Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chimney poo?

Looks like the vent on the pumping station had a little issue. I hope it was a diesel backup generator and not an overflow!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm so excited!!! (and I just can't hide it!)

Holy crap, Harry Teeter is coming back! Looks like in October. I can't wait (not that I don't love the Giant on Monroe, but I really miss Harris Teeter!).

The story.

"The store reapplied for a Virginia ABC wine and beer license and keg permit on Monday."

Keg permit? Mini Bar like Whole Foods Alexandria, or perhaps a Growler station? Oh, the possibilities.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bus Service on Main Line?

Spotted this the other day. Anybody know if bus service is going in along Main Line? News to me. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

2405 Conoy St Available!

Looks like 2405 Conoy Street is available via Keller Williams:

2,382 sq ft
3 stories
$344 per sq ft.

Zillow also has it up here.

Sq footage seems a little low for a three story unit, but that's what comes up on the Alexandria Real Estate page.

I wonder why this one hasn't sold. The photos look nice, and it has a nice back deck. Kitchen looks really nice.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New Exterior Texture!

Looks like there's a new exterior finish in Potomac Yard! Like it, or love it?

I have to admit, I really like the metal roofs. From a maintenance perspective it will be fantastic! Might be a little loud in the rain, but hey if they never have to replace it, that's a price I'd pay. I think Pulte should have done more of the garage roofs this way and avoided as much asphalt shingles as possible. If I recall this is one of the homes on Diamond. Looking good!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Next Door?

I set up a nextdoor.com account for Potomac Yard, and hope people will join up.

The goal of the site is to provide a social networking site that is private for those in the neighborhood. It is supposed to be a great way to avoid mailing lists, but still be able to get to know neighbors and keep up to date on stuff going on in the neighborhood.

They were supposed to send out a bunch of post cards inviting people, but I don't think that ever happened. I added a bunch of the addresses between McKenzie and East Custis, you should be able to add your own, or let me know and I'll see if I can get them to add your address.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Busses are coming!

Looks like the Northern VA transit way got approval. WTOP has a nice write up on it.

ccpytransit.com has a great image of the new bus route! Great Stuff!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

2106 Potomac #101 up for sale and Transit Way Design

Another Condo is up for sale. This time on Potomac. Asking Price is $645k.

Looks like Zillow wasn't able to do a Zestimate for the home.

Looks really nice inside though!

I also noticed this Notice the other day:

July 2nd is a meeting to discuss the design of the Transit Stations along Rte 1 from Potomac to E Glebe.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Potomac Yard Metro Implementation Group

From Alexandria's website:

PYMIG will hold a meeting on Monday, June 10, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at City Hall (301 King St.) in the Council Workroom. The public is invited to the meeting to learn about the proposed Potomac Yard Metrorail Station, the environmental planning process, and the station alternatives that are being proposed.

Meeting agenda is here.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Potomac Yard BBQ

Looks like it might be a really good chance to meet new and existing homeowners!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Trash Pickup

Here's the a link to the City of Alexandria's Solid Waste and Recycling page. They have the days they delay trash pickup due to holiday's posted on there. It bit me today too. Oops...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wine rack next to wine fridge?

So I don't know why Pulte put a wine rack next to a wine fridge, but in my place it got turned into a Rev-A-Shelf 35 Qt Double Waste Container.

Here's a link to the Amazon product page:

Works great, and didn't want the wine rack anyway (seriously how much wine storage does one person need?).  It was pretty easy to get the wine rack out, and then just followed the instructions on the unit. It even has soft close!

Here's the lid, and the recycle lid.

I had to order the door from Pyramid Granite:
Pyramid Granite, LLC
7956 Twist ln. Unit C
Springfield, VA 22153

It's the full height 18" wide cabinet door that covers the base and where the drawer would go. I had to drill the holes for the handle, but that wasn't too hard just be careful with plotting them out.

Happy home improvement!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2209 Main Line #101 For Sale

Looks like one of the condos is on the market for re-sale.

Asking $624,900.



Looks pretty nice from the photos!

Potomac Yard Metro delayed to 2017?

Washington Examiner has an article that asserts that the metro stop may be delayed until 2017 instead of late 2016.

