Friday, July 14, 2006

Daddies little helpers!

Eddie, George and their "Siegfried Line"

Foliage and Bollerwagen

Dry stone wall

Thirtysixth Edition - Almost End Game

Now that the weather was better we persuaded our landscape gardener to make a start on the back garden. He was busy - so pencilled us in for three weeks hence. Eventually, after a few more weeks and badgering him on the phone he turned up.

Having lived in the house for 4 months we can see where we might have been a little naïve concerning building jobs, designing, planning and understanding how tradesmen work. They are here for a couple of days and then they don’t come back for the rest of the week because they are building, planting, painting etc somewhere else. And so you wait! The garden and the brick facing of the house, the pointing and sealing around doors and windows and various little jobs dragged on and on. Considering that the house was up in two days these last tasks seemed to have taken forever. However, the house is now completed and the garden is 80% finished. We had to have a time out finishing the garden. Our next door neighbours – whose house will be finished in August – remarked on the height of our plot and suggested that we weren’t keeping to the prescribed height! Oh dear, we thought and did some quick checking with plans, architect, building rules and came to a conclusion that as long as we secure our ground so that no water or soil runs into next doors plot, we are ok. Now, how do we secure our plot? Books came out, so did prospectuses, neighbours were probed and houses in the surrounding area inspected. The lay of the land is very up and down and Firma Clever combated that by building a dry stone wall and thus terracing the fall of the garden lengthways. As the ground also fall away sideways we have decided to keep it level and secure our border with a wall. Eddie would never be able to do this on his own though. Luckily we had Claire and George visiting with the twins around that time and no sooner was a plan hatched when Eddie and George set about building the ‘Siegfried line’. The weather was in the mid 30°s and the sun shone mercilessly from morning to night, but the two builders kept going. Well done lads!

So what else needs doing? The area along the wall needs planting. The garage is being used as a store room at the moment and it’s difficult to find things, but come August the garden house will be delivered and then we might even be able to walk through the garage instead of climbing over boxes and bikes and tools etc.

The house has had many visitors already – small and young ones, old and grey ones and the in-between ones. If you have not visited us yet, then it is high time you did. We have worked hard and are more than satisfied with all that we have achieved, but there are still many more things we will hopefully be able to add to our lovely house.

Thirtyfifth Edition - Party Time

The front of the house was finished and the back garden was our next task. The weather, however, made progress difficult and as the ground was frozen rock hard, work in the garden came to a halt. We had, however, plenty to carry on with inside the house. Lamps were put up, furniture rearranged, the window seat put in and curtains hung. It all took shape after a while and when all the boxes were emptied and the crockery and cutlery stored away it was time to invite the neighbours for a housewarming. Easter Monday seemed a good day for it and so invitations were sent out and preparations for a finger buffet and drinks storages got underway. It is amazing how many little things we forgot when planning the house. Enough storage for drinks is one of them. Having no cellar, everything is now stored in the garage – that includes the old fridge for drinks. But because it’s tedious to go out into the garage for every bottle of beer and because the fridge in our new, highly modern kitchen is too small to hold anything but food, we needed to come up with an idea as to how to have enough drinks in the house for the party and keep them cool. Easter weather was great and the frost from weeks before had now turned into a mini heat wave – so cool beer and wine was a must. There was nothing else we could do but buy a drinks cooler to put in the laundry room. This worked out well and although small it holds enough drinks for a medium party. The invitation was from 7 – 10pm and everybody in the street (20 people) turned up. I should have realised, though, that the Germans will have their ‘Abendbrot’ before coming over and all the little hors d'oeuvres I made took some advertising. It was a great evening and although we had met most of the neighbours at the roofing ceremony it was just the right sort of evening to get to know them a little better.


Not much room in here for both of us!

Left hand side - soon to be lawn

Grading in the back garden

Thirtyfourth Edition - Moving In

Christmas came and went and work at the house continued. We had set ourselves a moving in date but first of all the area to the front of the house had to be addressed. What type of front garden do we want? Lots of annual colourful flowers and crazy paving is not our taste. So we went in search of someone who might help. Firma Clever presented a very interesting design and took us to various gardens which they had recently completed. We selected a formal and single-coloured front layout consisting of anthracite stone chippings, anthracite front steps, anthracite drives, green box bushes, a hazel bush, a green Japanese maple and some grasses. All the plants are still fairly small but will grow to just the right size to cover the small front garden. Firma Clever came and got on with the job and on February 23, we moved into Peter Berten Straße. As the new house has less storage space than P.N.A we had to dispose of lots of stuff. A house clearance sale at P.N.A was planned for the week after we had moved out and thought that should take care of that! We took one look at all the things we had left behind in P.N.A and got such a fright. We would never be able to get rid of all those things and would probably have to throw half of it away. The sale was to take place over a weekend while we were cleaning and tidying up the garden. It started quite well. A Russian lady came and spent all morning looking, buying and loading up her car. After that, customers became scarce and we panicked. However, there was still tomorrow. The next day started off slow and never got any better until 2 hours before we closed the house. The free paper deliverer and his family took the three large bookcases and various other items. We were so glad at having sold a few more things that we let them have anything else they wanted for nothing. The thought of having to put what was left on the tip made Sonja cry. We vouched never to hoard again!

