A fun and creative Halloween

A fun season every year is Halloween! Decorations, costumes, creative food and fun parties – grateful for both children and adults!

We usually invite some friends, eat good food and arrange fun activities. This year we had a slimmer version because of Corona and only invited a couple of friends. The children and I usually have a lot of fun when we plan everything scary the guests will experience. Everything from tombstones with someone climbing up from the grave to dry ice that becomes like a smoke machine and then all the food of course! There is so much on this theme and here I share some decorations, activities, costumes and food we have had over the years.

We begin with…

Decorations

A zoombie tried to get up from the grave (hands visible at the far end)
Here we had a murder in the bathtub 2 years ago, not solved so far!
Decorations this year with light loops that give a cozy glow.
In the US (Ohio) around Halloween which I visited a few years ago
A pumpkin that feels bad!
The clown IT, painted by my daughter Mikaela. See more of her art by clicking here.
Nice light loops at the coffee table
Cobwebs and light loops in the lawyer tree
Happy Halloween!

Disguises

Always fun every year to try to come up with new things to wear. Here are some picks from our guests and ourselves over the years.

We had a nice visit from a handmade monster jaw and zoombie woman, the clown IT can also be seen on the right
Donald Trump! One of our guests was thinking about the scariest thing he could think of and it was Donald himself!
Help! Jason (Max) is trying to kill me!

Activities

There are many fun activities you can do and here are some things we have done recently. Last year we had a costume contest, best costume and most creative costume won! We have also had dry ice in the bonfire and dry ice final and quiz competition.

Quiz competition

This year we organized a small quiz competition in the forest we have behind the house. I arranged small scary stations with light loops and lanterns in the woods and the questions I had set up as notes on the trees. Guests were given flashlights and a map to follow. Here are questions and answers if anyone wants to implement.

Questions

1. What day is Halloween?
2. What is the name of “the kind ghost”?
3. What does a vampire drink?
4. Where is Count Dracula’s castle?
5. Which country holds the title of “The World’s Heaviest Pumpkin”?
6. What colors characterize Halloween?
7. What is the Swedish word for Halloween?
8. Which character is the creature from the movie IT best known for posing as?

Response

1. 31 October
2. Casper
3. Blood
4. Transylvania in Romania
5. Switzerland. It was a total of 1, 190 kilos
6. Black and orange
7. Alla Helgons Afton (All Saints’ Eve)
8. Clown

Food

There is a lot of fun food you can make on Halloween. Here are some tips on good dishes.

Cut pumpkin with guacamole and nacho chips
Root structure in pumpkin-cut shapes. Boil them a little lightly before cutting them so it will be easier to slice them. When everything is ready, add a little oil and salt. Feel free to add some rosemary leaves and garlic also for a slightly better taste. Then roast in the oven until they get a nice color.
Hamburgers can easily be decorated in fun shapes

Hope you have a fun Halloween despite Corona! Regardless of whether you invite guests home or not, it is still possible to do a lot of fun such as cooking scary food and decorating creatively!

Happy Halloween!

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Lina and her family built their dream home!

As our family grew, we felt that the city life no longer suited us. We decided to leave the city and invest in building our dream house in a more quiet environment a bit outside Stockholm. We found the perfect plot in Huddinge, a suburb of Stockholm, at the end of a small street very close to a lake. We felt that we would now begin a whole new phase in life – a journey towards our dream home!

This is what the plot looked like when we bought it
I (Lina) and my daughter visit the plot

Choice of a house supplier

We immediately decided on a turnkey contract as none of us are handy fixers. We booked meetings with the house suppliers Rörvikshus, Myresjöhus, Trivselhus, Götenehus and Intressanta hus. We managed to book all five meetings with the house suppliers on the same day! After an interesting, exciting and rewarding day, we were completely exhausted. We learned that most suppliers can deliver similar results, but the cost can vary.

The plot came with certain conditions determined by the municipality’s detailed plan. It was something we had not thought of before, but it affected what type of house we could build. We needed to relate to a building area of ​​a maximum of 150 sqm and a building height of a maximum of 5 m.

