Dude and I have been taking a bit of a break when it comes to the renovation of our house. We wanted to enjoy the spring weather, save a bit of money and plus, we were just plain sick of working on the house!
It’s been a nice couple of months and we would have taken a few more weeks off but this past weekend we were forced by nature to start up the work again.
Last weekend it decided to rain every evening in our village for four evenings straight. I’m not talking a few raindrops here and there, I’m talking a torrential downpour for about 45 minutes and then it would clear out like it never happened. Then the next morning we would wake to a beautiful blue sky and sunny day. Come 7pm though, look out, the storm would show up again. It was crazy! There would be thunder, lightning and we even had hail one evening!
After the third day of this, guess what??! Our brand new roof that we just had done in February started to leak around the roof window and the leak was running down to the far edge of the house and water was seeping through one of the bedroom walls! We called out the company who did the roof and they came out on Tuesday morning to assess the damage. They are suppose to come back sometime in June to fix the leak. Good thing we didn’t paint the top floor, yet!
Another big surprise was this.
Now, I didn’t buy a house with a pool, but voila, I now had one in my yard over the weekend. Dude and I took the photos to the Maire and they are sending someone out to the house because even though part of the problem is that our lot is flat with no proper drainage, the other problem we encountered is that even if we did have proper drainage, all the water would pool high at the front gate because the city never put in a brow ditch or drainage system in the street.
So, sometime next week the service technique of our town is going to show up so they can survey the street and put in a drainage system and fix the street since it is at a higher level than our terrain. This is also a contributing factor in the water pooling. In the meantime, Dude and I are digging some trenches in the yard to put in proper drainage. That’s a job! Confession time-he is doing most of the work, I am only the helper.
Tomorrow we are off to the store to go buy drainage pipe to lie in the trenches and at least start getting the drainage system in place before the service technique shows up. The Maire said we had to show that we were in the process of fixing the area within our property line before the city will do their part.
The other thing we did on Wednesday morning was to go and visit a rock query that is near our village. Once the drainage system is in place we are going to re-gravel the garden and entire entry way to our property. We found some red marble rock and ordered 3 tons of that for the garden area and then ordered some cheaper gravel for the entry way. In all we have 10 tons of gravel coming to our house next Wednesday!
So between trench digging, laying drainage pipe and re-graveling our terrain, it’s going to be a busy week.
This evening we met our new neighbor who bought the house to us on the right. She happened to drive up as we were trench digging and I wanted to let her know that a truck was coming next week to drop the 10 tons of gravel and it was going to block her gate for a day or two. It turns out she speaks English! Apparently she was married to an Englishman so she speaks it very well. Dude and I ended up chatting with her for about an hour. She just got the keys to her house yesterday and came by to drop stuff off. She gave us the tour of the house and guess what??!! She has a crumbling fixer-upper like us! Big surprise!!! We will both be crying on each other’s shoulders throughout all the work 🙂
She also happens to be an artist and showed us a few of her paintings. She has some gorgeous ones of the region with villages off in the distance and surrounded by lavender fields. Dude and I were very impressed.
After show and tell of her house, we showed and telled ours and guess what??!! She said she almost bought our house when it was for sale! Yup! Can you believe it!! Her kids told her it was too big for one person so she declined, but she did say that she had loved it when she first saw it. 🙂
Seeing that she got her own fixer upper (one half the size) with a large garden, she made out and she can see our garden from some of her windows so she seemed happy. We told her she could come and visit any time.
Dude was super happy cuz he kept thinking that some developer would buy that house and make a huge ugly group of apartments and then we would up and die. Seems that our lives have been spared and we now have a nice neighbor, which is always a plus.
Well, time to hit the hay. I have to get to some ditch digging manana!
Well another little project chez moi was in the works. Since we have this really old and really messed up French house, our life is full of large and small projects that we try to get to when we can.
This spring has been a bit difficult. Not only do we want to get out and see the countryside during great weather times, we also need to complete some outdoorsy projects that have been put on hold during the winter. So far this spring the weather has not cooperated on most days for either of those things.
