Finding The Silver Lining

Share on StumbleUponShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on YummlyShare on Google+Buffer this pageEmail this to someone


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.)


Share on StumbleUponShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on YummlyShare on Google+Buffer this pageEmail this to someone


  1. says

    Wow, I can’t imagine going through all of this and how much of a strain this has been on you. I wish you the best and am so glad you are at least at peace with whatever happens.

  2. says

    Goodness, Jenn. How stressful. I’m glad you made peace with the final outcome. Why didn’t the inspector hassle your grandparents while they were the owners?

  3. says

    This is a tough one. To be so ready for this dream step and have it slap you in the face is hard. But it sounds like you’re pulling through, learning from it. Life is full of (sh*tty) surprises, and it is good to learn how to work with what you’re given. A great attitude can be learned, and it sounds like you’re doing one heck on a job with yours.
    Came by from TRDC.

  4. Leighann says

    What an overwhelming purchase. All of those permits and road blocks. Yet, you’ve found a silver lining.
    I have your family in my thoughts.

  5. says

    I love your current perspective on the situation, but I can’t believe the home was able to change hands before an inspection was done. In that case, the previous owners would have been forced to make those changes.

  6. says

    That is so stressful. I am sorry you are having to go through all the house issues. Like you said, though, Foreclosure is not the end of the world. Our house has been in foreclosure for two years. It makes finding a new home difficult, but surely not as difficult as the wild goose chase with the county office. We also felt relief when we decided to “let the house go” since our mortgage company was unwilling to work with us. Hope it all works out for you!

  7. says

    I’d be a blubbering mess of hives if I had to deal with that. I hope your permit is approved, if that’s what you want. Or that it isn’t, if that’s what you want.

    Either way, it sounds like you’re going to be okay.

  8. says

    WOW. I just saw a flashback. Our house in Palm Beach County came under the same duress. Illegal well, plumbing, wiring, roof … on and on. The money we put into it we saw siphoned away with the economy, and STILL we weren’t up to code. Then we lost our jobs.
    We walked away and are currently in bankruptcy. It’s been horrible, but I have no regrets. It’s what we had to do in order to move on, and at some point we will be in a different house, living a better story.
    Hang in there. It will get better. Slowly, but eventually. My heart goes out to you.

  9. says

    Wow! I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles. That sucks. And yes, sometimes family screws you over worse than strangers. I think though that you will make it in the end, mostly because you’ve already dealt with the issue and have made peace about it. You’re obviously a strong person and who knows, bigger and better things might be around the corner for your family because of this!

  10. says

    That is absolutely nuts. Keep up the fight. Perhaps this next permit will be accepted. We’ve always got to hang onto hope for the best in whatever outcome we’re given.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>