Our best tips for the meeting with house suppliers:

  1. Have the plot ready
  2. Know the type of floor plan you want but at the same time be open to new ideas
  3. Read about the conditions for the plot according to the municipality’s detailed plan
  4. Be price conscious – everything can affect the price, from ground works to all choices to be made

Choice of house type

We had an idea of ​​what kind of house we wanted to build which was a mixture between New England style and country style. But we were not completely convinced and felt that we needed more inspiration. We therefore visited  Interesting houses  (Västerås-based) which had a viewing day for two of their houses, Villa Holmberg and Villa Carlsson.

It really was an eye opener! The houses were like classic barns converted into luxury villas and contained a lot of smart solutions in a completely unique way. Clean, stylish and fresh, no window linings, minimal moldings, built-in laundry sink, etc. It became a real insight about how we should think ahead.

We knew the ultimate floor plan was out there somewhere, but where? But then one Friday afternoon we got an e-mail and it was from Rörvikshus – they had sent their new house plan! At a first glance, it looked hopeful.

We started going through the proposal and sketched out the changes we wanted to make. After a few turns back and forth, we finally got a proposal that felt just right for us. Our choice was Rörvikshus and it was so nice when that decision was ready! Of course we had compared all the different offers we received and not least the price but Rörvikshus felt most right for us.

Sketches of house and floor plans
Our final floor plan, downstairs
The upstairs

Planning application

It took a total of 15 weeks from the time we submitted our building permit application until we received an approved building permit. It is longer than the prescribed 10 weeks that the Planning and Building Act states. Admittedly, we had to supplement with changes during the process, but 15 weeks still felt like a very long time.

Interior Options

Early in the process, you have to make all the interior design choices and it is really both fun and difficult! You turn and twist everything and have time to change many times. Some choices we stuck to right away while other choices took much longer.

The kitchen

The Bistro model in linden flower green from Ballingslöv. It has it all! It is stylish, classic but still modern. Gives a feeling of being site-built, without being so and thus not as expensive. This was a style we fell for right away 😊

We fell for this lovely color – Lindblomsgrön from Ballingslöv

Kitchen worktop

Here we had a hard time deciding! In the end, after much hesitation, we landed having Carrara marble and chose to join the company  Apeia granit. It is a natural stone that requires a little care, but it is so heavenly beautiful. 

Kitchen counter tops in Carrara marble

Floor

Before the visit to the floor store Kvadratmeter in Stockholm, we had a long list of what we liked most. In the end, the choice was between 3 favorites:

  • Berg @ Berg Öland XXL Extra white Matt lacquered
  • Tarkett Epoque Also Rustic Plank
  • Tarkett Heritage I Blonde

Once we left, we had made our choice – it was Berg @ Berg Öland XXL Extra White Matt lacquered. We also chose a base mat called Timbertech TX which will make the sound muted.

The choice was between these 3 favorites
It ended up being this nice extra white matt lacquered from Berg @ Berg Öland XXL

Appliances

Rörvikshus has a collaboration with Miele, and since they also have good products, we chose to take Miele straight through.

Tiles and tiles

There were many turns here before we finally landed in the right choice for us 😊

Marble inspired by Konradssons. The plate is called Marmi Cararra Naturale Matt in 29.5×29.5. It is a slab in granite ceramics that is thus easier to maintain than real natural stone.

We also want to build in such a nice niche with built-in spots, which gives both feeling and character. This also avoids the awkward shower baskets that also take up extra space.

Nice niche with a spot light

Floor drain

So nice, discreet and fresh, just such a floor drain we really want!

Really nice floor drain that we ordered

Floor in bedroom

We chose a carpet in the bedroom and for our walk-in closet. A nice gray shade shown in the picture below.

We chose between these colors
It became this gentle light gray tone

Ground work

When the ground work was to start, we had some concerns about what would be underneath. We had not done any geotechnical investigation so we really had no idea what was underneath. There was a risk that the ground was loose and needed to be piled up or even that the boulder found on the plot would turn out to go just below a thin layer of soil.

The ground work is underway and everything seems ok, nice 😊

The plate is cast

Now we had a cast foundation and it went so fast! The sun shone from a clear blue sky and it did not take many hours for the plate to become firm. 

We were amazed at how small the plate looked.

