Avalon Building and Blogging

Can I really care this much about flooring and faucets? Apparently, I can.

One year today!

Hello out there in Ryan blogger land! Not sure that anyone still follows me, since I have been a terrible updater since we moved in. But today, one year to the day since we closed, I am feeling reflective and thought I’d share a quick update on the home and how this first year has been. 

It’s been great.

To double our living space has been marvelous, and all the things we thought we’d love about the Avalon have proven true. The kitchen, with all its counter and cabinet space, is wonderful. We hosted 12 people at Christmas (and by hosted, I mean they SLEPT OVER), and we all fit. I dragged a card table into our foyer and we had eight around our dining room table, and four at the card table, and it was snug and happy and loud. Loved it. I have baked like a crazy person for most of the major holidays (and all the birthdays now) and was able to toss flour and sugar and sprinkles all over that kitchen island. And I have one set of cabinets that holds my enormous bread machine, crock pot, popcorn popper, cake holder and tea set. That alone is worth the price of the house. 🙂

The family room is fantastic, can’t rave enough about the upstairs bonus room, and the master bedroom still makes me grin. It’s so freaking gigantic. We are actually measuring for a small sectional sofa to have in there, if that tells you anything. The master bathroom is perfect, wouldn’t change a thing. 

Now to the quirks that we’ve noticed. None of these are deal breakers, mind you, just further proof that there is no such thing as a perfect house:

  • Wish we had a linen closet. The floor plan as we configured it has no linen closet other than the teeny, tiny one in the boys’ bathroom (which is really kind of a joke). For the time being, we’ve purchased big decorative baskets for the towels, and put the sheets in the small bedroom’s closet. We are going to invest in a shelving unit for the upstairs bonus room closet and turn that into a giant linen closet. (Which leads me to…)
  • Really not a fan of the standard shelving that comes in the closets and pantry. It’s ok for the boys’ closets, because, hey, they’re boys. What do they have to hang? A few pairs of khakis and whatever sports coat fits that year? Ok, my youngest kid hangs all his sports jerseys and lacrosse gear, and oldest kid hangs his Polo shirts, but still, not too much. The master closets could be SO. MUCH. BETTER. with just a little better shelving/layout, but I will sort that out and someday have one of those closet companies come in and knock out my master closet and my pantry. Right after I sell the organs I am no longer using. 
  • All those windows let in a lot of light. A LOT of light. Love the heck out of them, but if you’re building an Avalon, budget for window treatments right off the bat. I am still debating if I want a battery-operated blind for the second-story window in the foyer. We live in Virginia, and the house faces west, and believe me–the upstairs heats up quick when it gets above 90 degrees or so. 

Which leads me to the things we’ve learned in our first year:

  • While I am glad we insulated with the wool for noise protection, not sure we did ourselves any favors in extremely hot temps. The rooms we insulated are quiet as can be, and it’s not a problem downstairs, but in the summer, if we let the upstairs bonus room get hot, it takes forever for it to cool down. On the flip side, in the winter, it’s as cozy as can be. So I guess you have to pick your poison.
  • Wish we’d sprung for the bigger deck. Yes, it would have been a lot more money, but this is a fantastic deck, and I wish it was a bit bigger. We still have plans to put in a patio, so perhaps that will offset the smallish deck. Especially once we move the grill off it. 
  • We haven’t painted a single thing yet. Some of our neighbors painted everything top to bottom before even moving in, and others painted as they went, but we took the advice of our PM and didn’t paint anything. We haven’t hung too much on the walls yet, either. We were waiting for nail pops and drywall cracks, but haven’t seen too many. (Our drywall final appointment is scheduled for Friday, and we really don’t have too many blue tape marks for them to get. Guess we could have painted…) I am going nuts with beige walls, and kind of wish we’d risked it.
  • It took me forever to work out how to best clean the hardwood floors. They told us to use that horrid Bruce spray with the cheap mop, but it started to dull the floors and look smudged. Vinegar and water, people. That’s all you need. 
  • I’m still getting used to the granite countertops. They were supposedly sealed, and we put something on them ourselves that was supposed to seal them further, but I have noticed that water migrates like mad. If I wash my hands in the bathroom, eventually the water will seep all the way to the edge of the counter. Any thoughts? We need to re-seal anyway. 
  • Don’t get attached to the plants and landscaping that comes with the house. We’ve had two cherry trees replaced (Ryan Homes cheerfully replaced them for us, thanks very much!), and big chunks of sod replaced (also courtesy of Ryan). But over the course of the year, we’ve slowly replaced about half of what they put in, either because they died or looked scrubby or were planted in full sun when they were partial sun kind of plants. My advice? Don’t replant right away, as the soil is still pretty tenuous from the massive shock of having a giant house stuck in it. Wait a few months, see how the sun and water goes, and then get professional advice. 
  • Oh, and get this: we’ve only just now, one year in, had a Ryan-installed lightbulb burn out. Nicely done!

