Welcome to Our Story

As we went through the build of our Carolina Place floorplan with Ryan Homes, we benefited from advice and information we found on other blogs. We decided to pay it forward and record our experience. You can see all of our posts on the home page, or visit our Timeline page to view the timing of different steps. Visit the Options page to see options we chose and images of them. Thank you for visiting! Leave us a comment or send a message from the Contact page. We would love to hear what you liked on our blog, or let us know if you have any questions or would like to see something more posted here.

Shelter in Place

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.

– Sarah Ban Breathnach

LIFE IN 2020

The year 2020 certainly brought changes for everyone, and while we still have a long wish list of projects, we made some progress in this crazy year.

The biggest project we tackled was our deck. We used Hen-House Decks for the build and I recommend them to anyone in Northeast Ohio. They were reasonably priced (we got three quotes) fantastic to work with and their work was excellent. They even submitted our deck to the Trex-Pro competition and won first place for the category- pretty exciting!

We ran into some issues getting the deck furnished due to backorder and delivery issues during the pandemic, but a few pieces made it at the end of the season. We’re looking forward to this season to make the space really comfortable. The next big project will be a paver patio and fire pit off the walkout basement.

We crossed a few smaller projects off the to do list too. We worked on the landscaping some more and added outdoor speakers, security cameras and outdoor smart-lighting. After a lot of researching and recommendations, we went with Bose outdoor speakers, Wyze cameras and Phillips Hue spot lights.

We also got our one-year Ryan Homes touch up so we started painting and adding color inside and finishing touches to the walls. We waited for a long time for that one-year touch up and had high hopes for what they would do. In the end, we probably put more faith in that process than it merited. They did light touch ups which quickly deteriorated. In hindsight, we would have been better off to do the patches ourselves and paint as we were ready, opposed to waiting that whole year for what I would call a quick, bandaid patch-job.

We love our home and haven’t had any major issues. We did hire a home inspector just prior to our one year warranty expiring for peace of mind and a final check. He reported the house is solid and well built. It has been a blessing to be in our home through this crazy year.

I’ll continue to post as we finish projects, and please leave us comments or contact us on the contact page if you like our page or if you have questions about our experience.

Added some color to the landscaping for Fall and leveled low spots

We couldn’t be happier with our new outdoor space

Many furnishings were backordered but we got some at the end of the season

Hen-House Decks won first place with our deck!

Installed Hue outdoor smart lighting – can be set to any level/color

Added small trim along coffered ceiling and floating shelves in the empty corner

SW Alpaca on the walls and Krypton on the ceiling in the main room

SW Requisite Gray in the Master- paint for the tray to come

SW Lazy Gray in the guest room

Make Yourself Comfortable

Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.


We’ve been in our home for almost five months now. It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in the house for a longer amount of time than it took to build it! We have completed a few projects, but we have lots more on the list. It’s been nice settling in and making the house our home.

I’ve added some pictures of projects and some pictures of our first Christmas at home. ❤️

Added some landscaping and got the lawn installed.

Added a barn door on the mud room

New light fixture and blinds in the morning room- cornice boards to come.

Light fixture and some art added in the great room

Over cabinet smart lights – change to any color

Decided on floor to ceiling curtains in the great room

Changed up the colors for the holiday season

Added a ring doorbell

Our giant tree fit in front of the big front window and 9’ ceilings – still working in window treatments here

‘Tis the season- all lit up for Christmas

This is Our House

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

– Psalm 127:1


We are truly blessed. All good things come from above, and we are thankful for our beautiful new home.

Today, we closed and received the keys! We used an outside lender and had a double close on our previous home and our new home. We used Hometown Bank in Kent, Ohio and we recommend them to anyone in the area. We used NVR Title for the new house and no problems there. A lot of planning went into making the double close and single move work for us, but again, we were blessed!

A couple pictures are below, but we also added all the pictures to the Options page- check it out for more!

Many of you reading this are probably beginning the process or are underway– to those folks, good luck and enjoy the ride! We hope this blog helps you in some small way during the process. Feel free to comment or send a message if you would like to see images of specific options or have any questions we may be able to answer. We’ll add more pictures and an update after we get settled in and decorated.

