Kitchen Installation

We survived living in a house with no kitchen for a couple of days, but are glad that our kitchen has been installed.

Originally we were told that due to some doors not having arrived on-time, that they would install it in mid-May (which would have been very annoying, especially as we ordered it more than six months ago, and we told them in January that we wanted it installed in April).

Fortunately, they agreed to install it (with a few doors missing) and to come back with the missing doors later on.

After 1½ days, it’s done!


Moving In Day

In the days since the final handover, we took the opportunity to start moving boxes to the house in the car on the way to work and at the weekend did several runs back and forward, managing to move almost all of them and leaving on the furniture.

On Tuesday, we rented a transporter to move the furniture, and with some extra helpers (thank you to them!) managed to completely clear the old apartment.

During the day, the electrician turned up at the house to perform the tests on the network sockets to ensure that they are working at full-speed.

Two of our french balconies were exchanged (due to small scratches) and the window company turned up (this time arriving slightly early – no snow this time) and has now cleared the blockage of cement which was preventing two of the shutters from running smoothly.

Even though we have about 100 boxes to unpack, it already looks and feels like home!

The kitchen is coming on Thursday!

Final Handover Complete

Today was a long day, but we’ve made it! The house is complete, we have paid the final invoice to Viebrockhaus and the house has been formally handed over to us.

We arrived at around 7.30am, just as the painters were leaving, having touched up all of the places we had marked for re-working.

The guy who had previously been there to put silicone sealant in the bathrooms was also there, and had already done a couple of improvements and the work that hadn’t been done last week in the guest WC. He had to come back anyway, to fit and seal the Viebrockhaus Cornerstone, with the precise coordinates of our house on.

Around the same time, someone from the heating / plumbing company turned up to check the heating, which fortunately has been running without any alarms since the electrician let the water out yesterday. He said that the alarms would certainly have been caused by the flooding to the inside of the heat pump, but it will not have done any harm.

Our new shower tap (the correct one) hasn’t arrived yet, so they will call us to make an appointment to come and change it when it does arrive.

The construction manager then arrived and we went through the open issues list we’d made last week, mainly crossing off the things that had meanwhile been completed, and adding some new ones.

The issue with the water being stuck in the cellar window light shafts was easily solved by the construction manager unscrewing the vents which seemed to be blocked – as soon as he did, we could hear the water running away. We will need to keep an eye on these and if necessary take them completely out and clean them, but it was nothing serious in the end.

After some formalities, the construction manager then handed over the certificate which states for the next 50 years, a specific 150 sq. meters of rain forest in Bocas del Toro, Panama will be protected in our name. This is to offset the CO2 emissions caused by the construction of the house, effectively making it carbon-neutral. We might visit sometime if we are passing on a cruise ship!

We also received two small gifts from Viebrockhaus, a tree to plant in the garden and a set of scissors.

The window company had been expected to show up at 9am but apparently were stuck in snow and finally turned up at 4pm. We did have a couple of snow flurries today, but not enough to hold you up that long. We’re not sure what happened, but as we were planning to be at the house all day it didn’t matter. When the guy he was very friendly and quickly fitted our front-door handle (the wrong one had been delivered, but he is coming back on Tuesday to change it)

He also lubricated a few windows which were not closing smoothly, adjusted the front door which was rubbing on the floor tiles and replaced the sheared off screws on one of the window fixings that had been broken since the day the windows were installed in December.

We made use of the spare time to start building the new furniture from Ikea – a provisional sink for the Utility Room (eventually this will move to the cellar) and the first of two chests of drawers for the wardrobe.

We are really impressed with how Viebrockhaus (and of course our construction manager) co-ordinated everything throughout the construction and in particular how quickly things have been finished / corrected over the past few days. Although we haven’t built another house with any of the other companies that we considered, we are happy that we chose Viebrockhaus, and that we now have a lovely house waiting for us!

So what’s next?

Over the next week or so, the kitchen will be installed, the shower cubicle is coming and we will of course move in! We’ll post some pictures when we can.

Beyond that, we will probably post some pictures of the driveway and patios, and over the summer months we hope that we will be able to share some photos of the garden turning from brown to green…

12 Hours To Go…

254 days have gone by since we first found the plot, and now it’s only 12 hours to go until the handover meeting, and an amazing amount has happened today.

