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Building your own home in Estonia (Tallinn)

When I entered Estonia in Protected content , I had no idea that eleven years later I still would live there, would been married and would have built a house by myself located in the most beautiful park in Estonia.

As a young engineer, my dream was to build my own house. In The Netherlands, it’s not so much the habit, as to find a nice private building plot is like finding a needle in a haystack. I learned that here in Estonia many private building plots were available, in nice area’s and against good prices.

It was in the summer of Protected content I decided to buy a nice plot with building rights somewhere in Lahemaa Park. Not immediate with the intention to build a house but just as an investment. One year later, I had my summer holidays on the island Saaremaa. My wife and I rented a typical little Estonian house. It was the fantastic feeling there that triggered me to say “Yes”, now I am going to build my own house.

Easy to say but how to start? After a few informal discussions with local architects about the costs for making the architectural drawings (EUR Protected content EUR Protected content , I decided to do as much as possible by myself. As a retired telecom manager I had all the time of the world to think in-depth how to start the building process.

In January Protected content obtained a CAD-CAM like program named Revit Structure. After four months study how to use the program, I was able to start with the design of my house. In the whole building process, this was the most time consuming and at the same time the most interesting part. In fact I sat on the chair of both the architect and constructor.

In February Protected content , the architectural drawings needed to obtain a building permit together with a five cm thick booklet filled with construction drawings and material lists were finished. In every country, and Estonia is no exception, the majority of construction companies are gangsters. In general, they take advantage of the ignorance of the client and therefore overpricing their services easily with Protected content %, without a blink of the eye.

The material lists showed exactly the number of m3 concrete, number of m3 wood, number of plaster boards, etc, etc. With these lists it was rather easy to calculate the building costs of my home. Of course, the construction drawings were checked, and approved by a licensed engineering company.

Armed with this information negotiations started with various construction companies. I visited small and big companies (nine). Many of them not so much amused with the own made drawings showing the exact numbers of material needed. The majority of them told me “We are working with a standard price per m2, so if your house is 150m2, then the price will be Protected content the m2 price”. Only three companies were prepared to spend one or more day(s) to go through the drawings and material lists, and after approval were prepared to make a price offer based on these drawings. At the end of the day this exercise gave me a saving of 45% compared to the standard used m2 price calculation.

I could fill another ten pages with problems encountered during the physical building process and the meetings with demotivated civil servants but that is beyond the scope of this story.

What I like to achieve is to come in contact with potential home builders, locals and/or expats whose dream is to build their own home as well in this lovely country.

Jan van der Ven

Tallinn Forum