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Thread: A VERY long-term building project...in France

  1. #1
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    A VERY long-term building project...in France

    None of you have actually asked to have a look but after seeing the garage build thread of Zimbar.. I thought I’d show you what I get up to when I bugger off abroad for a week or more.

    It started as drunken chat with 3 guys I worked with. This was in 2000. The 4 of us avec families used to rent a big holiday home for a long weekend over winter and I jokingly said we could buy a place in France for what these rentals cost us. By the morning 2 had sobered up and dropped out, the 3rd guy was forced to drop out when he went and got cancer in late 2001 and was given less than 10 years to live. (He’s a fighter and is still with us, he’s still a miserable tosser so we get on fine)

    Justine and I decided we still fancied doing it so we kept saving and looking online. I made a few solo trips across to look at some ‘do-er uppers’. Now their idea of minor work required is different to mine. We saw shells of houses with crumbling walls, no roof and a tree growing where the living room should be…and it needed minor DIY work.
    We settled on the Limousin area East of Limoges simply because a) it was within our price range (Cheap as chips) and was very similar to the Yorkshire Dales…just with trees, lots of trees.
    We had just about given up on the idea after about the 5th trip in late 2002 and pulled up in a small town, St Leonard de Noblat, to get lunch. We actually parked on the road outside an estate agent we didn’t know existed. Browsing the window display we say the perfect thing. In budget and it looked structurally good. Fast forward 6 months and we were flying over to sign and stump up £19k (Yep…cheap as chips) for a 15m x 9m in a hamlet of 10 other properties, 7 miles from the nearest shop and 35 miles to Limoges. Perfect.






    The estate agents were very good. We’d been warned by all in the UK to avoid the French agents as they’re not reliable..blah blah blah.
    Fees are set down in law. Legal fees are set down in law. It was very transparent and a good process for us. After we’d bought, 5 months after in fact, the yoiung lady who we dealt with at the estate agent met me at 7am, accompanied me 20 miles into the city to ensure I got the correct stuff from an electrical wholesalers for the electric hook up. She would take nothing for her time and trouble but we slid some euros in an envelope through the letterbox as we left to help her buy her ‘shitty little car’ (French accent please)

    EDF were booked for 1400hrs one hot sunny day. He turned up at 1355, finished his brew and was up the electric pol at 1359 having us connected by 1430. Very efficient.









    The local chaps from the council came one afternoon to connect our water. The were like the chuckle brothers…but drunk chuckle brothers. They staggered from their van, staggered across the grass and managed to turn us on before staggering away muttering and laughing. They gave us water but god knows how.
    We towed an oldish caravan out there and have used this two thirds of the time with a local Gite being our little luxury for the odd week early or late in the year.

    From then on it was 3 or 4 weeks a year doing basic building stuff….and lots of gardening to keep it looking OK. The kids were perhaps 6 and 8 when we first went and have pretty much grown up with it but by 10 and 12 they were fed up with filling buckets with random stones to earn a euro to spend in the toy shop…so we spent a few years where we had actual holidays including many weeks at the ‘Ring.


    Do not climb the ladder Erin……



    Pile of stones are what we dug out of the garage space. It just kept gowing and we still have 10 tonnes of the stuff






    A mate I worked with wanted to come out and do a weeks work so we planned that and did a week in 2009 and a week in 2010…when it was so cold that snow inside the barn didn’t melt. With two paraffin heaters on we managed to get it up to 1c but did manage to build all the internal block walls.














    [




    We shared with another couple and bought some Kingspan, well we actually bought an artic load between us.



    I also bought some rockwool from Wickes when it was buy 1 get 3 free. The plan is to be super insulated so as to reduce fuel use.

    Last edited by Dave B; 18-12-2017 at 05:59 PM.
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    I figured having a wood burner in now would help get the barn warmer for going and working there when it’s minus 15. Bought in UK, transported out to France.
    We really wanted to buy as much as possible in France. We don’t want to be looked at like the Dutch who turn up at campsites and holiday homes each year with car boots full of everything they need…from home. Not contributing much to the local economy.







