There are 4 builders in our community. Ryan homes, NV (parent company of RH but larger, more expensive houses), Beezer and Craftmart. Needless to say there are many models to choose from. We went with RH for many reasons but the major ones are:
-They are Energy Star 3.0 Certified (pdf)- hopefully it means a more efficient home and not just a logo.
-They had the most selections in this communality and many of the models are available for viewing on-site.
-They are also the most prominent builder in this community (over 80% are built by RH). Could be good and bad (too many similar houses).
My thinking behind is that they will have more experienced construction teams/workers to build the home. We hope this does not backfire and the workers start to cut corners due to repetitive work, boredom or over-worked from all the homes they have lined up to build.
-Most importantly, we found the model we liked and can picture us living in it for a long time.
We will be HIRING A 3RD PARTY INSPECTOR in all major milestones of the construction phase to ensure qualities are met. I recommend everyone to do so as well. It's a small investment to have a peace of mind. I'm sure everyone have heard of all the horror stories about RH homes with issues (I don't need to tell you where to find them :).
We currently have a townhouse so our goal is to upgrade to a single family home (SFH). That pretty much eliminates half of the models being offered in this community. Ryan Homes organize their models into the following categories:
Classic Traditional: FOX CHAPEL ($490s), OAKMONT ($510s), MARQUETTE ($520s)
My thoughts: Very wide but short, the front has steep stairs walking up to the front door and basement is a walk-up (house usually sits on a hill), house appears very big when looking from the front (can see all 3 levels from the front).
NeoTraditional: ERNEST HEMINGWAY ($440s), JOHN STINBECK ($450s), JAMES MICHENER ($470s), AGATHA CHRISTIE ($480s)
My thoughts: Modern interior, efficient use of space, very open floor plans, love the full covered porch that stretch the full width of the house. Lots are smaller, smaller yard space because the garage takes up most of the back yard.
Traditional: CHANTILLY PLACE ($510s), YATES ($520s), JASMINE GROVE ($530s), TAYLOR ($550s), SHAKESPEARE ($560s)
My thoughts: My favorite category of the 3. Large lots (large yard) Interiors appears to have better architectural design. The interior is very warm and inviting. Each room has it's own character and individual space, yet still have the open space feel. Larger kitchen and master bedroom. 2 story foyer and/or family room (The Shakespeare has both) which allows for a 2 story stone fireplace!!.
Update: All prices have jumped $10k since this post (about 3 weeks ago).
Update: 5/15/13: All prices have jumped 40k since last update. The market is picking up fast.
Here is a picture of my favorite room in the "Shakespeare" (until I build my "MANCAVE" in the basement): The double story family room with stacked stone fireplace from floor to ceiling. That fan is not an option but looks really cool.
Unfortunately the prices in our area is among the highest in the country. Same model a few hours away cost half the price. My #1 complain with RH is how expensive their options/upgrades are. They are extremely expensive even for small upgrades like changing to a darker color kitchen cabinet will cost about $1k in upgrade even if the material and design are the same. I can provide many more ridiculous examples but I'm sure anyone who has purchased a home from RH knows that already.
So far I have posted some negative things about my experience and our house has yet to break ground (contract signed Dec 31, 2012!!!).
When I do have positive things to say I will definitely share them as well.
My opinion is purely based on my own experience. Right now I'm still somewhat neutral. Good luck and happy building your dream home.