Sunday, 28 April 2013

The front door is lovely....

It's hard to believe this all started for us early in March when we decided it was taking too long to wait for a suitable bungalow and maybe we should start bidding on two bedroom houses instead.

We knew the area of town this house was in, an older part of the town that was well set out, quiet and pleasing to the eye, we never dreamed we would get the chance of having the house but as it stated it was suitable for disabled (level 3) and I am a disabled (level 2) we wondered if they would be prepared to make it suitable for me.
We were astounded to find 614 people had bid on this little house and even more astounded to be given the opportunity to view it.
First holdup.....we had to wait for councils OT to be available to view with us as it would be on her say so if it would be deemed suitable for me.

At the viewing the council officer apologised for the smell as she opened the door.
The front door is lovely,its green, double glazed and very smart....
The house was unloved, dirty and badly in need of decorating, wires were hanging from the ceiling where it was in the process of being rewired?
I put a question mark here as it later became obvious it hasn't been rewired, it has been 'updated' which isn't the same thing at all!
Floorboards were up as they were in the process of fitting a new boiler and central heating.
There was a stairlift in situ and eventually we got it sorted so it stayed for my use although up to now we still haven't managed to get either Stannah or the council to come and sort it out and after it getting stuck halfway down the stairs last Tuesday evening and the alarm going off all night as Stannah claimed we had to go through council to get it sorted I can Inform you it is still stuck there now!
The OT walked around with us and observed me in each room, as long as the stairlift was going to be left she was happy to agree to us taking the house, the one thing she did want for me was for the grab rail in the toilet to be moved from the left (my completely useless hand) to the right, it's all she asked for and I can tell you now it has not been done!
We ended our viewing in the kitchen, an old, doors hanging off battered tired old room.
'This will be done for you before you move in' the nice council lady said and showed us a drawing with new fitted units along the wall, a space for fridge freezer etc.....
Now I will admit I did no more than glance at the drawing assuming it was the kind I had seen when they replaced mum and dads kitchen two years previously, new units, decorated and flooring...excellent.
And the front door is lovely, it's green, double glazed and very smart......

Of course this all meant we would have to wait but we were happy to do that, we now knew the whole place would have to be decorated before we could live in it as with my medical condition it would not be possible to have major disruption going on when I was there so we started planning.
We live on benefits due to my disability and Trevor ( my husband) is my carer so money is as you can imagine pretty scarce. We get by week by week but have no savings or anything to fall back on when unexpected costs arise so no way were we financially in a position to completely re do this house.

The council now give new tenants a 'decorating pack' if the accommodation you are moving to needs work doing to it, she said the list for ours was one of the longest she had seen showing what a poor state it was in. It comprised of filler, 20ltrs of paint, 2 paint brushes, a roller and a few odds and sods, a drop in the ocean for what was facing us.
Here's the good bit regarding the 'decorating pack' you don't get it until you have moved out of your present home and it has been inspected! Now bearing in mind my home had already been inspected a few weeks previously and the council lady was so impressed she asked us to leave our wooden flooring and blinds if at all possible we asked why this was and was told 'in case you trash your place as you leave!'
I would have laughed at this point if I weren't so shocked at the councils total disregard for its tenants.

We waited nearly four weeks for the call to go and pick up the keys, the house was ready for occupation. Unusually we had to go to the civic centre for the keys and not to the property as I had expected but off we trotted.
The first thing we did on obtaining the keys was to go and look at our new home, what had they done? How was the kitchen now? Was the rest of it as bad as we remembered?

The front door is lovely, it's green, double glazed and very smart........
Yes it was as bad as we remembered, dirty, smelly, old ceiling paper hanging off, cobwebs in every room and lots of strange holes in walls.
This is ok Trevor reassured me, it needs a good clean and decorating, it's doable. It will take us a few weeks but will be lovely and clean and bright once finished.
The kitchen door was closed and as we opened it we both stopped dead in shock, the new kitchen was one and a half base units, the cheapest white units they could have found and one wall unit, 4' of work top, 2' of which we would have to lose to put a fridge/freezer in there. Nothing else had been touched, bare walls, badly artexed ceiling, no flooring and they had even taken shelves out of the built in larder!
I telephoned the council " how? What had happened? Why?"
This was similar to the drawing she insisted and all they were going to do! That's it, there's your kitchen, in fact there's your new home!
I am not ashamed to say I cried, first tears of many over the coming weeks over this house we had been so excited about, had visualised ourselves in, had planned for and waited for.

We are now on week three of the longest hardest three weeks imaginable, it has been one catastrophe after another, they put the water on and it flooded through the ceiling knocking out the electrics where their workmen had put a nail through a pipe when putting floorboards back down, then it gushed out under the sink in the kitchen where the pipes hadn't even been hand tightened.
The removed ceiling paper revealed distempered walls and ceilings that paint wouldn't stick to, they had to be plastered before they could be painted, each and every one of them. Paper revealed paint and then more paper underneath so each room needed stripping and treating before it could be painted.
And the kitchen, an expense we hadn't planned for or expected.
We now had to find and fit a kitchen in the time we had before we moved in.
The kitchen ceiling had to come down and be re boarded, just as well as they found two more slow leaks left by the council which would have caused us problems.
The front door is lovely, it's green, double glazed and very smart.....

Family have all rallied around, my father in law loaned us some money to help get us going, brothers in law, daughters, friends have all given their time to help us and have and continue to work really hard, some of them in the evenings and weekends when they should be free to do other things. There have been eight people there yesterday and today and I am assured its getting there!
I have been banned from going over there these last few days as its a building site and I get in the way and get very frustrated at myself as I can't help due to my hands etc, this leads to such stress for me and more tears than I care to mention so I now stay at home and do all the phoning, organising and packing up here.
And the council? Did they really think it was ok to put a disabled woman in this property as it stood?
Yes they have come to see us, after some persuading by councellors they have made small concessions to help us, we have an extra week before we have to move etc.....
Sorry Harlow council but too little too late.
And so blog readers we shall be moving BH weekend ready or not!
The front door is lovely, it's green, double glazed and very smart......

1 comment:

Jane said...

Of course none of what you've written is new to me. However to see everything written down in one place just magnifies the enormous uphill battle you are facing to have a liveable house by next weekend.

It breaks my heart that you have been let down so badly by the Council. Especially as you and Trevor were so excited when you won the ballot!! To have to do so much yourself is frankly obscene, but it sounds as if everyone has rallied round magnificently. Thank goodness for that!!

It may not seem like it now, but sometime in the future, as you are sitting in the garden watching Molly and the grandkids playing, you will love the place. All this will be a bad dream and you can enjoy the exciting new phase of your life which will be so much better than you have now.

You deserve it.....