Cultural Musings, For Foreigners

Building a house in Poland. Think twice about it. 

I guess when we decided to build/buy a house in Poland, we didn’t realize exactly what we were getting into. We bought a house in the raw developer’s state so stan surowy zamknięty. What that means is that the house was built, there were walls, windows and such but nothing else. That sounds pretty easy, right? I mean the hard part was done wasn’t it? Hah or so we thought.

The first question is why a house? You can buy a cool apartment in the city center and live close to everything and have old wood floors inside, great atmosphere, etc. But where we live those kinds of apartments cost about 400-500,000 zl, so we figured a house would be a similar price. That’s not true of course, but at least you have a garden and land which is yours. Also, we didn’t want to live in a nice apartment but surrounded by creepy people who would never pay to renovate the building or might get drunk in the stairway. Let’s be honest, in an apartment you never know who you’ll be living near. So a house seemed to be the most reasonable decision for us in that respect.

Anyway, we finished our house in about one year after the purchase, which put a huge strain on us and probably resulted in shortening our lives by about 5 years or so. Many people give themselves more time, like 5 or 6 years, but renting and paying a mortgage is pretty shitty so we tried to finish as soon we possible. Just to make it liveable and to move in. Here were the most difficult parts of our experience and a couple good ones.

Decisions. This has nothing to do with living in Poland but holy shit there are a lot of decisions to be made when even finishing a house. I thought it would be simpler but there are tiles to choose, types of wood, design of the kitchen, which appliances, which fucking lamps. Jesus it’s a nightmare. I was so sick of it (my husband more so because let’s be honest he arranged everything and I just made the decisions) that I didn’t really like living in the house for a while. All your regrets and bad decisions just staring you in the face all the time. But now I’m feeling better and I don’t see all those little errors as much as in the beginning.


Kitchen January 2016 vs January 2017

Everything in Polish. Obviously everyone who worked on our house, including construction workers and architects, were Polish. That means I had to speak with the workers – I often work at home – ask them to do things, know all the words for things in the house in Polish that I don’t even know in English, etc. It’s funny because there are still things I don’t know in English like wylewka, poszlifować and I’m never sure if tynk is dry wall and karton gips is plaster or vice versa. There are like also three words for sink – umywalka, zlew, and the strangest zlewozmywak. Baseboards have two words – listwy and cokoły. Tiles are kafle, kafelki, or płytki. Sofa is sofa, kanapa (not kanapka, as I’ve learned the hard way), or wersalka. People think English has too many words. Anyway, now I’m an expert. But, as a result, we just always use the Polish words but house things when we talk to each other e.g. “Can you clean the szuflady?” or “The blat has another stain on it”. Something like that.

Workers. Ok so I think workers are probably unreliable in most countries. My parents said it’s hard to find someone good in the States too BUT. The weirdest thing for me is that it seems to be just accepted by everyone that many construction workers drink. That’s something I can’t understand. Granted, not all of them drink. In fact I think the guys who worked inside our house didn’t drink but they weren’t very good anyway. Funnily enough, the guys who worked outside like on the driveway did drink and they did a rather good job. Strange, but true. At least they threw the cans in our recycling bin. That’s actually the only way I knew they were drinking. Essentially though, if you’re planning to do any kind of renovation, finding good workers is the most important element. Otherwise, they’re going to fuck up everything – which leads me to…


Living room January 2016 vs January 2017

Fuck ups. I know this happens to everyone who builds a house/does a renovation but holy mother. We were sent the wrong wood for the floors and then it turned out the company was going bankrupt and wouldn’t be sending us the correct wood so we had to find and order new wood in 3 days. Then they sent the wrong doors and I only noticed when they were already installed. One toilet was cracked. Half the tiles for the downstairs floor were defective. We ordered our stairs in March and got them in September and just got the handrail at the end of December. Our concrete kitchen counter (blat) had to be redone twice. We finished our upstairs bathroom – tile, everything – and then it turned out the hot water didn’t work. So we had to cut the tiles and fix the pipe after the fact. The fireplace was finished only to realize they had forgotten about the vent for air and had to completely rebuild it. Our initial electric work was bungled so badly that we had to bring in another electrician for 4 days to figure out the idea of the original electrician who, get this, DIED and therefore his concept with him. And the list goes on. We never thought we would experience the number of problems that we did. But there were some good things too.

Your best hope for survival:

Architects. I would highly recommend hiring someone to help you make the decisions. There are so many things you just don’t know about – how things work, what the best material would be, who good specialists are, where to buy nice materials, how to match things together – it’s much harder than it seems. A good architect will be costly, but overall will make your place beautiful, functional, and long-lasting.

Good specialists. A great carpenter and a good handyman generally were two things that saved us. We have a lot of wood elements in our house and our carpenter did a kick ass job. We also have one handyman who worked efficiently, was nice looking and arrived on time – what a concept. I’d say almost all the others were just tragic. They showed up when they felt like it, did the work poorly and were generally a bit odd. The only way to find someone good is to get recommendations from people so ask around as much as possible.


Lower bathroom January 2016 vs January 2017

I know many people like the idea of living in a house but the point is if you’re thinking about whether you’d like to live in one, consider whether you’d like to put yourself through that hell. Is it really worth it? I’m not sure. Basically you can’t avoid doing renovations because it’s rare to find a place you’d like to live that doesn’t need fixing up but perhaps a flat would take less time to renovate and be less of a pain in the ass.

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  • Reply Phil Forbes 3 January 2017 at 20:12

    ‘kanapa (not kanapka, as I’ve learned the hard way)’

    I’ve asked for a sandwich at some pretty inappropriate times, too.

    Zosia was in the process of having her apartment built while I was still at home and I heard first hand the amount of shite that she had to go through. Guys simply not turning up, doing a half-assed job, so on and so forth. Walls weren’t square. What kind of carpenter cannot square up a wall?

    I worked as a handyman for a few years back in Australia. I often think that I could do the same job here, work to Australian standards (eg, just show up on time, not get drunk on the site and do the job properly) and I would be rolling in it.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 4 January 2017 at 16:58

      Walls weren’t square. Hah wow I’m really not surprised after what we went through honestly. It’s such insanity and everyone just like accepts it. Yeah if you did good work as a handyman I think you could earn a decent amount of money – especially if you could do more specialist work like tile and plumbing and stuff like that as well.

      • Reply stephen earl 25 October 2020 at 13:48

        My wife and i are going to have a house built in Poland within the next couple of years so interesting to read this. I think the first thing that you did wrong was not get a local team of builders in ie the same contractor then i think that your troubles would have been far less! We are going to build in the Masury by the lakes,not sure where yet but probably Mikolajki. Our house will be built all the way through by a proper building firm so hopefully won’t have your troubles! Where is your house? We have one in Warsaw!

        • Reply Leah Morawiec 25 October 2020 at 14:15

          Hey Stephen – I think that’s very wise of you and your wife. We should have done that initially, but it was more expensive so we took a different crew, and that was really problematic. Then every time there was an issue, neither the developer nor the other crew would take responsibility for it… so yeah. Good call on your part! It all depends on the crew and their reliability! We live near Gliwice, but are dreaming of building a new home in the Beskidy mountains in the next few years 🙂

        • Reply Stephen 1 February 2021 at 12:03

          Hello stephen I’m building a house in exactly the same area have you contacted any one regarding the building we are just waiting for the final permission from the council to start or are you still in the process

        • Reply Mark Hastelow 27 August 2022 at 14:05

          Hi Stephen, love to know how you got or are getting on with your home.

          Kind regards


  • Reply Piotr 4 January 2017 at 19:14

    It`s so sorry to hear that you had so much troubles with blue collars. Being late, drinking up at work, doing job without any engagement-this must have been something scary. I suppose we can`t esteem time unfortunately. Furthermore, many great carpenters, handymen, plumbers and architects left Poland to make money in the West-Germany, Great Britain, France and so on. The rest who stayed here is so-so very often. I totally feel you-me and my family went through the same thing while we were moving in our new flat in another city. The worker who put tiles on the walls was very likeable but he was coming to us when he wanted to. On someday, he called my dad and told him he would arrived at 3 PM but he didn`t. In the end this person came to our space at… 11 PM. Why ? Because his car stopped working due of lack of petrol. It`s hard to believe, isn`t it? I really like photos of your home-it reminds me the buildings which I have seen in British and American films. And fireplace (with burning wood inside obviously)… That sounds so lovely!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 6 January 2017 at 17:08

      Thanks for the nice compliment 🙂 Yeah we had a guy come to us and stay until like 11 pm cutting something and I thought I was gonna go nuts. It’s so inappropriate to go to someone’s house and stay until such a late hour. We also heard a lot of “my car is broken” or “I’m sick”, which I guess are excuses for “I’m hungover”. Very frustrating!!

    • Reply J. Plonka 18 September 2017 at 16:36

      That’s a great point. Here in Chicago you WANT Polish contractors if you want things done right. My husband’s parents are from Poland and the rest of his family is still in Poland so we have visited several times. We’ve thought about retiring there, building a house on a large lot of land, and enjoying time with family. I never thought that the US and other countries would have poached many of the best carpenters and contractors!

      • Reply John 16 August 2020 at 04:57

        Sorry for creepily adding to the last answer 3 years later…. but I think the reason why it’s hard to get good workers in Poland is because indeed the best ones are probably found in higher-paying countries such as what Piotr wrote (UK, Germany, etc…) the same applies for finding good workers from Florida. Florida has one of the lowest salaries (for plumblers, carpenters, etc…) in the US, good/experienced contractors are just too often poached away by other states where they can earn multiple times the same salary of what they would earn in Florida.

        • Reply Leah Morawiec 16 August 2020 at 08:41

          Yeah, for sure that’s the reason. But I mean they do exist 🙂 I’ve had experience with some, so it’s possible to find but you need recommendations 🙂

  • Reply another piotr 4 January 2017 at 21:55

    It is not that obvious that people working in the construction are always Polish, USSR workers were popular even before the recent crisis in the Ukraine. But I doubt if it would be helpful for you.
    And something about the vocabulary:
    – tynk and gipskarton are rather the other way
    – poszlifować is sth made up (from the stem „szlifować”), no wonder it ain’t got English equivalent 😉
    – umywalka is in the sracz, zlewozmywak in the kitchen, „zlew” is the short form. Silesians also call the sink „ausgus”
    – wersalka is sth else and old-fashioned in fact, they used to be popular during the commie era
    And a concrete blat? I wonder how its constructed

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 6 January 2017 at 17:03

      Hi Piotr – thanks for the explanations. I know all those things are slightly different but people use all those words and it was important for me to know them all. There’s also bateria and kran. A concrete counter is made from one piece of concrete. Or maybe two pieces depending on the shape of your kitchen – we also have concrete sinks. First they have to create the mold and then fill the mold with concrete, wait a few days for it to dry and then they can remove it from the mold. It’s extremely heavy and difficult to install and they did it here three times 🙂

  • Reply Witek 6 January 2017 at 23:20

    Congrats on the house! And in lightning speed! In a few months you’ll forget all about the headaches. And think about how much easier your second house will be from the mistakes learned with this one 🙂

  • Reply Nancy Southers 8 January 2017 at 21:26

    You and Piotrek really did a fantastic job on your house despite all your troubles…it is gorgeous!! And btw you look so cute in the pic…can’t believe that is your LR:)

  • Reply Sissy 11 May 2018 at 11:16

    Nice blog 🙂

  • Reply John McMaster 27 August 2018 at 16:13

    Hi Leah
    I’m an Englishman and take great pride in my work and work ethics. I’ve travelled as far as Dublin to fix work that others did wrong or badly.
    If you ever want a hard working ‘reliable’ sober handyman let me know 😉 I’m based in Bielsko Biala (but happy to travel) and I’m setting up a company called; Fastprodecor that will specialize in doing everything from design to high quality finising for the price of the labour. I’ve been hearing your complaints for years and feel there is an opportunity in providing a turnkey hassle free experience.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 27 August 2018 at 20:49

      Hey John! Wow that’s great news. We’d be delighted to have someone reliable! Unfortunately we had to hire a debt collector to collect on a payment we made for balcony railings which were never done by a company that just disappeared :/ Pretty upsetting! We live in the Gliwice area – that might be a bit too far for you?

    • Reply davy 30 April 2019 at 22:39

      John give us a bell on 728900220….cheers mate

  • Reply Cristovao 31 October 2018 at 20:22

    Hi LEAH MORAWIEC, thank you for sharing your story, I really like your house. Would you mind sharing the construction Company info and the architect?

