Not all building sites are easily accessible. Some are in the mountains and the trucks have to make tight U-turns as they climb the mountain, other building sites have no roads at all and we have to unload somewhere else and bring our building materials with some flatbed car behind a tractor. And then there are building sites that have something that looks like a road, only it isn’t.
Since our factories are in Lithuania, and our clients mostly in France and The Netherlands, we travel a lot. And we jump from one culture to the other, and we never notice. Except, every now and then, we feel a difference, like yesterday. We had had a meeting in the Nort-East of Lithuania, five kilometers from Belorussia. Russia itself starts fifty kilometers further and from there it is Russia all the way until Vladivostok, next to North-Korea.
We started with this project end of August, and now we are two weeks down the road: walls ready, rafter are on the roof. Our engineers decided that they needed a really serious beam at the top of the roof, serious as in: more than 300 kilo, not something that you just lift and place on top. Here comes a crane again…
Building houses is nice, but mud is not. And when we build, there is always mud. Even worse is building in the rain. If it rains we go sit inside. But then you want a cup of coffee. So you have to go outside again, to get water, through the mud in the rain… Naja, tomorrow will be better.
Building a new house takes ages. Years, literally. Buying a plot, making a design, asking for permissions, changing the design, waiting, changing a bit more, waiting a little longer. And all the time you are mentally busy, but physically you can do nothing, except wait. Just wait. But some clients can’t wait. They start with the garden. Grass, trees, hedges. And why not… We can tell you why not: because in a minute we will show up with our fifteen ton crane and turn your garden into a wasteland.
Sometimes it looks as if we only use larch on the outisde of our houses. But that is not correct, we can use other materials as well. We can offer painted pine, and also we can do stucco. In the case of stucco: first we finish the outside with Knauf Aquapenel or Steico Protect, then later we add the stucco layer on top. These images are from a house that we handed over in July 2020, with only the Knauf Aquapanel, as this client will add the stucco layer hoimself.
Sometimes we’re lucky. Yesterday we started with the build of a new loghouse near Rotterdam. Step one: unloading of the truck. The future owners of the house had arranged a crane for us. Usually we have to work with a one-tonne crane or a small Manitou, but this time we saw a 40-tonne crane driving onto the dike. Or 90 tonne, we don’t know but it was big. A few hoists, and our truck was empty.
In the South of The Netherlands we built a panel house. Some clients don’t like wood on ths inside, and in that case a panel house is the perfect solution as you can finish the walls any way you like. This client chose larch on the outside, vertical as per architect design and in combination with a Ruukki sheet metal roof, and stucco on the inside. We are almost ready.
We searched using Google for “images of modern log houses”, because obviously we are curious what our colleagues are doing. And guess what: the second item that Google presented to us was our own house, the Eric & Flo. We take it as a compliment.
Construction speed is an important factor for consumers. Which we honestly find a little odd, because a full new build projects takes a year at least, usually two years and sometimes up to three years. Making designs, doing calculations, getting permits, sometimes it seems to take ages, and so we do not always understand why we should do the actual construction in just a few weeks when the entire project takes two years anyways.
Today we started with a new project in The Netherlands. We are going to build a panel house, about 180 m2. The foundation is ready, crane is waiting, assembly crew arrived during the weekend, and Monday morning ten ‘o clock first truck arrived. We will need five trucks for this project. There is very little space around the house, the truck can not get there. So we unload one kilometer down the road and place all materials in two containers, which we then drive to the building site.
In East Europe wooden houses are everywhere. In the smaller villages almost every houses is a wooden house. Until recently these house were a little different from the house that we build: round logs, not laminated no additional insulation a little air leak here and there is ok lots of beautiful decorations painted. And then finally: often without a serious foundation. Especially in Siberia houses are built with a minimal foundation on top of the permafrost.
Another photo from a CLT interior. Look what you can do with CLT: inside doors without frames, and without hinges! The handle is all you see.
We have been busy lately with preparing new projects and we had little time to place posts on our website. But now while cleaning a laptop we found some photos that we better place on our website right away and then later we will go search for the rest of the photos, because for sure we had some better ones. This project we finished about six months ago. The photo above was taken about three weeks before hand-over of the house.
Contrary to popular belief, wooden houses have a very high life expectancy. Of course wood should be protected from humidity, but if the owner takes care of his house it will last very long. When designing a wooden house we make sure that water can always escape from the house and that walls are ventilated. What would then be life expectancy of a wooden house? We have several examples of old wooden houses in Europe.
Since our building sites are all over Europe, we travel a lot. And we meet people from all over Europe. English clients, French plumbers, Italian architects, Polish truck drivers and Russian émigrés in Spain. We love it that our generation was able to build this continent where we can travel freely in all directions. Here we are waiting for a Manitou to unload a truck in France. People on these photos communicate in French, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish and English, all at the same time.
Contractors come in sizes and shapes. Big ones, small ones, contractors that build wooden houses, or masonry houses, contrators that do individual homes and contractors that build appartment blocks. Not every contractor is suitable for your project. An important aspect in your selection process is turn-key. What is turn-key? There are different definitions of turn-key. Ours is that we: include: foundation roof and walls, outside fully finished, inside without stucco doors and windows, double or triple glass electrical installation, solar panels floor heating, heat pump, boiler waste water, fresh water, tapwater, and excluding:
We are builders and we are proud of our houses because of the techniques and materials that we use. Our houses are robust, sturdy, they have very high insulation values and the are build to withstand ages. But all that means nothing when it comes to aesthetics. A nice design is just that, nice, and that is why we often cooperate with the architects from OxL. Because no matter how nice our designs are, these OxL boys always manage to make it nicer.
Sometimes a picture is unexpectedly nice. We were inspecting a house and took a picture of the roof. In the top you can see 5 centimeters roof overhanging the wall, we must fix that. When we later looked at the photo we liked it because of the contrails. Not very eco but nice nonetheless.
As our old website was too complex and difficult to maintain, we kicked it out. We prefer simple stuff. So we are now in the process of rebuilding our website, but as you can see it is all still quite half-baked. We decided to put it on the web anyways, at least you can see our contact details.