September 2006         


Read Our Roof blog with the daily updates of how we progressed with the major renovation of the roof of our house, during July and August.

Looking back at the archive for Our House over the last nine months, we have come a long way. The roof is completely renewed, the kitchen has been created by remaking and creating every wall, floor, ceiling and door handle. The house is now ready to get us through the winter, short as it is.

The biggest job was the roof and we had our hearts in our mouths as the roofers began to tear the old roof out. But they did a fantastic job. All the people and magazines that recommend avoiding local artisans and using good old Dutch and British builders have it wrong. Or perhaps they just feel safer dealing with workmen in their own language.


The old tale goes that all builders are dodgy. We have
had nothing but honesty, punctuality and enthusiasm from artisans and would not hesitate to recommend them to
others. We also used an English builder and his son. Terry
and Simon could not have been more hard working, helpful with suggestions and really taking the time and effort to
help us achieve our goal. Thanks guys, without you we'd
never have made it.

rain covers

Don't worry, we also know of many artisans, both French and English, that we wouldn't touch with a barge pole. The horror stories are legion. I think that our planning, adaptability and keeping an eye on the budget has paid off. Not to mention Caroline's tea making and chat up lines, plus the fact that we are here all the time. We can imagine how getting renovations done while living in another country can get out of control.


were at home for each and every decision and kept the guys on their toes. An absent client often leads to an absent artisan until he knows that the client is flying in for the weekend! And then it's a mad dash to get things done. Human nature.

Anyway, Pierre popped by to help us fit the thick glass panes we had cut to fit the round windows in the back kitchen wall. he mixed up the chaux (chalk) and sand and we applied it by hand, since a trowel wouldn't fit in the small space available.

Pierre and his mobile workshop

We are now awaiting a staircase in the chai to connect Perry's and Caroline's spaces, without having to walk around the house. After that we can begin the bathroom upstairs. But that will be in the spring, so we will have another winter using the shower and loo in the annex. Brrrrr!

The chai now has doors, so we are completely water and wind proof. The old shutters used to open in to the building. Now they have been re-hung to swing out instead. The glass allows the chai to be light for Perry to paint and work

antoinette crack

The other job that needs doing, is the small (Antoinette) barn. There is a large crack between the stone and earth walls that is slowly getting bigger. The stone wall is moving away from the main structure, so we need to put a steel brace in. You have probably seen houses with an iron S or an X on the outside walls. We will be having the same sort of construction. This will help stabilise the building and then we can rest easy until the time we have the energy and funds to convert it into a gîte for our visitors.

We won't be doing any major work on the house until next year now. The piles of old wood that came from the old roof will be cut and stacked, ready for the log burners. The big barn will be cleared up and Perry hopes to create a workshop. Now that there is water and electricity there, he can safely power his tools.


The electrical circuits have been renewed in half the house, but the office/study is still fed with the old system. We discovered that it is not earthed, which means that there is a lot of static. This causes the computer mouses to stick occasionally and isn't really that safe. So the electrician is popping by soon to tear it all out and start again. It will only take a day to do, but we will be 'off the air'. All Perry's clients will be informed in advance.

OK, that's all. The sun is beating down, so we're off outside to make the most of it.

A bientôt.

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