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aapchad

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  1. aapchad

    Trendmaker

    An update to my posting a year ago when we had a home inspector review our Trendmaker home. We are now seeing some signs of problems with our upstairs flooring. We have two places in two different bathrooms where the tile has cracked in a straight line over three or more tiles. It seems the joist is pressing on the plywood decking creating a high spot in the floor that eventually cracked the tile. Given the weather, we're going to wait until the fall to fix this problem. Its not really noticeable cosmetically since the tile looks like multi-colored marble. We're more worried about being able to find the tile for the repair. We don't see any bottom floor foundation issues yet, but I think we are seeing the settling of the house after two years of living. We hope we won't have other issues. We are keeping the foundation watered and have a sprinkler system, so there isn't much more we can do. The only other issue we have had is that we had to reinforce our back fence, which backs up the levy. Our lot had been "built-up" by a couple of feet and the dirt only extened a few inches beyond our property line before dropping down about 8 inches to the levy floor. As a result, there wasn't much support for the fence posts and we got a lot of leaning in the fence line. We have an unusually large lot, and our back fence is 179 feet long. We paid 1k to get additional posts put in three feet deep and the fence was corrected. Hurricane Ike didn't damage the fence while neighbors and others on the levy had downed fences. The other comment i'd say about Trendmaker fences is that their sub builds a pretty crappy fence overall. WHile the posts are now stable, we'll end up replacing the fence boards in about another year. They are splitting, they weren't attached well, etc. So, I'd suggest that if your lot is built up by adding soil to it, make sure the fence posts go down an extra foot to maintain their stability.
  2. I have been waiting and hoping for AT&T to come to Sugar Land zip code 77479 and offer U-verse and their other fiber optic technologies to compete against Comcast and Entouch. Living in Telfair most of us signed up for Entouch, but the cost is high. Its the "preferred provider" for the 'hood. We wouldn't consider Comcast after being former Time Warner customers and we don't want satellite (had it twice with different providers). I know that pockets of SL and in this area code have AT&T service. I've seen postings that Greatwood has AT&T and U-verse. When I called recently to inquire, I was told that AT&T couldn't get access rights to many areas of SL. That they were effectively blocked from providing any service. Apparently they could offer hard line telephone service, but nothing more. I asked for more information but the rep just said "keep checking back with us" and disconnected. I've found nothing on any SL website, either for the city or county that talks about this issue. Does anyone understand or know about the rules surrounding how different service providers can offer their services in SL? Is it something where the folks who originally installed the infrastructure get to keep out other providers for set period of time? Infrastructure companies often get fees from any service providers that use their infrastructure, so I don't see this as an issue (but probably wrong). Is it due to other factors? I'm at a complete loss, so someone who knows about SL/FB government, telecom services and telecome industry issues would be welcome to help educate me and probably a lot of others.
  3. Would you rather move to an area where its easy to move into? I.e. there is so much inventory that its caused by factors that many found objectionable and therefore put their homes up for sale? The lack of homes in your price range is a sign that many people like to live here for a variety of reasons. The government is competent, things work, the area is clean, crime is low, there are lots of amenities and we're not in Houston! I'd suggest you look at some of the older First Colony homes and think about renovating them. My brother in law did this and his house is very nice and the price was well below what new homes cost. I live in Telfair and I think New Territories is great too. Love the older trees and the homes are well kept. A lot of people in NT sold to buy into Telfair. I run into them all the time.
  4. Well my wife is liberal and I'm moderate. When we lived in the Heights for five years, we found the area to be much more liberal than the suburbs, but less liberal than Montrose or Midtown where we also lived.
  5. I have lived all over Houston. Different stages of life really drive what part of town is best for you. When I was young, it was the Galleria area, then later Midtown and then the Heights. Now I'm in Sugar Land in a MPC. I love it here. I have a lot of postings on Telfair, where I live, in the section of this forum that deals with Sugar Land.
  6. Most warranties have so many restrictions and exceptions that they rarely pay off. However, for those that get circumstances where they do pay out, its a blessing. I think most people have a better chance of seeing Bigfoot than having a claim paid off by one of these warranties.
