From the Vault
Viager With A View Part VIII
“Viager with a View” — the ongoing ‘saga’ of the apartment destined to be called “La Paris Plage” — a “viager” that I purchased in September of 2007. You may want to read Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII before you read this chapter.
The continuing saga of “Viager with a View” is beginning to feel like an endless stream of hurdles and challenges as long as the history of France and her struggle for “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.” When I first laid eyes on this jewel of an apartment more than four years ago, I had no idea it would become one of life’s greatest challenges — a test for tenacity and endurance.
In Part VII, the contractor had almost completed the demolition of “La Paris Plage,” discovering many hidden attributes, including two additional skylights having been covered over. A covered-over rounded window onto the terrace was discovered and subsequently opened which will be a kind of “portal” onto the sky from the bathtub/shower. There are three chimneys in the one small space, but unfortunately, none will be used for a working fireplace as every inch of available space in the 22-23 square meters is needed for storage and elbow room.
In the “chambre de bonne” down the hall affectionately named “Le Parisol,” old beams were found under the ceiling and cleaned off in preparation for refurbishment. The demolition was complete and the plumber laid the piping in both apartments. The apartment was now ready for the “chappe” (floor foundation) to be poured. This is when it all went awry.
Monsieur de L., the “Syndic” delivered a copy of a letter he had written to the Notaire in my mailbox, outlining how in February of 2006, the “copropriété” had voted to ‘give’ the illegal terraces to the owners of their adjoining apartments, and therefore the terrace that I had always believed was not legally mine, was in fact just that — mine! This was the first time that he had enlightened us on this issue, so that the deed to the apartment is now incorrectly written and of course, it means that all expenses related to the terrace will be my responsibility.
This was GOOD news to say the least, but of course, it means that an adjustment to the deed is in order, which is likely going to cost something in taxes and fees, as nothing of this nature is ‘free’ in the eyes of the French government!
Meanwhile, our contractor was sinking in financial problems and announced he was about to file for bankruptcy. I had already given him 30% advance payment for the work (more than enough to cover quite a lot of construction work), but to lay the chappe, he needed more money to pay for materials and labor. The money I had given him was gone — to where or what I may never know. This was one day before leaving for 10 days in Egypt, so I declined his request, left for vacation and hoped for the best.
For 10 days I basked in the Egyptian sun and forgot about the Viager with a View, at least temporarily. Then upon returning, you might say ‘all hell had broken loose.’ Yes, the chappe had been poured entirely, but in the process, the work had broken a huge hole through the ceiling of the downstairs neighbor’s apartment (Madame B.) which caused damage to her “chaudière” (water heater), as well as causing a leak onto her new white carpeting and cracks in her living room ceiling!
She was not happy, but kind, having tried phoning the contractor many times with no response, and no response from me while gone to the Middle East. This was no simple situation for an insurance company considering the legal entanglements involved with a company in the process of bankruptcy, therefore an attorney has now been brought into the case.
That tangled ball of yarn has seen no unraveling yet! As I write this, a new contractor has been brought in for estimates with the hopes that work can begin again as soon as possible for an early 2010 completion. Could anything else go wrong?
Sure! But, I still have high hopes that this jewel of an apartment will have all been worth 4.5 years of trials and tribulations, not to mention financial investment. One of these days it will be my own little pied-à-terre in the sky looking back at all this as if it was just a fascinating dream.