Thursday, 17 April 2008

Das ist kein Keller, es ist ein Planschbecken!

Heute, es regnet! In fact, es ist chucking it down!

We had arranged to meet our surveyor at 10, prior to meeting with the estate agents at 10:30. First, we explored Zepernick and had a coffee at a pleasant little cafe next to the library/Police Station/council building. Zepernick seems like a self-contained small community with everything you might want, including a Tierartz (vet) for the cats. No WH Smith's or Boots though (good!). Yes, I really could live here.

The surveyor when we met him couldn't speak English (aside: don't let anyone fool you that everyone in Germany can speak English. Outside the touristy places they definitely can't. Edit: this might just be true in the former DDR; in my experience a second language by Germans of my generation is most likely to be Russian), and our German is none too good, but as we wandered around Zepernick as we talked, it was clear that the house we were about to revisit was in his opinion ready for its foundations to be washed away and for it all to collapse in a heap of rubble! We went back to the little cafe and over a coffee he explained that the house had a severe damp problem and it was going to cost dearly to undo the water damage and shore it up and damp-proof the cellar. Was there any point in keeping our appointment at 10:30?

Well, out of courtesy at least, and for the surveyor to point out to our own eyes the problems, we did meet the estate agent and surveyor, back at the house. We had a gift for the house owner: we had visited a Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna and my Beloved had taken a wonderful photo of it. We gave the owner an A4 print of the photo as a keepsake (well, it was the only good news she was going to get from us today).

The house seemed to have got smaller since the last time we had been there. I think we'd been looking at it with our hope-goggles on before. Actually if the estate agent's floor area figures on the specification were correct, it had shrunk since it was advertised, because our surveyor measured a good 10m2 less Wohnfläche (living area). Maybe all the rain shrunk it? (We later noticed the measurements on the estate agent's website had mysteriously diminished too).

It was maybe a good thing that it was raining (the recurrent joke the Germans liked to crack was that we had brought it from England, ha ha), as when we went down into the cellar we found a good inch of standing water had found its way in. A pump was straining to extract it via a pipe through the cellar window, but wasn't succeeding. Yes, a clear sign of damp that, having to bail out the foundations!

As we went around the house and gardens we'd point at something and the surveyor would say "Weg damit!". The steps to the back door? "weg!" And the outbuildings? "Alles weg!" The garage? "Weg!", oh and the garage is made of asbestos as well. What?! If we weren't sure what 'weg' meant, then it was pretty clear taken in context.

Finally, outside with the estate agent, she asked if we were going to make an offer. I looked at the surveyor. His eyes were silently waving warning signals. Well, the house was on the market for 120K, so I chanced 70. The estate agent immediately said that would be acceptable. She replied too fast, I think!

Back at the cafe again (we were starting to get to be regulars), we went over the surveyor's estimates for work that needed doing on the house. We were talking high figures, plus we would have to be living in the house whilst the work was going on around us. I think we'll walk away from this one. Which is disappointing as we had geared ourselves up to returning from Berlin with a house sale agreed. Instead we took the S-Bahn up the line to Bernau, and had a conciliatory Moroccan dinner.

Tomorrow we would have an appointment with Deutsche Bank, and then we too would be unterweg.

But before that a bit of eye-candy at the AquaDom aquarium.
I really love looking at sea life and this place, though rather pricey, hit my aquatic buttons,
finishing up with an elevator up inside a giant fish tank.
Bliss! Bet the cats would like this!

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