Monthly Archive for August, 2014

What!?

So, just when we thought all the dodginess that could have been done to our apartment we just bought in Berlin has been discovered, NO. There is a light at the bottom of the stairs, and a light at the top of the stairs. It would make sense that one light switch controlled both right? Well, um, no, not really, I mean…….hmmmm, now I’m just fumbling with my words. How shall I put this?

Ok, the light at the top of the stairs doesn’t have a light switch. Yes, that’s right, it is always on.

I know that might sound weird to the Anglo-Saxon world that I/we only just discovered this. But you gotta remember, there are no lights installed in any apartment or house when you move into a place in Germany. It doesn’t matter if you are buying it or renting it, there will be no light fittings whatsoever – just cables hanging out of the expected place.

We didn’t discover it even actually. The builders we have in at the moment who are doing the plastering/painting needed more light and fitted just a socket that could fit a bulb, only to realise there was no way of turning it off. It is always on.

So, on the to-do list. We need an electrician to sort this shit out. I tell ya, this is a never ending story of fuckups!! 😛

The story continues….

So, we moved into the new apartment, and jammed all our stuff on the 4th floor in the living room. We had to do it that way since the top floor wasn’t quite ready to move anything into. We were having the parkett flooring resurfaced and stained white. Well, of course the flooring guy said everything would be fine and the floor would be ready by the time we wanted to move in, but as per usual, the job took much longer than the ‘professional’ had estimated, so by the time the move day came around, the floor surface was not dry enough to be able to put anything on it. Great!

So yes, everything went into the living room, and Ina and I had nowhere to sleep. Luckily Daniel, a good friend and someone whom Ina had been living with previously, said we could crash over his place until the floor was dry enough to construct the bed etc. So that’s what we did.

Then it was the annual family reunion, this time organised by us, so it was in Berlin – well, Brandenburg to be precise. Which meant we couldn’t do any bed construction, or moving until we were back on Sunday evening – which is exactly what we did. Got home, pulled all the bed pieces upstairs (the mattress was pretty damned hard work) and constructed the bed. Mind you, the skirting boards still weren’t attached to the walls since the flooring guy had decided to make the executive decision and instead of staining them, oiled them white. Which gave the end result of an entirely different colour which by no means matched the floor. A phone call later and he said he would return to do them (as well as a step to the terrace) in the same white stain as the floor.

So all our stuff was in boxes downstairs, the bed was constructed upstairs, a plumber came over to teach us how to use the gas water heater, and we were kinda in business. The flooring guy returned and did the skirting boards and the step, but then we had to wait for all of that to dry too. By this point in time it was coming very close to the time when we had organised for builders to come and remove the wallpaper downstairs and plaster etc. Yes, Ina and I decided we had bitten a bit more off than we could chew, and that the downstairs area would be way more difficult than upstairs, and upstairs was hard enough. I mean, we had made a huge start on the kitchen/entry area – basically almost finishing it. But the living room/stairwell was worrying.

Anyway, because the builders were scheduled to come the following week, it meant that as soon as the skirting boards were dry enough, we had to put them somewhere out of the way, construct the wardrobe, hang all our clothes up finally, and bring everything from downstairs, upstairs. And when I say everything, I mean everything! We now have a bedroom that includes the kitchen sink! So we were more or less ready for the builders to come, just a few more things had to go upstairs, but I was off that weekend for downhill mountain biking in Harz. So you can kind of get a picture., Ina and I both work full-time jobs, both working a minimum of 10 hours a day. All this moving was done throughout the week in the evenings after work.

As you can imagine, downhill mountain biking was awesome fun with the lads, but also exhausting. That was last weekend. And coming back from mountain biking, I wasn’t sure where we were going to live anymore since the top floor of our apartment was full of our stuff, and I mean full. So we thought a hotel might be the best idea for a few days, and thereafter over at a friends.

Over the week we managed to move things around enough to have enough room to move around (albeit like ants), whilst downstairs is going full speed ahead. The telekom guy came around to turn the internet on, one word, awesome, and the builders said they’d be done in a week, which Ina and I both said we’d eat our hat if that was the case. And here we are today, able to live and sleep on the top floor of the apartment, currently sitting out on the terrace writing this post, enjoying our super speed internet care of telekom.

And guess what, downstairs continues into next week – how surprising.

Anyway, still so many things to do. We signed a contract to get the downstairs bathroom built, which will kick off on the 16th of September, and then we’ll get the chipboard that is left in the kitchen ripped up, replaced with concrete boards, and tiled with slate over the top. Then the kitchen can go in, and that is downstairs kinda finished. After that it is just the stairwell we need to do, and finally, when we can be bothered, overhauling the upstairs bathroom – but that can definitely wait. The bathroom is relatively new, and is ok, it’s just that neither of us really like it.

So reflecting on the purchase of this place, was it a good purchase? I still have to say YES! The area is beautiful, quiet, plenty to do, the apartment is in an absolutely fabulous location, we get so much sun it’s not funny. Really just great. We made this mountain of work, the place was ready to move into, and if we didn’t have such specific ideas, as well as taste, we could have moved in immediately and just lived here. But Ina and I don’t roll like that. Why live in something that you own, that you don’t like 100%? Exactly. So at the end of the day, we will have an ‘altbau’ apartment, that will have been given a whole lot of love and been turned into an alt-neubau. Really looking forward to the day we have a proper living room again where I can just sit on the couch, drink a beer, and enjoy my time in the apartment, without feeling guilty that I am not doing the much needed work to it that is still outstanding.

Will we be finished before Christmas? How long is a piece of string I ask you? You just never know 🙂

Here are a few shots to bring you up to speed though, as you can see, we are in the process of removing a door and sealing the wall since removing the wall separating the kitchen from the living room. No point having two entrances, and we can use that corner much more effectively if it is closed up: