Well, says County, it appears to be a house all right, but does it have, or did it have, a heating system? Huh?
It has a chimney, the tax records show that it has/had a wood-stove insert, would that mean the place had heat? People lived there! It has to have had some heat source. We just don’t know what.
Well, show us, says County.
Sigh. Show them what? Something that isn’t there, apparently. We saddle up the SUV and head south.
It was a very nice day, and we haven’t yet gotten bored with the excitement of the trip. As we turned onto Llewellyn, we saw the spectacle of the harvest. Combines were proceeding in a stately way, one after another through the golden fields of grain. Oh, make that “amber.” Great trucks were being loaded with the grass seed which is the fruit of this harvest. It felt as if we’d driven into an Ivan Doig novel, though I don’t know if they grow grass seed in Montana.
We would have liked to park at the side of the road to watch, but we were people on a mission. On to the house that may or may not be a house. It requires an act of some courage to enter the place, but with a deep breath and our cell-phone cameras at the ready, we stepped inside. It’s even worse than I’d remembered, if that’s possible. But there was the hole in the chimney wall at an appropriate distance off the floor to prove the one-time existence of something that, in any case, left a ring of smoke-stain around the hole. A rectangular space below the hole, a different color from the surrounding wall, and that was it. Proof of a heating system? It’s all we had, so we took the photos and emailed them to Christe, our formidable and wonderful attorney.
Back home to wait for County to comment.
Very good, says County. But. (Here we go. But? Now what?) According to the statute relevant before 2013, the heating system would have to have been in place no longer ago than one year from today’s date. According to the revised statute, applicable after 2013, the house has only to have HAD a heating system at some unidentified point in time. It either HAS a system or HAD a system. To qualify for HAS, though missing today, it should have been removed no earlier than July 10, 2013. Could we please inform the county when the stove or whatever it was had been removed?
If you were with me through all that, thank you. The implication: If it HAS a heating system, we can build the replacement house wherever we want. If it only HAD a system, County has not yet decided how they will interpret the revised statute, and while we may indeed build a house, perhaps not where we’d like. And we have no idea, nor have we any way to discover, when the system had been removed.
What to do? The amazing Christe to the rescue. Why not, she suggests, buy a heating unit of some sort, (like an electric space heater or something — nothing major) plug it in, attach it to the chimney hole, take a photo and bingo. The house HAS a heating system.
She laughs. Seriously, she says, sorry to do this to you. But she’s going to offer this solution to County and see how he responds. You want a house with an intact heating system? Here you go.
Later this same day: Now Christe has pored over the statute and discovered that with the less difficult HAD standard, the house we build must be within so many yards of the house to be replaced. Like 500 yards. Hooray, the site we have chosen in within the 500 yards, and we’re good to go? We don’t have to install a new system?
Not sure. Christe will be talking to County later this morning, and in the meanwhile, Larry and I will take out our virtual pens, sign the documents, and the place will be ours. One way or the other.
I think I’ll go have a glass of wine. Oh, I don’t drink wine, but never mind! I do believe that within minutes, we will own the Hundred Acre Wood, and that’s cause for celebration.