At the end of November 2019, we were finally ready with the planning. We could submit our building application. Then we had to wait and see. You really do hear a lot of negative things from South African authorities – unfortunately, often rightly so. Therefore, we were prepared for a long wait. Nevertheless, already on 10/12/2019, we received the first notification from the Development Management Department. It was about minor complaints, which Jeanette was able to resolve with ease. Before Christmas, she had resubmitted the new plans. We celebrated New Year’s Eve 2019/2020 thinking that this would be the year we would start the construction.
In January we were asked to pay fees by the Development Management Department already, which was a very good sign that the plans would soon be approved. Our joy was (still) great.
In March 2020, we were on holiday in South Africa with the children and their partners when all this madness really began back in Germany. All of a sudden, the construction was not so important anymore. Some of our return flights were cancelled and we had to find a way to get home. Lufthansa flew four of us to Munich. We were able to spend the night in the airport hotel. Within a few hours we drove with a rental car via eerily empty motorways from there to Cologne on the next morning .
Unfortunately, the other two had a less pleasant time. They had booked flights with Swiss, arrived in Zurich in the morning after an 11-hour flight and were not allowed to leave the transit area there. But the connecting flight to Cologne was cancelled. So they had to wait there for 36 hours – without any support from the Zurich airport – until they could finally fly home.
On 16/04/2020 we received our formal building permit from the City of Cape Town. On the one hand, we were very happy that we were allowed to build exactly as we had envisioned. On the other hand, it is already unusual to build at such a distance, and we were well aware of that. But now the situation had changed completely. We wanted to start building in September in a country that we were no longer allowed to enter because of the pandemic. What should we do?
We kept trying to travel to South Africa via business visas, but the Department of Home Affairs that was supposed to process these applications was completely overwhelmed. We never received an answer.
In the summer of 2020, with a heavy heart, we had to decide to stop the tendering process and postpone the start of construction by one year to September 2021.
I often remember the great anticipation of 2020 on New Year’s Eve. The year we were supposed to start building…
However, we all remained in good health, including my parents, so we could move forward!