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A Bit Behind

To all my blogging friends out there, I have to say that I am a bit behind.

These last few weeks have been a real struggle at work. I’ve had several projects on my plate to complete and I found out last Friday that I acquired a few more. This, coupled with another issue Dude just found with our house, has made it a whirl wind end of June.

I apologize to those out there whose blogs I read and comment on religiously. I have not forgotten about you or left you by the way side, I promise. I’m just a bit behind and hope to catch up soon, like by the end of the week!  I’ve managed to write a few posts of my own, but even that has been a struggle to find time to do. Last weekend I vowed to take it easy and just run around and see the sites. It was a much needed rest from the past weeks for me.

Now that summer is here, Dude and I were hoping to start on the bathroom remodel, but the house has other plans for us. About a week ago, Dude was doing some work in the kitchen and he found a large crack in the floor tiles that extends about half the width of the kitchen. Apparently one of the beams in the garage that is supporting the kitchen floor is giving way and now it needs to be reinforced.

He said there was a couple of ways to do it and one would be to take out the existing beam and replace it. On any other house I would be fine with that but this is one of the original beams of the house that was put in around 1776, so that would be a big NO in my book to replace.

The other idea was to reinforce the wooden beam with a metal I-beam. It would run alongside the wooden beam and then down either side of the garage. I think we will probably go with that idea, but now Dude has to start another search project for what we need, and how it’s going to be done. It also requires welding equipment which we don’t have. It’s still an idea in the works and he isn’t quite sure how it’s all going to come together but it’s something that needs to be resolved quickly. The tile in the kitchen is super nice and it will end up getting ruined since the one side of the floor has moved and actually sinks in a bit. It isn’t too bad, yet, but it will be very soon.

So there you have it. Work and house taking priority!  I still have visions of one day waking up, the house is done, and all I need to worry about is what village I’m going to sight-see in that day! It better be coming soon, but soon is probably next year 🙂

Oh, by the way, little creatures have started to visit us for the summer. We have suddenly found scorpions and centipedes in the house! That’s always nice, isn’t it??!!

This little guy wondered in one evening. His funeral was that same night.

Saturday Kind Of Sucked

Yesterday we went looking for a new bathroom window. As usual it took practically all afternoon just to try to accomplish one thing. I swear France is the only country this happens in and I know I’m not making it up since I hear complaints about this ALL the time!

It started out with trying to visit a window and shutter store. I had seen the store off the auto route one day and logged it away for future reference. Since we have an old house, Dude and I are pretty much thinking that it might be hard to get a standard size window off the shelf from LeRoy’s or Castorama so I had wanted a backup just in case.

First thing in the morning we just dawdled around when getting ready (we tend to do that on Saturday just to feel like we got some relaxation time in, plus we are a bit burned out). Then we took off for the store. I had tried to look it up before we left, but couldn’t find it online. Since I knew exactly where it was we took off anyway. We made it there only to discover that the store isn’t open on Saturdays. What the heck is with France and their idea of goods and services. There we were right in front of this enormous store (and I mean it was huge) and it was closed…..on a Saturday. N’importe quoi!! How the heck is anybody supposed to get stuff done around here when nothing is ever open and when it is, they close so dang early that you can’t get enough time in after work?! Therefore, you got to go to the few places that are open on Saturday and you end up being there forever and a day cuz everyone else in France is there too trying to get something accomplished since they have the same problem of never being able to get something done. Yes, that’s another gripe.

Well, Dude and I headed off towards LeRoy’s to see if we could get some idea of how we were going to get this window. The one window we are most concerned about right now is on the first storey. The existing one has a round vent in it that broke a long time ago and now is stuck in the open position. As a result it is sucking in the cold air from the outside and causing the house to be really trapping the cold air.

We still only have one small portable heating unit and it’s in one room so we are trying to keep the house as “air tight” and warm as possible. This particular window is contributing to the issue of us loosing heat all the time. Right now, Dude has covered it up with tin foil and a band to hold it on, but that is not too ascetically pleasing.

The issue with this particular window, though, is that when you measure the window frame from the inside it is 80cm, but when you measure the window on the outside it is 73cm. This is due to the way they stuccoed the house. So it’s sort of an issue in trying to find the best size to put in the space.

Also, we have kind of decided that since we have not yet painted or put the floors in, it might be a good idea to redo this one bathroom and get all the dirty work out of the way before we move forward with the finish work. This way we aren’t ripping the bathroom apart and working around newly painted walls and tiled floors.