    4,5 and 6m 9” x 3” beams….bloody heavy they were too.












    A stumbling block has been the caravan inside the building so this summer has been garage building and moving the caravan out and then in.











    These are 5m, 10” x 3.5” beams, it was a right ba@@@@d getting them up there but a bit of head scratching, swearing and huffing and puffing and I managed.





    Yes, it is all wonky, deliberately. The daft French architect thought it would be good to have a garage that was 4.7m at the front, 3.2m at the back with a large front roof and smaller rear….that REALLY did have me scratching my head.





    A neighbor asked me if I was on facebook. Obviously I laughed at him. Anyhow, he reckoned it’d be worth it as there’s a good group for the Limousin area. Yeah, whatever. Anyway, I did join and immediately found a Mancunian who lived about 40 miles away who did good cheap timber. I had wanted to clad the garage to give it a rustic agricultural feel. I’d priced it up at about £1200 for good quality timber. I bought it from the guy locally for 300 euros, so less than ¼ of the price. I suspect I am now his best customer. His wood is just about cheap enough to buy it for firewood !





    This pile will become our ground floor flooring.




    Another stumbling block were the barn doors that opened inwards so we’ve replaced them outside on sliders and got a chap with a digger to level the outside a bit. I’d also put in foundations for a 20m long gabian wall, 1m x 1m. This was HER job to build it. She did a marvelous job.







    Last edited by Dave B; 19-12-2017 at 06:49 PM.
    If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him...is he still wrong ?

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    The last big job was replacing the patio doors and windows that a “professional builder” had installed in 2006. He’d used a woodworm infested beam so this had spread slowly. I could have insisted he came back and re-did it but he f***** it up the first time, why would I trust him a 2nd time?







    Original doors and the ‘pro builder’ works.





    Oh, they also cut my electric with their cack handed digger driver.



    Digging out for the 5m x 5m sand filter for the septic tank
    My work begins…







    This was one of those…Oh F@@@ moments.












    New doors and windows ordered locally in Yorkshire and taken out in October where I spent a fortnight installing. I can tell you that it is a nerve-wracking thing to start knocking out a 13ft wide 3 foot high section of wall above some rotten beams in a large gable end. Anyhow, lots of prior planning and plenty of acro props and it was straightforward enough. Took about a week to do the 2 doors and 3 windows and another 4 or 5 days to do the two glass front doors.





    We then did one room of underfloor heating with a dry screed mix.



    This last Spring we employed a local plumber who installed a house bathroom, en suite, downstairs wc and a big hot water tank. We provided all the kit incl tiles and he worked for a day rate. He did a cracking job, we are very pleased. His 4 weeks work would have taken me 8 and I’d have made a right bollox of it.
    So rather than a flannel wash or a solar shower in a corner of the barn, we now have a show….with hot water.







    I do keep bollocking her for closing the toilet lid….leave it up woman !



    Not quite so lucky with finding a sparky. I used to be able to wire a house (Still could but I’d need it checking and signing off) The French use a different system. It’s a bloody nightmare. Electrician found and did a day for us and agreed to let me do the donkey work and he’d come periodically for a day or 2 to check and do some connecting etc. He is unreliable. Very unreliable so we seek another one but in the meantime I’ll carry on putting wiring in and hope it’s the right stuff in the right place.
















    That’s it. Up to date. Next job is to plasterboard the rest of the upstairs so an old colleague and I can go in April to plaster it. I also have a3.4m steel I beam to put in across the barn door opening and then a bifold door to install. That should be fun as every video I’ve seen seems to have half a dozen fellers…it’ll be me and the Mrs….we’ll manage.

    Last edited by Dave B; 18-12-2017 at 06:01 PM.
    If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him...is he still wrong ?

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    Wow! Great read Dave. Well done. No bloody well done. When do you expect to have it finished?
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    2040...and that's not twenty to nine.




