Entrance Decking

Ow doo, been a while eh. No-one remembers this blog exists but to keep a record of the work, here’s the latest.

As we are built on a hill, the entrance area of the house is not so easy, we had some offers to flatten the land, which involved building some retaining walls, not very high, not very complex, but the best offers we had were more than 5 grand.

So we decided to tackle it ourselves.

Its quite a large area actually, 8.6m long and 2.4m wide approx, so to make the most of it and make it useable in some way we wanted it all at one level, as close to the street as possible.

Using the data I already created in the CAD system and along with some input from the chap at our local wood supplier I produced the following plan.


The white bits you see are the “Lichtschacht” which direct light into the cellar windows,

A drawing of the plan is;

At street side we are around 40cm below street level and at the other side it’s something like 1.2m, so it was clear the thing needed to be strong!

The legs/posts are set in “H Anchors” as per;

This were created by boring 50cm deep holes in the land, positioning the metal parts by creating a simple wooden construction and then filling the holes with concrete. Below you see the aftermath!


This was all done in a saturday on my todd. The following week I got some friends round and we attacked the project further, with an intent to complete the framework to an extent where I could continue once more on my own.

At the end of the day we were left with;

It’s forbiden to work on a sunday here in Germany, so the following monday and tuesday nights I cracked on with installing the horizontal parts. Finally on the tuesday evening;


I took a days holiday on the weds and spent the whole day on the thing until the pretty much finished product is;


It looks just as I imagined, there are still a few bits left to do, the side will be closed somehow, probably with more widely spaced decking planks. And of course we need some kind of fence/rail around the edge. Seems the wife has some plans for that.

Been dreading doing so, but to calculate the total costs;

Wood – 700
H-Anchors – 96
Concrete – 70
Construction Screws – 25
Brackets – 33
Lichtschacht – 78
Decking Screws – 30
Threaded rod / dubeln / mortel – 45 (this was the method used to attach the frame to the garage and house leaving a drainage gap)
Cloth (stops plants growing underneath) – 12

Total – 1089 €

Which of course is a lot, but a fraction of what it would have cost to have it done by so called proffesionals!


Nearly there

All flooring is done, all interior doors are in.  Just a couple of tiny bits left to sort.

The electrician has to come to reattach the wall plates after they were removed for decoration.

  –  Hobby room, downstairs we have Oak laminate flooring, looks OK I think.  The doors are pretty boring I suppose.

  –  Living room, also the OAK flooring

  –  Kitchen is tiled.  We managed to get a bargain oven at Ikea.  The kitchen will be installed by me as soon as we move in…. Well, you know…. the first week of evenings.

  –  The carpet upstairs.  Stinks at the moment, Nic needs to do the old shake n vac ASAP

Bogs etc.

The Plumber has been back in the house during the last week.  I even managed to offend him which resulted in storming off in his van in a strop, which was amusing.  But he’s pretty much all done now and has done a really good job.

So, starting off in the cellar technical room.


Hotwater tank from the solar and the boiler (which has been in for yonks actually)

Shower room in cellar.


Ground floor WC.


Lots of scokets and switches hanging around the house waiting to be re-installed.

1st Floor Bathroom


Everything is from this lot, suposedly quite well known.

So next up, flooring on monday, doors on tuesday then on wednesday the final stairs are coming!

Almost there

A long awaited update

Wow its been yonks since I last posted.

Don’t worry tho, you’ve not missed much as sod all as happened really until the last couple of weeks.  And that only after we went to see a lawyer to push the company into doing something.

The problem has been a combination of our project manager and the main building company.  They had a complete inability to locate us new workmen when the originally assigned companies notififed them that their workloads were too high.

First up was the drywall company.  After being notified months before another company finally took on the contract.  I’ve never encountered such a bunch of cowboys.  They were given the contract under the condition that they started work straight away.  In actual fact despite week after week of bullshitting they actually started some 7 weeks later and were finished inside a week or so.  The work they were doing was all the insulation of the loft and plasterboard panelling throughout the house.

They made a right balls-up of some of the work.

Some panelling is missing and in other places the standard of work is poor.  Some of the remedial work was passed on to a tiling company, the rest they are supposed to finish this week… we’ll see.

After they were done eventual a new tiler was found.  This was by far the best company we have encountered during the project.  Basically they did what they said they would, when they said they would and to a very high standard.

Kitchen & Stairs


The tiles are a bit dirty there, they’ll clean up well tho.  A kind of dark Anthracite, we are very happy with the result actually. 

The same tiles are in the cellar room below the stairs, the kitchen, the stairs between ground floor and cellar, aswell as all three bathrooms.


This photo is the downstairs bathroom.  We have gone for a highly polished white tile to contrast the grey, I think it looks classically stylish and should be OK for years.  I think maybe in the upstairs bathroom we will add some mosiac or similar to make it a little more interesting.

There you see the access panel for the pump in the cellar, and on the wall is where the toilet will be mounted.  To the right is where the shower goes.


