Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pre-Delivery Inspection - a success!

Derek and I just returned from the Pre-Delivery Inspection and we couldn't be happier with our new condo.

All the finishes I we chose look really awesome and the floor plan flows just as well as we thought it would.

I wasn't even super disappointed by the bedroom carpet, like I thought I would be.  It actually looks really great and makes the room feel cozy.  Some of my favourite aspects of our condo include the HUGE windows and fabulous views.  The floors - I love the dark hardwood and my black tile selection.  I'm also a big fan of our kitchen counters and cabinets.  And our faucet.  

Ok, clearly it's difficult for me to choose favourites.

The inspection process went really smoothly.  At first I was just really excited bouncing from room to room, opening doors and hanging out on the balcony.  Then our man, Mike, started talking to me about the furnace and air conditioner which put me into checklist-Meaghan mode.  I didn't want to forget anything he said, so everything was written down.  And then we began checking items off our checklist.  

As we walked through the space, room by room, we noticed little scuffs on the floor, imperfections with the dry wall, some broken tile in our back splash, and a crappy caulking job on some parts around the tub.  But all in all I was super impressed with the cleanliness and good craftsmanship of our unit.  My cousin Dean, who is a real estate agent, was also really impressed, which comforted Derek and I.

Here are some pictures which were taken very quickly and excitedly.

Super excited to be entering unit 801!

We can see our current apartment building which is the white one on the right.

A view looking North.

And a view looking South.

Here is the heart of our home - our fabulous kitchen.  I am super happy how everything turned out.  I love my high gloss cabinets and glass tile back splash.  The dark granite adds a nice contrast and ties in the dark floors.  I'm also happy that we decided to upgrade to a slightly fancier faucet.

We will eventually upgrade the overhead lighting, and I'm looking forward to putting something up on the half wall at the end of the island.  Maybe some chalk board paint?

Here is the view looking towards the kitchen.  The bathroom is on the left.  I didn't get a picture of the den, but it's around the back of the kitchen.  And that's Mike.

The bathroom is tiny, but we're ok with that.  We would rather some square footage go towards the bedroom and living areas.  Since we have a pass through from our walk-in closet we are missing some valuable wall space, which is why the builder decided to put that towel bar way up above the toilet.  I think it is the weirdest looking thing ever, and it will be coming down.  I will be brainstorming towel rack solutions.  

I really enjoy the raised sink and faucet, but I would like to remove the builder's mirror and install something with a little more interest.

In the bedroom we have a nice, big window with a view.  

We have a better view of the carpet in this picture.  Not too bad, right?  You can also see the walk through closet to the bathroom.

I didn't want to leave the kitchen.  I can't wait to add some pops of colour in there!

Derek didn't want to leave the balcony.

I couldn't finish the post without showing you my sexy steel toe boots.  I do, however, think Derek looks quite good in a hard hat!

Things to note: 
  • I made sure to get a copy of the form where Mike marked down all the items needing fixing (thanks for that suggestion, Justine).
  • We definitely made friends with Mike.  The whole experience was pleasant and he was super helpful. So be nice to your rep!
  • I did not rush through the inspection and I made sure to ask questions if I had any.  I even showed Mike our checklist and we went through it together.  
  • It definitely helped to bring a third person along.  Someone who was not emotionally attached to the condo.  Dean was supportive and contributed helpful advice.

So the PDI has been checked off the list.  Next up is our closing, which should be a whole lot more paperwork.  I'm slightly nervous for this part of the buying process because of all the legal lingo and dollars that are involved.  Thankfully we have a great lawyer who we trust and an excellent relationship with our mortgage man.

I can't wait until we receive our keys (July 23rd) and I can start visualizing all the decorating!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's like Christmas in June!

I feel like tomorrow is Christmas morning.  I am so giddy and excited, I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight!

Tomorrow, we will be conducting the Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) of our new home.  Yes!  That means our unit is complete and I will finally be able to see how the small tile/cabinet/granite/hard wood samples look like in real-life size.  I will admit I have been very caught up in the aesthetics portion of PDI – you know, checking to see if everything matches correctly, feeling up my new granite counters, looking out our 8th floor window at the view.  Luckily Derek, on the other hand, has thought about the other less glamorous to-does such as checking out the plumbing and electrical.  Equally as important as beautiful cabinets now that I think about it.

Derek’s the man, and printed off a few different documents he found on the internet when searching “new home inspection checklist”.  Our lovely real estate agent, Kim, also sent us a document to refer to.  I then took the time to go through the information and amalgamate and eliminate information.  Much of the exterior portion of the checklist does not relate to us since we have not purchased a house, but there are separate things to know about condos. 