One fine day, we actually were able to get a project done that really needed to get done. That project was repairing and painting the garage doors.
Our garage doors are made of wood and they haven’t had any tender loving care for ages (like this rest of this house). The problem we were having is that all the rain was ruining the base of the door and the wood was rotting out in some areas. If we didn’t hurry up and fix and paint the garage, the wood would be no good and the doors would have to be replaced.
I did not like the idea of replacing the doors. All the exterior doors and volets on the house are made out of the exact same wood (exotic wood from Africa) and were very well made. Some one really took the time to do a nice job making them and I very much wanted to keep them. Plus, they all matched in style and it would be difficult and very expensive to try and have new ones made to match the others.
So began the project. The doors looked like this when we bought the house. As you can see, they were pretty dull and lifeless and in dire need of some work. In some areas the paint was chipping and cracked.
Dude started out with sanding the garage doors with a power sander. This took a good deal of time and he had to go over the doors several times.
While he was working on the individual boards, I took to using some sand paper to go in between the boards making sure everything was smooth. I also sanded around the nail holes to get rid of any loose or splintered paint.
Once all the sanding was done, Dude went about putting bondo on the doors to smooth out and help cover the nail holes and impurities. He also fixed one of the boards at the base of the door that was in really bad shape and had started to rot. After doing that, he went back and sanded the doors again.
Who knew he was such an artist? I believe it looks like we put a Christmas tree of bondo on the doors!
After all that, he got to work with repainting them. I had chosen a lavender color for the doors a few weeks prior to the work. Any color related to purple is my favorite color so that was a natural choice for me. I knew I didn’t want anything too dark or overpowering. I had known for a while that when it came time to paint the exterior doors and volets on the house, I wanted everything to be a nice Provencal lavender color. I am very pleased with the outcome and I think the doors turned out really well. They almost look like new doors. I really love the color and think that it suits the house nicely.
The doors are actually quite large and each step needed to be done several times in order to have the right outcome. Since it was basically Dude that did the whole job, it did take a while from start to finish.
Lucky for us, the rest of the doors and volets aren’t this big. We do, however, have one door that is in worse shape than the garage doors were and that is the side door to the apartment. The kitchen volet also needs a bit of work. Those will be a project for another day, though. For now, I will be content with my nice lavender garage doors. I really, really like the color.
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!
Yippey! Our roof is finally finished! It’s been months in the making (as all of you who are faithful readers of my ramblings know), but now I am happy to report that the workers completed the job today and it looks terrific. Now I am proud to say I have one of the newest and best looking roofs in my village 🙂
This morning the workers came to put on the finishing touches and to do all the clean up. They are in the process of picking up all the junk in my garden and taking all the trash to one of my favorite places, the dump. All the materials are slowly being moved out of the way or taken away.
They moved some of the things to the front part of our garden.
I’m not sure if the mixer will be used for the façade or not, but the other materials should be hauled away in the next day or two. The scaffolding is still up. Sometime this week, hopefully tomorrow, they should be taking it down and repositioning it around the back and east facing side of the house to start the work on the façade.
Thankfully through this whole process, we only had a few small things happen, but nothing too extreme. One was the snow day when the workers showed up for about 30 minutes and then left cuz there was no way they were gonna be able to work in the snow and cold, the second thing was when it was super windy one day and they didn’t get as much work done as they could have and they left early and the third thing was the rain that we had on Monday.
For Monday’s rain, Dude had to go up all by himself at 5:30am in the morning and put a giant tarp on the roof because when the workers left on Friday there was no real threat of rain so they left the water vapor barrier and wood all exposed on the east side. Dude was really worried that we might get a heavy rain after viewing the weather report late Sunday night so we set our alarm and he went up and covered everything. This was also in case the workers didn’t show up due to heavy rain. Then we could feel comfortable knowing that at least we weren’t going to have any leaks.
While he was up there it did start to sprinkle and there was a bit of wind that kicked in so he used the surrounding tuiles to hold the tarp down. Since he was by himself the whole thing took a little over an hour, but he was successful.
