Buying Apartment in Old House: Energy Efficiency & Details

30 posts in this topic

Hello,

Your answers concerning this very important matter would be highly appreciated. We would like to buy for ourselves an apartment in a house (Zweifamilienhaus). The entire building consists of 6 apartments (3xZweifamilienhaus). This apartment is located at the first floor (Obergeschoss). The monthly costs (Hausgeld), the attic above, part of the garden and the washing room will be shared with the neighbors living below (former owner's family).


There is oil central heating from 2000 for these two apartments. It also provides warm water. The building year is 1958. 
According to the Energieausweis (Bedarfsausweis):
Baujahr laut Energieausweis :2000
Energieeffizienzklasse: H  
Energiebedarf : 289,90 kWh/(m²•a)

 

I researched online and this controversial 'H' might trigger high heating-related costs. Still, the real estate agent says that the monthly costs (Hausgeld) including heating will be maximum 200 euros. He said that these costs will be written in the contract and that the heating system has been checked on a yearly basis. A monthly Rücklage (max 50 e) will be added for potential future exterior building work. I haven't seen myself the Energieausweis or other papers yet. 

 

The apartment needs renovation - painting and flooring. No water damage or mold (not visible at least), bathroom ok, good double-glazed windows, dry storage room in the cellar. Not sure how to find out if the electrical system and the plumbing is really ok and won't need massive changes soon. The location is excellent and the price is good for the area.

 

How important is this energy efficiency class? Could there be something hidden/money-draining here? 

Thank you very much for your time!

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not sure here, but I think you will only be buying whats within the outer house walls... 

 

I doubt you will be buying the heating system, but you will almost certainly be buying into "maintenance responsibillity"..

 

You need to see how much money is in the "essential repairs POT"...   

 

Checking the electrical system should be simple...  Call an Electrical company and ask them to pop along and test it for you... A simple "Mega" or insulation test should reveal any issues..

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An issue with oil based heating systems is that the price of oil fluctuates which can have a significant impact on you.  Just see how much the petrol prices have changed recently due to the price of oil.

 

This article states:

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/government-deal-curb-diesel-pollution-carbon-neutral-coffee/heating-oil-prices-germany-reach-highest-level-years

 

Quote


The price for heating oil in Germany has reached its highest level in several years, price comparison website Check24 says in a press release. At 1,537 euros per 2,000 litres, heating oil in September 2018 cost 8 percent more than in the month before and 85 percent more than at the beginning of 2016. “A further price increase is likely,” said Check24 energy expert Oliver Bohr. While gas prices are currently at a relatively low level, many providers have announced price increases for the end of 2018, the service website says.

 

 

So while the current neben costs of 200 Euros might be sufficient, it will be based on prices from 2017 and could increase next year to cover the increased cost of heating oil.  BTW:  I believe that the peak was in 2007 where it was about 70% higher than it currently is.  

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Usually buying an apartment in Germany means we co-own the building and its components.   So that is the common elements of a heating system too.    You might want to check that.    We are the ones responsible for the costs, be they ongoing or capital.  So I am not sure what any suggestion that a "limit" or a "maximum" might be written in means.   The costs we incur are what they are - nobody else is going to pay them for us - and similarly the Rucklage would ideally be planned for up upcoming needs.   You might want to check all that process and what is budgeted.

 

With most elderly or inefficient components of one's home, it'd be prudent to expect some maintenance or ugrade costs. Even relatively new systems can require that.  As per above reply, the payment into the monthly maintenance cost fund will help smooth those but at some point owners may have to expect to decide communally on the fate of such components and of course pay for their replacement or renovation.