Settlement complete! We have keys!

Before and after – 12 weeks

Finishing Touches

While adding the finishing touches to a painting may appear insignificant, it is much harder to do than one might suppose..

– Claude Monet


It was so exciting to have our final walkthrough today; the house looks beautiful! We are anxious for closing and our move next week. This process has been an emotional roller coaster, but such a blessing to be a part of. We can’t thank Jenn, Joey and Clayton from Ryan Homes enough for dealing with all of the ups and downs with us along the way.

There are a few items that will be wrapped up but the build is complete. Last week they wrapped up odds and ends, cleaned the house, completed the grading and had the third party inspection. Next week is a busy one for us with closing our current home, our new home and of course the big move. It’s been a wild ride but the end is near!

welcome home – Love our purple door!

House is complete!

Finished great room

Love the morning room

Finished kitchen

Hall bath

Rounding 3rd and Headed Home

I love it when people doubt me. It makes me work harder to prove them wrong.

– Derek Jeter


Representing with a baseball theme this week since it’s MLB All Star week in CLE, but we chose this quote for Joey, Jenn and the whole Ryan Homes crew who worked hard and proved they could pull together a beautiful home! As amazing as it is to watch, doubts do creep in through the process, particularly if you let negative stories or reviews darken your outlook. But absolutely everyone we’ve met or worked with through the process has been friendly and helpful and seeing things almost completed, we are beyond happy with our home.

It’s been fun to see the finishes come together this week. The electric was finished, plumbing finished, fireplace was finished and tested, carpet installed, appliances delivered and installed and cleanup has begun. Plus, some of the odds and ends were tied up; the broken window and the damaged cabinet were replaced and installed and sanding, painting and patching continued on the walls and trim both exterior and interior. Next week, the final odds and ends and cleaning will finish up before we do our walkthrough the following Monday.

Kitchen with lighting, faucet and appliances

Floor is uncovered!

Master bath with fixtures and floor uncovered

Master bedroom with lighting and carpet

Completed fireplace

Second bedroom with carpet and electric

The End is in Sight

Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go.

– Rick Warren

It seems like there is so much to be done prior to our pre-settlement walkthrough that’s just over two weeks away, but knowing how much can be accomplished each week, we’re excited to see it all come together.

This week, LVP was finished, drywall patching and sanding continued, the first coat of paint was added to walls doors and trim, the shower tile and door were installed, doorknobs were added, shelving was added in pantry, closets and laundry, electrical finishing began, HVAC and electricians installed fans and AC, and kitchen countertops and sink were installed.

There are some things that need to be repaired or redone, but overall, things are moving along well. The replacement for the damaged cabinet hasn’t arrived yet, the stone along the sloped yard was laid at an angle instead of straight and will be removed and reset, there are issues with the downspouts and drains that need to be addressed and a broken window needs to be replaced. Joey is on top of it, so we aren’t worried, but anxious to see what the next two weeks bring.

Kitchen with granite counters and electrical outlets

Even the kitchen sink!

Painted walls and one of the nicest electricians in the world

Painted doors with handles in master bath

Shower tile and door installed

AC unit set and operating

An Inside Job

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

The inside of the house had major transformation this week. At the beginning of the week, the walls were primed and the ceilings were textured. We were shocked when we returned toward the end of the week to see everything else that was completed. All interior doors were hung and our cottage front door was swapped in. The coffered ceiling, baseboards, windowsills and door trim were added, kitchen and bathroom cabinets were set (except one that was damaged in shipping), bathroom vanities were put in and the mirrors have been hung, tile floors in both baths and laundry were completed, plus the insulation was added in the basement. Then, Friday, the flooring was put down in the great room and kitchen.

With our walkthrough date of July 15 approaching, we’ve started packing and planning the move. Plus, this week we were able to get the measurements to order our bedroom window treatments so we’ll have them when we move in. It’s hard to believe we’ll be moving in four short weeks!

Coffered ceiling trim

Textured ceiling completed

Master bath tile floor

Kitchen cabinets set

Master bath cabinets, countertops and windows

Windowsills and baseboards

Great room flooring installed

Stones and Mud

Even a brick wants to be something.