About 8:30am the workers showed up. Right about then it really started to rain pretty hard but they decided to keep working and they kept the tarp on in certain areas to protect the roof, too. We took off for work and had hopes that the rain wouldn’t get any worse and happily it only last for a little bit so the workers were able to continue.
On Tuesday, the main guys said they would most likely be finished that day and they were just going to finish cementing the outer edges and the flashing around the old chimneys and our new window.
I am really happy that we actually had workers show up each and every day and stay the whole day, too! They even only took a 1 hour lunch break!
I really wanted Dude to go up on the roof and take some super duper pictures of it, but he is not too keen on walking on the new tiles. I can understand that given that it cost us an arm and a leg each for the work. So I just peaked my head out of our new roof window and took a couple of shots of the east facing side.
Then Dude decided that he was willing to climb the scaffolding to take some shots of the west facing side. I was ever so happy about this cuz his photos are better than mine. They actually show how nice our tuiles look on a large scale!
Even though my roof looks great and it’s new, Dude and I won’t be totally impressed until we get another really good rain and no leaks happen. That will be the real test!
Well, I don’t have too much on the roof update to report about. We’ve been lucky that every day the workers have actually shown up and put in a full day’s work (maybe Peter Mayle should have contracted with these guys)! The only day this past week that there seemed to be a rough patch was on Wednesday when it got super windy and the guys left about an hour earlier than usual. The funny thing is that I wish they would have left sooner! I was really worried about them working so high up in such strong winds and gusts, especially cuz they don’t wear any safety harnesses. They muddled through, but I think that day set them back a bit cuz they weren’t able to work as fast as usual.
The rest of the week went well, though, and they are now about half way done with the east side of the roof.
We happen to have a window in the roof on the east side and Dude and I very much needed to change the existing one. So after the workers left on Friday, Dude climbed up on the roof and tore out the old window. It was a spaceship looking dome kind of thing and was actually kind of cool cuz it had this bubble hatch that was really easy to open and gave great access to the roof. It had a holder on it and you could prop the hatch open either a little or a lot depending on how much air flow you wanted that day. It was really a neat design, but it was old and leaking and just needed to be taken out.
The roof window happens to be in the bathroom so once it was removed we had to put in the new window right away. Here is the hole that was left when we removed the old one.
Fortunately for us, we found a window that happened to be the perfect fit at Point P. It isn’t the top of the line or anything, but it is double-paned (the only double-paned window in the house) and since we bought it right off the shelf at the store it was fairly inexpensive. Unfortunately all the other windows in the house are single-paned and were custom made so we are just going to leave them for now.
Dude managed to chisel out a bit of the roof and ceiling, cut some wood to fit around the chassis of the window and screw that into the roof and place the window in pretty quickly. Now when the workers come back on Monday they can just tile around it and we should be all good. This new window actually gives us some really great light. We hadn’t realized how dark the bathroom was when the other window was in. This window makes everything all light and bright. It’s a big improvement!
The other thing Dude did is cut a hole in the ceiling of the closet on the third story so we can put in a whole house ventilation system. We bought the tuile (the one that looks like it has a little house on top) a week ago in anticipation of getting the system set up. It was easier to have the tuile for the ventilation put on at the same time the rest of the tuiles are going in so we took the opportunity to give it to the workers to set it in place.
We decided to put in a ventilation system since we live in an area that has about 78% or higher humidity for at least 8 months of the year. The second and first story of the house has fairly good air circulation, but the third story is awful and that is where the mildew problems are the worst. This is the main reason why the façade is being done, as well. Right now the outside of the house on the back and east facing side has never been stucco’d. It is just rock and it soaks up the water when it rains and it permeates through the walls causing mold and mildew. That along with no proper ventilation has been really bad. When the façade and new ventilation system are both done, it should be a big help to combat this problem.
