Friday 30 October 2015

First Allkauf Expansion Pack

At 5pm yesterday as we were on our way back from Lehningen to meet friends for dinner when we received a call from the delivery lorry driver saying he would be on site in about half an hour.  This was a surprise as he was supposed to come today. We told him there was no chance we could get back out to Lehningen yesterday evening but fortunately this was no problem for him as he needed to stop for the night anyway.  He wanted to get an early start in the morning though so he asked that we meet him on site in Heimerwegwiesen this morning at 7am. Not easy with a little one but there were no other options so after a very early start and trying not to wake the baby we made our way over to Lehningen to meet him.

As we arrived the lorry was there waiting and the driver was opening up the sides ready to offload with the mini-forklift mounted on the back of the trailer.

After a brief discussion as to where he should put everything he got started, promptly unloading five pallets of plaster boards and one long pallet of wooden beams topped with tools, containers full of various liquids, a loft hatch, plastic sheeting, and the tools required to fit them all.

Allkauf only deliver to the outside of the house so we had to carry in the valuable items that are easy to move but we left the wood and plasterboards outside as there was no way we could move them all by ourselves. Fortunately the weather is supposed to be good for the next few days so we hope they wont get too wet.

It only took the driver about 30 minutes to unload everything and within an hour he was gone, leaving us with a garden and living room full of building material.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Scaffolding Gone and All Cabled Up

The scaffolding was removed today so we can see the house properly for the first time and we love it! With its modern "Landhaus" style it is so different from all the others in the street, most of which follow the current grey roof and windows and white walls trend. We hope it will be a timeless design that ages well.

The town council is also now planting trees and plants in the beds along the street making the whole area look much better. We can really start to imagine living in Lehningen now.

Inside the house the cables have been laid and we were happy with the work.  They are not yet connected up to the mains. This will happen once the scree and walls are in.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Electrician Appointment

We met the Electricians appointed by Allkauf at 9am today in Heimerwegwiesen. We walked through each room of the house outlining what we wanted with regards to the power, phone and TV. Most of the planning we had done in advance was doable but there were a few points we hadn't thought about such as where to place the thermostats for the underfloor heating.

We were pleased to find out there were more sockets included than described in the paperwork we had from Allkauf. We also had the TV coaxial cables included to each room although not to the satellite dish (I will connect this up myself).

We did need a few extras:

- Thicker cables to the washing machine and tumble dryer  as they will be in the same room so need separate cables to avoid tripping the fuse.
- An earth cable for the satellite dish (in case it is struck by lightning)
- An extra cable for the TV in the living room as we have a dual tuner satellite receiver
- Cables for an outside light over the patio.

These came to around €300 in total we would need to pay. The rest is covered by Allkauf of course.

We were asked to come back tomorrow to sign off on the work.

Monday 26 October 2015

Rendering the Walls

Today our house walls were rendered.  We were on site this afternoon to see how they were getting on and to plan for the electrician who is coming tomorrow to cable up the house.

When we arrived they had completed about half the house already and it looked much better in the bright white render rather than the creamy coloured plaster. We did try to talk to them to see when they would finish but they spoke little German and no English making communication tricky although they were friendly enough.

We spent most of the afternoon sticking post-it notes on the walls where we wanted light switches, plug sockets, TV connectors, etc.. We decided it would be a good idea to plan this before the electrician appointment tomorrow.

By the time we had finished the planning it was getting dark but the rendering was still not quite finished on the rear bay extension.  We told the guys we had to leave (we needed to get Sophie home, fed and in bed).  The guys wanted us to sign-off on the render before we left but after the experience with the site manager from Allkauf and the fact we found issues after signing for the house, this time we refused and said they should send us the forms and we will sign them once we have had a chance to inspect the work.

When we left it looked pretty good.  Here's our new shiny white rendered house:

Friday 23 October 2015

Plaster Fixing and Filling

Today a plasterer was on site to ensure the under-layer of plaster on the outside of the house  is waterproof and flat, ready for the render.

We went up to see how he was getting on and we could see it already looked much better with the issues we pointed out to Allkauf on the phone already fixed. The grey stripe  around the whole house (from the exposed polystyrene insulation added between the first and ground floor walls) had also been completely plastered over too.

The best news we had is that the render will be done on Monday next week rather than next spring as the weather is supposed to be good enough so it can dry.  Excellent news as we can't get the garage delivered until the render is doe.