 

Aside from getting expert advice, any paperwork relating to owner meetings would indicate if there's been any discussion.   Personally I'd take a long hard look at an older inefficient heating system but equally I'd expect these factors to be reflected in the price. My direct neighbour has oil in an older property, it's manageable.   Another trap can be a lot of long-standing residents often "workaround" or put up with issues in their home, even unconsciously.   They might limit use of an inefficient heating system in order to contain costs or whatever in a way you do not want to or put up with what is - in 2019 terms - the comfort level of an energy inefficient home.   I think if I bought such a place, I'd make sure I got the discount for it and then aim to make it energy efficient. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How large is the unit you're thinking of buying (in square meters)? Hausgeld of €200/month including heating costs sounds very low given an energy efficiency class of H, assurances aside. A contribution to the maintenance fee of €50/month is also very low.

 

And as others have noted, if your actual costs end up being higher, the assurances from the real estate agent will be useless, unless they include a guarantee to compensate you for any excess.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

that really doesn't sound right unless the apartment is really small. 

 

have you seen copies of the nebenkostenrechung for years prior?  Not just for last year, but multiple years - I'd want to see these *for sure*. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The unit has 65 square meters and costs 64.000 euros. It's kind of countryside, quiet neighborhood, but well-connected to big cities, NRW. It would be just right for our needs. I don't think there is a previous Rücklage, owner meetings documents or budgets. Until a few months ago, there lived an old woman. Now her children/heirs are selling the place. The seller living below (elderly persons) and the previous owner shared everything as a family. Because of this special situation, there are things that need to be agreed upon concerning the shared spaces and details.

The seller acted as the Verwalter, he might continue to handle the Hausgeld for the new owner too. We scheduled a meeting together with the real estate agent+seller. Though this house is in the middle and one neighbor is another family member, there seem to be no administrative relationships/costs shared with the other apartments in the building. It's all about this Zweifamilienhaus and stuff shared with the neighbors living in Erdgeschoss. 

 

Ok, renovating the walls, floors and equipping the kitchen will involve extra effort, but that's not an issue. The house is old, inhabited by old persons, no fancy modernizations. However, it's pretty clean and taken care of. The roof and attic seem fine. The facade is nicely painted. Oil heating might not be ideal. But that can't be changed now. Hopefully, oil prices won't increase much in the next years. 

 

We haven't seen copies of the Nebenkostenrechung or any kinds of documents yet. What other documents should we ask for? What other things should we know?

 

The important thing is for the big stuffs  (pipes, electric, heating, etc) to be functional and not to bring us unpleasant surprises after we buy. It would be our first home so we keep researching what to expect and how to avoid problems. I speak German well, but dealing with this and legal German is stressful. Thank you, your help means a lot! 

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

isn't it possible to have a simple inspection?  I have not bought property here, but in the US this is 100% standard procedure.  Everything is covered in the investigation: roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical system, heating, etc.  Costs a few hundred dollars but well worth it for the information it offers.

 

I can't imagine this is not possible in Germany, but I have no idea what these types of inspectors are called :/

 

eta:  hehehehe my intuitive german senses suggested "hausinspektor" might be it, and lo, it seems to be ;)  

 

something like this:

https://www.sprengnetter24.de/immobilien-bewertung/hausinspektor-prueft-und-bewertet-zum-festpreis

or

https://www.der-hausinspektor.de

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I would also have in mind is that the state increasingly intervenes to enforce environmental improvements (see also diesel cars etc).  I would not see it as impossible that very energy inefficient homes might be forced to be updated at some points.

 

On costs, I have typical metrics for newish builds for reasonable maintenance.   I tend to pay 4-4.5 Euro per sq m per month and it's in the order of 2:1 for on costs: maintenance (and  so like e.g. 3:1.5 Euro).  So I would look at 4:1 as outlying and probably assume the latter is low.   Furthermore, Germany financials often does not work to annual raises but less frequent bulk ones.   Like we kept sinking fund input the same for a decade, then put it up 50% but won't again for a while. 

 

Is it straight H because of the heating and is otherwise OK, or is there other reasons?  The heat then goes straight out that attic or something? And if that is so, it is OK to plan renovations but the neighbour sharing would have to agree.   (When I was last looking the only places in that category that were practically shells that were not habitable without big work).

