Friday 11 December 2015

Screed and Garage

This week the screed was laid. We had an appointment with the manager of the contractors sent to do the work at the end of last week. We told him we don't want screed laid where the bath and showers will go so we can set them lower in to the floor making it easier to get in and out.  He told us to measure out the areas and mark them by placing wood or similar around the edge or where the screed should end. We went up to Lehningen to do this on Sunday and hopefully measured it all correctly.

The main work started on Tuedsday. We assumed it would be similar to pouring concrete and come pre-mixed on a lorry to be pumped in, but it wasn't like that at all.  The guys had a delivery of sand dumped on our driveway and mixed the screed on site. (Annoyingly they didn't ask where the sand should go and the garage is due this week, but with a huge pile of sand now in front of where the garage will go we were worried we might have to postpone delivery of this. We talked to the contractors who assured us it would all be gone before the garage comes on Thursday Morning.)

The mixed screed was fairly solid and could be moulded in to shape. They used a wooden plank to flatten the top.

By the end of Tuesday the first floor was finished and half of the cellar and ground floor.

By late Wednesday afternoon they had finished the whole house.  We also had a call from the guy delivering the garage late afternoon to say he is ahead of schedule and can deliver the garage in about an hour.  Steffi drove back out to Lehningen to meet him, hoping the sand was all gone, which fortunately it mostly was, so the garage was delivered. The foundations were not quite in the right place but were close enough, fortunately.

The Garage:

The screed:

These photos were taken earlier today. We are able to now walk on the screed without leaving marks but it will take a month to dry completely. We are supposed to ventilate the house three times a day for a month.  I'm not sure how that will work but we will try to get out at least once per day to give the place an airing.

Under-Floor Heating

More progress! Last week the under floor heating was laid. We didn't realise quite how this would be done but were amazed there is so much polystyrene involved, about 20cm thick base on which the heating pipes are run. This makes the total thickness of the floor about 50cm once the screed is in.

The pipes themselves are set out in several spirals covering the entire ground floor with a small gap where the shower will go. Eventually there will be thermostats in each room to control the temperature individually.

Despite telling us they would, the heating guys didn't come back to hang the solar panels so they will have to stay in the house when the next company come to put in the screed. They will come back once the screed is in to fire-up the boiler as this has to run to dry everything out.

Thursday 3 December 2015

Allkauf and Moebau Inflexibility

We decided fairly soon after the house was built that we wanted to plaster the walls rather than put up wood-chip wallpaper (fairly standard in Germany). We already agreed this with the contractors that will complete the final renovation and called Moebau, the company contracted by Allkauf to deliver the hardware, to request this. They informed us they don't have the plaster so can't deliver this, and we can not remove the wood-chip wallpaper from the delivery.

We accepted the fact they don't deliver the plaster so we will have to buy this ourselves but called up our Allkauf contact to remove the wallpaper from the delivery so we don't pay for wallpaper for the whole house that we don't need.  They said from their side this is fine but we need to arrange this ourselves with Moebau.

We once again wrote to Moebau to request they remove the wallpaper and stated Allkauf were ok with this but again they send a no nonsense reply basically saying our order is final and we may not now make changes (despite the fact it won't be delivered for another 6 - 8 weeks).

Poor show Moebau and poor show Allkauf - we are paying you for the goods so why can't you deal with Moebau directly and have this removed? What are we supposed to do with Wallpaper for a whole house we don't need?

Plumbing, Ventilation, and Some Issues

Another couple of weeks have past and there has been lots of activity at the house.

The main work has been the installation of the ventilation unit, plumbing in of the heating and all the pipework for water and drainage. This was started on Monday 23rd November and finished on Wednesday 2nd December.

The start of the work immediately highlighted a problem as the radiators that were delivered would not fit under the windows once the screed is in. New, smaller radiators were ordered but this made us look more closely at the hight of the windows upstairs and it looks like they will be just 70cm high once the screed is in, which is very low. Looking at the plans from the architect, the windows do appear to be planned this low on the blueprints, although there is no actual measurement in the plans showing the hight.  It seems unbelievable to us that an architect could plan such low windows without mentioning this. After a bit of Googling it looks like windows under 80cm require extra safety bars so we really hope they are at least 80cm high once the flooring is in.

The new radiators needed to be hung extremely high up, right under the windowsill,  in order to be far enough from the floor to allow for circulation of air.

As you can see, this looks a little odd and the windowsill itself is blocking the airflow from the top of the radiator.

After discussing the radiator issue with our Allkauf contact and their sub-contractor they agreed to allow us to upgrade the windowsills (that were damaged during the installation) to stone ones that are not as deep so they won't hang over the radiators. We also made it clear we were very unhappy that we were not made aware that there were other windowsills available at the sampling day.

We only have to pay for the difference in price to the original ones.  This will hopefully resolve the circulation issue and look less odd. We haven't yet addressed the 70cm high windows as we want to wait for the screed to see just how high they are and how this looks before we decide what to do about this.

The rest of the plumbing seems to have gone fairly smoothly. There was an issue that the plumbers built in the frame to hold the bathroom sink too close to the toilet but we spotted this and asked them to move it (not easy as none of them spoke German or English, just Bulgarian. - quite frustrating), which they did.

Here's how the work progressed:

1. They started by hanging the boiler and ventilation unit in the cellar, then laid the water and heating pipes.

Ventilation unit:

Boiler and water tank:

Pipes in the kitchen:

Pipes in Sophies room:

2. They then laid the pipes for the ventilation unit that will pump in fresh air to every room.

3. Next were the frames for the bathroom suite

(Before they widened the gap between the sink and toilet)

And in the downstairs bathroom:

4. The radiators were hung. Annoyingly the pipes are outside of the wall and bright red. We assumed these would have been in the wall considering the walls are hollow. We can probably paint them but is seems like a simple thing to do and makes a big difference to the end quality.

5. Finally three layers of polystyrene were laid on the ground floor and the pipes for the floor heating then tacked to the top layer in spiral patterns.

We had never thought that there would be such a thick layer of polystyrene under the screed, making the roof of the cellar to the floor of the ground floor around 50cm and very well insulated!

The plumbers tell us they have tested the pipes for leaks and will return to finish connecting things up and hanging the solar panels once the screed has been laid.

This will be poured next week on Tuesday and Wednesday and will make such a difference to the look and feel of the house, hiding all the workings and finally making it feel more like a home.