Tuesday, April 01, 2008

DaVinci differences - an update

I've received quite a lot of extra information regarding pricing of the DaVinci Haus, so here's another post on the DaVinci theme. I must stress that everything below is from someone else who really went into a full and detailed comparison, so I can't claim anything 'cept the wording and grammar. Wot is mostly mine. So there.

There's a more significant pricing difference than I'd imagined. All DaVinci models are available in two versions that roughly translate as "budget" and "premium".

The "premium" version comes with a similar level of goodies to the equivalent Huf Haus, but at a saving of 10% to 15%. However, there are some under-the-skin differences that help to explain the saving - more anon on those.

Yer "budget" version gives a cost saving of about 30% compared to a Huf Haus. By "budget version", we're talking about no balconies, no underfloor heating, and by implication a few more missing bits and bobs. Such as a roof? Of course, our friends in Hartenfels will likewise strike big chunks out of your Huf Haus specification, and this appears as a "credit" on yer protocol. But I'm guessing that you'd be down to bare wood and concrete to get yer Huf Haus cost down by a whole 30%. But let's forget the budget version, because if we were budget people then we wouldn't be building our own home, right?

So we're comparing the premium version DaVinci to the standard Huf Haus. How come the DaVinci is 10% to 15% cheaper?

Well, there's a touch of apples and pears going on.

The equivalent DaVinci's windows are double-glazed, compared to the triple-glazing that comes standard with Huf Haus. Double-glazing offers a lower level of insulation, and let's not forget that these are primarily glass-walled houses, so the energy leakage really adds up. My secret informer, erm, secretly informs me that this ups your heating bills by about 15% to 20% per year.

Is this extra energy consumption really a big deal? Well, that's up to you. If you drive a Prius, then yes. If you drive an SUV then no. The rest are somewhere in the middle. Personally, I think the best way to reduce one's carbon footprint is not to be born at all, but I think it's a little too late for that. And pegging it may generate more carbon dioxide than gasping out the rest of your life: the hearse, the church service, the bloody singing. Not to mention the cremation. Hmm, this is a clear digression. Must continue. Sorry.

You can take some greenie solace in the fact that we're talking about different levels of German insulation standards here, which are already way up there with the best in Europe. "Very good" versus "excellent", then.

The next point is a cracker: the lower and upper floors of a Huf Haus are basically made of concrete, whilst the DaVinci floors are all wood. Believe me, concrete's as expensive as hell, so this goes a looooong way to explaining the cost differential all by itself. One can imagine that this might cause a few concerns to those of you like my pure, mountain-bred Swiss wife who're used to living in decent buildings where you can't hear people clumping about upstairs. Unlike almost every house I've ever lived in back in Blighty where a quick trip to the loo sounds like the charge of a bull elephant - with our without carpets. And then there's the bloody plumbing to deal with after yer done.

Eek, another digression.

There's also a more subtle impact which I'll quote:

"The ceiling is a wooden-one, not a concrete ceiling like in a Huf-Haus, which means you have a different "climate" in the house as the concrete stores the heat better than wood – still some people like a wooden ceiling better."

Got that? Good.

The last point's one of standardisation. Huf Haus offer their windows and walls in three different widths (known as "raster sizes") of 2.3m, 2.5m and 3m. In fact they can offer almost anything in between if you have a particularly sticky problem to solve (like wot we did) but that's a different story. Yer DaVinci people've standardised on 2.3m to save their own production costs, 'cos standardised sizing leads to standardised purchases from standardised suppliers. Is this a big deal? Well, that depends on whether you're looking to take advantage of the flexibility that the Huf Haus raster sizes offer.

That's pretty much it on the house itself: increased heating bills 'cos of double glazing 'stead of triple glazing; clumpy wooden floors with a different climate, whatever that means; and a standardised raster size of 2.3m and not a centimetre more or less.

But there's a big difference when it comes to the cellar costs: The bare-bones DaVinci Keller is about 40% cheaper than its Huf equivalent. Why's that? 'Cos DaVinci use a well-known (to the German market) cellar company, while Huf Haus do it all in-house. That well-known cellar company (oh ok, it's called Knecht-Keller) has far larger economies of scale, while Huf naturally builds a maximum of one cellar per house. Stands to reason, dunnit.

Bottom line?

My informant reckons all the above can trim up to EUR 100,000 off a typical project.

Would Claudia and I have made a different choice if we'd known the above? Nay, nay and thrice times nay. No way. Not on yer nelly. Huf Haus it was, and Huf Haus it would be if ever we do it all again (I'd love to, by the way. Very much). We're a little more greenie than I let on (not a lot, but definitely more) and we like the mix 'n' match of the different window raster sizes - in fact we'd have been a bit buggahed with our planning permission if Huf couldn't have offered us the flexibility of trimming a 20cm slice off our central 3m raster (facing the house, it goes 3.0m - 2.8m - 3.0m which tells you something of the precision that yer Swiss planning permission goes into). Anyways, we loikes having whopping big 3m windows in the main, with the odd 2.3m and 2.5m units here and there to make it all a bit more interesting.

And a wooden floor instead of concrete? Pah! This is our home, not a tool shed!

One last point: one of the comments on my last post (you hum it, and I'll play it) is from a chap who built a DaVinci Haus in lieu of a Huf Haus. He said:

"I didn't go with Huf because they were generally rude and didn't return my phone calls when I was speccing the house. This despite having prepared plans for my house with an architect and visiting their offices in Hartenfels. So I was clearly a serious customer. I got the feeling they were swamped with business following the grand designs show."

And here's a quote from my secret informer:

We would have gone with Da Vinci, if their architect had not been an arse in the pricing negotiations... we're moving in our Huf in 2 weeks time."

Go figure.

p.s. A great big thank you to my secret informer, who I recall sent me his first email right at the beginning on my own project when our land was still mostly a grassy bit of Alp, and his own project was (clearly) still deep in its head-scratching paper phase. You know who you are, my friend.


banker said...

Idealbau manufactures cellars for Huf Haus. Idealbau is a highly automated and state of the art factory that produces cellars for other home builders too. I was able to visit Huf Haus and Idealbau last year and I was highly impressed. If I had the budget I'd build a HH myself ...

Joe said...

Hi Ric Do you have the same lack of communication with Huff and experienced similar problems?

Anonymous said...

That blogg is interesting indeed:
The website of the blogger is contemporary.ie which redirects you to germanpassivehouse. A little bit of googling and you know, that this site is run by the guy who was the representative of davinci's. So I wouldn't give a damn about what he's saying there- unless you are he- and that makes you a spammer.
Good blogg, you gave me a good idea about what questions to ask

Coming on Board GreenTeam said...

We are currently looking for Agents in the UK. When you are interested in UltraGreen please do not hesitate to contact us! By the way - Ric - I never seen someone who is sharing so much information for a broad audience like you! Thank you again. Cheers

Anonymous said...

Can I clone your article to my blog? Thank you…