It is important to be involved! As we stood looking at the plate, we discovered a misstake. This applied to the downpipes that would be placed by the bay window. The ground workers had prepared for each downpipe around the house by pulling drainage pipes to our stone coffin for drainage and stormwater. But the ones at the bay were not there. We notified our contact person at Rörvikshus and he announced that the ground workers would rectify this. There was an uncertainty in discovering shortcomings for fear that they forgot more things that we have not yet discovered.

As you can see in the picture at the end of the house, it should be prepared even at the bay window (left in the picture).

The house arrives

Suddenly the first part of the house delivery came and we now got half a house! The builders were incredibly talented, efficient and had a fantastic teamwork! In three hours they had put together an entire basement. 

The lower part of the house comes into place

The house started to take shape and on day 2 the second part of the house delivery came from Rörvikshus, the upstairs! The carpenters worked quickly and efficiently. We hade first worried about the size of the house, but when we saw the base plate we no longer had to think about it, the house felt huge! 😊

The upper floor of the house is raised on site

Some more problems that appeared along the way

Downpipes

When we were at the house, we discovered that gutters had started to be set for future downpipes. It did not look at all like we had thought, there were extremely many downpipes everywhere. It turned out that the downpipe supplier Plannja planned without us being able to take part in the drawing. Whether it got stuck at Rörvikshus or Plannja is unclear, but we would not have seen it anyway.

We had to quickly produce a drawing of how we wanted it and go over it with Rörvikshus and Plannja. Once again, the lesson comes up. EVERYTHING must be checked and approved and you have to think about EVERYTHING. It quickly goes wrong when many parties are involved and do not communicate properly.

Our awesome carpenters fixed the downpipes on the front just as we wanted. It turned out nice too!

Next problem

Roof tiles

We had been told that our roof had been delivered and we were so excited when we went to the house to look. At first we were very happy that they had already had time to lay almost all the roof, but pretty quickly the joy was exchanged for confusion.

Was it just us or were they not very bright roof tiles? At first we did not say anything to each other, my husband and I, but just walked around and watched. But then it was inevitable. It looked very bright!

The concrete tiles we had to choose from were available in three different shades of gray: light, medium and dark. We thought we ordered a dark, but probably there had been a mistake in the communication between which one was which and which one we would have. Right then it felt hard, and we called our contact at Rörvikshus, but afterwards you notice that some things are not as big of a problem as they seem at first.

“Wrong” shade of gray on the roof tiles

Color on the house

Now that the house was in place and we saw the whole house, we started the next project, to choose the house color! We visited Flügger paint, Colorama and Fredell’s DIY stores and bought some paint samples. We painted the colors in a row on our new house in daylight to try to get an idea of ​​which we liked best.

Immediately we could see that some shades really looked completely different in place out in normal daylight and that there was also a difference between sun and shade.

We painted white in the shades (from left to right): Tinted white (or Stockholm white) from Alcro Bestå, white from Jotun Demidekk, S-0500 from Flügger color and Warm white from Alcro Bestå. The winner? White from Jotun Demidekk!

One bathroom tiled and almost finished

Suddenly things started happening inside the house as well. The tile in the bathroom was so nice and we were so happy with the niche and the nice floor drain we chose.

The bathroom is about to be finished.

Final inspection

And then it was finally time for a final inspection and final consultation with the municipality and our KA. Our house got approved on both occasions! The inspector was impressed and said that there were very few things that needed to be fixed, and nothing that affected an approval. The things that needed to be fixed were written down and then the responsibility lay with Rörvikshus and their subcontractors to remedy. The things that were brought up were painting jobs, marks in the foundation and the shade of the stairs. Fixing the stairs was what would be most difficult and take the longest. In the end, we had to hire an external company to repaint it, even though it still did not turn out perfectly, it got much better.

House painted and ready-to-move-in house

Our terrace

A wise decision we made regarding our outdoor environment was to build our terrace already the first year. The environment around a new house construction tends to be quite messy, and especially with small children it is extra hard not to be able to move around on the plot at first. We realized this and are so happy that we chose to build a patio right away. We added a built-in bench and a privacy trellis and here we have really been able to enjoy many wonderful evenings together!

