Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ryan Homes Electrical Issues and Advice

Didn't really drop off the map, just didn't have as much interesting stuff to share. But a response elsewhere prompted me to elaborate further on Electrical issues we had.. This post hopes to share our frustration and issues to help others avoid such problems. We know Ryan Homes are reading these posts, and we hope someone takes this customer feedback and incorporates it in creating better logical flow of the electrical layout and design process. Please understand that similar issues can be easily avoided early on and throughout if one understands the simple facts below...

Anyone building with Ryan Homes must take great interest in, and become very familiar with, electrical layouts and diagrams of their houses and request changes as needed, AND continuously check the implementation throughout the build process..

1. Ceiling Lights
There are many rooms that do not come with standard ceiling lights. Study your electrical maps and find out which rooms do not have a ceiling light or ceiling light rough in and add one, it is impossible to regret such a decision. You'll be happy every time you walk into a room and flip a switch and have instant light. Even if Ryan would argue that you have "switched outlets"..

2. Switched Outlets and Lamps/lights that you plug...
These are flipped (upside down) outlets with the top being controlled by a light switch on the wall, and the bottom being always active/live. This is how Ryan Homes expect you to have light in your house.. "Plugin light fixtures are so lovely!" they say, well, maybe, but what if you have kids who will be tripped by wires and will trip fixtures in their general roaming of the house? Also, not even 4 plugins will light a room like a single good smartly placed ceiling light.

AND electricians have zero common sense because outlets by code (at least where we are building) should be within 6 feet from the entrance of a room, and then spaced 12 feet apart, so that you are always within a maximum of 6 feet of an outlet. But this designation makes for very strangely placed outlets. Such as a switched outlet in the middle of a wall 20 feet long, where you'll definitely place a couch or a TV, and not a plugin light. So that outlet will become useless, or cumbersome to attach a light to if you have to use one.

Or, look at switched outlets in a bedroom, instead of having such outlet near a corner of a wall as to connect to a light on a night stand, nope, electricians will place that outlet smack in the middle of a wall, effectively killing usage of that outlet or making it dangerous to use especially if you have little kids and worry about them tripping over the wires or knocking lights down.. Obviously it would make too much sense to place that outlet near a corner..

Or if you add another switched outlet to a master bedroom, watch out to make sure the electricians don't place both so close together that they will be behind the bed posts or nightstands, forcing you to change the layout of your bedroom if you want to use those outlets.. And do yourself a favor and make sure the electricians didn't save you time and effort by linking the two outlets to a single switch, even though there is a dedicated switch for each light, but let's just control both lights with one switch and leave the other unused.. (True story x 2). 

Electricians may think that owners may obviously want to ALWAYS turn both lights on and off at the same time, because you and your soul-mate are so inseparable you do everything together at the same time.. (Being sarcastic). 

3. Let's Talk Switches
Even less common sense here. Of course at this point I am wondering if it is just our electricians who have questionable common sense, but the theme seems universal from what I read on other blogs.

Imagine opening a door and walking into a room.. Where would you expect to find the light switches? Certainly not BEHIND the door you just opened. Well, that's where it is in our master bedroom. It would make too much sense to place the switches out of the way of the open door, so you'd simply use them without having to close the door and hunt for the switches. 

Electricians may have been wanting to do us a favor by keeping the switches safe and protected and hidden behind the door.

Again, zero common sense. And when you try to argue with electricians after drywall, they say, "there is one switch that's visible of the four switches on the plate, so it's not REALLY behind the door." Really?

And then you have other strangely placed switches.. We have a light rough in over a kitchen island. It would make too much sense to put the switch for it at the entrance of the kitchen, so the electrician hid it in the deepest most corner of the kitchen over the counter top, where you literally have to reach far over the counter top to use it. Again, it would make too much sense to stop and think, "Hmmm, perhaps this is not a good place for this switch!"

4. Grouping Switches 
So if you have a set of switches serving a certain function (such as external flood lights), wouldn't it make sense to have them grouped together? Nope, obviously not, let's make sure to split them up into two groups.. Come on!

5. De-Grouping Switches
This is not against what I just said in 4, but just advice, if you have many switches in a room, do yourself a favor and have switches for switched outlets moved to a plate other than the one controlling ceiling lights and fan.. It becomes frustrating to enter a room and see an electrical panel of switches like those on the Starship Enterprise with 4-6 switches where you flip half the switches and nothing happens with most.. This issue can be avoided by requesting to group switches that control switched outlets on a separate plate than ceiling light an fan. Just a simple recommendation. Problem mostly observed in master bedroom and morning room, and wherever you add ceiling lights and fan rough ins and switched outlets.

