Learning by doing

Even though we are not new to this housing lark, having had a new build in Switzerland, and having been around for a long time, plus my interiors diploma, buying this apartment in Darmstadt is teaching me a few other things.
In Switzerland we were working with an architects office, who had everything specified. We just had to say yes or no.
Here, practically nothing is specified. No electrics plan, no sanitary products, no kitchen, no architects.
We have been trying to work out what to do with the space we have for a shower, toilet and sink for weeks now. The space is very small, and what I have learned in our search, is that if you put a standard size sink with a standard size loo in the space foreseen, then there is no space to move around them.
The minimum space you need in front of a sink is 60cms – our space is 95cm wall to wall, so that only leaves 35cm for a sink. Standard is 49cm.
The standard WC is 55cm deep. The space we have from the wall to where the sink starts is around 74cm, very tight for the knees when you are on that toilet, and not conform with the guidelines.
So now we have found the perfect sink, complete with cupboard under, just 38cm deep, but with the tap on the side, so full use of the sink is allowed. Expensive, but perfect. The loo we are specifying as 5cm shorter – again more expensive, but the builder has agreed, plus he agreed to knock back the wall a bit more behind the sink, so that the space in front of the toilet is a bit clearer.

I am still thinking about the shower – on the wall or built under it. I think I am getting there, and the walk in shower idea is now changed. I learned that you also need at least 60cm to walk into a shower, and 50cm is just too small to be safe. So we are going for a fixed glass panel, with a sliding panel. Will look super – but again, special size, made to measure, costs more money.

I am also trying to get my head around radiators. I must say that radiators here in Germany, of the standard design, are not pretty. They are bulky and harbour dust in all possible places. I know from experience where we are living now – they are a spiders paradise.
Design radiators however, with smooth line, and less space for dirt, cost a lot more. Why is it that good design always has to be expensive?
For the shower room I want a radiator that can be used on the electrics as well when the heating is not on. With no architect to assist, it means sourcing and specifying it myself. Most radiators can be adapted it seems, but the electrical element that you insert can vary in price from €40 to €400 or more. I am still confused on that one. But still, I am learning, and soon will be a lot wiser about heating.
On Friday I went with my daughter to the firm where the sink is, and she liked it – thank goodness. She also picked the tiles she liked, plus we specified the taps and shower fittings, all in one place.
However, when checking the internet later I find that the taps and shower fitting, although good, are not as eco-friendly as they could be, and with a bit of surfing I can source the eco-versions at half the price of the prices on the original quotes.
What would we do without the internet? I often ask myself that. 20 years ago when we had our apartment in Switzerland built, the internet was in infancy, and we did not have it. We managed. Sometimes too much choice is overwhelming, but at least we have the choice, and can choose just how much we want to do and how much we do not.

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