I can only plead temporary insanity as to the reason that I decided to buy a pre-construction condo. I could not find a condo that I liked in an area in which I wanted to live. So I bought a unit in a building that was more to my liking even though at the time the building was not even under construction.
The original occupancy date was scheduled for November of 2005. Everything that I read led me to believe that this date was wildly optimistic. I am not an optimistic person, so I did not expect this to be an achievable goal. It turned out that even the later estimates of spring 2006 were unachievable. Finally, in June I was informed that my “Confirmed Occupancy Date” was August 22, 2006. Apparently, the word confirmed is some sort of builder’s inside joke. In August, a week before I was scheduled to perform my pre-occupancy inspection I received a letter which informed me that due to factors beyond the builder’s control, such as availability of construction supplies and labour and the weather during the summer (apparently sunny, warm weather is not conducive to construction, maybe that was the cause of the labour shortages: construction workers are too tempted to go to the beach instead of work) and the builder’s high quality standards, the “confirmed occupancy date” was being extended by 2 weeks. My new “confirmed occupancy date was set at September 5th (the day after Labour Day). I had already booked a moving company for August 22. I was unable to re-schedule with them, so I had to find another moving company. Being the cautious type (or gutless as my father used to say), I had made some allowance for this possibility by giving my notice for vacating my old apartment for September 30th.
I made new arrangements for moving, called the telephone company to have my old telephone line and internet disconnected on Wednesday, September 6th and an appointment to have my new line installed on the evening of September 6th.
On August 29th I did my Pre-Delivery Inspection. There were several things that needed to be finished (such as installing the backsplash in my kitchen, knobs on the cabinets, paint touch-ups). I also had no electricity in the unit. The Customer Care Representative said that the power was turned off because the construction people were working on something in the building for which they needed to turn off the power. They were also testing the alarm, which went off just as I was attempting to open a window, leading me to believe that there was some security feature that he neglected to mention.
The purchasers had recently attended an Orientation Meeting put on by the Property Management Company. They warned us that our suites would look nice, but the building would still be a mess as they finish construction. That turned out to be very true. I felt as if I should be wearing a hard hat as I walked through the hall.
The Customer Care Representative knew my unit very well, including its deficiencies (although a few new ones have turned up since). He marked them all down and I signed off. I asked what I need to provide in order to move in. He told me to speak to my lawyer. I called my lawyer’s office, but they hadn’t heard from the builder’s lawyers. I pressed upon them the urgency of the situation since the long weekend was looming. The builder’s lawyers promised to send something by courier. The next day (Thursday) my lawyer did receive something, I rushed to the bank to get a couple of cheques certified and then rushed to the lawyer’s to sign some papers (of which I have not yet received copies).
My lawyer said some uncomplimentary things about the builder’s lawyers and strongly suggested I call on Tuesday before I started moving my things, just to make sure that the Property Manager would release the keys to me.
On Friday night, when I got home there was a message waiting for me. It was from the Property Manager. The building had not gotten its occupancy permit from the city, so I would be unable to move in on the Tuesday. As pessimistic as I was about the whole process, I wasn’t pessimistic enough. I had visions of the movers not showing up. I pictured some trouble when I got there. But this was not something that my over-active imagination had anticipated. A blackjack to the back of my head could not have had a more adverse impact on my health or state of mind. It was now Friday night and all offices were closed. How do I cancel the movers or the telephone company? I did manage to reach the mover’s the next day. I had the pager number of a contact at the telephone company and left a message. He called me back to tell me that he would do what he could (which turned out to be nothing). The weekend dragged.
On Tuesday, I reached the Property Manager (who was probably as stressed as I was) and re-scheduled for the Thursday. Later that day, I got a call from my lawyer. He received a fax from the builder’s lawyers extending the closing date another week. The Property Manager had mentioned nothing about this, so I called her again. (The Property Manager seemed to be working from another location. I would call her office, leave a message and eventually she would call me back from a different office. Maybe the RCMP had placed her in the Property Manager Protection Program). She said that she knew nothing about the extension. She gave me the builder’s number to call. My lawyer had suggested that even if I could not get occupancy, perhaps I could move my things in, but just not stay there. My lawyer also said that living conditions must be pretty primitive not to have gotten occupancy clearance because it doesn’t take much beyond running water to get approval. I mentioned the possibility of moving my things even if I could not take possession to the Property Manager and she suggested that I call the builder’s office to get permission from them. When I called the builder, I was told that the city had granted occupancy and that my lawyer would be getting an update.