Once we made it to LeRoy, we were greeted with the other bazillion people trying to get something done on a Saturday. We headed over to the windows and Dude took some measurements, but nothing was the right fit. We then head to the customer service counter and we did have some luck in the fact that we found someone who spoke really good English to explain our little window issue. He was very helpful and asked us all kinds of questions and Dude was able to tell him what the situation was. Unfortunately, they said the window would have to be special ordered to the tune of nearly 400 Euros. Just one window at 400 Euros! Who the heck in France has the money for this outrageous prices they charge! On top of the fact that it would take 5-6 weeks to get it (of course it will, this is France). So we told the guy there that we needed to go back and really verify the measurements cuz if we did end up ordering this thing and it didn’t  work, then we would have waited 5-6 weeks for nothing and spent 400 Euros for nothing and be right back to square one. Also this is going to hold up our bathroom job and now our house is still going to be left in the unfinished mode. All because of one stupid window! Dude is going to go back to the drawing board and double check everything (but in theory he does that anyway so I know his measurements are most likely spot on). Then we will make another stab at it.

After LeRoy’s we headed over to IKEA (yes-I broke down and went, but just for a looksee). I was pleasantly surprised that they had some free standing items that we could consider for the kitchen. They were actually made of real wood and had a more classique/traditional look which is what I would really like. We took measurements of everything we liked and tried to see if we could somehow mix and match to get things to fit. Unfortunately, nothing they had would fit into the spaces we have. The big issue with our kitchen is that the whole thing is a shell with the exception of the sink. The old owners put in a sink (that is quite big and rather nice), but they built it into the kitchen with a specially made cabinet and some concrete. We are trying very hard to work around this because if not, we have to do more tear-out. I really don’t want to do this cuz then we just have to go back and repair and this is continuously putting us behind in the remodel process. Another thing is that there are all these doors in the kitchen to protect the house against the cold. Working around these has been a bit of a pain, as well. It limits what you can put where.

So basically we ran around all day trying to get to the next step and came home with nothing except two light bulbs. This doesn’t really make for a fun time.

I have to be honest and say that Dude and I have hit a wall of depression on this. Not because of the house itself, but because in France it’s so difficult to get anything done and what you can manage to do just costs too much. Inflating prices (for crappy materials) and the fact that you just can’t get stuff you need to work is really taking its toll on us. I am starting to think that we will be in just one room for a long time. The problem with our one room is that it’s the only one in the house not insulated against the cold.

French Wiring Makes No Sense To Me

I found out today that I don’t like running flex. I already said I hated to hang drywall studs and rails, well I hate flex, too. They have the dumbest stuff here. Everything electrical is run on this stuff that you would put only in your car in the states. What’s more, you can’t pull it through the studs because it gets stuck! We spent so much time finishing up the master bedroom and kitchen that the day was passing us by. Dude and I still hadn’t had time to figure out what we were going to do with the kitchen.

See, all our cabinets are going to be put in later, after we move in, but in order to run the electrical you have to plan out what you want so you have all the lights, plugs and switches in the right areas. I’m having a huge issue with the kitchen because I absolutely HATE everything that France is throwing at me in the way of cabinetry. It’s all this modern junk that just won’t work in my ancient style house. I definitely want to be modernized, but I don’t want it to LOOK all modernized. This is a problem and Dude keeps harping at me to hurry up and figure it out.

Well, I told him that I knew what I DIDN’T want, did that help? He said, “No!” So he ran the all the lines according to what he thought is should be and I guess we will just have to work around it and find something that will work for us. I can do that……I think.

Once the flex was all run in both the master bedroom and the kitchen we got to run the phone lines. So now I felt all professional and stuff. I was really getting my construction on these past few weeks and learning a lot. I had no problem with the learning aspect. The problem that both Dude and I were having was that everything we did was taking too long. We had to do things and then REDO them a bunch of times because some of the materials were just crap, some of the things we wanted just weren’t working out and of course, there was only the two of us. If Extreme Home Makeover were here, they could have busted this job out in no time. Unfortunately, they aren’t in France. We just had to keep making do.

The phone wires had to be fished through the two rooms and then all the way through one of the flex lines down into the garage and across the ceiling of the garage to the other side where the main panel was going to be. What a pain! Luckily Dude has this awesome item called Fish Tape.

This thing is the bomb and he brought it from the states. They don’t have it here. Tant pis for the French, seriously. He was able to put the Fish Tape into the end of the flex and send it all the way up the “autoroute” to the master bedroom. This is where he attached all the phone wires. While he was in the master bedroom, I was in the garage pulling on the Fish Tape which was bringing all the wires down to me. This worked like a dream and there is no way we would have gotten those phone wires through that stupid little flex they have here without it. Thank goodness for some great inventions and Dude’s insight to bringing it with us!

Next was the hanging the drywall in the kitchen. This went okay, the problem came after we hung the drywall. With the wall closed up, we couldn’t see where we placed all the flex for the electrical. They have the stupidest system here! They don’t have electrical boxes that hang on the studs and then you run everything and THEN you hang the drywall. Oh…NO…. They do it all backwards and crazy. First you run the flex, then you close up the walls with drywall, then you have to play hide and go seek to find your flex runs, then you guess where the holes for the boxes are going to be, then you cut the holes in the drywall and hope you found the right spot (cuz that’s where the boxes sit-not screwed down to the studs like they should be!), then you have to try and find your flex lines to put them in the boxes and then you run your wire.