Thursday 22 October 2015

House Build - Day 3

We were asked to be on site in Lehningen today at 9am to meet the Allkauf site manager.  We arrived promptly to find the builders were finished and waiting for us to sign off on the house so they could leave.

Here's the house as completed by the Allkauf builders:

Soon after we arrived the site manager turned up and we started to go through the house and check for any issues.  This all seemed to happen quickly and it was all a little hectic as you could tell he didn't have a lot of time. First we looked around the outside of the house and noticed the drainage pipes in the ground laid by the ground workers for the drainpipes (based on the plans from the architect) did not meet the drainpipes in two corners.

We mentioned this to the site manager who basically said it is our problem and we would have to sort it out. We then checked the doors and windows worked and that the roller blinds ran smoothly but not being experts we were not really in a position to know if there were any underlying issues. The project manager said this was no problem and we should just contact him if we find any problems.

Once we had been through each room with the project Manager we were asked to sign that all is OK. The builders and the project manager then left leaving us feeling excited and happy we have a house but a little nervous that we may have just signed off on it with potential problems.

Once they were gone we took the time to look in more detail and did find some problems:

1. The Bay window drainpipe has no drainage in the ground to flow in to. When we looked at the blueprints we could see the architect had completely forgotten to plan this in!

2. There were around 80 roof tiles left on the first floor.

3. There was some missing foam in some of the gaps between the rafters and the wall.

4. There was some damage to the lower wall at the back.

5. There is a rubber sheeting around the base of the house where the patio will be butting up to the house to stop moisture getting in but the earth around the house has been piled too high for it to be correctly laid around the rear bay. We will need to talk to the ground workers about this.

We telephoned our Allkauf representative to talk over the first two points and he told us:

- Point one was an oversight and we should send a quote from our ground workers for the time they will need to lay a drainage pipe (we will have to cover material costs)

- Point two with the tiles is apparently normal and we have to remove them ourselves. We are quite disappointed with Allkauf on this point as for 5 guys it is a 20 minute job but for us it will take hours.

- Points 3 and 4 will be fixed tomorrow by the plasterer who comes to fill any holes and smooth out any bumps and scratches caused during the drive from the factory to the site.

Despite these issues we are generally very happy with the house. The build quality appears to be excellent and it looks and feels great. We still can't quite believe we have a house!

Wednesday 21 October 2015

House Build - Day 2

Today we arrived on site around 8:30am. The builders were already hard at work preparing the roof and fixing the internal walls.  When we left yesterday the roof rafters were up but this morning when we arrived the outer planks were on the roof at the front and parts of the back ready for the tiles.

There wasn't so much to see from the outside in the morning as most work was going on inside.

After lunch the tiling of the roof started. The builders had a brilliant system that meant three people could tile the entire front of the roof in around 45 minutes! One builder stood inside and passed out tiles two at a time through a hole in the roof, then the next builder would take these and literally throw them (still two) to the next guy who caught them and put them in place. They were amazingly quick to the point that the guy placing the tiles could complete two and turn to catch the next two at the same speed as the others needed to get the tiles to him. Amazing to watch!

The tiling at the back was much more complicated due to the extension. They needed to cut tiles and place extra waterproofing here and this took them most of the afternoon meaning they didn't finish laying the tiles until well after dark.

When we left at around 7pm they had about a quarter of the roof left to do.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

House Build - Day 1

We had an early start as we had to be on site at 6am. When we arrived two lorries were already waiting (they actually arrived yesterday evening and spent the night in Lehningen) along with a van with five Allkauf builders. The crane arrived at about 7am and the team wasted no time getting started.

On the first lorry were the outside walls, already waterproofed and with the windows and blinds pre-built in.  These were quickly put in to place along with the internal wall next to the stairs within the first couple of hours, just as it was getting light.

There was a small snag with the walls of the bay window as it didn't quite match the size of the cellar roof but it was a matter of millimetres and they soon had it all in place.

As soon as the ground floor walls were in place the scaffolding company started building a scaffold around the house. This meant that there was somewhere for the builders to stand as the hight increased.

Once the first lorry was empty the second pulled round and the team again wasted no time with the unloading. This lorry mainly contained internal walls along with the roof of the bay window and floor of the 1st floor, which is basically chipboard panels that they lay on wooden beams.

This took a little longer to unload as there was more sawing and nailing required but again the team just got on with the job in hand with little gossiping and no breaks up to around 1pm! This second lorry was partly unloaded on to the street.  

One of the builders spent the next couple of hours putting together the 1st floor ceiling/loft floor. He also balanced the rafters for the roof on top, laid out flat in pairs. More on this later.