On Wednesday my home telephone was disconnected as previously scheduled. Since I am one of the few people in the Western Hemisphere who don’t have a cell phone, my work number was the only way that people could reach me. By Wednesday, my lawyer still did not have any new information. The telephone company called to see if I was still available for my Wednesday night appointment. So much for all the help from the telephone company’s representative.
I borrowed a cell phone for Thursday. When I called on Thursday my lawyer still had not heard anything. I did manage to retrieve a message from the Property Manager on my work number that my key had been released.
When I had re-booked the movers I informed them that I only had the elevator at the new location for a specified 2 hour block. I was told that there would not be a problem. I was moving on their slowest day of the week and my move would be the first of the day for that particular truck. I was also told that if the truck wasn’t there on time that I should call the office to let them know. It cannot be a surprise to anyone reading this that the truck was not there on time. About 15 minutes after the scheduled time I called the office. I was then told that there was a 2 hour window during which the truck would arrive. The woman told me that she had been unable to contact the truck earlier, but since she had not heard from them, she assumed that there wasn’t a problem. If those were meant to be comforting words they failed miserably.
About a half hour after that telephone call the moving truck arrived. The movers started loading my truck. The truck driver immediately took off for parts unknown. One of the moving company’s drivers was hurt and this driver was shuttling between two moving vans. When the mover’s were finished loading the truck, they would call him back to drive to my condo.
The truck was loaded without too many problems. This was mostly because I wasn’t taking much more than boxes with me. I decided that my condo was too nice for any of the furniture that I owned. I thought that it would be easier to order things when I got there. (I also thought that I could get a better feel for where things could go once I moved it. Now I realize that it would have been easier to have things delivered to the old apartment and have the movers take it over. Having things delivered to the new place is not going to be easy.)
When the truck was loaded, it was time to call the driver. He said that he would be back in about 20 minutes. I reminded the movers about my time constraints with the elevator. They used the words that I hope I never hear again “Don’t Worry”.
I took a taxi to my Condo. In keeping with the spirit of the event, I got a driver who had only been driving a cab for a month and had no idea where he was going. I thought that drivers had dispatchers or GPS that they could rely on for directions. My driver relied on me to point the way. I thought that the most direct route was via the local expressway, seeing that my Condo overlooked it. Whoever called the Don Valley Expressway an expressway has a blacker sense of humour than I do. We barely moved. In order to speed up the journey a bit, we cut off early, took a wrong turn and got lost.
When we finally got there it was 20 minutes to 6:00 pm. I had booked the elevator from 4-6. As I got out of the cab, the Property Manager was in the parking lot on her way to her car. I came within a minute of not getting the key. The elevator could only be operated by someone with a key. The operator was scheduled to leave at 6:00. Fortunately he did not go home, but waited with me for the truck bearing all my worldly goods. At 6:20 I saw the truck go by – it passed the building and kept going. I chased after it. We unloaded the truck. The elevator helped move my stuff, so eager was he to go home. (He took off before I could thank him.)
So I was moved in – and noticed I had no electricity. That’s an exaggeration. I had power to 2 overhead lights. I had power to the stove and microwave. But no electrical outlets had power and there was no power to the refrigerator. Strangely I did have hot water. I slept on a blanket in my old apartment that night. I was scheduled to go to work the next day. I thought that at least I would have an outlet where I could plug in my alarm.
I called Customer Care the next day. The representative said that the electrician would hook up the breaker and I would have power by the time I got home from work.
When I got home from work the power situation had not changed. It was Friday night. Neither Customer Care nor the Property Manager work on weekends. I called on Monday and it took 2 more days before the electricity was completely hooked up. No one gave me an answer to this: I don’t know if something was turned off while the electrician worked, but after he was done, I no longer had hot water. That was fixed the next day.
This week I finally got the telephone company hook up my telephone, internet and television. The telephone guy got my line to work, but couldn’t get my telephone to work. I did manage that after he left. My computer was also a bust because I had a problem with the connection to my network card. My brother installed a different network card, so I am able to bore you all with this tale. The telephone guy also couldn’t believe that people were actually living in the building. He drove past it twice and finally called his supervisor, to see if this was the right building.
If any of you, have read this far and are wondering if everything is now A1, the toilet won’t stop running as is leaking and my condo is more or less devoid of any furniture beyond a futon, a television, a stereo and a computer. The adventure still continues. One more mountain to climb, one more river to cross.