Author Archives: jessicalieb

About jessicalieb

Jessica is a family lifestyle blogger living in Raleigh, NC with her husband, four sons (8, 5, 3 and 1). Jessica started thebkeepsushonest.com in November of 2009, but has been blogging since 2003. Jessica writes about family life, recipes, travel and products for families. She is also a Work-from-home-mom who manages marketing and social media for a local accounting company.

Design Center Meeting – Building a House

Last week we had our Design Center meeting which means we selected all of the interior finishes for our new house. It was a 2.5 hour meeting (which is surprisingly shorter than I was expecting). We selected everything from flooring to door knobs to bathroom tile to the fireplace mantle.

Since we are building in a pre-planned community we had “standard” options which are built into the cost of the house and “upgrade” options. Some of the upgrade options were ridiculously priced so in a lot of areas we stuck with standard options because it’s just cheaper to upgrade some of the items after we move in. (For instance 1 cabinet in the kitchen to be upgraded to a pull-out trashcan was $600!) However, most of the larger items like flooring, tile, cabinets, counter tops, etc… were reasonably priced to upgrade.

I tried to take a lot of pictures of our selections so I would remember but also so I could share them with you.

The very first thing we selected was our kitchen faucet. Weird right? Well, there is 1 standard style of faucet and you can upgrade the finish of the faucet but we just went with the standard which was the Moen Arbor in Chrome.

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Then we selected our bathroom faucets. Same deal except we had 2 standard designs to choose from. We selected the Moen Eva set because it looked easier to clean.

Photo Sep 13, 9 55 42 AM Then we picked our fireplace mantle. We were given two standard design options and several upgrade options. We picked one of the standard options, it’s called the Wescott and we selected a slate fireplace surround which was also a standard option. (we had a few different materials/colors to choose from) *Note the picture shows a brass fireplace screen ours will be black and a different style.

Photo Sep 13, 10 02 25 AM From there we started selecting our kitchen finishes. This part took a little bit longer since we selected our cabinets, counter tops, back splash, grout, and flooring. Everything we selected was an upgrade but still very reasonably priced. We selected white shaker cabinets for the main cabinets and pewter shaker cabinets for the island. The counter top we selected is a quartz called willow white with a standard edge. We also upgraded our kitchen sink to a single bowl instead of 50/50. Our back splash is a arctic white matte subway tile, Datile Rittenhouse with gray grout. All of the cabinets in the house will have Richelieu Hardware, transitional metal pull in brushed nickel.

Photo Sep 13, 1 01 24 PM

The flooring we selected for almost all of our downstairs is Armstrong Classics Country Side Hickory.  We have carpet in all of the bedrooms and upstairs, we didn’t upgrade the carpet because I know with 4 boys it’s sort of useless at this point to invest a lot into carpet. We picked a simple beige color Mohawk carpet.

For the boys bathroom we went with the standard shaker style cabinets in a standard color option, espresso. The counter tops in all of our bathrooms are standard quartz in willow white. The boys bathroom will have 2 round under mount sinks.

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The flooring in their bathroom is a standard vinyl, Armstrong Initiator. This will also be the flooring in our laundry room.

Photo Sep 13, 11 36 46 AM As you can tell we aren’t investing too much $ in the spaces the boys will use because I know they will be hard on any surface they encounter.

All of the doors in our house are a 3 panel style and all of the door knobs and hinges are a standard brushed nickel.

Finally, the master bathroom. We went with the same white shaker cabinets and quartz counter tops in willow white. However, we will have rectangular under mount sinks. Our flooring will be Shaw tile, Serenity 13 x 13 dark gray tile with matching gray grout. Our shower tile and bathtub surround are a glossy subway tile with gray grout.

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We also went with all the standard lighting which I will probably change all of it after we move it. It’s a basic brushed nickle ceiling lights and chandelier.

Finally, we upgraded the entire interior paint color from Kilim beige to Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray.

That’s pretty much it for now. We had some upgrade options that were just too expensive and in the end really didn’t matter. We spent a little extra money on some upgrades we knew we would appreciate years from now.

Builder Meeting – Building a House

The past few days we have been super busy. Between the in-laws and friends visiting from out of town, to school events, parent-teacher conferences and new house meetings we’ve been non-stop. On Monday afternoon we met with the builder to finalize all of our structural/plumbing and electrical details so they can submit the plans for the permit. We were supposed to meet last Tuesday but they hadn’t received the plat plan from the city yet so we had to postpone.

Thankfully Joe’s parents were in town to help watch the kids so we could give our full attention during the meeting. I think coordinating meetings with all the right people around our kids’ schedules has been one of the hardest parts of this whole process so far. But thankfully we have wonderful friends and family that are more than will to hang out with our kids.

During the meeting with the builder we discussed and confirmed the follow:

  • all structural upgrades/options
  • exterior colors, siding, shutters, door
  • electrical outlet placement
  • lighting placement
  • co axial cable placement
  • lot and house position on lot
  • orientation of house (garage on the left)
  • all standard structural elements (doors, windows, island, kitchen, etc)

We didn’t go over any colors or finishes except for the exterior colors.

