Friday, October 10, 2008

Continued Adventures in Our German Kitchen

We've had problems with our terrace door's fancy mechanism (German windows/doors like this one open at the top, on the side, and lock all with the turning of the knob lever) ever since moving in to this apartment. It just continued to deteriorate, until we finally got our landlord to take notice last November. He sent someone over to take a look at it. The guy looked at it and said it was so old that he would have to order special parts. He said it would be a couple of weeks. We never heard from him again. We gave him a lot of time to show up, then started bugging the landlord again. Early last month, the landlord came by to check out the door. Yup, still broken! He said he'd find someone else.

We took advantage of this opportunity (his wife was here too, and she's a bit more free-spending) to remind them we still had concerns about the oven and stove. Only one burner on the stove worked well. The others would eventually heat up over about 20 minutes or so. But the worst was that the oven didn't seal closed all the way around, so heat came pouring out of the oven. It just seemed like a fire hazard to me. (I should note here that we are lucky to be in an apartment which came with a landlord-owned kitchen. Many, or even most, apartments come with nothing, not even the kitchen sink.) And, miracle of miracles, they agreed to replace it this time!

Less than a week later, some guys from MediaMarkt wheeled a new stove top and oven into our apartment, only to immediately note that the hole in the counter was way too big for the stove top. Apparently they don't make them that big anymore, so the landlord had no choice but to buy a smaller one and hope it could somehow perch in there anyway, I guess. So, they left the new oven in our living room and left the old one still installed in the kitchen. We had to put the landlord directly on the phone with the installer to convince him that we were not lying and just making it up - there was going to have to be a new counter installed. He argued with the installer about just putting a piece of metal or something on the counter to cover the hole. The installer was not impressed. He was also disturbed at the heat damage he saw on everything around the oven.

So, things are getting worse for our landlord, who must be Schwaebisch or something, because he is extremely, uh, frugal. Now he has to buy a new counter too. He came by with his wife to look at the new stove and the counter and measure a few things and confirm for himself that a new counter was, indeed, necessary.

Over the next two weeks, he had trouble getting a new counter cut. The first place he went kept coming up with reasons that they hadn't gotten it done yet. Then he showed up here with his son, to have another look at it and again prove to himself that the new counter top was going to be the only solution to the problem. I guess he decided it was. He then tried somewhere else to cut it. A week and a half later, he finally showed up with some new counter pieces and a grumpy, grizzled friend to help him out. (Not the same friend as last time, but equally as cheerless about his Freundschaftsdienst.)

First things first: the new countertop is horrifyingly ugly in my view, and doesn't make any sense in our yellow-and-puke-brown kitchen: it's white fake marble. Ew!! But, beggars can't be choosers. It's not like we cared for the fine fake wood counter that was there before. Just install the damn proper oven before it burns the place down.

It took them the entire day. Sawdust was flying everywhere. Many Scheisses emanated from the kitchen. There were trips to the Bauhaus to buy, at least, a new faucet, and who knows what else. By 7pm, they couldn't stand it anymore and called it a day - even though there was no hot water coming out of the tap, and it was flooding under the sink. He said that the oven installer would fix it when he came to put in the oven - in 3 days' time. Until then, our stove top was sitting above the hole in the counter. He wired it back up and said we could use it. Um, no. Not going to use the stove that is sitting right on the counter top! Do you want the kitchen to burn down, buddy!? Am I being a crazy safety-obsessed American here again?

So, Damon and I celebrated Convenience Foods Week while we waited to get a stove. We don't even have a microwave. It was take-out and frozen pizza and cold sandwiches every night. We didn't want to dirty too many dishes either, what with the lack of hot water in the kitchen and the bathroom sink not being a really great option.

When the oven installer came, he was appalled at the horrible job that had been done cutting the counters. Not only was the whole thing cut crooked (resulting in part of the wall we hadn't painted now being visible, as everything was pushed back to accommodate the new fucked-up counter), the hole for the stove was crooked too. The hole for the faucet is too big, so right by the sink there's a hole where water can drip down under the counter. (Did they think we wouldn't notice?) And the reason for the leak down below was just some moronic thing they did wrong. He tightened a few things and we had hot water again. But, there's still a small cold water leak because we apparently need to replace some pipe down there where a gasket is all worn out. (The gasket is attached to the pipe, so no replacing just the gasket.)

Despite the fact that we can't generally afford crap for this apartment that we don't even own, we'll be trying to replace that part and put it in ourselves. We are just not up for another comedy of errors with the landlord again at the moment!!

The new stove is great. It's so nice to have four working burners. We're so used to just having one that we don't even really know what to do with ourselves! We keep forgetting!

As for the terrace door, it was repaired only two days after someone came to look at it. He was horrified at how bad it had gotten and told us to stop using the door until it was fixed. They spent the whole morning putting in a new mechanism and it works like a charm now. The landlord made sure to tell us that the repair cost him 700 EUR.

Photos: Old stove & oven with fine fake wood counter. New stove & oven with fine fake marble counter.