  7. This is an acreage home based residential neighborhood. It is a bit remote, well off the major highway in the area. To enter the neighborhood, you must go over some railroad tracks. The railroad is very active, so unless you love trains, think about it. My wife and I flirted with this neighborhood for several months but couldn't pull the trigger and ended up in Telfair. The issue I have with these types of neighborhood is 1) no curbs on streets, 2) drainage swales/ditches alongside streets, 3) tends to attract folks with lots of stuff (cars, boats, motorcycles, etc), 4) very wide open so there are few fences and so everyone's yard becomes part of your vision everyday. The biggest issue was school districts. We were not convinced that Lamar Consolidated is comparable to Fort Bend ISD. However, the houses are really pretty and if you love land above all else, its a good choice. Lots of room to spread out. At the end of the day, its all personal preference. I'm sure many folks that live there probably think my choice, Telfair, is horrible for different reasons. Alan
  8. As most folks who buy a new home or even a used home in an established neighborhood, it is fairly rare to find backyards that are landscaped professionally either by the builder or by the owner. So many times when my wife and I were looking at homes, its was always a bit depressing to see nothing but grass and a nondescript fence. I've also had the experience of trying to get a landscaper (those with college degrees and certifications) to do work at my various residences. Unless I was willing to shell out $10k or more, most were not interested. In fact, most were downright rude. I wanted to participate in the process and/or do things in stages. None of these were acceptable to the vast majority of firms, many well known and some sole proprietorships. However, recently Enchanted Forest of Richmond, Texas worked with me on a design for my backyard. They provided the drawings and plant materials listings and an irrigation plan. All for about $350. I was thrilled and the plans were first rate. The only other firm willing to this kind of work was Teas' in Bellaire, but the fee was closer to $850. They even charged me $50 just to talk to me at my house. I can now install my beds and plants at my pace and under my budget, which makes me far happier than just walking out to a yard that 20 men put together in one day. I love both locations for Enchanted Forest (the other is called Enchanted Gardens) and they compare to my former favorite garden center, Buchannan's in the Heights (where I lived a few blocks away). Anyway, while most postings on this board are about buildings, the landscape that goes around them is what really makes the house or building complete. I thought I'd share my experience with others since I'm sure folks would like to have professional plans to follow as they work on their yards.
  9. I still believe the old addage about real estate applies in most cases..."location, location, location." I choose Telfair to have a much shorter commute to major freeways and highways (90 and 59). Others may value different amenities. Both are highly diverse in terms of cultures, languages and ethnicities. That for some is a selling point, for others it might not be. It was for us. Telfair has a more natural feel to its lakes and common areas; RS has highly manicured lawns that go right up to the edge of the water that also has numerous fountains. Telfair is promising areas for development of restaurants and light retail. The high concentration of retail on HW 6 does this for RS residents, so I doubt that will be something that will happen there. I don't know this for certain but I think RS is in Missouri City city limits, so that might be something to consider as well. I think the best time to evaluate residential areas is from about 6pm to 8pm during the work week. You'll get to see what kind of activites are going on, if neighbors talk and interact, etc. Bear in mind a couple of things...both developments have a 0.25% of 1% charge on the sales price of your home that goes to the homeowners association. It was explained to us that the builders paid this on our home when we bought it. If we ever decided to sell, then it would be negotiated with the buyer. It funds the neighborhood association in large part, although Telfair also charges $650 a year in additional charges. In Telfair, while there is going to be the Natural Science museum location, the primary amemities location (largest pool, tennis courts, club house, ball fields) is now a year overdue. Streets are being worked on and a new fire house is supposed to be built soon. All of these could be seen both as an irritant or a feature. Utlimately the only one who can decide is you. I think you'll be pleased no matter which one you pick.
  10. The subdivision is named for one of the public park/squares in Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is considered one of the best designed cities in the world because of its devotion to lots of public green space. There is no mistake why the developer chose the name.
  11. aapchad

