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I really hate Hungarian builders!

I really hate Hungarian builders!

Old Nov 16th 2021, 5:07 am
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Default I really hate Hungarian builders!

A few months ago there was a post regarding the standard of block work when constructed by Hungarians, a comment I completely understand since the same person must have built my house!
The bare walls in the attic space are not by any stretch of the imagination level in any plane and the 'stuff' between blocks is to say the least hit and miss. like a load of Lego put together with the pins mis-aligned.
But now my loathing has reached a new level.
A have an extension which was originally built as a garage then converted to a doctors surgery and is now being remodelled into part time use accommodation. The good news is the floor is actually level. . . that's the end of the good news!
I have one wall which was obviously constructed by two different guys working at the same time, the problem was guy on the left was using 150mm wide blocks and his mate on the right was using the100mm version, so when they met instead of demolishing the shorter piece and rebuilding with matching blocks they simple joined them with a 50mm ridge running from floor to ceiling.
Ah Yes the Ceiling.
In it's 6 metre length there is a 150mm difference from one end to the other, and in the 4 metres width it can only be compared to a donkeys hind leg. which becomes understandable when you discover that the builders used the latest technology available in the 1980's to construct it, Reed! Yes the same as they use for thatched roofs, with a plaster coating.
It is totally impossible to fix anything to this, it has the strength of a wet tissue. This whole sorry mess is attached somehow to large tree branches laid between the walls. The branches are not cut or planned just used as the were cut from the tree.

Then the electrician arrived!
Or he might have just sent his 10 year old son round to do the job.
There are two light fittings (presumably attached to afore mentioned branches) the light switch has of course three wires, one input and an out to each light, simple, the lights however have 4 wires arriving at them the blue return and 3 live wires, one of which has the requisite 230 volts the other two show a voltage of 98, this is the same for both fittings. and of course the wires are hidden in the walls and ceiling and are impossible to trace.
I have had two electricians come to look at the problem, the same answer from both, the only solution is to rip everything out and rewire.
Knowing how fragile the ceiling is and how bad the walls are this is not an appealing prospect, and starting to sound like an expensive one to boot.
So the whole project is now on hold until a cheaper alternative comes to mind.
At the moment upping the insurance and having a gas leak is favourite.
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Old Nov 16th 2021, 5:45 am
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

I feel your pain Duztee. I have also considered upping my cover and letting the standard of Hungarian workmanship take its toll. Aaaaaaaarrrrghh!
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Old Nov 16th 2021, 6:59 am
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

You are assuming that the building was done by a builder rather than a DIY job which was (is?) a lot more popular here than in the UK. Also if it was done in the 80s then this was a time of material shortages i.e. nothing in the shops when you went there. We had this when we came here and the builder would say "I'll do the job - this is what I need, when you have it on site come and tell me and I will start - and it was come and tell him 'cos he didn't have a phone.
Back then something like a garage would probably be DIY and put up with materials that were both available and affordable.

I'm not trying the justify the state of the building just perhaps shed light as to the possible reasons as to why. And it has stood for 40ish years without (presumably) too many visible cracks.

Built as a garage the levelness of the ceiling may not have been critical to the owner(/builder). Using 'in the round' timber was quite standard not that too long ago as was the use of nad szövet (reed batts) which would then be plastered with lime plaster. And yes you can't attach anything easily to it unless you are lucky enough to find one of the round timbers.

If you have enough ceiling height then on solution could be to fix a false ceiling under the original by fixing joist with joist hangers to the walls joists and then plaster board.

