The first steps in building a house – this is how we proceeded

We struggled through the jungle of information when we built our house, which wasn’t always easy or understandable. Especially in the beginning, when you want to build for the first time, you don’t know where to start.

In this post, we’ll tell you how we went about it.

Content of this post

Secure financial situations are necessary

First of all, natural financial situation should be secure, but let’s just take that for granted. There should be enough income to apply to the bank for a loan and get it too. In case of doubt this can also be staked out in advance. We made an appointment with the bank fairly early on and got the broad strokes straight: how much house and rate can I afford to pay?

A ratio that can help at least roughly when considering the size of the house: Depending on the equipment and standard, one can calculate 1 per m² house.000,- to 1.500, – Euro calculate. In addition, there are all ancillary construction costs, the land costs and outdoor facilities. It is an average value that is calculated ONLY for the house as such.

Since we assume that you have already clarified this logically, now first the most sensible step in my view first.

Talks with different developers

Since these talks are necessary to gather experience, ideas and questions (you have to start somewhere) and are absolutely non-binding, it makes sense to start by talking to several developers.

From conversation to conversation own questions arise and one understands clearly more. In addition aspects, which someone else possibly concealed or as not necessary considered, become the topic. That’s why you should first research which builders there are.

In the end, we decided to go with a fairly local provider. That had different reasons: Transparent prices, pleasant salesman, regional company, quite good reviews, positive construction diaries (at least for the most part) and a fair final price. In addition, we had looked at a model house that we liked already in the shell very much. In addition, the facing brickwork was included, which was very important to us.

The land search

The property search should run parallel to the talks. Sometimes also developers can mediate properties and cooperate for this with brokers. Not so often this is however in very popular areas such as in Hamburg (or other large cities) the case. So keep your eyes and ears open. Here you will find more tips for finding a plot of land.

The soil expertise and the development plan are important for the property. And both costs time. The soil expertise must be prepared and evaluated, the development plan is elementary important for the own house planning. And often the factor time is again opposed to these points. Because there may be. other interested parties who are already two steps further (or maybe even forego a ground survey and buy blindly) and the broker is happy about a quick conclusion. So now at the latest the cat starts to "bite its own tail", for the first and not the last time.

If the property and a developer for you seriously considered, it makes sense to take up already in parallel the talks with the bank. In this way, the necessary documents can be gathered and, if the land decision is positive, the loan can be applied for more quickly.

The soil expertise

For us, the expertise belongs in any case to the first steps in building a house! If possible, invest already before the purchase of the property in a soil expertise. Because the condition of the soil can drive the house building costs still tidy into the height.

Questions that must be clarified before building the house:

  • Can rainwater infiltrate or must the rainwater connection be connected to the municipality’s network? The latter costs more, of course. Both in the purchase, as well as in the monthly costs.
  • Is the current soil sufficiently load-bearing or must this be exchanged?? If so, how much soil needs to be exchanged for the floor slab? In the house building contracts is often a replacement of the ground included, but only up to a certain amount and depth (in our case it was 30 cm).
  • Depending on the soil substance, the costs for the statics increase.
  • In the worst case, the floor contains nasty surprises and must be completely replaced
  • Must be staked? This is especially relevant when planning a basement, as well as the question of a possible lowering of the groundwater.

The soil expertise can thus avert financial damage in advance. Because if the soil exchange or the groundwater lowering were not considered in the apron, fast some thousand euro are missing in the construction financing.

If you decide not to buy the land after the expert opinion, the costs (about 500,- to 800,- Euro) for the soil expertise were "for nothing", but it may have been one of the best investments of your life, if it saves you from a costly and expensive refinancing or even a financial disaster.

The development plan

Not entirely unimportant is the development plan, because it specifies a lot and also restricts. There is always a building window, which may not be exceeded, so that the maximum size and position of the house are predefined. One can always apply for special permits with the building application and try to deviate from the development plan. The deviations should not be too large, of course, a good justification can also help quite.

If the house is for example 30cm larger than the building window, it will probably get a special permit, at 1.50m probably not more. If one notices for example with the ground plan production that one becomes too large, one can inquire this in the apron already times with the building office. There you will not get a binding statement, but you will be told a tendency.

Also the height of the floors and if necessary. even the color of the roof tiles and the house can be specified in the development plan. A single-family house with roof slopes is usually specified with 1.5 floors. So the development plan can dictate to you whether you are allowed to build, for example, a city villa with 2 floors or a classic 1.5-story single-family house. Also how the house will be built – lengthwise or crosswise – are often already fixed with it.

