Diaries - Travel - Photos


House (and Barn) Log


Dear Families and Friends,

By now, you may have heard, we had committed to a new house project. We had already written diaries about it, but we needed a place to keep a record of the whole project. As with other parts of this site, this was for our own use I suppose, but something we enjoy sharing. I expected that some of our entries would be fun, some exciting, some scary, and a few downright discouraging. In the end, it would be another set of stories, the only currency we can save and enjoy. I had hoped to create something cute or flashy with these (and other!) pages, but there was no time. The reality of full-time jobs and a full-time reconstruction meant that there was no time for cute or flashy. So, here are our simple pages.

John and Marianne

June, 2006


ps: We've started part two of our house project, changing a rickety, old barn into a modern art studio and guest suite. This is an incredibly bad financial decision. We've already put much more into the house than anyone can pay, were we to sell. Now we will spend more. In fact, we will spend enough that we need to learn about home financing in Germany, another cultural learning experience. I am convinced that, for a Californian, a house is an addiction and it is more expensive than many others. In the old California days, the cost was covered by appreciation. Those days never came to Bavaria (and, I've heared rumors that they may not be so true today in America.)

Stay around, for the next PROJECT.

John and Marianne

March 1, 2008


pps: All predictions have come true. The only consolation on cost has been that, if we were to have to sell, we would lose less on the house and barn than on my retirement savings lost in 2008. At least we can live and party in the buildings.

John and Marianne

January 3, 2009

Diaries - Travel

House Story Home

Between House And Barn Projects
The Diary of Our House And Barn Projects

Before, During, and After Pictures


Folks we've bought goods or services from - and been happy.


Axel Treuner, Architect
Siechenstraße 22A
96052 Bamberg
0951 610 35*


Axel was key to the house and barn projects. His role is a combination of architect and general contractor. He specializes in old buildings in the general Bamberg area and, I suppose, in American projects - although ours is the only one we know of so far.


Ranier Berlenz
09763 9203

Mr. Berlenz' work turned out very nice. The elegant and historically accurate entry hall floor always makes a good impression.

Blei & Blei
Laubacher Straße 15
35447 Reiskirchen-Ettingshausen
0640 121 0980

Our antique tile stove ("Kachelofen") was provided by Ranier Blei. The stove, Ranier, and his store were all wonderful discoveries. This part of Blei & Blei has a business in architectural antiques, particularly old doors. We have never seen anything close to the collection of wonderful old doors Mr. Blei has collected and restored - not to mention a couple hundred of the finest Kachelofen examples we've ever seen. Our only problem was budget. Blei & Blei had too many things we WANTED to buy, but just couldn't. Maybe next project. (You MUST check out the website.)

Bräuning + Partner
Civil Engineering
Meranierstraße 14
96049 Bamberg
0951 955 55 0

Herr Bräuning did the structural report on the walls of the barn. The work was quite professional and detailed, better than some of the civil engineering reports we receive at work for nuclear power plants! He said that the walls were good enough and that's what we depended on. So far, they are still standing.

Franz Döll
Iron Costruction
Conrad-Vetter Straße 45
97514 Oberaurach-Trossenfurt
095 22 308

Herr Döll made the iron fence for the front of the house and the metal guardrail for the front window of the barn. He also custom-made all the wrought-iron rods for hanging curtains in the house.

Einbecker Bau
Basic Construction ("Rohbau")
Sandgartenstraße 1
97478 Knetzgau
0952 7266

The Einbecker crew was one of our larger contractors for both the house and the barn.They were always willing and able to come up with solutions to fixing the bones of our house. They've dug, removed walls, built walls, poured concrete, laid stone, and generally made the place safe and sound for another 100 years.

Schreinerei Fischer
Oscar Nölp
Schönbornstraße 7
96178 Pommersfelden
09548 98 10 24

Schreinerei Fischer is another neighbor. Mr. Nölp's crew did the reconstruction on the big barn doors and made a pair of "old" barn doors for the back side. The work was pretty amazing. The cost was a little more than we had expected, but that seems to have been true of almost everything on the barn. (I've forgotten the same phenomena from the house.)

Stuckgeschäft Karl Fritsch
Plaster and Stucco
Seeliet 17
96178 Pommersfelden
0954 980 715

Mr. Fritsch and his crew did the plaster on the old stone walls of the barn. They were given the challenge to make the wall surfaces sound, but still look old, and that's what they did. This was one contract where I was impressed with how quickly everything was done.

Gastro Planet
Kitchen Range and Hood
Borsigallee 35
60388 Frankfurt am Main
06109 35694

Always looking for a good price on expensive items, we ran across Olaf Jaeger, who runs a sort of mail order / e-store company that had the range we wanted (brand: ILVE). Showing up at his address was apparently unusual, but it certainly has been worthwhile. Olaf is a combination of businessman, culinary equipment enthusiast, motor-cycle racer, and genial host.

Gumbrecht Haustechnik
Hauptstraße 47
96178 Pommersfelden
09548 920 200

Herr Gumbrecht is our heating and plumbing contractor. His is one of the few businesses in our small town and his work has been good, generally timely, and done with friendly workers. Costs on the barn work were a little high. We've had a couple problems since moving in, but we always get good service, one of the advantages of hiring neighbors.

