Monday, December 31, 2012

Swimming Pool Inspiration Pictures

It's no secret that hubby and I are pining for a pool behind the BDH. Many have asked when this illustrious pool will begin to take shape, and the best answer I can give is: "the earliest possible second we can afford it." Unfortunately, that second is unlikely to come for several years as pools are very expensive, but it doesn't hurt to dream, right?

UPDATE: As pool plans have progressed, more inspiration photos here

Here are some of the prettiest pool pictures I've been able to put my pointer on (alliteration intended). I'm sure our preferences and trends will change a thousand times between now and when we can actually afford one, but these all look pretty great to me today:

 I love how the hot tub is connected to the pool, the beach area and the waterfall in this one:
 This one is just so dynamic!
 LOVE the black bottom!
 If we were on a lake or ocean, an infinity pool would be a must:
 Indoor/outdoor pool:
 Love this:
I think I might just love the back of this house and the patio. This would be great for a pool party/entertaining:
 To we swimmers who grew up on the smell of chlorine, I can't imagine a better way to fall asleep than this:
 In love with ALL of this:
 The plants almost in the pool + really creative:

Lagoon or traditional, infinity or landlocked, black bottom or blue bottom, there are TONS of choices. What types of pools do you prefer, barbies?


Saturday, December 22, 2012

All I Want for Christmas is Drywall

Now that we've all survived the Mayan Apocalypse (viva la barbies!), we can turn our focus to less important things, like the progress (or lack thereof) at the BDH. Our deceitful sales agent told us in November that our drywall would start by Thanksgiving. Obviously that wasn't true because the drywall hasn't even been delivered yet. Fabulous.

Sadly, this has become par for the course in our dealings with Toll Brothers. Ross jokes that we should take every time frame they give us & add a month to it. That might not be completely fair to all of the TB staff, because some are much more truthful than others, but isn't bad for a general rule.

On the bright side, our insulation was in the process of being installed when we stopped by last night, which is a good sign that drywall is right around the corner.

Here are the [dark] pictures of the insulation so far. I must say, I love the color!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Never Moving In

We've received a lot of questions lately from you guys about timing: When are we going to move in? What's taking so long? Weren't you supposed to be in already?!

We're right there with you; this mess is taking WAY too long. We were expressly promised by our salesperson that we would be in by Thanksgiving. He reaffirmed this commitment almost weekly for the first five months. He literally said the phrase "you will be in your new home by Thanksgiving" at least thirty times. Wouldn't a reasonable person believe they would be eating their turkey in the BDH dining room? We certainly did.

Even worse, we acted on these assurances. In legal jargon, we "detrimentally relied" on them. We signed a lease to end promptly on Thanksgiving - so of course now we're paying $250 EXTRA every month in rent because we're now deemed month-to-month renters. Fabulous. If our salesperson had been honest or on-time (still not sure what the issue is), we wouldn't be out so much money. The same is true with our storage unit. The delays have also ruined our vacation plans and our furniture shopping plans. We had hoped to buy a great deal of our furniture on Black Friday, but couldn't, because there was no where to put it. Perhaps worst of all, we're stuck in a MISERABLE, awful, tiny apartment in what has turned out to be a not so safe area. We never thought we'd be here long, but this is going on forever. Our dogs are stuck in a 800 sq. ft. space with almost no windows and with no yard. Every time I walk them in the morning a creepy man follows me and cat-calls me. The neighbor's illicit substance fumes seep into our apartment through the air vents, despite us having complained to apartment management. Ross's truck was vandalized last week. We had a roof leak right above the master bed PILLOWS for three months that resulted in us getting rained on in our sleep. It's awful. We wouldn't still be here if Toll Brothers had just been honest, and even if we were, we wouldn't be paying an ungodly amount of money to be in this miserable place, because we could have signed a lease for the appropriate amount of time. Our poor dogs are miserable and so are we. If there was a movie about this situation, the "so you had a bad day" song would be playing on repeat. It's like that.

Well, obviously we weren't in by Thanksgiving.. In October, when we still didn't have doors or windows and nothing had been started on the interior, our salesperson said "ehh, it might be more like Christmas." We were furious. If you know ANYTHING about me, you know I live all year just to decorate for Christmas. I have 23 full size Christmas trees. Knowing that maybe 10% of my Christmas decor would fit in our awful little apartment, this news effectively meant that Christmas wasn't going to happen. I cried for two days and I still get sick when I talk about it. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I feel like this salesperson took from me the one thing I look forward to all year.

Then, in late November, they told us we probably wouldn't be in until mid-January. Lovely. No New Years Eve party either. If you're going to take the biggest holiday, you might as well take the little ones too, right?

