The Amazing Expierence of Building A House From a Distance


Angelika and Jörg Pigaht
Angelika and Jörg Pigaht

The Stommel Haus Blue Spruce of the Pigaht Family

The story of the Pigaht family is certainly not an everyday story.

Angelika is from the Harz area in the centre of Germany, Jörg from the Baltic coast. With his profession as a petroleum engineer, Jörg is working all over the world. The family of four have always lived far from home over the past 20 years, mostly in London, Cairo, Oslo and The Hague.

Then there was the offer from the company to work for three to four years as "Country Manager Libya" in Tripoli. "You should not decline such an offer", says Jörg Pigaht, a leading position in an international company requires commitment. So, we were packing bags yet again.

However, the family started asking the question where to finally unpack the cases in the foreseeable future. Where should life be centred? Where to retire to in the future? There are many options for cosmopolitans such as the Pigaths.

On the balcony
On the balcony

They were looking for answers all over the world, amongst others they researched prices for land and building in Ireland, Portugal and South Africa and finally went for a small village in the South of the Black Forest! A village with 800 souls where the trees are high and the valleys are deep. Here they found their criteria match: silence, mountains and relatively short distance to Zurich and Frankfurt with their international airports, just simply the right contrast to the pulsating life of the 2-million city of Tripoli and other metropolises.

Pigahts bought a plot on the edge of the forest and then started looking for the right builders.They favoured a timber house. "Our living in Norway influenced us" explains Angelika Pigaht. "We enjoyed the very comfortable climate in the timber house directly on the Fjord".

They used the phone and the Internet to collect brochures, visited the show homes of the favourite companies and, after detailed talks, they asked for quotations from four different companies.

Flat pack home in the Black Forest
Angelika and Jörg's beautiful Stommel Haus Blue Spruce

"The documents from Stommel Haus immediately caught our attention" remembers Jörg Pigaht. The high quality polar spruce used as building material and the variety of architectural designs of the bespoke Stommel Haus homes appealed to them. It is interesting that these far travelled people value the proverbial German quality.

As the owner summarised, "The company has decades of experience and provides a perfect build in every detail".

During the first consultation and a visit to the factory, where the houses are manufactured on precision machines, the initial good impression was confirmed. Mrs. Pigaht highlighted the construction made of solid timber: "This construction absolutely convinced us". The wall provides the well known advantages of a diffusion-open solid timber wall, without any settling, and offering high level heat and sound insulation.

Flat pack home in thick snow
Blue Spruce in the Snow -Its good to have an energy efficient house in such conditions

The Pigahts immediately touched on their all important subject: They required a "complete solution from one hand" and "building from a distance". "It was clear" says Angelika Pigaht, "that we could not be present during the build phase". She still lived in the Hague and her husband in London at different times and then they were both in Tripoli.

Stommel Haus faced up to the challenge and there were only seven steps for the Pigahts to move into their new home: 1.Sign the contract, 2. Site inspection, 3. Fitting meeting, 4. Visit to see the shell construction, 5. Visit during the interior fitting phase, 6. Acceptance and 7. Move in.

Pigaths signed the contract for the house and the basement on 9th December 2002. The basement was built by a partner of Stommel Haus. A site inspection followed with the architect who developed the design, based on the ideas of the clients, and worked on the planning permission. Necessary decisions and signatures? All this was done by phone, fax and international post!

View from the Blue Spruce Balcony
View from the Blue Spruce Balcony

Then there was the fitting meeting at Stommel Haus head quarters where the entire fitting of the house such as the heating, the colours of the windows, the door handles are defined. The meeting took three days and ended with a detailed protocol. They then received a detailed build schedule and the Pigahts left the rest to the professionals...

"We never had sleepless nights", ensures Mrs. Pigath and her husband says "We paid according to the build progress, so what should go wrong?" Imagine: Ground works, basement building, erecting the house, a few e-mails and faxes, a few phone calls - and when Jörg had a short stopover at the site, during his flight from Tripoli to London, he could call his wife in Tripoli and say "I am sitting in our house and everything is wonderful!".

Mid June 2003 was the start of the build, end of August they came together for a short visit to the site. At that time the heating was fitted and Mrs. Pigaht remembers "That was great! Everything went well and they were spot on in time."This also happened at their second visit, during the interior fitting, and the clients "in principle we had nothing to do with the actual build". Their most important question to the Stommel Haus site agent was "Will you meet the date of the 1st December?"

Eventually the handing over of the finished house and acceptance with an official acceptance protocol happened on the 21st November.

"There were no faults" says the client, "only a few minor things which were rectified quickly". Eleven months from signing the contract to moving in, five months building time: a daily routine for the manufacturer, however the approach was something special for them too.

And the result? "I came into the house and immediately felt great" says Angelika Pigaht. "The house is the absolute tops as far as the interior atmosphere is concerned", says Jörg Pigaht. In Tripoli they look out on sand and sea, here they see forests and meadows. "The green soothes your eyes and does your soul good", ponders the clients when looking out on the hills of the Black Forest.

Their daughter Janina and son Maurice are currently living in Utrecht and Munich and love to come here. Now the family has a reference point, a home. And the Pigahts are already looking forward to living in their timber house permanently.

The article is a translation of the German article at Bau-Welt.de