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2 For 2- The Façade Is Done!

I am totally happy today cuz the façade is all finished and it looks really good! The workers had been here all week busily spraying, cleaning, mixing and applying the stucco to our house. I can’t believe what a difference it has made. The exterior walls look brand new and I believe it has “wow’d” our neighbors. The reason I say that is cuz it’s my neighbors who get to view the new look. While they get to benefit from the aesthetically pleasing wall, Dude and I get to benefit from the protection that our walls will now have. Hopefully, this work will do exactly what we intended for it to do which is to stop the mold and mildew from coming through the porous walls. The supervisor said to double the effort we need to find paint that will let the walls breathe.

Throughout the work I was not able to really take any photos cuz most of the work has been in our neighbor’s yard and also, the work has been significantly messier than the work that was done on the roof.

The workers had to power wash the walls with some special chemical and this created large pools of water and mud everywhere. Also, the mixing of the façade mix was a pretty messy job. It was so bad on Thursday that Dude and I got trapped in the house with cement, water and dirt all pooling in front of our garage and entry way.

One big hang up occurred on Friday morning when Dude went out to survey the work and found that the bottom section of our house on one of our neighbor’s side wasn’t done and the workers had already started to clean up like they were finished.

When the guys showed up, Dude and I hopped up on the wall with the lead worker and talked to him about this. Do you know what he said??! He said that my neighbor didn’t want that part done cuz they wanted to put their plants there! Dude and I were like, “WHAT”!! I’m sorry but this is MY house and it’s MY wall. What the heck are you listening to my neighbors for??!! Are they paying you for the work?! That would be a NO! Are they in charge of this project?! That would be a NO! Are they the ones who are affected by leaky walls?! That would be a NO!

Dude and I were absolutely astounded that our workers would be listening to the neighbor and letting the neighbor tell them what to do. Is there no stopping stupidity in the world! On top of the fact that the workers never even came to us to tell us this. They would have just said okay to the neighbors like they were the boss and went on their merry way! What the heck!

So while all of us were on the scaffolding and wall, I had a little chat with my neighbors and told them that this part had to be done. The reason was that we had mold and mildew in the house do to the porous wall and the humidity and it was bad for your health to be living with that (duh!). We absolutely needed this wall to be done and sealed. After I explained the situation to her, then she was okay with it and our workers were able to proceed. The other thing that was so stupid about this on their part was that the area of wall we were talking about was so ugly and badly maintained and they were getting a new, freshly stucco’d and better looking wall for FREE! Good grief people, how stupid could someone be!

Well, with that almost major fiasco taken care of, Dude and I were of to work.

When we returned that evening, we found pretty much all the tools, machinery and trash out of our yard. Dude went to survey the neighbor’s yard and the work had been done. Apparently there weren’t any more problems with them so that was good.

On Saturday morning I went out to check the work and see how everything looked. When we had arrived home the night before it was already dark so I preferred to wait until the sun came up to see what the house looked like and to take some photos.

Without further ado, here are the before and after photos (and some mid-way with the scaffolding up).

Before pics of ugly wall

Here are the during work pictures

The final product pics-ta da!!

I really like the color and we had told the supervisor that we wanted only a slight texture to the walls. I am really pleased with the way it turned out. Unfortunately Dude doesn’t really like the color that much! He says it wasn’t exactly what he had in mind. I love it, though. I think it’s subtle and clean. I don’t particularly care for the really drab color of houses I see here or the really dark and crazy colors that some people have come up with. I wanted something that was a traditional Provencal color and I think it worked out fine. Besides, only my opinion matters in this anyway, I can’t believe Dude still doesn’t know that!

Later that morning, Dude found a big problem. Remember back when we were drilling holes in the house for the rod and cle to be put in to hold the house together due to the large crack that we had? That story is here, just in case you told yourself ‘No”. Well, the cle is located on the garden side and all ready to go, but the other side of the house, where the threaded rod stuck out for the second cle, is gone. Yup-apparently the workers cut the end off of the threaded rod to stucco the house and they filled in the hole. Now we have nowhere to hang the other cle to tie the house together! They didn’t even ask about what that rather large 30mm threaded rod was! They just went and put their 2 Centimes in and cut it. Now Dude has to figure out what to do. We need to have a cle on both sides to hold in and tighten the structure of the house. Guess what?! In order to fix it, we have to cut a large round hole in our new stucco! More stupidity goin’ on here!

Dude has been working since yesterday trying to figure out how to do this without doing a lot of damage to all the work that has already been done. You know, there’s always something that happens that just burns you up. Even if the rest of the things going on are good!

Fuel and Scaffolding All In Three Days

We finally have fuel back in our boiler tank. It was definitely a very cold weekend without heat. After huddling in the kitchen and memorizing all the lines in the Harry Potter series and then the Star Wars trilogy due to my weekend movie marathon, I was glad when the fuel guy arrived on Monday morning. He was late, big surprise, but he did show up on the expected delivery date so I guess I can forgive him the lateness (plus he had the most gorgeous Paul Newman blue eyes ever).

He had to park his truck outside our property because it was too big to fit through the gate (same problem as the material delivery truck fiasco). No big deal for the fuel truck, though, as he had a hose that was around 40 meters in length. He was able to run the hose through our garden and into the garage and all the way back to our tank.

It only took about 5-10 minutes to give us the 1000 liters we ordered. We didn’t even have to move the car or any of our stuff out of the way! It was simple, easy and expensive. This is how I feel about the simple and easy part 🙂  This is how I feel about the expensive part 😦 This summer we will be working on ways to improve the efficiency of our home so that next winter we will be more prepared and try to use less fuel and be more energy efficient. I think we can do it so I’m not too worried. Even thought the fuel costs an arm and a leg, I still love my heating system! The fuel guy seemed to like it too and kept raving about our tank. He thought it was super cool. He has good taste in fuel tanks!

After the fill up, away he went with my money and away we went with turning the system back on. Heat at last, that’s always a good thing in weather like this.

That same evening while I was at work, I got a call from Mr. Right Hand Man who said that they were ready to come to my house and put up the scaffolding. He wanted to know if Tuesday morning would work. Unfortunately, ce n’etait pas bon for me and I had to tell him no, but that Wednesday would be good. I was in luck because Wednesday happened to be an okay day for him and his team, too.  Yippey, cuz Monday was the day I hit the jackpot.

This morning I got up early in anticipation for the 8:30ish arrival. Well 8:30 came and went and so did 9:00. Around 9:30 I called Mr. Right Hand Man to ask him what was happening. He didn’t answer so I left a message to please call me back and verify that the team was really showing up today.

Around 9:45 the team of two guys showed up with the scaffolding. They took a look around and then talked to my neighbor (whose garden will be hosting the scaffolding while the façade is done). They finally came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to put up the scaffolding in our yard for the first week of work to do the roof and then once that is done they will take the scaffolding down and reset it up in our neighbor’s yard for the work on the façade. This way they (and we) won’t have to bother our neighbors with having this big contraption in their yards for a long duration. For our neighbors, this cuts the time in half that the scaffolding will be in their yard. I thought that was a great idea (cuz living in a village house you really don’t want to piss of and bother your neighbors to much, close quarters and all).

Well, to work these guys went and they put up the scaffolding in about 3 hours. During this time Mr. Right Hand Man decided to call me back. That was nice. I let him know that his little helpers had arrived and were busy getting their work done outside in the freezing cold.

Now our house looks like this and believe me, I love it!

Finally, we have some positive progress to our renovation nightmare. The only thing Dude was really worried about is that they had to drill holes in the side of the house to anchor the scaffolding. That’s all we need is more holes in this place! I’m not too worried. When they take the scaffolding down, they should be able to fill those in. After all, they’ll already have the colored stucco for the façade ready to go, what’s a few more dabbles on this old place. I’m sure it will be no problem for them.

When the guys left they said that they were going to check on when the materials will be delivered and they are hoping that all will be ready for tomorrow. I guess I won’t know until tomorrow, though. One of the guys said that until all the roofing material is here, they can’t start the work because they don’t want to risk taking off the old roof and not having anything to cover it with (for who knows how long) cuz if the weather turns bad again we will be screwed. I like his logic.

So for now, all we have is a fashion accessory to our house and we have to wait and see when the progress will continue. Forward march!

Two Deliveries Gone Bad

So we still have no news on the delivery of our materials for the roof and façade. It’s been another interesting week here, as usual.

Here’s how our week started out (and finished). Remember when I said that Mr. Right Hand Man was going to call us mid-week this week for the delivery of our materials? Well, he ended up calling me on Monday morning just as I was about ready to leave to go to the office. He said that is was very possible that the materials could be delivered that day in the afternoon and was working on getting it done.

Problemo, I also had a delivery of five big pallets of materials being delivered that day to my office. The reason why this was a problem is because I really feel that I need to be home when these guys deliver my stuff to be sure it all goes well and there’s no funny business going on. It will be a very large delivery with a lot of materials so I just feel better if I am here.

The issue with the delivery at work is that us girls won’t be able to manage bringing up the five pallets of materials to our third floor office (the transport company really bites the big one and they will only leave the stuff at the door, not help us get it to the office) so I need Dude’s muscles to help us out.

So, on Monday, we had a last minute change of plans and I stayed and worked from home and waited for my delivery while Dude went to the office to help out with the delivery there.

The afternoon came and went and no materials landed at my house. Dude called me late in the afternoon to say that the transporter for the delivery at the office flaked, too, and they were instead going to do the delivery on Tuesday.

Can you believe it? Two flakey deliveries in one day! I do believe that one of my most favorite things to do is to sit around and wait for deliveries that never show up. I just love it cuz I have all the time in the world here in “kick-back” south of France!

Well, Tuesday morning came around and the delivery to the office did make it. That makes one down and one to go.

Dude and I showed up at the office on Tuesday morning to find that the transport company had decided to come very early and they just left our pallets in the entry way of our building. Gee fellas, thanks for that! Dude managed to get everything up to the office and unloaded so all was good by the end of the day for this delivery.

On Wednesday, Mr. Right Hand Man said he was still trying to get the delivery together of my stuff and could I please leave my gate open so they could put everything in the yard if it worked out. No way, Jose! I was gonna stay to see that it all worked out.

Well, no materials again that day. I called Mr. Right Hand Man to ask him what was up cuz I needed to know when this is going to get done. I also told him, again, that it was important that I know not just for me but also for my neighbors (remember the scaffolding will be in their yard). He said he knew and was really trying to get it together but his team had not finished another project they were on and he wanted the scaffolding to go up and the work to begin the same day that the materials were to be delivered, if it was possible. You wanna know what I think?? I think it’s totally possible in any other country but France! Man, they can’t even get my materials to me in a timely manner let alone add two other things to the same work day. I’ll believe when I see it.

Well, guess what’s happening now? Today it’s raining and it’s due to rain all the way until Tuesday night. That means no delivery and no work done.

Another delay that could possibly happen is that the weather report says from Wednesday on it will start to get really cold here, like -8C! Guess what, no work will be done if that’s the case because the concrete for the roof and façade won’t cure in temperatures that cold. Good grief! I might as well give it up for next week, too, and just expect it not to happen. This way if it doesn’t, I won’t be surprised and if it miraculously happens, I will be ecstatic!

I guess Dude and I will have to work on some more little projects in doors since there isn’t much else that’s gonna happen around here. Maybe we can manage to push another small project through to the finish.

More Delays

Mr. Supervisor of our job ended up calling me a second time. He apologized again for the issue yesterday with the camion not being able to deliver our materials and said that his right hand man was on his way to our house to check everything out. Apparently, Mr. Supervisor is going on vacation for one week starting Tuesday and Mr. Right Hand Man is going to be taking over while he’s gone. Then Mr. Supervisor said that Mr. Right Hand Man was in front of my gate ready to tackle this thing.

I hung up and went to look out my living room window which faces our front gate. No one was there that I could see, but then again, he might not have arrived yet. I went out to unlock the gate and take a peek around just to be sure.