The Electrics firm has been back and have almost finished their work.  The sockets and switches are maybe 95% done.  We never got to choose which ones actually although it had been promised!  However its a modular system, so we can change the visible bits to whatever we want as we decorate each room to our style.

Thats in the kitchen /dining room area.  A phone socket and 2 plugs.

Annoyingly the electricians showed a complete lack of common sense in some places.  As mentioned previously in the blog I added a load of extra wiring and sockets for network cabling.  The holes were correctly positioned so that they fitted into everything else.  What was the solution of the electricians……

Genius eh.  Rather than fitting a 4 hole frame, they fitted a 3 holer and left it blank.  No massive problem, I have ordered 5 of the 4 hole frames as well as my network sockets off ebay for around 60 Euro.  Will just change them myself.

Also note that the f*ckwits have installed non sat TV sockets.  So dopey having always discussed the SAT TV installation with them.

I have told them to change them to the correct ones, if they refuse i’ll just reduce their payment by whatever it costs to do that myself.

The cellar room downstairs is getting pretty full with TECH now.


That’s the consumer unit they have fitted.  Below those wires are the TV cables to the rooms and also the network cables.

I’ll fit or make some kind of cabinet to fit under there to house all my technology I think.  Need to check how long I left the cables which run to the sat dish.

I just got back from a meeting at the house along with the Over-Project Manager from the building company along with our proj manager.  Finally it seems he is going to start overseeing the work of our incompetent b*stard, looks like completion date of 27th July.  Which would make them an impressive 7 months behind schedule on a 6 month build.

There are still a list of technical faults which have to be sorted before the completion, we’ll see how they do!

Garage Installation

As is quite common in Germany (and elsewhere now I think) we bought a so called fertiggarage, like a precast concrete thing which was delivered yesterday, 2nd April.

It was actually quite interesting too see how they do it.  First up here’s a pic of the house as it stands now, looks good I think.  Sat dish is never a nice addition, but I wanted it someone I can adjust if needed.

So, at about 13:05 yesterday (for a promised delivery between 11 and 13!) this truck turned up.


Its quite an interesting vehicle, specially designed to do the job of course.

First thing, the chap measured our foundations, basically they were shite.  The mong of a builder had done the heights wrong so they were pretty much level with each other, the front one should be lower than the back one so it doesn’t get flooded of course.  The drainage hole at the back is also wrongly positioned, but that’s not the end of the world.

To get it to the level he wanted he used some little plastic blocks, like shims.


Amazing to think that the garage will be forever be sat on those things!  Must be pretty strong.

Next thing the truck levelled itself on some hydraulic actuators.


Here it is all levelled;

The driver is connecting up the crane to the top of the garage (some temporary lifting hooks).

The crane thing has lots of little adjustment so it can carefully be shifted into place.  It took quite a long time.

Here’s a vid of some of it

Garage Delivery Video

He spent a lot of time checking the level and getting the position as close as posible.  Once complete he added the trims to fill the gap between the garage and the  house.


And the final thing…..

All fits pretty well!  Just need a driveway now eh!



As planned yesterday the Utilities were connected.  I popped by last night to see if it was done and it was, ideal!

This is the thing which runs through the wall into the cellar, called an MSA – Mehrspartenanschluss……

Blue pipe – water

Yellow pipe – gas

Thick cable – electricity

Thin cable – Telecoms…..

Also last night as I was there they were taking down the scaffolding finally.

Next up – installing the heating system.

January Update !

Wow, I just realised that I have notupdated this blog since November, a disgraceful performance for which Iapologise, although to be fair not a great deal has changed in that time.

Firstly the underpart of the Rendering is done.  This has not got any further due to the weather, they needa couple of days of dry warmish weather really.

Also all the plastering inside is finished. They did all the outside and inside in less than a week.

Just before Christmas the difficultbuilder finally finished the garage foundations.  He was given instructionsto leave some holes on one part so that the utilities can pass thru them. It will be interesting to see if he has done that, you can imaginejust for the sake of being difficult he maybe has not….. We will see.

That’s pretty much it to be honest,progress is pretty slow.  The project manager is still as uselessas ever, he needs constant reminding to his job otherwise he does f*ckall.  Very annoying.  I have taken to send him an email everyweek listing his outstanding actions.

We met the chap who will be supplyingthe staircase last week.  An interesting experience, the standardspecification is not the most stylish to be honest, its metal supportedwith beech (prob laminate) steps.  He had a catalogue in which heshowed us some other options, one of them we quite liked, however he wantedan extra 1200 euro for that option!  A 50% increase on the standardcost.  We had to be sensible, knowing it would never add any valueto the house we decided not to bother.  So we then asked him how muchto change the standard steel handrail for a wooden one….. 700€, againsod that.  The wife has some ideas of how to beautify the stairs alittle so I guess we will do that.

At the moment the first installationof the heating stuff is being done.  That’s scheduled to be finishednext Monday.  I’ll try and get some photos up of that.  Theyhope to be able to put the solar panel on the roof too, but that will beweather dependant.

