aupetitchene

aupetitchene

Au petit chêne

Blog describing my renovation of a house in france. undefined

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aupetitchene·5 years agoPhoto

Easter 2016: bought a load of brushed wood, stripped off tongue+groove, and made it into skirting board (the rest will be used to clad doors).

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aupetitchene·5 years agoPhoto

Another weekend working on the house, trying to complete the ground floor. I’d already built a wooden support and step around the bath, so one major task was to seal, prime and tile that. We also finished grouting the main room, installed a new camera (which involved pulling 10s of metres of cat6 network cable and fitting plugs), touched up plaster in a few places, and started work plastering the stair risers. Also found some time to rewire the back lights on the truck which were badly corroded. Next… skirting boards!

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aupetitchene·6 years agoPhoto

End of a solid 4 days of work. Very happy with what we achieved.

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aupetitchene·6 years agoPhoto

Because it can’t all go well - massive leak from the heating system on the top floor, which we only spotted once it ran down through the entire house. Some re-plastering will be needed, and a bit of repainting, but hopefully it won’t be too much extra work.  

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aupetitchene·6 years agoPhoto

A friend kindly came to give me a hand last week (I took 4 days off from work). 

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aupetitchene·6 years agoPhoto

I went after work, 10th December, and started tiling the downstairs room. It was very tricking to find a line which looked good since I don’t have any right angles anywhere. My AMAZING girlfriend and I snapped a line the previous weekend, so I just followed that and was really happy with the result. It was a bit slow working alone.

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aupetitchene·6 years agoPhoto

A post from April 2014. Waterproofing the “foundations” to reduce the damp coming in, and wiring up kitchen hob.

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

Bathroom furniture in, and started work of window ledge.

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

The phone line was supposed to be installed yesterday - of course this didn’t happen, despite the assurances of the guy in the shop. The technician said he needs to send an engineer to do a study and to decide how best to get the line to my house! So not having internet there any time soon I guess…

In the meantime, J and I carried on - I rendered the entrance to the living room in lime (actually a premix bag - parlumiere fin pierre if anyone is interested)… and J grouted the bathroom. Just one wall left to do and it can be used!

On that note, I’m hoping to hear back from a plumber by the end of the week (but of course, not really expecting to).

Getting there!

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

No updates for a long time. As planned I took a bit of time off. I had a nightmare with my car passing inspection, which involved rebuilding the engine, replacing the windscreen frame and many other (expensive) fixes. All done now (though now my other car has blown a turbo - or at least, the turbo isn’t working).

Even worse, my house was robbed. Pretty much all my tools were taken, and some things which hadn’t yet been installed. The police came and took lots of photos and fingerprints, but it’s very unlikely they’ll be caught. My (french) insurance company are taking unhelpfulness to new levels … almost 3 months on from the robbery I’m still waiting for them to send their ‘expert’ … so no cash, despite the outlay of replacing tools.

Obviously this has delayed works by a lot (and I really needed a break).

But now we’ve started again - the 1st floor bathroom is pretty much tiled, the bedrooms too and I’m just waiting on a delivery to finish the corridor. Then it’ll be grouting, and finishing window seats. And just before Christmas I got electricity! It makes working so much easier.

No news on a plumber - the one I spoke to before Christmas never sent a quote (despite many reminders).

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

Lots of frustration this month. The trench dug by the builder is so long that the electricity guys refused to install the cable. So we’re back to where we were 6 weeks ago, when I tried to get the electrician to pull the cable and was told that it was definitely the job of the electricity company…

So, now the electricity company will install a new box at the bottom and the electrician and I tried to pull the cable on Friday. The problem was, the builder said the conduit was 45m long … the electrician sensibly brought 60m, just in case. And it was about 2m too short. So the builder screwed me. Again. 

On Saturday, another friend from London (I have good friends) and I dug a new trench and moved the conduit to a more direct route. Hopefully now it can all work, but obviously given my experience so far I’m not too optimistic…

Yet another friend hired a car and got to work painting hydrofuge all over the shower area (which is now ready to tile). Me and the other guy got on with starting tiling the corridor with my beautiful wooden tiles. 

It’s all getting a bit cold there now, so I’m not sure how much more work will be done before Christmas… I’m seriously considering doing the plumbing myself, if I can pluck up courage (it’s a bit daunting to do the boiler etc)

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

This is a post showing the work from October. I went one weekend to sand the living room, which wasn’t a lot of fun (and putting up that scaffolding by myself was a massive job!) The following weekend a few friends very kindly came to help me paint - we got two coats done in two days, which is a massive achievement considering the size of the room.

No news from the latest plumber(s) I tried to contact. And still no electricity.

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

I was joined by a friend this weekend and we were pretty productive. We chipped out the shower base (despite my having a ‘douche a l'italienne’ being my builder’s idea, somehow it got filled in when the skim was put in).  The shape was a bit awkward, but we managed to cut and fit the base plate. Once it’s dry (i.e. next time I go back, which will be Thu when tiles get delivered), I’ll try to waterproof all around it.

We also managed to make some steps down into the living room, and I also repaired the walls around the switches (and did some stuff outside). J sanded down the bathroom. It’ll need a touch up, but it’s almost ready to paint (and to tile!)

Finally, the builder has dug the hole for the septic tank. Unfortunately it’s been pouring with rain since then, and it seems set to continue… The electricity and phone conduits are all buried. In fact, fingers are firmly crossed that I hear good news about getting connected to electricity soon! Don’t know how much longer my generator will last.