Nope-no one there so I left the gate open so Mr. Right Hand Man wouldn’t have to call me when he showed up.

About 10 minutes later I get a call from Mr. Right Hand Man saying that he was in front of my gate. I walked over to the window again and there wasn’t anyone there. So being that I am a fast learner and had logged away the information that the Guy (remember wawa..wa) had given me yesterday about being confused on where my house was, I asked Mr. Right Hand Man if he was on my street minus the one word or if he was on my street. He said, “I’m on your street minus one word”. Ah ha! Thought so. I said, “You’re on the wrong street”. Then I gave him directions to my house. Now, I’m pretty good with directions to my house since I’ve had to give them a few times to the other companies who have come to give us quotes and they’ve made it each time just fine so I felt confident that he was going to make it. Guy just happened to not want to deal with it the other day, I think.

So Mr. Right Hand Man said he was on his way and would be at chez moi in just a few minutes.

About 15 minutes later, no Mr. Right Hand Man. I couldn’t understand what the heck was taking him so long. Even though he was totally on the other side of town my town was not that big, seriously a 5 minute trek, max. I then proceeded to pick up my phone to give him a call to see if he was having some trouble since he hadn’t shown up yet or did he decide to stop for coffee and a pastry. I quickly located his call on my phone and realized it had shown up as a private number therefore I couldn’t call him back! I figured he would call if he was in deep trouble.

Another 5 minutes passed and nothing. Finally I called Mr. Supervisor to tell him the issue and he said he would give him a call. About another 5 minutes passed and I got another call from Mr. Right Hand Man saying that he was completely lost. I told him to find the center of town and I would meet him at the stop sign and he could just follow me home. As I started walking he gives me a call saying that he was near the school and was stuck in all this traffic. The school??!! No, no, no. I told him that he had passed my street. Now he was going to have to exit the town and go around because the street he was on was a one way street.

I told him that I was almost at the stop sign and would wait there for him so that he didn’t miss it a second time. He said that he was in a yellow car and to look for him. Roger that.

Finally, we spotted each other and he followed me back to chez moi. All was good. He took a look around at the work that was to be done. I told him all about the scaffolding being in our neighbor’s yard and they were fine with it and he examined the façade that was to be done. Then we went up on the roof to take a look around so he could familiarize himself with the project since he would be taking over the supervision of it for the first week.

After we chatted, we went back into our yard to see where the materials would be placed and to measure the gate so that the next truck they rented would fit! He also told me that he would have to cancel the bin that was to come since it was going to have the same problem; it would fit down the street and in our garden but it wouldn’t make it pass the gate. He was going to have to order a smaller bin. He also gave us the news that it wasn’t going to happen on Monday like we thought.

He was leaving the next day and would be gone until Wednesday. Therefore he would call me on Wednesday to arrange for everything to be delivered at the end of the week because he wanted to be around to be sure all was good. He also wanted all the workers to show up either that day or the day after to start getting to work.

Well, what else was I going to do? I said okay and that I would talk to him next week, mid-week. After he left I went and checked the weather online. Bad news, it was going to be windy for the next several days and guess what?? It’s supposed to rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Great! We are so close to getting this thing done and it just keeps getting held up. So now, it looks like it will be at least another whole week at minimum before work can get started.

By the way, to add to it, Dude looked up our street on Google Maps and do you know what?? It doesn’t exist anymore! Nope-Google wiped it clean off their map! It used to be there cuz last summer we Google Mapped it for someone and it was clearly there. Apparently, when their car came to our town recently with their little cameras on top, they decided our street wasn’t very important so they took it upon themselves to decide that it shouldn’t exist anymore. Maybe that’s why these guys can’t find us! We’re on Mappy, so I know that we exist, plus I’m looking at my street everyday unless it’s a mirage.

So now I gotta go and get mad at Google Maps and tell them to put us back on the map and stop putting their two centimes in. Man, my work is never done.

I Thought We Had It In The Bag

So, today was the day that all the materials needed for the work on our house were to arrive. I received confirmation of this last night via an SMS message from the guy who’s been organizing this project. He said that a truck with all the materials will be at my house around 9:30am today and could I please leave my portail (gate) open so they could drive right in for the drop of.

