Someone’s Parked a Digger in our Utility Room

On the way home we drove to the site and found a digger sitting on our plot. The top layer has already been taken off (there was grass, but now it has gone), so we can just about say we’ve started! You can still just about see the marker posts at the corners of the house.

The digger has been working on the adjoining plots since Wednesday and the one farthest away from us is now sitting ready and waiting for the concrete slab (we are the only one of the three houses with a cellar).

According to our construction manager, our groundwork will start on Monday or Tuesday next week, and we understand that it will then only take two or three days until the hole for the cellar is completely dug out.

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Upstairs Flooring

img_1803-editIt’s Saturday again, and we set off at 9am to go to the site with a tape measure. We forgot to take it with us on Tuesday when the marker posts to mark the corners of the house were put in and wanted to check that they are in the right place. Everything is good, they are where they should be.

The plot behind ours (which had a digger parked on it on Tuesday), now has a huge cellar-shaped hole in it. It looks like that house (which is being built by a different builder) is going to be going up at the same time too.

After that, we went to the DIY store to look again at click-vinyl flooring. The in-store expert from Logoclic was really helpful and answered all of our questions about the Aqua Splash range, which we had seen for the first time last week.

Even though we are not going to put it into the bathroom, we want to have something waterproof so that we can clean it with our steam cleaner (I almost wrote ‘pressure washer’ by mistake – no it doesn’t need to be that waterproof!).

We already had some samples which we brought home last week, but a new colour had just arrived so we forked out for the €3 deposit so that we could bring the new one home too. We now have samples the four colours shown in the picture above at home.

After looking at them in both daylight and also with lights on this evening, we have decided on ‘Stratford’ (top left).

Next job: take the other samples back and collect €9!


First Meeting with our Construction Manager

p1000970We met our Construction Manager (Mr H) for the first time today. When we arrived at the plot, the four corners of our house had already been marked out with wooden posts (as well as the houses of two neighbours).

Now those posts are there we can see where the back of the house will be, and where the terrace will be. This means that we are now able to visualise the size of the garden much more easily. (It is more than big enough for us, at roughly 11 meters long x 15 meters wide).

Mr H then introduced himself and told us a little bit about himself. He will be our Construction Manager for the entire build (not just for the structural build phase, as we had first thought).

We are pleased to say that he comes across as very knowledgeable and friendly. From now on he will be our single point of contact at Viebrockhaus, and is available to be called / e-mailed any time in case we have any questions, and promises that he will get back to us the same day (or latest the next day if we call too late!)

We went through various details:

  • for the groundwork and electricity, water and telephone connections
  • the height (above sea level) that the ground floor will be built
  • how the construction site will be laid out (where they will put various containers and a silo).
  • including a couple things we are going to do ourselves before the handover into the plan (upstairs flooring and loft flooring)
  • a rough timeline for the structural build – assuming that they will start in the next two or three weeks as planned, they aim to get it water tight (roof on and windows in) before the Christmas holiday.

Again we are surprised – we had expected that they would only build the cellar this year, and only start with the work above ground in January. In theory, this should mean that they are also finished earlier (and we can move in earlier), but we will not get a detailed timeline until the roof is on, at which point the weather becomes less of a consideration. At that point, they will commit to a handover date (and from reading other people’s blogs, Viebrockhaus keeps to this commitment).

As we shook hands and said goodbye to Mr H, he handed over our time-capsule (which will be built into the brickwork at the topping out ceremony), and our builders hard hats. All we need now are hi-vis jackets (actually it is the law to have these in cars in Germany, so we can use the ones we already have!).








We then went to have another walk around the garden before we left, and while there, were asked by a couple of passers-by (and their small Jack Russell) if we were the owners of that plot. When we said yes, they introduced themselves as our new next-door neighbours! It was nice to meet them and exchange telephone numbers. Their build should be started at more or less exactly the same time.

Now we (and also our new neighbours) are just waiting on the planning approval and the transfer of the land. Hopefully, it will all fall into place with no unexpected delays.



Planning Application Submitted

Today we received a copy of all the paperwork that has been sent to the Planning Authority, along with news that the originals have also been sent at the same time, so they should also have received this today.

Most of the documents are copies of the same ones we saw a couple of weeks ago (when we had the originals to check and sign them), but a couple of documents are new.

Most interesting is one of the plans which also shows the neighbouring plots, and where the neighbours are planning to build their houses.

The house to the right of us looks like it will be built quite a further away from the boundary than the three-meter minimum (it looks like maybe 4 or even 4½ meters). As we ourselves are almost 3½ meters from the boundary, this means 7½ – 8 meters.

Since on three sides we are not really surrounded at all (because of the road), we shouldn’t feel penned-in at all 🙂

Also today, post from the company that Viebrockhaus has contracted to install our fresh water supply, which we just need to sign and return.

Tomorrow we are off to Segmüller (large furniture store) to look at lighting and TV stands, and for lunch.

I still haven’t worked out a way to see how much light a single lamp gives off when it is in a display of lots of lights. It’s a shame they don’t have switches on each so that you can turn the others off.

We’ve got our Construction Manager

Today we received a call from Viebrockhaus, asking us if we are available on Tuesday next week for an initial meeting with Mr H, who will be our construction manager. Fortunately, the time works for both of us.

As we understand it, Mr H will be responsible just for the groundwork and structural build phase, and that someone else will then overtake the role of construction manager for the remainder of the project (once the roof is on).

We’ve already started writing a list of questions to ask him, and will probably think of some more by next week.

The same day, the site will also be marked out (the position where the house should go), so we’ll be sure to take our tape measure, just to check!

We will soon have some new photos to upload here!


We’ve bought the plot!


Today we are pleased to announce that we have taken a big step forward. At 4.30 pm we met with the current owner of the plot and the notary for the reading and signing of the contract.

After a few formalities, filling in passport numbers and tax IDs, the notary read out the entire contract, all 10 pages of it and then we and the current owner put ink to paper.

We left the notary’s office about 5.40 pm as fully signed up future owners of the plot!

An observation about notaries – we can confirm what we read in someone else’s blog, that they have their own special express speed for reading out long documents – it was difficult to keep up at times! Fortunately, we had both read through the draft when we received it last week, so were able to follow all of the points.

The original plot (as originally purchased by the seller) is now being split into three plots (of which we are buying just the one), and the formalities are not yet complete, so it is not yet possible to enter the sale into the land registry (and we also don’t have pay for it just yet).

Fortunately, this should be finished in the next few days, and should not delay the start of our build. Hopefully, by the time the documents for the planning application are all prepared following the meeting tomorrow morning, this will be finished, and will not delay submitting the planning application or hold it up.

If all continues to go to plan, building will start 49 days from today. When put like that it all rather does sound a little tight, so we will keep our fingers very tightly crossed.

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Our Sign Has Arrived

Not very much has happened in the past few days. At the moment we are simply waiting for the meeting with the Notary on Monday afternoon, the “Service Meeting” (for finalising the planning application) on Tuesday morning, the kitchen planning on 8th October and the decor planning on 12 October.

Since we have to go to the showroom in Kaarst for the decor planning meeting, Viebrockhaus is kindly putting us up in a hotel for the night so that we can be there first thing.

We think we will have to go to Kaarst yet again for the electrical planning,  we will hopefully get the same offer next time too. With hindsight, maybe we should have asked if we also can do the electrical planning while we are there on 12th October, but it might be a little overwhelming to have to make so many decisions in one go!

For something to do while we are waiting, we have added three new things to the blog (further down the home page):

  1. There is now a Contact Us link, so if you want to ask any questions, or just to say hello please feel free!
  2. To make sure we don’t lose track of all the appointments and meetings, we have added a Milestone Plan.
  3. We have added links to a few other blogs (in German) of other people currently building with Viebrockhaus. We are reading those blogs on a daily basis to inform and educate ourselves what we can expect a few months down the line.

Also, in case you didn’t notice – the sketch of the house at the top of the page has now been updated so that it more closely matches the brickwork.

Today we visited the site just to see how the other houses have moved on in the past week and were pleasantly surprised to see that our sign (with our names on it) has been installed already!

Viebrockhaus Sign

We still have no news about the results of the ground survey and we have still not received the fixed price offer – surely that must come soon – maybe it will magically appear by the time we meet with our consultant on Tuesday.

Kitchen Planning, Draft Contract, Mortgage and Updated Draft Plan

Quite a few updates over the last two days, so we have split this update into four sections…

Kitchen Planning

Yesterday morning, we made some further progress with the kitchen planning, making a new mock-up in the online planning tool. We have now added wall cupboards all the way around as we worked out that the vent in the ceiling does not prevent us doing so.


With a print out in our hands, we then went and had a great discussion with a kitchen consultant at a local furniture store, who kindly made a draft version within his planning software and gave us an approximate price for the cabinets, electrical devices and installation.

The price for the cabinets as well as the hob, oven, dishwasher, fridge/freezer and installation were roughly in line with our expectations (only a little bit higher, but you can always spend more than you first want to!)

The only item, where we may have underestimated, was the cooker hood.

Because of the energy efficient construction of the house, we need to have an air circulation hood (which puts the filtered air back into the house) rather than a traditional extractor hood (which puts the air through the wall and outside).

