In response to a growing number of messages I am receiving asking about how to go about finding properties in the area, I can recommend the following web search engines:
Unfortunately, they are in German but it is easy enough to find your way around them using a dictionary, or for those who really cannot be bothered, by running them through an online translator such as the one available on Google Chrome.
I am working on doing a full article which will include common terminology and other bits of advice on finding property. I will publish that as soon as I can.
Does anybody know any good surveyors, specialists or builders capable of properly assessing damp problems and proposing remedies?
I am not looking for the usual cowboy gangs (who are sadly in the majority) who stick a two pronged resistance meter in the wall and declare the whole universe is suffering from rising damp, I am looking more for someone who understands older buildings and how they “breathe”, the use of traditional breathable materials such as lime plaster and can give proper guidance rather than promote methods which just hide the problems and ultimately make matters worse.
From my limited knowledge, I know that most damp problems are not generally caused by ‘rising damp’ as is usually considered to be the culprit. Instead, they are very often caused by surprisingly simple things, invariably by the previous use of modern materials for repairs and renovations which actually trap moisture. This trapped moisture often goes unnoticed until and only manifests itself when the real damage is done. Old houses generally relied on being able to ‘breath’ to keep damp out, but over the years the trend has been to seal places to keep the precious heat in or to make them easier to maintain, although this is often to the detriment of the building.
I would really appreciate any feedback or experiences both good and bad from others who have had damp problems to contend with, and as usual I have included a contact form below and I promise not publish anything told to me without express permission.
One thing that really hit me when first coming here was the German love affair with wood panelling.
Back home in England, pretty much the only places that are decked from top to bottom in tongue and groove – or worse still, wood effect laminate panels – are older Chinese takeaways. Sure, wood effect flooring has experienced a surge in popularity but I suspect that is only because it is durable and easy to clean in these hectic time. Other than that, the only time you see anything clad in timber is the smoking rooms of ancient country houses, gentlemen’s clubs or on the side of bath tubs in nautically themed bathrooms.
In Germany, however, the story seems to be different. As you can see from the two pictures of our house, we have copious amounts of it. The kitchen must have several acres of the Black Forest stuck to its walls and ceiling. In fact, the only spaces that were spared are the garage and utility room. Some of it is fake, some of it is real, but all of it is simply too much.
We looked at many houses before settling on this one, and I cannot recall any that did not have at least one room with wood boldly cladding a wall, ceiling or both. To be fair, all places we looked at did need modernising so I suppose such cladding on German interiors is akin to the stone cladding that adorned the exteriors so many British houses during the Eighties.
Anyway, it was just an observaton, and call me a hypocrite if you must but we will in fact be keeping some of it. The real wood stuff we have is of very good quality, but it will not be left with that grim brown wood stain (nor the Lino), instead it will be brought up to date with a splash of colour.
Oh and by the way, the pictures are of the house as it was the day we moved in. Honest.
Like many other people in the area, we are about to embark on an extensive programme of renovations and modernisation of our house, and being total novices would appreciate feedback and advice from anyone who has done or is doing the same on a property in the area. In particular we would welcome local contacts, recommendations or feedback on the various tradespeople and professionals we will probably be needing. Of course, everything will be handled with the strictest of confidence and nobody will be held liable for any recommendations or advice given. Below is a contact form which comes directly to me and will not appear as a comment. Many thanks in advance.