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Old Oct 31st 2017, 7:17 pm   #1
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Default An imaginatively titled Belgian thread...

... following on from the Decisions, decisions… thread in the NL sub-forum...

Hi all,

Recently back from a somewhat intense week in Flanders doing background stuff on the new house. We were given the keys for the week so we were able to set up appointments with plumbers, electricians, flooring people, plasterers, builders and a whole bunch of others as well for estimates. We also chose and ordered the new kitchen and bathroom.

Really impressed with the level of service so far from everyone we encountered, apart from one flooring person who spent the whole week ducking us. No worries there however, as I think we have decided on our flooring people anyway - they sent someone from the office 60 km away to measure and offer advice; we dropped in to see them on the drive back down to CH, were given a tour of their manufacturing plant, and together we refined a few planning ideas.

What really got to me was when out solo shopping in Brasschaat, and having been met with a torrent of Dutch at the supermarket checkout, me calling on my best (and arguably only Dutch) saying "Sorry, ik praat geen Nederlands, algemeen Engels of Frans" to be answered in English with "No problem" followed by a quick chat about the potential over-sweetness of one of the products I was purchasing.

I think I'm going to like it here.

Cheers,
Bob
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Old Nov 1st 2017, 10:00 pm   #2
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Default Re: An imaginatively titled Belgian thread...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BuckinghamshireBoy View Post
... following on from the Decisions, decisions… thread in the NL sub-forum...

Hi all,

Recently back from a somewhat intense week in Flanders doing background stuff on the new house. We were given the keys for the week so we were able to set up appointments with plumbers, electricians, flooring people, plasterers, builders and a whole bunch of others as well for estimates. We also chose and ordered the new kitchen and bathroom.

Really impressed with the level of service so far from everyone we encountered, apart from one flooring person who spent the whole week ducking us. No worries there however, as I think we have decided on our flooring people anyway - they sent someone from the office 60 km away to measure and offer advice; we dropped in to see them on the drive back down to CH, were given a tour of their manufacturing plant, and together we refined a few planning ideas.

What really got to me was when out solo shopping in Brasschaat, and having been met with a torrent of Dutch at the supermarket checkout, me calling on my best (and arguably only Dutch) saying "Sorry, ik praat geen Nederlands, algemeen Engels of Frans" to be answered in English with "No problem" followed by a quick chat about the potential over-sweetness of one of the products I was purchasing.

I think I'm going to like it here.

Cheers,
Bob
Hi Bob Sounds like you are really making good progress in Belgium..We were always impressed with the quality of work and workmen in Nl..It is much rarer now to find that staff do not speak English.......and German..and French ..and Spanish . The young learn at least three languages in the main. Puts us to shame really..Altho the 'wash girl' at my hairdressers was getting a tad ticked off with me not speaking Portuguese yet... especially as my OH was prattling on ten to the dozen.. (the weasel) It gave me the neccessay kick to download a set of lessons today.. Onwards and upwards ..
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Old Nov 2nd 2017, 4:46 pm   #3
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Default Re: An imaginatively titled Belgian thread...

Thanks GenieB.

So far so good; we still have a long, long road ahead of us. OH has just this afternoon fixed appointments for later this month to meet with a couple of firms that as well as doing practical demolition, building work and plumbing will also 'project manage' some other elements of the house refit that we have planned. This is good news as the idea of trying to keep an eye on progress from a distance of +/- 850km was becoming somewhat disquieting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeniB View Post
... especially as my OH was prattling on ten to the dozen.. (the weasel) It gave me the neccessay kick to download a set of lessons today.. Onwards and upwards ..
I wish you good luck with the lessons. How come your "weasel" is so proficient in Portuguese?

I often play pool in a Portuguese bar here, where about 90% of the regulars are Portuguese, the other 10% being Swiss, French along with just the one token Brit. Our common language is French; the 'locals' are wonderful, friendly people, and we have some superb evenings. I like to think that I have 'a bit of an ear' for languages, but I really cannot understand a thing that's being said when they speak amongst themselves.

