Still waiting

I had hoped to report that the work had begun on Mom’s house, but as is always the case, nothing goes exactly as planned. Manu Montoro, our mason, has been sick all week (and I think passed it along to me when I saw him the other day), so hasn’t begun the demolition.

Although we did eventually get the bank documents and return them to the office in Marseille to be processed, we still haven’t heard back from the Notaire that the final documents we need to sign are ready. We will try chasing him down next week.

Our file is set to go before the ANAH commission next Tuesday, and hopefully will pass this time.

Thus, we sit here waiting. If it doesn’t all fall into place, we will be up a creek without a paddle, but I refuse to worry about that now. I just need to remember that we’ve done many complicated things in our lives, and this is only one of them. When we get through, we’ll have learned more than we ever wanted to know about renovation and property development. I just hope it’s all worth it in the end! At the very least, Mom will have a nice, ground floor apartment to live in and we will have our bedroom back. It’s all good.

Ciao for now


More on ANAH and renovation

I haven’t written about this for a bit, because nothing much was happening.  Now, however, it looks like we’re actually going to start real work, at least on the ground floor, next Thursday.

I’m trying to remember if things felt this stressful when we renovated our own home 3 years ago, and although I KNOW we were stressed, I don’t think we felt this crazed.

As things stands, we have been approved by our bank for a loan for about half of the work. We still need copies of the loan documents that were missing some information that they wanted (and which was not clearly marked as being needed) so we can finish processing them and get the lien on the house finalized at the Notaire. Now, things are getting scary, because we wanted THAT money by the end of May so we could start paying people.  We did have to take money from our savings to pay deposits to 3 of the artisans and are still waiting for completed invoices from them so we can prove to the bank that we’ve paid.

The ANAH is a bit more complicated. Our file went before the mysterious Commission on April 27th as planned, but was returned to us for further information. Most of it was relatively easy to provide: extra drawings showing the exact layout of the staircase, the ground floor bathroom and the way the cellar was being shared between the apartments.

A new wrinkle was that out of the 4 apartments, 1 has to be allocated as the equivalent of a welfare apartment.  We’re not too bothered by this, as it means that the rent will be completely paid by Social Services and also that we’ll receive a higher percentage of money in the grant for that apartment and also for the portion of “common” areas based on the surface of the apartment.

More difficult is the fact that we were told that we would need to provide a 2006 FRENCH tax return for my mother so that she would be eligible to live in the ground floor apartment!  Say what? It turns out this all has to do with new laws relating to social and VERY social apartments. We asked if we could provide a translated copy of her U.S. tax return for 2006 and told “no.”

That leaves us with a variety of complicated options, including asking to make that single apartment available for rent to anyone and not take any grant money for it at all. Not a great solution, though, because that will leave us short of funds for all the work.

Luckily, JM, although TOTALLY stressed out over this whole thing, has done an amazing amount of research and phone calling, and it now looks like we SHOULD be able to use her 2006 U.S. tax return. Also, because of her physical situation and the fact that there are no other available ground floor, stairless apartments in Chalabre, that she may qualify as being VERY social and be able to not only live in the apartment, but get it qualified as the VERY social apartment we need in the building.  We may still make at least one other unit available as well, though, because we don’t really mind making housing available for someone in need as long as they’re not a serial killer or pyromaniac drug dealer.

We keep telling ourselves that this too shall pass, and that in the long run it’s a good thing. But the truth is that we’ve never seen ourselves as property developers or landlords and seriously worry about whether we’re really cut out for any of it. There are days when we wish we could go back in time and never have started it all to begin with.

The irony here is that one of the reasons we moved to the Possum Kingdom in the first place was because we had a desire to simplify our lives and live debt free. We now find ourselves with a massively complicated life and once again in debt (although well below our mortgage in L.A.), which makes us feel insecure and unhappy.

I suppose the lesson in all of this is to not get too comfortable with your life, because it can all change before you know it.

Ciao for now.


The Festivities

The strange association of the First of May and Ascension seem to have had an effect (whether good or bad) on our annual village fair. First, there were far fewer attractions than in the past. Some have speculated that it is because the fair was scheduled for fewer days than in the past, following a vote by the citizens. Others believe it is because with the confluence of the two holidays, there were other places that were also having festivities, and some of the attractions went to those instead.

Whatever the cause, the upshot was that instead of the attractions coming as far down the street as Chez Nous, they were mostly grouped along the Cours d’Aguessau.  The Café de la Paix was able to put extra tables out along Cours Colbert and the discotheque (the dreaded part for many of us) was under the covered market in the center of the bastide.

This meant that the attractions which were here were all busy; the food stands seemed to be doing well, the café was always packed and those of us on Cours Colbert were not only able to park, but had much more quiet than we had expected. On top of that, the Saturday market was able to set up as usual, instead of having to find a place to be that didn’t interfere with the attractions, but which most of us would have to “locate” in order to go.  I’m sure the merchants appreciated being in their regular location.

The weather has cooperated (unusual because we’ve often had rain for the fair) and everyone has been out on the streets just enjoying the activity and sunshine.  To top things off, there was a Rally of antique cars from the early 1900s!  50 or so beautifully maintained vehicles came through the village then went on display at the boulodrome for several hours before heading out again to their next stop. (Pictures will soon be up on my website).

Thus, the ambiance has been festive and almost universally positive; although as always, there are those who complain.  Not enough attractions, too much noise, the usual Bah Humbug.

For me, I’ve enjoyed the whole event.  We managed to keep ourselves to one meal of junk food, we’ve gone out walking and watching and seeing all and sundry.  There’s a feeling that the summer has really begun, and for just this weekend at least,  we can pretend that things are right with the world.

Ciao for now.