As we are in the processing of building our house, I figure I should recap what we have done already.
Let’s begin with picking out our house!
This whole thing started last January of 2015 when my Dad picked up Price, me, and Autumn from our Royal Caribbean cruise. He suggested that we stop by a new development to check out a model house. Ugh, I was so not in the mood. I just wanted to get back to his house to get settled so that Autumn could have lunch and then take a nap so I could take a break to put my feet up. I like keeping to a schedule so this was messing things up! But he was steering the car so I had no choice!
Thankfully, he brought us there since we walked into the Monroe by Ashton Woods and FELL IN LOVE.
We had already talked about moving South to get out of the cold, out of the more costly Northeast, but this house basically sealed the deal for us when we were toying around with the idea of moving to Tampa. It was a great house at a great place so it hooked us. Our original plan: Move by Spring 2017.
We then returned to Boston and it didn’t stop snowing for the next 6 weeks or so, which made us decide on moving to FL sooner than later. We then notified our offices that we planned on moving and were hoping for transfers to our Tampa offices.
Later in September we came down to look into more developments, builders, and houses. I also interviewed and arranged my transfer. Plus, it was Price’s birthday, so it was a busy trip for us!
We looked at a different development than what we saw the previously winter. We first saw it in a small community called Tanglewood Preserve in Gibsonton, but we then heard about Waterset, in Apollo Beach, FL (where my dad lives).
Waterset had significantly more builders, home styles, and much more in terms of amenities. It was going to be a very large, phased development so we had options on where to pick a home site. The development was located along 2 major roads to take you into Tampa, or south towards Naples, so it made commuting pretty easy.
We were even more set on The Monroe in Waterset at this point but explored the Sandpiper I from Cal Atlantic.
Price and I really liked the house elevation, features, possible upgrades, and price, so we started to explore our options with that builder. We marked up the floor plan with things that we wanted priced out to figure out what options were available and for that cost.
Note: They currently only offer Sandpiper II, but it’s the same elevation as Sandpiper I, with a different floor plan, which we liked 100x more. So if you like that plan, ask and see if it’s do-able.
It was fantastic working with Cory Day, but ultimately we decided that the house was too small for us (we really wanted a 4 bedroom plus an office) and we didn’t like the size of the lots available for the house, while the locations in the community were great.
Life continued on in Boston until we sold out house and moved down into my Dad’s house in Feb/March of 2016.
Again, Price and I looked at other developments, builders and homes to make sure we were going in the right direction.
We did fall in love with The Verona by Homes by West Bay in Waterset. The size (5 bed / 4 bath / 3 car / 3,518 Square Feet) and floor plan were great, plus the ‘Craftsman’ elevation was just so beautiful. But about 100K over our budget (Starting from $352,990, plus structural and finish upgrades). OUCH!
Verona- First Floor
Verona- Second Floor
So again, we are set on The Monroe (starting at 263K), and we’re planning on moving forward.
Then my Dad comes across the Lucaya Lake Club development that features homes by Ryan Homes.
We checked it out and liked the private Lakeside part of the development. The homes there were very close to the amenities and the lake the development would continue to wrap around. This was an 11K upgrade, which included a paver driveway vs. a standard concrete one. Yes this is a lot of money, but even including that the house was in our budget.
There was the Esterto Bay model home there that we got to check out. It was a beautiful. We started to fall in love with that house as well.
At this point we really started to break things down between the Monroe from Ashton Woods in Waterset to the Estero Bay by Ryan Homes in Lucaya Lake Club.
We liked both plans and the elevation options available.
Estero Bay- First Floor
Estero Bay- Second Floor
We really liked the overall layout of the house, with all the bedrooms on the 2nd floor and the layout on the first floor. The amount of windows in the house made it feel really open and bright.
Also, we like that it came with a 3- car garage as standard feature. The more and more that we talked with people that was the #1 complaint about their house as there is limited storage in homes and they will up their 2 car garages with stuff and then have no room to park.
We had little changes to make to the plan, but everything did seem like it had to go through approvals, BUT only after we signed a contract, and we didn’t like that approach. For example, I wanted the kitchen island rotated toward the family room and we couldn’t get a commitment on that prior to signing a contract. Also, no changing to the master bedroom tray ceiling- we didn’t like the shape.
Monroe- First Floor
Monroe- Second Floor
We loved the layout of the house from the moment we walked into it in January ’15.
We did select several options (in highlighted color) to customize it per our liking. The biggest thing is that we filled in the 2-story space to make a big bonus room, and made the as scheduled loft space the 4th bedroom.
There are 4 options for elevations for the house and we picked the one with the full front porch, as we liked that a lot. We wished that we could have merged some elements from the other options, but the elevations are pretty set in stone as they are approved by the architectural review board for the community.
So what made us pick the Monroe?
We made a pro and cons list for the houses and communities to help us figure out the different aspects of the houses we liked. It helped us really evaluate the various aspects of the homes, communities, costs, goals, etc.
Here goes some of the items on our list…
Community…We liked that the Estero Bay was in a gated community, but it didn’t have the amenities we really liked at Waterset.
Options… There were more things that we could customize with the Monroe, while their option were $$, we liked that we had options. The kitchen shown was the kitchen you get for the Estero Bay, you could not really customize the kitchen.
Storage… both provided great storage with having 3 car garages (*Monroe shown does not have a 3 car garage but they still had the option when we chose our house and one lot left that would fit it. It is side by side by side, not tandem like that Estero Bay. Photos to come). We liked the layout of the Monroe just a bit more.
AC… The Estero Bay home has 2 units, compared to the Monroe’s 1 unit (the Monroe unit does split between upper floor and lower floor and has two thermostats, we have yet to experience it)
Lots… There was only 1 lot that could accept a Monroe with the 3rd car garage add on, but it was a fantastic lot right at a park. So nice to open up our front door and walk right outside into a park. The 2 lots available for the Estero Bay with the Craftsman style elevation where not that desirable for us.
Smooth walls… yeah this might sound silly, but we could select an upgrade for smooth walls with the Monroe, while the Estero Bay did not have that option nor would the builder entertain the idea of pricing that out.
Money… We stalked, err checked the Ashton Woods websites for updates, changes, and additions for a year before we found that the last few lots were not selling. We later found that Ashton Woods was temporarily leaving the community post-Phase 3 construction so selling their last few lots would be more desirable for them. Ryan Homes at Lukaya were selling like crazy so bargaining with Ryan Homes would be difficult.
So what were we to do?!?!?!
We went with out guts and picked the Monroe.
(Price hems and haws at things, while I come to decisions faster so I had to pull the finger guns out to make him blurt it out without thinking for-ever! ha!)
We signed our contract at the end of April and now we are abut to begin building and we will get settled before we know it. It is going to be so fantastic!!!
Stay tuned for more updates on our home building process!