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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pre-Construction Meeting

Update since our Pre-Construction Meeting:

Some good news....The SR was quick about contacting us within days of our meeting (she was actually out sick the day of the meeting so we had only had met with our PM. Note to others: best to have SR there if you discussed things during your selection process to be changed.)

RH granted us the approval to move our master bathroom vent out of the "water room". We also got approval to have the basement light that is currently at the entry ceiling walking down into the basement moved to the side wall as soon as you enter the basement.  

We still need to inquire with our SR about the shower glass company to have a frameless shower installed instead of the oil-bronze framed shower. I know many bloggers were able to do this for a bit more out of pocket. Any tips on how to go about this process would be appreciated. 
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It's been a long time since we blogged but we really had nothing to write about since our close is scheduled for August and we just had our pre-construction meeting. Towards the end of this post we will outline our questions we asked so others can copy & print for their meetings. 

We, along with our realtor, met with our PM for the first time at this meeting. 

We'll be honest...so many people seem to rave about their PM with getting things they want, exceeding expectations on the communication end, etc. Well, we walked away feeling "blah" about our PM and the meeting.  

Let's begin with him not being prepared with all of our documents. We waited about 20 min. We wouldn't mind, but we had a relative watching our 2-yr old twins and she had commitments at a certain time. Then we discovered the PM had to leave at a certain time for his son. Towards the end we felt rushed. We didn't get through all our questions and when we asked if we could email him the remainder his response was, "Sure, but it may take awhile to get back to you". Not a good first impression. We also heard through talk in the community that he isn't quick to give Buyers updates. No weekly updates like we've been reading all throughout the blogs. And actually we've heard it can be weeks to hear from him & some have to contact him. If this is happening, we wonder why RH does not put two PMs in our community. There has been an influx in sales and, although I'm sure the PM is good at his job, only one person can handle so much at a time. This all being said, we are cautiously optimistic about working with our PM in the build process. 

All in all, the meeting was really just about going over all of our interior and exterior selections in greater detail. 

However, there were a few hiccups along the way. We asked for a few minor changes that we have seen other Buyers post about and receiving. The PM would not budge. These were:

1) The fan vent in the master bath is in the toilet room. The layout we picked has no window in the bathroom so how will all the moisture/condensation escape? We argued with him it makes no sense to have it in an enclosed space. Condensation film will always be on the mirrors. It'll take forever to vent out. He seemed to understand after awhile but made such a big deal about him never doing requests that risks his job. Come on!!! It's a freakin' air vent. And the location makes absolutely no sense. In the end we just said , "But you can ask, right?"  He said, "Yes".  We're doubting he'll ask and just come back saying its denied because he seems too busy for such a small request. 

2) Requested the glass manufacturer information so we could call to look into the gorgeous frameless shower it seems many Buyers are getting approval on & doing. Can someone please comment how you got approval & exact steps we need to take? Our PM was not going for it & said it would have to be after close. He never had any frameless shower installed at his home sites. We were trying to explain the Buyer calls the glass company and Buyer goes there to pick it out & pay out of pocket the remaining costs. Then the company installs it. He looked at us like we had 3 eyes. Never heard of this. Ughhhh. 

3) Requested a few of the switches in the Great Room be placed higher and the fireplace switch to be with the main switches. We have a 2-yr old twin boy who has a sensory disorder & he seeks out light switches and constantly turns them on & off. The Great Room light switches seem lower than usual to us and the fireplace is In between the fireplace and window. We fear our son will climb the window sill to turn on the fire place and the others he can reach and it'll literally be like a disco ball going off in the Great Room if it stays the way it does. He had absolutely no compassion for this request and stated its by code. Okay...so putting it up a bit higher is breaking code? Ummm... Yeah. That was that. So we will have to look for light switch panel locks now. 

The only real good news out of the meeting was that we are supposed to break ground mid next week!!! Wow!!! But again, when we asked for him to contact us and tell us beforehand so we can try to be present to take pictures, he sort of made it sound like if he will remember to. So.... What do you all think about our PM? ;-)

List of our questions noted below. We didn't actually ask all of these but there are some we want our PM to get back to us on. 

Pre-Construction Questions

TIMELINES & PM
What inspections will be happening at each stage? Can we attend if they are scheduled?
Can we come by the weekend before the pre dry wall inspection to take pictures and take notes ahead of time?

Project Manager, do you have any vacations plans during our build that you will be unavailable?

What are your normal work hours?
Will you provide us weekly update as what’s being scheduled for the week and if we are behind and how much behind?

LOT 

Can we get a copies of our property lines, floor plan, etc?
What is the length of our lot in the front, back, and sides?
Where will the houses next to our house be position at?
What is our back yard size?
What will be the grading of the backyard, can we adjust to make more flat?
Where if any will the electrical or cables boxes be on our lot?
Where is the Sewer line?
Where will the AC unit be located outside?
Where will the water meter and electoral meter be?
If water ponds in the yard (grass) will you fix this and up to how long after that grass is installed or closing date?
Is it a problem if we install a fence before the grass goes in?
What is the grading of the driveway and how long and wide will it be?
Will the Driveway be concrete or paved and when in the process of building is this done?

WHOLE HOUSE

Will ALL the windows have screens?
What type of windows will be installed?
Are the subfloors nailed glued and or screwed? Is this everywhere?
Will the ceilings be textured or flat?
What paint will be on the walls? Can we pick color?
Is there a deadbolt on ALL exterior doors? (Basement, Front Door, etc.)
Will you change locks after closing?
Where is attic (garage and house attic) access? Can we move this? 
Where are the vents placed?
When do we point out the exact location of the cable outlets?
Do the windows keep sun rays from coming in? (i.e. tint or HE features?)
How will moisture and mold be prevented?
What will the interior doors looks like?
Where will the thermostat be placed?
Where are the hose bibs located? Are they inside or outside?
Do you guarantee the same quality as the model home?

GREAT ROOM

Make sure TV placement is on fireplace. Can we change location? 
Where will recessed lights be placed?

KITCHEN

What are the dimensions of the kitchen island and how will rough-in's for pendant lights be placed?
Can RH install pendant lights if we get them prior to closing?
Will we have pull out shelves in kitchen like the model?
What kind of door will be leading to basement (ie. Glass  door?)

MASTER BATH

Where are fans/vents located?
Where will the towel racks be placed? How many?
Will granite need to be sealed?
Do we get granite backsplash or is there a lip from counter? 
Can we do a frameless shower?

LAUNDRY ROOM

Is there insulation in the Laundry Room? If not, can we add it?
Will there be a light?
Does the floor of the laundry room have extra support?

BASEMENT

How big will the windows be for the walk-out basement?
Confirm French door will be in the walk out basement? 
What lighting will be outside? Any in the back of the house?
How is basement protected from flooding?

GARAGE

Will there be a floor drain?
Is there a light that comes in the garage standard? Location?
Is the outlet in the garage on the ceiling and wall? 
Is there insulation in the wall between the garage and hallway as well as in garage?
Is the garage door insulated? 


EXTERIOR

What do the exterior lights look like? (was told they would be bronze)
Will they lay sod on any part of our lot or seed? 
Will sod be laid down before closing?
Will you be doing any landscaping? Is that HOA responsibility?
Can the lot be graded differently so we have more flat space?
How many feet from the street will the house sit?
Will there be stairs leading to the front door? How many?
When can we drive on the driveway?
Confirm that driveway is asphalt? 
When will the sidewalk be laid in front/side of our home? Or repaired if ruined?
Are there standard outlets on the exterior? Confirm additional outlets for exterior. 
Do we get to pick the style of front door?
Can the left over materials such as flooring (tile, carpet, wood, laminate) paint (wall, trim, front door), and siding be left in garage for us to have in case we need later?

CHANGES

Can the Fireplace Light switch be part of the main light switch and not next to fireplace?
Remove items if we are moving to cut cost down? 


16 comments:

  1. Nice to see another post. Sorry to hear about your PM.
    Glad to know you will be breaking ground soon. I would go out there as often as you can to see when they break ground. Otherwise, you'll find out a week after they do it.

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    1. Thanks Nick. The good thing is we are a few miles away so easily can be done to peek in daily.

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  2. What we learned from all the blogs I've read is to get everything you want in writing before you sign. By the time you get to the pre-construction phase it's already pretty much set in stone. That being said, being a PM requires certain "people skills". They are the face of their company. I hope his skills on the site make up for the lack of other skills. Good luck on your build.

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    1. I hear ya, Kathy, but this is the very first meeting with this much extensive detail on where literally everything will be placed. We never knew prior where bathroom finds would be located. It's silly that this meeting doesn't come sooner after going through our experience. Some things on placement just doesn't make sense.

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  3. We meet for our PC meeting on Monday of this coming week. I've shaken hands with the PM but haven't had any real interaction. We aren't hoping for a ton, but I made it clear in our initial interaction that I want to have scheduled weekly walk-throughs with a standing appointment time (ex Fridays at 2pm each week). He seemed like that was a regular thing for some of his customers to do, so that was reassuring.

    Hopefully the communication picks up. Don't be afraid to speak up if things aren't going how you feel they should. You're the customer!

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    1. That's great!! Maybe because we had an influx in sales and now 75% sold he's not as flexible.

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  4. PMs seem to vary from area to area. We built in Baltimore County 3 years ago. Our PM did NOTHING that wasn't on the standard plan. Not even a discussion about it. It was disturbing to read the blogs where people were getting all sort of exceptions just by asking. I didn't like the placement of the foyer chandelier (it was centered in the foyer but not to the big window) and asked if he could place it 4 inches to the left. Nope. Plan called for it to go here, and that's where's it's going. He also did not give updates. We were shocked to see all the blog posts where PMs were actually emailing pictures to the buyers. If we wanted to know what was going on, or if we had a question, we had to drive to the house during the day while he was there and ask him. That being said, he was a perfectionist; he kept behind those contractors like a mother hen. It was frustrating during the build, but I am glad now that he was as attentive to detail as he was.