Article here.

I didn't realize JBG had money on the line to encourage a more northern location:

"Developer JBG Corp. has agreed to pay about $49 million in 2010 dollars toward construction costs if the northern option on the far side of the CSX tracks is chosen, Marks said, and the area could have a special taxing district."

I think that's Location B.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sales looking up and tour The Station!

Saw an article today in the Washington Business Journal about the Eclipse up at Glebe and Rte 1 coming off the market. I didn't realize the buildings were up to be sold, but evidently sales are picking up enough to warrant Comstock Homes pulling it off the market and trying to finish selling the units.

Great sign for the area.

DelRay Patch had a nice article about The Station at Potomac Yard holding an open house on Saturday the 18th from 11am to 3pm.  Might be interesting to go take a look.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Crystal City Potomac Yard Bus Rapid Transit

Looks like WMATA chose the branding for the BRT line going down Rte 1.  I think they did a nice job choosing the color, I like blue.

Here's a link to the article to a nice write up on greatergreaterwashington.org

I'm just glad they didn't go with Metro Beat. I think it sounded too much like domestic violence in the city.

Here's the pdf of the report. The images of the transit way look pretty awesome. I'm really excited to have the upgraded busses join the neighborhood. I'll be even more excited when light rail replaces them, but I'll take upgraded busses that run every six minutes to Braddock Rd and Crystal City!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Potomac Yard Metro Environmental Impact Statement Delayed

Alexandrianews.com reports that the Environmental Impact Statement for the metro station will now come out in the fall instead of today.

I hope the delay helps soften the debt loading of the project and allows for better debt structuring for the City of Alexandria. It'll be great when Metro gets here. Is anyone putting money on Option D? I'd prefer Option A, but I think Option B will be chosen.  I just can't imagine an areal station making the area look like Tysons, although I guess we already have an elevated stop at DCA.

Options, options, options....

Tysons Elevated Stop

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Alexandria Traffic Sanity!

The Del Ray Patch reports that the no right turn from behind Target onto Potomac will be going down, and only trucks will be prohibited from making that right turn onto Potomac.  Good news for getting home from Target!

Pretty much everyone ignored it anyway!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Harris Teeter Back this Year!

Looks like Harris Teeter does intend to come back to the area. It'll be great to have them back!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The big green blob....

So some of you may have one of these green blobs in your backyards:

Heated and Ventilated Pump Cover
I haven't found anything super detailed about maintaining it, or what all it provides pressure for in the house. I believe it pressurizes the entire water system, at least in my home. This includes the sprinkler system, and the household water lines. I was happy to have a water pressure boost pump as without the right pressure, the third story could have had low water pressure.

What is in this beast? Here you go:
Water Boost Pump and Bladder Pressure Tank
I do question why Pulte put these in the back yards. It looks like on the next round of homes, they went in under the stairwell on the first floor. Given how much ours runs, I'm not sure I'd want the noise and vibration in the house. On the plus side, the unit isn't taking up space in the courtyard, and it doesn't need an electric heater to keep it from freezing in the winter.

Pulte has evidently had complaints from other homeowners about the units, as they sent a letter back in November (see below) explaining that it is heated, so it won't freeze and they're confident that it won't leak.

Letter from Nov 29th, 2012
I decided to post about this for two reasons.

First, Pulte tells me to "check on your booster pump at the start of every cold season to confirm that everything is in working order." but doesn't tell me what to check, or what I should be inspecting. They also don't mention that the cover is a "Drop-over" cover instead of one with an access hatch. I've tried to lift the cover myself, it isn't easy, and it doesn't pivot off the pump due to the tight fit. I noticed as I was walking around the community by the park near the sales office one of the housings is meant for maintenance and can be opened. A little research show's these are common.

Second, if this is such a great design, why was it moved to the interior of the house in later designs? Why is the pump located in the garages of the other town homes, why was it moved under the stairs of others? My guess, this was just the cheapest place to drop it, with the cheapest cover available, and they don't have to pay the costs associated with running an electric heater in the backyard all winter, so why bother putting it in the garage, when just tossing it in the backyard is acceptable.