    In reality we are looking at Summer 2019 to be properly habitable with a kitchen, floors where you don't have to balance on beams etc.
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    That looks superb. Great effort so far Dave
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    Thanks.
    Oddly there are no building regs in France. If you make a hash of building a wall and it falls over...more fool you, you should have built it properly. I've over engineered most stuff. If a 3 x 2 would do, I've used a 3.5 x 2.5 etc.

    Delivery is another oddity there. We've seldom been able to get stuff delivered when we've been for a week...as they'd quote 10-14 days for delivery. Next day delivery for building supplies (at least for us) has been impossible...hence getting the Transit.
    Back at the end of January for a month, then again for another 4 weeks mid March into April. Got to keep plugging away....
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    Fantastic.
    Although a bit of advice, 'Just remember this - in this country they drive on the wrong side of the road'.

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    Bloody hell. Wow!
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    That looks awesome!
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  11. #11
    Looking good Dave
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  12. #12
    Love it, absolutely love it!!
    Justine looks happy with the required work...
    Also, nice to see a Citroen Xantia sneak it's beak into view...
    Best of luck with the rest of the project Dave.
    Last edited by Rory; 18-12-2017 at 08:02 PM.

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    these kind of build threads are great!

    I didn't know about the building regs thing, how on earth did the cheese eaters ever build the eifel tower?!


    The building looks quite new? Or did you put that inner block
    wall up to?



    Good luck with the rest, more pics required





    do you need specs? We'll soon know... What happened to the garage gable wall foundations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by northernjim View Post


    The building looks quite new? Or did you put that inner block
    wall up to?



    do you need specs? We'll soon know... What happened to the garage gable wall foundations?
    The building was damaged in a storm in 1997. All buildings in France must be insured so this, along with 1000s of others were re-built. The rebuild must have cost more than we actually paid for it but hey ho. The guy we bought it off was the local Ambulance man who also did the odd funeral as there was an old hearse in the building when we first looked. Win Win for him I suppose. get it right = get paid as an ambulance man. Get it wrong = get paid as a funeral director

    The front of the barn was not actually owned by us until about 2012. We owned a triangle of land near where the garage is now. We managed to swap so now own one parcel of land with the barn in the middle rather than 2 parcels. It all gets grown over in a matter of weeks and with that huge pile of stone....anyway...sussing out levels was hard work and I got it wrong with the garage in as much as I am sure it would have been OK but it would have been at a higher level than the interior of the barn. Despite no building regs I didn't want a higher garage floor than house floor so dug down another foot...having already done footings and the first few feet of garage wall. With rebar reinforced footings I was able to dig out underneath and fill it with concrete so it now sits on about 18" deep, 18" wide concrete footings...that all sit on a granite base that was a proper bastard to level.
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    Very inspirational, Dave.

    My Father in-law did a very similar thing to a place in France, it's a fantastic place to visit. You, and your family will cherish that place for a long, long time.

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    much easier to swap out that disinterating beam on a 'new build' wall than an old stylee lime mortar/dust one! You lucked out their


    And extra digging, glutton for punishment, I like it


    Must admit, it's looking attractive from the front now,the garage, barn and Gabians blend well. any plans for the block work entrance?

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    Awesome stuff.

    I spent many holidays on extended family farms, and my in-laws have a nice acre of land down in Devon. Our kids love going there, and it's awesome for them.
    Unfortunately the in-laws are getting too old to maintain the place, so are selling up soon.
    In a couple of years, this may be an alternative. I wonder what the wife and kids would think of a 10 year project.
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    Fantastic!

    Will be worth it when it's finished, or will you always have "something" to do to it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by northernjim View Post
    Must admit, it's looking attractive from the front now,the garage, barn and Gabians blend well. any plans for the block work entrance?
    Not sure what blocks to use for the driveway, the gateposts will just be cement rendered and capped and a nice pair of gates to finish it off. We've decided against remote electric gates, it really goes against the feel of the tiny farming hamlet...so she'll just get wet opening MY gates.

