Friday, February 19, 2010

Refashioning Your USGov Housing? Free E-Book Available

I posted about Sarah Novak’s new blog last month.  In collaboration with Mindy Jeppesen, a Professional Organizer and fellow expat, Sarah has now come up with a new 22 page e-book “From House to Home: Personalizing Your Overseas Living Space” that hopes to guide you through managing the transformation of your overseas house from start to finish.

Sarah says: This e-book is one part workbook, one part tips and tricks and one part action plan!  In Part 1, you’ll look back on what you liked about past spaces, assess your current space and create a rich vision for what you want now.  In Part 2 we’ll teach you the secrets to organizing your space successfully and creating a home that supports and re-energizes you.  Once that learning is done, the only thing left to do is to get on with the implementation.  Part 3 is all about getting into action and will take you through step-by-step regarding what you need to do to make your vision a reality.

As Foreign Service spouses ourselves, we have seen that creating a comfortable, energizing living space is one of the biggest factors that guarantees successful integration into a new country.  Our hope is that this e-book will give you the structure and tools you need to transform each new space you inhabit!

Excerpted from the ebook:  Why is your living space such a big deal? It may seem like an insignificant part of overseas living in comparison to more exotic aspects like discovering unfamiliar foods, traveling to far-off locales and enjoying new experiences. The fact is, though, when you’ve come home empty-handed from the grocery store after trying to buy milk and are about to punch something, it WILL matter what your home looks like. If it’s appropriately set up, it can soothe and take away the frustration. And if it doesn’t feel like home, then the reverse is true and it will only add another layer of tension.

To receive your free copy of From House to Home: Personalizing Your Overseas Living Space, please go to and enter your email address in the top of the right-hand column.

In addition to Sarah’s guide, I should add that you may actually repaint your USG provided housing subject to certain conditions.  I cannot find the specific language for repainting the interior of your house if you get tired of offwhite walls, but I know a couple of folks who did this with concurrence from post management.  In places where labor is inexpensive, it is quite possible to repaint the inside of the house, and/or have some decorative paint work done in the children’s bedrooms for a very reasonable amount.  You are, of course, expected to return the property to its original condition upon vacancy. That is, if you repainted the interior green, you are expected to restore it to its original color -- usually cream or offwhite. I don’t know how strict they are on color tone/shade.   

Do check with your GSO or Management Officer for permission before undertaking any alteration, renovation, or construction even at personal expense. Also check out the relevant sections of the FAM for official guidance.             

Related items that you might find useful:

15 FAM 630 | Maintenance, Repair and Custodial Responsibilities | PDF
Occupants of U.S. Government-held residences are responsible for maintaining them in presentable condition and returning them to the U.S. Government in clean and habitable condition. Posts must issue, as part of the post housing guide, uniform rules detailing these responsibilities. The responsibilities should conform with what is normally expected of an occupant who leases residential quarters in the United States. Posts
should prepare a written statement of employee responsibilities to be signed upon occupancy (see also 15 FAM 247).           

15 FAM 240 | Using Residential Space | PDF
Before any alteration, renovation, or construction at personal expense is undertaken, written permission is required from the SRPM or USAID executive officer (for USAID). The property must be restored upon vacating the quarters.


A Daring Adventure said...

Just wanted to let you know about my experiment - I've started a weekly "Blog Roundup" of State Department blogs that I know about... and that includes yours! ... and their noteworthy happenings in the past week.

It's my way of trying to make it easier for everyone to keep up -to see who is out there - and what everyone is doing.


diplopundit said...

A Daring Adventure - your blog roundup sounds like a wonderful idea! Thanks for doing it and many thanks for including me.