I guess a big green box in the backyard is another life tested feature that their customers requested. You won't find wasted space in Pulte's homes. I have to admit I admire the gumption required to call this big green box a "specially designed housing." They crack me up.

04/22/2013 Update - So I noticed today they even make the insulated box that opens for maintenance in green. I liked how this one was actually put down on a slab, instead of sloped pavers.

Green Blob with convertible top - sexy, isn't it?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why doesn't it get warm downstairs in the winter?

So I heard from neighbors they couldn't get their homes warm downstairs. The funny thing about this is that it isn't a secret in the building community that three story, and greater, town homes have issues with temp distribution. The four story units have a split heating system to help cope with this issue.

So Pulte decided to put in a zoned system to help the three story town homes improve the temp distribution. I got curious, just how bad was the temp spread?  I picked up 6 Temp and Humidity data loggers to find out.

What I found is in the graph below. Pulte's temp warranty specification is 4 degrees Fahrenheit between rooms and floors (Section 23.2). My favorite part of the discussion with Pulte was them telling me that it's 4 degrees between adjacent floors, so theoretically it could be 72 on the third floor and 64 on the ground floor, and that would meet the design specification. Yeah, that makes sense, you want it 68 downstairs... how about 76 upstairs?

For this data set, the thermostat was located in the hallway on the second floor in the original design position and set to 68 degrees. You can see the temp spread was anywhere from 3-7 degrees from the kitchen to the third floor rec room.

Click on it to make it full sized.
I'm happy to provide the data file if you're interested.

Pulte's answer to this was to put in two zones to reduce temperature variation in the home. In their infinite wisdom, they chose to put in two zones. The third floor is its own zone, and the first and second floor are the other zone together. I particularly loved that the construction folks played the upgrade to the zoned system as a complimentary upgrade to "do the right thing", when per the terms of their warranty, they had to fix it.

Now you may be thinking, perhaps three zones is too complex substantially more expensive... Nah, they put in a three zone controller board (HZ322) made by Honeywell. They just couldn't be bothered to put the zone dampers anywhere but in the mechanical room. You might also be wondering how they put in new thermostats. They just used the RedLINK wireless ones, so they didn't have to put in a thermostat wire to the downstairs. You know, because nobody would want a Nest wired thermostat.

What happened with two zones? The thermostat downstairs tried to heat the downstairs to 68 degrees, and the concrete slab is a big heat sink, so it ran a lot. This dumped lots of heat into the master bedroom, and then up the stairs to the rec room. I sat in bed sweating for 2 nights before I decided that enough was enough, and I'd put in the proper installation of one zone per floor that I asked them to do in the first place.

I'll detail the install in a future post, but I will say the temp is now consistent around the house. Now that we're in Air Conditioning season, it's great to be able to turn down the temp in just the master bedroom, and have the system really only worry about the third floor heat load.

So, Pulte, thanks for the zone controller board and the dampers for the third floor. Too bad we couldn't have had it done right the first time. Pulte - Life Tested!

They don't call it a rec room because it's rectangular.....

So, what are you buying when you buy based on a floor plan? I took the statement in the Purchase Agreement that "'as-built' dimensions may vary slightly from the plan" to mean walls might move around an inch or so. I didn't expect to have a 32" by 45" block inserted between the windows on the third floor, and 32" by 45" block on one end of the rec room, and a 32" by 28" block put in on the the other end of the room to accommodate the roofing structure. To Pulte's credit, they moved the wet bar to make the room work better, but I lost 26+ square feet of floor space in the third floor rec room creating an awkward configuration.

Pulte's "Home Purchase Agreement"
5.4 Seller Substitutions or Variations. Due to governmental conditions, availability of materials, changes in product offerings or changes of suppliers, Seller reserves the right to make changes to the Home and/or tmake deviations from the plans or specifications as become necessary in Seller's sole opinion by site, and job, so long as Seller substitutes materials of equivalent quality and appearance. Determination of equivalency will be in Seller's sole and absolute discretion. If Seller makes such substitutions, the Total Purchase Price will be adjusted to reflect such substitution. Buyer acknowledges that actual "as-built" dimensions may vary slightly from the plan.

So here is what the third floor plan looked like when I signed the contract:

Notice how rectangular the room is?