    Quote Originally Posted by sparrow View Post
    Awesome stuff.

    I spent many holidays on extended family farms, and my in-laws have a nice acre of land down in Devon. Our kids love going there, and it's awesome for them.
    Unfortunately the in-laws are getting too old to maintain the place, so are selling up soon.
    In a couple of years, this may be an alternative. I wonder what the wife and kids would think of a 10 year project.
    We don't have lots of land, about 1/4 of an acre. We did this deliberately having looked at some ace places with 2-52 acres of land. It'd be OK sorting an acre between the ages of 35 and 65 but beyond that it all goes to pot or costs a lot in maintaining it. None of us have ever looked at it negatively, as a now 14yr 10mth project. It had always been a 'retirement project' that we started early and if we ever mentioned selling it, the kids would go mad. I suspect it will get passed down to them well before we pop our clogs and we'll be their live in lodgers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sim View Post
    Fantastic!

    Will be worth it when it's finished, or will you always have "something" to do to it?
    Yes, we believe it will (we had moments when we could have quite happily forgotten about it and never gone back !) We won't make any money on it. In most of France it doesn't work like. You're buying a home not an investment (Sadly that is changing tho)
    We probably will always have stuff to do yes.
    I fancy a strongman lift for the garage unless we can buy the small parcel of land next to the garage to put up an open sided canopy.
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    Great work, dads go so fed up with there places in lanzarote he selling the lot once he gets a building license, we only been trying for 8 years.
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    Amazing work
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    Very impressive, Dave. That's quite a hobby you have there.
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    Looks mega Dave
    Is the plan to retire there or just somewhere you can spend half the year when you've retired?
    I have an old school master who did the same thing in Limousin and has now sold up and lives there permanently - loves it!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd View Post
    Amazing work
    Thanks, most of its bodged.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Mac View Post
    Very impressive, Dave. That's quite a hobby you have there.
    I really enjoy doing it. It was a huge change going to do that as opposed to driving a police van/pax in a helicopter or admin stuff and all the better for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony View Post
    Looks mega Dave
    Is the plan to retire there or just somewhere you can spend half the year when you've retired?
    I have an old school master who did the same thing in Limousin and has now sold up and lives there permanently - loves it!
    Plan is pretty fluid at the mo. Probably sell up here, give the kids the money rather than have them wait until we're dead and then put upon them to have us as lodgers for a few weeks a year in exchange for similar in France for them. (We'll give them options....they can either have an old breaking bad style camper on the road outside their house with us living like The Lady in the Van or we'll turn up like people from the 21st century, in a car, and be their house guests.....
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  25. #25
    Regular Floyd's Avatar
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    I often like examining these builds to get any tips or just learn. I've been doing up our house for the past few years and it's bloody hard work - level 3 compared to your level 8 or 9, so I can't imagine the effort your have used!?

    As I'm using materials for the first time, I have to research pretty much everything. Very time consuming.
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    Excellent work!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave B View Post
    We don't have lots of land, about 1/4 of an acre. We did this deliberately having looked at some ace places with 2-52 acres of land. It'd be OK sorting an acre between the ages of 35 and 65 but beyond that it all goes to pot or costs a lot in maintaining it. None of us have ever looked at it negatively, as a now 14yr 10mth project. It had always been a 'retirement project' that we started early and if we ever mentioned selling it, the kids would go mad. I suspect it will get passed down to them well before we pop our clogs and we'll be their live in lodgers.
    Yup, exactly. They're in their 70s now, and it's just becoming too much to maintain.
    If we started now, and it took 10 years, we'd still be in our early 50s, which would give us a good while in something like this.
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    Thanks for sharing this

    A lot of work, especially considering you aren't doing it full time!

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    That’s a great project. Please keep the updates coming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd View Post
    As I'm using materials for the first time, I have to research pretty much everything. Very time consuming.
    That's all I do when I am in the UK, hours poring over youtube videos and general internet stuff....