Then, last week, we were told February was looking to be a more realistic move in month. HOW DO YOU GET FROM NOVEMBER TO FEBRUARY WITH NO WEATHER, LABOR OR MATERIALS PROBLEMS?!?!? They literally have no excuse and haven't tried to make any, they just keep pushing it back. This makes me think that telling us Thanksgiving was an intentional lie. I wouldn't put it past them for a second. They knew we weren't going to build unless we could be in our house by Christmas. It feels like lately we lose about a month every week, if that makes sense. The worst part is that I don't think they even give a shit. Every day we live in this apartment is absolutely miserable, somewhat unsafe, unhealthy for our dogs and very, very expensive... and they haven't lost a minute of sleep over it.

When I say "they" I really don't mean to bash everyone we've worked with at Toll. In fact, we have a great relationship with our very honest, skilled construction manager, Johan. We also have enjoyed working with Rick. But unfortunately sometimes a few bad apples really can spoil the entire bunch, or in this case, can make an entire company look bad.

Long story short, I wouldn't wish this experience on even my worst enemy. Anyone who I've spoken with knows it's WAY more than just being lied to over and over and over again about our move in date, the contamination issue is even worse. If we can just get to February, or 2018 or whenever it is that our house will be done, I don't ever want to look back on this dark, awful time in our lives. Of course this all assumes that we will even WANT to move in, which 100% depends on how they handle the still pending contamination issue. I know I still haven't really gotten into details about it on the BDH blog, but I promise I will after it gets resolved. If it's good news and Toll acts ethically, you will hear about the back story/our happy ending/Toll' being an upstanding company, if not, you'll never hear the end of how they wronged us. I will preach to this blog's substantial (we hit 40k!) and growing reader base FOREVER about all of the wrong things. Stay tuned for that...

Until then, xox barbies

Picking out our Colonial Cream/Colonial Gold Granite Slabs!

As I've written about in prior posts, the granite species we chose (Colonial Gold/Colonial Cream) has a lot of inherent variability, which made me a little apprehensive of what our particular pieces would look like. Luckily, we were fortunate enough to be able to pick out the exact slabs that will be used in our kitchen from the granite warehouse. I'm SO glad I was able to do this, because when I got there, each Colonial Gold slab looked completely different from the others. Since our cabinets are antique white and we wanted our kitchen to have a really calm, neutral feel, we wanted our granite to be in line with that. As I wrote about before, a lot of Colonial Gold slabs come out really orange, which we didn't think was right for our kitchen. We really wanted to get the creamier colored slabs.

So that's the overly detailed background on what we wanted. Here's how it played out:

I got to the Artelye Marble and Granite warehouse, which is in East Raleigh, and a very nice and helpful lady named Janet was quick to help me. She figured out how many slabs we would need based on the size of our kitchen, island and cabinets, which ended up being 3 full slabs. Our floorplan originally called for 2 slabs, but because we almost doubled the size of the standard island (now ours will be 8 ft x 5 ft) and our island would need a full slab itself, Janet let me know we would need to pick out 3 slabs. That meant I was on a barbie mission to find the best Colonial Gold slab they had for our island, and then to also find two other nice slabs for the perimeter counter tops. The island slab was totally my priority.

Here's a picture of Artelye's warehouse. It was such a thrill to be surrounded by so many pieces of such beautiful granite. They really had some amazing stuff.

Janet arranged for the forklift operator to pull out the Colonial Gold slabs one by one. There were a few I quickly vetoed based on their orangeness, but when I narrowed it down to three, the forklift operator set out those three so that I could pick which would be the all-important island slab.

Here they are all together. The middle slab will be a perimeter slab, as will the slab on the left. The slab on the right is the big winner and will go straight to the island!

 Here's a closeup of the island slab! Isn't she gorgeous? I love it because it has so much movement. As you can see, some of those streaks stretch 8 feet, across the entire piece. It's prettier than I ever could have imagined it.

Here's a closeup of the perimeter slab that you couldn't see really well in the picture above. This is the slab on the left. It was my second favorite, but I ultimately decided against it because it had a lot of gray in it (which was beautiful, but we want our kitchen to be more creamy).

Here are some closeups of our island slab. I'm in love!

We didn't pick out our bathroom granite slabs, because that species, Golden Fiore, has practically zero variation from slab to slab. It's a very consistent style of granite. 

We're so impressed with the quality of the slabs at Artelye and so thankful that they let us handpick ours. I also cannot compliment Janet enough for being so helpful and sweet and for sharing her expertise and time with me. She was truly a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend Artelye Marble and Granite to anyone building or remodeling. They were fabulous.

xox barbies!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fabulous Foyers!

One of the reasons we chose our floorplan is because it came with such a stunning foyer. It's very wide, two stories high and has a spiral staircase. Is walking in a semi-circle the most efficient means of getting somewhere? Well, no. But is there any more glamorous way to debut a new outfit than to walk slowly down a spiral staircase? Exactly.

