Saturday, 17 March 2007

The House (Part I of long series to come...)

So Jerome is an architect who hates his current job at the city planning commission. In September when he decided he wanted to buy a house, I thought, well, why not? I mean, it won't stop us from moving to Brussels and a house would be kind of nice, right?

We casually visited a couple houses and then randomly called a real estate agent who had a house that wasn't even advertised. Jerome was sold before we even visited it. He couldn't sleep the night before the visit because he knew it was the one. We basically signed on the spot.

So what we got is a bargain - a 1930's house in the center of the up and coming area of Lille. A real gem according to all Jerome's architect friends. After months and months of plans - I was pretty hands off and kind of consumed by being a fulltime working mother and trying to remain sane - decisions were finally made. We were gutting the house, raising the roof, and adding an extenstion (for my beautiful kitchen).

A friend who knows the architect at the mairie made sure we could do all this. Yes, yes of course, was the response. And since it's in the neighborhood of the Maison Folie, the more creative the better, we were told.

We drop off the work permit request and the demolition request. Oh, it'll be ready in a month, they say (apparently a month is the legal time frame for someone to contest our plans). So all's going well, breaking walls, ceilings, tearing out layer upon layer of bad wallpaper and flooring, blah blah blah. Did I mention that we have to break the structure that's covering what once was and will be again a small garden?

And the one month period comes to an end on Thursday so the guys decide they can start demolishing 'cause what's a day anyway. They said a month right? You see where I'm going, huh?

We call the mairie yesterday and ask where our work permit is. Oh, but that won't be ready 'til June, says the woman. But we were told a month, says Jerome. Well, my paper says June, says the woman. Last night, Jerome said he wasn't worried. But I found him watching TV and drinking a bottle of beer at 4am this morning. We have to wait until Monday to get a straight answer.

So here is what perplexes me so, after 10 years in this country: why is it so hard to stick to a deadline in this country? Is inefficiency in their genes? Or is this just the little people's way of making themselves feel important? You'd think in a country with so much red tape, that they'd eventually get it right. But maybe I'm just asking too much.

So, I'm taking bets now. Will Jerome be able to convince them that there was internal miscommunication or will the guys have to put the structure back on and wait until June? And will I be able to have a July 4th party or will it have to wait until new years?


Amy H said...

We waited a month for permission to put Velux windows in our roof. Didn't hear anything, so went ahead. And then got a "no". My husband went to the mairie to point out that it had been more than a month before we had received the response, so the guy said, "Well I'm sure no one will check on it anyway."

I will never understand the burocracy here.

Deb said...

Positive thoughts my dear! I am looking forward to the 4th of July party that you WILL have! ;o)

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