House Status III
So much happened since the last update. Let's see if I can sum it up here.
Last time, we were still not clear if the roof insulation offer would work out. But luckily it did. It got a little bit more expensive than the original offer, because these things always do. But everything worked out fine.
The old insulation got removed, we got a few days to put in new cables (more on that later) and the new insulation was installed. They also installed a new crawl way which looks just beautiful.
Overall we're happy with this company's work. They were responsive, quick and cleaned up properly after themselves.
We had commissioned the replacements of the cellar windows quite a while ago. They got finally delivered at the end of November and were installed in just a day.
We did go for the cheapest offer here and I think it shows a little in the quality. The windows are tight and have the proper insulation, but the mechanical parts feel a little cheapish.
Since this is only for the cellar, it doesn't really matter. For “real” windows I would probably pick a better brand. Luckily our “real” windows are a good brand already and don't need replacement.
The previous owners had mentioned occasional clogging. Well, they weren't lying.
About three weeks ago we had our first own experience of that. Flushing the toilet pushed nasty stuff out of the floor drain. I tried to fix it myself using a plumber's snake but without success. In the end we had to pay a company to get it unclogged. What a shitty experience 💩.
However, the last two weeks Kaddi's parents and their craftsman friend J visited to help with the various renovations. J's main task was to remodel the bathroom.
It wasn't really planned to completely replace all the pipes in the bathroom, but that's what we ended up with. And I'm really glad we did. The old pipework was a nightmare: multiple 90 degree angles and nearly no slope in the sewage pipe just asked for frequent clogging. The waste water drain from the kitchen even went uphill for a bit .
On the plus side, the pipe renewal also meant that we could put in a low profile floor heating for added luxury and warm feet .
During the works we had our very own porta potty. Another new experience.
The unplanned pipe replacement unfortunately jeopardized our time planning, so the bathroom remodeling is still unfinished and J promised to return in January. At least we do have a working toilet again.
Not only the pipes in the bathroom needed work. We also needed some work done in the cellar. J rerouted the sewage pipe to have more slope and added connections for the washing machine we want to place here. He also installed a drainage sink, replaced the old water filter and correctly connected the condensation pipe for the heating.
The replacement of the electrical wiring is what mostly kept me busy during the last two weeks (when I wasn't driving back and forth to the hardware store).
As you may remember, there were two main parts:
- moving the fuse box and electricity meter into the cellar
- replacing all the aluminium wiring with modern copper
The first part requires an electrician certified by the local energy provider. Finding one was difficult (as is with finding any craftsmen).
The local provider has a website where you can enter a zip code and get a list of the certified electricians in that area. Of the four or five listed in the area where our house is, none answered.
But of course there is no reason why I can't use a registered electrician from anywhere in Berlin. Only Berlin has several hundred zip codes!
So I sat down and wrote a small PHP script:
- Filter a list of German zip codes for “Berlin”
- Query the energy provider for each of the zip codes
- Extract the contact data from the result
- Output a CSV with the electricians
Half an hour later I had the email addresses of about 1400 certified electricians. I sent an email to roughly the first half of them.
This is the result:
Yeah. 11 offers from nearly 700 contacts. Anyway, in the end we picked one who seemed competent, even though not super cheap. He installed the new fuse box, moved the meter and installed a new potential equalization (aka. “earth”).
This left me with the task of the rewiring. Every time I thought I had sawed the last cable channel, I noticed another one I previously forgot or noticed that an additional one is needed to fit all the cables.
During the work we also learned that part of how the wiring had been planned was not up to code. This meant that I had to replace some wires that had already been laid by completely new ones. A very frustrating experience.
Also, remember how the roof insulation people left us a few days to put new cabling in before putting in the new insulation? Kaddi spent about three hours crawling through the roof. Our roof is only 1.40m at the highest point, so you can imagine how difficult to reach many spaces are, especially when you have to take care to put your weight on the beams only.
Kaddi did a great job and the new insulation was added. Only then I noticed that we had forgotten the cable for the kitchen. The previous owners had told us that the kitchen had been rewired just a few years ago. Unfortunately that was only half true. The wiring still relied in part on old aluminium wires - there were actual connections between copper and aluminium! A big no-no in any electrical installation.
And while we were still contemplating how to solve the kitchen problem, I caused another fuck-up. In my attempt to replace some of the not up to code wiring, I pulled on the wrong cable without realizing that I was pulling the lighting cable out of the roof of the mudroom. The hardest to reach spot in the roof! A place that is virtually inaccessible since the new insulation is in!
Anyway. In the end everything worked out. The mud room got a new, slightly lower dry wall ceiling (with built in LED spots) and the kitchen got some more cable channels sawed, some cabling coming from the cellar and we drilled a hole through the ceiling and the insulation for the lighting. This turned out easier than anticipated.
We currently have electricity and light in the office, living room, hallway and mudroom again. Kitchen, bed room and cellar are still waiting to be connected.
The electrician will need to come for some work on the fuse box again and to check our connections once we're done.
Since we're saving some money in some areas by doing it ourselves, we decided to also replace the doors (and frames) to the different rooms.
Kaddi's dad had much fun removing the old frames. Unfortunately our walls are thicker than modern drywall constructions, so the standard frame sizes you can buy won't fit. We ordered custom ones but they will only be available in February next year.
At least the bathroom wall was standard sized, so we do have a bathroom door again. All other rooms have no doors now.
For the door between the hallway and mud room we decided to get rid of it completely. Instead of a traditional door, we might add a barn door style sliding door at some point - but this is one custom frame less we have to care about.
Sewage Service Shaft
Remember this one? The replacement of the crumbling service shaft was about one the very first things we had commissioned back in October. The new shaft was finally delivered last week and is scheduled to be installed tomorrow. We'll see.
Two weeks working on a construction site took some toll on my body – more than I expected. I guess I'm not the youngest anymore.
I always had back problems so I expected to have problems there first. But luckily that turned out quite alright.
My hands on the other hand (pun not intended) are hurting a lot. Especially in the mornings they are very stiff and it takes a while to get them moving again.
My knees hurt as well and getting from a crouching to an upright position without leaning on something is actually difficult.
In addition it seems that I have some allergic reaction or rash on my knees, probably from the dust.
I think/hope all of these symptoms are just temporary, but it's annoying nonetheless.
After working full time on the house for the last two weeks, my “vacation” is over. So things will progress slowly again.
Main focus will continue to be the electrical installation. I want all rooms to have power and light again as soon as possible. Once done, all the open channels need to be closed.
I'd also like to start on the LAN. The wires are in, now all the sockets and the patch panel need to be crimped - it's about 20 years since I last did that. We'll see how well that goes.
Proper renovation will probably start in January - this will probably be carried out by a professional.
We also need to get rid of the huge pile of rubble we have from the bathroom remodeling. Getting a container and inviting friends to help is probably the best way to approach this. We'll have to see how to time that best.
PS. because someone asked, we have a house specific Amazon wishlist.