’t just moving to Carlton Pointe – we’re moving to Rolesville.

The next day, I was excited to learn that our house had officially been entered into the Triangle MLS system! It’s been referred to as “Lot 171” for months and today it became “411 Bendemeer Lane, Rolesville!” Be still my heart! I think it’s time to order new return address labels! After work, we went out to see it again. The walls are well insulated and very pink. The tubs are holding water and wires are just waiting for whatever gets attached to them. Siding is done on both sides and the back. And the porch… I think we’ve set a new standard for screened porches in Carlton Pointe. Tomorrow is the insulation inspection and then (drum roll, please) DRYWALL! I better start taking those paint samples seriously.

I’ve started obsessing about little things and trying hard to visualize it finished. Will the fan in the master bath be quiet? Will it be effective? Where will I put the toaster? Should I get a new toaster? Which jackets will I hang in the “drop zone” and which ones will go in the coat closet? Which side of the garage is best for my car? What day do they pick up trash? Which bedroom should be the guest room? How deep is the mantle on the fireplace? Where will my red retro kitchen stool sit? What does the doorbell sound like? We’ve never had surround sound and speakers all over the house – how does that work? Will someone show me? Can I control it with my phone? How will my Christmas tree look in the family room? And , the worst, what color to paint each room? I’ve moved from obsessing to agonizing – in a good kind of agonizing way.

When Ryan said they would start drywall on October 21st, he didn’t say it would all be up by the next day! I know there is a lot more to be done before it will be ready for paint, but it was such a surprise to see so much progress in two days. Now there really are walls to paint!

At our meeting on October 26th, our focus with Ryan and his team was on the details. Details galore. Closet design, pantry shelves, crown mouldings, chair rails, screen system for the porch, iron railings for the stairs. We have about a month to go. Fingers are crossed for a pre-Thanksgiving closing, but I’m not getting my hopes up until Ryan gives me a date.

The next day, I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I have officially entered the “what have I forgotten” phase. It might be the scariest phase yet, and just in time for Halloween!

We wrote the check for all of the appliances today. It’s going to be a really nice kitchen! We resisted buying appliances from one brand. Although that presents a similar look , we went with a more “best in class” approach and have a Samsung gas range, KitchenAid convection microwave and wall ovens, a GE French door refrigerator with two icemakers, and a Bosch dishwasher. We have hours invested in these choices and since they are all stainless and black, they will look great together.

I’m calling the next phase of this process “picking and packing.” Picking paint colors is no longer just about Pinterest and Sherwin-Williams. It’s decision time. Paint needs to be ordered soon. The old adage “it’s only paint” is true, and yes, we could re-paint if we really don’t like it. But, we’ve come too far to move in unhappy with something. Did you know there are a million shades of gray? Not just 50!

Packing. Has. Not. Begun. Yet. There are broken down boxes and a tape gun ready for action. And, the best of intentions.


I Need a Bumper Sticker: Early November 2015

It’s MOVEmber! We’ve actually started packing and Ryan has moved (pun intended) into high gear. We have dates! Cabinets go in on the 9th, granite a few days later, and built-in appliances on the 16th. And it’s time to sign an addendum to our contract that more accurately represents the price of our home. Yes, all of those little “must haves” add up to a new contract price and the lender is going to need updated paperwork. While the builder is doing your bidding, make sure your lender has your back! We’re working with a local bank, North State, and it’s really nice to email or call and get action. As a Realtor, I highly recommend working with a local lender, rather than an online lender. To take that one step further, working with a lender that your builder (in this case) or your agent is recommending, can save you time and/or money. Both are important. Relationships are valuable.

We’re in the countdown stage. It’s Tuesday, November 3 and a paperwork day – spreadsheets and contracts. Time to make all of those changes official. Ryan has been very accommodating and agreeable and we’ve been nodding “ok” with each dollar amount attached to the change. It adds up! Richard and I went over everything and there isn’t a single thing that we feel is out of line or unreasonable. When we’ve made a major change, Ryan has credited his original allowance to offset the upgrade. A few things we bought outright for his team to install. That saved us the markup on those items. Nearly all of the new expenses are in the kitchen and on the porch and there’s no surprise there!

