Contact via phone or internet is nice, but before we actually build a house we need to sit around the table with our clients. So we get in the car regularly, and we make our trips through France, at this moment an important market. We call it our Tour de France. Two weeks in a row on the péage, on the D321, and when we run out of luck our TomTom send us into some dirt road. But recently it resulted in a few more projects, see the map.
Every now and then we have a client that wants us to build a house and then in the process use product this or that for the purpose of finising the roof, or insulating the walls, or whatever. Usually product “this or that” is supposed to somehow lower the maintenance cost of the new house. For instance: composite materials for covering outside walls.
Alternatives For Wall Cladding And Roof Tiling
Many years ago products based on asbestos were popular for roof tiling and wall cladding. We all know how that one ended, and today it is very difficult to get rid of the stuff without hiring guys in white astronaut suits. In The Netherland we recently had a client who almost landed himself in jail for a weekend when he tried to get rid of 1 m2 of asbestos flooring from his old house, without hiring the astronaut-brigade. We all had to laugh about his story, but still it is a serious environmental offense.
This is a simple question: how do you build a new house? The answer is the slightly less simple. Do you ask for a quote with your local contractor, and if so, based on what? Is that going to be based on a sketch, or are you going to hire an architect? And what instructions do you give to the architect? Do you give him a budget, or do you give me a list of requirements. So what is actually the best way to build a house?
The answer is: there is no best way. Everybody does it his own way. We can only explain here how it works if you work with us.
We produce our houses in Lithuania, just East of Poland. East-Europe. And that raises a few concerns. Are these people to be trusted? What about the quality? Do they deliver on time?
We understand you concerns. Here are some answers.
Can we trust them?
Lithuania is on the Baltic coast, and has been a supplier of wood for ages. In the 17th century the Lithuanians had a permanent supply chain between Klaipeda and German, Dutch and English shipyards. The Dutch even developed a special type of ship for this trade, the “fluitschip“.
What was special about the fluitschip? Well, the Dutch had to pay toll in the Øresund between Denmark and Sweden. And they paid a lot of toll, actually two thirds of Danish state income was toll money. The height of the toll depended on the width of the upper deck of the ship. The Dutch, cheapskates as they are, developed the fluitschip such that it had a very wide belly and at the same time a very narrow upper deck. Yep, lots of freight, and little toll, that’s how we roll…
Europe has some pretty old wooden constructions. Barns, churches, living houses, often they survive several hundreds of years. In Switzerland there are some family houses that claim to be from 1176 and 1287 , and in Essex (England) there is a church that has some sections from the 9th and 11th century.
In Lithuania we have this church in Stelmužė, at the border with Latvia and close to Belorussia. The church is from 1650. It was built with only axe, chisel and hammer. No nails except to hang the wooden doors, otherwise just dowels. How cool is that!
Went to Oosterwold with a client to take a look at the plot where we will build his house. It was still misty, -5 degrees Celcius. On the Hannah-Ahrendt road the owners of the new-built houses have put their temporary mailboxes at the start of the road.
I am not sure why they did this, but my guess is the mailman got stuck in the mud a few times, and now refuses to go into the road.
Makes a nice picture anyways. Oosterwold is beautiful.
When designing a house, terraces very often are an afterthought. They are not really a part of the house, and also they are somehow not a part of the garden plan, so they end up in the middle. No budget. No plan. No terrace.
And that’s a pity. A terrace adds a lot to a wooden house. To start with, it makes almost every wooden house look a lot better. A terrace somehow works as a pedestal, as an extended foundation, that visually separates the house from the environment. Simply put, a nice terrace makes a house look better.
Secondly, a terrace adds living space. Obviously not in winter, but in summer you just open the terrace doors and voila: double sized living room. No more kids running in and out from the grass and the mud: there is always the terrace first.
And a terrace is not that expensive. Your house will cost somewhere between 1400 and 1800 euro per square meter (turn-key, so including foundation, kitchen, bathrooms etc.). But a terrace you have for less than 100 euro per square meter.
Previously we wrote about types of wood (wet, dried, laminated) and the shrinking of log houses and how we deal with the shrinking. In this post we want to show a little more about the actual drying process, and cracks. Because drying and cracks are very much related.
Why Does Wood Crack?
The photo below shows a crack in a wooden disc. Why does wood crack like this? Very simple: drying.
When wood dries, the drying process starts at the outside of the logs. While the humidity goes down from 15% to 12% near the outside of the log, more to the the center of the log the humidity initially remains at 15%. And that is a problem.
Oosterwold is an area just East of Almere, 30 kilometers from Amsterdam. Over the next ten years the municipality expects some 15,000 houses will be built in Oosterwold.
Is this interesting news for English-speaking readers? Maybe not. Most likely you are in the UK or Ireland, maybe you’re looking to build a house in France or Spain, and very few English or Scots actually want to re-locate to The Netherlands because of the nice climate, the beautiful cows or the cheese.
Nowadays many houses are being equipped with solar panels. They generate energy “for free”. Maybe not entirely for free because you need to buy, install, maintain and depreciate them, but once you get them working you have less worries about the electricity bill.
There are two problems with solar panels: they look ugly, and they produce electricity when you don’t need it.
Let’s start with the looks
Solar panels can be ugly.
The picture needs little explanation.