After that, the screed will be goingdown and the inside can start to be completed.  I think when thathappens we will feel like we are actually getting somewhere.  Ourapartment is cancelled as of the end of march, so they need to get theiract together.  We actually have it in our contract that the buildshould have only taken 6 months (meaning end of December 2011), I thinkit would be in our interests to speak to a lawyer to see if we can getsome kind of reimbursement from the building company.

We will feel much happier actually whenthe utilities are connected, the project manager has supposedly been workingon that, the truth is tho all he needs to do is make a phone call whichseems to be beyond him.  I may pass that responsibility on to a friendwith better german language skills than me…..

Finished Render + Manual Labour

As you can imagine, with the screed drying not a great deal as happened in the last couple of weeks.  However on wednesday the grey part of the render was completed and the first part of the scaffold was taken down.

Looks pretty smart eh.

The scaffolding company are taking forever to get the stuff down.  They only did that side after threats from the proj manager of passing on costs to them.  This side has been taken down so that the utilities can be connected up this week!  That’s ideal as it means the heating can be installed and the house slowly start being dried out.

The manual labour part was only minor, but involved the wife and me actually doing something!

On Saturday morning we were up and out at 8.30am (On a saturday!!), a quick stop-off at the baumarkt to fill the 2006 Fiat Panda 100HP with this shite.

Obvioulsy with that kind of loading it lost some of its exhilerating performance!

An hour of work and we had the following temporary solution to the lack of enterance of the house.


A bit low really!, but hopefully its only going to be there for a couple of weeks.  We need to find a gardener really to carry out the work I have planned for the landscaping, thank fook its bonus month at work!

Other than that, all looks good, I did notice that withing the lightwells the bricks have not been plastered/rendered.

Hopefully this is the responsibility of the rendering company and not that bell-end of a builder who has caused us constant problems!

Backup accomodation has now been finalised… so the pressure is now off slightly to get finished.

Slow Progress …… A Common Theme

OK, so the shite weather has finally gone (for now) so some progress has been made.

Last wednesday the screed throughout the house was finally laid, which is good news as it means the drying process is finally underway so all the things dependant on that can be organised (badly of course with our proj manager).


Exciting pictures I know!

On Thursday and friday they added the topcoat onto the exterior render.


This is the stuff they used, stored here incase we ever need any more!

As you can see we were really adventurous with the colour choice!  Below that line it will be grey, I think it looks quite smart with those colours.

Other news, I was there with a friend on saturday boshing up the satelite dish.  That went pretty terribly, took ages to get the signal right, but in the end we had quite a strong feed, so that’s good.  Check out the style, looks shite but who cares.

The weather has really fucked us over, meaning sod all chance of getting in by the end of this month, received the updated timing plan overnight.

The delay isnt the end of the world, we have a backup we think following our impending homelessness on the 31st of march.  We need to make sure the garage is installed in time tho, we need the storage.

Nr Description Start Finish
11 Drywall Installation 1 12/03/2012 16/03/2012
13 Dismantle Scaffolding 05/03/2012 07/03/2012
15 Drywall Installation 2 19/03/2012 23/03/2012
16 Heating System Installation 12/03/2012 14/03/2012
17 Final Installation – Electrics 19/03/2012 21/03/2012
18 Heating of the Screed 15/03/2012 30/03/2012
19 Wall Tile Fitting 19/03/2012 23/03/2012
20 Floor Tile Fitting 02/04/2012 05/04/2012
21 Painting 10/04/2012 13/04/2012
22 Interior Doors 16/04/2012 16/04/2012
23 Installing the Steps on the stairs 12/04/2012 12/04/2012
24 Hand over 17/04/2012 17/04/2012

February Update

What a frustrating few weeks since the last update.

Unfortunately here in south germany we have had freezing conditions, down to around -20ºC.  This has pretty much stopped any progress with the Screed.  All they have been able to do is put down the foam insulation which goes between the concrete floors and the screed.

Since the weekend the weather has been better, but the big pile of screed sitting outside the house is frozen solid so they can not continue until that has thawed.  They are going to try again on friday.

The only progress has been the stairs have been fitted between ground floor and first floor as has the handrail between the ground floor and cellar.



Not the most stylish things in the world.  But they will be painted and the temporary steps replaced with wood when everything else is finished. 

We have done a couple of bits and pieces our selves in that time.  We had to take down the scafolding in the stairwell ourselves as the company were bone idle and the stair folks would have charged us to do it.  Also have installed the cabling between the utility room in the cellar and the outside wall at the top of the house.  These 9 cables will carry the DVB-S (sattelite) & DVB-T (Terrestrial) TV signals from the dish/aerial to the multiswitch which will then distribute everything to the individual rooms, each room has at least one TV connection point.

It took about 4 hours all in, including drilling a big 50mm bore hole from the outside to the inside, which was fun.

As soon as the outside layer of render is applied I can put the dish up so that the house looks like it belongs on a UK council estate.