Don't Worry, Spend Money24 Apr 2006
We just got a funny letter from our county's Katasteramt, a word that at first glance looks like catheter but actually mean land-registry office. They just noticed that we built a carport that doesn't appear in their official plans, and could we please hire a surveyor to measure it (at our cost, of course), otherwise they would take the trouble to hire one for us (at our cost, of course). They didn't say which course of action would be more expensive. The funny part is that the carport has been up for over 8 years, so I guess they don't check their plans all that often. The other funny part is they sent us a photocopy of the survey of our street with all their notes, so we now know none of our neighbors bothered to hire a surveyor for their new buildings either.
This will hopefully be the last unexpected cost of building our house (finished in December 1995). That's the bad news when building here, there are tons of unexpected costs that noone tells you about or you don't think about beforehand, up to 20% of the total price if you start adding it all up. The good news is that after the first couple of shocks, you stop thinking about it and don't care anymore. While we were building we no longer talked about money, we talked about units, back then each unit was 1000 DM. Everytime something came up for which we hadn't budgeted, we just laughed, counted how many units it would cost and added the bill to the pile.
We didn't have any cash left because, as we learned immediately after signing the mortgage, the bank takes your money first. When you agree to put up 20% of the cost of building, financing 80%, the bank expects you to spend your 20% before they pay out a single penny. And the first bill comes right away when you sign the contract, namely the real estate transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer).
Don't worry, spend money, be happy. Your budget will recover about a year after you move in.