The bank meeting

Ideally, the bank meeting has already taken place to discuss the financing options and the amount of the loan. How much down payment can you afford to still be happy, go on vacation, or be able to finance a new car.

From our experience (three conversations with different financiers), you should think about the amount of the installment and the percentage amortization, as well as the fixed interest rate. A consultant was very exciting, she would have financed us everything with 1% repayment. With luck we would have been through then in 40 years and a stately residual debt. The ladies we have then told a few sentences and "thankfully" declined. But we are sure that some would sign with her, just to get the dream of home ownership fulfilled.

Never be satisfied after the first appointment, but have several conversations and let several concepts show you. As a rule of thumb – especially at the current interest rate level – can be stated: If you do not manage 2% redemption, you should rather not deal with property.

Notarial confirmation

The appointment with the notary is something like the starting signal. Because now you are the owner of the land and you can apply for the building permit. If the purchase still falls through, you should include a withdrawal clause in the house construction contract before you sign it.

We have found that it is often already present in the house building contracts. So it said in our case: "Should not be a suitable If you find a suitable plot of land, you may withdraw from the house building contract free of charge."

Now, of course, you can argue about what is considered "suitable", but that is a matter of negotiation. Experience has shown that sales representatives are willing to make concessions in order to get your signature.

Floor plans

Everyone should have a rough idea how his house should look like from the inside, how many rooms you need and what is especially important to you. It helps to look at other floor plans beforehand and draw his in advance. We used a simple drawing program for this. This simplifies the imagination and also the implementation with the draftsman in the construction start-up meeting during the sampling.

Exemplary questions, which one can ask oneself thereby:

  • Should it be a brick shower?
  • Do you like a corner bath?
  • If the hallway is to have a gallery?
  • Which room at which place?
  • From where the sun comes?

We have always prepared in advance for all discussions and regretted it at no time. Because if the planning only arises in the discussion with the developer, this lasts on the one hand extremely long, on the other hand something is forgotten guaranteed, which one does not think of. Because: Such a sampling appointment lasts quickly 4-8 hours, at some point you’re just tired and broken.

Here you can find tips on how we went about creating the floor plans.


Sampling usually takes place at the developer’s site. Plan a whole day for it and take a vacation so you don’t get pressed for time. Because as mentioned: It will be a very exhausting day!

If you would rather not have the developer do certain things in the house, now is the time to address this and take it out of the offer. This can z.b. be the staircase or the entrance door, which you will take care of by yourself. Here – as we now know in retrospect – a lot of money can be saved. On this day, all sorts of things on the house are sampled and determined, there are many decisions to be made:

  • Which clinker brick? (if clinkered)
  • Which grout color?
  • What roof tiles?
  • Which roof overhang? (wood or plastic and which color)
  • Color and size of windows and doors
  • Color of the tiles (if offered)
  • Which interior doors? (even what handles)
  • Which exterior doors?
  • Color of the stairs? (you should determine ideally only with the stair builder)
  • Which sockets and light switches?
  • Which bathtub?
  • Which fittings?

Furthermore, the floor plans are made in conversation with the draftsman, so it was at least with us. Subsequently, this floor plan is then prepared by the draftsman and made available to you. You can still make changes, of course, but you should not do big things like moving rooms back and forth anymore. Because then you can actually start from scratch and create the entire floor plan again. So, important appeal: play around in advance and create several floor plans so that you are prepared.

By the way, we had a great draftswoman, who also provided the one or other objection, mistakes could be avoided this way. All these documents are later necessary for submitting the building application.

Building application

The developer prepares all the relevant documents for the building application (at least that’s how it was for us) and all you have to do is sign and submit the documents to the building authority. "Only sign" is however already a small task, the building application covers estimated 100 sides and on each second side one must sign. And that on a total of 3 copies, at some point the signature becomes illegible and it almost hurts&

Depending on the procedure, the processing of the building application takes time. With us it went faster than expected and went through smoothly, after about four weeks we had our building permit. This was the first moment of relief after a long and exhausting planning phase. After the building application has been approved, the construction schedule is then drawn up and the house construction can finally officially start.

As we know today: Unfortunately, the stress really begins afterwards. But five years after the construction of the house we can say that you forget this just as quickly again, once everything is ready.

We wish you good luck with your construction!

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We – a young couple in our early 30s from Hamburg – had the idea to switch from the overpriced rented apartment in Hamburg to ownership. On our blog we write since then about our experiences with building a house and living in a detached house with a garden. Christian is thereby rather for organizational things and the "coarse" responsible, both in the house and in the garden. Lene takes care of the interior design, decoration, plants and everything else we need to feel comfortable :-)

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