– Louis Kahn

Work continued on both the interior and exterior this week. We were surprised to see the stone was set over the weekend. What a beautiful sight seeing all of the colors we selected come to life together!

Also this week, the drywall mud was added and sanding began. The fireplace surround was added and the gutters and downspouts were installed. Plus, a whole bunch of “goodies” arrived in the garage.

Joey took some time off, but still took the time to call this week with an update. Next up, wall primer, floors and trim.

Stone added to exterior

Sierra PA Ledgestone

Fireplace Surround – Absolute black granite

Gutters and downspouts installed

Arches and drywall mud

Drywall mud and sanding on master walls and ceilings

Garage full of cabinets, doors, trim and other supplies

Puttin’ Up Walls

Another brick in the wall.

-Roger Waters


It’s hard to believe we’re more than halfway through our build with the completion of week seven. Big changes occurred on both the interior and the exterior this week. The siding and shutters were completed on the exterior and the stone was delivered. We also saw what is probably the biggest change to date inside; the drywall was hung and each room took shape.

We’ve also started our shopping for appliances that are not included and some new furniture for rooms where we’ve decided to update. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how willing retailers have been to hold the purchases for weeks before delivering to our new address.
Next week, the drywall will be taped and finished and the stone will be added to the exterior.

We are excited to see more progress and remain grateful for all the great folks working on our home, from the tradesmen, the PMs and sales reps to our real estate agent for our current home and we cannot forget our amazing banker. We cannot thank you all enough!

Siding almost completed – Photo credit to our sales rep Jenn Kingure

Siding and shutters completed

Siding completed back of house

Stone is here!

Drywall hung – looking through great room to morning room

Drywall in master with tray ceiling

Drywall in master bath

It’s a Date!

A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.

Greg Reid


What a week! More electric work was completed including the installation of the panel. Siding was started, no easy task with the angles along the sloped yard. More dirt arrived and additional grading was done in the back of the house. Insulation was installed and inspected. The crew did a really great job on the insulation. Not only was insulation added to the exterior walls, but all gaps along windows, doors and between boards were filled with foam. Even the holes in electrical and fixture boxes in the ceiling were sprayed with foam plus caulk was added to ensure the drywall seals tightly to ensure energy efficiency. And last this week, drywall was delivered.

There was lots of progress, but our biggest news is that we met with Joey for our pre-drywall walkthrough. Everything is looking great. We didn’t have any concerns at walkthrough, just a few wishes and questions. Joey also gave us our date for final walkthrough – July 15th, 2019! While that is unbelievably exciting, it is also just a little bit terrifying thinking about everything that needs to happen in the next six weeks. Between the sale of our current home, packing, moving plans, financing and seeing the rest of the house completed, it will be a very busy time.

Although it can feel busy and stressful, we are truly blessed to be living this experience. I can’t say enough about all the great people working on our home.

Siding started on north side

Siding corners, ledges and trim

Electric panel

Grading behind house

Insulation, caulk at drywall and foam on wiring

Insulated wall and delivered drywall

The Bare Necessities

Wherever I wander, wherever I roam, I couldn’t be fonder of my big home.

The Bare Necessities -lyrics by Terry Gilkyson


This week, much of the basic amenity rough work was completed. We also had some heavy winds that brought a tree down on our lot, but we were fortunate that it missed the house by a long shot– and Joey our PM was all over it and it’s already been cleaned up and removed. 😊

Work this week included hot water tank install, rough HVAC, rough and underground electric, cabling and installation of the walkout door and garage doors. All of the rough inspections have now been completed. The fireplace insert has also been in for a week or two (can’t believe I forgot to mention that one!).

We are so excited for next week. Next up is insulation, drywall and siding. For us, big news is our pre-drywall walkthrough will be next Thursday and we will get our final date. We are anxious to start making arrangements to close and move!

Cottage style garage doors

Walk out door is in

HVAC installed the furnace

Fireplace, electric and cabling

Laundry wall with plumbing, electric and venting

Tree down!

So glad it wasn’t closer to the house

A Roof Above and a Floor Below

If you have a family that loves you, a few good friends, food on your table and a roof over your head. You are richer than you think.