Floor Plan As-Built
So, the thing about this change is that it took 2'8" off of the short dimension of the room making it nearly impossible to put a TV on an end wall, and impossible to center a TV across from the center of the large window bay where the couch has to sit. I also really enjoyed that I lost 4" behind the new location for the washer/dryer, and they deleted the sink with the explanation of "Pulte doesn't do wash basins, I don't know why that's in there."

I made it work by moving the wet-bar to the right side of the room from wall to wall, and then adding a wall to box in where the wet-bar is located in their plan so I could center a TV on the wall (nah, Pulte couldn't put that wall in for me, they're not a custom builder). Anybody want to calculate what 26 square feet at the price per square foot we paid works out to be? Pulte just thought it was ok to make the change (I discovered it, and notified them of the discrepancy) and said I couldn't rely on the floor plan.

Hmm, that's not a straight front wall on the third floor... That seems odd...

So, buyer beware. Pulte can pretty much change anything they want, and substitution is at Pulte's sole discretion. You have no idea what you're getting until you see it go up, get out there and walk the home sites. Pulte can literally build almost anything they want, and you're on the hook for the deposit.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I've posted about drywall before, but I found a new favorite drywall issue when I went to move the shower curtain up so it wasn't sitting on the tile in the guest bathroom. The drywallers just drywalled around the shower curtain rod. It was just priceless!

Amazing finish work!

Stainless Steel Appliances!

So, I love the stainless steel appliances in my kitchen. They're really nice and cook well too.

I've mentioned before that I didn't get to see the home cleaned prior to going to closing. I wish I had seen the scratches on the stove control panel before I went to closing. I've been trying to figure out how to re-groom the stainless, but I haven't been gutsy enough to try yet.  Photos are really hard to take of scratches, but these show you a little bit of what you can expect from your appliances upon delivery from Pulte.

I've been impressed at how resilient the stainless has been. With a little TLC I haven't put a scratch on it, but the scratches from closing are still there. I'd get it replaced, but I'd imagine it won't be cheap... and of course Pulte doesn't cover scratches after closing. When I left to go to closing, the kitchen was still covered in construction dust and debris. This, of course, is why I didn't realize just how bad the floors, drywall, and stove are....

Kitchen Cabinet Visit #6 (That's 3+ full days off work)

Visit #5

So the cabinet folks from Suburban Cabinets came back out to fix the cabinet problems back in mid March. I've been lazy with the update, sorry. Again, less than impressive, but he did manage to get the island cabinet aligned with the island counter top..... after some serious arguing between him, the framer, the Pulte rep and me just saying "look, it's not right."

Scratches from screws on Lazy Susan

Look Brown Wax on Lazy Susan

Screw Indentation on Cabinet

Look ma, more brown wax on the same cabinet!

So, as I've said before on here. I'm a big fan of doing things the RIGHT way. I guess Pulte views putting brown wax over the scratches caused by incorrectly mounting the door handles as cool in their book. It's not cool in my book.  I really liked the gouge the installer put in the door on the right with his drill. He said oops, and then said nothing about it. I was too tired of dealing with him to even care at that point, but yet again, it's more in the category of "not quite right" than "we'll make it right."

He did go through and counter sink all the handles in the house. He was nice enough to spin the philips head bit on the screw heads leaving nice shards of metal on the screw heads. The worse news is the screws for the handles are metric, so you can't buy them at Home Depot. I did find them at cabinetmart.com. They are M4 machine screws and here is the link to the screw. My guess is that the door handles are from IKEA. The guy at Home Depot literally laughed at me when I told him they weren't standard 8-32 screws, and they must be metric. If Pulte was going to buy IKEA door pulls, I wish they would have purchased IKEA cabinets, then I could at least easily retrofit with soft close dampners. No such luck. After all, Pulte isn't a custom builder and soft close doors and drawers weren't an option. It must be part of the "Life Tested" slogan to slam doors, you know.... to test them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Exchange at Potomac Yard

Here's a rendering of what the Exchange at Potomac Yard is expected to look like.
Exchange at Potomac Yard

Bisnow has a nice short article about it. Should be done in late 2014.

So you're looking for touchup paint?