This morning I got up and went down to open the gate around 8:45am just in case they arrived earlier.

Well, 9:30am arrived and I get a call from the guy who tells me that the people furnishing the materials can’t find my house and could I please call the main guy over at the store and tell him how to get to my house.

Okay-no problemo. So I take the number down and call over to the magasin to see what’s up.

The guy (whose name happens to be Guy, how convenient for me) tells me that he doesn’t know how to get to my house. So begins a “Who’s on First” type of conversation the main reason being that this Guy happens to be one of those Frenchmen who doesn’t enunciate (seriously a word slurer big time) and on top of that, he spoke at the speed of light and lastly, it was a PHONE conversation(always difficult anyway). For me, that’s three strikes and I’m out on the comprehension.

Did you ever watch the Peanuts Gang cartoon? You know when Charlie Brown is at school and the teacher is talking to him and all he hears is…Wawa..wa. Yup-that’s what I heard. I was, in fact, in Charlie Brown’s seat at school this morning.

Here is the excerpt of my conversation (sorry it will be in English for my non-francophone amis):

Me: Hello, this is Madame Fisher. I received a call saying you couldn’t find my house.

Guy: Yes, I don’t know where you live. Can you..wawa..wa wawa..wa.. I have the truck and wawa..wa.

Me: I don’t understand. Are you in (my town).

Guy: Wawa..wa.. wawa..wa.  the town with the swimming pool at the round-a-bout.

Me: Oh, you’re near the swimming pool? Then go around the round-a-bout, direction “centre ville”. Go through the town with all the magasins on both side of the main street. Then there is a STOP sign at the end of the street. Continue to go straight and then at the first street go right, then at the next first street go right and viola, chez moi.

Guy: No, no, problem. I can’t find wawa..wa wawa..wa.. I passed by the swimming pool.

Me: Okay. So are you at the swimming pool now.

Guy: Wawa..wa.. wawa..wa. your street and I didn’t find it.

Me: If you are at the swimming pool, no problem. I can go down there and then you can follow me back to my house.

Guy: Yes, follow you, but wawa..wa wawa..wa. not at pool.

Me: You’re not at the pool?

Guy: No and I wawa..wa wawa..wa. couldn’t find your house.

Me: Okay, if you’re not at the pool, where are you?

Guy: My house.

What the heck and what does the pool have to do with any of this!

Me: You’re at your house. What direction are you coming from so I can tell you how to get to my town.

Guy: No, I’m not coming from anywhere. I don’t know where you live and wawa..wa wawa..wa. Can you come get the truck at my house?

Are you kidding me! What in the world is this guy taking about!!?? It is not in the plan for me to go and get the truck from his house!

Me: I don’t understand what you are talking about.

Guy: You don’t understand?

I thought I just said that.

Me: No, I don’t understand. Mr. Supervisor said that the truck would be at my house today and now you are saying I have to go and get the truck at your house?! I can’t drive your truck!

Guy: wawa..wa wawa..wa wawa..wa.

Me: Look, where do you live? In what town?

Guy: (his town name).

Me: That is the town right next to me! I don’t understand why you can’t find me. Just go down the street and make a right just after the town sign and Viola, chez moi.

Guy: No, I tried to find your house and I can’t. The truck is at my house. It is also the magasin (name of magasin). Come get the truck.

Me: Oh, I know where you are. You are only 10 minutes away, but I can’t get your truck, why can’t you find my house?

Guy: wawa..wa wawa..wa, no you come to my house and truck will follow you.

Me: Ohh, I understand now. I will go to your store/house and then the truck can follow me back home.

Guy: Yes!

Me: Okay, I will be there in 10 minutes.

After hanging up the phone, I was like, what the heck was that all about and where did the pool part come into play! Why didn’t he just say, “Come to my store and the truck will follow you home”.

Done. End of story. 2 minute conversation! But no, he goes and tells me about some pool and not finding me and I was about ready to be sent to the funny farm cuz there isn’t a dang person in my household other than me that could talk to this guy who slurs his words and talks at the speed of light! Seriously, half way through the 15 minute conversation (I did shorten it for you guys, excerpt remember?) I was picturing myself never seeing these materials end up at my house!