It seems that the workers have at least two more days before the roof is finished. It could be three, but in any case, if the weather remains good then they should be totally finished before the week is out. Every day gets us a day closer to getting her done. We might be a little farther away than 9 and 3/4, but I like the way that sounds (being a Harry Potter fan and all). Plus, I figure I should go with the power of positive thinking 🙂
Well, today marks the halfway point of our new roof being completed (that is what we’ve been told anyway). Since the bad weather episode on Friday we’ve been quite lucky and the workers have showed up to continue the saga. We had a bit of a scare this weekend when Dude figured out that the company wasn’t going to put a vapor barrier on top of the insulation to keep it from getting wet when it rained.
Since the main roof of the house is very high and we live in an area of excessively high winds that blow 1/3 of the year, we’ve had issues when it rains and the wind is blowing at the same time. The water has a tendency to get blown underneath the tuiles and soaks the insulation and this has been the main cause of leaks onto the ceiling. When the workers began to put the insulation down, they were just going to put the beams across it and then nail/glue the tuiles onto those beams. When Dude found out he was like, “no bueno”, they have to put a vapor barrier in. So began the weekend email-fest with the supervisor of the job.
It was a bit difficult trying to get our point across to him so we threw in a few PDFs to show the “proper” way to do it. Finally after a ton of emails and a phone call, the supervisor got our point and he said he would make it so and that on Monday morning when the workers showed up the vapor barrier would be there. I had to tell him that I was sorry for being such a pest, but what else were me and Dude supposed to do?? We have to protect our interest in the house. Why the heck pay for a new roof if it isn’t going to be done right!
Since I am not privy to any of this construction stuff, it has been up to Dude to tell me how it is (since he knows all about these kinds of things) and I’m the messenger to everyone. I feel like those ladies in the olden days who were the phone operators and you’d call them to hook you up to the party you wanted to talk to. I’m the person to hook us up with what Dude says is the right thing to do. I’m not a very good messenger, but I do try and we got our vapor barrier.
Dude is still not too happy with the roof situation and would like some other things to be done for insurance against any issues in the future, but we shall see. The owner of the company keeps assuring us that for the type of roof we have, the height of it and the fact that it is constantly exposed to high winds, that it’s being done right. I guess he will find out if we give him a call one day since we have a guaranty on the roof and if anything goes wrong his workers have to come back out for free and fix the whole dang thing.
So the last two days the team has been working on tearing off and replacing the west facing part of the roof. They said they would do the west side first and then the east side so that if it were to snow or rain we would be protected. On Monday they tore off the fiberglass covering and the old beams that we had, then they put in the new insulation and the vapor barrier. Today they are putting in the wood beams across the vapor barrier.
News to us was that the fiberglass covering that was on our roof being used as the vapor barrier for the old roof was made of asbestos. None of this was disclosed to us when we bought the house and the company who is doing the work was not prepared for that and neither were the workers. That was so not cool. Today when the owner of the company came by I asked him for documentation on all of this and I am sending it off to the notaire. This will come in handy if we need to get a lawyer involved in this situation. This is just one other thing that was not revealed to us when we bought the house. According to French law that is a big no-no and it should have been told to us. So I have to consult with someone we know to see what can be done about this.
That whole situation could have shut down our job for a bit. Luckily the company who is doing the work got a handle on it and all is good and the job continued on, but we are going to incur fee that we didn’t know about for taking it to a special hazardous materials dump. Not really feelin’ it when I have bad surprises like that.
Today the workers should finish the west side of the roof and tomorrow they should be moving onto the east side with repeating the same thing they have been doing the last two days.
The owner told me today that the whole roof should be done by Friday. That would be awesome if it’s true and I will definitely be giving an update on that. You all know what happens with best laid plans!
Here are some photos of the roof and the work that was done over the last couple of days.
I have to say that I like the color of the tiles and we will have one of the newest roofs in town!
It will be so nice when it’s done cuz with the fiberglass and tiles pulled off it’s mighty cold on the third story of our house. There’s not really anything but a small layer on the ceiling to protect us against the cold outside. In order to keep our one room that we live in a bit warmer, Dude made a paper cover/door across the access of the stairway that leads from the kitchen to the upstairs. This way we don’t get a super cold, crazy, down draft from the third story. It’s working like a charm and our kitchen is even warmer than usual. We even get to benefit form psychedelic colors in the afternoon!
