Blood, sweat, and yes, even tears

Written by karen on April 30th, 2010

Last Thursday, we were feeling pretty good about things. We had gotten through a week and a half of hard work, with much help from my dad, to get through everything that we’d been told we needed for our conditional occupancy certificate — and that’s what we needed for a significant tax break that runs out on April 30. The completed work included getting all the dry wall hung and getting a sink and toilet operational. We called for the inspection on Friday, figuring we’d still have a week if any small changes were needed.

So, Friday comes and goes. No inspector comes. We call. They don’t know anything about it. The inspection is rescheduled for Monday. That should still be fine. We have a relatively restful weekend and even take a day off on Sat. to take Dad up to the monument.

Monday comes. The inspector arrives this time, does the inspection, and gets out his camera and starts taking pictures of everything. This can’t be good. He says that dry wall and a sink and toilet are not the requirements for an occupancy certificate. (In fact, he doesn’t even look at the sink or toilet.)  No amount of explanation or cajoling has an effect on him. Instead, he leaves us with a failed inspection and a vague list of many, many things that need to be done including putting up the ceiling and having everything basically finished including a kitchen, counters and all. Deflated, we ask for a specific list to evaluate whether this is even possible. He says someone will call us later. They do and again say that the house needs to be basically finished “except for cosmetic things” like trim. They say it in a way that makes it clear they think there is no way to do this in 5 days.

We spend an hour expressing anti-government sentiment, asking each other questions like how can they require things like that you must have a stove and counter-tops. What if you only eat raw food? What if you barbecue all your food? Of course, it doesn’t matter.

In thinking about if this is possible (we had already decided previously that if they were going to make us put up the ceiling, we’d be unable to do it in time….but there was really a lot of money on the table with this), I called to check on our stove. We knew it had been in Tucson for a week or so, and they were having problems getting it to Portal. When I called, they said that, in fact, they could not deliver it to Portal. They claimed that no trucking line would deliver here. Really?!?!? We get deliveries here all the time. No matter, if we wanted our stove, we were going to have to go get it.

I was already committed to some work at a school on Tues., so Brad took the day to go to Tucson to get our stove, kitchen cabinets, and various other things that we thought we needed to get the job done. We decided to try it.

Wed. and Thurs. were long 18 hour days with lots of hard work and some other challenges thrown in. On Wed. the wind started to come up. And I mean it really blew. We heard from someone who has lived here a long time that it was the hardest gales they’d seen in 20 years. A large tree where we are living (not our property) was uprooted, and at our house, 16 foot boards were blowing around like paper.

Fortunately, most of our work was inside, except for carrying lots of lumber inside. We did set up the chop saw in the house though. At one point in the evening, I went out and something blew into my eye, causing me about 24 hours of excruciating pain. All better now though. We also had some kind of mosquito infestation. As usual, I was the target of choice, and every square inch of my body is covered with bites right now.

Still, we pressed on, though I wondered several times if this was the best course of action. On Thursday, we called for another inspection. (I called to confirm in the afternoon and again, they had no record of our call. Sheesh.) By about 1am this morning, we had the whole ceiling up, the light fixtures all operational, and the kitchen plumbing mostly done. Of course, there was one more part we still needed, so we got up at 6am to head over to Animas for the needed part. That should still have given us time before the inspector arrived (which could be anything between 9:30 or so and 4).

One of the things that we’d been told we needed was outside lighting. I know there are lighting restrictions here, but vaguely remembered that dim bulbs were ok. I meant to check the details but somehow forgot. Big mistake. On Friday morning at about 7, I checked the Internet and found that the county requires completely shielded lighting on all lights within 25 feet of the house (and you can’t not have lights — basically, they require lighting that doesn’t really produce any light.)

We decide that a last-minute trip to Douglas was needed, since we knew they were going to check this. I drive at maniacal speeds and then find out that no one in Douglas (including WalMart … that’s how desperate I am) has this kind of light. (After all, who would want a light that doesn’t really make light? On the other hand, it is a county-wide ordinance, albeit apparently one that no one follows. I even checked all the lights around the house where we are living, thinking I could scavenge. No luck.) I call Brad. He has a brilliant idea: Buy coffee cans and we’ll cut them to shield the light fixtures we have.  I do so and then race back.

When I arrive back at the house, coffee cans in hand, at about 10am, Brad walks down the driveway to meet me.

“The inspector has been here and left and gave us final approval.”

What? FINAL??? We weren’t even asking for that; we just wanted the occupancy permit.

I am in shock. Brad is so tired he can barely be happy about it.

I’d like to say that it’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it, but the plain and simple truth is that the inspection process is completely random, and we got lucky. I’ll take luck any day though.

wood plank ceiling

(tile counter to come)


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Donna says:

    WOW! You note only deserve wine, you deserve to WHINE with a little CHEEZE, too!

    You guys are amazing…some day you’ll look back at this and…..laugh?!

  2. Karen says:

    Thanks for support, Donna. (I hate being whiny.:) We are loving the house.

    And the wine worked last night. I fell asleep on the couch and had a good long night’s sleep! Brad said he had a whole conversation with me before we went to bed that I have no recollection of.

  3. Amy Mann says:

    Congratulations! I am so impressed with all of your hard work and persistence! You guys never cease to amaze me. I feel like you could have your own reality show. I enjoy reading this and am cheering you guys on.


  4. Karen says:

    Thanks, Amy! It’s fun to write about this knowing that others are reading and giving us to much support. I think I’ll take an option on a book rather than a reality show. :)

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