Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Our Letter to Home Depot

July 28, 2007

We have a useful tip for customers who plan on purchasing appliances from Home Depot:   Have the salesperson check availability in the computer, and don’t believe, “It’s not in right now, but will be in our warehouse in [insert time frame here].  For anyone interested in our Home Depot experience, here is a copy of our letter to their Customer Care department:

We are very concerned about the recent unscrupulous business practices that we have experienced at Home Depot.  On April 15, 2007, we purchased a black LG 6810 dishwasher from the Home Depot store # 6367 in Orlando.  Because the dishwasher was for a new home construction, we asked the salesperson to set the delivery date for July 13.  We called the store in mid June, to request that the delivery date be moved up, as we were now ready for the dishwasher. 

We were first told that the dishwasher would be delivered on June 23.  Then we got a call saying that it would be delivered on June 30.  June 30 came and went, and no dishwasher was forthcoming.  We called Home Depot again, and we were then told that it would be delivered on July 15.  When we called to check on this, we were told that it was possible the dishwasher would be delivered in September, but that Home Depot really had no idea. 

At this point, our house was completed and our final inspection was being delayed because of the non-arrival of our paid-for-in-April dishwasher.  We finally went to another appliance store, and were told what Home Depot MUST have known: LG was no longer making this model of dishwasher.  When we called the Home Depot store again, armed with this information, they admitted that this was indeed the case.  Home Depot had taken our money back in April, and was trying to put us off until September (and probably then later and later and later) but had NO intention of delivering to us the dishwasher that we’d paid for.

This is the stuff scams are made of: one company taking a customer’s money with no intention of ever delivering the product to the customer.  That money could have been accruing interest for the past 3 months.  Instead, Home Depot “borrowed” $685 from us, interest-free.  Our sales associate at the Orlando branch told us what had actually happened: Home Depot had sold OUR paid-in-full dishwasher to someone else, and was just trying to see how long they could put us off, without actually delivering an appliance to us.

Of note is the fact that this product is still advertised as being for sale in stores and online, and it is not listed as being backordered on the online store.  Presumably other customers are lending their money, interest-free, to Home Depot.

When we finally wised up and realized the truth: that no dishwasher would be delivered to us, we called the Home Depot and asked whether they would be willing to do an exchange for the new model of LG dishwasher in black that had replaced our model, the 6810.  We were told that for this model, also, there were no black dishwashers, so we requested a full refund.

We are concerned, though, about these unscrupulous business practices.  We feel that Home Depot accepted our money under false pretenses.  We regret the 3 months that Home Depot kept our money, money that could have been earning interest in our own account.  And we are very concerned that Home Depot is pulling the same scam on other customers that they pulled on us.

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Home Depot’s bright idea of service recovery was to substitute an older, lesser quality LG dishwasher model for the fully integrated dishwasher we’d purchased.  Their second idea, that they switch us to a GE product, did not sit well with us either.  We’d purchased the LDF 6810BB for several reasons: fully integrated control panel, black color that avoids the unsightly stainless smudges, stainless steel interior, and upper rack only dishwashing feature.  We wanted those features – all of those features – in our dishwasher.

What we ended up doing was getting a full refund from the Home Depot and marching our money down to Appliance Direct, where we purchased the dishwasher we wanted for about $65 less than we’d paid originally at the Home Depot.  The problem is that this dishwasher has 2 small dings in the front of it.  We were unable to purchase a brand new one, because, as Appliance Direct and Home Depot well knew, this dishwasher was no longer being made.  I have to wonder how much longer Home Depot was planning on stringing us along, before acknowledging that they’d taken our money but had sold our dishwasher to someone else.

Unscrupulous, I say!

 

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Roll out the brown carpet!

July 28, 2007

We now are the proud owners of some brown upstairs carpet. The upstairs landing area, master bedroom, and walk-in closet are all carpeted with a brown frieze carpet:

And, since the stain on the stairs is now dry, we were able to go upstairs and get a photo of the bamboo flooring in the great room:

Hot, Baby!

Some of the stair railings are up, but not all, so we’re waiting until they are complete before posting more stairs photos.

A lot of the action this week took place in the yard, where the landscapers have mowed and thinned out (a bit, but very conservatively as we requested) the front yard oaks/palmettos area. Here is the new front yard:

We’d asked them to put a short latticework fence around the well, so that we can plant coral honeysuckle (a Florida native) to hide the unsightly, bright blue well. The latticework is low enough for us to easily scale it and wide enough where we can comfortably work with the well if necessary.

The landscapers also mowed our back yard – halleluia! – so that now we can actually walk without fear of stomping on a rattlesnake. This is the area where my raised garden beds will go:

And, just because I don’t think we’ve shown a photo of the finished back side of the house, here it is:

This picture was taken from behind two of our oak/palmetto clumps. We’re going to thin these out a little, not a lot, ourselves, but basically we plan on keeping these islands of plants and using them to define the back yard. There will be a path right between the two.

Next steps: Our builder Woody has called for the final inspection this coming week, which means that his helper, Nick, has got to finish putting up the railing first. After some appliance issues with Home Depot, which I will discuss in a later post, we ended up cancelling our dishwasher order there and getting a new one from Appliance Direct. Our new dishwasher and refrigerator are both supposed to be delivered this week.

Landscape Plan

July 16, 2007

A great big thanks to edabbey who told me how I could post my .pdf file up here as an image! So without further ado, here are our landscaping plans:

Click here for a larger image. The clumps of oaks & palmettos are those that already exist on the lot. We’re trying to keep the yard as natural as possible, and we both like the look of the live oaks & palmettos. The light green areas are grass: Bahia. We would have preferred centipede grass but, frankly, couldn’t afford it! It would have cost an extra $3000, and, especially since we plan on eventually thinning out the grass and adding groundcover like sunshine mimosa, we couldn’t justify it.

We’re having a layer of rock around the house, at the recommendation of our builder. I’ve read to keep plants at least 2′ from the foundation, so the rocks will ensure that.

So this is the big plan, and I’m meeting with the landscaping guy tomorrow, to implement.

It’s looking more like a house

June 16, 2007

It has actual cabinets, countertops, vanities, and even 2 HVAC systems. The electrician came this week and hung up the foyer chandelier:

And the Windward III ceiling fans for our great room:

The Custom Cabinet Factory had come back and installed the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, so now our kitchen looks like an actual kitchen!

We really like our sink, which is one, large, rectangular black granite composite sink. It comes with a cutting board and bowl, which was a nice bonus. The Silestone countertops are very dusty, but you can get the general idea:

Similar transformations had been taking place in the master bathroom. The vanity top here is granite, Crystal Green, bought in-stock from Lowes.

As we near the time when our electricity will be turned on and will (hopefully) pass inspection, we now have our two HVAC units installed:

They are very, very tiny, compared to the big space left for them to fill. Because it’s an ICF home, our HVAC units only need to be about 1/2 the size of those required for a house of regular, stick-frame or concrete block construction. You may or may not be able to tell from the picture, but this is yet another example of Woody’s attention to detail. He thought the HVAC closet looked ugly, so he outfitted it with molding. There’s so much extra room in here that we’re thinking that, if we ever need more space, we will just put some shelves on the blank wall to the left in the photo.

I went out to the house yesterday and finished up the vinyl flooring in the under-the-stairs closet. I also assembled our newest acquisition: a compost bin. Huzzah! Here is a photo that Andy took of me doing some preliminary composting. I was dumping in a bag of veggie scraps from our kitchen that I’d brought over to compost.

Today, we went to Appliance Direct and purchased two scratch-and-dent appliances: an LG Washer and an LG Dryer. The LG Washer is model number WM2496HWM, which normally retails for approximately $1100. We got it for $454.49, because it was slightly, very slightly scratched on the front. The front scratch isn’t really noticeable, and is probably as much as we’d do to it in the first week! There isn’t a dent on it, and it comes with the full manufacturer’s warranty of 1 year. We bought the store’s 4-year warranty for an additional $100. The best part is that it is extremely energy efficient and uses only 167 kwH/year.

The LG Dryer is a DLE3777W, which retails for $750-850 at big box stores. We got it for $381.41! Same deal as the washer: slightly scratched, no dents = $400 savings. This is a great deal, and we were very happy about it.

Next: A few things have arrived at our house. The maple stairs are there now, as are the wraps for the front and back porch pillars. We are still waiting for the range to be delivered, before we can get the electricity turned on, so that’s holding us up a bit. Right now, we’re in negotiations with the landscaping guy to ensure that we get something as close to what we want as possible. It is really coming together now; I can’t believe how much it looks like a house!

The Tile File

May 26, 2007

It’s looking good, and is starting to get some actual floors. Our carpets will come in after they’ve finished the tile, but the bamboo floors can’t come in until the HVAC has been running for 6 days. I will get to the pictures right away:

This is the kichen, with the tiles in place. They’re a bit dirty, but you get the idea. We used the same tiles in the foyer area, also:

The rest of the foyer will be bamboo, but we wanted a tile entryway for scraping off dirt and sand on shoes. Bamboo scratches easily, so we’re trying to do some damage control during the planning process.

We’re very proud of how the downstairs bath is turning out:

We will have white beadboard on the walls in here, and the vanity will be a pedestal bath.

The master bath is looking very nice, too, if I do say so myself:

We used green glass tiles for the accents around the tub, and we have the same accent pieces around the master shower. The brown tiles here are the same that were used downstairs.