In case you're looking to find touch up paint for the Flat "Antique White" color of the walls and ceilings, you should know that you can only buy it in the 5 gallon bucket from Duron. Sherwin Williams can mix it, but it won't be exactly the same as the bulk mixed Duron paint.

I used it this weekend, and it seems ok, but it would be nice if Pulte used a paint that was available in smaller increments than 5 gallons. I may go pick up 5 gal, anyone want to share?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Exhaust vents pulling air down your chimney?

So, I knew going in to the purchase of my home to be on the lookout for Pulte cutting corners when it came to energy efficiency. The builder doesn't have any incentive to actually build an energy efficient unit, only to say they're building an energy efficient home so buyers will buy. I never suspected that Pulte would install a B-vent or natural venting fireplace in a home built in 2012.

Some background. Fireplace inserts come in 3 flavors. Direct Vent, Natural Venting or B-vent, and Ventless.

Direct vent fireplaces are essentially sealed to room air. Combustion air is drawn in through the outside of a co-axial venting duct and the exhaust goes out through the center of the ducting. Here is a good photo.

Direct Vent
Room air circulated around insert, combustion air drawn in from outside.

Natural vent fireplaces use room air for combustion, and exhaust the room air up the chimney. These units, at least the one installed in my home, don't have dampers to close off the chimney. This has resulted in backdrafting in my home.
Natural or B-vent
Combustion air from room
Ventless fireplaces are just what they sound like. They don't have a chimney or vent. Ventless fireplaces are designed to have very complete combustion resulting in very little byproducts and very high effeciency.

So, what I'm going to explain next is a multi-faceted problem involving the pressurization difference between internal and external air pressure. If the home has a positive pressure, when you crack open a window air will flow out. If the house has negative pressure, air will flow in.

What affects whether a home has positive or negative pressure you might ask? Stack effect is a significant contributor. Hot air rises, so a tall building can act as a chimney, the warm air rises and leaks out the top of the building. Venting can affect the pressure in the building. Bathroom vent fans remove about 80 cubic feet per minute (cfm) when they're turned on, dryer vents exhaust air (100-200cfm), and kitchen vent hoods exhaust air. For homes with upgraded kitchens, the range vent hood exhausts 1,200 cfm at the high setting.

On the plus side, Pulte seems to have sealed our home fairly well. On the downside, they installed a natural venting fireplace. This means that with bathroom fans, the dryer venting or especially if the range vent hood on, our chimney back drafts into the house. We have to open a window, or the front door to get the fireplace to vent.  Once the chimney is hot, it seems to do ok, but it's really irritating to have to open the front door to turn on the fireplace.

The HVAC units in our homes are designed to bring in outside air via a 6" duct connected to the return side of the furnace. The furnace essentially sucks outside air into the home when it's turned on. I've seen homes with a timer to adjust how often the outside air damper opens, but in ours if the furnace fan is on, the outside air damper is open.

This back drafting is why modern high efficiency furnaces and water heaters draw combustion air in from outside and then exhaust to the outside. This prevents negative pressure in the home from affecting combustion or pulling exhaust back into the home.

Why Pulte chose an incredibly inefficient fireplace is beyond me (perhaps they chose direct vent and got screwed by their sub contractor). Looking at the HVAC diagrams, I noticed the fireplace ducting was supposed to be of the direct vent type, but that clearly isn't what they installed. I suspect the fireplace installers pulled a fast one on Pulte.

How Pulte got away with building a home that doesn't have make up air for a 1,200 cfm kitchen exhaust hood is beyond me. They're in violation of code with this one.

Air infiltration will either happen by accident or by design. Pulte didn't design enough make up air for our home, so it is coming through the path of least resistance.  In our case, that's the fireplace chimney.

What the building code says (Link):
2009 IRC
M1503.4 Makeup air required. Exhaust hood systems capable of exhausting in excess of 400 cubic feet per minute (0.19 m3/s) shall be provided with makeup air at a rate approximately equal to the exhaust air rate. Such makeup air systems shall be equipped with a means of closure and shall be automatically controlled to start and operate simultaneously with the exhaust system."

So a couple things to note.