6. One more thing about terminology
Words and terms are very important.. For example, while a switched outlet to Ryan Homes means an outlet with the bottom half always live/hot/active and top half switched on/off by a switch on the wall, the electrician may understand it as an outlet where both top/bottom sides are controlled by a single on/off switch, but the electrician will automatically follow Ryan Homes logic if outlet is in a bedroom..

So if you request a switched outlet on plant shelf by stairs landing (one always on to power a wireless speaker, and one switched for a night light, true story) guess which one the electrician will give you?

7. Fans anyone?
Make sure to add a ceiling fan rough-in to your bonus bedroom if you have one. You'll be very happy that you did, HVAC is always questionable in this room.. Also, if your SR or PM are smart enough (ours both are, thank you very much), they'll realize that the RH design for bonus bedroom includes BOTH recessed ceiling lights AND a ceiling light as standard, and will move the ceiling light if you wish to a room that doesn't have it, for free, or upgrade it to ceiling fan for a reduced price.

If you pay for extra GFCI outlets (more expensive than standard outlets, double or triple depending on location), make sure the electricians don't short change you and use one actual GFCI outlet and link standard outlets to it and have all be 'protected' by the main GFCI outelt. In this setup if any outlet trips, the main GFCI outlet trips and kills all of your linked 'protected' outlets. If the main GFCI dies for any reason (of which there are many), then all the linked outlets will die as well. But if the electricians actually used GFCI outlets in every GFCI outlet location they are supposed to, then only the one that tripped will die and the rest will remain alive.. Imagine a sprinkler system control unit in a garage and all other outlets linked to a single GFCI outlet and a the main GFCI outlet dies, that grass won't be getting any water, and those power tools won't have power, and that radio will remain mute.. Besides, you already paid double or more for GFCI, why short change you? True story, sadly..

9. Pre Drywall Meeting: Check, Check, Check Again
As the house goes up, look at where the outlets and switches and light rough-ins are, especially as soon as the electricians wire up the framed house, well before drywall. Verify that the outlets are where you expect them to be, and that the switches are what you requested, and that any ceiling lights or fans are where you expect them to be. Point out issues and have them fixed before drywall, because it is incredibly easy to correct anything electrical at that point, but afterwards you will get an insane amount of push back from electricians and Ryan Homes on changes, basically no one wants to tear up drywall and rerun wires, it costs money. 

Use the Pre-drywall meeting to inspect every electrical element of your house. You will be glad you did. We ended up with all the issues posted above at closing, even though we corrected many more while the house was still getting build. Had we not been involved and checking on things, we would have tens of issues instead what we ended up with..

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Victoria Falls Price Increases

In a bit of surprising news, the last lot in this development phase went for sale for a starting price of about 40K more than six months ago, increasing base entry price for whole neighborhood.

There are other sides to this as price increase as I pointed out below. While instant equity and increased perceived dwellings value, and while feeling incredibly fortunate to have been able to score the house for the price we paid (not cheap at our maximum possible budget) and the interest rate we got, we feel bad for those having to pay so much more just to get in.. Granted the next phase will have more privacy with more woods behind it, better lots with higher ground elevations, and will be further back from the main street and all..

Another aspect is that currently almost the whole neighborhood is made up of younger families and their kids.. When prices in the next phase start rolling in at 100K more than what we bought at, can many many young families who are just starting afford homes in the 400K range in this part of Northeast Ohio? How is increased premium going to change neighborhood demographics?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Closed.. and Moved

Closing Meeting on August 19 of 2013 at 10 AM was nothing to write home about. Standard 100 pages or so of legal closing papers and signature. Were done a few minutes before 11AM and nearly financially broke.

Walked out and right into the Outback Steakhouse next door for the first time ever. Might as well celebrate for a few dollars more. The blooming onion thing looked great but was a lousy oily mess. Never again. Don't recommend it.

Now back to packing. We get the keys and move tomorrow.

Moved on August 20 of 2013

Moving was a major undertaking but worked out all right.

Reserved a 26 ft U-Haul truck and was prompted for Moving Help, which I didn't know about..

Anyway, we hired "Affordable Friendly Movers" through the site which basically ran us $175 for 3 hours for a 3 person crew and $50 an hour after that. Reservation was for 5 hours but actually ended up needing their help for 9 hours. Movers worked diligently and professionally to load our apartment, three storage lockers, along with an extra stop to load our storage facility furniture.. Final bill was about $500 for 9 hours of work and it was worth every penny. There is no way in hell we could have moved in a single day by ourselves, and we didn't need to call in any favors from anyone..