  • The installation of the shutters is successfully completed. We can now shut and open them!
  • The problem with the heating system was identified and seems to have been corrected (the condensation hose was running uphill so that water could not run away and was flooding the system instead)
  • The satellite dish has been correctly positioned
  • All other small electrical work (such as turning light switches the right way up) has been completed.

We have only one real problem remaining – the light shafts for the cellar have filled up with water and the water is sitting in them (not running away / being pumped away as it should).

Hopefully this is relatively easy to solve but in an emergency we could also buy a cheap pump to pump the water out before the cellar floods in case it rains a lot before this gets resolved.

Other than that, there is only very minor things left on the list (adjusting windows and front door, adjusting a couple of the shutters, touching up paintwork, missing silicone, replacement of the shower tap with the right one.

Now we are looking forward to the handover, and to the huge amount of work to be done for moving in and making it home!

Clean & Ready to Move In

Having a four day weekend over Easter in between the ‘pre-delivery inspection’ and final-handover has the disadvantage that there was not (is not) much time for our list of minor points to be worked on, but the huge advantage that we had time to fully clean the house (mainly the floor) and in doing so look for anything we had missed. Only a couple more minor points, mainly with the paintwork on the walls.

Also, we had plenty of time to take some last photos before the furniture moves in!

We did however discover that the heating system has some kind of problem – it is leaking water and keeps going into an alarm condition. It does however keep working so we were warm (despite the sudden return of wintery weather) and had plenty of hot water. We were also able to test out the 24 hour hotline for the heating system and a technician should be there tomorrow. Hopefully it is nothing serious that cannot be sorted out quickly.

The electricians still haven’t been back either which means we still cannot control the shutters (although it seems that they have a mind of their own and open and close at random, which is slightly scary) and the satellite dish is still not pointing where it should.

Hopefully all of this will be resolved tomorrow, as we really would like to pay the final invoice on-time, on Wednesday.

We also had time on Saturday to make another trip to Ikea – a few new pieces of furniture is now waiting to be assembled, and also to plan the walk-in wardrobe (Ikea Elvarli) which we will install in the coming weeks.

Monday was quite dull and wet in the morning, which meant we had the lowest amount of solar energy so far (around 5 kWh), but also meant that another 1000 or so litres of rainwater has gone in the tank!

Blower Door Test & Pre-Delivery Inspection

Today was a long day, as we set off from home just after 7 a.m. to be at the house with time to spare before the blower door test technician arrived at 8 a.m. We wanted to have another look at everything, to see if we had missed any points off of our list for the pre-delivery inspection meeting.

The blower door test, which tests how airtight the house is under pressure, was easily passed, with a result of n50=0.69 (maximum 1.5 to pass the test for being a KfW40 house).

The n50 value is the air-tightness and is a measure of how many times air volume of the building is exchanged in an hour, with a pressure difference of 50 Pa.

Our construction manager and his assistant were also there (and seemed quite happy with the result) as today was also the ‘Vorabnahme’ meeting, effectively a pre-delivery inspection where we went through the house in detail together, looking for things which still need doing, or need doing better.

Even though we had quite a long list of things prepared in advance, almost all of them were very minor points (e.g. scratched window handle in the cellar, a small dent in the wall which needs filling, the silicone around the downstairs WC and sink is not done yet, light switches that are upside down, the shower tap is the wrong one and so on).

All of these points have now been noted and photographed by the construction manager and marked with yellow tape. Ideally, these will all be resolved by next Wednesday when we have the final handover meeting, but because of Easter, it could be that some of these will take longer (time will tell how much longer) as there are only two more working days until then!

Some of these have already been addressed during the day – the interior door installer turned up for a few minutes to fix a small broken off corner of one of the doors and the staircase installer turned up to touch up the paintwork.

Only two slightly more serious points remain open –

  • the electric shutters are not in-service yet and are currently half closed
  • the satellite dish is not correctly aligned.

We made it very clear that we will pay the final invoice in full, only when these points have been addressed, which the construction manager seemed to accept. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few days. Hopefully, the thought of not getting paid for what has not been delivered yet will help with ensuring the correct priority!