So I went to get Dude and told him to come on that we had to get the truck and they would follow us back home. In the 10 minute car ride that followed I had to tell Dude the phone conversation since he was not in the room to see the whole thing unfold in all its crazy glory. At that point, since I had finally figured out what the issue was, I was now cracking up while retelling the conversation still trying to figure out what the pool had to do with it.

We finally arrived at the magasin and the driver of the truck was waiting for us. He then followed us back to our house. When we got there he looked at our gate and said, “I don’t think the truck will make it through your gate”. I said, “Let’s try it”.

So he went back out to the main street to get into his truck and proceeded to turn this gigantic (by French standards) truck around on this tiny street so that he could make the turn onto my street. He did manage that, but then he had to be really careful down my street cuz it’s very narrow and there is a balcony hanging over the street from the house that is located on the right, which by the way has some chips in it due to drivers with big trucks not paying attention. I made sure he stayed to the left and warned him about the balcony. Before he could get too far, he was again worried about not making it past our gate and got out of his truck to call his supervisor. He said that his supervisor was coming over to take a look and to help out.

So there we were, standing out on the street, with this truck blocking my street, waiting for his supervisor to show up. By the way, the winds had kicked up again starting last night so it was pretty cold and we were getting a bit blown away. Just my luck that when the work is ready to begin we have to deal with the stupid winds!

Finally the supervisor showed up and guess what?? It’s Guy! Well, in person he was still a bit difficult to understand, but our conversation was better face to face. The first thing he did was to look at the street name and then tell me, “Oh, this is the street name you live on! I was in your town this morning but at a street with your name minus one word and it was way on the other side of town”. By the way, the street name is nearly identical to ours, but with one small different detail. I didn’t know this until today! Seems he didn’t either or he would have shown up on time.

Then he said, “I drove all around and couldn’t find your house so I had to go back to the magasin and call the person organizing this to tell him. Then you called me so I could explain”. Remember the phone conversation that I didn’t understand. Yup-like I said, “Who’s on First”!

Well, could this be the reason why the mentioning of the pool came into play??? I now think that during our phone conversation he was trying to tell me that he was over by the town pool when trying to deliver the goods earlier in the day and found my street but not my house so he went back to the store. I believe the mystery has been solved! Dang, if he was more of a clear and crisp speaker I probably would have gotten that point!

So he now proceeded to take a look at my gate and then said, “I don’t think it’s going to work, but I will get a tape measure to make sure”. He came right back, measured the gate and said, “Ce n’est pas possible, pas du tout.”

I got out my phone and proceeded to call the supervisor of the whole job to give him the bad news and to ask how he was going to fix this problem. Obviously no materials, means no work done. Guess what?? The call went straight to voice mail so I left a message for him. Then Guy said to me that the company would have to rent a small truck and go get the materials in several trips for it to work, but because it was Friday today it wouldn’t happen until Monday. He said that when the supervisor called me back to tell him to call Guy and he would explain everything about what must be done for Monday.

So we all shook hands and the man driving the truck drove away with all my materials in it. Just as Guy was driving away the supervisor of the job called so I flagged him down and handed him the phone to explain away. They conversed for a few minutes while I stood there freezing my tootsie off in the growing-ever-stronger gusts of wind. Then Guy handed me back the phone and the supervisor told me not to worry, it’s all handled for Monday. He said he was sorry about it!

Then after I hung up, Guy said they told him when ordering the materials that a big truck would work no problem. That’s true for the street and the space in my yard, but they forgot about passing through my gate! Viola!

Oh well, c’est la vie en France! In the meantime, the wind has really picked up here and our tuiles are once again singing and moving around the roof. It looks like we are in for a few days of heavy gusts again. I can’t wait until this is done and I don’t have to worry about it any longer. It seems that the rain hasn’t been our biggest problem this year, it’s been the wind! I would rather deal with the rain at this point because there isn’t a risk of it posing a threat to my neighbors. I hope the workers are able to come next week and get started. That will be a whole lot of stress off of us.

