We are so very thankful for our amazing family and friends today and always. Not only do the put up with us talking non stop about building a new house, but they actually genuinely offer amazing advice and support. We are incredibly lucky and so very excited to be on this journey together.

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Front of House

After weeks of meeting remotely with our builder and architect, we have finally decided on a front elevation. We had no idea that things like position of the roof line or type of windows could drastically change the price of the house.

Here is what we started with.
DiBella Front Ext. 10-20-11

It took us a while to figure out what we didn’t like about it. We thought it was the roofline, so after a few more rounds of changes, we ended up with this.
DiBella Front Elev 11-03-11

We thought this was a lot better, but then we learned that this type of roofline, a reverse gable, would cost over $10,000 more! Also, the little dormer window in the attic, would add about $3,000 more to the total cost. We are on a very tight budget, so these changes were not possible for us.

After one final session with the architect, we finally landed on this front elevation.
Print Image

We really love it. We may change the center window on the second floor to an octagon. We’ll also play around with the color of the siding and maybe add some bead-board to the top of the house. But overall, we are pretty happy with the design.

We are submitting the plans to the engineers and waiting for everything the get approved. We’re really moving along now!

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Designing Our Home

One of the best and arguably the most frustrating parts of building modular is designing the floor plan and front elevation of our new home.   We love craftsman style houses with lots of arts and crafts detail, especially a nice front porch.

We looked at tons of photos and drawings of houses and we still can’t quite find, “the one”.

What we have decided to do is combine a bunch of details and styles into one house.  We just sent our final requests to the architect tonight.  Fingers crossed it will all come together.

As for the interior, we had a pretty specific idea of what we wanted.  Here is what we landed on for the 1st floor.

We really like the open layout.  For the 2nd floor, we were looking for a pretty traditional floorplan.

I was excited that we were able to get the laundry room on the second floor.  And check out that super walk in closet in the master- sweet!

We still have a ton of work to do as we move forward, but it is really coming along nicely. Stay tuned for more renderings.

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We have land!

Since we pulled out of our contract on the new townhouse we were building, we have been looking for a suitable alternative.  The only good part about loosing a property after a year of waiting is that we saved some more money and we can actually get more bang for our buck now. When we decided we would like to build a modular house, we started seriously looking for property to build on.  Our builder told us to look for two types of properties- old “teardown” houses and empty lots.  After putting offers on two separate properties and ultimately being rejected for better offers, we were feeling pretty hopeless.

One day, while driving through the town we liked, we happened upon an empty lot that was not for sale. On a whim, we called our real estate agent and he looked up the old MLS records and called the owners.  Lo and behold, they were willing to sell!  We waited a few months to make sure that nothing else better came along and then we finally made an offer.  After some minor negotiations, they accepted our offer!  We still have to go through some special inspections, but it looks like we may be moving forward. Everything is moving super fast, but we are really excited.  🙂

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Building Modular

Modular Homes are a type of building system where the home is constructed in segments (called “Modules”) in a climate-controlled factory by skilled craftsmen.



The modules are delivered to your homesite by truck and “dropped” by crane.



When these modules come together on your homesite, they are completed by a local builder.



A typical home can be completed in the factory in about a week and finished by your builder in 3-5 months.  The end result is an economic and energy efficient home that rivals any stick built house.



After doing a ton of research on modular home manufacturers and local builders, we settled on Westchester Modular and Big Sky NJ.  What we like most about Big Sky is that they have done a lot of work in the area we are looking at.  So far, we have been really pleased with Big Sky’s craftsmanship and professionalism.  We’re really looking forward to working with them on our new home!

Images and information from:
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After nine+ months of waiting for our new townhouse to be completed and no end in sight,  we finally decided to pull out of our contract.  After the initial shock of loosing what we thought was going to be our new home, we moved on to a new plan.  Since we had little to no control of the building process with our last house, we starting looking at building our own single family house.  I spent weeks researching the best way to start this process and landed on modular building.  More on the modular home building process later.  In the meantime, we started looking for empty buildable lots.  We are getting close to choosing the best lot for our needs. Exciting and scary at the same time.  Wish us luck!

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House Finishes: Part I

On Saturday, we spent all afternoon at the new house picking out finishes.  So far the structure of the house is complete.  We were excited to see that the brick and siding had gone up.

That’s Mike and our real estate agent, Laurel, checking out our garage.

The builder offers a pretty nice set of standard finish options, but of course I still could not decide on tile and marble for the master bathroom.  We did chose the tile for the kitchen, two half baths, and downstairs entryway.

You can’t tell from the terrible iPhone photos, but the large floor tile is a gray, almost slate color.  Its called Concrete and I love it.  The tiles are extra large, so we are hoping that the kitchen floor will almost look like one large piece.  The smaller tiles are for the kitchen back splash. They have some nice green and brown tones that really compliment the Green Butterfly granite.  We couldn’t quite find the cabinet color that we liked, but I think we are going to go with an espresso stain with a black glaze.   Hopefully it will look like a mix of what you see above.  I really hope that it won’t be too dark.  We’ve asked the builder if he can provide a lighter granite, if not we’ll just have to live with it!

We wanted the half bath on the main level to tie in with the kitchen color scheme, so we chose this green/gray tile which looked beautiful with the white Carrera marble.  We went with a simple deep brown cabinet, which should contrast nicley with the light marble.

You enter the house on the ground level, which is almost like the basement level.  For the entryway Mike picked out this reddish brown tile.  It is certainly dramatic.  We also decided to go with natural hardwood throughout the house.  We tend to pick out darker furniture, so we thought a light colored floor would work well. The first time you’ll see hardwood is on the stairs in the entryway.

The reddish tile in the entryway will lead into the family room, which is the only carpeted room in the house.  Mike can’t wait to claim this room for his instruments, video games, comic books, and sports paraphernalia.  We thought the name of the carpet was fitting for a man cave.

We also picked out the marble and tile for the basement half bath, but I didn’t get any decent pictures.  Hopefully next time I’ll remember to bring my good camera.

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Trial Commute

We are undergoing the arduous process of buying our first home in a small town, about 30 minutes outside of Manhattan.  We both work in midtown, so being close to the city was an important factor in our decision.

On Friday, I decided to do a trial run of our new commute.  It took about 55 minutes door to door.  The actual bus ride should only be about 20-25 minutes, but it took me some time to find the gate and the line to board the bus was pretty long.  I am hoping that it will be smoother once we actually move, which right now is looking like early February if we’re lucky.

On Saturday, we spent some time at our new place picking out finishes.  More on that in a later post.

While Mike was waiting for me to get off the bus he enjoyed the view of the river that runs near our new house.  Of course we are nervous and excited about this next big step in our lives.  Hopefully all of the stress will be worth it once we are settled in.

Images from,, and

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