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  5. We built a Ravenna in Western PA 1 1/2 years ago. Our PM was very good at keeping us informed. He would call us every Friday and review what happened that week and tell us what was scheduled for the following week. Most of our changes were made when we were making all of our choices with the sales rep, but a few minor ones were made at our pre-construction meeting with both the sales rep and the PM. One of the changes that we requested did not happen and we didn't find out until a few days before closing. We requested no shower doors, just a curtain rod in all 3 bathrooms. They listened for the first floor bath and the kids' bath, but not for our master bath. They both claimed that they couldn't believe that was what we really wanted. Huh? We were at the site almost daily too. It was a last minute change that we didn't see until the walk-through. We did decide to keep the doors rather than have them tear them out and fix the walls. They look very nice, but are SOOOO hard to keep clean! Long story, short: Your PM doesn't sound like he understands customer service very well or he just can't be bothered. If you don't think he is doing the job you want him to do, contact his bosses at corporate.

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    1. Thanks, we will be calling higher management especially for the Basment light we were told we could have to the side and the bathroom air vents. :))

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  6. Hey lot 4 here, glad to hear they are starting your house. That's really exciting!

    We had a ton of questions for MT and MJ after our pre-construction meeting. I felt like I was calling or emailing every day. I'll tell you I wasn't sure what to expect at first but once construction started it has moved very quickly. MT as well as MJ have been great answering all of my questions. We walked through last week and I noticed a couple of minor issues. So I emailed MJ and he was already all over my concerns. I at first had to realize that he is working on a construction site and can't always respond to email as quickly as MT did but he is very meticulous and very hands on. I've been really happy with the progress so far. We settle the last week in May. If you want you can email me, Id be more than happy to tell you about our experiences. Schiberk@aol.com

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    1. Thanks for the reassurance. Like I mentioned, I'm sure he's great at his job. He seems thorough and by the books. It was just his customer service interaction with us telling us flat out "No's" rather than saying, "Let me just ask". And this is the very first time we are getting THIS much detail on where things will be placed. Some things make no sense. And when we are told by MT that we can have the basement light fixture to the side wall we were expecting to get this. It's just disheartening when we see other communities getting the same request we made. That's one thing we do not see RH support on. Things should be consistent even if between communities. It just is poor customer service and it feels like, "Well, why aren't we good enough to have the same change someone else can have?"....

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  7. Oh Sterling put on your bullshit boots!!! OH my gosh,makes me so mad, MY two PM's were soooo good to me. Called every Wed.,pretty much always answered my calls and texts (and their were tons).

    THERE IS NO REASON YOU CANT GET THAT SHOWER, I AM ONE WHO DID!!! Does not affect RH at all, my PM did it also, and has never heard of it, but didn't stop him. Hell I did all the leg work, be careful with corporate, once you go there you are kind of red flagged, and corporate wont really budge unless you are really unhappy with "bad workmanship or defective home"!!
    Ask you SR what glass company they use, hell they HAVE to tell you, its not a secret, get in touch with then yourself, call them, ask if they can upgrade you and you will pay the difference. They will be in your home anyway, whats the diff!!
    I will tell you to request it be the LAST THING THEY PUT IN YOUR HOME, it usually is because if someone breaks it, its expensive. Not a big deal, mine was the last thing done in the bathroom.!! Go for it, be a little pushy, he may just not want to have time to deal with it, from the sounds of it.

    And placement of switches,................really????? Ridiculous, I had my fireplace switch put wherever I wanted it!!! Stupid he cant do it, he can, all I can say is be there the day the electricians are there and see if they will do it.

    Hell, during our walkout through, I asked certain things be moved after install, and my PM's gladly moved things for me before the drywall went up.

    Our PM's where the best part of our experience. Tell you PM mine rocked, names are Pete Alexander and Lane McFarland, and they are all about customer service.

    Sometimes you have to "gently" push though, I was respectful of them, but stern and they knew what was important to me. So don't give it, ASK that SR for the glass company, and YeS she knows, if not shes full of it :(

    What community are you in again??

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    1. We made some head-way and got some things we requested. Yay! I'll post a new blog or update this one.

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  8. We drove by our house today and it looked like they were either digging your basement or framing your basement. Great lot! We almost went there because of the walkout basement. That's going to be awesome! Congrats!

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    1. Thanks! Great meeting you quickly today. So you are the first house on the right, correct? I swear I thought your siding looks grey. It's Spanish Olive? It looks great with the shutters.

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  9. It was nice meeting you and your family as well. Yes we are the first house on the right. That is until they start building lot 3. Our siding is Irish Thistle with black shutters and our door will be Spanish miss. If I remember correctly it's the ridge Chardonnay stone. The house to the left of us (lot 5) is Spanish Olive. We settle the week if Memorial Day so I'm sure we will see you around. Let me know if you have any questions.

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