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Hi all,
Well, it has been 2 long weeks with the first week being very quiet. The second one picked up drastically. So, eyes down and look in for the latest chance to see if we have managed a full house!

Planning Permission – As I wrote in my last post, we had received planning permission in theory – but had to wait for and pay an “Agra” (Agra is a payment to a government office – thank you Morfix). So, I waited (very patiently) for a whole 4 days and then went to the planning office to ask why I hadn’t received this very important documentation. They said that it had been sent! They kindly (after a firm, but polite, push) gave me the “Payment Number”. I took this number to the local council payments office and paid them just over 3000NIS (Is this daylight robbery or what?) and took the receipt back to the planning office. The planning office then asked where the second sheet was from the payments office. I said that I hadn’t been given one and they (thankfully) said that they would sort it out. I was told that the planning permission would take about 3-4 days and that they would call me. 4 days later – the Agra request for payment finally turned up in the post – to be stored in the paperwork dustbin known as a filing cabinet. I phoned the planning department and asked why I hadn’t heard, just to be told that it wasn’t ready and that I should just be patient. I have been patient for over 8 months now (mainly due to the inadequacies of the different structural engineers) – so a few more days shouldn’t be too difficult. The following day, I received a call saying that the planning permission had arrived. I thought “Thank G-d” and called the kablan to see if he was around to collect it (he wasn’t allowed to do the work unless this document was in his hands). He wasn’t – but he especially came back to Ma’ale Adumim to collect it as agreed with the planning department. The planning department was closed! After some phone calls, I was given the name of a specific person in a different department that could give the document to our Kablan. All was finally saved, and we could now get on with our work and ORDER the windows.

Windows – As the windows follow on, I will continue with these. We had another two or three meetings at the house to finalise the windows. We didn’t bother to go to any of these and they were handled exclusively by the designer and the kablan. After an awful lot of work by everybody we received a final order from Andersen Windows and we looked though it. Tamar queried some of it and we didn’t like the look of one specific window. After a two-hour email discussion with different options going back and forth we decided to return to the original option because it was a lot cheaper. Once everything was finished (again) we arranged for the payment and we hope that we will catch the shipment which we were originally told will arrive by the end of January. We have since been told that the factory will be closed over Xmas and so it will now be a week later! I will update you on this in about 2 months!
As an aside two of the window spaces still need to be enlarged.

Tiling – The tiler has completed a bit more, but as we have to wait for the underfloor heating to be finished before he can continue he has gone on to another project and will return in a week or two.

Kablan – The kablan has been working hard on the organisation of different specialists, tiling, windows, removing security bars and the front door etc. He has added marble window ledges at the request of the window company and he is going to be adding a supporting beam to our bedroom door at the request of the structural engineer. We also noticed a couple of very minor tile/Caesar Stone issues (one that we later found out was caused by a block dropped by a worker from a height onto the Caesar stone strip) which are going to be fixed soon.

Underfloor Heating / Hot water – The underfloor heating was supposed to be installed last week – but was put off by the supplier. He started yesterday and has already done quite a lot of work on this. We are still waiting to find out if the hot water collectors are going to be copper as we wish or the more standard steel. For some reason he has placed heating under our cupboards and I am worried that this will warp the carpentry – I have sent off a query and am waiting for a response.

Fireplace – Talking of heating, the third of our heating methods is a fireplace in the lounge (The main is the air conditioning, the second just for select areas is the underfloor heating). Tuesday, we finally found someone who can build the fireplace as we wished and he started the following day (We were lucky with the heavy rain as he pushed us in and delayed some outside work instead). They worked on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday! It was only supposed to be two days work – but the chimney stack was off centre and this slowed things down. There was also a leak into the chimney caused by the deficient pointing around the top of the chimney stack.

Carpentry – We have spent a lot of time over the last week or two going over this. We have finalised the plans (apart from one set of cupboard doors) and have confirmed materials and colours. We have also (as it is connected) decided on paint colour options for the walls. We have requested large samples of about 10 paint colours to be used in different places and when we receive these we will make our final paint decisions (We have decided on using magnetic paint on the wall between the desk and the bookcases (above the desk) in the study as a place we can store notes with magnets.

Sheets – Before we actually looked at the paint colours, we started looking at bedding. Our oldest has decided that he wants his room to be a “shrine” to Man City FC – so he is going to have everything in sky blue with appropriate bedding, cushion covers, wall clocks and rugs as appropriate. It is actually not too expensive to buy this stuff direct from the club (as long as you ignore the shipping cost of 40GBP). Our kitchen cabinets are in a design called Tottenham (a far superior football club) and so we will be having lots of Spurs vs City games in the house.
We looked on the American “Bed, Bath and Beyond” online store for the rest of the bedding – and were disgusted to see that they only sold sizes that were a lot bigger than a standard single duvet covers. We found what we like – but have not yet found where they are sold in a size that we need!

Lights – We have finally paid for our main light order – we just have to find (and confirm) the less standard lights. The electrician has done some work towards the LED lights in the lounge.

Electricity – This naturally follows on from the lights. The electricity meter has now been moved outside the house and onto a wall in the garden. This is quite ugly and I want to see if we can change the position and make it smaller.

The Rain – As most of you may be aware – we had a lot of rain at the end of last week. This is a blessing both for Israel and us. It is great for us because it showed up issues that we wouldn’t have know about until too late. There are a few leaks coming into the house which needs to be repaired and the stone cladding of a concrete wall (between different garden levels) collapsed as well. We are happy that this occurred now and not just after we have done the decorating!

Exterior concrete and stonework – We are talking about the floors here. We have confirmed that we are using plain concrete (in different colours) for the play area and within the garage. We are doing all the steps in a specific stone – and this means that the area off this stone will be the same colour. We have a few other areas where we need to decide whether we are using the stone or a decorative (ie fake stone) concrete. We are moving along on this.

Tree stump – In the “social” area of the garden which we are planning to use as a cooking corner there was a tree stump that was in the way. The gardener tried to remove it with a crane – but he broke countless straps and had to give up. The concrete guys knew someone who would remove this stump. The guy came on Friday morning and literally ground away the stump (vertically) a little at a time until he finally removed it. This was a lot of work – and it was obviously noisy as our neighbours complained about it to us the following day. These neighbours (the son that doesn’t live there – not the mother) complains constantly. So, we told him that the tree was removed at our cost at the request of his mother – and the incidental noise will not re-occur. It obviously will not re-occur as the stump is not there anymore – so the comment was non-nonsensical but included in our relatively insincere apology. If he wasn’t such a complainer over nothing as well as saying how amazing he is for “helping us” in ways that are not actually helpful then we would care more , but …..

Smoker – The guy that managed the fireplace has a brother-in-law that builds both smokers and barbecues to design. We have to make measurements and finalise our design and send it off to him for a quote. We will see what he comes back with.

That’s quite enough excitement for a fortnight. We will update you again soon,

Adam & Joelle.