Six and a half years ago my husband and I purchased land as part of a kevutzat rechisha (a group of people who purchase land and build their homes together) in hopes to get into the property market in Jerusalem at a lower price, so we could build our own home. Before making Aliyah, we were fortunate to have purchased a home in Australia. It was in excellent condition, there were few if any repairs necessary and it completely suited our needs then as a family of 2 adults and 2 children. From the time of purchase till taking occupancy, the turn-around time was a mere 2 months. Almost too quick to even get used to the idea.
Expect the Unexpected!!!
Our experience in Jerusalem was almost the complete opposite. We were told the entire project from time of purchase until moving in would be two years (we assumed that really meant around four years at most). As I write this article it has been six and a half years from time of purchase and we hope to move in another month, G-d willing, but who the heck really knows!
At each turn, we’ve experienced every hiccup imaginable. We were told the previous occupants were elderly and wanted to move on. They didn’t. Once the court case was resolved, one of the previous tenants had a stroke and the group gave them time to recover before proceeding. Then all the pre-building contracts had to be obtained through the Iriya (city municipality) until 4 years later when we were finally allowed to start building. Hooray, the end is nigh, we naively believed!
Being Organized Isn’t Everything!!!
As another example, we thought we were being smart by purchasing all of the floor tiles at the start of the process. We actually did this twice, because the first time we did this we didn’t secure the order with a deposit and the tiles we chose were no longer available. The next time I thought I was smart to put the money down because at least this meant my tiles were now held. While this should have made sense, somehow it didn’t. The shop where we purchased tiles from went out of business. Rather than being able to store all the tiles until we needed them, we had to make room in our store room and pay to then move them again to our property as needed. When it came to actually putting the tiles in, somehow we didn’t have enough of them. Some went missing altogether. Others broke. So we had to search around for more. Good forward thinking turned into the worst idea ever!
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Then there was purchasing what we thought was the right complimentary tile, but wasn’t. Having to return that and start all over. Having two different carpenters argue over which was the correct color of wood, after producing a very expensive sliding door and supposedly matching wall unit.
It was an exhausting experience as I am sure you can tell from reading this. And to top it all, we still don’t have any clear date for taking occupancy. This requires obtaining “tofes arba” (certificate of occupancy) without which utilities such as water, electricity and gas cannot be connected. The date for this keeps changing. In truth, no-one knows when it will happen, and it seems like we are waiting for Godot.
So this is where having a strong marriage comes into play. You may be reading this and think, “wow, I would never get myself into this crazy mess!” Believe me, we thought this way too. But what happens when you and your partner have completely different ideas about your ideal home and you can’t find a place to live in that you can both agree on? You spend months and years of your lives searching for apartments, yet each has more challenges than the next. So building a place from scratch with all that goes along with it sounds like a better option because you can find ways of compromising while you plan it together.
(For the rest of this article check out this link:)