We’ve also gotten our light switches and smoke detectors installed, and our library shelves are going up:

I can’t wait to fill these with books, books, and more books!

And that is all, until next week, when we hope to have the grout done around these tiles and the carpet laid down in the master bedroom.

The siding is complete!

May 19, 2007

I know that Woody is happy about that. He’s been working on that siding for quite a while. Here is our finished product:

The truck in the driveway belonged to the tile man, who was inside working when we pulled up. We didn’t stay long, so that we wouldn’t get in his way, but we took a few photos of what he was doing with the tiles. Here is the stack of tiles for the master bath:

And here is the master bath tub all framed up and ready to be tiled:

Notice that the interior doors have been installed; there’s been a lot of progress this week.

Here is the tile man himself, prepping the floor of the downstairs bathroom:

Our tile supplier was Best Flooring in Clermont. Unfortunately, they don’t have a website to which I can link this. I can’t imagine why any business, in this day and age, would not have a website. Baffling…

Here is a photo of our work last weekend, on the laundry room floor:

Those are just the vinyl 12″ square self-stick sheets, but they don’t look horrible, which is a positive. We’re saving around $400-450 by doing the laundry room & under-the-stairs closet ourselves.

Woody also finished up the soffits on the front and back porches, and now is turning his attention to the column wraps. We just want plain, square white columns, which he says will be easier to install than rounded columns. Win-win situation for both of us!

And, finally, on our way to the lot, we found yet another little buddy in the road. These tortoises are not very good with navigating the highways of Florida. This guy would just duck into his shell every time a car came by. We brought him back to our lot and turned him loose in an area where we’d seen another tortoise. This little guy was smaller than the first two tortoises we rescued from a fate as roadkill.

We’re going back to the house tomorrow, to lay some more laundry & closet tiles, and to do a wee bit of raking and composting. Next steps are to get the tiles completed, then the cabinets can go in, hopefully on June 1. We changed our cabinets slightly. We’re now using cabinets from All Wood Cabinetry, because they are about $1100 less expensive than the other cabinets we’d wanted. The Shaker style is the same, as is the all wood construction. The real difference is that these cabinets only come in Honey Spice Maple, instead of Natural Maple. The wood is still light colored, so we decided to save the $1100 and go with this brand of cabinets.

Woody will have the HVAC system installed, and the lighting set up, then he will try to get us temporary electric. He needs to run the HVAC for 6 days before the bamboo can be installed, since the planks have to acclimate to the house’s temperature & humidity levels.

Appliances!

April 22, 2007

We’ve begun purchasing appliances, which we enjoy doing, because it seems to be the only area in which we’re coming under budget. We (well, to be honest, I) get extremely excited when we get a bargain.

Our first purchase was a refrigerator, an LG model LFD25860TT. It is 25 cu. feet large, is titanium colored (I didn’t want that smudgy stainless surface), and has French doors. It also has a water dispenser on the front, not water and ice. Why, you ask? Or maybe you don’t care, but I will tell you anyway. This is because we drink LOTS of water. We usually go through several bottles every day. On the other hand, we are not big on ice. Our current ice maker tends to collect bugs, which is probably the reason for our distaste of ice. The ice dispenser on the door seemed to be an energy consumer that we could do without. Because the freezer is on the bottom, on this particular model, that is another big energy saver. This refrigerator uses only 499 kWh/year.

We saved money on this model by buying it from Appliance Direct. This model was no longer carried by Home Depot or Lowes, because they’d replaced it with the ice-dispenser-in-door model. However, we found it for a lower price than we’d paid at Best Buy, and Appliance Direct did price matching, so lowered our price to beat the Best Buy price. Good deal #1.

Our next purchase was an LG dishwasher, model LDF6810BB. This was another energy efficient model, because it allows for Upper Rack only washing. Since there are only 2 of us, we sometimes run the dishwasher without having a full load. We are hoping that this will help us save energy on those times when we have to run a partially-full load of dishes.

It’s a fully integrated dishwasher, and we got a bargain on this one by going with the color black. For some odd reason, the black model cost a full $300 less than either the stainless or white model. Home Depot was offering free delivery and a gift certificate with appliance purchases, so we also took advantage of these opportunities and their unusually low prices for this color model and purchased from them.

Our third and, thus far, final purchase was that of the range. It’s a Jenn Air range, dual fuel, model JDR8895AAB. It has the gas cooktop that my husband wanted, while having electric double ovens. The lower oven is a convection oven, while the upper, smaller oven pre-heats in half the time for still more energy efficiency.

By purchasing this range in black, we saved $200, and the black model still has stainless steel door handles and silver knobs, to coordinate with our refrigerator. My husband looked on the Jenn Air website and was able to find a $75 rebate that wasn’t mentioned at any of the appliance stores we’d been to. So sometimes it pays to see if the manufacturer offers rebates or incentives. We bought this range from Home Depot, to take advantage of their free shipping and gift card.