Now I am not an electrician, but this is the stupidest, time wasting, piece of junk that I have ever heard! It’s all backwards. Luckily for us, Dude told me to take pictures of the wall before we covered it with drywall or we would have never remembered where we ran the lines! How lame is that??? What would we have done if I was not so snap happy???!! We would have had to tear out all the drywall, is what we would have done. Then Dude and I would have been in the paper the next day cuz we would have jumped from our third story window out of total frustration for the construction stupidity that goes on here.

Well, thanks to my photos, we figured out where to cut the holes for the electrical boxes, but then we still had to fish around blindly to find the flex to put into the box! Another problem… the holes for the boxes were so small that we couldn’t get our hands in them to find our flex! Dude was sooooooo pissed by now, cuz he is an electrician by trade and knows how it should be to make life easy and the job to flow, and this was not the way. We were battling with another time wasting issue. Also, you can’t cut the holes in the drywall any bigger to reach your hand in them cuz then your stupid little box won’t fit! Ahhhhhhhh!

So now because we couldn’t find our flex lines we had to invent a tool to drop into the holes to grab the flex and pull it out. Then when going to put the flex into these rinky dink boxes, there was no way for the flex to stay put. It just hangs in there ready to fall out of the box at any moment! There is no such thing here as flex connectors to keep it in! That is a safety hazard right there, folks. If my house was made out of wood, every night my prayers would start with, “Dear Lord, please don’t let the flex fall out of the electrical boxes and catch this house on fire…..” I am dead serious about that, too.

So, once again, after using what we learned from MacGyver and wasting away more hours, we finally finished the ONE wall we had to do in the kitchen.

All the while, I am hearing Father Time ticking away and now we have only two weeks before the big moving day and a house that is nowhere near being finished 😦

If you want to see the photos of our house renovation , they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.

Day Two of Punishment

The second day of the remodel turned out to be harder than the first one. We started by assessing the house and deciding what to tackle first, the glue on the floor or the glue and paper on the wall.

In the end, we decided it was gonna be to get the glue up off of the floor. Dude said it would be best to just start scraping it, so he set out to do just that. He sported his knee pads, his goggles and his breather and got to work using a crowbar. Check out my man at work.

After a couple of hours of this, it was just not happening. The glue was too stubborn to be scraped up. We had done some research the night before (just in case) and found that pouring boiling water over the glue would help break it up and we would then be able to scrape it off easier. Well, in any case, the person said it has worked for them, might as well give it a go, ourselves.

Luckily for us, the owners left their old stove (which we hadn’t tossed out the window yet) so I set to boiling some water.  We got some towels, I put on my own mask (which is not nearly as cool as Dude’s), and I found another scraper so I could “try” and be of some assistance.

I brought up the boiling water and Dude started pouring. We let it soak in so that it would possibly break apart the glue particles and we could just run the scraper over it and viola, easy as pie. Right?? That was a big, fat, WRONG! It didn’t work in the least bit. The water just ran right over the top and then dried up, cuz it’s so dang hot here. Even with a little wetness on the glue it wasn’t any easier to get up.

We then decided that this was maybe glue that liked cold water instead. I went back downstairs and filled a bucket with cold water and we tried that. No go, as well. Apparently this glue doesn’t like any type of water. We now had to think of something else. Dude decided that we would go by LeRoy-Merlin the next day and try to find something there that would help us out. In any case, we were out of commission with the floors today so we moved onto the kitchen and the removal of the glue and paper on the walls. With this, Dude is a bit of an expert because he actually has done this before. I had him do a little Tool Time video to tell you guys all about it. Look what a natural he is. Tim Allen’s got nothing on you babe 🙂

Guess what?? We got right to it and it actually worked. I knew I had that man around for a reason 🙂 The outside wall that Dude started on was the hardest. I don’t know if it is because it is an exterior wall and with the sun beating on it all day the glue adhered to his better or not, but it took a great deal of time to get that one done. The inner walls seemed to go much quicker and I got to the point of being able to peel large strips of the paper of after wetting it and then Dude came by with the scraper and finished it off. We were able to finish ¾ of the kitchen that day, which was more than I thought we would.

Dude said he thought that we would have finished the whole kitchen so he was a little disappointed. I told him that he would have been in a better mood if he thought like me!

So we packed it in for the night and made plans to head to LeRoy’s in the morning. Next day’s objective: to finish the kitchen walls and get that dang glue off the floor.

If you want to see more photos of Day 2 remodel, they appear on Flickr in the set named “Moving and Renovation of the New House”. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Recent Pictures.

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