The good news is that our interest rate actually went down a little bit! So, with all the changes and the new rate, our wonderful upgrades will cost us $1.06 a day. And it’s worth every penny.

One other change is our closing date. Instead of November 30th, it will be December 4th. We’ll use the four-day Thanksgiving weekend to finish packing. Time to call the movers!

The bathroom tile is started, the hardwood floors are in, and the interior doors have arrived and are being hung. There are now locks on the doors, which seems to be a defining moment in the process.

The lesson learned today is that once you have made a decision, move on. You can make yourself crazy re-thinking your choices. The what-ifs are a very dangerous game to play so close to finishing. Trust yourself. Trust your builder. Maybe I shouldn’t go back until it’s done.

On November 5th, I went to the house to meet Stacey and there was no place to park! There were so many people working on our house and the ones on both sides of us. Carlton Pointe is busy!

We marked the area for the 10×10 patio, which completed the list. Front porch. Screened porch. Deck. Patio. All the outdoor living spaces in one house and this makes me happy. And all of our selections are taking on a life of their own. Seeing samples and pictures is not the same as seeing them in place. It is coming together now.

Building and buying are two separate things and both can be trying. In this case, both our lender, Bill Duff with North State Bank, and our builder, Ryan Perry, have been easy to work with. We submitted an amendment to the contract to accommodate the increase in price. The appraisal has been ordered and paid for, credit has been checked (again!) and proof that we are both still working has been submitted, along with current bank statements. Now we wait for a final approval.

At lunchtime on Friday, I took four pizzas to the house. Most of the crew were on a lunch break already, but since they’re mostly guys, I’m guessing it still got eaten! They were finishing up the exterior siding and the stone will go on next week.

On Saturday, November 7th, Richard and I made a quick trip out to see the exterior and found that the cabinets have been delivered! Kitchen and bathroom cabinets are all ready to be installed on Monday, which is right on schedule! The stone work should get done this week, too. Wonder if they will do the porch fireplace at the same time? Next week is appliances!

The next day I did some shopping and bought beautiful mirrors for the master bath, so we had to go out and measure to make sure they would fit. They will! As we were looking around, I noticed a couple things that I would like to have changed in our upstairs closets, so I sent an email to Ryan. It’s seems a little petty, but the trim guys are still out there, so now is the time to tweak shelf height and depth.

We had a quick response from Ryan and they will make my requested changes. I’ve decided that GC doesn’t just stand for General Contractor, because in Ryan’s case, it also stands for Great Communicator. I need a bumper sticker that reads:

i_love_my_builder_bumper_sticker

On the loan side, things are moving along as well. The appraisal has been ordered, new homeowner’s insurance is arranged, and we’re expecting an early “clear to close.” Glad that’s all going smoothly.

Long after dark on Monday night, I got a call from Marc, the trim guy, to tell me that he was headed back to “my” house and he said he’d update me on those closet revisions. About 30 minutes later, he called to confirm that the changes were made and that the family room fireplace surround is almost complete. Then he sent a picture and I love it! Not going to share the picture now. I’ll wait until it’s complete for the “wow” factor. Stay tuned!


Let There Be Color!: Mid to Late November 2015

On November 10th, I went out to check on work at the house and saw the stairs! No more construction stairs, but the real thing. And the next day, cabinets were being installed. When I walked in, I nearly jumped up and down! Do you think we have enough cabinet space? Paint colors are due by the end of the week. Nothing forces a decision like a deadline. Colors are selected. It’s only paint, right?

At this point, I’ve been lying when I tell people I don’t go to the house every day. I really do go every day – or almost. And until today, I never felt like I was a distraction. I went out at lunch and they had the driveway framed for paving. I wasn’t sure I should even walk on the gravel, so I tip-toed around to go into the house. Everything was covered in plastic and a guy was spray painting all the drywall with a primer/base coat. I went right back out! I’ll wait until Saturday to see the progress. I think we are in the finishing phase. If not, we are close.

Let there be color! By mid November, more painting is taking place and the painters are being so careful. Everything is covered with plastic. I didn’t spend much time in the house because I would be “in the way.”

The appliances are scheduled for delivery early Monday morning and there are a couple things we purchased directly that I will be taking to the house, too. A lot is scheduled for this week – plumbing fixtures, stone on front, granite, and recessed lighting. By the end of the week it will be time to finish the floors.