Home Depot also had a 20% off sale on their fans, so we decided to buy them now. We had done some research online about energy efficient fans, and we’d found this page, giving us information about the Windward III model. We chose this model for our great room, and we found another model, almost as energy efficient, called the Covington for our master bedroom. The 2 downstairs bedrooms got the Quick Connect fans, which were also Energy Star rated, and we purchased 2 fans for our back porch: the Gazebo Plus Indoor/Outdoor fans. This model was the most energy efficient indoor/outdoor fan that we could find, so that is why we went with it.

I will post more as we purchase more appliances. We have our eyes on a built-in wine cooler, and we are planning on purchasing our washer and dryer from the scratch and dent section of Appliance Direct, since these are appliances whose appearance isn’t nearly as important to us as their affordability and energy efficiency.

Electrical rough-in and miscellaneous information

February 26, 2007

First, the update on the house’s progress for this week. The electrician has come and gone, and has done the rough-in which is necessary before the roof can be put on. Here is a photo of the place where one of the light switches for the great room will be located:

And here is where one of our ceiling lights will be located:

Our big work for this week involved sketching out our entertainment center. At first, we had in mind an entertainment center with the shelves and partitions wrapped in drywall. After looking at some examples of this at the Lake Sumter Parade of Homes, we realized this look was too chunky for us. So Andy sketched out this drawing of our entertainment center:

The shaded gray areas will be made of drywall, but the shelves will be made of 3/4 inch plywood, edged with a veneer strip, so that we can either paint or stain the shelves. We’re thinking that we will probably paint the shelves white, but we can decide that later on.

Our builder, Woody, told us that our metal roof will be made by Southeastern Metals. We still have to confirm which model of metal roof is the one that will be used on our house, but we are planning on having a white metal roof, for maximum reflectivity.

Our tub in the master bath will be by Izzi Baths, a local company based out of Clermont. Part of green building is using local materials whenever possible, to save on fuel used in transportation. We also like using local suppliers because, as we did this weekend, we are then able to go to the manufacturer and see the various products in person.

We went to Izzi Baths to look at their tub models, and sent Woody two choices. Our first choice, the Aquamarine, is larger. If it will fit into our bathroom, that model would be our preference. The second choice is a slightly smaller tub, the Garnet. They are both corner models, and we have decided to go with the color Biscuit. The large white tubs had a bit of a glare, just because of their sheer mass. The biscuit color took the edge off but was still light enough to look fine with a white toilet (we hope!).

We are waiting for the plumber to come next week, and then the propane company will have to pull their permits and do their thing. After that, Woody says that everything will begin to happen at once – we will get our roof, Hardie Board siding, and windows. I think it will really look like a house then!

Underlayment!

February 10, 2007

Okay, admittedly it doesn’t appear that much has happened this week. Basically, our plywood roof passed a Roof Sheathing Inspection (hurrah!) and an underlayment is being laid down over the plywood roof.

For the underlayment, our builder Woody Dortch of Classic Structures, Inc. used Titanium-UDL Synthetic Roofing Underlayment. I read about this online, and apparently it’s superior to felt (or claims to be) because it provides more reflectivity, is lighter & stronger, and is unaffected by water.  Woody said that this underlayment costs about twice what the felt underlayment would have cost, but he thinks that it is worth it, and we agree!  He said that its claim to fame is that, in case of a storm, if the metal roof were to be lifted off the building, this underlayment is supposed to stay down, so that our house will still stay dry.  Let’s hope that’s a claim that never gets tested.

Here is a photo of one of the roofers laying down the underlayment:

And here is a close-up of those spiffy little orange nails:

Other than this, the house looks just the same as it did last week, so I didn’t bother to include new house photos. After taking a few bids, Woody has found a roofer, and our next step is to get the white metal roof installed. Will it be a house then?

Is it a house yet?

February 3, 2007

We now have roof trusses and…

Drumroll, please…

A wooden roof! Ta da! It finally looks like an actual house. Okay, maybe a foam and wood house, but still, a house. My husband, however, persists in calling it a “lot,” despite his previous assurance that, once it had a roof, he would then call it a “house.”

So without further ado, here are the pictures. First, the overview from the front of the house:

Now we can actually see the front and back porches taking shape, with the plywood roof. Next is a view of the roof trusses from inside the house:

And another view of the trusses. This one was taken looking up toward the master bedroom (2nd floor) and toward the bay window of the guest bedroom on the first floor:

Here are two different views of the back porch, which will be screened in eventually. The builders haven’t yet finished putting the plywood on top of the porch.


Next steps: Getting an actual roof! We plan on having a white metal roof for maximum energy efficiency. It’s exciting to watch our house grow up out of the sandy soil of the lot.