    Trendmaker

    As I promised, we had our home inspected last week by a local Katy inspector. He spent about three hours here and then walked us through the results. Here is what he found: The faux stone facade doesn't seem to have a drainage plane where water can sheet off the house. We're discussing this with the builder now. Danger is that water could penetrate behind the stone (because no one fully mortars every crack and crevise). If this is a problem, then practically every house in Telfair and in other new neighborhoods will have the same issue. Found one area on a top gable where there was some old water staining. Builder is sending a crew to climb up on the roof and inspect. Our builder's rep felt the stain was old b/c as he put it, with all of the recent rains, if it was an ongoing problem, we'd see more staining, more water problems. Some minor electrical switches needed "switching" where there would be consistency between where the lights, ceiling fan, etc. switches were located. Made a comment that the electrical box, while it passed City inspection, could have been done neater and used special straps. Said that my builder was no different than every other builder in that respect...says its on practically every report he write. Everything else was minor - adjust a door here, a couple of nail pops, move some dirt from around the foundation. All in all, there wasn't much. He was complimentary to the builder but not in an over the top way. TM asked for a copy of the inspection, which we provided. So, now the ball is in the builder's court. They have crews coming to address the issues. We're still pleased with how they handle our concerns.
  12. aapchad

    Trendmaker

    Its part of the service TM offers to home buyers. One scan shortly before move in and another scan 8-11 months later. On the first scan, we got a picture of our house from the front using the infrared camera. According to the guy we had, if i was paying customer, its about $200. Takes about 30 minutes to an hour, then you get a certificate afterwards in the mail. They are trying, without much success, to get the insurance industry to consider such certificates when rating a house for homeowners insurance. Given that it can detect leaking pipes, poor insulation and some building faults, it might stand to reason that insurers would go for it. Apparently though, there is a long line of other businesses/products also hankering for such a blessing from the insurers because it would lead to significant business.
  13. I thought I read in the Fort Bend Thursday supplemental section in the Chronicle that the prisons in Fort Bend were being reviewed/assessed for their "best and highest" use, which is a code language for "we want them the hell out of the way." I suspect the big developer money is talking loudly and calling for many of the units to be moved west away from most of the new development. The item in the paper specifically mentioned that the Sugar Land Regional Airport wanted the land next to it that is presently occupied by the prison. When we bought in Telfair we weren't fully aware of the long term plans for the airport, but I have heard people "theorizing" that SL leaders want a larger airport where regional jets could land, making SL a much more inviting corporate HQ type area. Then again, I've also heard that FedEx is looking for a hub in the area where they could land jets without being tied up at Intercontinental. I doubt the latter, but suspect the former to be at least partially true.
  14. aapchad

    Trendmaker

    No I had not seen or known about this lady protesting TM. It is not surprising that some people are disappointed with their homes. Having built three new homes in my life, each of a different style and size, I can attest to how emotionally involving it can become. Some people just get disappointed no matter how their house turns out. Often new homes are viewed as "new beginnings" but people drag their old problems and attitudes with their furniture into their new homes, so I've heard many times of people being unhappy that the neighborhood is different than they had hoped/dreamed, etc. For us, TM was open and approachable throughout the process. I had some complaints during framing and roofing that were addressed to my satisfaction. I made multiple visits to the Design Center to go over issues I had with my own design choices and with issues the builder raised too. We worked it out together. I got two inspections with the builder's representative and made several lists of things we didn't like. Everything got fixed before we moved in. Our builder, sales person and two subs also visited us the first few weeks to check on us. Our custom builders never did that. To me custom builders are mostly swine. As we lived here, we did see things that we missed the first time around. That was true of the other houses we built too. We've had two warranty calls covering about 12 items and TM handled everything. We did repair some tile after we had to replace the dishwasher. TM handled it and now you cannot tell anything ever was wrong. We just had our second infrared scan of our house and the inspector found no faults. I got to watch him the whole time and he explained very carefully how the inspection looked for leaky pipes, poor insulation jobs, air duct problems, etc. He found nada that made him concerned. We will be having a Fox Inspection person come out in February to do a final full inspection before our one year anniversary comes around. We'll post how that turns out to be fair to anyone looking at TM as a builder. While I can empathise with many people over disappointments, I cannot fault TM in my case b/c they've been above board, responsive and timely in making me happy. Normally small problems/defects drive my wife to distraction, but she is so happy with this house. She talks about it all the time. I just wish I had done a few more small options, but that's another story and nothing bad about TM.
  15. Yes, two oak trees, normally the live oak variety, are planted in each front yard. Sometimes this is a bit absurd, particularly on lots like my own where I am on the radius of a U shaped street. The lots on such radii tend to pie shaped, with small front yards and large back yards. So I have two live oaks, planted no more than 10 feet apart in the front yard. As for the HOA restrictions, there are many on the type of front yard plantings. In a nutshell, the place is supposed to be like Savannah, Georgia or a similar type Atlantic Ocean facing old South city. So anything southwestern, like cactus or other succulents are a no-no in the front yard. I'm a big gardener myself but there were plenty of plants on their list that were acceptable to me. I also have a Drake Elm in my side yard. So its not ALL oak trees. Magnolias are found in lots of front yards, but not as the focal point tree. Those are always the oaks. I see cypress, magnolias, japanese blue berries, crape myrtles, bottle brush trees, fruit trees etc. If you want, send me a message and I'll link a copy of the HOA to you.
  16. aapchad