For the electrics - Ceiling lights were often multi bulbed with the option at the switch to have all or some switched on. This was achieved by having multiple switches switching a live for each bulb or bulb group and there would only be one neutral serving the lot (only one needed). You may have the remnants of this. Of course the 98 volts is another issue. Is it 98v with no power i.e. if you connect the 98v wire via a bulb to the neutral does the 98v disappear? Whilst 98v is higher than I have seen, I have seen unaccountable voltages caused by bad earth bonding in the wiring which allows back circuits. (Also sometimes accompanied by a tingling when you touched the taps with wet hands)
Is the wiring aluminium or copper - or worse a mixture?
Problems such as the 98v can be difficult to track down and I would expect a professional electrician to recommend a rewire because they wouldn't want to get involved in what could be a can of worms. As with the building works - you don't know if the electrics were professional or DIY

There is a Hungarian expression of someone being a Ezermester literal translation thousand master - i.e. someone who can do everything. Unfortunately in the past there were many who thought they fitted this category but in fact they were just masterful bodgers.


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Old Nov 16th 2021, 7:24 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Excellent reply Peter.
Everything makes much more sense when viewed properly, Those of us who have not been here for so long tend to look through English eyes and forget Hungary was a far different country 40 years ago.

Unfortunately the height doesn't allow for a complete false ceiling but a friend has suggested using faux beams which weigh almost nothing are easily cut and shaped to fit the waves of the ceiling and would compliment the 'character' of the room.
One of the electricians who accepted I didn't want the cost and problems involved with a full rewire has suggested cutting all of the old wiring back to the main feed which thankfully comes in to the room on it's own cable from the house distribution panel, fit a 12v transformer and just use LED strip lights, again very little weight and easily manipulated. and they can even be operated via a 'smart' switch which doesn't even need to be physically connected. Clever stuff this modern technology!
Exactly as you said, his view was the odd voltage was a bad earth somewhere, but finding it might be next to impossible without ripping out a lot of wiring.
So I at least have option to consider instead of abandoning the project.
Thanks again for putting things into perspective.
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Old Nov 16th 2021, 11:37 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

I can only agree with Peter!
Have met some ezermesters too - it was probably one of the first words I learned.
In the house that we bought near Esztergom there are similar "solutions" but even in the other house too - though it was rebuilt with new electric wiring 20 Years ago.
You just have to consider that in "communist" times much stuff just wasn't available so you had to improvise ...
My wife told me a kind of bad joke there, maybe I've already described it:
In every project out of two or three bags of cement or whatever there's always one missing - the ezermester took it home for his own projects ...
Though you have to see the other side too:
Many or even most of these projects were done without plans and documentation so if the customer did not pay or cut the payment by 20%? Then the ezermester couldn't go to the courts ...
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Old Nov 17th 2021, 1:57 am
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

My house was built in 1940 . If I spill water on any of the floors it will run into one corner because the floors aren't level and one of the windows in the living room is at an angle, I couldn't have a shower unit installed in my bathroom because the walls aren't square. The whole house was rewired when I moved in so that's one of the few things that's OK.

It's not the first "wonky" house I've owned. I once tried to wallpaper a couple of room in my house in South Africa only to find there was a good 2 inches difference in height of the ceiling in the rooms.

My family call me the old lady who lives in a crooked house.
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Old Nov 17th 2021, 6:54 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

I've not lived here long but have visited since 2003. The one thing I never liked in my parents-in-law property were the electrical wiring and positioning of some lighting. They had a lamp right above the kitchen sink. In the outbuildings wiring joined up from one outbuilding to the other. No proper connectors. I always said a little prayer before touching them!
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Old Nov 17th 2021, 10:34 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Tiger, you describe it succinctly!
We had an electrician exchange some of the connections and switches and ...
But in most rooms we don't use the original lighting fixtures but some small LED-lights.
The main problem imho however is the risk of overloading - when you have the dishwasher, the dryer and the washing machine running and the lady wants to use the kettle and/or the microwave ...
Since the machines are my responsibility I have a certain kind of program/routine: Washer in the morning, then I put out the clothes on the line, dryer later in the afternoon, dishwasher in the evening ...

