Ever suffered from anxiety when stuck in a plane circling above the airport unable to land at your final destination?
For the past two years, we’ve hovered in a holding pattern above our home-to-be, held hostage in our “virtual” plane.
Endless delays, countless lies, and pointless meetings have gone nowhere. So we wait and wonder, growing ever more alarmed about what could go wrong next.
If you remember our situation, we unwittingly became trapped in a quagmire. We signed a contract with a reputable Swiss Company, but the promoter then subcontracted to another smaller one. As a result, no one is fully in charge.
Doom foreshadowed our endeavor from the get go. Three triplex homes were to be built on the side of a mountain. Ours was the first home scheduled to be finished.
“There’s a slight problem,” the project manager confessed months later, “your building, on the higher level, has to go up last. Unfortunately, the civil engineer explained the mountain could collapse on the other two buildings without a restraining wall built first.”
Duh? Even I could have envisioned that scenario.
Next major problem; the prefab walls, ordered from Slovenia, took 18 months to start being delivered to Switzerland. The walls, finally installed late this February, lacked the roof. Nor was the building fully sealed.
Consequently, when snow melted and seeped in from the terrace, our living room turned into a pond. Water streaked the upstairs bedroom walls and puddles formed where the rain and snow leaked through the tarp, which blew off of the frame of the unfinished roof.
Even more incredible, the wrong staircase was installed in our unit. One of the workmen pointed out to us that each wooden plank step was clearly labeled 2C, which is the building below us. How did our house 1C end up with 2C’s stairs?
How can you screw up assembling a house that has step-by-step building instruction, like a paint by number kit!
Then there is the landscaping. Nine months ago, our neighbor met with local authorities to inspect the safety of the half a dozen trees that loomed over our building. At that time the authorities clearly marked the trees that were to be removed in red paint before the builders broke ground on the foundation.
Unfortunately those trees are still standing.The project manager, who failed to show up at the original meeting, now mandates that the $6000 removal cost must come out of our pocket because he wasn’t present (ie. failed to show up) at the said meeting when the decision was made.
We flipped out when one architect confessed the building was not up to code. All windows were 30% smaller than Swiss regulations required; consequently, none of the buildings would pass inspection.
Can you even replace windows cut within prefab walls made in Slovenia?
Sure, one can cope with smaller windows, but not when the resale value of the house is diminished by a couple hundred thousand dollars because a three bedroom house will be listed as one bedroom due undersized windows.
Finally, six months after asking for a costs’ summary, we received our proposed Excel spreadsheet. Half of the figures were wrong. Either fixtures were counted twice or calculated using the wrong unit prices in the formulas.
As we meet with co owners, builders, architects and lawyers, the nightmare continues. Impuissant and deceived, we lost all confidence in the builders and any hope of a positive solution.
If the building company minimized the window size by such an alarming margin, what else have they fleeced us on?
A lawyer wisely advised, “Drop it! Chances are if the case goes to court, which can take years, you would most likely lose because contracts are designed to protect builders.”
“Pick your battles!” another friend in the business told us. “At the end of day you want a place to live?”
We don’t give up!
We throw another log in the wood burning stove trying to heat our rustic Heidi Hut and keep fighting.