Delighted to be demolished!

Just up the road from our house a great big billboard has been erected announcing that a set of new homes will be built on a development site.

But the thing that caught my eye was the sign hanging on the house which is already standing on the plot. A house, I might add, that in typical German fashion is well maintained, recently painted, double glazed and in possession of a sound roof.  On this sign is a cartoon house with a wrecking ball smashing into the side of it.  The house is smiling… no even positively beaming with excitement, as demolition starts. Just in case there’s any doubt, next to the picture in cheery wavy writing, it says: “Ich werde abgerissen!”  – literally: “I’m being knocked down!

Only in Germany could there be such excitement about knocking down a perfectly sound, if slightly jaded property and building afresh. Germans love building new houses… and generally dislike buying older properties. If they do end up with a “second hand” house… they don’t just renovate it (renovieren). No, they will have it sanitized (sanieren). This pretty much means stripping it down to the bare walls and wires and starting again. Any period features will be ripped out, nothing will be left in its original state.

What a contrast to the Brits who rummage through salvage yards to look for authentic period fireplaces, single glazed sash windows, reclaimed bricks and original guttering. The British like their homes to stay forever in an imagined timewarp – based mainly I think on pictures from “Period Living” magazine. Of course the fact that neither the Victorians nor the Georgians had Aga range cookers, fridge freezers, televisions or computers is conveniently overlooked. Our “period” kitchens couldn’t be further from the reality of historical housekeeping.

Maybe the Germans do have the right idea… rather than trying to create an idyll from an imperfect property, perhaps it would just be easier to start over.

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5 Comments

Filed under Life in Germany

5 responses to “Delighted to be demolished!

  1. opossum123

    Well… and I actually thought we Germans love to keep stuff for as long as possible?! That’s why our gorgeous inventions (cars, electronics, etc) last forever, literally?

    Maybe that new house is meant to “live forever”?

    —Marcus

  2. Carol

    “Ich werde abgerissen”….sounds familiar:
    ichwerdeeinberliner.com 😉

    maybe we should quickly register ichwerdeeinabgerissener.com

    and make some money from those people.

  3. This year German salvage dealers are coming to England for the Salvo Fair. Most countries have salvage, but more or less everywhere its creation is by male knock down fat profit johnnies and its reuse is by mainly female caring and appreciative women. Is Cathy Dobson a man? Oh no, and she is living in ‘the former pigsty of the old farmhouse’. She sounds a bit confused . . .

  4. Fascinating post. Where we used to live in Guildford new owners did the equivalent of sanitisation. Down here on the South Coast they tend to live with the faults

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