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!

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!)

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!

Contract is Signed!

We’re just back from our meeting with Viebrockhaus, and are happy to report that at the end of a three-hour marathon session going through everything to make sure that all of our changes and alterations, that the contract is now signed.

Now it feels real – we’re building a house!

In the next few days, we need to sort out the following things out:

  • Finance
  • Arrangements for buying the building plot
  • Preparation for the planning application…
    • Finalising the exact position on the plot we want to have the house
    • Deciding about which carport we are going to build, how big it will be and the exact position

We also need to start thinking about the kitchen and come to think of it, also the Utility Room, as sockets and lights will need to be planned together with these.

We have also made a decision about which bricks we are going to have – 123 ACCUM Blue-Brown (we can still change our mind any time up for the next weeks – I can’t remember now exactly when).

Click here to see an example of a house built with these same bricks.



A Trip to Kaarst

Today we took another long drive (not as long as last week though) to Kaarst, one of Viebrockhaus’ two ‘material sample centres’.

Here you can choose everything from which bricks and roof tiles, to which bathroom sink, to which type of light switches you want.

There are two sections – ‘options that are included in the price’ and ‘options that cost you more’.

We were extremely pleased that the ‘options that are included in the price’ are already of extremely high standard (for example Villeroy and Boch floor tiles and bathroom ceramics, Grohe taps), and that at least for most things we do not foresee choosing any ‘options that cost you more’.

Since we have not signed a contract, we have not made final selections – we will go back in a couple of months and make our selections. Our trip today was simply to see what was included, to reassure ourselves about the total budget.

Again, we came home feeling happy that we took the time to go to Kaarst and are looking forward to finalising the house specification.

First Meeting with Viebrockhaus

Today we had our first meeting with our local Viebrockhaus sales office.

On the drive there, we made a list of our main changes, and how much extra we thought they were worth (our maximum price that we would pay for those changes).

We went through all of the questions that we had prepared and discussed the various changes and additions that we had considered.

The sales agent was extremely helpful, and very patiently and clearly explained answers to all of our questions.

At this point, we were not sure whether to build a cellar or not and also there were a couple of other changes which were ‘maybes’.

About three hours later, we left the meeting, again very happy with how it had gone, knowing much much more than we had when we arrived and with a huge amount of paperwork to read:

  • Draft contract
  • Description of what is included in the price (in full detail)
  • Draft time plan
  • Draft payment plan
  • Fixed price offer with all of our changes incorporated (and the ‘maybes’ as maybes.
  • Detailed estimate of all the other costs (for example legal costs for buying the land, taxes, groundwork costs specific to our building plot (not included in the standard house price), utility connections, landscaping etc. etc.)
    These costs are of course (mostly) not paid to Viebrockhaus, but are important to include in the overall budget, and we were thankful that our sales agent had gone so thoroughly through it all with us.

We were extremely happy that the price offer is done in a completely transparent way so that the effects of individual changes can be seen (and taken out again if necessary).

When we looked at the prices for the extras, it confirmed what we had learned earlier about changes from the standard house being expensive.

Additionally, the ‘other costs’ estimate came out a little higher than we had originally calculated ourselves, so the end result was a much higher total cost that we had in mind.

Initial ideas were to take some of our options back out, not to have a cellar, or just not to proceed.

It needs thinking about. We will see…

Maxime 300 Show House in Ostbeven

We set off early for Ostbeven with the aim of arriving early. Sadly we got caught up in a traffic jam for almost two hours due to the Autobahn being completely closed.

When we did eventually arrive, we were immediately welcomed, given a plan of the five houses and a free pen, and then sent on our way to have a look around.

I think we spent almost two hours in the Maxime 300 show-house, looking at every room in detail. Immediately we wanted to ask if we could just take the house with us, packed up in a box!

A few snapshots we took of the show-house…

IMG_1430 IMG_1517 IMG_1518 IMG_1527 IMG_1540 IMG_1552

We arrived home late in the evening, having travelled more than 800 kilometres during the day.

We were both really happy that we had done it – we liked what we had seen, and we have added even more questions onto our list of things to ask during the meeting tomorrow!


So we are back down to just one option under consideration, one of two plots on the new housing area on the edge of town, near the bus stop.


The two plots are more or less the same width and length, with one being a corner plot (with a road on two sides). In addition, because they have built a chicane in the road to the side, the back of the plot is also partly road.

(Please keep in mind this is a housing development,and that neither of these roads are main roads – the only people who would be driving on these roads are the other residents).

The roads provide additional distance from other houses, and also on the south side, a play area (a few swings and a slide etc.) is being built, so no house overlooking the garden from that side.

For these, and various other reasons we never considered the other plot and started thinking about houses!

So we started reading …