Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Moving Experience...
(an ongoing series) — Part 11

Into the Homestretch
It’s been a long time — a lot longer than I thought it would be — since last Wednesday

In the wake of Wednesday’s whirlwind session of more than a half-dozen contractors, inspectors and repairmen who filed through for estimates and sign-offs regarding the state of my soon-to-be erstwhile abode, this weekend was sort of the calm before the storm in a manner of speaking. It was still plenty busy, but the activity level was nothing like it will be these all-important final two weeks here in Casa AJ.

Michelle and I will be renting a U-Haul truck this coming weekend to move the furniture over to the apartment on Saturday. Given the amount of stuff we’ve already hauled out, that shouldn’t actually take a whole lot of time (he said, hopefully).

However the tedious (and most physically taxing) part will come later. I’ve decided that my official Fall project will be to take on the previously unplanned task of transferring all the stuff from our currently packed-to-the-gills external storage unit, to the on-site garage that we were able to procure at the apartment complex. We seemed to have really lucked-out in being able to snag a fairly large external storage space in which we’ll hopefully be able to condense all of our stuff into a single location.

I just need a little space, aiiight?
Back in June, when our homeselling odyssey began with the process of purging and de-cluttering to get it ready to sell, we rented a 10x10 unit from a local facility to store the small personal and furniture items we decided were extraneous and might detract from the overall staging of our home as it was being shown to prospective buyers. Also included in the pack ‘n purge mix were storage items we’d need to clear out eventually anyway, so it also served to give us a pretty good head start on packing.

And buddy, we filled up that sucker up, too. I’m talkin’ floor –to-ceiling! But while that 10x10 was fine for clearing the house for showing, we knew that we would eventually need a lot more storage for the moving phase, transitioning from the old house to the apartment, and then finally, into the our new house.

And with the old house’s garage still chock-full of tools and other yet-to-be-touched older storage items, we needed to find a home for our remaining stuff, and we needed to find one fast.

It still boggles my mind as to how much stuff we’ve accumulated over the years.

At first I just figured that we would rent another storage unit from the same facility as before, which I considered a great deal price-wise compared to all its competitors in the area.

However the value we’re getting with this apartment garage blows the doors off our current storage facility. We discovered that for an extra $100 per month we could rent a detached, single-car garage that’s at least three times the size of the current unit we have now.

The 10x10 unit we’re renting costs $89 per month and is located at a facility more than a mile away from the apartment. On the other hand, the apartment garage is located directly adjacent to us — only about 60 yards away, is three times larger, and only costs $11 a month more. You do the math.

And while eighty-nine bucks may not seem like much to spend, at this point every $50-$100 per-month chunk of operating expense that we can cut out of our budget now may have important implications for us down the road.

It will no doubt be a hassle, unloading and then re-storing everything from the tightly-packed storage unit into the apartment garage. But in the long run it will be well worth the effort in terms of both cost and convenience when the new house is finished and it’s time to move again in January.

Oh — did I forget to mention that the new house’s construction has been delayed a month? And it’s actually a good thing, because it turns out we’re now obligated to be in the apartment through the end of January, as opposed to December, as was the case when we initially secured the apartment in July.

Best-Laid Plans
If you’ll recall, I mentioned previously that thought the apartment manager had erred in calculating the length of our six-month lease. In the paperwork we signed at the time she had indicated that our lease would end in December — which would have actually made it five months, not six. I believed at the time that would work well for us because it meant we’d have been free and clear of our commitment to the apartment at the precise time our new house was originally slated to be ready — the middle of December.

I noticed the mistake right away but didn’t bring it to the manager’s attention. My initial assumption was that perhaps she’d done it on purpose. We had already made it clear that we wouldn’t really need the apartment beyond the middle of December, so I thought that maybe she was fudging the system just to help us out; she was so nice and helpful, he just seemed like the type to do something like that. But just in case, I kept my mouth shut, because whether by mistake or design, that one little detail would end up saving us some money — or so I thought.

Had I done a little more thinking, however, I would have realized that it could have just as easily cost us far more.

The way they work this short-term lease option is tricky. It’s set up to be a huge benefit for those renters who need it, but with the added bonus of being a windfall of ‘gotcha’ fees for the apartment’s owners if things don’t work out as planned. It’s as though they’re saying, “Okay, we’ll bend the rules, but…it’s gonna cost ya.”

Firstly, there’s the fifty-dollar per month ‘convenience fee’ they charge just for the privilege of having any lease of less than 12 months’ duration — which actually seemed fair enough to me. However beyond that point, the rules get little dicey in my opinion.

If you need to extend the already shortened lease beyond the original term, they charge an additional $200 per month penalty for as long as that month-to-month extension is needed.

So it was obvious that this convenience was not gonna be free. Just as obvious was our need to place ourselves in a position of being as on-target as possible in synching up our short-term lease with the completion of our new home’s construction.

And we thought we had done that — or that at least this that little lease-term circumstance (the miscalculation of the term from six months down to five) had taken care of it for us. However we now know that had things remained as they were, with the construction timetable being pushed back a month, we’d be in a bit of trouble; we’d have had to pay both an extra month’s rent as well as that additional $200 penalty.

Everything just got so bunched-up after the first sale of the house fell through. The resulting uncertainty as to when the house would sell dictated that we wait until the eleventh hour to decide whether or not we would be able to take the apartment at all, everything was on hold for a couple of weeks. That obviously changed the date on which we were scheduled to move into the apartment. So once we made the decision to stay with the original plan and keep the apartment, the manager had to revisit our paperwork and that’s when she discovered her error. She was apologetic, but what could she do?

A new move-in date was set, and subsequently, a new calculation of the lease term. We were now obligated through the end of January instead of December. Looked like we were gonna have to burn that last month’s rent after all.

I guess I couldn’t really be upset about it, though. I should have pointed it out from the moment I realized it; that would have been the right thing to do. However now, in spite of my guilty conscience, fate has smiled upon us once again.

For purposes I’ll explain more thoroughly a bit later, the completion date for our new house has also been pushed out another month. Instead of closing on December 15, 2007, we are now being told that January 24, 2008 is the day our new home will officially be our own.

So the bottom line is, instead of costing us another grand-and-change to pay for an unlived-in apartment for the month of January, we’ll actually be saving the $200 extension fee we would have had to pay to carry the lease out another month.

Funny how things work out, huh? Think maybe someone was tryin’ to tell me somethin?’

Not out ‘o the woods yet…
Nonetheless, my relief that one potential pitfall has missed us, can’t quite assuage my concern that we might still be tripped up by yet another.

There is still at this moment a cloud of uncertainty surrounding what is to be the ultimate outcome of last Wednesday’s ‘home repair summit.’

Of the four structural contractors that I’ve interviewed, only one really wowed me with his knowledge, experience, and ability. He was the only one whom I felt truly shot straight with me regarding the seriousness of the foundation crack that recently turned up near the left-front corner of my house.

This final round of repairs that need to be done to satisfy our buyer and complete the sale of our home is still partially up in the air, and the clock is ticking.

I need to make some decisions and hope like heck they’re the right ones.

Next: “Yo, ‘Rock’…you remember ‘Hard Place,’ don’cha?”
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