It’s November 16th and it’s appliance delivery day! Appliances are to stay in their boxes for protection, but the wall oven box is too big to go through the garage door and has to be unboxed. I was at the house very early to sign for the dishwasher and wall oven, and then headed to work. I need coffee, bad!

At this point, I literally cannot stay away from the house. My lunch hour is now fast food in the car with a quick trip to Rolesville. Today was fun! Painters, electrician and cabinet guys all at the house. Light fixtures, outlets, switches and ceiling fans are being installed! I only stayed a few minutes and took a couple pics to show the progress. Finishing touches. Very excited.

We will be meeting the landscaper at the end of the week. That will all fall to Richard because he’s the one with the green thumb and strong opinions about what he wants around the house. I’m sure it will look great.

Final details for our stairs are being worked out. There are only five exposed stairs that need a railing. I had my heart set on this really cool contemporary black metal, but that was way too expensive. Ryan’s trim guy Marc has stepped up to create the look I want in wood.

We are seeing details everywhere – outlets with covers, light fixtures, toilets, built-in appliances are BUILT-IN, and the stone work is almost complete on the front. Placement of the TV on the porch required a quick trip to Best Buy for a mounting kit and template. Better to do it right then do it over. When I returned with the mounting kit, they were putting insulation in above the ceiling. Very cool! I never knew how they did that. This has been so educational and exciting.

Tomorrow we expect to get our “clear to close” on our loan and we will be exactly two weeks from closing. With Thanksgiving next week, it will be here before we know it!

Our meeting with the landscaper went really well. We have opted to pay the additional money to have sod all the way around the house. Typically the back of the house is seeded. We want it to look more complete from day one. Richard substituted gardenias for the standard hollies (he hates holly) and made a couple of other changes. They will start on Tuesday.

I sent an email to Marc, our floor/trim guy, about adding some details and hooks that we bought at Home Depot for the “drop zone.” He immediately responded and said he was headed to Rolesville. Of course we dropped everything and met him! He is so accommodating and has great attention to detail. The floor guys were also there sanding the floors and getting ready to stain. I was politely told to stop walking around and stay away. Yes, sir.

We actually stayed away for the next two days. Really.

It’s Tuesday, November 24th and Ryan called this morning and suggested we add a week to our closing date, making it December 11th. This is Thanksgiving week and everything and everyone (except retail) slows down. Inspections are especially hard to schedule this week. Although disappointed, Richard and I decided from day one that we were not going to rush things. We will still be in for Christmas.

We both left work early to see the house before dark and agree that an extra week is a price we are willing to pay. Ryan will put it to good use. We have no doubt.

On the 25th, I left work early to drop off WiFi thermostats that we ordered for the house. The HVAC guy is going to replace the standard ones with these as part of our Smart House plan. I could tell that an extra week really is necessary. Early on, I was hopeful the house would be ready early and we would be in for Thanksgiving. Hear this, Ryan – I’m very glad that didn’t happen!

We enjoyed the ‘last’ Thanksgiving in a home with 27 years of memories. Lovely. After dinner and before desserts, we all went out to Carlton Pointe. No one had been to the house since foundation, so it was a true reveal. Being almost finished, they could really see what Christmas will be like – making new memories.

By Friday, everyone is back to work and for me it it’s not Black Friday, rather it is Box Friday. The serious packing begins right now. The dining room will be converted to stacks of boxes until the movers arrive in two weeks.

We went out on Saturday and were completely surprised to see they were installing the panels on the screened porch! Not only are they early, but it’s Thanksgiving weekend! We went back later in the day and it was finished!! LOVE. IT.

They are working inside, too. We have granite on the island and they are working on the tile backsplash!

What a difference a day makes. We went out again on Sunday and the tile work is done and the island is cleared of all tools! I’m not sure when the garage was painted, but I just noticed it. Surprised!

By Monday, the details were getting done fast! The stone is on the porch fireplace, the patio cement is poured, the stamped concrete is on the driveway, the stair railings are up, faucets are installed, carpet is in, hardware is installed on most of the doors, railings are on the front porch, and the house was full of people working.

All of the conditions have been met for our loan and we should get the final approval tomorrow. The next 10 days better fly by!