Keidel GmbH
Stucco, Plaster, and Paint
Heinrich-Manz-Straße 19
96052 Bamberg
0951 3 17 50

The Keidel job was a large contract for the house. It is their work that everyone sees, so it's important. Parts of the work seem straight forward and I'd think"I could do THAT". But then I see the smooth final plaster or the clean and even stucco and recognize that it takes years to make this look easy! (We still have some problems with salt intrusion in the surfaces near the ground, but we are told that that will gradually resolve itself. jdt 1/1/09)

Fliesen Kral
Tile Setter
Hauptstraße 9
96178 Pommersfelden
0954 980 281

Oliver Kral did the tile work for the house, the barn, and the patio. His work is exceptional. (Look at pictures of the bathrooms in the house.) He is always cheerful and cooperative and he even insists on speaking English! He gave me some tiling lessons, so that I could do the floor in the cow stall, and that's where I developed even more appreciation for good tile work.

Elektro Kramer
Dr. Albert Zoelch Straße 7
96138 Burgebrach
095 46 69 00

Herr Kramer and his electricians have been charged with making our 230-year-old house modern. This involves 20+ circuits of electric power as well as telephone, satellite TV, and computer networks. It still seems strange that many wires are just put in slashes in the plaster and covered over, but that's the way it is done. That's one of the reasons we took so many pictures of where the wires were - before being hidden by plaster. Kramer also did the barn.

H. Löhr, Schreinerei
Pfarrer-Schoenbornstraße 10
96178 Pommersfelden
095 48 92 10 88

Mr. Löhr is another of our very local contractors: from Pommersfelden (population: a few hundred) He custom-built all the windows and installed them just in time to allow winter heating. We've found that small craftsmen like Löhr operate surprisingly sophisticated shops, with computer control work machines. We have remained happy with his work and his costs for both house and barn projects.

Hans Nehr
"Zimmerei" (Room Builder)
Sauerstraße 35
96173 Oberhaid
095 03 74 52

Mr. Nehr was called on to remove and replace our kitchen ceiling and roof. This was one of those not-quite-expected developments, but Nehr did the work with just a couple days notice and managed to complete it in just a few more days.

In the barn phase, Mr. Nehr and his crew did the major work of removing the old wood construction and constructing a brand new house on top of the old stone walls.

Niesyt Lighting
91315 Höchstadt/Sterpersdorf
09193 63600

We discovered the Niesyt showroom late in the house project and only bought a few things for the house from them. The showroom had easily the broadest selection of lighting we had ever seen, despite the very rural location. (Note, that in Sterpersdorf, they don't even need a street name!)

For the barn, we went in to look and they ended up designing the lighting. We over-lighted and over-spent, but it was nice to be able to go to just a single shop and to deal with such friendly people.

Wolfgang Schlicht
Oberharnsbach 1
96138 Burgebrach
095 46 8420

Mr. Schlicht restores old things. For us, his first job was to rebuild all the old door locks. After that, we asked him to build a sliding door mechanism for our old Chinese doors. We also bought one of his very old painted cabinets and a trunk which he had restored to it's 18th Century style and feeling.

Slavko Maksic
Michael-Rümmerstraße 7
96049 Bamberg
0951 301 9060

We have used Slavko and his guys for various jobs, starting with simple cleanup and ending with drywall and painting in the barn. They were always willing to do anything and did generally good work, although paint and painting quality here in Germany is well below what would be acceptable for quality house construction in the US. Speaking of the US, Slavko is headed there soon as a result of a story worthy of a movie. But that's HIS story to tell, not mine.

Schreinerie Spörlein
Sambach 38
96178 Pommersfelden
095 02 294

Mr Spörlein was our main carpenter for the house. His original scope was doors and floors but, as the project went on, we had more and more carpenter jobs: stair railings, picture trim, heater covers and, soon, all the kitchen cabinets. I think his favorite saying was "that's doable" and, at times, that's the only thing we wanted to hear!

Treppenbau Voit
Stair Construction
Blumenau 30
95236 Stammbach
09256 1836

Mr. Voit's team built the starcases and wooden railings in the barn. The main staircase, solid birch, turned out particularly nice.
Weichert and Maier
Marble and Granite
Industriestraße 1
96178 Pommersfelden/Ort Steppach
095 48 80 23

At the very beginning of our restoration project, we had asked Herr Weichert about local craftsmen and, when we explained what house we were trying to fix, he was generous with advice. A week or two later, he invited us to join him and his wife at their table in the neighboring Italian restaurant. The gesture, and the conversation (all in German) was truly warm and honest. A great community welcome.

Of course we had a granite counter installed in the kitchen and it turned out perfect.

Wilhelm Zürl

Our neighborhood in Pommersfelden has a castle, a couple of hotels, a dozen houses, a school, and a farm. The farm cows add a bucolic atmosphere, at least I guess that's what it is, being added to the atmosphere. But we find even that is part of our neighborhood charm. The fact that we can have Mr. Zürl drive his tractor into our backyard and clean the place up is an added bonus.

* All these phone numbers are in Germany so I left out the country code (49) and instead used the "0" required of local numbers. And, yes, German phone numbers come in varying lengths and are traditionally spaced every which way. It's a cultural thing, I guess.


Diaries - Travel

House Story Home

Between House And Barn Projects
The Diary of Our House And Barn Projects