Useful Nuggets

Still a major work in progress!!

Placeholder for all sorts of useful nuggets of information, guidance, tips, warnings, etc.

General Construction/Selections

A.  Second Floor Laundry Room

1.  You will need to have an overflow pan for your washer.  This means you will not be able to open your pedestal drawer if you plan on using one with a front-load washer. 
  • Possible solutions/alternatives:
    • Suffer with a non-functional drawer
    • Prop the pedestal up enough so there's enough clearance over the lip (caution: may case unit to become unstable)
    • Place a non-standard request to move the laundry room elsewhere (e.g., mudroom, garage (not likely approved), or basement).
    • Not use a pedestal
2.  If you plan to use a front-load washer with pedestal, request that they raise the water connections or you will have to use a step stool and lean over the washer to turn the water on/off

B.  Hardwood Floors
1.  If you are putting hardwood floors, I strongly recommend that you install a whole-house humidifier.  We opted for oak on the first floor and the boards are shrinking like crazy.  Static electricity and super dry hands are not among my favorite things.  Please note that if you have a second furnace (say in the attic like we do), you may not be able to install a humidifier after-the-fact.

Specific to the Courtland Gate
A.  Extended Second Floor Laundry Room 
1.  Ask to have the door swing OUT and toward to the steps.  If you want to use the counter to fold clothes, you will have to close yourself in.  It is a bit tight to maneuver around when you're doing the wash with the door open.
  • What to do if you this can't be done:
    • Suffer with the layout
    • Remove the door
    • My future project:  remove the door and add a barn door (or at least a side-mounted sliding door)
  • Warning for removing the door:  you'll need to find a new home for your ironing board if you intend to hang it on the back of the door.
2.  The cabinet finish and counter are supposed to match the kitchen (this is why you have to pay the extra $ with the option).  If you want to change the cabinets or counters, talk to your SR and place a non-standard request for any deviations.

3.  The base cabinets do not come with functional drawers -- just the faceplate.  You might be able to add a non-standard request for drawers or you can install drawers separately.

B.  Kitchen
1.  Lighting:  There is a single light switch that controls the kitchen lights

Walkthrough / Post Move-in Tips

A.  Windows & Doors
1.  Open, close, and lock each window/door, including checking any tilt-in features.
2.  Ensure the screens are present and installed correctly.  A few of ours were put in backwards and some were not locked.

 Stream of Consciousness Stuff
(to be cleaned up later -- thanks, sid, for the inspiration)

Bump outs:
I would recommend getting bumpouts for the extra square footage does come in handy for your appraisal (also good for resale value).

Regarding windows:  Extra light is nice but it will increase your heating bills.  If you have a lot of land, it might be nice to be able to see your yard but if you're close to your neighbors, you'll probably end up putting up shades for privacy.  Also consider where the sun sets in regards to the family -- we get a lot of glare on the tv and don't have the option to place the tv in between the two windows (we have three on the back wall).  If you want to put bookcases on either side of the fireplace (if you opt for that), I would skip the side windows. // Side windows in the bedrooms are nice but because they are small in comparison to the master, it can make for difficult furniture arrangements.

Carpet padding:  We put B on the second floor and C in the attic (playroom) and the family room since we figured they'd get the most traffic.  When you sit down with the flooring folks, they should have samples.  A just seemed way too thin. C also has a water-resistant liner.

Cost saving tips:

- Wait on the hardwood floor: 
Some of the laminates and vinyl are very nice and you can always upgrade to wood later.  (warning on the wood:  if you don't get a humidifier with your furnace, the planks will shrink in the winter and there'll be lots of gaps)

- Wait on the plumbing fixture upgrades: 
You can probably get them cheaper elsewhere and again, install them later.  If you currently own a house, you can get the less expensive ones through RH and use them for that house and buy nicer ones separately (if they are indeed cheaper) and ask your PM or the plumber doing the work to install them.  This way you get the ones you want now and you can "upgrade" your other house.

- Wait on the kitchen upgrades: 
--- backsplash:  You can probably live without a tile backsplash in the beginning.  Don't get sucked in -- those upgrades are costly!  If you're handy, you can make this a weekend project.
--- counters:  If you don't have your heart set on granite, you can save an awful lot but going to a different stone or even a really nice laminate/Formica with bullnosed edges.
--- cabinet hardware:  If you don't mind drilling the holes yourself, skip the knob upgrade and get them at your local home improvement store.  Even a handyman can do the job for less than RH.

- Skip the tray ceilings and columns:If you are dead-set on a tray, go for it with the build now since it will be more costly to add them later.  Otherwise, just skip them completely.  Columns can be added later but are just decorative.