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These 1960ish buildings all seem to suffer from low energy class ratings.

 

One thing to consider when you see the energy certificate is to see what kind of certificate it is - if it is "Bedarfsausweises" then it is the expected "demand" or usage by some calculations of the energy expert (wonder how accurate that is), if it is a "Verbrauchsausweis" then it is based on actual consumption (e.g. heating bills) of the people living there. The two are not equivalent:

 

"Studies have shown that the final energy value of a consumption certificate is on average around 25 percent lower than that of a demand certificate - for one and the same house! When comparing different types of ID cards, you should definitely take this difference into account and classify the building with a consumption card as a class worse, the building with a demand card as a class better. You can find answers to the question of which ID card must be issued for which type of building here."

 

This page is the best I've found at explaining it: https://www.verbraucherzentrale.de/wissen/energie/energetische-sanierung/energieausweis-was-sagt-dieser-steckbrief-fuer-wohngebaeude-aus-24074  just plug the url into google translate and read it.

 

I have also looked into these kind of houses and yes the building type from that year is not well insulated, but I've noticed it's usually that that previous owners (usually an old couple who have lived there forever) never invested in basic insulation (attic and basement) and were probably just miserly with the energy bill (different standards for what's considered to be "comfortable" from that generation). 

 

If it's 65sqm and class H, then according to that link I put above, it would cost around 65 * 20 = 1300 euro a year to heat (living space and water) or about 108 euro/month depending on your personal usage and time of the year.

 

I've been thinking about how I would renovate such a house if I were to get one at the right price. If the windows are already double paned, then I guess I would put thermal curtains on all of them, update or add more weather stripping to them , an recaulk all of them. There is also some temporary plastic film you can add to windows with double-sided tape (and tighten with heat from hair dryer so it's less noticeable) to make a third pane (I did this to my house in the states which only had single pane windows! worked pretty well). I would install vapor barrier and insulation batts in the attic. The doors I would also add weather stripping (eg. especially on the bottom). Cork flooring is actually pretty good at insulating the floor and pretty durable, although not as nice looking as wood. Of course, none of this is going to turn that kind of house into a class D or E (which is the average house - keep that in mind). I have no clue what it would take a class H to a class E, but it's probably expensive.

 

btw - there is a plaster called Aerotherm that is made of aerogel and microspheres which act as a heat reflectant to help heat up the rooms faster. Supposedly can achieve 25-35% reduction. Hmmm.. not sure if the claims are completely bogus, too good to be true? but it looks interesting - it's expensive but for some select rooms it might be good, and it seems to be useful for preventing mold. Another competing product is Fixit 222 from Switzerland that I also came across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, wien4ever said:

One thing to consider when you see the energy certificate is to see what kind of certificate it is - if it is "Bedarfsausweises" then it is the expected "demand" or usage by some calculations of the energy expert (wonder how accurate that is), if it is a "Verbrauchsausweis" then it is based on actual consumption (e.g. heating bills) of the people living there. The two are not equivalent:

 

This page is the best I've found at explaining it: https://www.verbraucherzentrale.de/wissen/energie/energetische-sanierung/energieausweis-was-sagt-dieser-steckbrief-fuer-wohngebaeude-aus-24074  just plug the url into google translate and read it.

 

If it's 65sqm and class H, then according to that link I put above, it would cost around 65 * 20 = 1300 euro a year to heat (living space and water) or about 108 euro/month depending on your personal usage and time of the year.

 

I've been thinking about how I would renovate such a house if I were to get one at the right price. 

 

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and advice! So helpful and complex.

 

Such a great idea to get thermal curtains. There are many possibilities of improving comfort, just that some of them trigger big expenses. Also, it's really confusing if you don't know much about renovations.

