Sunday, August 30, 2015

Construction Progress: Houston, We Have Drywall

Our project manager emailed us to say that the drywall had been hung, so of course we had to go and sneak a peek. And buddy, does it look amazing. There's something about the drywall that makes the house feel ten times more finished than it did last week.

View from kitchen to living room

Master Bedroom

Master bedroom (en suite bathroom on the left)

They've also pretty much finished bricking our unit, although they still have work to do on the rest of the block.

And, finally, we got to see some cute neighbors.

They sure do leave behind a mess. The National Park Service has found an adorable and happy solution... I bet our dog would be an enthusiastic GEESE POLICE volunteer...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We're #1! We're #1!

The reason we're spending what feels like a kazillion dollars to live by a Metro stop: DC officially has the worst traffic in the country (source), beating out no lesser competitors than LA, San Francisco, and NYC.

Traffic on the Beltway around Greenbelt Station
(image via WTOP)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kudos to Our Project Manager

Literally one business day (in fact, less than!) after emailing the project manager the report from our home inspector:

(You'll recall the inspector was concerned the orange sprinkler pipe was close to the bottom of the joist, where it wouldn't be as well protected by insulation, especially in an unheated space like the garage.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pre-Drywall Meeting and Inspection

Today we had our pre-drywall meeting with one of the PMs this morning, followed by an inspection from an independent home inspector, and everything is looking fantastic!

Why did we choose to do a pre-drywall inspection? In every community, the city and county do their own inspections as part of the permitting process, but your house is just one of fifteen on their list for the day, and they are not going over things with a fine tooth comb. In contrast, our inspector spent about two hours with us. J and I have very little construction knowledge, so having a qualified home inspector look at the house really gave us peace of mind.

We hired Greg Kemp (of Kemp Home Inspections), and we were super pleased - he was very thorough about looking in each room of the house. Not only did he highlight a few things to fix, I appreciated that he also took the time to mention things where Ryan Homes actually exceeded standards and building codes.

Overall, Greg was very positive about the home's construction. We don't have the official report yet, but here were a few things that he identified as areas of concern:

  • One of the sprinkler pipes (for fire safety) pokes into some of the HVAC ductwork in the garage, creating a problem for airflow.
  • The sprinkler pipes in the garage are fastened to the bottom of the joist, which poses a potential problem for keeping them well insulated. (Picture below.)
  • Electrical wiring in the master bedroom didn't have much slack along one span of wall.
  • Some minimal mold on one of the wood posts in the kitchen (could easily be sanded off).
  • One wall in the common entry area has an overhang of a few inches that doesn't fully rest on the foundation. Because our unit is technically a condo, this would actually be the condo board's responsibility, but it's good to know to see if it can be resolved. (Picture below.)
Some pictures from today's visit:

Brick on the exterior of the Matisse and Picasso units at Greenbelt Station.
They've bricked the entire side of the Matisse unit (first two floors) and are almost done bricking in the Picasso. The gap in the brick on the first floor is where the utility closet will go, which will be bricked over too.

Noritz tankless water heater, a free upgrade from Ryan Homes!
How's this for a crazy bonus: a tankless water heater!!! WHAT. According to Consumer Reports, gas tankless water heaters are "22 percent more energy efficient on average than the gas-fired storage-tank models."

This was one of the areas our home inspector was really impressed with, how the cuts in the joists (for the ductwork) have been reinforced for strength. This was one example (there were a few) where Ryan Homes actually exceeded standard building practices.

Fire safety sprinkler system in Ryan Homes Matisse and Picasso units.
The orange pipe is the sprinkler pipe for fire safety. See how it's fastened close to the bottom of the joist? That dropped ceiling area will be insulated, but it'll still be pretty close to the garage's air space, which will be unheated and pretty cold in the winter.

The area circled in red is where the wall isn't fully supported by the foundation, because there's an overhang.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Construction Progress: Week 8

Week eight of construction has seen a ton of changes: windows (hooray!), ductwork, pipes, a tub, etc... and what might be the beginnings of a walking path to the metro? We've also set a date for our pre-drywall inspection in about a week and a half.

The extra windows are in! (One extra in the master bedroom, and another in a secondary bedroom.) They may not look like much in this picture, but we love having all the natural light.

Ryan Homes window installation
Windows are in.

Ryan Homes ductwork
Lots of ductwork has been installed.

Ryan Homes tub
Tub for the guest bath.

Ryan Homes meter box
Meter boxes mounted by the garage.

Greenbelt Station walking path to metro
The beginnings of a walking path to the metro, maybe?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Master Insurance Policy for Condos

It came up on our community's Facebook page that not everyone received a copy of the master insurance policy for condo owners. (We certainly didn't, I had to ask for it.) If you're considering or buying a Matisse or Picasso unit in Greenbelt Station, here you go:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Construction Progress: Week 7

Sorry for the radio silence last week; I had a work trip that brought me out to sunny San Diego! I feel vindicated, because the last time I was there for a conference, it was rainy and cold the whole time I was there – which I'm pretty sure is the only time in the last ten years San Diego has actually seen bad weather.

The past couple of weeks saw the addition of the gypsum and concrete barrier between the condo units, some special flooring poured in areas that see moisture (laundry area, water heater closet, etc), electrical meters, and the roof sheathed and shingled. Our PM says the house is due for a few inspections next week, and then they can get going on HVAC, windows, and exterior doors.

The completed roof.

The gypcrete flooring (gypsum board & self-leveling concrete). This is what provides the sound barrier between the Matisse and the upper unit condo, and it also provides fire resistance, too.

Gypsum board material for the Ryan Homes Matisse.
The gypsum board material.

Sealant in the laundry room and other areas with potential sources of moisture (water heater closet). A little messy...

Windows for the Ryan Homes Matisse.
Windows ready to be hung next week!

Ryan Homes Matisse and Picasso units in the framing stage.
Lookin' good.

The start of insulation.

I'm not saying I looked in another Matisse unit, but – asking for a friend – isn't it a little odd that they leave this kind of stuff unsecured in an open garage? I mean, I doubt water heaters and fixtures are hot items on the black market, but still.