Seems like we’ve managed to keep rolling along. That’s keeping me in a good mood, which is a big plus for my family 🙂
Today was just strange and full of surprises. Some times that happens around here (well, like all the time) but today random and strange stuff happened more often than usual.
It started out when I overslept this morning and missed the call from the workers who showed up to continue working on our roof. I had left my phone in another part of the house and didn’t hear their first 3 calls to me. Yes, that’s right, 3! The other mornings I’ve been up and ready and have gone outside to open the gate early for them so they can just drive right in and start to work. Well, this morning they got stuck standing outside in the cold for a bit until I woke up and remembered I didn’t have my phone. I went to the kitchen and felt super bad when it showed that I had missed their 3 calls. So guess what?? I had to go outside in my pj’s, messed up bed head and no make-up (oh the horror of it all) and go open the gate for them. Boy, did I feel bad and ridiculous! By the way I looked, the workers totally knew that I had overslept and there was no way I could play that one off. Now I gotta face those guys knowing they know the scariness of what I look like first thing in the morning!
Well after scaring the workers, I went upstairs to make coffee and breakfast and settle in to start work before heading to the office. About 30 minutes after their arrival I heard a knock on the front door. Worker number one said they were packing it in for the day cuz it was too cold and it was also forecasted to snow. He also said the roof was a bit icy and due to the weather they didn’t want to take the roof off and leave us in a bad predicament for the weekend. Then he said they would be back on Monday and off they went. All right then. So basically I got up and showed them my scary morning self for nothing.
Then while getting ready this morning I had to do a new make shift ironing area. Dude did a bit of “remodeling” in the kitchen and now the top of the washer, which used to double as my ironing board (cuz I don’t have a real one, yet) is now being used to hold the microwave. So now I have an ironing table made out of a box placed on the floor in the bathroom. System-D.
After I got ready for work, and to make me feel better after my bad start of a day, I took a walk over to La Poste. Yesterday I received a notice that I had a package waiting for me. Boy, was I thrilled to find out that it was the new 70% off shoes I had purchased online from www.zalando.fr. I just discovered this company (I’m a bit behind the times) and now I know how these French people stay in style for cheap.
I had ordered a couple of pairs of boots and never did I think that when the box showed up it was going to be half as big as me! I had to carry this thing on my head through town all the way home cuz some of our streets are so tiny that it wouldn’t work any other way. Lucky for me there was no one out (cuz it was so dang cold) to see my stupid self doing this.
The first thing Dude said to me when I walked into the house with this huge box was if I had bought out the whole store. I simply said it was my early birthday present (cuz he won’t argue that) and went on my merry way to try on my new shoes.
So here’s what I got:
I ended up wearing the brown ones to work today and later on in this writing you’ll see that they came in mighty handy so apparently their purchase and arrival was on target.
Fast forward to me being at work.
Right around 4pm it started to snow. Right around 4pm I was not happy. I love the snow, but I love it when I am home. The problem was that if the snow continued I wasn’t going to make it home. Every few minutes I kept looking out the window and it was becoming increasingly apparent that I wasn’t going to make it back to my house any time soon. Dude and I were gonna be stuck camping at the office….on a Friday night….dang it.
Off we went to Carrefour before the snow started accumulating on the road too much, to pick up some groceries for a winter picnic (since we were camping why not picnic, too). We ended up with chicken, rice, croissants and éclairs. Not too shabby.
While I was shopping to pick out the best possible éclairs I could find, some little girl (probably around 4 years old) comes skipping up right beside me and gives me the biggest grin ever. As I smiled back at her she proceeds to grab one of the largest cakes in the bakery section, the kind in a plastic container (that just happened to be right at eye level for her, stupid merchandising layout Carrefour) with both her forearms so that her little gloved hands can still wave at people I guess, and turns around to walk off with it! As I am watching this scene play out, I know my mouth just dropped wide open cuz I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I couldn’t say anything to the kid, either, cuz she wasn’t mine and how the heck was I to know if her parents said she could do that?!