The move to Hinsbeck went very smoothly and on the first evening in our new house, sitting amongst boxes, a kindly neighbour rung the bell and invited us over to his house for a drink. Great welcome!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Family, less for James, at front door

Now for the garage

Finished article

Just putting this down!!!

Workroom arrives

Thirtythird Edition - Garage plus

What a lot of too-ing and fro-ing we have had with the garage. Anyway, it eventually arrived on 19 Dec - one man, one lorry and two trailers. I was really impressed with the way he manouvered his lorry and used the cranes and hydraulics to position both garage and workroom to the inch into position. On the 20th and 21st Klinker was being applied to the garage and what was left to complete on the house. The evening of the 21st saw a change for the worse in the weather and work stopped. Since then it has been below freezing and too cold for Klinkering to continue. So, we are still left with window sills to be complete and for expansion joints to be applied. In the meantime we have spent time with the garden designer, refined the design, selected tiles for the patio and entrance way and stones for the drives. We have also been busy fitting lamps and bathroom and toilet fixtures as well as selecting blinds.
Sonja has become particularly good at assembling furniture and when helped by me has managed quite admirably to keep her cool.
Herr Hammern (carpenter) has been busy building office furniture, bookcases and the seat for the Erker. Office furniture and bookcases are fitted but the seat still requires a coat of paint. We await, with anticipation, the arrival of some decent weather so that outside work can continue.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Kitchen end of Day 2 and finished product.

Kitchen installation Day1. 'Two men went to mow....'

The finished article - didn't he do well!

Thomas Wolfs putting an edge on the fieplace

Thirtysecond Edition - Kitchen, Fireplace and more....

Well, it's a month since we last posted anything and work inside has moved on apace. Laminate has been laid dining/living area, 'fitness centre' and the study area, tiles in the hall and carpets in the upstairs bedrooms. The kitchen has been fitted and the fireplace is finally finished. So we could actually move in - but don't get carried away we won't be moving until the New Year. It would be great to have it all done with, but I think the stress of the move plus prep for the Christmas festivities and visitors is too much to cope with. Happily Herr Pappers (decorator) and Herr Hamann (carpenter) have done a good job between them and produced on time. Herr Hamann still has to complete the bookcases, study area furniture and window seat but that won't be long now. We finally have the foundations laid for the garage and that should arrive next week sometime, possibly towards the end of the week.
We have also spent some more time trying to decide on the garden design. But until the garage is in neither of us is able to visualise the patio/garage combination. Next week or the one after that will tell. We have agreed, though, that we will endevour to have the front and driveways completed in Jan.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Coming on nicely thank you. Note space for garage. Finished product later.

Klinker progress day 1, note the 'Brotzeit' van and neighbours building in the background.

Thirtyfirst Edition - Klinker and More!

As you know from the 28th Edition the Klinker we liked so much is no longer available but eventually we tracked down the supplier and he has come up with something very similar - produced in Holland and the bricks were being fired at that time, to be ready in two weeks. We put in an order.
Then we started the search for a Klinkerbauer. We found three and asked them for their quotes. We were lucky with the one we selected. Herr Lesser came, saw and delivered! His two chaps – Marcel and Reinhard are doing a great job. They arrived on the 25th October a very blustery and rainy day – not that that deterred them. They set about and made a start. The following days the weather brightened and the sun came out. They brought with them their ‘gipsy-looking’ builders van in which they sit to have their ‘Brotzeit’. So, we are happy with the Klinker and the Klinkerbauer.
On the 29th September Herr Hagelücken from the kitchen design centre came to measure up. He went away happy but it will take 9 weeks for the kitchen to be delivered – not so good.

Next step was that gas, electricity and water were connected complete with meters and that the heating was switched on to aid dry out of the screed. The electrical installation – such as lights,plugs and switches were installed and on the 17 October the painter started putting backing paper upstairs and continued downstairs. He has now completed most of the dining room, some of the kitchen and into the start of the living room. He had to stop for the Ofenbauer Herr Wolf to complete the Ofen before further work can be undertaken.
Between the 26th and 28th October tiling of bathrooms and toilets was completed. On the 28th and 29th October two garden designers visited to discuss work required and measured up.
The internal doors were fitted on 31st October and on 2nd of November the bath, the washbasins, showers and toilets were also fitted – and very nice they are too.
We eventually took over the house from Okal having finished all the building work on 3rd November.