  1. Pulte's design doesn't seem to meet 2009 IRC code.
  2. Pulte's choice of fireplace model exacerbates the problem and is an inefficient choice
A couple issues solving the problem.
  1. Sticking a big hole in the kitchen wall to provide make up air is going to look horrible.
  2. Bringing in 1,200cfm of unconditioned air will cause problems (think 30deg or 90deg air).

A couple other folks have good information about the make up air issue growing with tighter modern construction the following link has good info and some interesting insights in the comments.
Make up air for range hoods

In my opinion, the only way to solve this problem is to have the furnace fan kick on with the range hood and draw make up air through the furnace return so it can be mixed, conditioned, and distributed throughout the house. I don't want icicles in my kitchen in the winter or condensing humid air in the summer.

The fireplace issue can only be solved by conversion to direct vent. Why would I want cold air coming down the chimney all winter?

Here's hoping Pulte figures out some solutions!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cold achey feet....

One of the negatives of having a hardwood floor glued directly to the concrete results in really cold hard woods. I keep the thermostat set a little chilly in the winter. I keep it at 68 deg F. Downstairs stays a nice balmy 64 deg F. The concrete slab is just sucking the heat out of the house and down into the earth.  It's really noticeable as you get to the edges of the main room. An infrared (IR) temperature sensor does a really nice job of showing the issue.

Ends at Front Door

Ends at Back Door

Center of the floor is just under 64 deg F, 4 degrees F lower than the thermostat set temperature. I gotta give it to Pulte, their work is not one degree better than the warranty specifications (4 degree variation around the home).


So I've been having some intermittent Comcast issues. Oddly seemed to be happening when it was raining.

Drove by this the other day. Look at all those beautiful Coax cables.
 I really don't know what to say. Quality is somewhere on the priority list. Job 1 isn't even close.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wire Stripping

So I have been replacing switch plates to add timers for bathroom fans. Tap the button, fan turns on for a fixed number of minutes.

Most of the replacements have been without incident, but I did find an interesting situation on the last one. Turns out the electrician stripped too much wire off the hot line in the switch.  Should this touch the ground wire in the box, it'd be a short. You can see the black line inserted into the back of the switch. This is FULLY inserted, and there is about 3/8" sticking out the back bare.

Little too much copper showing

The switch manufacturer tries to make them idiot proof by putting a wire strip gauge on the back of the switch. I guess that is too complex for Pulte, as there was almost twice as much stripped as should have been.


Don't get me wrong, I love my home, but the little things add up.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wall Plate Covers

For those of you that have GFCI outlets in your house, you may be interested in this. The builder "non" standard plate is on the left. The same switch with the Mulberry plate is on the right.

Builder Standard

Matches the rest of the house
After lots of searching, I found the wall plates at Home Depot. They are "Mulberry Maxi" wall plates. You can find them here. For the low price of $0.79 you can have a more consistent look. Make sure you turn off the power before replacing the wall plate, but it's a pretty easy job. I just went and grabbed 10 or so of them, and started replacing the GFCI and audio controllers with them. Looks much better and more consistent around the home.  Ahh yes, the little things.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Code Violations?

So, I've found a couple of code violations in my home.  Does anyone know the best way to have the builder remedy them?  I found this article while searching for how to properly notify the builder, but I'm not exactly sure what to do. So far I've been keeping things fairly informal and reporting issues through Pulte's Owner's Entry website. I have a feeling the next few issues are going to require a more formal process. Any suggestions out there?

Update: Here are the VA building codes per Alexandria's Code Administration website.

4/21/2013 Update: According to Pulte, the "fireplace" is a "gas appliance" (funny, my contract said fireplace) and not a fireplace, so one of the issues that I believed was a violation of code is no big deal. The other issue has to do with make up air for the range hood, and Pulte is still trying to figure out what to do.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Faucet Fixes and Waterline Gunk

So after we moved in, I noticed that faucets didn't seem to have normal water pressure, which I thought was odd considering the big green blob in the backyard that is supposed to boost water pressure.

I found the faucets on the Moen website and ordered a couple replacement aerators because I needed the tool that came with them to remove the old aerators to clean them, and for $10 I might as well just replace the thing.

Here's the link for the replacement part that went with all my bathroom faucets.