On the whole, we are extremely happy with the house at this point, almost all of the contractors have been really great and Viebrockhaus have kept to their commitment with the timeline. Reading some other peoples’ blogs, we can be happy that we built with Viebrockhaus and that nothing really went wrong along the way.

The initial cleaning, which was done yesterday, surpassed our expectations and the windows are really sparkling, there is no more dust everywhere (nor pieces of plaster, cement etc.), but over the (long) weekend, we will clean the house some more (and we still have a lot of packing to do, ahead of moving in about 12 days time!)

A Sunny Day

On Saturday and Sunday we were busy with the skirting board upstairs. The Stanley 1-20-800 Dynagrip Adjustable Mechanical Mitre Saw that we bought last week is really good, and all of the angles were easy to cut.

We’re pleased with how it looks.


Since we were cutting outside to have enough space, we enjoyed the warm sunshine, especially on Sunday which was completely free of clouds from dawn until dusk.

The solar panels exceeded their previous record, with a total of 20.45 kWh produced on Sunday.

It’s not yet been a week since the solar panels were connected up, and already (as of Monday evening), the system has generated 78 kWh.

The House is Effectively Finished!

Friday again, and after further visits by the electricians, the decorators and the interior door guy over the past couple of days, we can now say that all work has effectively been completed.

Over this weekend, we are hoping get all of the skirting boards done on the first floor, and to install some temporary light bulbs in the rooms where the electricians haven’t already done so.

There are still a couple of very minor things to be done. Silicone is not yet done in a couple of places, there is a little bit of painting to be finished here and there and the electricians still have not managed to correctly align the satellite dish, but that should all hopefully be done in the next few days, ahead of our ‘pre-delivery inspection meeting’ on Wednesday.

Also during that meeting, the blower-door test will be carried out for our energy efficiency certificate, and the heating will be switched to heat-pump mode.

Solar Power: We still haven’t had a really sunny day, but already the solar panels seem to be performing well compared to the assumptions we made some months back based on another installation in the area.

  • Wednesday – 13.78 kWh
  • Thursday – 7.04 kWh (Would have been higher, but was switched off from 10:15am to 1:45pm due to the electrician work)
  • Friday – 9.68 kWh

We have now started a snag list of all the things that need to be finished / improved, but really up to now are impressed with the quality of most the work that Viebrockhaus and their contractors have done. We are also very impressed that they have pretty much kept on time throughout – as many things have been early as have been done late (which was anyway mostly due to icy weather).

The dust sheets that were covering most of the floor tiles downstairs have been removed today and on Monday or Tuesday a cleaning company (paid for by Viebrockhaus) is coming to do an initial cleaning. We will take some more photos after that, but for now here are some pre-cleaning photos…

We now have an appointment for our kitchen to be installed on 27th and 28th April (although they are apparently still waiting for some doors which might not arrive until slightly later).

Since we are eager to move in (and because we don’t want to extend our holiday into the next week), we have changed the van hire to 25th and 26th April, and will probably now move in before the kitchen arrives. We can survive with a microwave and a kettle for a couple of days and we do also have a portable kitchen we could park outside the house if we really want to!

Solar Power – Day 1

Today was the first full day of solar power production. Unfortunately, it was not as sunny as most of the days in the past two weeks, but none the less reasonably bright and partly sunny.

Since we have installed an LTE(4G) Router, we have been able to connect the solar inverter to the Internet and can already log into the monitoring portal, and we can see that the roof has produced 13.79 kWh of electricity and that the battery is fully charged.

We’re looking forward to a sunny day to see how much more can be achieved…

Solar Inverter & Battery Installed

This morning we had an appointment with a man from the electricity company who came and installed our electric meter, so now we are connected to the mains electricity supply. The temporary supply should be gone tomorrow.

At the same time, the electricians and the solar installer were there to install the battery and connect the solar panels and to switch everything over to the mains supply.

The black bracket on the wall is for the battery. Since there wasn’t quite enough room to fit in the battery without it blocking access to the light switch, we have moved the light switch outside the room (exactly where it was, but the other side of the wall).

The battery standing in the hallway, waiting to be brought downstairs to the cellar.

Four people were needed to take the battery down to the cellar – it weights something like 100kg!

Now it is in it’s place, and by mid afternoon was charging itself from the solar panels.

The electricians will be back tomorrow, as they still have some relatively minor things to do.