Another week in the books and more progress on our home. I even stopped by on a day that was expected to be quiet to find trucks everywhere and a swarm of men hard at work on the concrete garage, basement, and front porch floor a day early!

This week, the roofers delivered and installed the shingles, the rough plumbing was completed and inspected and the floors were poured for the basement, garage and front porch.

Our pre-drywall walk-through is expected in the upcoming week (or two depending on schedules). We are excited for that meeting because we will get our settlement date that day, then it will be time to start planning the details of the big move. 🙂

Roof in progress

Completed shingles – front

Completed shingles – back

Rough plumbing install

Main bath surprise

Front porch prep for concrete and opening for basement pour

In-progress basement floor

House in 7 Days? Impossible!

Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’

-Audrey Hepburn


This week has been absolutely surreal. At the beginning of the week, only the foundation was in place, but now, the frame of the house stands on our lot. I never would have dreamed the builders could accomplish so much in seven days.

This week, the foundation was backfilled, beams were set, the floor joists and floor installed, wall framing completed, windows and doors installed, roof trusses installed and roof sheeting is in progress.

The progress this week was amazing. We took pictures each day – hard to believe this series is one week. We are so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to experience this process.

Friday – week two, foundation waterproofing

Monday, week three. Backfill and grading.

Tuesday, beams and garage framing

Wednesday, floor joists and sheeting

Thursday, wall framing and windows and doors

Friday, roof trusses and sheeting

Firm Foundation

It’s not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.

-David Allan Coe


This was another exciting week. Now that construction has begun, it is moving quickly.

This week, basement wall forms were set, concrete walls were poured, waterproofing was applied to the walls, downspout and footer drains were installed and connected.

We are so thankful for all of the people who are working hard on our home. Next week, the foundation will be backfilled and framing will begin.

Week Two
Wall Forms
Waterproofing up to the future grade
Downspout and Footer Drains
Walkout Basement
Basement Walls -Photo Credit to my daring Dad

Construction Begins

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

– Plato


After months of planning and waiting, it is amazing to see physical progress. We had some April showers this week which kept us from completing “best case” progress, but Joey, our PM, called at the end of the week to let us know we’re on schedule and in great shape.

This week, the foundation was dug, the forms were set and footers were poured. Next week, wall forms will be placed and walls will be poured. The wood is ordered and things are moving right along.

Week One

First Scoop!

We have a hole!

Setting the footer forms

Poured footers

Garage and house footers

Ready, Set, Go!

Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.

– William A. Ward

From January to April, not much was happening. It was more a waiting game getting ready to start building. During that time we did contract to sell our existing home and luckily, we’ll have closing and give possession in late July so we’re very hopeful timing will work out for a smooth single move and transition.

After all that planning and waiting, on April 15, we had our pre-construction meeting. This meeting is scheduled the week before Ryan plans to dig. Our meeting was with our awesome Sales Rep Jenn and our Project Manager Joey. Jenn has been great at answering all of our many questions. This was our first meeting with Joey but we’re really excited to work with him too. You can tell he loves what he does.

The purpose of the meeting is to go through every option recorded on your contract and compare the plans to confirm everything is how you want it. After the review, you also get to walk the site with the house staked out exactly how it will sit on your lot.

If you search “Ryan Homes Pre-construction Meeting questions” online you’ll find pages and pages of things you may want to ask. We had already asked and had answers for many – thanks to Jenn, but I added a couple we asked that I had not seen before below.

Q: Does the entry from mud-room to foyer have a header? I want to install a barn door there and will need a header. A: Yes

Q: I want to install a laundry chute between the water closet and the laundry room. Can we confirm there are no obstructions where I want it? A: Yes, that spot will be open but take pictures at pre-drywall meeting for reference.

Q: We have an outside light at both back doors (morning room and master). Per plan they are each switched at each door. Could we make these a 3-way switch so they both go on and off together? A: Maybe- will confirm.

Q: Can we add a ledge, tile corner shelves and/or a listello to master shower if we provide the materials? A: Nope

We also got a happy surprise at this meeting. All homes in this phase of our development will have exterior stone installed down to grade. This will look really nice particularly since our lot is sloped to accommodate the walk out basement.