Unrelated Note: It seems my silly Quietscheentchenlied post was the 300th one on this blog! And I didn't even notice until just now.


  1. Well, congratulations on your 300th! And I must say that Iw ould prefer your fake white marble to your fake wood tone any day. That's why we have fake slate on our fake wood tone workspace. Because much as I hate the fake grey of our kitchen, I prefer it to fake wood.
    I totlly fellowfeel for you on your landlord. We still haven't gotten our security deposit back from our p*o*s last landlord, and the German's boss just told him what legal letter to send, after which the firm will use their attorneys. And the idiot lost us as tenants (stayed 11 months in an obscenely overpriced month-to-month rent because that's where the firm placed us- and it was decent looking and had all furniture/appliances/lights)because he just wouldn't put locks on the windows in the children's room, after promising to do so for three months. They are idiots, aren't they, the subset of German misers?

  2. I looked at the pics first and thought, "wow, that is really ugly. What were they thinking." Then I read the post. Yep, typisch Schwaebisch. The worst part is that a nice wood-pattern counter-tops or even one of those standard pebble-pattern types of counter-tops are not all that expensive.

    Ours is a faux marble, and it looks nice, but the trim is a horrible hollow plastic strip that is now detaching regularly when we clean it. I would invest in a new counter and all the cutting myself (I think one can pull the whole thing off for less than 400 EUR installed), but for the fact that I am convinced we will move any day now ...

    Maybe with the world-wide depression setting in, we should just re-do the kitchen and be happy. Thanks for planting the thought.

  3. On the picture the fake marble doesn't look bad at all - but it probably looks different in "real life". I hate repairs that have to do with water. We had to replace kitchen / and bathroom sinks recently and they both were nightmares with us having to run to the hardware stores x-times, because nothing could fit right the first time.

  4. That's a damned fine looking stove top and oven y'all have got there. We commiserated about loopy landlords at the WEBMU, but it sounds like the Handwerker your landlord used for the countertop sets the bar for incompetence. You have my complete sympathy!

    And fake wood beats real wood any day when you're renting. Come check out our ridiculous Einbauküche and you'll see what I mean.

  5. Great story \o/

    Considering I installed (and cut and all that) our kitchen myself, and it cost me ... umm, 400 euro including appliances, with 300 for oven and stove...

    well, be glad he didn't pop up with a 10 euro piece of wood to "fill" the hole and a saw.

  6. That is not fun to deal with landlords! What a waste of time and money for him when he could have probably done it correctly the first time!

    Oh well...guess it makes for a good story!

  7. G: I don't really like fake anything. ;) We all know it's just a counter coated with some synthetic material, why does it have to pretend to be wood or marble?

    Mike: We have that plastic trim too! And guess who installed it? It's been crappy and not exactly attached since day one.

    Bek: Things involving pipes are definitely not my bag either! There's something kind of dank and nasty about "under the sink"....

    Sarah: Oh dear, I must see your EBK!

    Kato: Believe me, he wanted to...badly!!

    Yelli: We hope to avoid future adventures wherein he fixes things, but we shall see....:)

  8. Because there is really nothing fake that doesn't pretend to be something else.... what could it look like except blank thing, which would then look like Corian or something. Because if it's not real it's fake? Which is why granite or stone or (not on a coounter) wood really are better. But if you don't own it, you would have to believe that you are really going to be there for a long while to actually invest in someone else's property. Am I over discussing this? I think about it a lot when I look at the terra cotta floor that I hate and the fake grey wood cabinetry.

  9. I can completely understand your landlord woes. Those cheap bastards are the worst. I had an American landlord that would boast about the carpet in our kitchen being brought over from the airport when it was remodeled. Um.. OK. "Yup, this part was hardly walked on. You know, it was off in a corner somewhere. But it works really well here, don't you think?"

    Now we have the "old" style German windows... two panes with 12 cm in between which both open. MAN! in the winter they are a slight barrier to wind... and I mean SLIGHT! We've complained about them since N. was promised upon moving in that the entire building would be changed out "very soon". I guess their idea of "very soon" and mine have a gap as wide as between the windows and the walls... because that was four years ago.

    Congrats on your 300th!

  10. Love the new look hands down! It's so beautiful!

  11. Oh good lord! I do like the after look better, but maybe it is just the picture. Our landlord wont fix anything either. GAHHH Or he tries, but repair men come and repair men go and a month later its fixed. The toilet bowler cleanser flushed down the toilet and it was clogged and drained very slowly for 3 days, so I spent an hour and a half trying to find a plunger, whose head kept falling off anyway. I get home, and flush it, and it works! Go figure. GRRR...

  12. G: I'm definitely not interested in investing in this property! ;)

    Snooker: We have those windows at my office! They are very interesting...and drafty!

    Traveler: Thanks, I'm glad some people like it!

    Yankee: They just came in without you even knowing? Creepy!

  13. With our German engineering you can control the rate at which you which you like to shut your soft close doors and drawers, no more moody teenagers slamming cupboards!

    German Kitchen Boston


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