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    Excellent work!
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by sparrow View Post
    Yup, exactly. They're in their 70s now, and it's just becoming too much to maintain.
    If we started now, and it took 10 years, we'd still be in our early 50s, which would give us a good while in something like this.
    There are still loads of really good places for sale for the price of a mediocre car.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nige View Post
    Thanks for sharing this

    A lot of work, especially considering you aren't doing it full time!
    Yup, we obviously knew there would be but the delivery aspect has been the biggest holdup for us. It is far easier now we have the van but I can use everything the large wagon, pictured above, delivered in 2 days. At least now we can stockpile stuff so I have always got lots of work ready to do. It seems to pan out that for every 41 days we work, we get 1 day off...or put another way, in 6 weeks we had a day off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrewt View Post
    That’s a great project. Please keep the updates coming.
    That 10 minute read is 15 yrs of work...updates will look pathetic....check back in 2027.
    In reality, the next 12 months will see huge amounts of progress with bifold doors going in, plaster boarding and plastering, UFH downstairs, wiring and a kitchen.

    I'll try to get my phone camera fixed before the next trip as I tend to use that more than anything else for ongoing snaps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave B View Post
    Plan is pretty fluid at the mo. Probably sell up here, give the kids the money rather than have them wait until we're dead and then put upon them to have us as lodgers for a few weeks a year in exchange for similar in France for them. (We'll give them options....they can either have an old breaking bad style camper on the road outside their house with us living like The Lady in the Van or we'll turn up like people from the 21st century, in a car, and be their house guests.....
    Good plan
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    Funny you say that about electricians as we had the same issue. My dad did it all as he knew what he was doing and got someone to check it, sadly he was half way through the basement when he passed away so god only knows what I can do about that as tbh we are going to have to / I think its best to sell up.

    Wonderful thread and its good to see the changes, keeping them documented. Mum did the same with our place and its mad how its changed. Never ending work but also over looked place to do it. I do love France and being in the sticks you see a totally different side to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev_G View Post
    My dad did it all as he knew what he was doing and got someone to check it, sadly he was half way through the basement when he passed away so god only knows what I can do about that as tbh we are going to have to / I think its best to sell up.

    Wonderful thread and its good to see the changes, keeping them documented. Mum did the same with our place and its mad how its changed. Never ending work but also over looked place to do it. I do love France and being in the sticks you see a totally different side to it.
    That's a huge shame he passed before finishing the work as I imagine her loved doing it. My only advice there Kev is to endeavour to get it finished. We looked at lots of part finished houses over there and our only thought was how much of the existing work we'd be ripping out to start again. We'd not have been thinking that with a finished house (we may have wondered what we would add to the set up, but not rip it out) Spending £3k getting the wiring done may add £20k to the house sale price.
    The one thing we didn't record is the cost. After buying we simply bought what we needed (and still do). Save where we can but I didn't want to set a total and then have to compromise to meet the target figure...as it'd be the Kitchen and finishing that we'd have to skimp on.
    If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him...is he still wrong ?

  34. #34
    When people retire early and start adventures such as yours I sometimes find myself secretly reveling when things go wrong. The inner nasty git in me being incredibly jealous. However you're a genuinely blooming nice bloke Dave and I really enjoy hearing about all the cool stuff you are getting up to, like new bikes, road trips, isle of man and this French adventure.

    Keep on living the dream Dave


    The same can said about a lovely bloke I worked with nearly 20 years ago. He rented his house out at 30 years old and went to travel the world on his motorbike. He was supposed to be gone for a year. 20 years later and the last I heard he was still living the dream while doubling as a motorbike Himalayan mountain guide from time to time. Brilliant.

