The Shiputzim Saga

Check your logic at the door: If you have never purchased property in Israel, you would be hard pressed to imagine how complex and convoluted the process is. When you buy “clean” (i.e., you are buying a brand new unit and you aren’t selling anything), it is relatively simple. But as soon as there are existing owners who are also looking to buy something else, the process becomes a long chain of complex, interconnected dependencies that can drive you nuts. Despite all this, I got my keys 16 July as planned in the purchase contract and, after surviving a final four hours of shlepping around between city hall, the utility companies, and the lawyer’s office, was the semi-official owner. Technically, things aren’t 100% kosher until the building contractor agrees to push a piece of paper from one pile to another to acknowledge me as the new owner, and this can take forever. I have heard of people selling their place some five years later and discovering that, legally, they aren’t really the owners because the kablanim (contractors) never did this. It probably amounts to seven minutes of work on their part, but…

Why shiputzim?  Shiputzim is a great Hebrew word that means renovations, improvements, fix-ups, you  name it.  When you tell someone here that you are doing shiputzim, they know that it is going to be stressful and difficult. But what can I say? I bought the place because it has potential: great location, great view, great air flow. But it was owned by a family who wallpapered every available inch and allowed the kitchen to rot into a state of foetid, bug-infested filth. You want proof?

Below: Ivy wallpaper in kitchen, grease-soaked cabinets…

Below: Hideous counters and a sink that looks like something out of a mercaz klitah (immigrant absorbtion center)…

Left: Here’s a close-up of the grotty sink. I cannot believe that anyone could turn a place over like that, let alone live in it. Yech!

Right: Detail from wallpaper trim in living room (yes, that is fake wood-grain wallpaper).


Below: Here’s one bedroom. I call it “Bambi on Borscht” (though more likely vodka). Can you imagine any child not having nightmares in this room? And check out the light…

Below: Another bedroom. Textured wallpaper and stick-on “stained glass” decals on the windows.

Left: Here’s a bit of detail from the Bambi wallpaper. Ripping this off was a great pleasure, though discovering the colonies of silverfish residing underneath was not so fun.

Below: Here’s the main room. That fake wood wallpaper is a real pain in the butt to remove! You can see where I started trying to pry it off…

Right: The kitchen ivy in its full glory. Bug heaven.

Below: I didn’t waste much time. That same afternoon I returned and got to work. Aided by a few teenage boys, I managed to get the kitchen gutted. Here’s what it looked like after four hours of work:

Left:No more ivy! Of course, there is no drywall here; it is plaster over concrete building blocks. This means that the plaster falls off if you just breathe on it too hard, so scraping stubborn wallpaper definitely causes chunks of plaster to collapse. No worries—I have two big tubs of “shpeckle” (you can figure that one out for yourself).

Below: A corner in the kitchen, cabinet-free and partially degreased.
Right: Bye-bye, Bambi!

Below: Just starting on the second bedroom. One stained glass decal down and some of the hideous wallpaper removed.


2 responses to “The Shiputzim Saga

  1. Hooligan Squirrel

    I missed something… Where are you moving to?

  2. Yeah….you never told us you were moving. Didn’t you just build in fancy new closets, including cat nest?

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