For the time being, we only had a plot of land, but doing nothing is not really who we are. So we tackled the subject of building a house. And now we needed an architect. On our next holiday in Cape Town, we looked into it.
Along with the property, we had received a plan for a house from an architect, which he had drawn up for this plot of land. It looked quite pretty, a “river” was supposed to run through the ground floor, and he had also integrated a small waterfall into the house. On closer inspection, however, it turned out that this plan could not be realised at all on our property and with the specifications of the building authority. So we decided not to collaborate with this architect.
A neighbour recommended the next architect. He was based in Hout Bay. We visited him in his office, told him about our wishes, showed him the plot – and never heard from him again. The second flop…
Then we met a young artist who had worked for a renowned architect and now wanted to make a name for himself. He provided us with really beautiful designs with great concepts that definitely appealed to us, unfortunately, they had nothing to do with our ideas in terms of space. In addition, his layout was also not feasible on our plot of land.
A stroke of luck
Back in Germany and with no progress, a stroke of luck came to our rescue. A plot of land was being sold next to our house near Cologne. We started talking to the buyers and it turned out that the sister of the future neighbour was building a house on the Knysna Heads. After she had already tried out a couple of architects and even fought several legal disputes, she had come across a German-born architect in Cape Town with whose help she was now completing the construction of her house. We obtained the contact details very quickly and then the project started
Right from the start, we had a good feeling. Jeanette had studied architecture in Germany and emigrated to Cape Town after graduating and had already gained several years of experience there. After initially working as an employed architect, she then set up her own architectural practice, called JBA Architects.
We wanted to build according to German standards as much as possible, for instance in terms of insulation, and Jeanette knew what we meant right from the start.
Finally, she gave us a design in the first draft that took everything into account: Space, views, wind direction, the position of the sun, the specifications of the building authority and the kind of design we had in mind, just brilliant! And let’s be honest, I really try to improve my English every day, but with all the particular building vocabulary, she is an enormous help to me all the time until today. We could not have met at a better time.
Our team on site
A good team on site that you can rely on is immensely important, especially if you are not so familiar with the building regulations and the way of building in a foreign country, and if you are also building at such a distance and therefore cannot be on-site all the time.
Everyone who has ever built a house, in Germany or anywhere else in the world, knows the smaller or larger catastrophes that simply happen. Sometimes a door is forgotten, a window is too high or too low, a wall that has already been built is torn down again by the excavator, and so on.
Jeanette, the architect I have already told you about, is the one we can rely on.
Then there is Alison, who does the project monitoring for us on-site. Her job title on site is Quantity Surveyor. She is South African, works very systematically and is absolutely dependable. Jeanette had recommended her to us, and we are very grateful. In the past, she also had the honour of conducting this task for Nelson Mandela in the context of the construction of a house. Admittedly, she only met him once in person, but she was able to describe his very special aura with great enthusiasm.
Then we hired a structural engineer to take care of these matters. At first, it was Steffan, but in the interim, he preferred to emigrate to New Zealand, which hopefully was not because of us… 😉