    This is him and his blog

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    Hey, I didn't retire early. I retired bang on time. We set our stall out 20 years ago not to live extravagantly and be reliant on a big income (big house etc) and to make sure we only worked post 49 (she was 48 FFS ) if we wanted to rather than through necessity.
    I (we) just chose to manage on half the average income and see whether we could find enough to do to ensure we didn't get 'bored'. Most folk leaving the police go on and do another 10 or more years elsewhere (many stay in the job as civvies) but a lot of this is to pay for 1st, 2nd and 3rd wives and their many other commitments...
    As my little head didn't rule my big head I've done Ok and have no prior claims on my meagre pension so I'm happy to spunk it all away on wine for Mrs B, motorbikes and hopefully a nice classic car.
    Doing the MM stuff is a huge bonus for me, if only JC got more Northern Events on the cards...... (I'm running out of petrol money for the traipse down to Goodwood.)

    Cheers for the link, it's just the sort of thing I bore Mrs B with on dark Winter evenings.
    If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him...is he still wrong ?

  36. #36
    Just been rereading his blog again myself. That's me sorted for this evening. It needs updating though. Some pretty good images and such like and it's nicely written, so it's worth a look.
    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

  37. #37
    Regular Diamond Hell's Avatar
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    I certainly admire your tenacity, although it must have taken one hulluva lot of determination to chew through that much work to date!

    A mate is currently working on a project for his home in the UK, which he bought as a derelict shell. He's doing most of the work himself, after buying a derelict shell in France a decade ago and doing quite a lot of work on that over the years, too.

    He dryly remarked a while back that he now had installed and owned, but had not used cesspits in two countries.

    At 43 he's just had his first child, so the pressure's on to get the UK house finished, which is somewhat at odds with his 'do virtually everything himself' mentality. he's a tight bu99er, too so there are a lot of painful decisions he's having to make at the moment.

    Good luck with the rest of the work and I hope the exchange rate isn't screwing you over too much at the moment.
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  38. #38
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    I genuinely read stuff like this and wish that I had the time, patience, determination and skill to do something similar. Brilliant post, Dave. Excellent work. The house and the area is not too far from Bergerac where I've holidayed with my folks on a couple of occasions. We used to hire a car in Angouleme (bear in mind it was a Mk3 Fiesta we hired last time we were there will tell you how long ago it was! And, much to my amusement there is still a Hertz hire car office exactly where I remember it being, opposite the station, after we rode the TGV from Paris!). Lovely area.
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  39. #39
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    Slight update.
    We went out in mid January for 3 weeks. We froze our nads off..she doesn't even have 'em but froze them off for good measure. Luckily it was only minus 10, after we left it dipped to minus 18.
    I had my mate the plasterer 'booked' for April so needed as much of the plasterboarding done as possible. I managed to get it all done except the double staircase. Ho hum.











    Fast forward 2 months and we load the can with 30 bags of plaster, 20 plasterboards, 30 litre buckets, yet more insulation blah blah and trundle off for more work. We had a day to unload and sort stuff out before calling for some 4m 8"x2" boards for scaffold planking and then to the airport to collect chummyboy.
    All went well and we cracked on including putting a 3.4m steel I beam in for the bifold doors.



    Kitchen area



    He did smooth it somewhat...








    Stairs getting boarded



    Growing up in a house full of women, I was forever getting bollocked for leaving the seat up...Mick has no such issues and even leaves it up after he's been for a seated visit.
    Anyway...house bathroom completed.









    The vertical lines won't be visible when painted, tapered boards and scrim tape created differing depths of plaster...mainly 2mm but 3,4 or 5 in places. Surface is smooth as glass.








    We had a day off as Mick is a mad rugby fan (and can still be quite easily persuaded to turn out for Burnley RUFC..at the tender age of 55). Clermont Auvergne play at Clermont Ferrand, 2 plus hours away. They had a game against Bordeaux so we went along to see if we could get tickets. Success.




    C.F is home to Michelin. I had no idea that the son of the original Mr Michelin was interned by the Nazis and died at Buchenwald.
    Not been to a sports stadium with a war monument within it.



    Separated at Birth ?



    20180414_190357 by DAVID BOULDER, on Flickr

    20 yards to our left was a rather vocal chap, easy to spot and could have been an extra on Waynes World. He sang for the whole game, sometimes getting the rest of the stand to join in, often not. He sang one song and everyone joined in..for the only verse they knew...he continued with about 6 others and the whole stand kept staring across, laughing, cheering (and missing the game) Crowd watching was way better than the game anyway. I went and shook his hand and thanked him for making our match 'complete'. What a great day



    The bloody TT gets in the way of more work so I have a 2 month hiatus...and then its kitchen fitting, drylining the downstairs wall, flooring/UFH while she paints with her shiny new birthday present...an electric paint sprayer...lucky girl that she is.
    If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him...is he still wrong ?

  40. #40
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Everything looks so much better after plastering

    It`s a heck of a milestone too. Just the 2nd fix, some paint and you`ll be finished...

  41. #41
    Brilliant Dave, just brilliant. Really enjoy catching up on this.
    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

  42. #42
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    Great work, Dave.

    My ex-Mrs has just bought another house which she's already recruited an electrician, plasterer, damp-proofer and handyman for. I'm safe.
    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

  43. #43
    Regular Floyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Mac View Post
    Great work, Dave.

    My ex-Mrs has just bought another house which she's already recruited an electrician, plasterer, damp-proofer and handyman for. I'm safe.
    I seem to remember that you were serial house renovators in the past Neil!
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  44. #44
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    Love the Gabions! I did similar myself here to create an entrance gate. So simple and satisfying too!
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  45. #45
    Regular Neil Mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd View Post
    I seem to remember that you were serial house renovators in the past Neil!
    Yup, too many house moves in too few years. 4 of them were renovation/improvement projects, and the last of them didn't need anything other than an up-to-date electrical consumer unit. It also made the biggest profit, purely due to it's location
    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

  46. #46
    If you're ever stuck for advice holla. My dad and his wife lived in France for 20+ years and also built their own place, pretty much. I know it can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes with local regs and rules etc.
    Ermmmmm

  47. #47
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    Thanks Dave
    The local mayor is a farmer nearby. He shrugs at most rules and regulations but I still want to ensure it is all done properly for when he finishes his term and we get a new one in post. No building regs makes it way easier and my over-engineering everything should set us up right for the next 100 years.
    If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him...is he still wrong ?

  48. #48
    Great thread Dave, thank you.

    My uncle has done something similar, they bought an old abandoned house in a really small village. The house was attached to a barn that's now becoming extra accommodation, but they spent a number of years doing the house up as well.

  49. #49
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    Good to read that you're really getting on well with this, Dave
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  50. #50
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    A bit of a Summer update.

    Just back from a 43 day run of working over at the barn...I do wonder if we'll stop calling it that soon and call it a house/home.

    Anyway. Loads to do to get the downstairs ready for plastering this coming October.
    It was hot, very hot but we were working inside most of the time. Justine just about singlehandedly painted 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and some stairs, rather her than me.
    We left the thermometer outside in the sun…it hit 58.5c



    This was needed to cool the drill as I was drilling 22mm holes through 3” seasoned douglas fir…about 120 of them.



    The usual kids puzzle for downstairs. We needed rid of the caravan that has been cluttering the garage for the last year, but first we needed somewhere to cook….ah a kitchen then.
    Let down at the very last minute by the courier, we had to hire a large van and drive 1500 miles there and back…with no bloody aircon. Home for a day then drive back to start.




    Jobs to do included, fit the kitchen, fit a set of 10ft x 8ft bi-fold doors, get rid of the caravan, move a garage sized room worth of tools and materials into a garage, install underfloor heating pipework and manifold and then screed 4 rooms, plasterboard the whole downstairs (and paint the upstairs)















    These will be painted in due course…only another 8 to do….



