As we expected, the builder wasn’t going to finish our house by the original completion date. When they finally gave us a definite date, it turned out to be about five weeks later than the one planned. Since we had never really believed they would be able to finish by that date it wasn’t as if we had to struggle with the news, but we did need some kind of timeframe so that we could plan our move and take care of certain administrative matters.
The most immediate problem was that five extra weeks meant at least another month’s rent, or more than ¥100,000, not to mention associated utility bills. We are supposed to give the management of the building where we live, the semi-public housing authority UR, at least 2 weeks notice, which is actually pretty good. Private landlords usually insist on at least a month’s notice. In any case we were able to coordinate our moving plans with relative ease after A-1 set the completion date.
A stickier issue had to do with the loan we had taken out with JA Bank. As we said in an earlier post, the conditions for the loan and the conditions for payment to A-1 stipulated in the building contract in some ways worked at cross-purposes. Though the loan was approved even before construction started, we wouldn’t receive any money until the house was completed, which is normal policy. However, A-1 insisted on being paid in three installments: one-third upon conclusion of the contract, a second third when the roof beams were raised, and the final third upon completion. So already we had paid for two-thirds of the house out of our own savings, and that doesn’t even include what we paid for the land itself. Altogether, it meant we had put out close to ¥15 million even before the loan money would be ready for transfer to A-1’s account. So we had to bring in some money from our portfolio in the U.S., which wasn’t a problem since that is what that money was for, but until the loan money was made available our cash flow was a bit precarious.
Moreover, there were a bunch of documents we had to submit to JA before the money transfer could be implemented. Some of these had to be completed by A-1, including the invoice, which required some negotiations with young N, who didn’t always seem to know what was needed. Though the house itself was near completion, the septic tank had yet to be sunk into the ground, and that meant the plumbing hadn’t even been started. All these costs were finalized but we needed to give the bank an exact number. We also had to get documents from various public offices about the land transfer and the city inspection, most of which were routine but when we verified it all with the loan officer he said they all would eventually have to indicate our new address, the one we hadn’t moved into yet. And since one of these documents was proof of residency (juminhyo) issued by the city office, if we got it now we would just have to go again in a few weeks to get a new one because in principle you can’t change your resident status until you’ve actually moved. It was a Catch-22 situation: the loan wouldn’t be fully transferable until we were registered at the new address, but we couldn’t register our new address with the city office until the house was finished, and that required transferring the last payment to A-1. We wondered whether or not we were the first homeowners in Japan who ever had to face this dilemma. Read More