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I apologise for the lack of content over the last month. Pesach has kept us busy whether in home preparation, work preparation, keeping the kids entertained, cleaning up afterwards and with catching up at work after lots of time off.

Thankfully the movement forward in our house project has started to gather steam like a horse-drawn wagon out of control. We are just hoping that we can keep up and help encourage this movement in a direction that does not lead us over the proverbial cliff.

Where to start? Why not with the mundane – and then I will move on to the more interesting areas.

The bank… We still have no movement from the seller’s lawyer with respect to our required bank paperwork – which means that we cannot receive the mortgage, oh and we are supposed to pay the last payment on the 15th May and receive the keys then. Could be a little challenging paying the last payment when the money isn’t available to us. We will have to wait and see.

The property itself…the seller has now taken out the main kitchen. This is to our advantage in 2 ways. The first is that we would be taking out the kitchen anyway. The second is that this strengthens our case for buying the property as a single property rather than multiple properties within 1 building which obviously saves us money. The other issue with the property is the amount of rubbish that has been left there. The garden is full of old containers, a couple of artillery shells, 2 kitchens and obviously requires a major clean up. The loft area is completely full of rubbish. I even saw an original mac computer there plus a toy (I hope) gun. The storage rooms are also full of junk.

Lawyer… Our lawyer is going to speak directly with the bank to see how we can move on with the mortgage application. We will see what will happen with this. We are also going to speak to the lawyer about getting the seller to clear out all the junk.

Appliances… We bought a dishwasher 10 days before Pesach. I was promised it would arrive before Pesach. It didn’t arrive the week before Pesach, so I contacted the seller and was told that it would arrive on Sunday. I arranged to work at home on Sunday and at 3pm phoned the shop and asked when the dishwasher was going to arrive. After a twenty-minute delay I was told during Pesach – probably. I therefore cancelled the order completely and I still need to buy the dishwasher – the money is still not back in our account! Our microwave oven also died a few days before Pesach. This also hasn’t been replaced.

Design… Now for the interesting stuff (at least for us). We have a basic design. Close to 3 weeks ago, we met up with Tamar in Blacks Burger near to the Borsa in Ramat Gan. The trip is an hour for us – and about 20 minutes for Tamar. But let’s be fair to her – she had worked all day and then went out of her way to leave home and meet up with us. We spent a pleasant 2 – 3 hours sitting over a very slow supper (The new sweet potato fries are excellent) and discussing about 15 pages of design work over the 3 (ish) floor property.

I will start with mum’s section at the bottom and then work my way up. We had 3 basic designs. The one we originally decided to follow has the kitchen diagonally opposite the main entryway. The window above this will be enlarged and the living area will be nearer to the entrance. The Mamad is also in mum’s section so we will be adding a guest bed in there as well. The washing machine will be in our storage area (as a separated laundry room) and mum will be given a large shower but no bath in the bathroom. This has now been changed in stage 2 which I will discuss later on.

Floor 2. The entrance, lounge, kitchen, dining area and (up a half floor) the master bedroom. At the moment, the entrance into the house is directly into the hallway and is facing what will be the dining area. There is a covered but open porch area. We already pay arnona here so this actually counts as part of the house itself. We are planning on closing off this area with a large window on one side and to move the entrance around the corner (of the porch). This will mean that people cannot see straight into the house when they enter. Opposite the old entry door, we are removing the existing wall and creating a rectangular room for our main dining table. We should be able to fit in about 10-12 people in here without any issues, but will have the availability to move into the hallway and seat another 14 to 16 if we wish. The kitchen will be in the shape of a פ with integrated dishwashers and side by side european style fridge and freezer, two sinks and lots of cupboard space. The bottom leg of the ‘Pei’ will be a breakfast bar. The lounge area – we have discussed this area the most – and we are still not happy. The area is sunken, and is just a little too long in length with respect to the fairly short depth of the room. We have spoken about leveling out the floor so the floor is not sunken, but this is just not practical as there are doors leading to the garden in the area. We have spoken about partially raising the floor and we have also spoken about leaving the space as is and making the best use of the space that we can. All we know is that we wish to include some seating, a fireplace (there is one already here but not as we want it) and our upright piano. We also want to enlarge the windows on the outside wall as the view from there is stunning (well it is reasonable from a Ma’ale Adumim perspective). There are better Ma’ale Adumim views on the edges (rather than looking into the Wadi) as we have now, but the view is still good and looking upon nature. This is the only room in our section that we haven’t completely decided on the final direction of the room. Continuing upwards a half floor to our bedroom. The master suite level is going to have our room with large doors opening on to the garden, an en-suite bathroom with bath (and shower within the bath) as well as a walk-in cupboard.

Floor 3. The top floor. We are going to give the boys a bedroom each (Thank G-d) and there will also be a family/guest bathroom. We are going to include a study with a sofa bed in it for guests to stay as well as a playroom. The playroom is going to be fun. We are going to break through the ceiling to make the room very tall. The Wii will be in there as well as any standing games. There will also be a hammock half way up the wall for the kids to just veg while lying around. The reason that we are opening up the ceiling is so that we can create a play den in half of the loft. I envisage (not confirmed) that we will have a couple of low tables with bean bags around them for the kids to use as a play area. All the Lego, jigsaws and board games will be stored up there out of the way. To connect the two play areas we are still debating our options. We will either have a ladder, or a climbing wall – or both. We will see. We will also have the ability to add some beds in this area so that we can have extra guests.

The above design points were decided upon in the first meeting. We also made our comments and Tamar then integrated these into the designs. Our current status is that we are going to give mum a larger garden and therefore give her a very large window to let in the morning sun (where we had the kitchen in the original design). The area around this window will be the lounge area with the kitchen by the entrance door. This will give a larger kitchen – but possibly a smaller fridge. The washing machine and dryer will probably end up behind the kitchen allowing the storage area to be a lot larger.

In our lounge area we are still struggling to work out where everything will go. There was an option to put the fireplace under the main window as a long narrow fireplace – but we do not like this option, either in the idea, but more importantly we think it will destroy the look of the outside of the property. We would like to keep the fireplace where it is, just in the wall using the original chimney and not taking up space in the lounge.

The contractors… We have now spent time with 2 different contractors in the house. Both are called Shimon. So we will now call them collectively “Shimon squared”. One of these Shimon’s did the work in our friends’ house. Both do good work, but one charges less and his finishing is not so good. For example the walls may not be 100% straight – or plug sockets aren’t in perfect alignment. The other Shimon is more expensive – but you get a better quality finish. We walked through the property with “Shimon squared” separately discussing the demolition stage of our project. One of the contractors wrote detailed notes, the other asked Tamar to send them the plans and to mark on these which walls need to be demolished. Surprisingly, the team that requested the paperwork seemed more confident and future looking as a contractor. Demolition will also include removing the windows, floors and all pipework and electrical cables. We will probably also include part of the garden (without any plants) as it is part of the house and the rest of the garden will need to be completed after shmita. Both builders said that clearing the rubbish out of the property will cost a few thousand shekels and should really be covered by the seller.

Shopping… I am hoping to meet up with Tamar to spend half a day shopping on Wednesday. This has been planned – and I have booked the time off work.

The building schedule is as follows:

End of May Through to Mid June – We will start (and hopefully complete) the major demolition within the property. We are not yet enlarging windows. We will also continue to work on the plans and shopping during this time. The deadline for completing this will be the end of June
July – This is the Ramadan month for the (Arab) workers,  it is a hard time for them and therefore we will delay the start of the work until August. During July and the beginning of August our goal is to complete all decision-making, shopping, working plans, supplier choices, contractor choices.
Beginning/mid August (Post the nine days) – Start the building work.
That’s all folks – just another quiet month in the housing project.
Adam and Joelle.