Let There Be Color!: Mid to Late November 2015

On November 10th, I went out to check on work at the house and saw the stairs! No more construction stairs, but the real thing. And the next day, cabinets were being installed. When I walked in, I nearly jumped up and down! Do you think we have enough cabinet space? Paint colors are due by the end of the week. Nothing forces a decision like a deadline. Colors are selected. It’s only paint, right?

At this point, I’ve been lying when I tell people I don’t go to the house every day. I really do go every day – or almost. And until today, I never felt like I was a distraction. I went out at lunch and they had the driveway framed for paving. I wasn’t sure I should even walk on the gravel, so I tip-toed around to go into the house. Everything was covered in plastic and a guy was spray painting all the drywall with a primer/base coat. I went right back out! I’ll wait until Saturday to see the progress. I think we are in the finishing phase. If not, we are close.

Let there be color! By mid November, more painting is taking place and the painters are being so careful. Everything is covered with plastic. I didn’t spend much time in the house because I would be “in the way.”

The appliances are scheduled for delivery early Monday morning and there are a couple things we purchased directly that I will be taking to the house, too. A lot is scheduled for this week – plumbing fixtures, stone on front, granite, and recessed lighting. By the end of the week it will be time to finish the floors.

It’s November 16th and it’s appliance delivery day! Appliances are to stay in their boxes for protection, but the wall oven box is too big to go through the garage door and has to be unboxed. I was at the house very early to sign for the dishwasher and wall oven, and then headed to work. I need coffee, bad!

At this point, I literally cannot stay away from the house. My lunch hour is now fast food in the car with a quick trip to Rolesville. Today was fun! Painters, electrician and cabinet guys all at the house. Light fixtures, outlets, switches and ceiling fans are being installed! I only stayed a few minutes and took a couple pics to show the progress. Finishing touches. Very excited.

We will be meeting the landscaper at the end of the week. That will all fall to Richard because he’s the one with the green thumb and strong opinions about what he wants around the house. I’m sure it will look great.

Final details for our stairs are being worked out. There are only five exposed stairs that need a railing. I had my heart set on this really cool contemporary black metal, but that was way too expensive. Ryan’s trim guy Marc has stepped up to create the look I want in wood.

We are seeing details everywhere – outlets with covers, light fixtures, toilets, built-in appliances are BUILT-IN, and the stone work is almost complete on the front. Placement of the TV on the porch required a quick trip to Best Buy for a mounting kit and template. Better to do it right then do it over. When I returned with the mounting kit, they were putting insulation in above the ceiling. Very cool! I never knew how they did that. This has been so educational and exciting.

Tomorrow we expect to get our “clear to close” on our loan and we will be exactly two weeks from closing. With Thanksgiving next week, it will be here before we know it!

Our meeting with the landscaper went really well. We have opted to pay the additional money to have sod all the way around the house. Typically the back of the house is seeded. We want it to look more complete from day one. Richard substituted gardenias for the standard hollies (he hates holly) and made a couple of other changes. They will start on Tuesday.

I sent an email to Marc, our floor/trim guy, about adding some details and hooks that we bought at Home Depot for the “drop zone.” He immediately responded and said he was headed to Rolesville. Of course we dropped everything and met him! He is so accommodating and has great attention to detail. The floor guys were also there sanding the floors and getting ready to stain. I was politely told to stop walking around and stay away. Yes, sir.

We actually stayed away for the next two days. Really.

It’s Tuesday, November 24th and Ryan called this morning and suggested we add a week to our closing date, making it December 11th. This is Thanksgiving week and everything and everyone (except retail) slows down. Inspections are especially hard to schedule this week. Although disappointed, Richard and I decided from day one that we were not going to rush things. We will still be in for Christmas.

We both left work early to see the house before dark and agree that an extra week is a price we are willing to pay. Ryan will put it to good use. We have no doubt.

On the 25th, I left work early to drop off WiFi thermostats that we ordered for the house. The HVAC guy is going to replace the standard ones with these as part of our Smart House plan. I could tell that an extra week really is necessary. Early on, I was hopeful the house would be ready early and we would be in for Thanksgiving. Hear this, Ryan – I’m very glad that didn’t happen!

