Let’s Hear It For A New Roof and Façade

All the bids are in and Dude and I have painstakingly gone over them. Since they are all in French and include some very technical words and products we don’t understand, Dude has been doing all sorts of research. The whole process has taken nearly 4 weeks. This is from the time I called all the companies/people to make appointments with them until the last bid came through. Thank goodness I called a good number of contractors since we ended up getting such a variety of prices. I was warned by several people to call at least 5 different places and to not say that we are American. On the first point I succeeded but on the second point the accents gave us away so we couldn’t do much there.

I guess the word on the street is that all Americans are super rich and have money to burn. Therefore, the contractors will jack up the bids on us to make some extra cash. This inside scoop came from a Frenchman and it isn’t the first time we’ve heard it. Well, those of us from The States will definitely say that NOT all Americans are rich. I happen to be on the other end of the spectrum, hence Dude and I trying  to do all the work and finding the cheap materials ourselves. In light of some of the crazy bids we got, I’m now starting to think that the rumor of high bids to Americans must be true.

After Dude and I shared a few laughs on the extremely outrageous bids we got down to business on just what each company/person was willing to do for the money. Apparently each person has their own idea of how a roof and façade should be done. In this region there doesn’t seem to be any hard fast rule on the style or material used. It’s whatever the company thinks is suitable for your house. This makes it really difficult to decide on whom to use. You can’t really do a good comparison if your bids are for completely different materials and ideas. Due to this and the fact that money is our biggest obstacle, we had to go with the bid that was the cheapest. The other major factor in who we chose was that some of these bids were for doing a roof and façade that should be on a house in San Tropez. Some of these companies totally wanted to go overboard and it isn’t necessary. We just need a basic roof and façade that will keep out the rain and insulate us from the weather, not put us on the cover of Home and Garden Magazine!

People, we live in the country (ie; the middle of nowhere) and in a small town that no one has ever even heard of! What the heck do we need to get all fancy for? Dude said that these guys were off their rocker and most of them didn’t even know how to bid or what the average going price point was. When you have one company bidding at 150 Euros per meter square and then another company bidding at 54 Euros per meter square, you clearly have an issue!

After carefully looking over the best priced bid and feeling comfortable that this company was at least honest on price, we called the guy back out to our house to go over ever line item in detail to be sure we were all on the same wave length.

He came out last Friday and told us line for line what we were getting. We even went online with him to look and materials and ask questions. We mentioned to him that Dude wanted to put in a ventilating system since we don’t have enough airflow through the house. This is particularly bad on the third story and is one of the reasons why we are having problems in the house. The area of France in which we live has particularly high levels of humidity and along with needing our stone walls to breathe, we need to be sure our house is well ventilated and air can easily circulate throughout the day. This guy said that if we purchased the system we wanted that his men would help get the beginning stages of it put in at no extra charge. He also gave us a color scheme for the façade so we could choose the exterior stucco color we wanted. He said that the price also included him doing all the leg work with the Maire (talking to the Urbanisme and pulling permits if necessary). That is a big help to me since I wouldn’t know where to begin.

We shook hands on it and I told him that I needed to speak to the bank. Dude and I have to get a home improvement loan to get the work done. We don’t have the money handy in our back pockets and we sure as heck are going to touch what little retirement we have socked away for this work.

This past Wednesday we went to the same lady at the bank who gave us our home loan. She said no problem for this loan and we signed our life away. I don’t know about any of you guys out there, but for some reason getting loans in France is a piece of cake compared to The States. For us it has only been, ask and ye shall receive. Seems strange, but hey, I’m not complaining especially if it gets me the roof and façade we so desperately need.

The work is supposed to be done in a 14 day period depending on the weather. All the bids we got said that the payments go as such: 40% down on signing the contract (for reserving the workers and the dates and for getting all the materials and behind the scenes things done), 30% after the first week’s worth of work is done to our satisfaction and 30% when the work is completed.

We asked the bank lady who was going to protect Dude and I if we gave this company the 40% and they just took a hike and never came to do the work. Do you know what she said?! She said, “No one protects you. That’s just the chance you take in France”. That’s a load of hog wash and Dude and I weren’t too well pleased about it. She said that it was for that reason she looked up the company’s working license to check them out and to see if they had any bad ratings. She told us that they had been in business for 3 years and looked fine. If they didn’t she wouldn’t have given us the loan and would have told us to go find another company to use. I’ve also been doing research on them and I can’t find anything or anybody who has said something bad about them.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed since Dude and I don’t need any more surprises and issues. We have another appointment at the end of next week with these guys to hand over our life to them and then after that we wait. For now the work is schedule to start on 15 January and be done at the end of that month. In the meantime, we have to alert our neighbors since the scaffolding will be in their yards. We have a village house and unfortunately the two exterior walls that are being redone happen to be the ones that are on the property line between us and the neighbors! Oh boy, this is going to be so much fun! Not.

They better not give me any trouble since I’ve already reached my limit. I will be going to the Maire next week to see what I have to do to alert them. One person said I have to write them a letter and send it by post of the dates of the work and what materials will be used since the workers will technically be in their yards on the scaffolding. I am not sure if this person was correct or not so I have to go and get the official word at the Maire.

Well, in about one month’s time, we should know if we got ripped off or not. Of course, as always, I will let you know!



About backyardprovence

I was finally able to realized my dream of living in France when I moved here in 2010. I love to read,I love history and road trips. I want to be doing anything outside in the fresh air. I want to have an entire room devoted to a personal library.

Posted on December 10, 2011, in The House of the Farmer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I am very happy to hear you got a seemingly knowledgeable roofing contractor and a loan to pay for it. Hopefully, you won’t have to worry at all about that 1st 40% you give him. I look forward to the happy news that the work is done even better than you hoped for.

    • Hi Michel,
      So far so good with the contractor. They are in constant contact with us so here’s hoping this keeps up and his workers are as efficient as he is! Come February, after the roof is on, I will let you know how it went and if it was a good experience and I will give you his name and company for your house 🙂

  2. Hi Ashley,

    Nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

  3. A new roof should fix the last of your water problems. And hey…I’ve heard of your town! I even lived there, though I doubt anyone remembers me. Maybe we are the only two “Americaines” to have ever lived there 🙂

    • Hi Meredith,

      Let’s hope the roof is the last of the huge issues! I think you’re right about you and I (and our families) being the only Americans who have ever lived in this village. When people in or around our town find out we are from the states they all give me that surprised look and ask me how the heck I even found the place! I did remember that you lived there and that you said the town was cursed 🙂 I am wondering if you might be right. Either that or we some how got the two houses in the whole village that were cursed!

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