Well, as she gets a few shaky steps away, I just so happen to look up and see her dad flying down the aisle towards her with that terrified look all parents make when their kid is doing something that could possibly turn into a tragedy. You guys know that feeling. Well, this poor guy already had one hand full of about 5 items and he proceeds to try to pry the cake out of his kid’s hands with his other hand before it spills on the floor. I swear I started to feel like I was watching one of those start-stop action movies when things slow down really slow for a minute and then the film speeds up for a really cool action effect. It was like the kid was in slow mo while picking up and carrying the cake, then the scene speed up really fast when the dad ran over to grab it from her. Of course, I was just standing there being the entertained spectator and totally happy that it wasn’t my kid.
The dad finally succeeds to take the cake and put it back after several attempts of nice pleading and then several attempts of threats. After that, you could hear this kid any where you were in the store. She was the one being dragged around by her dad while she continued to cry about her lost cake. It was awesome 🙂
When we left the market Dude and I discovered that it was starting to snow more so we loaded up the car and took off back to my office.
As the snow kept falling down at a faster and faster rate, Dude and I decided to bundle up and go outside to make a snowman. I was super excited cuz this was the first snowman I had ever made (remember a few writings back about me and not seeing snow fall from the sky until I was 27). So we borrowed a shovel from the underground parking lot (don’t tell) and off we went to go play in the snow (this is where my new boots came in handy cuz I normally wear tennis shoes every day and that would not have been cool for playing in the snow) and viola… here is our little dude 🙂
Isn’t he cute! I hope he stays until Monday so he can welcome to work all the people in my building.
I hope the snow stays on the trees as well, cuz I don’t think I’ve ever seen a palm tree with snow on it!
Well, time to break out those sleeping bags and blow up mattresses. I sure hope I make it home tomorrow. It won’t be much of a weekend if I have to stay held up in my office (I guess we’ll be making a little dudette snow girl if we are).
What a totally random day.
Today was day number two in the new roofing chapter of our lives (does anybody hear a soap opera tune playing in the background and are you seeing an hourglass? Hmm-Maybe that’s just me). The team that showed up yesterday showed up again today and brought a friend with them. Yessss! I like helpers!
This morning when they showed up, they brought with them some more equipment, a cement mixer, some large orange tubes, tools, etc. After unloading everything, they proceeded to do some more drilling. At this point Dude started getting antsy cuz he thought they were drilling more holes in the house to put up more scaffolding. So what does he do? He says to ME, “Go outside and see what they’re doing! I don’t want more holes in my house!” So, I went to investigate and it turns out that those plastic orange tubes they brought were for making a long tube to throw the tuiles down off the roof. They were drilling holes in them to clamp them together to make the chute. All was good. Maybe he would be able to relax now.
I pretty much thought that once they were done with getting the rest of the stuff set up, they would be done for the day since the roofing materials had not appeared, yet. See, I hadn’t taken my car out of the garage this morning in order to leave for work since yesterday one of the guys told me that it would be no problem to do so. They had put up the scaffolding in such a way that we were able to make a clean exit if need be.
So, taking that into account and the fact that no materials were still in my yard this morning, I figured that once they dropped off the rest of their equipment, I could make a clean get-a-way. Wrong, while two of the guys finished the work here, one of the guys went off down the street to get some of the roofing materials, so I was still stuck.
When worker bee number three came back, they parked the truck right in front of my garage to unload all the materials.
Then, just when I thought they were again done for the day, they proceeded to put up the chute.
Remember the orange tubes for the tuile chute? They attached the top part to the scaffolding and the bottom part to the bed of their truck. Do we have something like this in The States? I’m sure I’ve seen a regular chute made for this kind of work, but one made out of orange tubes?! I don’t think I’ve seen this before.
Here what it looks like:
Now, do you wanna guess where their truck is?? Yup, that’s right, parked in front of my garage. Since they had everything all tied down I didn’t want to tell them that I needed to leave so I just let it go and continued to work from home today. I’ve made a mental note to get my butt outta bed super early tomorrow and get my car out of the garage so I can make it to work!