The roof of the bay window delayed things by about 20 minutes as they had to work out how to best position it.

At 1pm we provided a snack of German meatloaf in rolls, buttered pretzels, some home made chocolate muffins, and lots and lots of coffee!

Once lunch was eaten the builders got back to work. In the meantime the 3rd lorry had arrived with the upstairs walls.

Once the upstairs walls were in, the huge ceiling piece with the rafters was hoisted in to place.

As the rafters were laid out in pairs facing opposite directions the guys on the roof simply had to pull them in to place and nail them down with nail guns, which they did in less than an hour.

By this time it was getting dark and cold so they started wrapping up for the day. When we left at 7pm the roof rafters were up and they were starting to put up the waterproof sheeting to cover the roof.

We were really impressed with the skill and professionalism brought by the building team. They all knew exactly what they were doing and got on with the job in hand with no fuss or ceremony.

Monday 19 October 2015

All Set for the House Build

Tomorrow's the big day, we need to be on site at 6am as the builders are booked from then. Not easy with a seven month old baby but it's going to be worth it I'm sure.

We went up to the site in Lehningen today to check the skip was delivered and placed in the right spot. We has a bit of drama this morning when the skip lorry driver called us at 8am asking where we are and where our plot is. It seems he wasn't told the plan he should call us to make an appointment or given the map we drew up marking the delivery location.  After a call to the skip company's HQ it was all sorted out and the skip is more or less in the right place, although probably a bit too close to the house. We assume the crane tomorrow can be used to move it if required so are not worried about it.

Also on site we saw that the roof tiles have been delivered. They are a bit more orange than we remember but still look ok.

Unfortunately we don't know exactly how many builders, drivers, etc. there will be but we'll pick up some pretzels and rolls on the way in the morning and we have some "fleischkaese" (German meatloaf) to bake tonight and take with us too.  We'll also take our coffee machine and some paper cups to keep them (and us) happy!

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Interior Project Plan

Hurray, we received our project plan for the interior building work and utilities from the company commissioned by Allkauf to carry out the work. Here's how it breaks down:

20th - 23rd October
House build

26th - 30th October
Electrical cabling

30th October
Delivery of packet 1 from Allkauf with the building material needed for the basics (plasterboard, foil, tape, etc.) plus the boiler and other items for the heating.

2nd November
Delivery of more building material and start of interior finishing

16th - 19th November
Delivery and fitting of the stairs to the cellar and 1st floor

23rd November
Plumbing and drainage pipe fitting

30th November
Start of heating installation (underfloor on the ground floor and radiators on 1st floor and in the cellar.

Week commencing 7th December
Scree spreading (takes 6 weeks to completely dry but can be walked on after a few days)

Week commencing 14th December
Final electrical installation (socket, lights, switches, etc)
Turning on the heating

There is a note at the bottom of the plan that says all dates are subject to change... let's see how things progress!

A Clean and Dry Cellar

It's been a slow few weeks, things are almost at a standstill while we wait for the house to come on 20th.

The weekend before last we went out to the site in Lehningen armed with a brand new jet-washer and a pump.  The plan was to see how the cellar is drying out after the sludge was removed and to wash the rest of the mud from the walls.

Unfortunately there was still about 1cm of water in most areas that was not too muddy but still stopping the cellar from drying out properly. We decided we would use the pressure washer to clean up the walls and floor from the remaining mud and then use the pump to remove the water.

All went well in the first room and the walls cleaned up nicely although they will forever be stained red with from the clay. The pump was one that can remove all water down to 3mm so we put it in the water, turned it on and... nothing happened.  It was humming and gurgling but no water was being pumped. It turns out the pump can remove water down to 3mm but to get started it needs to be in water at least 20cm deep!  Obviously we didn't want to fill the cellar with water again so we had to move to plan B.

Unfortunately plan B involved a mop and a bucket which we also bought on the way "just in case"! Steffi then left me on site while she went shopping and ran some errands.

To cut a long and rather dull story short, 6 hours later when she picked me up I had just about finished mopping and there was no more standing water in the cellar. I'd even managed to jet-wash the other two smaller rooms and mop up the excess water too.  Unfortunately it was dark by this point so I couldn't take any photos but we returned last weekend to see how it was looking in daylight and were very happy to see it was completely dry and clean.

Here are the photos from last weekend:

 Large hobby room from both ends (above and below). The walls still need washing in here.

The hall:

The technical room with new telecom junction box:

Looking from the technical room in to the hall and hobby room: