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.

Electrical Planning

Late into the evening, and we are back home, having spent another enjoyable day in Kaarst going through the fine details for the house.

The meeting today was with ‘ePlan 1.1’, who take care of the electrical planning for all new Viebrockhaus houses.

We started by going through all of the electrics for outside the house (power cable for the rainwater tank pump, power cable for the shed, outside lights and sockets), followed by a room-by-room detailed planning of where every socket, light switch, satellite cable etc. is going.

Even though Viebrockhaus include a lot in the standard price, our extras still include:

  • Around 30 additional sockets (so now we have 80!)
  • A few additional lights (just the cables) inside and outside
  • Satellite dish with cabling to three rooms
  • Network cabling to three rooms
  • A duct to allow for easy installation of more solar panels if we want to in future.

Before we set off for home, we received a printout of the offer for the extras, broken down line-by-line, and a copy of the plan with everything marked.

Our next job is to check (and make any adjustments, if necessary) and sign the plan off in the next two weeks.

Viebrockhaus then have everything they need to build our new house!




Decor Planning Meeting

As planned, today we have been in Kaarst for the first of two days of planning. Today – the interior and exterior decoration…

Since Viebrockhaus kindly put us up in a hotel last night, we were able to have a relatively late start this morning after a nice breakfast, with only 5 minutes drive to Viebrockhaus for a 10am meeting.

When we arrived at 9.45, Mr G was already waiting for us, with our plans already open on the table in front of him. After bringing us a coffee, we were made a start!

We had been told in advance, that the meeting would last around five hours, but as we were very well prepared (and had already made decisions about many of the things), had expected it would not last that long.

The first thing we did was to go over the minor corrections to the plan that we had identified last week (the main one being the 15cm repositioning of the utility room internal door). These are now all marked on the plan with a red pen. Hopefully, the next printed version of the plan will be completely correct.

Next, we started our tour through the exhibition, deciding and documenting on all the fine details. After this, any further changes might not be free (as Viebrockhaus will start ordering the materials), so on some topics, we took some time to consider and try to make the decision that will be happy with for years to come.

For the topics where we had already made a decision back in August, it was just a case of Mr G writing them down.

In the end, the meeting lasted 4.5 hours. We have to wonder how long other people that haven’t put in as much preparation as us would need (keep in mind we had already been through the exhibition in August – some people are probably there for the first time at this meeting).

The following things are now cast in stone…

  • The direction that each door and window will open
  • The colour of the…
    • bricks – as written some weeks ago Roeben Accum Blue-Brown
    • cement (standard grey 1.5)
    • roof tiles (black, to match the solar panels)
    • stairs (anthracite)
    • air vents (dark brown)
  • The flooring
    • Villeroy & Boch ‘Lodge’ in Greige for almost all of the ground floor
    • Villeroy & Boch ‘Upper Side’ in Anthracite for the utility room
    • Villeroy & Boch ‘Bernina’ Greige Matt for the bathroom
  • The bathroom (and the downstairs loo)
    • Toilets (Villeroy & Boch ‘Avento’ Direct Flush)
    • Sink (Villeroy & Boch ‘Avento’ – 60cm wide upstairs / 45cm downstairs)
    • Bath (Villeroy & Boch ‘O.novo’ Rectangular)
    • Shower tray (Villeroy & Boch Architectura Metal Rim 120cm x 90cm)
  • The doors, inside and out
  • And then a lot of very small but important things
    • The shape of the skirting boards
    • The colour of the roller shutters
    • The design of the light switches and sockets
    • Which door handles
    • Which taps and shower head
    • The height of the toilets / sinks
    • etc.

Thanks to Mr G’s expertise, methodical approach and patience, it was a very enjoyable day, and we are very happy that Viebrockhaus can now proceed to order the materials to build our house. It’s only about four weeks until they are planning to start.

Tomorrow – electrical planning….

Planning Application

Today we received post from Viebrockhaus, with the latest version of the plan for us to sign (this time printed out on A0 paper).

Pretty much everything is now right, except for the Utility Room door which has now moved too far left. We will send this back signed, but with the door marked in the correct place (15 cm further right).

We also received a mail from Mr K, who introduces himself as responsible for supporting us with the planning application. He had attached several forms which are already filled out so that we just have to sign them and send them back. He will then be able to submit the planning application.

Our second invoice arrived, this time from the local authority – 30 Euro – just to tell us that they do not want to purchase the plot themselves, and therefore have no objections to us buying it!

Service Meeting & Groundwork Price (Finally!)


It was an early start this morning as we had to be at Viebrockhaus at 9am, and the traffic is never good going that way. Additionally, we had another important meeting with a Sausage and Egg McMuffin at 8.45!

Having successfully completed breakfast, we arrived at Viebrockhaus and were immediately greeted with the news that the seemingly long awaited groundwork price offer for the plot had indeed magically appeared late yesterday evening.

In fairness, it is still less than two weeks since the survey, so it didn’t really take long. We now have a copy of the 16-page survey report which seems to go into a lot of detail.

The price (which is a fixed price) came in a couple of thousand Euros above the latest estimate, but a couple of thousand Euros below the original estimate we had received. Reason – protection for the cellar from water during the building phase. Since it is below the original offer, we will not get another offer from a third party, which could only serve to delay the start and risk complicating the warranty for the house.

We then proceeded to go through the plans for the cellar, ground floor and first floor, incorporating a few more minor changes which hadn’t already been added to the plan, and shifting the house left and right a few centimetres into the exact place we want it.

The plans are now locked in, and the paperwork for the planning approval is now being done.

Picture credit:

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…

News from Viebrockhaus

We had a surprise in our email from Viebrockhaus this morning.

The email brought news that because of one of their other projects being delayed, we have the opportunity to jump in and fill this gap if we want to.

This means that provided we can be ready quickly (3 weeks from now) with all the decisions about the decor (floor tiles, bathroom furniture, door handles, light switches etc.), that building can begin in Week 46 (w/c 14th November) 2016!

The original timeline we had was that they would not start building until February or March, with a moving-in date in July.

Since we have mostly already decided on all of the decor, we of course jumped at this opportunity and Week 46 is now reserved for us and our new target moving-in date should also be somewhat earlier. During the next week or so we should get a revised time plan.