    I had to do bits of jobs to get stuff moved about, the door frame went in (and out, and in and out and in one last time) The kitchen went in as best I could, our plumber friend came and hey presto, we had a working sink, hob and when I fitted it, oven. The good bit here is that he asked what we’d planned for the caravan. Well. Mongo 1 wanted to rent a massive shredder and a crane and drop it in that, Mongo 2 wanted to use explosives. He had a buyer, how much did we want? I’d envisaged issues getting rid. Caravan from 1992 with original tyres, probably leaky…who’d want it…erm £300. Apparently that was fine so he came back and towed it away, leaving us with space and some cash. (We turned 4 ton of aggregate and cement into a bit of a drive from the roadside to our boundary…some form of block paving on our side of the gate.







    Sparkie came for a day and did some sparkie stuff. All stuff I can do myself so we’ll have him back for perhaps 3 days rather the 10 we had planned.

    Bifold doors were relatively easy to fit, albeit the glass was heavy at 40kg and 8ft x 3ft. 1 or 2 mm out and the things do not operate properly so although 2mm over 3000mm is pretty accurate, it wasn’t good enough seemingly….hence the frame coming out.



    The £75 roll out awning canopy thingy was a godsend…









    The space above the doors needed filling and I wanted it to echo what we’d clad the garage with so we visited out timber sellers and spent £100 on a van load of wood…4m long 8” x 2” boards for £3.50…we’ll have a few of them

    The UFH pipes were installed. Straightforward but a tad nervewracking for standing on and kinking or worse, putting a nail through when they’re covered up. We have a pressure tester but couldn’t find an adaptor anywhere to make it fit the manifold so although the 5 loops are filled, and screeded…they aren’t pressure tested. We are pretty confident that the only reason for a leak anywhere other than the manifold end, is down to a manufacturing issue with the pipe….we checked them and they all seemed fine so here’s hoping they all test right when we next go out. Screeding was straightforward if rather hot as I obviously had to shovel and mix outside...where it was in the 50s in the sun. We got a system going and it really was nice not to have to balance on joists and be able to walk on a floor.







    I don’t envy project managers, there is so much to think about and get in order. I’ve got my head round the French wiring regs now but there’s an awful lot of cabling to run for lights. Some of ours are 3 way which involves relays on the distribution board….(which incidentally has 5 rows and just over 50 breakers..£1000 pls)

    Wiring in as I go along putting up 8 x 4 plasterboards (we had to go collect these, 20 at a time together with 5 bags of adhesive and about 12 bags of aggregate for doing the driveway. We could have had a delivery and got 100 all at once, but knowing my luck it would have been raining and some would be ruined. We collected them at our pace and it worked fine)





    I wasn’t sure whether we had the time in 6 weeks to do all I wanted to but we worked long days, didn’t bother with silly things like days of rest and managed to finish with 3 days to spare...so spent the last 3 days doing little bits and pieces I was going to put off until October. Making use of the spare worktop for windowcills.











    Once plastered. I reckon we have 6 more weeks of work until the inside is 99% finished. Cornice and pelmet stuff with the kitchen etc.
    We have the kitchen diner floor to tile but scored on about 60m2 of really cheap but good quality tiles (we only need about 35m so I may tile the garage floor)



    Sadly, the douglas fir we got very cheap last year has marks/mould or something that take ages to sand out so we’ll use that timber for fencing. We can probably put a 6ft fence round the whole village we’ve got that much of the bloody stuff. So rather than £250, the lounge and ‘snug’ floor will be £1500. Bugger

    We did two ‘tip runs’ with the van full of old building stuff, a fridge etc. Unlike our local tip where you almost have to doff your cap and grovel to get in…even with your permit…at the local one to us in France, the guys come and help you unload..whoever you are. There are also two lovely young ladies who work there a couple of days a week. They sift through the stuff and anything that can go in their local govt funded recycling project, they take and it gets cleaned up and sold. A great idea as it gives employment to a few people and an effective way of recycling stuff rather than simply tipping it.
    Last edited by Dave B; 23-08-2018 at 12:39 PM.
    If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him...is he still wrong ?

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