    Trendmaker

    My wife and I purchased a new Trendmaker home and have loved it. I had a townhouse from Perry Homes in Midtown in the late 90s and then did a custom home in the Heights until this Spring, when we moved to this Trendmaker home in Telfair. So I'm pretty good at spotting quality and good customer service. First of all, they think of everything. We got to know our builder and site manager very well and frequently spoke with him during construction. Going on 10 months and our list of "warranty repairs" is laughably small. They used engineered wood throughout, which I liked. The yard drains like it should which is tricky in new additions. The one thing I like about them is that their model homes are all built using "base" level design choices. So you can have their model for very little over the base price. Most other builders cram their models full of extras and then you find out you can't afford their model home once you get their price list. Darling Homes is terrible about this in Telfair. They put like $100k of upgrades into their model. Go see how many homes they've sold...not many. The only upgrade TM admitted to was carpeting b/c the models get so much foot traffic. Now the only other "upgrade" they don't include is the extravagant landscaping at the models, but no one else does either. You do get decent quality landscaping for the front yard, per the developer standards, including two large oak trees. I find David Weekley to be a horrible neighbor. We've lived with their construction trailer next to our house for almost a year. Trash, speeding subcontractors, blocked driveways, tire tracks in our yard, broken "shared" fence are examples of how they treat their neighbors. We had to call their HQ and complain loudly several times before they cleaned it up and repaired our yard and fence. Their homes seem okay but they charged a lot for lot premiums and we just felt that they weren't good value compared to TM. We liked the Ryland plans but the finishes & exteriors weren't that great. I don't know much about them, but you can sure pick out their homes here in Telfair. I don't mean that as a compliment. Some look like mini office buildings or a dentist office. But that just my opinion and everyone can disagree. In the end, you have to find homeowners and talk to them. The internet does have cranks on it, but there are also a lot of true stories too. I never found one article condeming TM, but plenty on DW. A family member who is in the trades says that DW foundations have been a sore point for about two years, but who can say for sure. Its not like this info makes it into the Chronicle. Good luck and spend a lot of extra time talking to and walking in various builder homes. You'll pick up on things if you take it slow, notice little things and be nosy. I'd buy another TM in a second.
  17. Yes and no. On the "no" side, Telfair opened the new section on New Territory Blvd. According to David Weekley builders, who have their trailer on the lot next to us, once the new section opens, the builders are obligated to build out the previous section. So I think there has been activity just because of this reason. The big question I see is what will happen with Darling Homes' section which is near empty. This builder had a strategy of pushing expensive upgrades and not including much in their base home. Their designs were more "California" (the words of their agent to me) and while nice, seemed to be more aimed at empty nesters, not families. Their pricing was high and I would have to agree that if people were comparison shopping, this builder probably fared poorly. I don't know anything about their quality, but I assume its in line with other builders. I had heard from friends that their agents weren't particularly enthusiastic. I guess if nothing is selling and you're on commission, its hard to be cheerful. The big surprise is how many of the mega homes are going up. I continue to be amazed that there are so many people who can or *want* to live in $1M homes. I would assume that a good majority are "spec", if you can call them that, because I think the builders like to have a few to show off. I don't know how many of us need a media room, a library, a study, a wine room and on and on. I guess some people have lots of furniture. In the new section, I see about five or six frames going up, but I wouldn't call it a frenzy like it was last year. Last year was nuts. The "lifestyle patio homes" section (love that marketing terminology) appear to be going slower than I think most of us expected. I have gone in a few of them and they are nice, but small. I guess that's the point. The big surprise for us is that the elementary school has a rudimentary playground at best. There is no playset other than some swings. Its my pet peeve that school districts think the PTAs should raise a bunch of money to pay for this. Its not like Texas has low property taxes and it seems more than intentional to not build what I would expect is a fairly common feature of any decent school. There is a baseball diamond, basketball court and soccer field, but that seems to require organized play, like in PE class, rather than just unstructured play. Oh well, I'm showing my age and my dislike of using children to hawk a bunch of crap like candles, cookie dough, popcorn, etc.