After a bit of time it suspiciously got quiet outside so I thought maybe they had left and maybe the bucket tie down was just to be sure it was going to work and they had already untied it and drove away. Nope, they were just taking a lunch break. Once that break was over, wow, the racket that they made was ridiculous! Workers number one and two were up on the roof getting all the tuiles then handing them over to worker number three who was throwing them down the chute and into the bed of his truck. The sound of the tuiles hitting the truck was so loud that a few times it caused me to jump (the echo through the town must have been awesome for our neighbors). This noise continued on for about 3 hours until they finally knocked on the door and said that they were finished for the day and would be back tomorrow. They were heading to one of my favorite places, the local dump, to get rid of the old roofing material.
Once they left I took some shots of what was still remaining on the roof. As you can see, they did leave the tuiles on the ridge and the ones just below so that if it were to rain we would be protected. These are holding down the plastic cuz this is the area that leaks the most. They also left the tuiles around the side of the roof. I suppose this is to hold the fiberglass material down. What you see in the pictures is what’s left of the old cement, which is pretty much sand now, and the stuff that it’s resting on is the old fiberglass roofing material.
At least we have something up there since they said it might snow tonight. I totally can’t believe that cuz today we actually hit a high of 10C! Wow, sun was shining AND work is commencing. Day number two was pretty much a success. I really would like to keep this ball rollin’!
By the way, does scaffolding held up by three, small, stacked pieces of wood seem safe?
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!
Well, this weekend I was hearing Beyonce singing in my ears (no she didn’t really come by to say “S’up girlfriend”, although that would have super coolio). It was just that her song kept playing around in my mind. You know that one call “Upgrade Me”? You wanna know why?! Cuz over the weekend Dude and I were working on upgrading the electrical at the house.
Now, I’m sure I said before that the existing electrical throughout the house is pretty good. The electrical in the garage was probably done around the 1940’s and the electrical in the house was done around the 1970’s or 1980’s and Dude said that it was done well so we aren’t going to mess with it. What we do need, however, are some more lines run with some new plugs and switches. We need to bring the living room up to the 22nd century cuz before a week ago it had no electrical in it. Also, we are running lines to have more lights, plugs and switches in the bedrooms and also internet throughout the house.
The biggest deal ever, though, and the biggest “upgrade me” part is the new electrical panel that Dude is installing.
Remember this piece of work?
Well, now, wait for it…….wait for it…..BAM! We have this beauty!
How awesome is this?! Awesome, right?! Dude says we will have the best residential electrical in all of France. I think he just might be right.
So this past weekend this is what came to pass chez moi since it was cold, rainy and dreary outside and we needed to accomplish some more projects inside.
The panel was actually hung on the wall a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t have any lines running to it. We were still working off all the old stuff in the house. So this weekend we busted out all the neutrals, hots and grounds and put them together and ran those puppies through the flex we had put in WAYYYYYYY back in the summer when we had thought we would have already finished this project by now.
Well, the first run of wire went pretty well. We were able to get all the wire (we ran 7 circuits, which is 14 wires plus grounds) down into the flex and ran from the small electrical box in our room down into the garage and to the new electrical panel. This run is going to be for the electrical in the living room, some of the plugs, lights and switches in our room and some electrical for the kitchen.
Now our panel looks like it has just had open heart surgery with all those wires hanging out. I think when this panel is done and it has about a bazillion wires in it, I will crown him with the name of Loqutus (all your Star Trek-The Next Generation fans will get that).
Check out our make-shift wire roller. I have no idea how the electricians here run their wire! We had to invent something and even then, it was a big pain in the butt!
From the little electrical box in our room, Dude ran the wire over to the living room (remember the tracking we did last weekend) and now, Viola, we have some electrical for all our future needs.