The parts at the right are what showed up. The little red thing is the "key" that you mate with the aerator that's in the sink, and twist to remove that one, and the round black thing in the bottom right of the bag is the new aerator.  I didn't take photos of the crap that came out, but it was pretty impressive. I was surprised, given how many homes that Pulte puts up, I would have thought they would have pulled the aerators out and ran the water to get the crap out of the pipes first. I guess that would have taken an hour, tops? Nah, better to roll the dice and see if the homeowner notices, and then send out someone to fix it. I mean will homeowners really want to wait around for a 4 hour window to get their faucets fixed, or would they rather just spend the $50 to replace them all on their own and not miss a half day of work?  Yeah, I'm in the $50 category, and thought others in the community may be as well.

Another water issue I had was the time it took to get hot water to the kitchen faucet. Looking at the faucet head I noticed that it was a 1.5 gpm restrictor. I don't know if that is required for LEED certification or something that Pulte didn't pay for, but it was making me wait a minute or two to get hot water at the kitchen sink. I found the Aberdeen (NO, not Katniss Everdeen) faucet on the Moen website and noticed in the parts blow up that you can get a 2.2 gpm faucet head. Oh, they're available on Amazon.com? Yes Please.  This is the 1.5gpm one, but you get the idea. It's just an o-ring, the aerator, and the faucet head.

Head with o-ring and aerator removed.
I noticed too late, but on the exploded parts list, there is part # 141025 that is on Amazon.com for like $10. This is all you need. Don't buy the $70 wand, just buy the $10 o-ring and aerator kit. The aerator does the flow restricting, and the 1.5gpm wand doesn't appear to behave any differently with the 2.2 gpm one in it (other than more water faster). It will just say 1.5gpm, when it's 2.2gpm and the flow rate is much better, like 50% better!

Close up of the o-ring on the aerator.
Still some gunk present!
Anyway, that's my tip for the day. I thought I'd try to be more positive and help folks out instead of just beating up on Pulte... although it is entertaining, I doubt they really care.

To sum up. There's a bunch of construction crap behind the aerators in all your faucets. The thought of brushing my teeth with that water was a little much. Grab at least one of the kits from moen, to get the tool to remove, clean off, and re-insert the aerator, and you're in business. Grab one of the o-ring and aerator kits from moen for the kitchen faucet, and you'll get a couple minutes back in your day.  Just don't let the hose fall back into the faucet when you're changing out the head, and use a rag to protect the chrome fixture on the end of the hose.

The sexier side view.
It's not a big thing, but it's a little nicer, every time you use the water.  I haven't cleaned out the shower heads yet, I need to get on that.

Also, if you get bi-fold shutters behind your kitchen sink, you won't be able to open one side of them.  Just a heads up, the faucet blocks the swing.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Holes in roof, going on 4 months.

So I reported to Pulte that I found multiple cuts in the roof when I went up for the first time post closing back in late November 2012. I took some photos and was told they were repaired. I foolishly believed them. I went back up in January and the tears were still there. I was told they were going to be fixed, but they still aren't fixed.

I think I made them pretty obvious. I'd love to know what the guys were doing on my roof if they weren't repairing the cuts/tears. I'd say they're marked pretty clearly. I doubt there's much coming in through the tears, but they should really be fixed by now. Actually, they shouldn't be there at all.

So, if you're buying in Potomac Yard, make sure you're thoroughly checking your roof.

Feb 26th, 2013 - update they fixed the issue!  Yay, only 3 months!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Who ordered the Fridge? Oops!

So it took three visits from Whirlpool to get our fridge working correctly after move in. It took about two months to get the fridge working correctly. I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw some of the new homes that look like they'll be going to closing by the end of the month. I assume Pulte put these plain jane vanilla fridges in the homes to meet the needs of inspection and closing with the nicer Kitchen Aid coming later in the process.

One piece of advice I have for new buyers, get it all in writing. I didn't even get to see a cleaned home prior to going to close. I have scratches on appliances that I couldn't see because they were covered in dust when I headed to the closing table. The scratched appliance I did notice was the fridge door. Whirlpool replaced that door, and was nice enough to put just a little bend in the stainless.

Little fridge, big hole!

Oh Pulte, you're hilarious!