After all of the planning, we are so excited to see construction begin next week. It’s finally here!

Our SR Jenn Kingure and our PM Joey Siefert

Our lot with the house staked out

Final Answer?

Every choice you make has an end result.

– Zig Ziglar

January 13th was our deadline for all . We had already passed the deadline for options structural changes like the morning room, extended master and the elevation (10 days after contract). This deadline (30 days after contract) included things like kitchen layout, bath layout, trim options and fireplace. This was also the deadline to make any changes in our color and finish selections.

Our selections are outlined on the options page, but below are two that were particularly hard for us. We changed our minds several times on whether to upgrade from carpet to solid flooring in the great room. One of the hardest decisions was the fireplace. While we love a fireplace, the beautiful wall of windows in the great room is hard to give up. Final answer? Hard floor and a fireplace.

Great room with fireplace and hard floor

Great room with carpet and fireplace

Great room with hard floor and no fireplace

Let’s add some color

Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.

– Claude Monet

Our color selection meeting was set for January 5th. In this meeting, we made selections for our external colors and interior finishes. The interior and exterior selections come in coordinated packages so everything will look good together in the end.

We were worried we might not be able to agree on colors and finishes, but having a limited number of packages was probably a benefit and helped us find the one we both loved for inside and out. We went with the Barrington III interior package and the Sierra PA Ledgestone and Terra Light siding package.

Note: More information on specific colors and finishes on the Options page.

Barrington III Interior Package
Sierra PA Ledgestone and Terra Light exterior

Time for “Smart” Decisions

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.

– Billy Graham

Our next meeting was with Guardian on January 2nd. This is the company Ryan Homes partners with for technology wiring in the home. These options include phone lines, cable lines, smart home system, security system, sound system and home entertainment cabling (i.e. HDMI, data).

Even if you aren’t interested in extras, you still meet with Guardian to select the position of standard features. In our case, that was four total lines which could be cable or phone (or a combination). We initially thought, phone lines? Who uses land lines anymore? But our helpful rep, George had a good point. Depending on provider, some internet/wireless equipment requires a phone line, so we opted for one phone line and three cable lines for our included options.

During the meeting, we talked through each option, but pricing was not given until the end. That seemed to be their process. Once everything was confirmed, there’s paperwork listing the Guardian pricing, and then another with additional electrical outlets that are added and handled through Ryan Homes– All-in-all, a pretty easy process.

Mounted TV with no visible wires

What’s the Plan?

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

At this point, we’re in the planning stages, scheduling multiple meetings and making lots of decisions. In working with Ryan Homes, we’ve learned they have prescribed steps and deadlines included in their process. As part of the Purchase Agreement signing process, we sat down with our Sales Representative and made tentative selections for site/lot, floor plan and options. The next steps in our timeline included meeting with NVR Mortgage Finance (Ryan Homes affiliate) within 7 days, then finalizing all structural decisions within 10 days (more details on timeline later).

Our next meeting was with NVR. We were not required to work with them, but we were offered an incentive to go toward closing costs or additional options if we used them for financing.

The first final decisions were due from us on December 23rd. By this date, we had to confirm all options that would change the footprint of the house. We both loved one particular lot on a cul-de-sac with beautiful mature trees as a backdrop. We also both loved the Carolina Place floor plan. Settling on the elevation (exterior look of the house) was a bit more challenging. This decision included the porches, a third garage and the Morning Room and Extended Master options. We were a bit unsure of our decisions since we didn’t have an image or example of our selection with the third garage, but fortunately, we found one in a nearby development – although it was not sided yet.

We love our lot
Carolina Place Floor Plan
Elevation B with a 3rd Car Garage

We Have a Dream

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When we decided to look for a new home, we weren’t quite sure what our dream looked like and we weren’t sure we were ready to move forward, but when we found the Carolina Place in Emerald Estates it had everything we both wanted and more. We loved the site, the area and especially the floor plan so we jumped in with both feet!

The images below are from a Carolina Place model home in Ohio.

Gotta love that open floor plan!
Morning room windows let in natural light

All this storage space…. plus a pantry!
Beautiful Master Bedroom
Master en-suite – closet off the back
Second bedroom
Our exterior will have a different look, but this is one option.