Our cozy terrace 😊
Our private terrace with beautiful rose bushes

What is your best advice to others who are thinking of building a house?

  • EVERYTHING must be checked and approved and you have to think about EVERYTHING. Otherwise there is a big risk that something will go wrong,
  • Choose an independent controller – we did it and it worked so well!
  • Contact the bank early to introduce your idea. Make financial calculations for housing costs and household budget so that you know how your finances are affected when you borrow and build.
  • Build a patio at the same time as the house so that you have an area to enjoy outside when you first move in.
  • Do not wait to paint the house!  The earlier you paint, the better for the house. The primer that the house comes with is not enough to avoid getting moisture (especially in nail holes, etc.) after a whole winter and spring. Also make sure to paint between May-Aug if you are in northern Europe as it is mostly steady weather and mild humidity. Optimal painting conditions are between 20-23 degrees celsius with even daily temperatures.
Welcome in!
Inside the entrance
Stylish and nice bathroom
We love our linden flower green kitchen from Ballingslöv
Our beautiful tulips!
So lovely to have your own little kitchen garden 😊
Our little playhouse on the plot that the children love

How do you feel in the house today?

We still enjoy and LOVE every square meter!

Feel free to go in and follow our continued journey on Instagram: @hejhuset

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Kristina and Axels house-building journey

Our Ekudde – Kristina and Axels house-building journey

The plot

We found the plot about 15 minutes from the center of Linköping in the direction of Askeby and Bankekind. It was a perfect location for us as it combined the best of both worlds – the proximity to town but still out in the country 😊 We found a plot that would be divided into two plots. In a plot division process there are a number of things you have to go through. Here we list the most important steps.

5 steps you must go through to divide a plot:

  1. The buyer together with the landowner applies for a subdivision.
  2. The municipality’s surveying unit is investigating the matter to see if it is ok to divide the land as desired.
  3. If everything is ok, an exhibitor from the surveying unit at the municipality will come out and design a map.
  4. Provided that no one appeals, the National Land Survey registers the procedure and then it is visible in the Property Register and is also entered in the register map.
  5. When all this is done, all that remains is to complete the purchase between the buyer and the landowner.

An advice is to write a small clause in a contract with the land seller, that the building permit must be ready before a purchase can be completed.

The plot from the subdivision was about 2,100 sqm.

There were many trees and sly on the plot that we needed to clear

The name Ekudden

At first we really wanted the name Ekbacken but it was already taken in the area. We had to think of a new name and it took some time to come up with another name we liked. Finally we came up with the name Ekudden which i really suitable for the area because it is like a triangle that goes out and there is also a big nice oak on the plot.  The surveying unit at the municipality welcomed our name proposal. It fit well and was also nice, the manager thought. Within a week we got the new address.

Building permits

We ordered a new construction map that you need when applying for a building permit. Based on that, we decided on the location of the house and given that the plot is not rectangular, it was not easy. The location we finally decided on was great and gave us space on all sides of the house. We sent in the building permit and hoped that everything would go through.

Unfortunately, our building permit was appealed by two different neighbors and we realized that the whole thing would be a lengthy process:

  • First appeal : A neighbor submitted an appeal during the building permit process to test whether our intended entrance could be moved. It was rejected and the building permit was granted shortly afterwards by Linköping Municipality. After this, we thought we would finally be able to start the construction process.
  • Second appeal : Later, an appeal of the building permit came in from another neighbor who was not comfortable with our plans. The County Administrative Board then became the next instance. We still had to pay Linköping municipality as the building permit for their part of the job had already been granted. According to the County Administrative Board, it would take 3-5 months to go through the appeal before a decision could be made.
  • The appeal to the county administrative board was rejected and now there was another opportunity for the appellant to proceed to the next instance, which is the land and environmental court in Växjö. But this next step cost money and we hoped that the person would refrain from appealing to the next instance.
  • The neighbor chose not to pursue the matter further and the building permit was finally approved in April, 2017. The process had taken almost 8 months!

Choice of house supplier

We decided quite early on to choose Hjältevadshus, an established house developer in Sweden. 

After careful consideration, we decided on a house model from Hjältevadshus which was a 1½-storey house called Solid 175 with a living area of 175 sqm.