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

So, after weeks of more grey hairs and begging phones calls, several months after I initially did everything necessary to facilitate it, one month on from the absolute final date when it would be done … the trench to connect me to the electricity mains is finally being dug. Of course, all that wasn’t quite stressful and upsetting enough, so as I was leaving to drive back home yesterday, the builder asked who was pulling the cables through, because it really needed to be done before he covered the conduits (i.e. today). Now, why he couldn’t tell me this in the several months we were discussing this $%$%ing trench is beyond me? Why wait until it’s pretty much impossible to sort out? How can I possibly find someone with no notice? Anyway, I sent a message to my electrician, begging him to help me out. Last night he sent me a message saying he’d discussed it with my builder and they’d both agreed that it wasn’t either of their responsibilities but instead the electricity company should do it, as the main cut-off switch is inside my property. This is where they decided the cut-off should go, so again - why the hell didn’t they tell me any of this until now? So now I don’t know what is going to happen - my builder has said he’ll call EDF. I’ll go there this afternoon, expecting the worst (what’s the betting that if the trench needs digging up again, it’ll be me who has to pay?)

In more positive news, the downstairs, living room, and top floor have all been plastered (I couldn’t face doing much more myself). And the tiles (for most of the house) are coming on Saturday (or at least, that’s the plan up to now).

No news from the latest plumber I found - hopefully I’ll be getting a quote very soon, and hopefully it won’t make me faint. No news from the lawyers dealing with the plumber who went bankrupt, losing me a small fortune and leaving me with a house without running water, toilets or showers (and if I had all this stress getting a trench dug, just imagine how much stress I’ve had trying to chase up on lawyers and ex-plumbers who don’t want to be found).

Don’t build a house in France folks! You have to deal with French “workers” if you do! And no one, absolutely no one, deserves that.

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

Some more pictures, showing the new beam I’ve put up, more plastering, and that the main room is now repointed!

The beam is one of the original ones from the house. I cut it to length, chiselled it out, and then fitted it around the new concrete supports into the main room. It’s just decoration, but I think it’s really nice to put back as much original stuff into the house as possible (after thoroughly treating it for wood worm etc!)

The living room has been repointed. First I needed to make the grooves where the cables would go (literally, “cuts” in french). This involved a lot of chiselling, and a lot of making dust and mess with an angle grinder.

Finally, we’ve painted both bedrooms now (the blue in one bedroom is much brighter than I expected, but … “tant pis”). The corridor is mostly painted, just the bit around the beam to do… 

The 1st-floor bathroom is now fully plastered too. Just sanding, painting and tiling to go there. Oh, and at some point I need to find a plumber too!

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

Another weekend. Some progress though! I went to the ‘new’ shop of my bankrupt plumber (and after a very short stakeout) met his wife. She was very shocked to see me, but claims she sent all the details to the lawyer winding up the business (the guy who I’ve called 20 times and sent emails too, with useless results). She also however, gave me the details of the supplier… if I can get the materials delivered, then perhaps my nightmare with the plumber can finally be resolved (and I won’t have lost as much money as I feared). We’ll see.

Apart from that I carried on with rendering the wall where the fusebox will go (it’s not the prettiest job ever done, but it was a lot trickier than I expected), and I worked on insulating the back door and putting the board up. This was a complete nightmare on the ground floor so I tried a new approach which seemed to work a lot better: cut the board and drill small marker holes where the screws should go, through both the board and into the concrete behind; take the board down and drill some proper holes for the wallplugs; cut the insulation, and make holes in it where the wallplugs will go, and use these to hold the insulation in place; put the board back up again and screw it in. 

Don’t get me wrong - it was still a fiddly nightmare and I was dripping sweat by the end, but at least it worked better than before (I battened out the wall by chipping away at it, but had a nightmare with the screws getting tangled in the insulation and becoming too clogged to go in or come out again)

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

I took Friday and Monday off and went for a long weekend of work, with my two brothers, mother and brother’s wife. We basically concentrated on getting the 1st floor complete. After much plastering and sanding, I now have one bedroom more or less painted (it could probably do with another coat at some point), and one almost undercoated. The hallway is ready for the final sand and check, and the bathroom only needs one more coat of plaster. Basically, it’s really coming along!

Some plaquistes are working on the top floor today and tomorrow, and then the house will be completely insulated.

Still no news from the @$@ing plumber though, and still no sign of the builder getting back to work.

Time to start ordering tiles and floorboards though … 

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aupetitchene·7 years agoPhoto

Since my last update, I’ve had yet more bad news. Still no results with the liquidators of the company of the plumber, and even worse, I fell stupidly snowboarding and separated my shoulder. This needed an operation to drill through the clavicle and re-attach it to the acromion. Not fun.

On the other hand, my amazing family and friends organised a secret work group of about 10 people. It was incredible, firstly that I didn’t know about it, and secondly how hard everyone worked - we (well, I mostly watched) completed the fence in one long weekend, treated all my new cladding, and did some work inside. It was just wonderful, and exactly what I needed. I still can’t quite believe how much got done (and how lucky I am to have people who are prepared to drop everything and come and help).

Since then, another group came and did a fantastic job with the plastering… And my caravan is now completely off-grid. Progress is being made!

Now I just need to do as much physio as I can, and try to get back in action as quickly as possible

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aupetitchene·8 years agoPhoto

A bit of decoration - we took an old beam from the house, treated it and fitted it back into the wall. We’ll do the doublage around it, and bed it into the plasterboard.

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