Here are some tips I found to be helpful:

  • Don’t be scared or nervous, and that my developer’s representative should be very helpful.  I should also be nice and try to make friends with the rep. 
  • Don’t worry about rushing through the inspection.  It helps to make an early appointment so that you are not the last one of the day, with a rep who is itching to finish work.
  • Be thorough.  Open every cabinet, turn on every faucet, check every window, etc.  If something is movable, it is most likely able to be installed incorrectly.
  • Don’t hire a home inspector for a new condo.  This surprised me, but apparently they are trained to locate problems in older homes and not inspect new builds.
  • Consider bringing someone with you, just because it’s helpful to have another set of eyes.
  • Read through the Purchase Agreement before the PDI.  This way you will have the list of all the finishes, features and upgrades you chose to ensure you are getting what you paid for.
  • If you miss something within 30 days of possession, you can always go through TARION.  But, apparently you want to stay clear of having to deal with TARION since it is not an easy process, and it is better to deal directly with the developer.

With this in mind, we made an 8AM appointment and are bringing along my cousin Dean who is a real estate agent.  

Meaghan and Derek's PDI Checklist

Electrical and Appliances

  • Outlets: check they work by plugging in a phone charger
  • Light sockets: bring along a light bulb to screw into all empty sockets to ensure they work
  • Appliances: Turn them all on (oven, stove, microwave, dish washer, washing machine and dryer) and request the instruction booklets and individual warranties for all appliances.
  • Fridge: does it maintain a cold temperature and shut down automatically with the thermostat is lowered
  • Ask if our unit has its own electrical circuit.  If so, locate the fuse box  and review the functions of each breaker/fuse
  • Inspect the furnace and air-conditioning unit
  • Heat registers should not be covered by carpeting and should not be located below a thermostat
  • Check out the location of cold air return(s) and ensure they are free of obstruction

  • Run all the faucets to check for pressure, water temperature and ensure the sinks and tub drain quickly
  • Toilets: flush them to check for water pressure
  • Run the water and the flush toilet at the same time to see if there is a temperature change
  • Faucets and shower heads should be caulked
  • Locate the shut-off valves for the plumbing system

Doors and Windows
  • Doors: open and close all of them to ensure the doors are well-fitted and evenly joined around the frame.  The locks should not rattle when the door is closed and the doors should clear the carpets, if any.
  • Windows: open and close all of them ensure they lock and close properly and feel for drafts
  • Check that the caulking is complete around all the windows and doors where the frame meets the wall

Bathroom and Kitchen
  • Turn on the fans to ensure they run properly.  Locate where they vent on the exterior of the building if possible
  • Check the caulking around the tub, toilet and tiles is complete
  • Check the tub,  and sinks for scratches and cracks
  • Cupboards and drawers: ensure they all open and close smoothly and are without scratches and dents
  • Counters: the counters shouldn't be damaged or scratched.  Check for smooth edges and make sure to get low and look underneath any overhangs

Flooring, Walls and Ceilings
  • Tile and wood floors: check for chips and cracks in the tile.  Look for large gaps or spaces between the wood floors and that the edges are seamless
  • Carpet: check for fraying, exposed areas and stains.  Make sure the door clears any carpeted areas.  The carpet should be tight without and lumps or bumps
  • There should only be minimal squeaks and spring when walking on the floor
  • Ceilings and walls: check for obvious defects such as gouges, cracks and dents

  • Check the flooring for cracks
  • Railings should be secure and without chips or cracks anywhere

Other areas to consider
  • parking space
  • storage locker
  • bike room
  • pool
  • gym
  • change room
  • party room 
As I look at this list, it seems a little over the top, but when I think about how much money we are paying for our home I really want it to be as perfect as possible.  Many of the items on this checklist will be obvious, but I am glad we have it for those things I didn't think of (flushing the toilet while having the water running, for example!)

I plan on taking LOTS of pictures tomorrow morning which I will most definitely share.  Along with anything I learn from our experience.  I am crossing my fingers we don't run into a huge disaster like the wrong cabinets or shag carpet in the bathroom or something.  Either way, I will keep you posted.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy summer solstice!

I would like to officially wish everyone a very happy summer season!

I have probably said “Now THIS is my favourite time of year” at the beginning of each different season, but there is something extra special about summer.  For me, summers are so precious. Lazy weekends with friends by the pool and warm summer evenings on patios seem to fly by so fast.  In our unpredictable climate we have to cherish those beautiful days because a cold streak or a million degree humidex could always be just around the corner.

Some of fondest memories of my grandparents (my dad’s mom and dad) are from the summers they spent at our house.  I was pretty young at the time and I think a lot of my memories stem from looking through photo albums, so I’m so grateful to have them.  One summer my Grandpa Glenn and my dad built us a huge wooden play structure in the backyard.  Complete with a teeter-totter.  We definitely had the coolest backyard on the block.  My Grandma Millie and I would dress up and go on day trips together and she would always let me wear her costume jewellery and clip-on earrings.  I was in heaven when they came to stay with us from BC.

At the end of every school year, when I was growing up, my mom would set out the calendar for the months of July and August to plan the summer ahead.  We would choose camps to participate in during the week – mostly sport camps for me, but my sister went to nerd science camp once (I shouldn’t tease, this could be the reason she is now looking into pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience).  We would also plan long-weekend family trips here and there; the finale to the summer being my sisters and I’s birthday parties at the end of August. 