 

It's Bedarfsausweis. I'll ask for a copy or to be allowed to take photos of it (and of the other documents). Wow, according to the link, the costs would be really high. There is a major difference between the Hausgeld that the real estate agent mentioned and these estimations according to the energy efficiency certificate.

 

If we'll have the estimated costs written in the contract, does this H Energieeffiziensklasse matter so much? What to do when the costs are bigger than the ones they say and write in the contract? 

 

6 hours ago, swimmer said:

Is it straight H because of the heating and is otherwise OK, or is there other reasons?  The heat then goes straight out that attic or something? 

I'm still trying to understand this. According to the recommended website page I read, this Energieausweis is for the whole building. Not sure if in this case it's H and 289,90 kWh/(m²·a) for the entire building (that has 6 apartments) or just for this Zweifamilienhaus that's part of it and doesn't share the costs with others.

8 hours ago, lisa13 said:

isn't it possible to have a simple inspection? 

It would be useful, just that I had a look and it costs about 500 euros. That's a lot. I'll keep looking, maybe I'll find a better price(highly unlikely)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Olympiana said:

If we'll have the estimated costs written in the contract, does this H Energieeffiziensklasse matter so much?

 

We don't get that in the purchase contract.   Rather an obligation to pay our share of the bills.   Our costs are what we actually incur as the resident and in line with any house rules.   Any estimates you have been given are just that.  You will pay actuals.     There is nobody else who can or would want to pay our heating costs, is there?   So we have to pay them.   Or not incur them.

 

So where we have to reflect potentially high ongoing running costs (or renovation to eliminate them) is in a lower purchase price.   After we purchase, the costs of our own home are down to us.   This property is quite inexpensive to purchase.   This is one big reason why.  Yes 500 Euro is a lot of money but getting such such an older property into modern shape is inevitably going to cost many times more.   That bill would be just the start.   If additional investment is an issue, this sort of property is possibly not for you because it will require it.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Olympiana said:

There is a major difference between the Hausgeld that the real estate agent mentioned and these estimations according to the energy efficiency certificate.

 

Hausgeld never includes your individual energy consumption. 

 

Hausgeld includes e.g. running costs for caretaker, staircase and garden maintenance, house electricity (staircase, cellar),  maintenance (!) of heating, waste disposal, administration of communal property, residential building insurance, bank account management.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if you are serious about this apartment yet 500 is too much to find out what exactly the place needs (and given its age and lack of modernization, it may need more than you expect), I worry.  Can you actually afford to buy?

 

eta:  how many thousands would you be paying the makler to be less than transparent with you? ;)

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I myself am looking at a two-story 1960s row end house, with attic rooms added in 1970s (3rd story), total living space of 115 m2 heated with a "Warmluftkachelofen mit Öl beheizt" and a rating of 250 KWh/m2 (class H) . This means there is some sort of ceramic "Kachelofen" beast that sits in the living room. It's really weird for me to see these things. If I understand correctly, the heating system has a burner (in the Kachelofen?) that heats the air which moves via ducts to the kitchen, living room and rooms in the 2nd floor. According to the Energieausweiss, the burner was updated in 2005. It also has been recently inspected by the chimney sweep. If it is up to code by the chimney sweep,  would it still need to be upgraded ? btw- What is the difference between a boiler (kessel) and a burner? The hot water I know is heated by electric water heaters (one in each of the three bathrooms and in the kitchen).

