Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Reaching To This Point (Part 2)
I had no idea where to start. What did I look for? How could I tell if this house was constructed well or if wasn’t going to fall over next day? I needed some help from an expert. I did not know of any log home experts anywhere, especially in Japan. The best I could do was asking for some advice from a contractor and an architect. After they inspected the house, they gave us the bad news. They believed it was a bad idea to purchase the home. I did not want to give up. We looked around at other homes, but Tsukahara was the place that I always compared the others with. Sitting down with the contractor, he helped me make a decision. He asked if I liked the home. Honestly, I hated the house. Too much work, too expensive, too many difficulties to get the house the way I wanted it to be. I loved the location, though. I had an opportunity to live where we had a million dollar view. There was only a small chance someone would build nearby. The location offered isolation and solitude. It was close to nature, and lost in the beautiful countryside. The answer was clear…purchase the house for a reduced price. After a lot of skilled negotiations from Erika, the contract was agreed upon and signed.
Wiring large sums of money to Japan was not easy. The key to wiring money was to make sure that the correct “swift” number was used. The name “Oita” was mistaken for the number “0” followed by “ita”. This caused all kinds of delays along a bunch of trips to the bank. With the value of the dollar falling like a rock, we worried that we wouldn’t be able to afford the house and do the required repairs if we continued to be delayed. Timing was critical as the seller and realtor had to meet with our attorney and someone representing us in Japan. At the same time, the seller’s loan had to be funded and cleared to satisfy our attorney. Also, our funds had to be in an account (the person representing us) to purchase the home and to satisfy the seller. It’s amazing that we managed to coordinate all this, but we couldn’t have done it without the help of many people.
The architect proposed to have the entire house shielded by concrete backer board. Strange as it may have sounded, the drawings made the house look like a typical stucco house. The idea was appealing because the outside of the house looked clean and brand new. The concept was simple. Build a house to enclose a house. After several months of discussions and many Skype phone calls, we decided it was too expensive. There had to be another way. I contacted Permachink. Permachink was widely known as the leader in supplying log home owners with the knowledge and materials to maintain a log house. We attended one of their classes and they assured us that they had all the products we needed to save our home. The next problem was how to get those products to Japan and through customs. I’m still working on that one. All of their products are non-hazardous which means it’s safe to use near our home. This is vitally important since we have a well and a septic system. Protecting the environment is something we take very seriously.
Armed with the plan and knowledge to save the house, we moved forward. We moved forward, but the economy did not. The house in Seattle was taken off the market. Home prices continue to fall. Erika has been unemployed. The yen last traded at 84 (with fees and exchange commission rates it’s more like 79). The economy in Japan continues to be stagnating. Where do we go from here?