The new main electrical panel in the garage is going to be a beast and Dude says he will have it all dialed in so that we can have the lights and the hot water tank and the heater on timers (that will be a big help since in our house we have a teenager who knows no meaning of costs savings). I swear Tinki will leave every light on in the house, turn the heat up full blast and drain the hot water tank all in one day!
After the first successful run, we decided to make another from the kitchen (starting at a new plug for the washing machine) and going to the main electrical panel. It started out with me putting a string with a piece of trash bag on the end of it into the flex run where the wires were going to go. Then Dude took the vacuum cleaner and sucked it down the hole so we had something to put the wire on to pull it back up through the flex. This bunch of neutrals, hots and grounds wasn’t as big ( 2 circuits which is 4 wires plus grounds) and the flex line was only 20mm in diameter.
Dude attached all the wires to the green line in the garage and I went up to the kitchen and pulled on the string to get the wire to go through the flex while he was down in the garage pushing the wire into the flex. All was good until we came to a nasty bend in the flex and then the wires just wouldn’t budge. I went to the garage to grab some gloves thinking this would help me in pulling the string with the wires since the green string was a bit hard to hold onto. Well, not so good an idea cuz I ended up pulling too hard and tugging the flex up and I did this
Yup, I cracked the dry wall where the plug was going to be. Boy was Dude pissed cuz now he had to cut another hole in the dry wall to relocate the plug (new plug shown in the picture just above my mess up) and then he was going to have to do a dry wall patch. Also, we had to give up running this line cuz it just wasn’t working out.
So now we had to go back to our little, blue electrical box, take it out of the wall (we just put it in last week to replace the orange one), cut the flex line and re-run it through the bedroom as a stub-out. This proved to be really arduous since it already had all these wires sticking out from the run we had just done. Taking the box out, cutting the flex and subbing out was not in the grand scheme of things. Dude was so pissed off that I thought he was gonna walk out and leave me (seriously it was bad), but then he came to his senses, realized that I was the best thing that had ever happened to him and finished the job.
With the box back on the wall, we tried it again with the little green string, the piece of trash and the vacuum and voila, it worked, second electrical run complete.
Now it was time to go and check out the new DSL/CAT 6 box to be installed, this is for internet and phone which has 10 runs and 2 main DSL lines. Dude decided that he wanted to put our internet and phone into a box (remember this one with the Rasta Flag) and have it on the garage wall. So we had to run the pipe (you know that stupid PVC junk cuz they don’t like metal pipe here) and have it go around the wall of the garage and out the back door for the telephone and internet and then come down the wall and into the box. So here is what it looked like after melting PVC with a hand-held blow torch to bend it (system-D, cuz we didn’t have a PVC blanket to do this) and smelling that delicious, blue, PVC glue.
Not bad for two people who have been sniffing glue, huh?!
And look, the lines were run for this one, too!
We are just waiting for the façade to get done (of course) before we can run the new phone line outside, but it looks so much neater than this
which is what we had before and we kept hitting it with our head when we wanted to go out the back door! Now it’s all nice and professional looking.
Now, back to the main electrical panel. Dude got all into putting in the new breakers and making it all look nice and neat. Of course, the whole time he was doing this he was complaining about the stupid French electrical.
Here was some of his complaints; why is this so small, how do they expect you to work in this thing, everything is too close together, why do they run it like this cuz it makes no sense, why do they have so many extra wires, how the heck do they expect you to fit it all in there when you have to use all this dumb car flex, there aren’t enough rungs, this parafoudre thingy is weird, why did they do the grounding this way, why when you buy the LeGrand panel do you have to pay insane prices for the accessories cuz they don’t come with the panel ( like spending 200€ for the panel and it comes with nothing and finding out you have to buy the gulottes separately, all the breakers separately, the parafoundre separately, the breaker for the parafoudre separately, the screws to screw the gulottes into the panel separately, etc….etc.. etc..
Yes, folks, my Sunday night consisted of me saying either “I don’t know” or “Cuz it’s France”. Anyway, by the end of the night last night we managed to get a fair amount done.
Now what we have is sooooooo much better than this. Don’t you think?!
If you want to see more photos of our electrical job they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.