Monday, December 31, 2007

An email from Stefan next

Stefan dropped me a line, too. He commiserated about the length of time Värmdö takes to grant permissions. He found they have a much longer waiting list than other kommuns, and in his words, "there's not much to do, just wait and see."

It just struck me that tomorrow will begin 2008, and that one way or another, we'll have our house in this year. An exciting prospect....!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A message from Johan

Johan is the man I met at the Hus Expo who sells the Cinderella toilet. He just sent me an email saying he read on my blog that I was looking at the Incinolet as an alternative.

First off, I was quite impressed he looked at my blog; in fact, I'm still surprised when anyone reads it! Secondly, he gave me a lot of good information about the good and bad points of both toilets. (Well, mostly the bad points of the Incinolet).

Coincidentally, I received an email the very next day from a colleague in Dallas who said he could have an Incinolet shipped pretty inexpensively to Stockholm. Even with customs duties, it would still be lots cheaper than the Cinderella.

Johan's store is not too far from Marcia and Rutger's, so we'll plan to stop by when we visit in February. I was really pleased that he wrote.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Power of Attorney

Margaret called just before Christmas to tell me Janne had a call from our man at the kommun (whose name is Per, by the way). He wanted a letter from us, authorising Janne to complete and sign documents on our behalf. Margaret suggested the proper wording for the letter, and we signed and posted it right away.

Margaret said Per wanted this authorisation quickly; perhaps it's just bureaucracy, or maybe it's a good sign??

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Winter visit

We've just booked our tickets for early February. Janne's invited us to spend a couple of nights on Aspö with him; it will be fun to see the island when it's pretty much deserted and snow-covered.

We'll also see Margaret and her shop, of course, and we'll spend a few nights with Marcia and Rutger, too. Rutger and I will go shopping for house stuff, and I'm sure the girls will go searching for interior objects.

Our trip will provide fodder for many posts during the potentially slow months ahead!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The well is done

Both Janne and Tony have reported that it's bubbling up nicely from the ground. (Water, that is, not Texas tea.)

Total depth was 43 meters- just as I had estimated. Total cost for the drilling is 30% less than my budget figure. Things are looking up. (Or down, in the case of the well).

UPDATE: The well is 5 inches in diameter. The well Baby Jessica fell down was 8 inches in diameter, plus ours is capped, so we're safe.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I talked to Janne again and he filled me in on the paperwork he's doing on my behalf.

First, because the house is new, the kommun wants to come out and make their own measurements and markings on the land. They'll charge me a few thousand kronor for the privilege- but at least it's something I had budgeted for.

Second, they want information on waste water and sewage. Our toilet (whatever type it is) will be self-contained, so no issues there. Grey water from the sinks and shower need to be drained away; there is a natural drainage path off the rock, so Janne will show that in a drawing as part of the application.

Janne also said he'd call the kommun every month and nag them. I don't see Janne as a nag; he's too nice for that. Me, I'm a pushy American, I know how to nag! But I'll leave it to him for now.

We also talked about electricity, but that's another post.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Kommun calls Janne back the next day

...and it's not with good news. Essentially, they're swamped with applications and it now looks like a nine month approval timeline, not six as I was planning. This means the end of June for permission, not the end of March. And that would mean construction in August or September, not June. Drat.

However, I am glad they called Janne, even with disappointing news, as it shows we have good communication. And although even Janne can't make the wheels of local government move swiftly, he does have a lot of local knowledge and credibility with the planning people. So that can only help. And they are sending Janne some further paperwork that he's going to complete on my behalf, to keep things moving along.

What next? We could get an interim building permit early, which would allow me to stick to my June building plans, and we'll pursue that in a few months. Or they might just be pessimistic at the Kommun and are giving us the latest possible dates, so we can be pleasantly surprised later. (I'm not counting on that one).

Worst case is that we build a few months later, which would cause me scheduling problems, but nothing insurmountable, I suppose. (Actually, the really worst case is if the Kommun asks for lots of changes in the house design or their layout on the land. That would be a real bummer, so I'm not thinking about that just yet!!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Janne talks to the Kommun

Margaret emailed: "Janne reached the Kommun and 'things are proceeding along as they should' which basically means that if you don't receive any letters from them asking for more information, then things are fine and the decision should be ready by the end of March.

"God only knows why they need so much time, but there you have it. I guess they have a lot of applications. The guy at the Kommun now has Janne's cell phone and promises to ring him if anything comes up.
" news is good news, I guess. At least we'll have the well soon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Well

Janne called over the weekend. He was asked to help a couple of neighbors have a well drilled so he had the driller visit our land to give me a quote for doing ours, too.

This is the sort of thing I hoped we could do, as we could share the transport costs of the drill among three households rather than my paying for that all myself. It's a win all around for me, my new neighbors, and the drilling man... all thanks to Janne.

The cost I was quoted is within my budget- hooray! It's a flat cost up to 40 meters and then so much per meter extra. Janne's well is 60 meters, but another house he's working on is 11 meters. I would be willing to bet we'll be 40 or maybe a little more. The drilling should take place next week, so I'll report back.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Blå Måne

It's common here in the UK for homes to have names, rather than street numbers. For example, we used to live in "Abbot's Leigh" and our neighbor's home was "Silver Birches". (Further down the street was "Betula" and I never found out where that name came from.)

We decided to name our house, and Sooz came up with the name: "Blue Moon", or in Swedish, "Blå Måne".

There are a few reasons: blue is my favourite colour; our dog, Ollie, is a blue merle corgi; the Chicago Cubs play in blue, and a sunny day in the islands is filled with shades of blue from the sea and sky.

Truthfully, though, the main reason is that "Blue Moon" is the signature song of the supporters of Manchester City Football Club. I've sung it at many football grounds, usually in a losing cause. However, City have a Swedish manager these days and are on the up, so we're becoming quite a popular club in our adopted homeland. I consider it a good omen...!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Janne calls the Kommun

As I posted earlier, I asked Janne if he could call the Värmdö Kommun on my behalf to chase up our application.

Margaret just sent me an email: "Janne got the office this morning and (get ready, this is Sweden in a nutshell) all case-workers are on a conference this week; back on Monday the 10th. To be continued..."

I shall, of course, update you all as soon as possible.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Washing Machines

Sooz said early on that she wanted a washing machine. Margaret said there were very few on the island; even she and Janne didn't have one!

This made Sooz think she was being a bit extravagant, but then she realised why there were so few washing machines- it's because most everyone else just takes their laundry back home to Stockholm. Taking our dirty clothes back over the ocean is a different proposition.

There are a lot of little units available for those small Swedish flats and we're going put one in the bathroom, but probably not the first year. We'll make sure we put the electricity and water in place for when we're ready.