The house that we chose

Trial excavation on the site

We decided to peform a test excavation on the site before we started all the ground work to avoid encountering surprises such as rocky knoll or loose ground that would need to be piled up. We received good support from the administrator at the municipality who we could consult about things like this and it was nice when an expert could give us guidelines. After the test was executed they informed us that everything beneath the ground looked fine and we had nothing to worry about.

We cleared sly and trees ourselves on the plot. A big job to clear 2,100 sqm and thanks to the fact that we received such good help from relatives and friends, we were able to complete this work within a reasonable time.

There was a lot of sly and trees that needed to be cleared but we got good help from relatives and friends 🙂

The foundation is being built
Our dear ground contractor was efficient. The foundation was quickly put in place and now we could really start to see how everything would turn out! So cool to see your own house grow piece by piece. 

The heart wall in the foundation and the styrofoam floor were also to be lifted into place, but we still saw where the descent to the foundation was and where all the drain and electrical pipes went.
All basic work ready for delivery of the house parts

Delivery Date

It took almost 1.5 years to get started with the construction from the time we first found the plot. Obstacles such as appeals and other annoyances made it take an extra long time.

At the end of August 2017, it was finally time for the assembly start when the crane lifted the house volumes in place. Just a few hours later the house was in place.

The house on site

The first volume, kitchen and living room, came in place first. A few hours later, the whole house was in place and we got a chance to see the house once again during the construction period. So nice when the whole house was set up and we could se what the wonderful view would be like!

The whole house on site - great feeling 🙂
Sheet metal and roof tiles are laid here and the painter has puttyed and prepared for painting
Now we had a house and we were out contemplating many evenings. Just looking, sitting by the house and taking in the new feeling was amazing 😊
The scaffolding was removed now and only one week remained until the final inspection

Internal work

So far, everything looked great! The painter had finished painting in the bedroom with a nice light gray color thats calming. On Thursday morning, all accessories for the water and electricity would be installed and on Monday the final inspection would take place.

The floor is laid and the stairs are built

Final inspection

Now it was finally time for the final inspection. The inspector, construction manager and carpenter were with us around every corner and to fill in paint cracks in the walls, wash away dirt stains and put part of the stair railing in place. We walked around for a full 3 hours. It was a rather good atmosphere all the time and we had similar views on what should be fixed. Phew!

We lingered after the final inspection and just realized the fact that it is actually ours all this. A huge feeling that would take a while to get used to. To begin this first chapter we had dreamed of and longed for so long!

A little later, our control manager and the municipality’s representative came to go through the house. There was a lot of focus on ventilation and heating. A lot of technical pieces that really none of us were so to familiar with. But good views came up that needed to be corrected!

We moved in

It was so wonderful with a proper kitchen with space for cooking, dishwasher, areas for socializing and inspiration. So long awaited! We finally had so much space that we could have a proper dining table and could now invite everyone who had been so hospitable and invited us home in recent years.

Wonderful with a large and airy kitchen!
This is how the house looks finished
Our wonderful view from the terrace
Our wonderful view from the terrace

When we had lived in the house for a few months

Unfortunately, we started to discover a lot of things that were not as it should be when we spent more time in the house. It was everything from craftsmanship that was not done properly, such as the oven which was misplaced and with a lack of ventilation above, front panel that was missing, etc.

When we got in touch with Hjältevadshus to report these shortcomings, we did not receive any feedback. We had to chase them ourselves and needed to feel like two annoying and ungrateful people who were never satisfied. We were certainly not far from impossible, but for millions of kronas and the biggest deal of our lives, we should not have to settle for half-baked solutions.

Unfortunately, everything was handled poorly and we could not recommend anyone else to choose Hjältevadshus. All the errors that arose, without information or any direct goodwill from Hjältevadshus, meant an enormous amount of extra work on our part.

Here you see there is a lack of ventilation above the oven
Here you see how the lower part is cut off, not acceptable in any way!

What advice do you want to give others who are thinking of building a house?