    I’m planning to get married in a year, one of my main projet is to build a house for my future wife.

    Thank You.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 5 November 2018 at 13:06

      Hi there! The company is called M&M Budownictwo 🙂 Thanks, I’m glad you like it!

  • Reply Chantal 25 April 2019 at 15:36


    I really enjoyed reading your blog, it gave me great insight on what to expect when building a house in Poland (and being from America). The pictures of your house look beautiful! Do you mind sharing the approximate size of your home and lot? I am planning on building a home of about 350m2 on a lot of at least 4000m2, which seems to be difficult to find with architect companies selling homes in the raw state.

    Also, do you have any updates on your home? I’ve heard a lot of people who have built homes have had electrical, plumbing and other issues come up due to workers making mistakes.

    🙂 Looking forward to your reply and future blogs!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 6 May 2019 at 11:52

      Hi! Sure my house is 150 m2… holy crap yours is gonna be HUGE. We had tons of mistakes at our house with the electricity and such but we figured it all out in the end. My recommendation is to be very careful and watch their every move. Make sure you get some kind of contract that says they have to pay if something gets screwed up because it’s very likely to happen! Good luck!!

  • Reply Peter 11 September 2019 at 23:12

    Hi my name’s Peter and we have a a plot of land we want to get a home built on but we have no idea how it works.
    It’s frustrating for me because in English and want to ask so many things but I’m putting pressure on my wife if I keep asking her and don’t want to pile the pressure on her.
    All we know so far is we must get an archaeological survey done then purchase the project then I think get a builder to price then get credit and if that’s correct get it going.
    Any advice would be great.
    Love reading your story

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 17 September 2019 at 12:07

      Hey Peter – that sounds correct, but we bought our house from a developer and we didn’t really need to go through all that – hence why we bought from a developer instead of starting from scratch. We’re also in the comfortable situation that my husband is Polish and not the other way around, as I think he knows more in general about that kind of stuff and could just take care of it. If you would really like to talk to someone who knows about everything from scratch, I can put you in contact with someone. Just shoot me an email at

  • Reply Richard 23 December 2019 at 21:18

    Hi, my wife and I were thinking of moving to a town near Krakow and building a house. We already have the land (provided by her father). We saw some nice designs on Archon website. I know we can get it done cheaper by local builders but I am really worried about my money. I need someone to make sure everything gets done properly. My question is how much (%) do we need on top of the final build to get the kitchen, bathroom, tiling etc completed. I can’t afford to go over budget. Thanks

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 28 December 2019 at 13:48

      Hi Richard!

      Thanks for your message. Well… it’s really hard to say how much that will all cost because it depends on what you choose in terms of quality and how big all those rooms are. I can only tell you how much we paid – about 150,000 zł. Our house is 150m2 and we went toward higher quality, so I suppose there’s a chance to do it cheaper. I hope that helps! Good luck 🙂

      • Reply Stephen 1 February 2021 at 12:07

        Hello Leah are the triple glazed window expensive there or did yours already have the windows fitted when purchased

        • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 March 2021 at 09:43

          Ours already had windows 🙂

        • Reply Karolina 13 December 2021 at 18:09

          Triple glazed windows are standard in Poland due to our winters here. And aren’t too expensive.

  • Reply stephen earl 22 November 2020 at 18:08

    Just read your blog again on here. Good to know about the price for finishing off the “raw” state because we are considering all options of whether to start from scratch or buy “raw” as you did but it all depends on location. Is 150m2 big? I think my house here in England is only 95m2 and feels very small to me but maybe that is because we moved to a smaller house from a larger one due to a vast loss in our last business venture. I don’t want to build something too small ! I have also looked at the Archon website as Richard has done, above but not sure entirely what this site is about?

  • Reply Edita 3 February 2023 at 15:52

    Oh your blog is so timely for us, because we are planning to build in Gdansk, we are thinking of a prefab, kit house technology. My concern would be to find reliable crew to finish the house internally.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 18 May 2023 at 09:15

      Edita – that is certainly the biggest concern. Nowadays it’s very hard to find and quite costly :/ Good luck!

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