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Friday, March 29, 2013

Designer Meeting with La-Z-Boy

So we had our meeting with the designer at near by La-Z-Boy.

If you didn't read my earlier post, we did an initial consultation with the designer last week where she got to know us and our style.  We gave her pictures of our flooring, cabinet and granite choices along with lighting, etc.  Honestly having this blog helps because you can direct them to the page. She also downloaded the floor plans and put them into her CAD program.

I can honestly say, so far this has been the best part of buying this house. We had a blast looking at sofas, chairs, sectionals, looking at fabrics and learning about the quality of their construction. We've looked at other furniture and it really is great stuff. As you would expect you are going to pay a little more for higher quality furniture that gives you over a thousand fabric choices. Apposed to Ashley that is imported from China and you get 3 to 4 fabric choices. This is our forever house and this (we hope) is our forever furniture. Years ago when we said we were going to do this, we made a pact that we weren't going to settle and were going to do it right. Well unfortunately we will have to do it in phases and it will take us 1 1/2 to 2 years and will be a work in progress but it will be worth it in the end.

I told our La-Z-Boy designer and sales rep what our intent is and they say that for most people that have to buy this much furniture, they usually do the same thing and it is a long term relationship. We locked in on a big sale they were running, and it applies to custom furniture too (not all their sales do). The great part is we can place our order anytime. Interesting thing...they are used to be people buying/building homes and have tweaked their business processes to cater to the customer, instead of the customer bending to their process/policy. That's a novel concept.

At any rate, we are more excited than ever before to see our new home come to life with at least a few pieces of this wonderful furniture in it.

Building Permits Applied For

Our county has an eBusiness site that allows you to check the status of permits and inspections (ie Date Scheduled, Cancelled, Completed, Pass, Fail and any notes).  So RH requested the general construction permit for our single family dwelling with HVAC yesterday.

Looking at other permits in our neighborhood, the county seems to be like clock work.  Here is what I think the schedule will look like:

3/28 - Permit requested
4/3 - Already scheduled Pre-Con Meeting
4/4 - Plans review scheduled by County
4/8 or 9 - Plans review complete
4/9 or 10 - Permit issued
4/10 or 11 - Permit picked up by RH

4/15 - Already scheduled to begin construction

So it looks like we are on track (don't say that out loud...).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pre-Construction Meeting Scheduled

Scheduled our Pre-Con meeting today for Wednesday, April 3rd.  It's not quite a Milestone, more like an Inchstone but it's nice to have some progress toward building something.

Finally something to write home about


We had our initial meeting with the La-Z-Boy designer yesterday.  Finally something to write home about.

This meeting was more of a “get to know you” meeting.  What is your taste like, what furniture pieces and elements are you going to be keeping and integrating into the design, etc.  We looked at various pieces on the floor, in catalogs and different fabrics.  This was not to really nail down definitive choices but so that the designer could get a feel for how to design the spaces. 

If you are as confused as I was, “Yes, this was La-Z-Boy” and “Yes” it is a complimentary service for paying customers.  “WOW!”  A night and day experience from what we encountered trying to pick out flooring and other house options.  I’m thinking there are some serious lessons learned here for RH.  I’m thinking I would have rather went to a design studio that was a single focal point and had some of the same conversations we had with this designer.  I don’t know if we would have made different house selections but they would have been much easier with this kind of help and advice.

The other thing I didn’t know is that La-Z-Boy owns two other furniture manufacturers for things like dining room sets, coffee tables, end tables, sofa tables and even bedroom sets.  They have a higher end that is made of solid wood and another line that is lesser expensive veneer.  Again, who knew?

We are meeting next week to review the designer’s plans and story boards.  I’ll keep you posted.  OBTW, if you are in the Dayton, OH area, and want the POC, let me know.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Got a Start Date

We received an estimated start date today of April 15th.

Basically a month from now and over 6 weeks from Loan Approval and 10 weeks from our Production Release.

This doesn't seem to be their mean time but I guess to get a mean of 8 weeks from Purchase you have to have some at 4-6 and others at 8-10.  I guess we are the "lucky" ones to continually fall on the right side of the bell curve.

This is pretty much where we have been at every stage of this process. A loan processing process that takes an average of 4 weeks took 8.

When we purchased we were told June or July which leads you to believe late June early July.  Our lease is up in July and our kids will start at their new schools Aug 14th. Any schedule slip and not only are we out on the street but it may disrupt our transition to a new school district.

Starting April 15th guarantees we will not finish earlier than July 22nd with no issues (UPDATE: Sales Manager said July 23rd in Email then said July 24th, 25th on still don't really know when it will be done).  Plus closing, waiting for NVR to fund themselves (a virtual shell game) and finally getting keys. 

If nothing goes wrong we will have less than a week to move out of our existing home (plus painting, cleaning and making small repairs), and get the new house ready to be moved into. This also only gives us maybe 2 weeks for the family to get unpacked and settled into our house before they go to their new schools.  Not that we are not pro's at this.  We are military have moved every 1.5 to 2 years over the last 20+ years.  That's why we are buying and settling we don't have to put our family through this anymore.  Just was hoping this one would be easier.  No such luck.

We started this process mid January thinking there would be plenty of time to get in before our lease is up and school starts.  Based on what I have observed thus far, I am doubtful we will get keys before August.  We either consistently have the worst luck of any of RH customers or this region is having serious internal process issues? 

I've observed two other RH communities where people have purchased after us but are already building (30 day before us).  Same county, same builder, same lender, same loan processors, oh and the same weather...what's the difference?  There are only 6 factors that can act on the outcome of a process: Man, Machine, Method, Materials, Measurement and Mother Nature.  Well I eliminated most of them above so is it...Leadership, management, metrics, personnel, or the processes?

The probability of falling on the right side of the mean 4 times in a row is less than 6%... I'm from Vegas and nobody is that unlucky.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

La-Z-Boy Has More than Recliners

I had read another post about a builder going to La-Z-Boy to purchase furniture.  I had been through there not long ago and was not aware of the services they offer.  Apparently, they offer Free In Home Design Services (In our case, from blueprints).  They partner with Sherwin Williams and you can select and customize any piece of furniture in the store w/over 1,100 fabrics.  You also can order other furniture like, dining room sets, entertainment centers, etc.

Our design consultant called us today, will be downloading the floor plan off the RH website and after interviewing us over the phone will be working up some design ideas for us.  We will be meeting in about a week to go over fabrics, colors, styles, accessories, etc.

Will make a post after the meeting.

Friday, March 8, 2013

False Alarm

SR got back to me on what I thought was a construction driveway and the PM says this is actually a Concrete Washout area for construction going on throughout the development.  Two thoughts on this.  1.) we are going to have the neighborhood construction workers dumping debris right next to my drive way until they have finished building out the development.  2.) The only RH home currently under construction is on the other side of the development which makes me suspect that this is for the entire development and not just the 3 lots (including mine) adjacent to this patch of gravel that have been sold and are awaiting construction start dates.

Did find out that another couple purchased a lot in our development.  RH frequently takes over from other developers and ours is an example of that.  All the home sites were a little larger than their regular development up the street where the model is.  The original developer was putting Custom Homes on the lots and they've been built by many different builders which gives the neighborhood a very nice look.

There were only 33 original lots and 11 of them have custom homes on them now.  RH is going to develop the other 22 lots.  They just opened the development in January and have sold 6 of the lots and have begun construction on 1 of them.  We're hoping to be the 2nd. ;-) Fingers crossed.

So in our development we have:
1 - Highgrove (Our Home)
2 - Avalon's
2 - Courtland Gates
1 - Jefferson Square (This is the smallest floor plan they will build in this development.  The minimum above ground square footage is 2,800sqft.  This model has to built with the Morning Room to even qualify.)

RH is also advertising the following homes for this development:
- Waverly I really hope they build at least one of these in our development.  I would like to see one.
- Balmoral They aren't advertising this one but there was some talk of offering it.  Mostly to upset me.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Looks Like We Got a Temporary Construction Driveway

We were out near our homesite and figured we would swing by. We are not delusional enough to think this will not become a regular occurrence. It looks like they put in a construction driveway next to our lot. It's just on the other side of our property line but they haven't sold the lot where they put it.  I emailed the SR with picture and kindly asked that any potential buyers be forwarded to us for an interview.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Finally - Loan Approval

Finally Approved!!!

We received an email today from our LO with a Loan Approval.  This has been probably the most nerve racking part of this entire experience. 

We weren't too worried about it... but we weren't sure what impact the recent legislation and belt tightening in the mortgage industry was going to have on our file.  What were they going to find that even we didn't know about?  Or were we going to become victims of some sort of pet peeve that the underwriter had?  Either way, you just don't know anything, and have no control over any of it.  For a control freak that controls every part of their lives, I did not like this.

It took a whopping 6 1/2 weeks (UPDATE: 7 Weeks by the time we got an approval letter).  I'm not sure what the industry average is but I'm pretty sure that's not it.  I would safely say with 95% confidence, this is on the right side of the bell curve.  We were asked for one small thing the other day but other than that, it was just a lot of silence and waiting.

If you were to ask me right now if I would do this again...I would have a hard time saying "Yes".  If I would have bought a resale home and used my Credit Union - I could have already closed on the home, and completed any upgrades and improvements I wanted to make.  We would be moving in now, rather than waiting to start building. 

We've come too far to turn back now and I know once our home starts to be built, the frustration I am still feeling will begin to fade.  Not so much that I will forget it when I fill out those surveys they send you.  The other option would have been for me to have found these Blogs before I got involved with NVRM and used my own bank from the outset.

Based on NVRM's reputation and the issues I've already experienced, it's difficult to feel good about the Loan Approval.  My gut tells me, they aren't done torturing me or my family.  I'm just waiting for when we get closer to closing and like many out there can't move into your new home because of some dysfunction on NVRM's end. 

(UPDATE: I was right.  NVRM failed to ask RH when the estimated closing date was, so they put an arbitrary Loan Commitment Expiration date on our Approval Letter.  The dates is 2 weeks prior to our estimated closing date and if we exceed the Expiration date, we have to go back through the entire loan processing process again.  This is the most dysfunctional relationship I've ever seen between two organizations that are owned by the same company.  I've asked for clarification on this but if the date doesn't really mean anything than why put it on the letter at all.  And if you are going to have a date, then get one that at least lines up with a realistic closing date.  Well, that would mean they would have to talk to their sister organization and I'm sure like many siblings they are better at fighting than communicating.)

I know RH is very efficient at building homes but it took their lender nearly as long to process a simple loan as it does for them to build a home.  I could not be more displeased with this part of the process.  I'm a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt (Process Improvement Methodologies developed by Toyota and Motorola but used by many large companies like GE) and I would have an absolute field day with their processes.  Normally when doing an event and looking for a root cause, you don't blame the people, you blame the process... but in this case I would make an exception and do some much needed house keeping.

The Good News.  We should have a Start Date by late next week.

My promise to anyone reading my whining and rambling.  Future posts will be much more cheerful and useful.  I did not want the issues I've had with NVRM to go undocumented just in case someone out there hasn't purchased yet and can save themselves a lot of heartache.  On the other hand I set out to write about Good Lessons Learned, Gotchas and other Useful Tips that Builder's can Learn from.  I will make every attempt to ensure future posts have more of that and less wanking.