Neubau Progress: Changing Doors

While our Rohbau phase of building was done, or as our contract manager liked to think… SET IN STONE… we did want to make some intelligent tweaks regarding doors…

Remember what our floor plan looks like?

If you notice up there, in the “Reduit”, the door opens into the pantry closet. Now, I think you all agree that it doesn’t make sense to open a closet door into the closet and lose all that extremely valuable storage space. We had to change that.

But worse was in the kitchen. Because the kitchen was almost closed off without a door, we decided to keep the door option so that we would be able to totally shut off the sights and smells from dinner guests and sleeping spouses. But as the company had it planned, the kitchen door would open and partially block the windows if you left it open, which we plan to.

Well, that didn’t make any sense… so we put in our door requests and below you can see the slightly amended “new plan”.

Now we won’t have to worry about getting into the pantry and our kitchen door will spend most of its life sitting flush against the entry wall in the apartment. We just had to make sure they actually put our door frames in the correct direction!

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Neubau Progress: V

In December we went back to the flat and they had started plastering our walls. It was a step towards finishing!

Around this time they had also installed (or at least placed) our bathtub and shower basins!

This view is from the bedroom looking toward the hallway.

Here is a shot of the hallway where the built in closets will be placed and all the tubing for the utilities on the left.

Here is the office/guest bedroom update:

Shower basin…

Kay walking through our smoothed over flat…

And the kitchen… which still doesn’t have the bloody extra sockets we asked for in the corner!!

At this point we were kinda pissed about the electrical sockets because they had begun to plaster over everything and our sockets definitely were not there or even marked to be put in. We wrote some unhappy letters at this point.

More of the hallway:

A week or two after this we visited right before we went to America for Christmas and they had laid our floor heating. I took a bunch of pictures for progress reports, but I accidentally wrote over the photos when we were preparing our cameras for our US trip! Sooo sad… A fellow buyer in the complex gave me a photo or two of the floor heating, but you can’t really get the picture of how all the tubes looked laid out next to each other…

It looked something like this in our flat:

(Image via Aubrey Cornfoot)

So you get an idea what the floor heating *would* have looked like… still mad I told Kay to reformat the card. Next house I’ll be more diligent!

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Neubau Progress: IV

After another month rolled around, we decided to visit the flat in November to check the progress. 

This is the view of our new street!

There wasn’t a lot of visible progress, but the french balconies had been put up in the bedrooms along with the shutters outside.

In the kitchen you could see the tubing for all the electricity and utilities.

Later in this very spot below, we’d find out that the builders forgot something rather big… there is a utilities shaft missing. AKA a big hole in the ground that should be there… but isn’t. But we were blissfully unaware at this point…

They had put in the tubing for our electrical outlets for the fridge, oven and sockets… but below they were still forgetting to install our extra sockets that we planned. We were not impressed. We emailed. We called. We wrote mean registered letters. They had better put our sockets in before they plaster and tile everything! Electricity setup was done ages ago and we were not impressed that after months of asking about it and being told it was being taken care of, the company STILL didn’t do anything.

And here you can at least see the green shutters from the outside. I think they make the building prettier and I’m excited that they are functional. 🙂

…and the view from the train tracks.


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Neubau Progress: III

Oh my… in October it was time to visit our flat again. Can’t believe I’m just sharing these now, but I have a bit of catching up to do in the next weeks before we move!!

By October not much was happening in the flat aside from some electrical wiring, fitting the tubes into the walls as well as putting in some kitchen venting. Here is the kitchen:

This is the venting in the kitchen. It was exciting to us at the time…

More haphazard wiring…

Living room looking to the entry door.

This is the living room next to the guest bath where we will have the light switches and control for the temperature, hence all the extra tubes. In case you haven’t noticed already, the wiring is a bit different than in the US. It is all stored in tubes so that when the wall is covered up you can pull out the wiring without redoing all the walls in the house. This was not the case in my parent’s addition that we saw in-progress during our visits to the States.

Here is the guest room.

And another view of the guest room to the windows.

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We have a mortgage!

By the time March rolled around, we decided it was time to figure out our mortgage once and for all. Our list of places that work with Americans despite FATCA requirements had grown smaller compared to last year, so we only had 4 banks to choose from compared to the 30+ that most Swiss have available to them.

Still, Kay went to all of them (ZKB, UBS, CS and a local bank Linth) and told them we wanted to see some offers for either 100% Libor mortgages or 100% 5 year fixed mortgages.

Unlike the US, 20-30 year mortgages don’t really exist here. The highest model offered to people is usually a 10 year fixed mortgage. As I’ve said before, the point of your mortgage is not to pay the whole house back by then. After 10 years, you simply have to refinance your mortgage for another 1-10 years, depending on your plans. If you would secure a 10 year mortgage, it is usually not in your interest to try to “sell off” the mortgage with the house. Unless interest rates have skyrocketed, a 10 year fixed rate is usually more than what buyers would be able to find on their own for the same amount of time left on your mortgage. Buying a place with a 30 year mortgage and then selling it off? Forget about it. It doesn’t work like that here.

Since we are coming to a crossroads in about five years, we do not want to be tied to the flat longer than that. Five year fixed rates are also MUCH cheaper than 10 year fixed rates, so that’s a bonus too.

Kay went back and forth between the banks and let the bankers battle it out… we were just interested in getting the best rate possible, which we made clear from the start! It came down to a very exciting hour as Kay was calling me telling me he’d had both guys on the phone and needed to call one of them back and make a decision…. soooo, we went with the small bank!

Bank Linth bent over backwards to meet our goals and they were very excited that we promised to move all our money over to them. I am a little sad to leave English online-banking and paperwork (ugh, German paperwork… ugh!) but it will be good for me. (Hopefully.) And the advisor at Bank Linth was really the nicest out of all the people we met with.

UBS? I was really disappointed. We have almost all our money with them now and then sent this stodgy old man to talk to us. He didn’t even try offering us a first-time buyers mortgage like ZKB did. And when he heard we had better offers than him, he just said “Oh, that’s too low! We can’t do anything about it.” Not really a salesman in my eyes. I’d much rather work with a small bank and receive the care and attention we deserve. (Ok, I think we deserve it…!)

Homebuyers, did you go for a big bank or somewhere local? How did you make the choice?

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