 

I read somewhere that upgrades must be done within two years of purchasing.  So does anybody know how EnEv gets enforced? The German interwebs is really confusing since there are all sorts of sellers giving advice, but what is really needed? The clearest information regarding the rules I found so far is here:

http://www.energiesparen-im-haushalt.de/energie/bauen-und-modernisieren/modernisierung-haus/altbausanierung/sanierungspflicht-hausbesitzer.html 

 

"Gesetzliche Pflicht bei Teil-Sanierung und Gebäudesanierung:

  • Pflicht 1: Wird ein Haus nach dem 01.02.2002 gekauft oder geerbt, muss der neue Besitzer eine Dachdämmung oder eine Dämmung der obersten Geschossdeckeanbringen. Dabei darf der Dämmwert nicht niedriger sein als 0,24 W/(m2K). Ausnahme: Findet kein Besitzerwechsel nach Januar 2002 statt, muss auch nicht gedämmt werden.
  • Pflicht 2: Gilt seit 2009: Wird eine Außenwand gedämmt, muss dies nach EnEV-2009-Vorschriften passieren. Das bedeutet, dass – wenn Sie schon Ihr Haus dämmen – dieses auch mit einer ausreichend guten Dämmschicht tun müssen. Ausnahme: Wer nicht dämmen will, muss es auch nicht tun.
  • Pflicht 3: Heizrohre isolieren und Heizkessel von vor 1978 erneuern: Die Pflicht gilt seit 2009 ohne Ausnahme für alle Ein- und Zweifamilienhäuser. Ist der Heizkessel in einem Haus zu alt, muss er umgehend ausgewechselt werden. Kontrolliert wird dies vom Schornsteinfeger."

 

So Pflicht 1 and Pflicht 3 make sense to me. But it reads to me that Pflicht 2, for exterior wall isolation is really just optional? Or have I understood that wrong?

So far the most obvious upgrades are adding the insulation to the attic space and, I guess if I were forced to upgrade the heating, I would go with a oil condensing boiler and a solar for water heating.  The windows are all double paned and in good shape. The exterior walls are 30cm thick and there is siding with some insulation already on the outermost facing "end wall". Between houses there is a 36 cm thick wall.  The house is in really good shape and the basement is nicely finished with attached garage.  Very tempting - is there anything else I might be forgetting regarding energy efficiency compliance?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

250 kWh/m2 (per year, I presume) indicates the house is extremely badly insulated. 

I think modern houses are about 40 kWh/m2/yr.

Energy is only one aspect, I think many people give too much importance to it, all in all the house could still be a good purchase. 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It could very well be a good price... but if the bank see a certificate like this and there isnt sufficient funds to bring the house upto a certain spec.. the bank may well refuse to finance as much as desired..

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, 250 kWh/m2/yr is not great..The last owner died of old age so I must assume it was someone who didn't have the funds for major renovation. On the flip side the kachelofen has really kept the house warm and dry, and the poor insulation means good ventilation, hence no mold in the attic or walls or in the cellar. 

 

The thing that is not clear to me is, what is the spec to reach? Is it 150 kWh/m2/yr (average or Durchschnitt)? I mean, if the EnEv want you to turn a 50+ year old house into a 40kWh/m2/yr then they have, for all intents and purposes, just declared something like  ~60% or more of the country's housing stock ready for demolition. And with housing stock already short in Germany, that's a bit whack! 

 

It's tempting - the house is smack in the middle of the a neighborhood that averages 3500 euro/m2 and this house is listed for around 2500 euro/m2. It is also walking distance to my kid's school and other amenities (bus to work, food, pharmacy, etc). House prices are growing at 9% per year (36% in the last four years!). Decisions decisions... 

 

 

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, SpiderPig said:

It could very well be a good price... but if the bank see a certificate like this and there isnt sufficient funds to bring the house upto a certain spec.. the bank may well refuse to finance as much as desired..

 

Yes, it's what I thought also - I showed my Hausbank finance guy the expose and the energie certficate... but funny enough they are willing to help me finance it with 1.5% effectiv zinsen for 10 years (up to 5% sondertilgung), then another mortage with 2.15% effectiv zinsen for the following 10 years without any limits or penalties for finishing the mortage early. This is with 20% downpayment and Baukindergeld thrown in (2 kids, 24000 euros over 10 years - god knows this subsidy just goes straight to the maklers and notars and raises prices even further!).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now