In the meantime, I had better practice my slurring of the French language. I think that’s a skill that could come in handy in the future.

By the way, for those of you not familiar with “Who’s On First”, here it is for your enjoyment. This classic is one of my all time favorites. It never gets old!


About Ready To Start

This morning two people from the company who is going to be doing our roof and façade showed up. They had scheduled the appointment with us last week and said they would be at the house around 10am today. So, being that we are in France I took that to be more like 11am.

Well, I guess these guys aren’t French cuz I got a call this morning right after 8am saying that they were on their way. They had to up the appointment to an earlier time cuz they needed to squeeze in another appointment that morning and would now be arriving chez moi before 9am. Well, I guess that meant I had to get up early now didn’t it. It was time for the mad dash since I needed to shower and clean up the dirty dishes in the sink before they were to arrive. I made the mad dash and managed to get dressed but not clean up the dishes. Oh well, the house is under construction so maybe they wouldn’t even notice.

They made this appointment so that the foreman of the job could see where he needed to put all the materials and the scaffolding. I had gone over to my neighbors’ houses on Sunday evening to let them know that work was going to be done on the house, but didn’t have a date, yet. I also had to give them both the bad news and the good news.

Wait… you need the background info first. Background is that I have three neighbors who are going to be affected by this work. See, the back exterior wall that is being worked on is actually on the property line of two of my neighbors behind me. This means that the scaffolding is going to be in their yard while the work is getting done. The neighbor to the side of me has her garden next to my wall, but the scaffolding isn’t going in her yard, it’s going on our 1st story bathroom roof, but I still have to tell her about the work in case anything falls in her yard.

So the bad news for the neighbors is that the work will take place during a two week period or longer, depending on the weather, and the scaffolding is going to be set up in their yard. The good news is that once the work is done they will have a beautiful wall to look at instead of an ugly one. I think that’s a pretty good trade off, now don’t you?

Well, to my surprise and delight, the two neighbors behind me were super okay with the whole thing! Thank goodness cuz I don’t need any more issues. One of the neighbors chatted with me about how it was no problem and the workers could even go in and out of their house if need be and wanted Dude and I to come over and have some food and wine with him and his wife. Sounds good to me, but let’s see if he feels that way after workers are at his house making messes and being loud for a couple of weeks!  The other neighbor is really old and I think he has a problem hearing, but I kept telling him what was going on and he finally seemed to get it. I hope we are all squared away cuz this morning when I flagged him down to say hello he looked at me like he had never seen me before. This might be an issue.

Oh, by the way, the “let’s have a drink” neighbor’s wife asked me if I had chosen a color for the façade and you should have seen the look on her face when I told her it was going to be bright orange. She tried to hold herself together while her face was cringing. I gave her about 5 seconds and then said I was just kidding. She was so relieved and thankful. It was a mean joke to play on someone I had just met, but I couldn’t resist. She ended up laughing about it but it was just cuz she was so grateful that I was kidding! I didn’t blame her one bit for cringing either, seeing as it would have been 3 stories of bright orange for her to look at for the rest of her life! Fate worse than death, I tell ya.

So, back to today. The two guys came over and took a good look around for where they were going to put all the materials and how they were going to do this crazy scaffolding trick. The nice neighbor who wants to have us over for drinks let them in the house and out into their garden with no problem. That was very nice of them. The other neighbor wasn’t home, though.

Before the guys departed, we had a discussion on what was to be done and how it was going to be done and then the original guy who came over way back in the beginning to give us the quote said that the materials should start to arrive this Friday and then the work will commence.

Super duper. After they left, I ran back over to our “let’s have drinks sometime” neighbor and let him know. He said great and that he would even chop down his little plants that might be in the way to avoid problems with the scaffolding. Gee, that’s a nice gesture.

I was able to get a hold of the other neighbor just as I was about to leave for work, remember the one I tried flagging down to say hello and him not remembering me. Well, I let him know the date the work was to start, too, cuz he will have to leave his garden gate unlocked in order for the workers to get in and have their scaffolding set up. He said ok and that he was going to tell his other neighbor cuz apparently they share this gate? Like, the other neighbor passes through his yard to get to their yard?! France is so weird that way.