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Old Nov 19th 2021, 7:25 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Originally Posted by wolfi
Tiger, you describe it succinctly!
We had an electrician exchange some of the connections and switches and ...
But in most rooms we don't use the original lighting fixtures but some small LED-lights.
The main problem imho however is the risk of overloading - when you have the dishwasher, the dryer and the washing machine running and the lady wants to use the kettle and/or the microwave ...
Since the machines are my responsibility I have a certain kind of program/routine: Washer in the morning, then I put out the clothes on the line, dryer later in the afternoon, dishwasher in the evening ...
Most of the houses were wired up in a time when machines were not as prolific as today e.g. a washing machine was expected (probably in the bathroom) and that was about it. The standard supplied power was 16A above which you paid extra, then it went to 25A, then to 32A all with an equivalent power on the night meter. Today it is 32A with NO night meter allowance - so anything over 32A is charged at 5000 huf. / amp.
If your house has been recently rewired it should have sufficient circuits to run your household machines concurrently up to the amount of the main fuse rating. The fused circuits installed in the house are usually 16A and the 16A fuse is to protect the wiring from overload NOT the machines plugged into the circuit. So you can (will) have multiple 16A circuits all connected to and limited by the main input fuse. The wiring method in Hungary differs from the UK in that here ring mains are not used but a radial system from the distribution board is used and lights and power are on the same circuit.
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Old May 6th 2022, 7:54 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

I actually sat laughing at your thread.
This is Hungary, and life is very difficult when you come from say the UK were you can have lots of everything.
My farm house i am renovating now has took months to just do the bathroom, it's not like you can pick up the phone and just get someone, and majority are the expert DIY Hungarian who can do alsorts, unfortunately that's where things go bad. Then you get the so called professional who thinks he his worth £1000 plus for each small job, they live in cuckoo land, I pay them well above there salary, yet they try and tell me, they want 30,000 forint an hour, yes well, I tell them to learn English and go to England if they want that money, I came with the first boat not the last, talk ridiculous some of them. I have had around 10 plus different people to do and finish jobs off, what they want is easy work but big money.
Alot of the old houses are built with clay, straw and mortar.
And using Lime and cement.
Alot of the old houses are collapsed now except for the odd dwelling, my grandad house fell to bits years ago after my grandparents died..Alot still plaster using Lime for walls.
Then like your home everyone concreted like this house i have in Borsod, never fall down.
Have you noticed so many houses need painting in Hungary, too expensive for people struggling to live, all the plaster, falling off the walls also.
Everything is so expensive now here, when you consider you can say go to Wilko's in UK for White Matt paint, yet here it is so expensive. 1 Million forint to paint this house in Borsod, because it is high, above 10 metres i had to pay for a cherry picker, had scaffolding. Then tiling verandas, I have 5, it's cost me a fortune for work, I do alot of Painting myself and general DIY and building and concrete jobs, but you have to get professional people for plumbing, gas, electricity work.
electricity is dire in Hungary, my other house needs all new wiring because of the sockets 1 metre up, I hate that, and lack of sockets. I try and tell people it's like another world here to the UK. I am still startled at life here now after all these years coming here, nothing surprises me now. Clearly my life is in the countryside, so it will never be like Budapest.
Ment to say regards to electrical cables in the wall, I am cutting them off from the main supply, no way am i smashing the old wall to remove cables, I am doing all mine into the loft and working down the walls.
It cost me £12000 to just get the concrete floor done, obviously it included removing the old soil, sand etc down there. I have just found out just now the so called plumber has not turned up at my other farm house to finish the 2 pipes in the bathroom, so another guy i need now, the house is 400 Km's away from this house.
Trying to get the bathroom done before i move in to that house. I have 1 hectares of farm land and the fencing alone cost me thousands.







Last edited by AAD; May 6th 2022 at 8:17 pm.
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Old May 6th 2022, 8:38 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Originally Posted by AAD
I actually sat laughing at your thread.
This is Hungary, and life is very difficult when you come from say the UK were you can have lots of everything.
My farm house i am renovating now has took months to just do the bathroom, it's not like you can pick up the phone and just get someone, and majority are the expert DIY Hungarian who can do alsorts, unfortunately that's where things go bad. Then you get the so called professional who thinks he his worth £1000 plus for each small job, they live in cuckoo land, I pay them well above there salary, yet they try and tell me, they want 30,000 forint an hour, yes well, I tell them to learn English and go to England if they want that money, I came with the first boat not the last, talk ridiculous some of them. I have had around 10 plus different people to do and finish jobs off, what they want is easy work but big money.
Alot of the old houses are built with clay, straw and mortar.
And using Lime and cement.
Alot of the old houses are collapsed now except for the odd dwelling, my grandad house fell to bits years ago after my grandparents died..Alot still plaster using Lime for walls.
Then like your home everyone concreted like this house i have in Borsod, never fall down.
Have you noticed so many houses need painting in Hungary, too expensive for people struggling to live, all the plaster, falling off the walls also.
Everything is so expensive now here, when you consider you can say go to Wilko's in UK for White Matt paint, yet here it is so expensive. 1 Million forint to paint this house in Borsod, because it is high, above 10 metres i had to pay for a cherry picker, had scaffolding. Then tiling verandas, I have 5, it's cost me a fortune for work, I do alot of Painting myself and general DIY and building and concrete jobs, but you have to get professional people for plumbing, gas, electricity work.
electricity is dire in Hungary, my other house needs all new wiring because of the sockets 1 metre up, I hate that, and lack of sockets. I try and tell people it's like another world here to the UK. I am still startled at life here now after all these years coming here, nothing surprises me now. Clearly my life is in the countryside, so it will never be like Budapest.
Ment to say regards to electrical cables in the wall, I am cutting them off from the main supply, no way am i smashing the old wall to remove cables, I am doing all mine into the loft and working down the walls.
It cost me £12000 to just get the concrete floor done, obviously it included removing the old soil, sand etc down there. I have just found out just now the so called plumber has not turned up at my other farm house to finish the 2 pipes in the bathroom, so another guy i need now, the house is 400 Km's away from this house.
Trying to get the bathroom done before i move in to that house. I have 1 hectares of farm land and the fencing alone cost me thousands.
I actually cried reading this because "Actual tradesmen" are far and few between in my area. What we have are guys that would be ran off a jobsite back home. My old Danu Swabian mud brick house needs a lot of exterior work and being now disabled I am just not able to do a lot of things anymore. The outside needs to be re rendered and being mud brick it had previous repars that used beton instead of the proper stuff and one fellow I had came and looked at it told me oh it is okay to use beton for the repair, needless to say I did not give him the work. That is one of my biggest dislikes of Hungary is lack of skilled craftsman. The Hungarian government should do more to encourage the youth to take up a craft and work in regions less served. Seems like they would do that if they want to preserve these old historic structures. Another gripe of mine is getting anyone to return an email or answer there telephone. Customer service is a sad joke in Hungary. If you need something I find it better to just order it from Amazon.de or plan to drive to several shops and hope one of them has what I can use.
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Old May 6th 2022, 9:37 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Originally Posted by AAD
, they want 30,000 forint an hour, yes well,
30K an hour! I pay my ezermester 20K an hour & I reckon that's generous, but I am happy about that because he is damn good!
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Old May 6th 2022, 10:21 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Originally Posted by Expatrick
30K an hour! I pay my ezermester 20K an hour & I reckon that's generous, but I am happy about that because he is damn good!
You pay him £45 per hour?
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Old May 6th 2022, 10:24 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Originally Posted by Shotgun
You pay him £45 per hour?
I do!

I cannot stress enough just how good he is. He looks after us - and we look after him!
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Old May 6th 2022, 10:37 pm
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Default Re: I really hate Hungarian builders!

Originally Posted by Expatrick
I do!

I cannot stress enough just how good he is. He looks after us - and we look after him!
I've no quibble with that, but I can't get that sort of hourly rate in England.
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