- Wait on the ceiling fans:Placing ceiling fans will help with energy efficiency and reduce your heating bills.  We opted not to buy fans through RH and picked them up ourselves.  Our PM and electrician were nice enough to install them for us because we paid for the fan pre-wiring.  This is key -- if you aren't going to get fans (or lights -- we don't have a light in the living room or morning room right now) with RH, then make sure you get the pre-wire for lights AND for fans if you want them.  If you are getting the morning room, make sure you eventually get a fan/light for there to help circulate the air.

- Major appliances:
I believe by law you have to at least buy the stove and dishwasher through RH to be considered a residence.  If you have a pre-existing washer, dryer, fridge, or microwave you can save money buy moving those and not buying through RH.  If you plan to put your microwave over the stove, I'd get both through RH so they'd at least match.  We found some awesome deals on the washer, dryer, and fridge and bought those ourselves.  Check out the adds for the major appliance stores for big sales.  (We hit the Labor Sale and then had the appliances delivered at the end of September.  Most stores will hold on delivery for a month, maybe more.)  Also apply for a "we're moving" coupon at places like Lowe's or Home Depot and price shop/haggle as much as you can.  We found the best prices at Lowe's and then went to Best Buy.  BB price matches and will honor the Lowe's 20% discount.  If you have Best Buy Bucks, you can even use those toward your purchase.  If you plan to buy your appliances all at once, you can only use ONE of them for the EnergyStar refund.  --don't forget about the garbage disposal.  If you have one now, you will miss it terribly if you forget.

- Wait on the deck:You can always do this later and probably done better by a different contractor.  Just be careful if you have an HOA.  Some will require you to get the design approved before you build.

- Wait on the garage door opener:
You can always do this yourself or hire someone like Lowe's or Home Depot to do it for you.  It's definitely cheaper than going through RH.

** Whatever you do, make sure you splurge on at least one room.  This will be your happy place.  No matter what you cut out for financial reasons, you're still going to think about the coulda-shoulda's.  If you splurge, the first thing is structural.  It's easy to add some tile or a floor but it's harder to expand your footprint or put in windows. The kitchen and master bath are usually the splurge rooms.  If you want to deck out the bathroom with nice tile, I'd do that now because the construction after the fact and having contractors in and out of your bedroom is enough to drive one insane--unless you're a do-it-yourself'er-- but if you're a weekend warrior, then it make take more time than you anticipated. **

- From personal preference, get the recessed lighting in the kitchen and get the extra cans -- it brightens up the kitchen a ton.  Plus, if you like pendent lighting, you can always buy a little conversion kit for those that are over the island and give it some flair.

- If you plan to put a fireplace in the family room, make sure you at least get pre-wiring for a ceiling fan.  The blower isn't that effective and the fan will help with air flow.

- You can likely skip on the trim package but honestly, a bit of crown molding goes a long way.  It just makes the house feel a little more elegant.  If you're cutting back on the big item tickets, this will be a nice little pick-me-up.

- If you are choosing to do wood stairs, I would not leave them fully exposed unless you plan on putting in your own runner.  The model in our neighborhood has some pretty dinged up steps on account of all the foot traffic.  We like the exposed wood so did that with a carpet runner -- you get the visual "pretty" and the practicality of carpet.

- If you don't have dogs and have to pay extra for landscaping, I'd say just get the front sodded and seeded in the back.  You're going to want to see nice pretty grass when you come home--it's the little things that will make you smile.  If you do have dogs, I would recommend either a full backyard sod or at least a nice patch.  Otherwise, you will be constantly washing muddy paws.

- I'm not sure if it matters or not to you, but if it does, look at the toilet options.  There is the standard seat and the "upgraded" elongated seat. 

- If your lot can support it and you plan to put two cars in the garage, I would recommend getting the three-car garage.  The 2-car feels like a 1.5-car garage and is pretty cramped with our small car and SUV.  It might be can opener-tight if you have two small SUVs or larger. 


  1. Both my wife and I really liked the advice you have given out about the right choice when deciding what to purchase or not to purchase when it come to add on for your first Ryan Home, we definitely will be using it to heart...Thanks.

  2. Thanks so much for these little tidbits. We are currently in the process of building our own Courtland Gate with the luxury owner's suite and morning room. We did lots of upgrades only because of the sales event. What we did back out of was the double upgraded tile in bathroom 1 (we have two boys and this would be their bathroom- so simple cultured marble and espresso cabinets was the key here) As far as the whole house dehumdifier- did you find one you like? I figure this will also cut down on possible mildew and mold.