Wednesday, January 28, 2009

264:365 Not quite move in ready...

Anna: We got a fantastic phone call yesterday. After more than a year on the waiting list at a nearby housing co-op, we got a call that a 3 bedroom townhouse became available. On this date next month, we should be mostly moved into our new home!

For those unfamiliar with housing co-ops, this is how the organization the complex we're moving into does things (there are small differences with other co-ops). Co-ops are run democratically by members. Potential new members need to go through an application process. Attendance at an information meeting is required first, where general details common to a group of about 30 individual co-ops are explained. Individual complexes first go through the applications, then interview applicants that meet qualifications. After the interview, a meeting is held and members go over the applications and vote on whether or not to accept them. We were accepted ... I think it was in the fall of 2007. In the complex we applied at, we applied for a 3 bedroom apartment, but said that we were willing to accept pretty much anything that came up.

Members buy shares, making them equal owners of the entire complex. Each unit, however many people are in it, has to take its turn with various things, like serving on different boards and so on. Instead of rent or a mortgage, there is a membership fee paid. This is decided upon by the members and is enough to cover the expenses of the complex, plus a bit extra that is set aside for less frequent expenses, ranging from renovations to units after members move out to replacing roofs as needed, or damage from things like storms. For us, that means we'll be getting a 3 bedroom townhouse for less than we're paying for a 2 bedroom apartment.

With the housing market the way it is, no one was moving out and the waiting list wasn't changing. I'd phone every now and then and be told the same thing - no one's moved out, so the waiting list hasn't moved. In fact, they stopped taking names for the waiting list because it had grown so long. I wasn't expecting to get a call anytime soon, so getting one only a week after the last time I called them was a total surprise.

We saw the place today. The woman who showed it to us warned us that is didn't look good right now. (I didn't expect it to - I knew they'd just started renovating.) It turns out the former resident, who had lived there for 11 years, was one of those rare cases at a co-op. She was "evicted." That means the other members of the complex had to vote her out! I don't know much beyond that, but from the people I met, the relief she was gone was palpable!

This shows a bit why. The resident made all sorts of unapproved modifications. Major changes to units need to be approved by one of the boards. One of the reasons for this is so that, when a member moves away and the unit needs to be renovated, it's not too difficult to do.

What you see here, by the way, is after they'd cleared out about 5 truckloads of junk that had been left behind! While we were there, there were a couple of maintenance people working on it. This fridge was in the middle of being scrubbed, though you can't see the woman behind the door at all.

It doesn't look pretty right now, but it's all cosmetic. The place is actually really nice, is structurally sound, and will soon look right as rain.

Since we're the next residents, we get to choose the carpet, paint and linoleum. I borrowed the swatches so that we could make decisions with all four of us there, since my husband was at work when we saw the place.

The linoleum and carpet will be the same for the entire unit, but we got to choose different colours of paint for different areas. Unfortunately, this photo isn't true to colour, but it's close. The stars mark the colours we chose. Most are in the greens, but the upstairs bathroom will have a blue. The carpet colour is called "Raspberry."

We're pretty excited about the whole thing!!!

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