The only things we’ve had to call Ryan Homes about have been: the sidewalk flaked and got pitted (they replaced the whole thing, no problem); the master bathroom window was installed inside out, and the energy tint shade peeled off (whole window replaced, no problem); wonky drainage on the side yard, likely due to two houses’ AC units draining to the same spot (ran new drainage, including a French drain, no problem at all); post light didn’t work (had to come out and fix twice, before simply giving us another one, no problem at all); pantry shelves broke (eventually came out and replaced some of the hardware; this is the only one that gave us any moment of annoyance, but not a Ryan Homes issue, more due to a disappearing contractor); some AC/furnace issues, all fixed promptly; and less than ideal varnish on the stairs and a weird stain on our driveway apron that appeared immediately after we moved in, and we’ve been battling for a year. Both of those are slated to be fixed this week, so no complaints. When our PM called for our ten-month appointment, we really had to work hard to find stuff to have fixed. All in all, I know sometimes Ryan gets a bad rap, but I have nothing but really positive things to say about everyone we’ve worked with. 

What I love about this house:

  • falling asleep in the summer to the frogs outside
  • sitting outside on the back deck, watching the bluebirds hop from tree to tree
  • the room to breathe in all the rooms of my house
  • watching my boys play lacrosse and soccer in the backyard
  • the kitchen
  • the pantry
  • having a guest room on the first floor
  • being able to say, “Oh, sure, I’ll host (fill in the event)!”
  • being able to put the top section on our 9′ Christmas tree (I bought the tree on sale in our old house, sure we had 9′ ceilings. We didn’t. We had 7′ ceilings, so for two years, we could only put up two of the three sections, and had to put an angel with a big skirt on the top section to hid that the tree just stopped flat.)
  • the new house smell, which is still there after a year
  • the fact that everything is still so new, whenever I dust, there is almost nothing to wipe up
  • my tankless hot water heater, which meant that everyone at Christmas had a hot shower
  • all those windows, and all that natural light
  • my neighbors

Hope this is helpful, and in some way makes up for a long radio silence. I think what most people want to know on these blogs is how the process works, tips and advice, and what things look like. I will post pictures of the semi-decorated house in the next day or so. Wishing all who stumble across this blog and take the time to read it, a happy home-building process. Feel free to ask me any questions. I now have a bit more time to answer them. Happy (belated) Fourth of July!

 

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2 comments on “One year today!

  1. Lin Adams
    July 12, 2014

    Hello! Really enjoyed reading your blog. Can you tell me where to find Nautilus Brick Conch listello you used in your jack & Jill bathroom? I cannot find any info about it or where to buy it. Thank you! So glad you love your beautiful home!

  2. Shay
    January 16, 2015

    I love your site! I just started a blog myself after reading a few blogs out there for building Ryan homes. It’s good to know what others have experienced and what I should be on the lookout for. Thanks and keep sharing!

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This entry was posted on July 5, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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