Overcoming Self-Imposed Obstacles

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Have you ever been proud of yourself for doing something incredibly mundane and simple?

Last year, my husband and I purchased my grandparent’s family home from them. The house was built in 1959 and we knew it was going to require a lot of work to bring it up to date. They had traveled back and forth between the Miami house and their other home (out of state) every year for the past 30 years – so while it wasn’t in shambles or anything like that, it was in dire need of quite a few minor repairs and some major updates.

The first thing we decided to do was replace the air conditioning unit, which was about 10 years old – and I believe had been purchased used anyway. It was constantly breaking down on us, and if it weren’t for my father, the AC mechanic, we’d have been screwed a thousand times over the past few summers. After the outside AC unit was taken care of, we decided to rip up the carpeting and tile throughout most of the house and replace it with wood laminate flooring. My husband did the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway and the spare bedroom in about two weeks. Awesome job, btw!

The next project was our windows…they were in horrible shape. While renting the house, we actually taped the front windows closed because they wouldn’t SHUT on their own, or stay shut. Almost every window leaked, some of them didn’t even open or close…they were costing us a fortune in power bills, and it leaked inside the house every time it rained. Installing windows is completely outside my husband or my areas of DIY know-how. We decided to hire Home Depot to install them and we financed the purchase through their credit line.

When the Miami-Dade County inspector came to do the final inspection (it actually only took them a few hours to do the ENTIRE house, the crew was completely professional and amazing), he mentioned to our Home Depot contractor that the walls did not look right in our family room…long story short, he went back to the county offices, pulled the blueprints to the house and deemed three of our rooms as illegal additions.

We received a notice that we were to correct the situation by a) tearing down the additions (comprising of my family room and the extensions of two bedrooms) or b) bringing them up to date and passing inspections or c) pay steep fines, penalties and ultimately have them place a lien on the house. After my husband spoke with the inspector, he explained that we would need to hire an architect, draw up plans to legalize the additions, have the plans approved and then have it all inspected. Of course we went with option B, considering that we were talking about 1/4 of the square footage of the home I had just paid FULL MARKET VALUE for just 6 months earlier.

Our building plans were just approved in May…and after several months of trying to reach our architect, I decided last month to head down to the county building and permitting office and try to obtain a copy of the plans through them. Not only did they provide them to me for only $18.75, but the county employee helping me spent T H R E E hours with me, listening to my story of what happened and explained the entire process to me, even going so far as to write down exactly what I needed to apply for each permit (I needed four in total) and help me fill out the applications.

Now, that was about four weeks ago. I have been stalling since then because the process seemed so overwhelming, and I was terrified that I would be given a “home builder quiz” and fail it miserably…which would mean I would have to hire a contractor to pull the permits for me.

I decided earlier this week that I would start with the building permit for the windows. I printed out a copy of Home Depot’s permitting application specifications (that the county employee had so graciously emailed to me for this purpose) and went down to the office today. Within 15 minutes, the same guy had helped me turn in the application. Total cost? $17.00.

So now, I wait. He said it should take a few days for them to review my application and email me either a rejection or approval letter. I didn’t have to go through the home builder’s quiz because, fortunately, he remembered me and the situation and knew that Home Depot had installed the windows…and he said I should most definitely be approved for the permit. That leaves a simple, albeit more expensive step – requesting the inspection. I already know it will pass inspection – it passed last October but the inspector couldn’t knowingly pass an inspection on windows installed in an illegal addition.

I walked out of that county office feeling 10 foot tall – which is saying a lot, considering I am only 5’3″. I was proud of myself for setting my trepidations aside and taking action. To anyone else, this may have seemed like an incredibly simple feat, but I have been dreading this since October of last year when we were served with the notice.

So I’m walking on cloud nine today. :) Have you ever stalled on taking action only to find that it was simple as pie?

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