Also, while living in Texas, I saw this fabulous picture in Cy-Fair Lifestyles and Homes Magazine and upon seeing it, I knew in the bottom of my barbie heart that someday I had to [attempt to] recreate it, which would obviously require several things, the most distinct of which are a spiral staircase and a giant sleigh.This picture was taken in the home of the family that founded the Round Top Collection (which my mother-in-law got me turned on to and I absolutely ADORE). Isn't it breathtaking? Doesn't it make you want a big, beautiful foyer like this one?

So that's part of how we got to where we are today, building our first home in a situation that seemed like a dream and could in many ways possibly turn out to be a nightmare, but that's a story for another blog post (pending a negative response from our builder on the TCE issue).

This is our staircase as it stands now (a work in progress):

Here is a photo of our foyer in a finished model of our house in another state:

It's hard to imagine our foyer going from where it is now to the picture immediately above in under 8 weeks, but we've got our fingers crossed. Now if you want to see some fabulous, truly custom foyers, you know I've got you covered. These are enough to make any barbie drool:


Sunday, December 2, 2012

We Hit 30,000 Views!!!

Barbs, I can't believe we've hit the 30,000 views milestone! I am so humbled by your interest in our crazy home construction journey and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your support!

Your support means so much to me and this milestone renews my commitment to keeping this blog fabulous for you all. Now that the reader feedback poll has closed, I'm taking your suggestions to heart and will focus more on what you're most interested in: design/decor and our experience with our builder (Toll Brothers). Until the next poll, feel free to share your feedback and suggestions in the comments sections below each post.

As my cheesy little way of thanking you, I've put together the following BDH montage of all of the big moments on our journey, from stalking the closest existing version of our house in Apex to getting plumbing, and from sorting through cabinet samples to getting windows. :)

Thank you for taking this journey with us! We'll plan a bigger way to celebrate when we hit 50,000 views. Love you barbs!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pre-Drywall Meeting Re-Cap

Yesterday we had our Pre-Drywall Meeting, one of two major, mandatory meetings you have with Toll Brothers when building a house with them, the other being the Pre-Construction Meeting.

This meeting usually takes place after electrical, plumbing and HVAC but before siding and drywall starts. Since our plumbing, HVAC and one of the two electrical segments have been done for about 3 weeks now, we've been trying to schedule this meeting for almost a month, to no avail. As you know, we even have our siding done now. We kept asking and asking and ASKING our sales person to schedule this meeting and he just never did. Finally, the Project Manager stepped in and helped us get it scheduled, for which we are very thankful.

The meeting was with Johan, the Senior Construction Manager at Hasentree. I'm sure you've read my rave reviews of Johan throughout the blog. He's certainly our favorite person at Toll Brothers (possibly with the exception of our fabulous, now-retired design studio consultant, Yosra) because he is trustworthy, reliable and professional. When Johan says he's going to do or fix something, you can count on him to do or fix it. Also, there's no way we could conceive of him having been involved in the major material cover up that I've written about in past posts concerning the safety of our property. Plus, we bond over chocolate.

Ross and I brought a list of items that needed to be addressed to the meeting and Johan went through them one by one. The window we ordered in August will be installed in the family room sometime this week. The wall between our kitchen and family room is going to be extended two feet, as we requested through our sales person about a month ago. Johan is looking into the ceiling issue in our master bath. It's supposed to be cathedral, per the contract, blueprints and floorplan handout, but its currently flat as can be. When we toured Duncans in the Bluffs section of Hasentree, both of them had the cathedral ceilings in the bathrooms, which is a big feature that drew us to the house. We also designed our back deck layout. A few outlets, vents and thermostats are going to be moved to more logical places, but that's about all that happened at our pre-drywall meeting.

Johan explained the current game plan as this: next week (the first week of December) he is bringing in the framer to fix the wall, the media room issue and a few other small things. We also may have our siding painted and hopefully will have our framing inspection and Energy Star inspection. The next week we hope to start drywall,which ushers in all of the fun stuff like cabinets and granite! Also, our exterior stone and front doors should go up that week.

We still don't have a response from Toll Brothers on the very troublesome issue I've alluded to in prior posts, despite hoping for one yesterday. We're really hoping that they'll do the right thing, but we'll keep you posted. If they don't act honorably, you will certainly hear all about it on this blog. As you can see, we're proceeding with the house building and meetings as we should as a precaution, but we certainly can't make any big decisions about our future in Hasentree until we get Toll's response.

Here are the latest pictures of our siding, now that it is completely done:

The view down our street:

Hasentree at Christmas, the Family Activities Club:
 The model home:

Also of note: the BDH blog is almost up to 30,000 viewers! For the past week or so, we've had about 1,000-1,200 viewers per day! Blogger also tells me that this blog is now the 6th most visited site when "Hasentree" is googled! Wow! Thank you so much for all of the love and support barbs! I'm honored to have you all visiting this site and caring about our home construction journey. I'm working on a fun way to thank you guys when we hit 30,000 - stay tuned!


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