Well, let’s hope all is good with this. At least the company has been doing what they said they would so far, so I am hopeful. I won’t be elated until it’s done and it’s perfect, though. I’m worried about the façade since it has been around -1C and -2C here the last couple of nights and when it’s really cold, cement (hence stucco) won’t cure.  I had a look at the sight (that trusty site that tells me all my weather details here in France, but isn’t very trusty since it changes every 5 seconds) anyway, there’s no rain in sight (good) and it’s suppose to stay above 1C for a while at night (good again). Well, we shall see and here’s hoping. Onward and upward til Friday and praying that my neighbors don’t change their mind and give me any issues!


The Maire Comes Through-The Prefecture Doesn’t

I had the most unexpected surprise happen to me today. Absolutely thrilling, no less.

See, today was the day for me to go and make a visit to our local Maire to see what the heck was taking so long in getting our permit to have the roof and façade done. We’ve been sitting here for a while now just waiting on them to tell us it was ok to fix our major issues which has resulted in numerous days of wind-blown tuiles and water leaking through the roof into the third story area of the house when it rains.

I had heard from my contractor last week that he had submitted all the necessary paperwork to them in the beginning of December and that he had not heard back. So this morning I spent time preparing for the worst and what I was going to say to them if the worst happened.

To my utmost and most pleasant surprise when I went to see them, the lady who takes care of the permits said that it was issued yesterday and all was good. The work could begin when the contractor was ready. She even happily took me over to the large book in the office where all the recorded permits are kept and showed me my lovely document all stamped, signed and approved by the Mayor with the beautiful city coat of arms proudly displayed on it. She explained to me everything it said (the thing was only two pages) and even made a photo copy for me to take home.

I should frame the dang thing since it’s pretty much the first French Administration paperwork that has come back with no hassles. I tell you, that is a monumental thing. These guys didn’t ask for stupid stuff, they didn’t require endless pages of meaningless words with a signature on each page of everyone and their mother, and the best part is that the permits are FREE!!! Yup, you got it. I didn’t have to pay a centime for it. Thanks goodness for small miracles.

Seems like we are one very important step closer to getting’ her done.

Now, for the “real” French Administration news. Before leaving the building I was stopped by the lady (who I happen to really like cause she’s just plain nice) who is taking care of the renewals of my family’s titre de sejour cards. Mine doesn’t need to be renewed really. It’s good for 3 years, but Dude’s is only good for one year and Tinki never got hers cuz the prefecture in Marseille lost all her paperwork.

Anyway, the nice lady said that Dude’s paperwork was ok and that the issue was with mine. Now mind you, I only went in originally to change my address, nothing more. See when you live in France and you have some sort of resident or work visa and you move, you have to inform the French Administration within 8 days of the move, so that would have been sometime in early September that we did the informing. Yes, folks, still waiting. There seems to be one issue after another that we just keep getting called back for. So guess what it was this time??!! I swear none of you guys are even going to believe it… I swear!

Drum roll please… dum da dum…. They said that they didn’t like that I was smiling in my picture and they refused it! Now I have to go and take another picture to submit to them and I can’t be smiling in it!

I told you that you wouldn’t believe it! What the heck?? Really, they didn’t like that I had a smile on my face when taking a picture! I swear, you guys, I couldn’t even make this one up if I tried. Even the nice lady had a look on her face like, “Yaaaaah….I don’t really get it”. I seriously think that this was the first time she had even heard of this excuse!

So now off to the Cabine de Photo for another round of pictures so we can finish this thing. I told the nice lady I would be back on Friday with the new pictures of me making a mad face and maybe the French Administration would finally get that this whole thing has not been amusing.

So I guess it was pretty much a 50-50 day which is better than a 100% crappy day so I can live with it.

As for now, I will stare lovingly at my permit and feel all warm and glowing tonight while I relish in the fact that something actually got accomplished in a timely manner.


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!


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