I haven't yet started with my Dutch lessons and have to admit that I'm currently leaning very heavily on Google translate, sometimes with hilarious results. As a backstop, I translate the Dutch into French as well as English in an attempt to minimise the howlers. It is however helping me get my head around learning "mijn nieuwe taal". Pronunciation will have to wait another couple of months.

As you say, Onwards and upwards...

Bob
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Old Jan 14th 2018, 12:33 pm   #4
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Default Re: An imaginatively titled Belgian thread...

Back Friday night from another productive week in Flanders. We now have full possession of the house, despite some last minute panic from the notary's office - "we have not seen the funds". Odd, I sent that four days previously. I checked my account, the payment hadn't bounced, they still couldn't find the money. At their office I showed them proof of transfer and within 5 minutes, lo and behold, they found the transfer of four days previous. The problem? International payment, whole amount in Euros, no Euro-cents, so I rounded up to the next whole Euro. They admitted that they were looking for the EXACT amount, and so missed it. I asked with just a hint of sarcasm just how many Swiss clients they had shifting that amount of money around this week.

On to the reading of the act of transfer - all 14 pages. The notaire apologised to me that this had to be done in Dutch, and I replied no problem and produced a copy of the act in English which I had translated a few days previously with help from Google. I was tempted to point out that French is one of the official languages in Belgium, but decided against it. Legalese is still legalese in any parlance, I just about managed to keep awake for the next 45 minutes. All sorted. We had already taken the seller out for coffee on the way to the notary's office, so back to the hotel for a celebratory Leffe!

The rest of the week was mostly practical stuff, meeting up with the renovation contractors - a great team, OH made a very good choice there - and visiting tile, wallpaper, kitchen and bathroom outlets. OH spent 45 minutes at the town hall sorting planning permission for various house alterations, whilst I went to a rendevous with my chosen bank to get all that side of things up and running. OH says mixed news; we can have the bijkeuken/buanderie, but we need about a month for the permission. We can't go with the phase 2 idea of putting a conservatory where the terrasse currently is then adding a new terrasse just down from that. That would be breaking the 'built on bits vs plot size' algorithm rules. I pointed out that according to those rules, our "new" house was already in breach. Speaking the next day with TeamLeaderRenovation, he just said "Welcome to Belgium; here you just get on with it". He reckoned that his current house was already about 180% of 'plot depth' rules and just said forget about all this planning permission stuff, just go for it. We were however correct to seek permission for the bijkeuken/buanderie as that means extra drainage which is a very sensitive (obviously here) issue, and thus liable for inspection once the work is completed.

For the rest of it, "if it can't be seen from the street, and doesn't upset the neighbours - then do what you want". Sister-in-law later confirmed this is the general way that things get done here. Archaic rules exist, everyone ignores them.

The 'Belgian way'.

Lots to learn still.
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Old Feb 8th 2018, 3:19 pm   #5
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Default Re: An imaginatively titled Belgian thread...

Just been 'slapped' by the local stadhuis/town hall regarding the planned extension for the laundry room. We don't need planning permission per se, but we need to provide documents so that the proposal can be 'aired in public' - a bit like publishing wedding banns I guess. Sure enough we didn't submit the 'right kind of information' first time around, so the second attempt has been vetted by the renovations head honcho and he's given his approval. Throws us back a couple of weeks on that one, but they 'might' be able to start on the foundations.

The interior renovations themselves are now fully underway, the manky old kitchen and bathroom have gone, as have all the floors downstairs and a couple of walls.

We're getting daily email updates from the renovators, and a bunch of photos when anything interesting happens.

The house here should go up on the market in 2-3 weeks time.
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Old Feb 11th 2018, 10:03 pm   #6
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Default Re: An imaginatively titled Belgian thread...

They managed to do our notarial akte in English (and it's noted as such in the notarised documentation itself).

My Dutch is not minimal, but this was appreciated nonetheless.
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