Christmas 2013

Our second Christmas in Florida, but our first where Florida is our only home! Happily everyone knew where to send Christmas cards. Lots of presents too, including comic annuals that Margaret brought back from England for me! And I got Margaret a lovely Winnie The Pooh & friends picture, which one day can go on the wall of our new home …


We also did a full British style Christmas dinner, with chicken, stuffing, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, brussel sprouts … and when we’re a bit less full, some of Margaret’s pavlova for dessert!


Insulation and Frustration

Our visit to Independence today surprised us with a fully insulated home (ignoring things like still missing patio doors, and a damaged window!):

So depending on how many work days there are, it’s possible that sheetrock will be completed this coming week!

However, not everything is going so well. In truth we’re not really frustrated, but it made for a nice bit of alliteration in the post title! But it is quite disappointing how some of Lennar’s construction processes have affected us.
It appears that Lennar primarily relies on a quality process of “do the same as last time” which no doubt works ok for repeated construction, but does not work for our Brandywine home which is rare on this estate. So we have various construction crews that have never built this style before, and either the provided documentation is insufficient, or it’s not followed.
Either way, we’ve had a number of errors in the home build, that so far have added at least 7 weeks to the build time – our original (too optimistic) closing date of late November has pushed out to mid December, mid January, and now I would not be surprised to see it slip to February.

An early delay was insufficient structure in the block wall supports for the upstairs patio; here’s a before/after comparison:

There was also a delay for electrical wiring, caused I believe by a disagreement over whether the upstairs hall was actually a hall or a room (requiring more electrical outlets); this was eventually solved simply by adding a few more outlets, but again it added a few weeks to the construction.

Last week there was additional framing support added, and this week, we learned that the stairs had to be re-constructed; now, on today’s visit we’ve seen what is perhaps the worst failure (or at least maybe the most costly). Related to the additional framing, more supports have been added to carry the roof in the upstairs walls (you can see one beam to the left of the window in this picture), and they’ve badly damaged the stucco in a few places:

So the next step for our home’s exterior would seem to be the removal and replacement of all the exterior stucco (there’s an additional question about the thickness of what is there)!

It’s surely not a cost effective process to build this way, and it does leave us hoping that the final quality will be ok …

2014 calendars mailed

Yesterday we mailed out our annual calendar; it was a little more challenging this year, with less winter pictures due to spending 10 months of the year in Florida, and then a general tricky time picking “month relevant” pictures, with so much going on in the last year!

Also challenging this year was where to order! It used to be easy, we’d order from Kodak UK, which meant that the calendar has English dates marked (Mother’s day is different in England, for example), and shipping was inexpensive – almost all the calendars we send go to our family, all in England.
After Kodak closed, I tried Apple – their calendar creation within iPhoto is excellent, but they are incapable of shipping to England from a USA account! Stupidity. Turns out, their calendars are huge too, bigger than I like.

Last year I used Shutterfly, which went well – but visiting them again this year, their prices were very high ($15/calendar+shipping), and their website was awful. I got assorted glitches with the calendar creation, and terrible trouble trying to set up shipping. The program has an address book offering entries like “The Cull Family”, but shipping doesn’t recognize this and demands a first and last name for every address! I wasted some hours on Shutterfly.
I checked out Costco too, better pricing but still a challenging website – and like Apple, no idea about shipping to non USA addresses.

Then I visited Vistaprint; I’d tried them once before too, and found the quality to be low (thin paper, cheap feel); but now I saw that there’s an upgrade to card stock, with the final price still well below $10/calendar. What’s more, the online calendar creation worked very well, and I was able to add specific dates (so I could add UK Mother’s day, for example).
With shipping, it turned out that if I ordered all calendars to my address, there was a quantity discount – and now, even with paying about $7/calendar to ship to England, my final cost is less than $18; and the quality is good, too!
So I think I’ll check out Vistaprint again next year …