While it's all fresh in my head, here are our thoughts on the current state of things:
Founders' Neighborhood doesn't look too much different from our last visit in September, 2007. Certainly more of the courtyards are landscaped, there are more houses, and more sidewalks are put in, but the overall feel of it hasn't changed much. It's still a construction zone, albeit the zone has shifted a bit further away from our little casa. This is about what I expected. The other day I was in the lobby of the inn and overheard another homeowner giving a manager an earful on the state of the community. While everything he was complaining about was both accurate and legitimate, I found myself wondering why he was so shocked. Then I realized if you don't follow blogs and status updates from other homeowners, and instead depend solely on the updates coming from Loreto Bay/Replay, you'd be a bit shocked upon arrival.
The golf course looks amazing. We walked around it this afternoon. It was my first time really exploring that area and I was most impressed.
Agua Viva is coming along quickly! At least it's considerably further along than I was expecting. There are a number of differences in it from Founders' that can be sensed just walking around. For example, the houses in Agua Viva seem to be built more in a row like fashion, whereas, in Founders' they are at various angles. The construction in Agua Viva is far less haphazard looking - at least to a novice like me - than it was/is in Founders'. They seem to have learned a lot of lessons. There are fewer rounded edges in Agua Viva, e.g. their high boys are square, the new design of the cupola is square on top, windows are almost all square, etc. The color options for the houses changed for Agua Viva; their options are more vibrant, ours are a bit more muted with a few exceptions.
Our Choices - Regrets or No?
- House color: We got our first house color choice of red and I love it. However, it has its disadvantages. Red shows the dust way more than other colors. If you chip the paint, it's very obvious. If I had it to do over, I'd still pick red, but it's one thing to be aware of when choosing the darker colors on the palette. While we haven't yet tested this out, I am assuming that when we do paint touch ups, it will be more obvious with red than with a white or yellow.
- Interior package: I am pleased with tiles and colors of the interior package we chose. I can't really compare it to the other packages since I've not recently seen houses with other packages.
- Skipping the outdoor grill: We have no regrets because we are not big on grilling. As such, I can't imagine lugging all the stuff upstairs to grill. That said, those grills do look like good fun to enjoy when others are putting them to use.
- Appliance color: We went with black and I'm pleased we did. The appliances, overall, aren't of the best quality, but they're sufficient.
- Tile upgrade on the roof terrace: I'm so glad we didn't do this. It looks great, but the concrete is so much easier to sweep, and I expect (hope) it'll be easier to maintain.
- Pergola: We never even debated this one and considered it a must have. Nothing has changed - I still feel it's a must have.
- Granite vs. tile counters - I'm pleased with the tile as it looks now. Of course, I'm also already annoyed at cleaning it, as I knew I would be. I didn't want the granite solely because it stands out as "not Mexican." But on the maintenance factor alone, I would love the granite.
I am fairly pleased with the state of the house. As can be expected with any new home, there are some issues. My greatest annoyance in this area is not with the developer. It is with TCC (The Construction Coach). They were paid to receive and inspect our furniture for any damage or issues. We have an obviously broken chair, a chair pad that doesn't match the other chair pads, and a refridgerator that you have to lean on in order to close properly. In addition, there are a number of things that I would have expected them to identify to be fixed. In fact, we were the ones who had to catch via pictures emailed to us that a door existed in a location that should have been a wall. One would think an inspection would catch an extra door, especially as we had given them plans for the house and had pointed this issue out to them before. Attention to detail is not their strong suit.
We ended up going the package route on our housewares, furniture, linens and AV. It would have been cheaper to buy these things individually ourselves, but I can't imagine finding the time or energy to do that with a 1-year-old. We'd rather start enjoying our house.
- Our furniture was ordered from Casa Mesquite. We are very pleased with everything related to this vendor. They communicated well and delivered exactly what we paid for. The stain on the furniture is darker than we expected, but the quality of the pieces more than makes up for that. After initially being annoyed that we'd ordered armoires for the TVs per the (then) requirements of being in the rental program, we are now glad for the armoires. The dust is constant and I don't see that letting up anytime soon. While the couch and chair for the living room don't look Mexican, they are very comfortable and well constructed. The dining room is attractive enough that I wouldn't mind having it in our primary home. We have six dining room chairs, which is a bit much for the size of the room, but we have figured out an arrangement that makes it feel much more open. The beds feel well made and sturdy, though the mattresses are a bit soft for Damian's taste. Overall, the furniture feels sturdy, thereby giving it a high quality feeling. I also like the lamps.
- The housewares package was ordered via Dahlgren Duck. This package is way overpriced for what it contains. Most of the items are of high quality (e.g. the toaster and blender are nicer than those we have in our primary home), but given the cost of the package, if you have the time and patience to gather all the stuff yourself, I would highly recommend that. A few more pots and pans would have been nice, too. Also a few very necessary things, like a trash can in the kitchen, are missing from the package.
- The linens package was via Loreto Bay. Like the housewares package, it is insanely overpriced. The items are of hotel quality; while they're nice, they're also made to withstand lots of laundering, i.e. the sheets and towels are a bit rough. Everything is also a very bland white, presumably so the rental program can swap between houses. We definitely need to add some color to this place!
- The AV package was via Road 9. Their service while we've been here has been very good and they've been responsive. However, once again, the package is overpriced for the actual goods you get. If you have the time, I would recommend getting the TV's etc yourself. The clock radios that come with this package are quite ugly, however, the cord that comes with them to plug into your iPod is very handy. Invaluable when you have a 1-year-old who likes music before a nap.
- Vacuum cleaner. When you live near a beach - or in a construction zone - sand and dirt is everywhere, including the dryer. I initially thought why would we need a vacuum cleaner with tile floors? Asked and answered. We need a vacuum cleaner with attachments to get into nooks and crannies. It's also tough to get the floors completely cleaned with a broom because the distance between each floor tile is so wide. A vacuum would work much better.
- Organization gear. Mesh basket for dirty dish towels, laundry basket, bin for recycling, trash can for kitchen, trash bins for bedrooms (they put just one bin in each bathroom, but I need trashcans in both the bathroom and bedroom).
- Light labels. Next time we come down, I'm bringing labels for the various switches. Yes, it may look a bit tacky to put up labels from a label maker, but damn it, these light switches are not intuitive at all. I'm constantly switching them on and off to figure out which one goes with what. I know no one else cares what labels I need, but I'm going to reference this post when I get home: island, sink, fan light (2), dining (2), courtyard, courtyard - stairs, fan on/off.
- Hook for kitchen towel. The oven handle doesn't work well with a 1-year-old crawling around.