On Tuesday, when we all met up at the hilltop apartment, Tim and I were relieved to see that the pipe we were worried about hadn’t even been removed yet. In fact, not much more of the wall had been removed. After we were introduced to the architect, who we were led to believe worked for the city, he walked around scrutinizing our home. He agreed that the wall we were taking down was not load-bearing, but he recommended that we still support it, before taking it down. What he said didn’t make sense to us, but as I said, we thought he worked for the city, and we assumed that we were required to do what he said. It was at that point that I asked Nino if we could see the so-called damage that the neighbor said was done to her apartment. Nino translated my request and when we all went up to the apartment, it was clear to Tim and me, that the cracks in her walls, were stress cracks that were there before we ever started our renovation project. We were never told by this architect or anyone else whether there was damage or not. They talked in Georgian amongst themselves and Nino never translated what was being said. The only thing ever translated for us was that the architect recommended that we support the wall. Since we had brought up to the architect that our walls had moisture and damage to them, as a result of the upstairs neighbors not maintaining them, Nino told us they would have an engineer come out and give us a list of what we would need to make sure the apartment is structurally sound. Though we had asked, we never did get a clear answer to our question about whose responsibility it is to maintain the upper balconies, that we don’t even have access to.
When we got back to the apartment building, where we are staying, we stopped in at Nino’s office to talk with her. She told us that the upstairs neighbor, Zurich, had prepared a document that she would translate, have us sign, and they would send it to the Mayor’s office. the document stated that we had found some damage in our home and we were requesting that the engineer from the city come and advise us. I told Nino that we wouldn’t be signing the document. I explained that the whole reason we met the architect from the city was to determine if there was damage done to the neighbor’s property. It was during this part of the conversation that Nino admitted to us that the architect did not work for the city. Tim and I were baffled. We had just wasted another day listening to advice from someone who had no authority. We left her office very disappointed and a little angry.
With all the issues we’d been having, and since the neighbor continued to interfere with Dito’s work on the apartment, we finally contacted our lawyer, Anna, to make sure we could legally move on with our renovation. In the meantime, Dito contacted the city architect and brought him to the apartment on April 10th, to confirm that taking down the wall was ok. We called Anna, this time, to translate what was being said. Anna told us that the architect said we could do whatever we wanted to the inside of our home and that removing this wall was not a problem. When the architect went outside, he was confronted by the neighbor who insisted he go up and look at the damage we caused to her wall. When the architect came back down, Anna talked with him on the phone. He said we didn’t cause any damage, but the neighbor wanted to file an official complaint. We were told that all our work had to stop until the city could officially respond to her complaint. Anna told the neighbor over the phone, that we would give her a couple of days to file the complaint. Dito left that day saying he would come to finish the job of removing concrete and plaster, off the walls and ceilings, when we got an official document from the city, saying it was ok to resume working.
On the weekend of April 11th, a message was passed on to us, from either Nino or Dito, that we were to meet with an official from the city, at our hilltop apartment, on Monday, April 13th, at 10:00 am. We passed the message on to Anna, our lawyer, in Tbilisi, so that she could stand by to translate, over the phone, what the official said. We assumed we would be hearing from an official about the city’s response to the complaint, our neighbor was supposedly going to file. Nobody from the city ever showed up that day, and when Anna called the Municipality, to find out what was going on, she was told that they knew nothing about the 10:00 am appointment. The officials from the Municipality also told Anna that the neighbor woman had not filed her complaint. Anna assured us at that time, that we were within our rights, to do what we wanted, with the inside of our home.
