Sunday, 10 August 2014

Choosing a house

The next step was to choose a house. In Germany there are many firms who produce prefabricated houses. These are not the prefab buildings that most British people will be familiar with; post-war short term poorly insulated and often damp housing, that like the temporary prefab class rooms usually are used well beyond their intended life-span.

The prefab housing in this case refers to walls and roofing sections that are built in a factory under controlled conditions, sent to side on the back of a truck and then assembled (usually) in a matter of days. You can build prefab houses from concrete sections but wood is far more common. I ended up speaking to five companies in detail. Some were simply too expensive but two (and maybe a third) had houses that were in budget and could give me the house I want. All promised to walk me though the procedure, had long guarantees and short build times. What was more worrying was the disparity in extra costs that each firm calculated for the budget, in some cases there was a 30% difference in that value.

In the end I went for Allkauf. They are a prefab, wood-build housing firm and part of the biggest group in Europe. They had a good deal on a house about the right size, with a good price for a basement, an included garage and kitchen. I've also included the gable (as seen in the picture) and a fireplace both of which are extras.

They are only responsible for getting the house constructed and exterior finished. The interior is down to the client. They do provide most of the material (drywall, insulation, screed, flooring, tiles, paint) but it all needs to be installed. They have expansion packets that include the labour certain installations. 'ProTime' provides the installation of the electrics, heating and plumbing. Other packets would do the screed and drywalling etc however I hope to be able to do some of this myself and even if I do get professionals in (say for the screed) then it will certainly be cheaper to do so independently.

The Allkauf seller was very good and patient with my poor German. They also work directly with a local finance broker who was able to provide a deal as good as any I had been able to get from the three banks and two brokers I had spoken to. After some cold feet the night before I signed the agreement to start the process.

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