This my response to this week’s The Red Dress Club prompt: This week we want you to recall something in your life that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back, brought you something wonderful.
My husband and I purchased our first home in 2009. We were so excited to buy the house we had rented for 7 years from my grandparents! A few months after closing, we hired Home Depot to install new windows and French doors throughout the house. The house was over 50 years old and was in dire need of updating! We had just finished the flooring (replaced tired old carpeting with wood laminate) and this was our second major improvement to the old family home.
During the inspection process, the county inspector advised us that part of our home was an illegal addition. Three parts of the house, actually, for a total of about 1/5 of the total square footage. He filed the necessary paperwork and about a week later, we received an official notice of Code Violation from Miami-Dade County. We had two choices: tear down our family room and a portion of two bedrooms, restoring the house to it’s original condition, or we could have the spaces brought “up to code” and legalized by the county. Of course we chose the latter.
Can I say that it was the reason I quit my job to stay at home? No, of course not. But did the time I would need to spend handling this matter play a part in that decision? Absolutely.
We received that notice 18 months ago. Since then, I have been to the county permitting office so many times that I’m on a first name basis with quite a few clerks and inspectors.
I’ve been through the process of hiring an engineer to draw up legalization plans, waited 6 months while the county rejected those plans time after time, then dealt with our engineer disappearing off the face of the earth while I waited for him to deliver those plans.
I’ve paid upwards of $7,000 in fines, fees and legal costs. I’ve applied for 6 permits, failed 3 inspections…cried a thousand tears and then some.
This situation is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. I have felt betrayed by family for putting us in this situation, been resentful towards them for never apologizing or showing any kind of remorse for what was done and at the same time, I’ve felt a world of gratitude to my parents who have done SO MUCH to try to help me rectify the situation.
My deadline is quickly approaching. I have three weeks remaining until a) one of my permits has to be approved, which will extend my master permit another 6 months – giving me time to get more work done on the house or b) the master permit expires and I begin to accrue $500 a day fines for being in violation of the county’s building codes. At this point, if we aren’t able to get anything approved, we will let the fines begin to accrue and allow the house to go into foreclosure.
And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’ve made peace with it. When this happened, I thought that my world was over. My faith in my family was shattered. I was overwhelmed with the daunting task of dealing with the process. But I’ve learned that sometimes people you love
screw you over disappoint you. And you survive. We can rent somewhere else. We can move out of Miami. This isn’t going to ruin our lives.
The freedom that came with that realization has been a wonderful thing.
(FYI: this post in no way means that I blame my family for the issues I am having. They claim to have done everything legally and that the county lost all of the paperwork. I did not say that I think they screwed me over intentionally.)