Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Fall

Our front door decorated for Fall!
Happy fall and happy (almost) Halloween!  We started adding fall touches around our house to get in the spirit.
Our beautiful basement with a shiny new pumpkin :)
I have also been spending a lot of time browsing stores like Homegoods and Target as well as online sites for decorating ideas.  We have two spaces that we have really been struggling to decorate: the nook at the top of the stairs on the bedroom level and the space behind the island in the kitchen.

I'm happy to say after months of trying to figure out what we wanted to do, we finally have the nook upstairs almost fully decorated.  We went with a cheap red console table from Target to add a pop of color to our hallway and a set of black frames I found on clearance at TJ Maxx.  I want to find some additional black frames to keep the gallery wall look going further up the wall.  I also want to find some small decor pieces to put on the table so it doesn't look so empty.  Here's our work in progress:
View from the guest bedroom
View from our laundry room
View from the bathroom

Development in Greenbelt Station

It's been a long time since I updated. We have been busy keeping up with the news about the development in our community.  For anyone that is building early on in a development (we built early in phase 1 of our community), it is definitely worth it to start researching and think about attending local city, township, or county meetings where they're discussing the development of your community. You can usually find the meeting information on the city, township, or county website.

Since the full development for Greenbelt Station (south core) hasn't been finalized my husband and I have attended a few of the Greenbelt City meetings on the development of the community.  It has been really cool to be able to give our opinions on the design of different parts of the community.  The City of Greenbelt definitely seems to listen to our opinions since we are actually living in the community.

I will also say that being early in the development is also frustrating since it seems to take forever for any of these development plans to be approved and completed. Long term, I think it will all be worth the wait though. Here's a status update on some of the major development projects in Greenbelt Station:

Traffic Light at the Intersection of Greenbelt Station Parkway and Greenbelt Road

This project was approved pretty much right after we moved in so we didn't go to any meetings on this.  We are extremely excited about it though!  I never thought I would say I was excited about a traffic light, but for those of you who live in or have visited Greenbelt Station, you probably understand my excitement.  There was a median on Greenbelt Road that forced us to make u-turns pretty much every time we left our house.  Needless to say it got old fast.  However the developers have finished their work on the traffic light and the state highway group has broken through the median.  The last we heard is that the road should be patched where the median was soon so we can make a left turn out of our community!  The traffic light will also be in but in test mode by the end of November (meaning it will just be blinking).

Greenbelt Station Park 

My husband and I attended some meetings on the Greenbelt Station Park and the design was finalized and approved by City Council.  Here are the plans.  The construction of the hardscape (sidewalks, etc) should be starting any time now and finished by Spring 2016. The developer will then plant trees and grass.  The grass area will be roped off most likely until Spring 2017. So we won't have a fully functional park for almost 2 years.

WMATA (metro) Trail

The WMATA trail is probably the most contentious topic in the community right now.  I think all of us (or almost all of us) bought in Greenbelt Station for the access to metro.  However, we signed our contract over a year ago and the walking trail to get to metro has not even been started yet. It really sounds like some of this hold up was due to the City of Greenbelt taking a year to finally agree to be the jurisdictional sponsor of the work on the trail. The developers and the City of Greenbelt are still finalizing plans for the trail to WMATA.  A proposed design already went to a city council work session and the developer is working to address some questions.  It sounds like the developers and the city planning team are hoping the final trail will be in front of city council for approval by the end of the year.  Once city council approves the plan then this will go to WMATA for review and approval.  It sounds like it will probably still be about 18 months until we have a functional walking trail to Greenbelt Metro Station. This is definitely the most frustrating part of our home purchase.  Although I will say since we purchased and aren't renting we are looking long term and eventually we will have the walking path and our purchase will be perfect. Also when/if we ever choose to sell, the walking path will help with our resale value. :)

Phase 3 of Greenbelt Station (South Core)

We went to a meeting last night where the Greenbelt Advisory Planning Board reviewed plans for Phase 3 of Greenbelt Station.  The plans aren't yet posted online, but what was presented last night was a mix of townhome models and a small section for retail or a city park.  The proposed design included 161 townhomes all with rear-loading garages like the Strauss model already in the community.  The proposed models will be NVHomes's Andrew Carnegie, Ryan Homes's Strauss, Clarendon, and Hepburn. As for the small section of retail or park, Woodlawn Develpment Group (another branch of NVR) is required to market the lot for retail for a year.  However they said they would not build a space for lease and that it would be the responsibility of whoever purchased the lot to build on it.  When I asked how exactly they will market this lot, Woodlawn just said they would post it on a commercial real estate listing service that is the commercial equivalent of the MLS. They are working with a real estate agent to get the lot listed in the next 30 days.  Overall it sounds like there won't be a lot of active marketing, and no one seemed optimistic that the lot will become retail.  It seems like the lot will likely be a small city park.  I personally would love to have retail so I'm hoping someone likes the lot.  Anyway the city council work session on this plan is set for 11/16.

There's lots of exciting development happening around Greenbelt Station, and we really are loving our house.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Are Ryan Homes Really Energy Efficient?

The answer is definitely yes.  After months of trying to sort out our electric bill with Pepco, we finally got an updated bill last night.  It came to about $115 per month and this was for the summer months with the AC running nonstop.  I am extremely pleased with this since we used to pay this amount for a our little 650 sq ft one bedroom apartment!  For those of you trying to budget your utility costs for a Strauss townhome, here's how our costs break down:

  1. Pepco: about $115 per month
  2. Washington Gas (gas oven, no gas dryer): $15-$20 per month
  3. WSSC (water): unknown (paid every 3 months)
Sometimes with a new construction homes the utility companies take longer to get your bill sorted out. 

WSSC is still working to put us on their meter reading schedule since we're a new construction home. The latest we heard was that we should have a water bill by the end of the month. 

Pepco was sending us bills with estimated readings based on when Ryan Homes was building the house and using electricity 24/7.  They claimed they couldn't read our meter but every time we called they were able to pull our meter reading and see that our bill was wrong. It took months for them to "investigate" our situation but eventually they sorted it out and got us an accurate bill.  Our neighbors in the block didn't have any problems with Pepco, so hopefully our situation was just unique. 

Washington Gas never had any issues getting us our bills and they were always accurate.  At this point they're our favorite utility company :)

For everyone building I hope this helps you budget for your monthly expenses and good luck dealing with your utility companies!