Building a house is not something that is done in a jiffy, even if some house suppliers give that impression. There is so much work behind that should be highlighted! Here are some of our best advice:

  • Preparations
    Read everything you could find. Blogs, municipal pages and other useful texts that can prepare you for the road ahead of you and how much actually depends on you and your preparations!
  • The plot
    First of all, are there neighbors to the plot you want to buy? Walk around and greet them, do they seem friendly to a new neighbor? If not, maybe you can count on appeals from them. Then be prepared for the building permit to wait. Explain that you exist and that you are looking forward to making this journey, but be careful not to tell too much. It can be used against you at a later stage.
  • Subdivision of plot
    If you, like us, have found a piece of land to be divided, it is important to send in the application for prior notice of the building permit. That application was paid for by the land seller in our case. In the event of a positive advance notice, a purchase contract can be signed with the land seller. On the other hand, make sure that payment is made only in the case of a positive building permit.

    Then there are other questions you need to be prepared for, such as how much land is included in the subdivision? Who is responsible for the fees for the demarcation and the fee for prior notice of the building permit? We were careful to write in the purchase contract that in order for the purchase to go through, it required a positive building permit. If we did not get a building permit, the purchase would go back. Before we had our building permit ready, we paid a down payment of 10% of the plot price. This is done so that both parties will feel secure in that no one backs out of the deal and that both will at the same time work together for a positive building permit towards both neighbors and the municipality. Here, it is also important to be aware that the National Land Survey and the municipality charge for their handling of the demarcation / building permit / advance notice and more.
  • Electricity and plumbing
    Before you buy a plot, it can be good to know how far it is to electricity. Is it developed and is it then far to the nearest connection point? How far does the land contractor or housing company dig for you? What does it cost to connect electricity? Is there municipal water and sewage? Or do you need to drill for your own water and fix your own drain? Our basic contractor had nice contact with a sewer designer and we were so happy about that. She solved everything for us. Registration to the municipality / meetings with the municipality / drawings and contact with the land contractor. Big plus to Anna Stridh on avloppet.se based in Kolmården, Östergötland who also had very good prices.
  • The house supplier
    Choosing a house supplier is very difficult, but make sure to take in quotes from as many as you can based on the type of house you want. What kind of house fits on the plot you found? For the plot, you should choose before choosing a house. What suppliers do the different housing companies use? Who builds the kitchen, the bathroom or lays the floors? Who is the appliances supplier and so on… Also think about what options you have for adjusting the walls / design of the house. If something can be changed, what does it cost? What is included? What requirements can you make? What is expected of you? These are important questions to really keep in mind, whatever it is about.
  • Other contractors
    We have only had one other contact next to Hjältevadshus. Our ground contractor. It has been nice not to involve more people to keep track of the work and with whom the responsibility lies. Our excavator has also been tied to our salesman at Hjältevadshus. It has been nice to know that he has done a good job before and that he is knows our house type!
  • Own work
    Is there anything you can do yourself? As you know, we had a lot to do with felling trees and clearing sly on our plot. It has been absolutely hard, strenuous and in part this has been dependent on our help from our loved ones. But we have also saved a lot of money. Money we have had use for when we made some choices to and around the house. Be sure to keep track of the dates that apply, so you have time for your part in the work. Maintain an ongoing dialogue with the entrepreneurs who will have access to things.
  • Purchasing
    Here we may not be professionals yet, but there are some things that are worth thinking about. Will you live in the country side or on a street with street lighting? Sweden is dark large parts of the year. Remember that you will want to find the house and the front door. Lighting is important!

    It is easy to be seduced by the house firms promises that as a customer you do not have to do much. But it is a truth with modification. It is called a turnkey contract and not everyone offers it. What we as buyers of a Hjältevadshus have is a shared contract with a basic contractor that we have also hired for the ground work in two different agreements, in addition to the agreement we have with Hjältevadshus. In the case of a shared contract, you as a client are also the developer, which means that you are responsible for the entire construction.

  • The process
    Be persistent and stay put. Feel free to make that extra phone call to make sure that things turn out the way you want them to and that everything is in phase! Kristina did it after she had a whim and just wanted to check that everything was in order and ready for the electricity, but discovered that not even a notification had been made. Then there was a panic outburst at both Hjältevadshus and the Swartling-Johnsson family.

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