Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Meeting the architect

There has been a lot of progress in the past couple of weeks. As soon as I paid for the land the process of transferring my plot from the overall development into my name started (involving more fees of course). But that, in combination with the status report from G+S Wohnbau's contractors, was enough to spur Allkauf back into action.

Almost immediately I was contacted by the geologist and the architect for more documents and information. I managed to persuade the geologists that they could access the site even though work was not completed. The architect needed no such persuasion and immediately sent their surveyor (an other expense) to take the necessary measurements before I was due to meet the architect.

I met the architect at the show house. I had sent her all of my alterations months ago and she had been able to make a head start. We went though each room floor by floor making the necessary changes to the plan, adding and moving doors, windows and walls. She had some good ideas and most of this was pretty straight forward.

The big questions were over the basement, upstairs gable windows and underfloor heating as these would have a big impact on the budget. Originally I had not specified underfloor heating but had gradually changed my mind (probably after watching too much TV). It's expensive but looked possible.

Now the topic of cost had come up I discovered that with the alterations already specified it was only slightly more expensive than in the original calculation, but that this did not include the gable. The additional windows and doors had swallowed the gable budget and more! And the gable specified couldn't be put on this house anyway (even though it's in the sample picture). We discussed dormer windows but I'm not convinced they look right and the architect was skeptical too.

Deciding to leave the question of the gable unresolved we moved to the basement where more budgetary horror was lurking. She said I may need a more expensive basement because of the risk that the ground water may rise, we wouldn't know for sure until the geologist's report. This type of basement is very considerably (~50%) more expensive than the normal one. And it would need to be insulated but this is something I could do myself.

Leaving the gable, basement and underfloor heating questions open until the geologist's report we then had to complete a form that will be the main part of the information for Allkauf. Suddenly I had to choose roof tiles, door and window colour and frosted glass style. Thankfully I knew exactly what I wanted.

The architect told me that the average time to get the building up is six months from this point, but that this is skewed by a few very long projects. We will see how long it really takes. After three hours of discussion in German I was pretty much done.

Driving home I was a bit frustrated (although not surprised) that the initial estimate had been at least 15% off. It was more than the buffer I had budgeted for the alterations and would eat into my contingency. But I quickly realised that I would be happy enough to forgo the gable, particularly as it doesn't seem possible and that it can pay for the more expensive basement if needed. As for the extra? Well that's what the contingency is for! Right?

Monday, 9 February 2015

A huge bill

Following the last post there was initially good progress on site. The mountains of earth were removed and work was completed on the services. But once that was done the site went very quiet, and it still is.

However there has been more progress on the paperwork side. Following my strong words to G+S Wohnbau they started the process of transferring the land to my name, which needs changes to the land registry, confirmation from the notary as well as tax considerations before actually paying for the land and development costs.

Just as before the tax office was first off the mark with a bill on the same day as the land was transferred, if only everything was so quick! One of the bills was in Deutsche Marks as they refer to legislation put in place before the Euro and not changed since, only in the last line was it converted to Euros.

Finally, last week was the actual bill for the land and development. Needless to say that was the largest bill I’ve ever seen in my life. My agent at the bank took care of it all for me and I received confirmation of the transfer on Friday. That means that the mortgage is now being used and the clock is ticking!

Unfortunately the ground test (for foundations etc) people are unwilling to do their work before the new road is finished, even though it’s marked out, there’s no one working on it and my plot has access from a completed road on the other side. Also Allkauf have apparently put the project on pause, which is understandable given the delay but this is something I need to get going again.

Of course the easiest thing would be if G+S Wohnbau actually finished the development work. They had ignored me again so I sent another frustrated email and only then got a response. In an attached letter from their contractors it seems that the stoppage is due to the cold weather (no surprise there) but that all the work is done except the widening of the road, streetlights and a noise reduction wall (but this doesn’t affect my plot). Of course if they had been on time there wouldn't have been a problem with the weather, in fact they've been lucky that it's not been a problem earlier.

This week is due to be warm. It’s been forecast for a while so I hope they’re ready to go and will make use of it, but somehow I doubt they will!