Monday, October 22, 2012

Staircases are in!

Great news barbs: we got our staircases last week! Although we first noticed them last Tuesday, I haven't yet had the chance to blog about them because I've been super busy, partially due to a few DIY projects (including the BDH's curtains!!) that tied me up all weekend. I'll blog allllll about the curtains later - I'm SO happy with how they're turnnig out, btw - but now I turn my focus to our newest construction items: the spiral staircase in the foyer and our other staircase further back in the house!

It's no secret that the spiral staircase is one of the biggest reasons we decided on our floorplan. I've blogged about our desire for a super ornate foyer here and elsewhere around the BDH blog. Needless to say, the spiral staircase's first appearance was a big moment for us. Here she is, in all her unfinished glory:


Here's the view of it as you enter the house:

Here's our other staircase. It has three linear sections, the first/lowest of which you can see in this picture. This one will be in the back of the house, connecting the kitchen/hearth room area to the upstairs hallway, right by our master. I've been referring to it as the "Ross midnight pizza expressway." :)

Yay staircases! Now we're just hoping that our builder "builds" on this momentum and keeps right on moving. We need electrical and HVAC next, then we can go to drywall, afterwhich all of the pretty stuff can start coming in. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Picking out Plants!

Yesterday we had an appointment with our landscape architect to design the BDH's yard! Although hubby and I both readily admit to NOT having green thumbs, it was a lot of fun! Our landscape architect, Dave, from Accent Design Landscape Architecture was awesome. He was so professional, incredibly knowledgeable about plants and most of all, super sweet. I also really appreciated the fact that he was willing to meet us outside working hours (I'm a working barbie, and despite my super nice boss, I can't be off taking house meetings all day).

The process is this (as best I understand):

1) We meet with him to walk around our yard and discuss what type of shrubs, topiaries, flowering trees and shade trees we want. Check!
2) He uses our preferences, soil conditions, lot layout and grade, and his amazing landscaping expertise to design our yard.
3) We approve the design.
4) Queenscape Landscaping executes his plan by buying and "installing" (as the lanscape pro's say) our plants.

After all of Dave's great advice, his interpretation of our taste (which we all now think is a 'French landscape style'), and his explanation of how the rest of Hasentree's yards are trending (which is a 'European landscape style', which apparently includes our French style), these are the plants we've decided on:

Shade Tree
We get one shade tree standard, and this was the one thing they didn't really give us a choice on, although we do ultimately really like it.

October Glory Maple

Flowering Trees
One of each of these come standard for our front yard, but we're buying one extra of each since our front yard is really wide and we like a lot of trees. These are the three trees he recommended, and since he's the pro and these all looked good, this is what we're going with! We'll have each of these:

Purple Leaf Plum

Kwazan Cherry

Evergreen Foundation Shrubs
These were both Dave's suggestions also, which we agreed with. He knows best for sure.

Evergreen azaleas

Evergreen hollies

Flowering Shrubs
We get 55 flowering shrubs in our front yard included in our landscaping package that came with the house. You can mix and match these, but we chose three varieties. They may mix in more types beyond these three, depending on whats available when they go to the nursery, but these are the three we chose.

Hydrangeas are my absolute favorite plant, they were one of our wedding flowers and they totally epitomize the French garden theme, according to Dave, so they were a MUST. From what Dave says, all hydrangeas are the same genetically, but the flowers can be white, blue or pink depending on the acidity of the soil. Acidic soil makes blue flowers, a neutral pH makes white hydrangeas and a basic soil makes pink hydrangeas. Although I don't usually go for blue, I LOVE blue hydrangeas. I'm also nuts about pink and white hydrangeas, so picking would be a tough call. Luckily the soil gets to decide, not us.
Spoiler alert: Dave said the soil pH throughout Hasentree is acidic, so our hydrangeas will be blue!


Rose Knockout

Evergreen Corner Trees
These are just evergreen trees. The variety we're getting along the foundation are one of the smaller species of evergreen trees. We're getting the bigger version as privacy trees. These are included in our package but the privacy trees are not.

Door Accent Topiaries
We chose the swirled topiaries over the pom pom topiaries.We get two of these, and they go on either side of the steps leading to the front door. I was so excited to find out we get these free! They're so chic!

Privacy Trees
These aren't free, but we wanted a little privacy in our backyard. Don't get us wrong, we LOVE our neighbors and feel like we've hit the jackpot with them, but I think everyone appreciates a little personal space. Plus, our nextdoor neighbor installed some on his side already, so it's only fair that we also pay for privacy that we both benefit from. Anyway, the trees we're getting here are evergreens (that look like Christmas trees!), but they're a hardier, faster growing, bigger version than the evergreen trees we're getting beside our foundation.

Stone Pavers
For some reason, these also come through the landscaper. They're stones that you put at the base of your driveway, for 4-6 feet, to add a little driveway pizazz. We've wanted authentic flagstone pavers since long before we even decided on this house, but it turns out that they're a little cost prohibitive. For about half the cost, we can get these stone imitation stone pavers. They're still a little pricey, so we haven't made a final decision on them yet. We'll see though. What do you barbies think? Worth the extra cash?

Best of all, Dave makes sure that all the plants of clashing colors are plants that will bloom at different times (so the pink bushes will never be in bloom when the read tree is). He also plants the trees in places that flatter the house and make mowing easiest. He really thinks of it all!

xox barbies!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Barbie Dream House's Construction Timeline

Good morning Barbies!

I just thought I would share the construction timeline the builder gave us, so that you could see where we currently stand in the Toll Brothers construction schedule. One of the subcontractors told me that this sequence is pretty standard amongst all builders, so if you're building a home elsewhere by Toll or by someone else, this might be similar to the chain of events that your home construction takes.

Sign Purchase Agreement (we did this on April 21st)
Release home for construction
Customized blueprints ordered
Plot plan ordered
Building permit submitted to municipality
Lumber, brick, shingles, windows, etc. ordered
Interior selections finalized at Design Studio by buyers
Building permit received
Lot clearing
Home site staked on lot
Prep for crawlspace
Pre-construction meeting between buyers and builder
Setting forms for footings
Footings inspected by municipal building inspector
Footings poured
Damp proofing of foundation walls
Foundation inspected by municipal building inspector
Building materials delivered
Set steal beams
Rough framing
Shingle roof
Install exterior trim
Rough HVAC
Rough plumbing
Rough electrical
HVAC inspection by municipal building inspector
Plumbing inspection by municipal building inspector
Electrical inspection by municipal building inspector
Frame inspection by municipal building inspector
Insulation installed
Energy Star inspection
Insulation inspection by municipal building inspector
Pre-Drywall meeting between buyers and builder
Exterior siding installed
Exterior stone installed
Hang, tape and mud drywall
Sand drywall
Rough grade of the lot
Prime home interior for paint
Installation of garage dors
Trim, baseboard, molding, closets, shelves and rails
Installation of cabinets
Floor prep
Set all ceramic tile
Final interior paint
Install hardwood floors
Final HVAC trim out
Final electric trim out
Final plumbing trim out
Hang gutters and downspouts
Final grading of home site
Installation of crown and base molding and door hardware
Installation of appliances
Installation of carpet
Touch-ups, adjustment and cleaning
Final HVAC inspection by municipal building inspector
Final plumbing inspection by municipal building inspector
Final electric inspection by municipal building inspector
Final building inspection by municipal building inspector
Pre-closing orientation with buyers by builder
Certificate of occupancy

All of this seems a little daunting, but we're making progress! Oh, and dang, isn't that a ton of inspections (all of the purple items)?! Geez Wake County. At least we know the house will be well vetted.

xox barbies

Plumbing: Check!

Best news ever: our plumbing was started AND finished this week! This was a very nice surprise, since we'd kinda been given the impression that we weren't going to get plumbing, HVAC or electrical for two weeks or more. The Barbie Dream House is beginning to gain function - yay!

Our kitchen sink plumbing:
The master bath - now with tub!

Our refrigerator hookup!
All of our secondary bathtubs were installed :)
Just taking a bath in my tub... no biggie.
Washer Dryer Hookups (photo taken from the garage)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Drapes, Curtains and Cornice Boards: Oh, My!

Now that we actually have windows, it's time to start working on the curtains, right? Although my seamstress/mother probably wants to delay her impending Whitneyzilla curtain nightmare, I'm totally ready to get going with the window treatments (which is easy for me, the non-laborer, to say). Maybe it's time for me to learn to sew...

As with every other aspect of designing this house, I started the process on pinterest and this is what I'm lusting over so far:

So dramatic. Love.
Pinned Image
I think they call this a "scarf" style. Pretty cute.
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Love the layering:
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This fabric is disturbing, but I love the balloon style:
Pinned Image
One of my favorite drape designs. LOVE these knots.
Love this valence.
Adore this color scheme. This would be a great way to jazz up the two-story panels in the formal living room and family room.
So romantic:
This is a MUST, especially in the powder room:
Would love this exact curtain in the formal living room.
Balloon shade WITH a cornice board. Creative!
So romantic. Again, love the balloon style.
Cornice masterpiece.
Tailor pleated balloon shades. Magical!
Which style is your favorite, barbies? If you have any fabulous curtain sites or blogs, please share in the comments section below. xox!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2012 Parade of Homes!

When you're building your first home, you all of a sudden have silly things like the Parade of Homes on your radar. Our builder has been talking about it for weeks, probably because Toll Brothers entered two homes this year. Two other builders also entered their homes in Hasentree, bringing the Hasentree parade home total to four. Although the vast majority of lots in Hasentree are owned by our builder, there are still a few builders who own and build on a small percentage of the lots. Since we couldn't resist checking out our future neighbor's houses and homes by other builders in Hasentree, these pictures chronicle our first time on the Parade route.

Step one: check on our own house, of course. Although it's not entered in the Parade of Homes (obviously), it's number one in our hearts and only a few steps off the Parade route, so we popped in. There was a little bit of standing water, but otherwise everything looked good! The Barbie Dream House is chugging right along!


Step two: check out the Stansbury by Toll Brothers that's near our house. We had seen it before, but it really came a long way in the past few weeks (probably in a rush to prepare it for the Parade), so it was cool to see all of the final touches. I think it's a really attractive home from the outside. The inside was beautiful as well. The hardwood floors were some of the prettiest I'd ever seen (I'm kicking myself now for not taking a picture). The floorplan was pretty cool too - the dining room and one of the bedrooms have circular walls. It's pretty awesome. One final note on this house, I think it would be great for a big family. It has a ton of bedrooms and a big playroom.
Overall Parade Grade: A
Of note, it won the award for best staircase. Here's the puffy blue ribbon to prove it.

I took a picture of these countertops because they're very similar to ours. Our granite either is this or is a not so distant cousin to this. We also chose the waterfall edge profile for our island, just like this island has, and the half bullnose edge profile for our perimeter countertops. Twinsies!

Here is the prize winning staircase


Step three: venture over to a Hasentree home not by Toll Brothers, but instead by Raleigh Custom Homes. We watched it as it (very quickly) came up over the past few months, so we were eager to see the finished product. Although we would probably give the floorplan about a C-, the interior finishes were really nice - probably an A or A-. The granite in the kitchen was white with glittery gray chunks inside - something I'd never seen before but was really beautiful. The house had tons of built-in bookshelves, unusually high bathroom counters (which were nice) and a nice custom master closet. For about 1500 square feet smaller than our house yet about the same price as our house, I think we'll stick with ours. Most importantly, the floorplan just sucked for our needs.
Overall Parade Grade: B
I do love this window though!


Step three: head to the back of Hasentree to check out this masterpiece by Bost Custom Homes. The curb appeal really wasn't there for me, although Ross loved it from the front, but it blew both of us away from the inside. This thing was as custom and tricked out as you could ever imagine on the inside. Unlike many Parade homes, its currently occupied and was custom built and designed with a particular family in mind.
Overall Parade Grade: A
How did this island not win an award? Yes, that table looking piece at the end is part of the island. So creative. So cool. Also, not pictured here (kicking myself again), the house had a skullery behind the kitchen with a second refrigerator!
The gaming room in the basement. I smell some very happy teenage boys...
The center column that the staircases revolve around. The staircase from basement to first floor and the staircase from the first floor to the second floor all revolve around it. It's so hard to explain, but it was so cool. Love the faux paint too!

TV in the master bath - something I've been talking about for years. Great minds think alike!
The outdoor kitchen - awesome!

The super-custom mantle. I think it was sandstone! It looks like it won an award as well.
Only on the Parade...
Jacuzzi on the porch! Holla!

Step four: head to the golf villa that Toll Brothers entered into the Parade. The floorplan on this house is so open that it feels incredibly spacious inside. The interior trimmings were pretty nice, but not out of this world.
Overall Parade Grade: B
This island won first place, so it was worth a picture. Also, the shape and size of it is a lot like ours, so we like it of course. Ours won't have this cool vegetable sink though.

Overall, despite the rain, we had a great time at our first Parade of Homes. We got a little bit of inspiration and got to explore a few houses in our neighborhood. Next weekend we're going to try to see a few outside of Hasentree. I really want to see the 2.5 million dollar custom home on Possum Track. If we go, I'll try to blog about it.

DISCLAIMER: "Parade Grades" are something I just made up, are completely subjective and have absolutely NOTHING to do with the HBA's real rankings of the homes. They represent the views of this barbie only. <3
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