One of my biggest concerns and questions was how our house would fit on our lot. It’s a odd shaped lot and I couldn’t work out the ideal location for the house. I was really worried that they would position the house where we would lose a lot of our usable backyard space. They positioned the house at and angle on the lot which makes the backyard shape a little odd but does open up a pretty decent size space for the boys to play. So I’m pretty happy with the results.

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We also updated the accent color on the exterior of the house. Now the siding and board and batten will both be the same pearl color. The siding and trim color will look something like this house.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 5.16.32 PM (this is not our house plan, just an example of the exterior color scheme.)

 

 

 

Get Outside with Toysmith #FreeFormFun

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We try to limit screen time for our boys but that means you have to have alternative activates ready for them. I’ve found that giving them a simple game or objective gets them moving and once they get moving their creative and active brains get going.

Toysmith’s collection of Get Outside, GO! has some great outdoor games and activities to help get kids moving. Yesterday after school I set up a few new games for the boys in our well-loved backyard. We played Spring Ring and Bashminton. They are similar games that require 2 players to hit a ball-like object back and forth. I think the boys like Spring Ring the best because it was a little bit easier for them since they could hold the ring with 2 hands.

Spring Ring comes with 2 large springy paddles, a bouncy ball and a pom-pom ball. It can be played on land or in the water. The pom-pom is a little bit easier to use which makes it ideal for younger children.

Bashminton comes with 2 oversized rackets and a bashable birdie ball. This game is a little more challenging for younger children but is still a lot of fun.

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We also tried out Night Zone Capture the Flag which just adds a fun twist to your classic game of capture the flag. The set comes with 2 light up flags and 2 light up bases. The red team versus the blue team for a fun battle over these light up flags. We look forward to playing this with some friends at night.

Once I get my boys outside playing it’s hard to get them to come back in. Sometimes they just need a little extra nudge to get them out the door, like some fun new outdoor games.

I received the featured product in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are not influenced by the company.

House Colors – Building A House

Before we could sign the contract we had to make a few big decisions like structural changes to our plan and our exterior house colors. The neighborhood has a monotony rule which means your house can’t be the same color as any 4 houses either direction from your lot including across the street. Since a good number of lots on our street were already sold our color selections dwindled from the already limited offerings.

I had my heart set on a dark gray or dark blue but we quickly learned that we couldn’t select either of those. Each house typically has 2 color combinations that you select, a main siding color and an accent siding (typically used near the roof line). After we figured out which color combinations we should avoid I was then left with a bunch of beige and green colors. BLECH! All I really want is a gray or blue house, is that too much to ask?

Finally, I found a combination I liked… Pearl (a very light gray) for the primary house color and Storm (a darker gray with a slight brown tint) for the accent color, combined with black shutters and white trim.

Photo Aug 16, 5 55 14 PM

Of course over the next few days I kept doubting my color selections. But I’ve decided to stick with my first instinct.

The lighting in the picture above isn’t great but I think this is what the main color combination will look like. Just add black shutters and maybe a black front door.

Photo Aug 16, 10 17 14 PM

The front door will look something like this…

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It took over 3 hours to get all of our structural options and colors selected but at the end of the meeting we had signed the contract and paid our deposit.

Next up, meeting with the builder.

Back to School Routine with Juicy Juice

My boys have been back to school for about 4 weeks now and I finally feel liked we’re getting into a good routine for our days. It’s so important for my boys to have a daily routine they can count on, it’s helps to feel confident and comfortable when they know what to expect from the day.

I typically prep their school lunches the day before so I can be present during our morning routine. The boys know there are no screens in the morning before school but after they are ready for the day they are free to play or read until it’s time to leave.

In the afternoons they unpack their backpacks and then are free to relax for an hour or so until we have to start homework. They typically run to play with their little brother’s that they’ve obviously missed throughout the day. We have a small snack and discuss the events of our day. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of the day because they little brothers are so excited to tell the big boys what they’ve been doing all day. I love to listen to them excitedly share what’s be going on while they were gone.

Photo Aug 28, 3 25 43 PM Photo Aug 28, 3 25 22 PM

Having a routine helps our days run smoothly and reduce the amount of whining when they kids know what is expected of them. I actually think they look forward to their screen free mornings playing with their little brothers before they head off to school.

Juicy Juice has more great tip from author Meredith Sinclair on how to get your kids into the back-to-school routine.

I received the featured product in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are not influenced by the company.

Choosing a Lot – Building a House

Photo Aug 27, 4 45 12 PM

After we found a neighborhood we liked (and a house plan we liked) we had to pick a lot. In our community they zero cost lots where the cost of the lot is included in the base price of each home and then there are premium lots. There wasn’t much explaination as to why certain lots are “premium lots”  but typical they were larger, or on a cul-de-sac or may offer a flat lot.