We enjoyed the ‘last’ Thanksgiving in a home with 27 years of memories. Lovely. After dinner and before desserts, we all went out to Carlton Pointe. No one had been to the house since foundation, so it was a true reveal. Being almost finished, they could really see what Christmas will be like – making new memories.

By Friday, everyone is back to work and for me it it’s not Black Friday, rather it is Box Friday. The serious packing begins right now. The dining room will be converted to stacks of boxes until the movers arrive in two weeks.

We went out on Saturday and were completely surprised to see they were installing the panels on the screened porch! Not only are they early, but it’s Thanksgiving weekend! We went back later in the day and it was finished!! LOVE. IT.

They are working inside, too. We have granite on the island and they are working on the tile backsplash!

What a difference a day makes. We went out again on Sunday and the tile work is done and the island is cleared of all tools! I’m not sure when the garage was painted, but I just noticed it. Surprised!

By Monday, the details were getting done fast! The stone is on the porch fireplace, the patio cement is poured, the stamped concrete is on the driveway, the stair railings are up, faucets are installed, carpet is in, hardware is installed on most of the doors, railings are on the front porch, and the house was full of people working.

All of the conditions have been met for our loan and we should get the final approval tomorrow. The next 10 days better fly by!


It is Really Real: Early December 2015

It’s Wednesday, December 2nd and according to Ryan the utilities and HVAC should be “live” today and tomorrow. Orientation is scheduled for Monday. It is really real.

The next day, I made the now expected lunch-trip to 411 Bendemeer. Power is on! The house was lit up like a Christmas tree. Lights make it possible to go out after work again! And, oh what a difference. All I can say is the devil is in the details! Little things do make the difference – towel bars, quarter round, shower stall, garage door openers, driveway stamped concrete, painted stair railings – so many little details.

On December 4th, I make my third visit in 24 hours. Dropping off one more Cree LED can light for the master bath (they have to match!). The front door was painted black, our original request, although just this morning I asked Ryan to have it painted SW 7588 Show Stopper Red. Guessing they will repaint it. The master shower has all three shower heads installed and the toilets now have water in them. I did not try to flush them. Water pressure in the sink is good.

Utility transfers for electric, water, and Time Warner are all set for December 9th. The US Post Office has a formal request to start delivering mail to 411 Bendemeer Lane.

One of the pendant light globes was broken and since I furnished them and had all the paperwork, I spent about 15 minutes on the phone with Home Depot – they expedited shipping of a new one and I’ll get credit for the broken one.

Talked with Jon our audio guy today and decided to go ahead with speakers on the screened porch before closing. The vaulted ceiling is so tall that it didn’t make sense to cap them and have to come back out after closing and do it again. Decision on interior speakers is delayed until 2016.

Our 1980’s house does not have a garage. This will be our first, and although not as sexy as the screened porch, we’re pretty excited about it. We upgraded the openers to be internet/WiFi enabled and I snapped a pic to send to my brother today. He owns Triangle Overhead Door and knows about such things. He said – “top of the line, no maintenance belt drive, quiet” – that works for me. Funny the things that make you smile.

The 10 day weather forecast seems to be favorable. We are packing and packing and packing. Where did all this come from? We went out Saturday afternoon to drop off the mirrors for the powder room and hall bath. One is too big and has to be returned. Measured for the others – guess I’m going shopping again. Other than a deep cleaning of tubs and sinks, it feels pretty finished. Oh, and the fireplace isn’t finished yet.

On Monday, December 7th, I drove out to Lot 171 before work to drop off the mirrors. Appliances are being delivered between 9:00 and 11:00 AM. Both the refrigerator and the range should be on the truck. Our watchful neighbors sent me an email at 10:49 telling me that Sears just left – appliances are now ours. Well, they’re Ryan’s for the next 48 hours.

Our loan package has been sent to the attorney! Woo hoo!

Ryan called to let me know that the inspector found that the crawl space vent through the front porch needed to be corrected, so they were breaking through the concrete floor to fix it. He assured me it would be fixed by our 4:00 walk-through.

Richard left work at 3:30 today and picked up the Craigslist wine cooler and then we headed to Rolesville to meet with Ryan and team. They armed us with blue tape and sent us through the house to identify any blemishes or questionable items. I thought the house looked great when we got there, but by the time we were done it looked like Blue Pox.