  18. Just to update folks with a view from a current resident, all of the remaining lots in our section area are sold (60 foot lots, $275-475k), with the exception of one used by a builder for hits construction office. Everything else is sold. There are some flippers who thought stupidly that you could flip a house in a new neighborhood and so there are new homes for sale that have never been lived in. The original buyers were from California and NY, at least of the three that I tried to make a profit only to have to drop their prices back down to what they paid. There is one builder who does have most of his lots in a neighboring section. He was way over priced and his staff were rude and from LA and looked down on people who didn't think buying $50k of upgrades was a good idea. Now the next large section of "affordable" homes is open and it appears to be selling moderately well. There is a custom section with just crazy prices but i guess if you can afford a 1M dollar home, you probably aren't too price sensitive. What does surprise me is that many of the houses have small backyards. Buyers have selected homes that eat up much of the lot, giving some homes a townhouse feel in terms of green space. Seems odd to me to do that in the suburbs, but to each his own. Overall, we like the hood so far, its quiet, our elementary school is a five minute walk and construction seems to be moving to the new areas. There are no plans for apartments, per the developer, but there will be a center section of the neighborhood that will have businesses below, townhouses above in a setting like that of Sugar Land town center.
  19. 59 Diner is retrofitting a former restaurant that is nearby Gringo's and Gringeaux's on HW59. Its now beginning to look like the familiar diner on the outside. Having eaten in several of them around Houston, we sort of felt overall the food was average, but the breakfasts were better. We tried Avalon on HW59 in the Fountains area and were not impressed. Dirty tables, slow service, cold food. We went on a Sunday at 10am and that should be prime time for the kitchen. Our second visit wasn't much better but we had non-breakfast food. Seemed that the workers and management took patrons for granted.
  20. We tried the breakfast at La Madeline in First Colony and it was pretty darn good. We left the Heights and we do miss the restaurants, especially the breakfast places.
  21. We recently bought in Telfair and found that the prices were actually more competitive than buying an older SL home, say 8-15 years old, and then having to rehab it. We looked all over SL and kept running into owners who wanted pricing that was too high given the condition of the homes. For example, we found several really nice homes in the Commonwealth area that were about 300k. However, the kitchens needed complete overhauls, the bathrooms were equally uninspiring, so we'd estimate 30k to renovate. For that price and minus the hassle, we bought a Trendmaker home on a 12000 sq foot lot, with 3000 sq feet, for right at 332k. We kicked in a further 15k for some extras and we were done. We were told that some of the builders really did a poor job of bidding their lots when Newland put them on the market, so they overpaid for their lots and now try to pass that screw up onto the buyers. Trendmaker apparently got it right from the start and virtually all of their lots are gone and homes built. The key to the area is the location and how eventually (probably a year), there will be a direct connection to HW90 & HW6. We work in the Galleria area and it takes about 20-25 minutes to reach our offices. We're thrilled with that. We've seen the full area plan and its going to be a great great place to live with walking to restaurants, pavillons, shopping, etc. Obviously, there is a wide range of prices in the development, but there is going to be a new section opening in a few months that will have homes in the 275-500s.
  22. On behalf of the entire readership of the forum, let me extend our heartfelt thanks for you leadership and thoughtful guidance. Without your insightful, yet poignant comments, this forum might actually exchange real information worth reading.
  23. I love it when people think they add something to the information flow by nitpicking the prose of others.
  24. I live a few streets over on 8th 1/2 and I noticed this week that the horrible apartments on 6th 1/2 have been vacated by the residents and now appear to be fully derelict. These apartments had mostly low income immigrants who had to tolerate some fairly horrible living conditions. When we drove by, homeless people and street people were beginning to filter into the complex, which is wide open. Most of the apartment doors are open, trash everywhere, things are being vandalized, etc. It seems as though the buildings will be torn down, but does anyone know for sure what is happening? This was a location known for problems with drugs and drunkeness so if the apartments are gone for sure, then it will be a huge boost to our area. Maybe the cheap liquor stores will follow suit...
  25. The other place my wife and I see fairly consistent police presence is the Heights exit off of I-10, particularly when you are heading east and dump off onto Studewood. Seems there is always a gaggle of cops there several times a month. I hate how the officers think its okay for them to step into traffic and expect everyone to 1) see them, 2) give them lots of room and 3) know exactly who they are pointing at. I've seen several times where there was confusion and the cops reacted as if someone was taking away their donuts. Suddenly all of them got aggressive and angry. > I know there are two divisions with the police department, but I agree with the general concensus that the true speeding problems are within our neighborhoods, where children, pets and people walk around. With Studewood being under construction, Oxford has become a major traffic street below 11th and at times, people think nothing of driving 40+. Hanging out on major streets while ignoring the neighborhoods seems like a lazy way to do their job. I could park on a street and hand out tickets -- no talent there, but working the smaller streets takes time, patience and commitment. OH...MAJOR ANNOYANCE is those new speed guns they use. They are supposed to be accurate but I almost had a heart attack when one of those cops pointed it at me when I was about 100 feet away. I couldn't tell if he was pointing his real gun (which was my immediate reaction) or that speed thing. The stance is the same, the posture is the same...maybe its just me but I find it freaky.
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