Our House, Our Story

We’re Building A House!

Yes, that’s right!  No beating around the bush – we’re jumping into the world of home ownership – with a brand-spankin’ new house!


We’re super excited, and a lot terrified of this serious step into adulting, but after working through graduate school and finally settling into professional life, we’re ready for this GIANT LEAP.

Why New Construction?

Being DIYers, a fixer-upper was not something we feared, and infact was what we initially started looking for.  But ultimately we opted to go with a brand new build for a few reasons.

Goldilocks Gets It.

Home size was critical to us.   This was truly a Goldilocks tale. Not too big, nor too small. While we could afford a 4-bedroom home…. we’d have to fill a 4-bedroom home with furniture (Ka-ching) AND keep that much house clean.  That seemed silly and wasteful. A 2-bedroom house, in contrast, felt a bit too limiting for possible growth and guests.  The obvious choice then was a 3-bedroom home.  Unfortunately, finding a 3 bedroom home was a bigger challenge than we expected.  While they existed, and were typically well within our budget, most were small, dark, brick boxes in neighborhoods that hadn’t yet seen the revitalization we hoped for.

Example of the Brick box cape cod homes that are all around Pittsburgh

HGTV Inspired Amenities Got Us

The amenities we were looking for weren’t too exhaustive.  We wanted a two-story home with bedrooms upstairs – so not a rancher.  But then the pretty things we see on Pinterest and TV kept creeping into our minds.  Most critically though was a second floor laundry room.  That’s where the laundry is made and removed, so why drag it down to the basement to wash?  So inefficient!

Shopping Builders

Once we’d spent a good bit of time window-shopping homes, we were pretty sure what we wanted didn’t yet exist, so it was time to look at builders.  The easiest way to do that was to literally stop by model homes.  We first sat down with a rep from Ryan Homes, and ‘built a home’ on paper.  We liked the finishes they offered and they worked with all the brand names that are buzzing these days in Blogland.  But Ryan Homes seemed a bit more about the shiny things and less about the actual process of building the home.  There were a few cons we found about Ryan.  Mainly, they’re part of a giant company, didn’t always use local labor, and partially constructed their homes off-site.  Not technically modular homes, but not always great for settling afterwards.  Not to mention that, even using common sense and reason while reviewing ratings online (You can’t believe everything you read on the internet afterall), there was a lot of scary information out there.  In the end, even their smallest floor plans still seemed too big and as a result, the final home we ‘built on paper’ was too much for us.  In both size and price.

We were beginning to lose hope that we’d find a builder in a location we liked, at the size and price we wanted, until an ad on Zillow for Dan Ryan Builders popped up.

DRB sounds like Ryan Homes – and that’s because Dan Ryan’s uncle Ed started Ryan Homes.  Building is in the family, but DRB has maintained a smaller operation and higher reputation.

Our first Sales rep, a woman named Debbie, was awesome.  While we didn’t chose the plan she represented, it really was largely because of her expert knowledge of the home building business and frank attitude that we were set at ease, knowing DRB was going to build our home.  She also helped us build a home on paper and their floor plans were MUCH more suited to what we were looking for.  Enough house to grow into, without it being too big to keep up with.

And even better?  We found a neighborhood with neighbors who LIKE eachother.  They plan block parties, and garage-crawls, and beer league sports teams and playdates for the kids and dog walking together.  LIKE NICE PEOPLE.  We really feel like we struck gold here.

We’re expecting to move in around the holidays.  You know, the best time to be packing up your life and moving it around! We’ll be sharing (though likely not in real-time) the ins and outs of working with a home builder, the selection process and the like.


And no, we’re NOT associated with Dan Ryan Builders.  We’ve just so far had an easy go with the process and know there are plenty of folks out there with the same concerns we have/had when planning to build a home.

Questions about the building process?  Ask away!