We learned that there are two types of air circulation hoods available:

  • one where you need to buy and change the filter every few months
  • one where you don’t have to change the filter (for 10 years or more) which works by filtering the air and then splitting the remaining molecules with a plasma catalyser so that only oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour remain and get put back into the room (see here for a more technical / accurate description of how it works.)

The second option has (of course) a much higher initial cost but this should be recovered over time by not having to buy filters, and the overall air quality of what is put into the room should be better. We will probably go for this but haven’t finally decided. Maybe it depends on the groundwork costs, which we (frustratingly) are still waiting for.

Since we need to have the plans for the kitchen finalised quite soon (so that Viebrockhaus know where to put the water and electrical installations) we have made an appointment for 8th October to go back to work out the final details for the kitchen and to place an order.

Draft Contract for the Plot

Today we finally received the draft contract for the purchase of the plot which we have been waiting for for a while now. We have one or two small questions but in general, everything seems to be in order and as expected. Our meeting with the notary for the formal reading and signing of the contract is now confirmed for next Monday.


Also today, we had another short meeting with the bank to hand over the KFW 40 paperwork (which confirms the Energy Efficient Construction and eligibility for the reduced interest rate and €10,000 bonus) as well as the construction specification from Viebrockhaus. Everything is now in place and the mortgage contract can now be prepared.

Updated Draft Plan

Later, during the afternoon, we received the latest version of the draft plan from Viebrockhaus, and have checked it this evening. There are a few small mistakes which still need to be corrected during our ‘Service Meeting’ next week, mainly caused by changes that we had earlier made and then unmade not having been completely reset.

  • The utility room and downstairs WC are slightly the wrong shape and size now, caused by us having previously added a shower in the downstairs WC and later removing it.
  • One of the cellar window grates is directly under the utility room door, which is not where we originally had drawn it – at the moment is not clear whether this is intentional or not (it may be actually a good place to have it). We have made a note to check this
  • The carport is still drawn in the wrong place – actually where it is drawn is outside of the area it is allowed to go (as it cannot be more than 15 meters from the boundary). We need to make sure that this is correct on the planning permission request so that we don’t cause any delays.)
  • The outside tap has jumped from the sidewall (behind where our fence/gate will originally go) to the front wall. This may be unavoidable – we read somewhere that for hygiene reasons it is not allowed to the last tap on the pipe – in which case maybe it makes sense to have it at the front. We will just need to find a way to ensure that no-one steals our water!
  • The bathroom layout (Shower and wash basin) needs to be reset to the original plan as we have now decided NOT to have the L-shaped wall for the walk-in shower, and to revert to having glass shower walls. When we looked at the 3D model provided by Viebrockaus we realised that the L-shaped wall would block most of the light out from the bathroom (which we might not like)

Our adviser at Viebrockhaus continues to be very helpful and patient with all of our changes and un-changes, and we are now very close to being done with the plan, ready for the planning permission paperwork.

Hopefully, the groundwork costs will be here soon…

Ground Survey Completed

Today, the ground survey of the building plot was done.

Using the machine in the photos below, three holes were drilled to a depth of 5.8 meters and samples taken away for analysis.



In the coming days we expect to receive the final offer for the ground work for the building plot. As mentioned previously, we will then see how close the estimate from Viebrockhaus was.

Also today, we spoke to the current owner of the plot and have provisionally agreed to meet with the notary for the finalisation of the contract for the purchase of the land on 26th September.

Unfortunately the coincides with the next meeting we already arranged with Viebrockhaus, so that meeting might get delayed a day or two but this should not be an issue.

New Housing Areas

During our search for a building plot, we came across a few ‘new housing areas’ – generally areas on the edge of existing towns or villages which are being sold off for new houses to be built.

We drove around a few of these areas and quickly found that in many cases the building plots had not only already been sold, but the houses have already been built, and people have moved in. Too late.

We visited one area where half of the area had been sold a little earlier than the other half. In the ‘first half’, almost all of the houses are already built, and in the other half a couple of houses are half built, a few more are at the groundwork stage, and most plots were completely empty.

Since the small town does not have a railway station, we were happy to see a bus stop, right on the edge of the development.

  • In morning and evening peak periods, a direct bus into the city every 15 minutes, taking less than half an hour
  • At other times, once an hour.

Even though the town is very small, with less than 14000 inhabitants, it is well connected to the main road / Autobahn network and has one large supermarket, a medium sized ‘high-end’ supermarket and of course both of the two internationally renowned German discount supermarkets.

Perfect! That all works for us so far, and once we got home we started to look for adverts for the remaining building plots and made a list of the people to call…