Thursday, October 6, 2011


Finally, after much longer than I ever expected this process to take (keep in mind, I thought Robert would be living with us by now), we have an approval from the Planning Department of our City for our garage conversion plan! You’d think I’d be jumping up and down celebrating but there was a “condition” attached to it.

We are allowed to convert our garage into a bedroom and bathroom for Robert but the “condition” is that we have to reconvert the space back to a garage if Robert ever moves out or we sell the house.

The approval came last week but I was hesitant to announce it because this condition really set me back. I mean, it really set me back. I was back to Square One asking myself if we really, really want to convert our garage and move Robert in with us. Do we really want to go to all of this trouble only to have to tear everything down when Robert is no longer capable of living with us or if we ever want to sell the house? How do we know when either of those things will happen? What if it’s 6 months or a year or two? Can we justify this work and expense?

Why do I keep going back to Square One every time a roadblock comes up? Usually Hubby is the one convincing me that we don’t need to be back at Square One rethinking our decision but this time, Hubby was right there with me! Yikes! We’re both rethinking our decision? One of us needs to get it together and I vote for Hubby. I need a minute to regroup.

Square One is actually an awful place to be. I feel stuck when I’m there. I feel like there’s no progress being made. I feel like the end of the project will never come! Heck, I feel as if the beginning of the project will never come! I feel like I am repeating myself over and over, thinking about the same stuff I’ve already thought about for weeks, months. It’s a miserable, dark place where I just turn around in circles. I don’t like going in circles. I get motion sickness and I wear out my shoes. Come on, I want to move forward!

It is obvious moving Robert in with us would be the best thing for Robert. I even think it’s fairly obvious that moving Robert in with us would be better for me because his care would be under my control and it would be centralized (I wouldn’t be driving all over the place visiting him, bringing him to our house for a visit, then driving him back to New Home). What a relief moving Robert in would be – I won’t have to beg New Home for television, I won’t have to worry about Nurse Ratchet changing his meds because it might be more convenient for her and I won’t have to worry about Robert getting good care because I’m fairly certain Hubby and I can do 100 times better than New Home.

I debated about disclosing these latest doubts until I realized how many other people must go through this when deciding on care for a disabled family member or elderly parent. How many of us are 100% positive we are making the right decision about anything (whether it’s moving them in with us or finding a suitable care facility or letting them live independently)? How many times do we rethink our decisions when obstacles pop up and things don’t go as planned? Sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith and for this risk-adverse, cover-all-my-bases, plan-for-every-scenario person that’s hard to do.

Am I positive this will work out? No, I am not. Not at all. For all I know, Robert will decline in a short period of time and I will have to find another care facility for him and we will be left with a bathroom, a wall and flooring that we have to remove (so we can again not use our garage to park our cars). The City’s aversion to garage conversions is based on not wanting people to park in the street which still doesn’t make sense since we have a driveway to park in!! I suppose when that happens, we’ll be selling some interesting items online. How much do used sinks and toilets go for on Craig’s List, anyway?

The conditional approval was another opportunity to change our minds (after this and this). It was an opportunity to rethink our decision and wonder if we’re doing the right thing for us, for Robert, (and, apparently, for the value of our house if we ever decide to move). I don’t want to go back to Square One every time we have a hiccup. I know I am going to feel much better once we obtain the Building Permit, get the room built and get Robert moved in. We’ve got the Planning Permit approval so that’s one step done. Many more steps to go, but we’re moving in the right direction. That’s all I can ask.

My daughter recently asked me why I am doing this. She sees me working so hard to get this darn permit and sees me rethinking the decision and sees Robert’s decline over the years and the roadblocks that keep popping up and legitimately asks why I am doing this.

My answer: I don’t actually know. I don’t know what is inside me that makes me plow through these obstacles and keep coming to the same conclusion: move Robert in with us. I just know that it’s something I have to do.

I have to leave Square One behind, stop moving in circles (goodness, I need to save my shoes!). I need to move forward and not look back. I have to take that leap of faith.

Let’s just get that room built so Square One is a very distant memory!


Heidi Alberti & Atticus Uncensored said...

arg!! Why is our society set up with all these hurdles? Seriously. It's Your house --- you should be able to convert the garage without stipulation & considerations. Geez, how many people do know who've turned their garages into a tv room, play room or extra bedroom? I know quite a few & most of them decided to bypass the legalities and quietly convert. ok, I'm not advocating being illegal or skirting the law, but the stress this process is causing you is Not right!
I'm sorry you have felt stuck -- that's a crummy place to be (and I've been experiencing that same "stuck" dealing with the inane and insane health insurance peeps!).
I hope you get started on the actual construction soon so that you'll be unstuck & moving forward. You know you're doing what's best for Robert and for you.
Please keep us updated!

Heidi & Atticus
"commentary to give you paws..."

Other Brother said...

That's great that you finally got the approval! I figured all along that you would have to convert back if you were to sell the house. I wouldn't worry about the "if Rob moves out" condition, since any move out would only be "temporary" (wink, wink).

Good luck with the build out! Let me know if I can help, although I may be busy, er, watching football.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

I like the way you think, Other Brother! Go Huskers! :-)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Heidi, This is all insanity (permit process & health insurance process!) and the sane people (us) have to figure out how to get what we want by navigating the insanity! Ugh. I'm sorry you've been stuck too and hope things improve for you. Take care!