Pre-Construction Meeting with Ryan Homes
Furthermore, and let there be no mistake here, Ryan Homes will tell you "no" a lot. If you ask for anything during your pre-con meeting (or after your change order cut-off date in general), you'll get back a standard "NO" as a response. That being said, occasionally they will approve something if you have a PM who is somewhat diplomatic and you have done your research and have a very good reason for your request BECAUSE YOU WILL HAVE TO CONVINCE THEM. But, basically, the power rests with the PM, so their emotional state will undeniably have influence on how they respond to your request (they're human like the rest of us). Further, Ryan Homes' philosophy is that they produce standardized houses that are easy and quick to build. Their strict structural plans and change order procedures allow the builders to quickly build a home and move on to the next. I completely understand that and respect their system because it seems to work for them. But lucky for us our PM was pretty understanding of our needs and was pretty accommodating.
The first 20 minutes of the meeting consisted of the PM explaining our lot plan, and confirming our selected features/upgrades/colors for the house. He also gave us his contact information and relayed some other information on Ryan Homes' policies. There were a few discrepancies in some of the features/upgrades we had chosen, but he made the corrections. He did a pretty good job taking time to review our lot plan with us. We took note of a couple of important things from this part of the meeting:
- Our PM wants us to notify him if we want to visit the site, because he wants to be with us, but he basically told us "he can't do it every day." I have no qualms in saying that I DO plan on checking in on the house quite a bit. I'll send the courtesy e-mails to him and he can meet me if he wants (if I actually want to go ON the site), but at least for a while, I will be driving by the site nearly every day checking on things, taking pictures, and documenting everything. That being said, I don't have a problem letting our PM know if we want to go ON the site though - there are liability concerns there and I get that.
- We cannot pick our slab of granite. Bummer. However, I read on someone else's blog that we should contact the granite provider directly to get this done.
- In the Milan (and maybe others), if you don't opt for the double-bowl sink in the secondary bath, you don't get the extended counter-top/cabinet. This was very confusing because, on the plan, it says "opt. double bowl sink" and says nothing about the cabinet/counter-top length. We thought that even if we didn't get the extra sink, we'd still get the wider cabinet/counter-top. When I brought this up in this meeting and found out otherwise, I asked if we could get the double-sink now, or (better yet) just the extended cabinet/counter-top, they were quick to tell me "NO" because their manager would not approve that change at this point. OK I'm not really upset about this, and it was probably due to sheer confusion, but I think they should've at least considered my request due to the circumstances.
- If you want pendant lighting above your kitchen island, ask your SR BEFORE your change order cut-off date. They said this was an option and had to be elected as an "upgrade" and since we were past our cut-off date we couldn't get it. This actually was NOT an option on our options list that we saw, so we assumed it would need to be addressed with the PM directly. When we asked, we basically heard the "no, manager wouldn't approve this" answer again. But I pressed the issue and the PM said he might be able to get the electrician to move some of our kitchen recessed lighting around so that we could convert two of the lights to pendant light over the island later on down the road. I'd be okay with this but the PM said to follow-up with him about it, which I will!
- The SR told me when we picked out the lot that our backyard would, for the most part, be flat. During this meeting the PM showed me a lot plan that has a pretty substantial grade to it. I would have understood a slight grade, but this was a bit much and threw me off. I think this might've just been a case where the SR didn't actually know what the PM was planning. A little extra communication between the two probably would've averted this shock.
That was the first 20 minutes. The PM finished his part and I pulled out my list of questions at this point. The PM sort of looked shocked. I told him "I have some questions for you.". He looked at my list and said to me "those should've been asked while we were going through everything." Couldn't tell if he was joking or not. I just wanted to wait until he got through all his stuff first so I didn't interrupt him. At any rate, I went ahead and read through my questions and he definitely seemed knowledgable and answered everything to my satisfaction.
The basement plan (it get its own paragraph because it is, BY FAR, the most important request we made)
- When I asked about installing outdoor PVC tubing for future landscape electrical and also when I asked about light dimmers I got back a "no". On both points, his response included something like "sure it can be done, on the day that you get your keys and you can have a whole team come in and do it or whatever else you might want." Sigh... I just figured I'll need to work on developing a better rapport with him.
- Ryan Homes apparently does not caulk the seams between your counter-tops and cabinets.... weird... they should do this.
- Ryan Homes does not install flooring underneath cabinetry. They stop at the edges. Again they should do this.
- We're going to have a gravel driveway/walkway (most likely) when we move in since our house will be built through the winter and they don't want to pour that concrete until Spring... understandable.
- They actually do fully dry-wall the garages now. That is GREAT! Very happy about this.
- Our PM agreed to let us choose the basement window locations... we didn't even have to present an argument for this! Thanks Andrew!
- Our expected completion date is in mid-March 2016.
- When we asked where our attic access was, our PM said he could move it if we didn't like where it was per-plan. We chose to keep it where it was, but I did like that he actually offered to do this.
Well, I promised transparency with this blog (good, bad, or ugly), and you're getting it! How have ya'lls experience with your PM's been? Anybody had a similar experience? Would love to hear some comments on this, thanks!
I think that if you are happy with the cookie-cutter process that Ryan Homes uses and you go along with all of their cut-off dates and make NO non-standard requests, they'll love you - you're the kind of customer they WANT. But, if you're anything like me, and like to make unique, personal touches to things... be prepared for a tooth-and-nail fight and to back up your needs with damn good reasons. Do your homework.