Fridge and washer and dryer arrived on moving day in the evening. Sears held appliances for us in warehouse for nearly 4 months, but eventually delivery and installation were lacking. They did not balance the washer and dryer. The fridge was not getting cold, despite what the Sears guy said about getting cool in two hours. Going through the manual showed that it was in demo mode, so it was an easy fix and it works fine.. Sears also managed to damage the freezer door handle in the delivery along with dings in door itself and it needs replacement. We called later and they came to replace it and rebalance washer and dryer..

Our entire master bedroom furniture fit into the bonus bedroom, and we are scratching our heads trying to figure out what to put in the master... such questions can be easily solved with money.. but that is a solution we'd like not to approach at the moment!

Friday, August 16, 2013


We had a demonstration meeting today. The house is ready. We pay on Monday and get the keys on Tuesday. 

It is amazing how much more beautiful a clean home looks after looking at it through months of mud and dirt and gravel and wood chips and drywall and paint and dust. 

We are very pleased with how everything came out. Our PM went above and beyond in making sure all of our requests were met to make this house stand out in the best possible way. We always said John was a very nice guy, but this last week demonstrated how phenomenal the man is in trying to ensure the work is done soundly and to perfection. We were hard on him earlier but we should have realized that he was crushed by the load of building over a dozen homes at the same time. Trying to make all of these owners happy is a very tough task. 

Did not take pictures except these two. Meeting lasted 3 hours. Will post more soon. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pre Final Walkthrough/Demo Meeting (UPDATED)

Asking for a meeting a few days before the final walk through (Demo) meeting is absolutely one of the best tips we ever received. We asked for one a week ago and got it scheduled for this week, 4 days before the final walk though demonstration meeting.

We visited the house a couple of days ago and took extensive notes on issues that needed addressing. Met with the PM this morning and went over issues that we found. Where we had a strong case he did not even question it, and added it to his to do list. Some things we discussed and reached an agreement on. Others we agreed to revisit after scheduled work is done to see how much more work is needed.

This meeting made the difference between most critical items getting corrected before we move in, or after we move in, and we are glad our PM scheduled it..

Coming up...

Final Walk through Demo Friday 8/16
Closing will be on  Monday 8/19
Transfer and Keys Tuesday 8/20

and some pictures... saving some critical shots for later..

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Victoria Falls Loft and Bonus Bedroom pictures (UPDATED)

It seems the plumbers have been through the house. There is water and faucets and all that.. Toilet seats and sinks and stuff. Standard Ryan Homes chrome color everywhere, but the upgrade price was ridiculously high so we stuck with what's standard. The house has been painted too.. All the doors seem to be in. Stairs have been stained..

Kitchen: Lazy Susan corner only uses about half the space of the corner, there is a huge amount of space wasted behind it.. no one ever told us that.. see below for just added pictures.. No sign of the granite which was the main reason for the visit..

Driveway is poured and it is worth pointing out that it maybe under 4 inches high as it was formed with 2x4s all around. Walkway is poured too, here is a golden tip: pay extra and make your walkway 4 or 5 feet wide instead of 3, I am pretty sure we asked about that but did not stress it enough, who the hell remembers at this point! When you walk it in person it is easy to see that a 4 ft walkway makes much more sense.. Ryan Homes did not allow us to curve sidewalk to go into the side of the parking pad by the garage door like the model - this one I very clearly remember.. If you can't sell it to customers, don't offer it in the bloody model. Instead they poured it in a straight line into the driveway (not pad).. There is a stupid large triangular gap between sidewalk and side of garage parking pad. The driveway entering the garage is also about 3 inches under 18 ft.. Ryan Homes specs call for 18x27 pad, (see term R19 on page 3 of 8 of Victoria Falls rev 01 Master Selection Sheet).. There is plenty of gravel towards back of driveway and pad as they had to significantly raise the elevation, but I don't think there is as much closer to the street.

Can you tell I am not thrilled with Ryan Homes at the moment?

Just posting some pictures for the bonus bedroom and loft as it had been requested..

This is how a Victoria Falls Elevation D rev 01 Loft will look like, bye bye giant walk in closet for Master bedroom. But it is absolutely worth it for all that extra light, and room.

Entrance of bonus bedroom showing full bath, and room, which has a step down

Below is the master bath, just trying to show the color of the faucets..

Here we have a shot of the office.. but as you can see we have turned it into a laundry room..
and the observant reader may see the laundry tub pipes are sticking out of the floor instead of the wall.. what the hell is plumber thinking? that no one will notice?

Finally, here are two pictures showing the wasted dead space behind the corner's lazy Susan..

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Full speed ahead?

 With 20 days to go, went to the house yesterday to find out that it has been possessed by a crazy shock wave  of progress. The pictures show what was done sometime between Monday and Tuesday. (Posting from phone for first time, results maybe unpredictable)