I remember feeling sad when I looked at the summer months on a calendar.  8 weekends or 2 months didn’t look as long as it actually felt in my mind when I imagined “summer vacation”.  I remember wishing that my mom wouldn’t register me in so many camps so I could just “hang out” with my friends, sleep in and watch tv.  Well, that certainly wasn’t an option, and I’m thankful (now) that my parents put so much time and effort into creating a well rounded summer for all three of us.

Now that I am a grown-up (ha ha) and in a relationship of my own, I have been planning out the summer calendar for Derek and I.  This summer is a little extra busy with our move and all of the weddings, so we don’t have many commitment-free weekends.  We still plan on steeling some quiet time by the pool and taking advantage of living downtown by staying out late on patios and having picnics in the park.

A few times I’ve looked at my summer schedule and thought “Wow, I can’t wait for fall to arrive so I can relax”, but I know I need to stop myself from thinking this.  People are always talking about how it is so important to live in the present.  I need to remember to stay present this summer and appreciate every second for what it’s worth.  

I remember when I was younger and I would hear people talk about how their whole summer has been eaten up by weddings.  I would think to myself “I can’t wait until I’m older and my summer is filled with weddings!”  The time has arrived!  So even though my calendar might be full to the brim with commitments and I sometimes feel like a kid who just wants to “hang out”, sleep in and watch tv my goal this summer is to make room every day so that I can soak in as much of all the summer events as possible.

How does your summer social calendar look?  Are your weekends full of weddings?  If so, how do you squeeze in time to soak in the summer?

Some scenes from last summer...

taking in the view of the Ottawa Valley after a hike in Gatineau

zip-lining with friends

enjoying the Maxville Highland Games

Canada Day in Ottawa, and a royal visit from William and Kate

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Engagement Photo...lessons

Our engagement photos arrived!  And we are super happy with the results.  Neil and Steph from Stem Photography did an amazing job capturing natural photos of Derek and I, while really letting our love shine through.  

I mentioned before that I never actually planned on having engagement photos taken until I learned they were part of our photography package.  Since then I did some research on some of the pros of having engagement photos taken (which you can read about here), and I have to say - I definitely agree.  

Participating in a photo shoot was a learning experience.  Planning our outfits, making and organizing props, deciding on locations and pinning favourite poses took some work.  I'm really happy I did my research, but even still, I definitely learned a few things through our experience.

But before we get to lessons learned, let's take a look at a few of my favourite photos shall we?!

I have to give it to our photographers.  They were so enthusiastic during the shoot and actually spent over 3 hours with us.  They trekked around to 3 different locations and waited patiently while we went through our wardrobe change.  The end result was 170 beautifully edited photos which we love.  

Through the experience, here are some lessons I learned:

Lesson #1: Love your photographer

Like I mentioned, we spent over 3 hours with Steph and Neil.  Can you imagine if we didn't jive with each other?  I think the most important thing is to get along with your photographer.  They were in our face, putting us in awkward positions and doing their best to make us laugh (which they did!) all while trying to get “the perfect shot”.  We ended up having a really great time and the 3 hours flew by!  Had we not gotten along so well I’m sure it would have dragged and we wouldn’t have spent as much time on our shoot, which would have resulted in fewer photos and maybe more uncomfortable and less genuine smiles.  

Lesson #2(a): Plan your outfit(s)

I put a lot of thought into what Derek and I would be wearing.  It was fun for me to check out other engagement photos to see how couples had matched and played with colour and pattern.  A few nights before our shoot, I laid our outfits on the bed beside each other to make sure the clothing matched.  The night before our shoot I tried on my outfits just to settle any uncertainties.  Since our shoot began at 10am, and I really wanted to have a relaxing morning with lots of time to get ready before heading out, I did all I could so as not to have any last minute melt downs (yes, sometimes I act like a 2 year old if my outfit isn't working).  Having our outfits planned ahead of time made the morning flow much nicer.

Lesson #2(b): Move around in your outfit(s)

One thing I didn’t anticipate was the positions we would be getting into while having our photos taken.  The clothing you wear should not only look great, but be comfortable and easy to move around in.  Clothing can look one way when you are leaning against a tree or sitting pretty but it may be a whole different story once you get moving and/or laying on the ground - things shift!  Here are a couple photos which I really love, however as you can see my bra strap is showing in one and my cleavage is just a little too present in the other.  First of all, I don’t know why I didn’t wear a black bra, which would have half solved problem number 1.  Secondly, I know now to move around the clothing I plan on wearing to see how they shift and change.

Lesson #3: Beware of patterned clothing

Through my research I learned that bold, lettered or patterned clothing is not ideal for photos because it takes away from the subject.  I tend to agree, however there are always exceptions to the rule, and I saw some lovely floral patterned dresses and bold striped shirts that looked great!  I love Derek’s slim fit black and white check shirt, so it made the cut immediately.  In most of the photos his shirt looks great, however in a few the check pattern went a little wonky, like you can see below.  Definitely watch out for that, and if you are unsure go with a solid, which always looks classic.

Wondering how my props turned out?  Take a look!  I'm super happy with the outcome and feel they added some personality and playfulness to the photos.

Not too bad, right?

The next step is choosing our favourite photo to use on our Save the Date post cards!  I must stay it feels good to check things off the wedding to-do list!