They were smoothing concrete on the front porch – so that item can be checked off. Stacey spent time going over the warranty and who to contact when and how. Check. Mirrors are up and look great. Check.

During the drive home, we talked about what a great experience this has been. Under Ryan’s leadership and attitude, everyone exceeded our expectations His tagline should be – Doing things right by doing the right thing. Period.

I have learned that buying, building, and moving are three distinct processes, though we use them rather interchangeably in conversation.

Buying. The buying process is in the final moments – the loan package has been delivered to the attorney and our funds for closing have been wired to the same.

Building. The house is 99.9% complete with about 36 hours to finish a few details. I can watch, but there is nothing I can do to finalize this step. It’s all on ICG. We went out to the house tonight and it was locked up tight with note on the door – wet floor. We turned around and went “home” for almost the last time.

Moving. This one seemed easier in my head than it has proven to be. The sorting, purging, and packing has been bigger and more emotional than I’ve let on to anyone. 27 years in the same house. Our first house in Raleigh. We’ve raised three sons in this house and we’ve been foster parents here. We made lifetime friends in this neighborhood, have seen babies born, graduate from high school, get married and have children and…even die. Those memories are moving with us. Bittersweet is the exact right word. With the emphasis on sweet.

I have not taken many pictures taken in the last couple visits. The changes are so subtle but not quite finished. I’m ready to take the final pictures without any debris or tools. I plan to photograph and video before we move anything in. I’ll put my Realtor hat on to do that! 

It’s December 9th – Closing Day. This is it. 2:30. Stacey called this morning to find out when we plan our final walk-through. Richard is busy with holiday baking at 1705 Catering, so I’ll do this myself. Planning to meet Ryan and Stacey at 12:30.

Interestingly, it is exactly six months since I walked into an ICG home in Carlton Pointe.


Pinch Me: Mid December 2015 to Early January 2016

December 9th, our closing day, was an adventure. At the final walk-through we noticed that a portion of the floor that had been previously scratched and re-done, was re-done with the wrong finish. Ryan never missed a beat, and told them to completely re-do the hardwoods so that it all matched.

What that meant was a delay in moving until late afternoon on December 10th. After the movers pulled out of our new driveway at 11:30 pm, we made the bed, unpacked the coffee maker, and went to sleep.

Richard went to work bright and early on the 11th, and I got started unpacking AND decorating for Christmas at the same time.

We both worked all weekend, getting the first floor, and especially the kitchen, in order. The Christmas tree went up and boxes were emptied at a rapid pace.

I posted the empty boxes and wardrobe boxes on the North Raleigh Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group, and they were picked up within an hour!

We wanted the garage floor epoxied before we moved the “garage stuff.” We couldn’t park on it until the 19th, but it was so worth it. It looks great and will be easier to keep clean. I highly recommend the painted garage to provide a truly finished look.

After the whirlwind weekend, the first floor was ready for new furniture and almost ready for Santa.

Our master bedroom has become exactly what I envisioned. The bold, “intensely teal,” is perfect. I even figured out how to make it Christmas-y!

The screened porch is, as expected, the talk of the house. Everyone reacts exactly the same way – OMG! They especially love the fan, which actually “heats” the porch with the fireplace. Very comfortable. Can’t wait to furnish it.

On December 20th, 10 days after moving in, we held our annual Merry Chefmas Party for 50+ of our dearest friends and family. It was the best “open house” and everyone loved it. Guests even brought enough wine to fill our 48 bottle wine fridge! Ryan stopped by for a few minutes and that was a treat!

It’s Monday, January 4th, 2016… 25 days after moving in. The holidays are over and I’m back at work. The upstairs is still full of boxes. Christmas is still up. Walls are very bare and begging for artwork. But, we hit the goals:

  • In before Christmas
  • Merry Chefmas Party on December 20th
  • Family and friends over on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • 17 people over for our New Year’s Day Annual Pork and Sauerkraut dinner

It’s all been a little surreal. I feel like I’m “playing house” moving things around and taking pictures. Upstairs needs attention and many things need to be moved to the attic. We’ve been here long enough that it’s time to clean.

Pinch me.

Click here for a virtual tour of the Smith’s completed home!