Friday, February 20, 2015

Preview of Our New House in Retama Village

Well, we do like Retama...enough that we are taking the next step to becoming
Our future home
permanent residents.

We have a contract on our house in New Mexico & will be returning the beginning of March to start packing & moving the remaining household items into a storage unit in Mission.

We have put a deposit on a new house in Retama with the contingency that the house in New Mexico is sold before we start construction.

The official floor plan has been finished by the
Golden shovels
ground breaking
architect & I will be posting it here. The floor plan is called Sage. We opted for one of their "Flex Options" which is turning the entry way powder room & closet into one large walk in closet which I will use for my business storage & overflow closet space. One can never have too many closets. 

Our plan was to be back in Retama when they pour the foundation but we all decided once the contingency is removed from the contract they will pour the foundation & put in the exterior walls. That would be the point where we do the first walk through. We will be back by then so we will be able to see the rest of the construction process. Lori Rhodes (of Mike & Lori Rhodes - builder & developer) will take some photos when she does her weekly walk through & send them to me so I can post them here. 

The photo on the top right is the sign that goes up in the Esperanza Homes
Sage Elevation A

 office showing all the houses that are in the design & construction process. The next step will be to put a sign out on our lot saying that it is our house that is being built there.

When they start building a home the buyers have their photos taken (if buyers are there) with the "golden shovels" breaking ground. They did ours before we left along wit the new sign with our names on it.

Since there is no model or existing home built with this floor plan all that is currently available is the Architect's plan. When we chose this plan all we had was rough drawings so we were very excited to see the finished plan. We will be the guinea pigs for this house but they have built enough of the smaller courtyard homes I'm sure they have it down pat. 

Sage Floor Plan
The floor plan (Sage) we picked out is a new one so there was not a model for us to go by. This is what they call a courtyard house. There is a smaller version (1300 sq. ft.) & it is very popular . We have seen a few of them inside & out so we have a pretty good idea of what this one will look like when it is finished. Our floor plan is 1600 sq. ft. They used the existing plan & made some very nice improvements & included some nice "Flex Options" when they developed the Sage. The nice part of this plan is that there is a bonus room off the garage that will be Al's shop/man cave. I will have also have a room that I will use as my office/studio. One of the really nice features of this plan vs the smaller courtyard house is that the garage is attached to the house so you don't have to go outside to get into the house.

The living area & kitchen is open which makes the house look bigger. It has a
Flex Option
convert powder room
& closet to a large walk
in closet
large master bedroom suite, guest room, large utility room & a great courtyard that is very private. It's inside the gate between the shop/garage & the house. Great for entertaining, relaxing & eating outside.

We picked out a very nice lot that is bigger on one side as it goes towards the back like a slice of pie & deeper in the back. We flipped the house so that the courtyard will be protected from the heat of the day & it will open up to the side that is bigger so the dogs will have plenty of room to run around. We will have grass all around so Allie won't eat the rocks. There will be a stucco wall from the front all the way to the back so we have complete privacy in the courtyard.

Well, the hard part was finished (picking the floor plan we wanted & the lot we wanted). Now the fun begins...picking the options, upgrades & colors.

We met with Lori & I think we broke a record. We had everything picked out within 2 hours. We cheated because we had looked at the options before so I had already made some selections in my mind. Lori is very good at doing this & she made the process easier than I expected. We started with the tile for the floor, then we moved to the granite for the counters. Granite is standard in the kitchen & after we added up all the options we had we felt comfortable adding the granite to both bathrooms. Lori puts everything together as we go so we see how will things look. 
Color Options for
floors, counters, cabinets, etc

During this process we occasionally ran back into the model (which is the smaller version of our house) to help make some decisions. When I was on the fence on a selection Lori helped me go one way or the other with questions you like it or love it? She never forced her opinions on me but if I asked for it she was more than willing to offer her opinion. What I also liked is that she didn't push upgrades. She really encouraged us to go with the standards & as I told her I thought their standard options were better than many other builders upgrades. We also opted for tile throughout the house rather than carpeting in the bedrooms & closets. We added some pull out drawers in the kitchen, under cabinet lights, upgraded to a gas stove & stainless appliances & a few other things but overall we did pretty good sticking with standard options & didn't go over budget. 

At first Al was going to enclose his "man cave" & run ducting into it but then he decided he'd rather leave it open & just have the garage & bonus room insulated. If he changed his mind he said he could do it himself.

All in all I have to say that Lori was good at her job, very organized & helped make the selection process painless.

Once that was done we met with Victor who orchestrates everything else including walk thru's during construction, picking out the plants & trees, etc. We reviewed the locations of outlets, water spigots, exterior walls, gates, planter beds, etc. 

Building will start we can release the contingency ie; the appraisal price is ok & any repairs that need to be done are completed. In the meantime we will be packing up the house & Al will start moving it into storage in Texas. The closing on our house in NM is scheduled for 4/30 & we will drive back to Texas to watch the house be built. We will live in our motorhome until we move in.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley

Heading into the state park for a bike ride the other day I saw the Border Patrol
Border Patrol at State Park
riding towards me as they were coming up the hill from the park entrance. They were on horseback & were thrilled to pose for a photo.

The border patrol can be seen around here dressed as "Ninja's" on their ATV's, riding horseback, driving SUV's, vans & regular cars. They are also riding in the Rio Grande in gun boats & flying overhead in helicopters.

Many people who have never been here before think that it's not safe to be here because of all the illegals crossing the border. The reality of it is that the illegals crossing the border really don't want to stick around. They want to move as fast as they can so they aren't caught & sent back. Some make it but some don't.

Some history about the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Border Patrol:

The Border Patrol had its start in the Rio Grande Valley area in 1921 with four 
officers assigned to Hidalgo, two to Brownsville and two to Rio Grande City, Texas. 
Border Patrol Helicopter
flying over Mission
In 1923, additional officers were assigned to Alice, Harlingen, Kingsville and Mission. From its inception and until about 1938 Sector Headquarters was located at Brownsville, Texas. In 1938, Sector Headquarters was moved to leased space in McAllen, Texas, and in 1941, the land and buildings were purchased from the City of McAllen for $5,000. The original building was removed and a new building constructed upon the same site in 1972. 
Canine BP Agent

On March 22, 2005, the McAllen Sector name was officially changed to Rio Grande Valley Sector. On January 30, 2006, Rio Grande Valley Sector relocated to its new state-of-the-art building at 4400 South Expressway 281 in Edinburg, Texas.

BP Ninja
The Rio Grande Valley Sector now has nine stations, two checkpoints, air and marine operations and an intelligence office. Rio Grande Valley Sector agents patrol over 320 river miles, 250 coastal miles and 19 counties equating to over 17,000 square miles.

NOTE: According to The McAllen station Liaison who spoke to residents of Retama Village last month there are 600 agents in the McAllen station & in 2014 they made over 100,000 arrests. They also have a canine program & heading down south through Texas to the RGV you will see dogs at most Border Patrol check points. The agents riding around on their ATV's wear a helmet with dust mask over their faces to protect them from the sand & dust which is very prevalent in the valley surrounding the levee. We refer to them as the Border Patrol Ninja's.

Living in the Rio Grande Valley

Do we feel safe here....absolutely! I actually feel safer here than most other places we have lived (& we have moved around a lot over the last 23 years) which is why we are planning to stay here after our house in New Mexico sells.