After inspecting the lots (we drove around to each one we liked on paper and examined the topography, size, proximity to other homes/street lights/sidewalks/fire hydrants.) we picked 4 lots as our top choices. All four lots where near the highest point in the neighborhood (there are a lot of hills), and each one measured about the same size in acreage. However, they each had their pros and cons.

Lot A – is the largest lot and is flat. However it is wider at the street and then narrows in the back yard. It also backs to the side of another house. It was a mid-priced premium lot.

Lot B – Is on a semi-cul-de-sac and is flat. It’s slightly smaller in acreage than Lot A. It’s almost at the top of the hill and without any other homes built around it offers great views (once the rest of the neighborhood is developed some of the view may be obscured). Being at the top of the hill the potential backdoor neighbors don’t pose much of a privacy issue since the yard will most like look onto their roof. The unique street design makes it difficult to determine how the house will sit on the lot. It’s near the top of the premium priced lots.

Lot C – Is the same acreage as Lot B. However, there is a steep drop off at the back end of the lot significantly lessening usable yard space. There may be some view that is retained with this lot as it’s placed near the top of the hill. Otherwise it’s a pretty standard lot and is on the low end of the premium priced lots.

Lot D – Is located on a different street than the previous three lots. Not at the top of the hill but still on a nicely elevated lot. It’s a corner lot which can be a pro or con. One of the streets might become a busy thorough fare. It’s one of the largest lots and it’s flat. It’s a mid-priced premium lot.

We went with Lot B. Yes, it was the most expensive of our choices (not the most expensive overall) but we feel the premium price is worth a good location.  We still aren’t sure how the house will sit on the lot but once we meet with the builder he will go over all of that and even walk the lot with us.

Choosing a Neighborhood – Building a House

First a little note about my online documentation of our home building process. In an effort to keep our our family safe I’m going to try and not mention the name of our new neighborhood or builder. I want to keep some things private and also respect the builder. Beyond that I do plan on sharing as much of this process online as possible.

For the past few years I’ve been keeping up with the real estate market in our town. I knew that we’d be ready to buy sometime soon and wanted to have a realistic expectation of what we might find once we started looking. So when we decided we were really ready to take the plunge I had already done a ton of research on the surrounding neighborhoods and current real estate market. We decided on a planned community that has a variety of amenities and a good location.

Here are few reason we selected the community in which we are building:

Location – Our new neighborhood is only 5 miles from our current home so we are already familiar with the area and like the ease of access to all of the things we already know and use. (church, stores, friends, family, etc…) Also, there are a lot of new neighborhoods being built in our town, most of which are surrounded by undeveloped land. Our new neighborhood is already in a fairly established part of town so we don’t have to worry about large complexes being built across the street or next door.

Amenities – For our family we wanted a neighborhood that had street lights, side walks, a pool and a other family friendly amenities. Yes, choosing a planned community means you typically get less yard space (especially in our city) but we’d rather have community than more land.

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School District – Our kids are in public school this year and we had to consider their needs as well. If we moved out of our school zone they would have to most likely have to switch to a different school next year. We chose to stay in the same school district.

House Plan – I’ve looked at a lot of nice neighborhoods that had great amenities and a good location but ultimately wasn’t able to find a floor plan that worked for our family. I am a firm believer that bigger isn’t always better. Most people would probably assume we are building a huge house for our large-ish family but it’s really not that big. I’ve seen 3,000+ square feet houses that were poorly designed and didn’t make good use of the space. Our new home will be a little less than 2,500 (which some people think is too small) however, the space is all used very well. Plus, you have to take into consideration the utilities and cleaning of a bigger house.

Cost – Finally, cost does play a huge roll into where we were able to buy. Luckily, we were able to meet all of our previous requirements and still stay within our price-range. Even with the current real estate market surge in our area.

These 5 things combined helped us choose the neighborhood where we will be building. We also looked at online reviews of our builder and did plenty of other research.

 

 

We’re building a house

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Our future backyard at sunset

So last week we signed the contract to build a home. This is huge because not only is this the first house we’ve built but it will also be the first house we will own.

When Joe and I were engaged and planning our wedding (10 years ago) we had a lot of friends that were also getting married. While they were planning their weddings they were also buying their first homes together. We decided to wait to buy our first home and I’m so glad we did. Never would we have imagined that we would have 4 kids. We most certainly would have bought a house that was way too small. Also, as we’ve lived together in several different homes over the past few years we have a good idea of what kind of space we need and what works best for our growing family.

I don’t know if this new house will be our forever home but we are treating it that way. I’m trying to imagine our 4 little guys growing into large teenager boy it’s difficult to imagine but I’m trying to plan ahead.

We still have a lot of work to do before they even start building the house (there are so many choices to be made) but we are extremely excited, and a little bit anxious too. However, we are terribly sad to be leaving our current neighborhood. We have the best neighbors ever and our kids have made so many great friends. That being said, we are only moving 5 miles away. The hardest part of this move will be leaving our great neighborhood. But I see this opportunity as a chance to make more friends.

I’m going to try to document and share our home building process on here, and Instagram too. I’ve had so many questions answered by reading blog posts and have loved reading about other people’s experiences of building their home.