Now all the cosmetics have to be done – but that is our responsibility. Herr Wolf will finish the Ofen on 16th and then the painter and carpenter are due in again. The Klinker is 90% finished and pointing has started. Herr Lesser has sent 3 more builder to get on with that.
I’m off to see them all now to measure up for accessories for the bathrooms!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

similar bookcase but without the doors

study area

and another window seat

Thirtieth Edition

I searched the breadth and length of magazine entries to do with window seats, wardrobes, bookcases and the like. I found plenty to cut out and make my own little sample booklet. It now looks like a Home & Garden come Country Living come House & Home etc catalogue. You may think - hasn’t she got enough to do already? However, it helped with trying to show Herr Pappers (the decorator) & Herr Haman (the carpenter) what I had in mind. They liked it and were very enthusiastic – in fact , you know those sketches were two guys are so taken by something they stand together and talk and gesticulate their ideas while the person who posed the question looks from one to the other? Yes, you do know what I mean; anyhow, that’s what it was like when I presented my sample book. Herr Haman drew a rough plan and Herr Pappers suggested colour schemes – it was fun! If I get what I want, is another matter. I thought I let you see some of the pictures I cut out of those lovely magazines.

window seat

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Twentyninth Edition - The Interior

Last week we spent over 2hrs in the house with the carpenter and the painter. They both listened and listened and listened to my many wants and wishes. Got their tape measures out and measured; produced their catalogues and suggested; folded their arms and looked bemused; raised their eyebrows and nodded their heads. It was exhausting! Will the flooring go with the kitchen units or the furniture? Will the colour of the wall clash with the floor? Shall we have wood flooring in the hall or stone? Which bedroom is to have the built-in-wardrobe? How are we going to arange the study area? The desk under the window or along the banister? Is the window seat going to have a back rest; is the bookcase going to be country style or very plain? I was getting tired and cold but the two gentlemen were very patient and listened, advised and suggested. At 19:00hrs they had a good idea of what I wanted, left their sample books and told us they will put a quote together. Come tomorrow I will know what I have to cross off the list! Come tomorrow I will be able to tell you more about the interior.

Twentyeighth Edition - The Klinker

We're having a bit of a set back with the Klinker - no George and Claire it's nothing to do with bells! For all the others who also might be puzzled by the name here goes: A Klinkerbauer is a special bricklayer - Klinker is a facing brick that is laid all around the house and the person doing it is a bricklayer! The foundation has to be larger than the house so that there is enough room to lay the bricks all around it. I know you knew really. Well we're having a bit of a problem with the Klinker that we wanted. The house we saw and wrote about on the Blog had its Klinker specially made and it was a one off. This means we can't have it. It's a pity because we really liked it. Everywhere we go we look at the bricks and now are totally confused which style, which colour, which size we want. We have to come to a decision this week. It means another trip around the brick works, the houses that are being built and various builders yards.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

House without scaffolding, still needs cladding

Twentyseventh Edition - Rohbauabnahme (Handover of the shell)

Handover of the shell was scheduled for Tuesday 20 Sep at 1500. I decided to go down early because I wanted to see Herr Böhmer of the Stadtwerke, responsible for rain and foulwater drainage. We have to obtain permission to become part of the local system and we had talked previously about how I was to apply. Not being sure about the issue I booked an appointment for the Tuesday and off I went. It paid dividends in that he regarded the visit as me making the application and we discussed the issue of having to have two manhole covers on the property. The problem is that Stadt Nettetal has two drainage systems, one for foul water and the other for rainwater. These need to have inspection holes in case there are any blockages and so the discussion ensued. Where, why and how big? It's amazing what one can learn, I had assumed that all manholes are the same, huge, ugly and an eyesore. Not true. They come in different sizes which I liken to dress sizes i.e. 16 down to an 8 and they are not such an eyesore after all. But what is more important Böhmer said that if I can have an insert on my rainwater downpipes which has an opening to allow the insertion of a high pressure hose, then I don't need the rainwater inspection cover. What a player! So we have been off this week looking for the insert with not much success so far. But I think that is down to my lack of technical German rather than the item not being available. Anyway 1500 arrived and I started the handover with Herr Mai, the Site Manager. There were only 3 outstandiing issues. There is a split in the attic door, so the door will be replaced, the cover for the chimney has not been delivered, so that is yet to come and be fitted and the chimney has been manufactured with the smoke escape hole on the wrong wall. Don't ask me how! Anyway it will be put right. So, the team went on their way and I was left to contemplate the silence and to marvel at the fact that 8 day's ago we had a bare plot and now we have the shell of our new house - incredible.
Thursdays saw me there again to see what the gas installers had been up to and ready to meet Herr Wolfs the Ofenbauer. He wanted to check measurements and just keep in touch. Later on a Klinkermauerer turned up to view the house so that he could provide a quote. Once again steep learning curve. The scaffolders have also been and removed their scaffolding, it really makes the house seem normal size now. It looked so big before!
Went up again on Saturday to check on progress. All the gas fittings are in and the underfloor heating pipes have been laid, so the place is ready to receive screed on Monday.