On April 14th, Tim decided that he would take the wall down himself. He didn’t have a power tool as Dito did, but it came down easy enough with a hammer, a crowbar, and an ax. While Tim was taking the wall down, the neighbor stood outside, talking on her phone, no doubt, trying to get a hold of someone, to prevent us from taking it down. After Tim was finished taking the wall down, we got a call from Anna, saying that the neighbor had filed a complaint and that an official from the Municipality would be coming the next day, at 12:00 pm, to investigate. Once again, no official showed up at the property. When we talked to Anna, we asked her who had told her that an official from the Municipality would be coming to our home that day. It was at that point she admitted that she hadn’t actually spoken to anyone from the city. She had received the message from the former owner of the property. The lady who used to own our apartment had called Anna and said that an official from the city had called her and said the neighbor had filed the complaint and they would be coming at 12:00 pm, on April 15th, to investigate. I couldn’t understand why Anna was taking the word of this woman, who used to own our apartment, since I know she and her family didn’t like us and hadn’t been above board with us, during the closing proceedings, on the property. When I pointed this out to Anna, she called the city and they said that they would have come, that day, but they didn’t have a vehicle to get to the apartment. This all sounded very fishy to us. Needless to say, we are through worrying about what this neighbor thinks about what we’re doing in our own home. We just wanted to make sure that we weren’t breaking any rules. With Anna standing by to advise us, we feel confident that we can move forward with the renovation.
Not a lot had changed for us, living here in Chiatura, Georgia, during the first 5 weeks of the Pandemic. The only changes that we noticed were that many people opted to wear masks, and grocery stores and pharmacies were only allowing a couple to enter at a time. On April 17th, however, when Georgia was celebrating its Orthodox Easter, confirmed cases of the Corona Virus had reached 411, and the government responded by extending the quarantine lockdown from April 21st, to May 22nd. New restrictions were also implemented to include, a 9:00 pm curfew, and a ban on driving unless it’s by individuals who have essential jobs. Our neighbor, who lives in our downtown apartment building, was brought here from Turkey before the Pandemic began, to manage the project of redesigning the water system, to provide water for Chiatura, 24 hours a day. He was one of the individuals who was given special permission to drive his personal vehicle since he has to be at the main water plant in Sachkhere, every day, and that plant is about 20 km away. Another new restriction that was put in place is that no one can go, in or out of the cities of, Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, or Rustavi. Since wearing a mask was also made mandatory, and Tim and I didn’t have them, we had to cut the sleeves off his old tee shirt and use those to cover our faces when entering grocery stores or pharmacies.
On April 24th, the government posted a re-opening and economic recovery plan for Georgia, that will take place in 6 different phases. On April 27th, the restriction on driving was lifted. Dito messaged us on the 26th to let us know that he would now be allowed to drive from his village to Chiatura, in order to finish the job of removing concrete and plaster off the walls and ceilings. We met with him at the hilltop apartment on the 27th, and with Nino translating on the phone, we told him that in addition to having the concrete and plaster removal done, we also wanted the lath removed from all the ceilings. He agreed to do the extra work for 300 Lari, or $100.00. He also agreed to clean out the rooms of all the excess wood, for free, since he wanted to keep the wood for himself. He assured us that he was aware that we had a legal right to move forward with our home renovation and he would not let the neighbor interfere with his work. He will resume work on April 29th.
We were very happy to read that on May 11th, when the next phase of the re-opening plan takes place, construction businesses can open up, and we will finally be able to buy materials for our apartment renovation. By then, we should be ready to buy metal studs, for hanging sheet-rock, and electric lines.
On May 25th, retail shops that have street access will be re-opening, as well as open-air markets.
On June 8th, shopping malls, open-air restaurants, and beauty salons will re-open.
On June 22nd, all restaurants will re-open.
On July 6th, all restrictions will be lifted.
For us, as American citizens, living currently in Georgia, the Pandemic has been little more than an inconvenience, but to the people of Georgia, it will most likely cause much more financial hardship. The government will only be able to minimally compensate its citizens with the following economic anti-crisis plan.
The average citizen, who has lost their job due to the Pandemic quarantine, will receive 600 Lari, or $200.00 a month, for 6 months.
Citizens who are self-employed will receive a one-time payment of 300 Lari, or $100.00
The disabled will receive 600 Lari or $200.00 a month for 6 months.
Pensioners will get a raise of 20 Lari or $6.00 a month.
I pray that the people of Georgia and of the World will recover from this Pandemic crisis and that we will be stronger than ever.
Thank you for joining me. God Bless You All.
Christina The Traveling Diva