Well, pretty much the last several days of work on our super-duper, French, country home have been taken up with trying to get the tie rods and Clee put together on the house, more framing and running the flex for the electrical, putting up insulation and then the dreaded drywall. I hate not writing, but these last few days just wouldn’t allow me any fun!
We spent an entire day and a half just drilling holes (yup-like we need more of those in this house) on either side of the third story. The tie rod is going to run next to the south facing wall in the library and in Tinki’s room with the Clee on the library side and a large bar on Tinki’s side. The walls of the house are more than two feet thick and full of cement and rock so that is the reason why it was taking so long.
Poor Dude was having the worst time with the Metabo and a 30 mm drill bit. Finally when he was able to get through the wall, the rocks were in the way and he couldn’t get the tie rod through. He just had to keep drilling away! He went back and forth from drilling, to chiseling to using the tie rod as a file, but each time he got through a little more, rocks would fall in and get wedged in the way and he would have to continue drilling. Then it would just happen all over again.
The same exact thing kept happening in Tinki’s room. For some reason we just keep getting stuck with these huge time wasting projects. Sheesh! All to save a messily 10 grand in Euros! What some of us put ourselves through just to save a buck…
By mid day on the second day, he finally broke ground and we were able to hook all three tie rods together with large couplings. Now came the really hard part. How the heck were we going to attach the Clee to the side of the house when we didn’t have a ladder tall enough and the dang thing was more than 50 lbs of dead solid weight and was made of iron?
Welcome back to “Let’s re-enact what we saw on MacGyver!” Dude ended up tying the Clee to the end of one of the metal studs we used for framing and then hanging out the third story window and moving the Clee into place over the tie rod. I was getting weak in the knees just watching because our third story window is not a safe place to be hanging out of with the dead weight of the clee (or just hanging out of at all!). One could easily get pulled right out and that is no lie, folks! He had to wedge his feet to brace himself in the frame of the window.
Now this didn’t work the first couple of times. He really had a hard time getting the Clee to hook onto the tie rod. Then once he got it on, he had to figure out how to cut the metal stud off of it so it would hang there! I took hold of the metal stud and Dude took another one and used the long, sharp edge to cut the tie that was holding it on.
Then he used the metal stud to tape his wrench to it so he could hang out the window again and screw the nut on the tie rod so the Clee would stay on. He did that while I was over on the floor turning the tie rod to tighten it down!
What a team of crazies we are! But guess what?! It worked! It was totally stupid to hang out that window and use up two whole days to do this whole project, but we save 10 000 Euros. I’m feeling a new pair of shoes and a diamond ring coming way soon…hint, hint…
After all that, Dude mixed up some cement (it totally looks like he is playing in a big pile of poo 🙂 )
and put it on the interior side of the wall to fill up the HUGE black holes that we ended up making for this and to be sure the rod was all set in place. Goooo Team!
After the near sudden death of Dude, we continued on with the framing of the library wall and the wall in Tinki’s room to hide the Clee. I am so sick of framing! I wouldn’t want to do it for a job and get paid and here I am framing for free. Something is wrong with this picture, I tell you.
Then we were onto putting insulation up (I got lucky and didn’t have to do this because I don’t have a cool enough mask and breather for it). Dude politely said. “Get the heck outta here, cuz you can’t breathe this stuff!” So, I took up his offer to go do something else and went and ate a snack (by the way-if you see these in the market,
you gotta try ’em cuz the rock-they’re called “What Aya Nuts?!” check ’em out at www.whatayanuts.com ) and then I had a nap. This construction stuff is hard work, people, and ordering him around is super tiring.
Then it was time again for drywall. Double yucky. This takes forever, too, with all the special corners and rounded edges that are on this house. Dude had to spend a great deal of time measure and making his calculations and then drawing lines on the drywall and cutting them just right. Me, I just watched mostly and as usual, handed him his tools. Why change a great thing?
It took another three days to complete all of this. I’m really ready to move on especially since we now are only a week away from needing to move in. Man, our house is a total mess and we are nowhere near being finished.
Today was the day we really went to town with punching holes all over the dang place in this house. The house needed to be upgraded somewhat with some new electrical, phone and data lines, and Dude wanted wiring for surround sound, too. Oh why not have it all when you pretty much gotta start from scratch anyway. We needed to run everything from the garage and go up through the ceiling of the garage into the second story and keep going up to the third story.
After that, all the wiring needed to be run in the kitchen, master bedroom, library and Tinki’s room.
This meant that we drilled large holes in the ceiling of the garage which leads up to the master bedroom that now how a large hole in the floor, up through the ceiling of the master bedroom which now also has a large whole, and then finally ending up in Tinki’s room which now has a large hole in the floor, too.
After that we proceeded to run the flex line through the “hole” autoroute we just drilled for. This was no easy task since we had to get a lot of flex lines into each of the holes and we had to keep going back and forth drilling (we found more uses for that Metabo) and chiseling and making the holes wider so that we could run all the lines we needed. Everything is made out of concrete, rock and large wooden beams so this was a big pain just like all the other tasks we have had to do.
When the lines were finally ran we were able to get to work on drilling holes in the wall that separates the Master bedroom and the kitchen.
So now, besides the holes in the floors and ceilings, we have four large holes in the wall separating the two rooms so we can run the flex lines through them from the master bedroom to all the stuff in the kitchen. I sure hoped this house was going to make it through all the holes we were creating. We had enough stupid cracks in the structure already and didn’t need any more!
I was pretty confident about the floor holding (with all the glue still on them), but with the walls, I was a little unsure.
Before we could finish running the flex lines, however, we needed to go frame one wall in the kitchen. Just like the day before it was loud and noisy with the metal studs, rails and drilling. This time, though, we were prepared thanks to keeping all the tools and supplies together (you’re welcome Dude) cuz mostly that’s my job. My new name is “Gopher” cuz that’s pretty much what I do all day. Oh, and I’m the clean-up crew, as well.
I did get to drive a few screws into the framing, but it was difficult so I petered out and let Dude continue on with it. I am too much of a wimp for stuff like that. I prefer to watch him do the work while telling him how to do it. I figure I am a pure genius at that so I will stick to it as much as possible. Might as well do what you are good at, right?
Once we were done with the framing, we had to go upstairs to snap a line (look at me go with that construction lingo). We needed to know where we were going to place the large rods for hanging the clee on the side of the house to pull it together and hopefully stop the crack from getting any larger.
How we got stuck with this job is cuz Mr. Professional gave us a bid for 10 000 Euros to do it way back after we signed the “compromis”, but before we signed all the final paperwork and we were like, “Heck no!”
Dude said he could do it himself and we were not gonna spend that kind of money. Now, the reason I believed Dude could run a 12 meter long rod and tie a clee to it (and told him he had my permission to do it) is that he has been in construction longer than we have been married (which is a long time) and he can do just about anything when it comes to the construction trade even thought he has never done it before. So I said, “Go for it, Dude. I will supervise.” Remember, that’s what I’m good at.
If on the other hand, Dude had never picked up a tool in his life I would have said, “Get out your check book and pay up cuz you’d screw it all up big time”. I would have really said that to him too, cuz I am someone who just tells it like it is. If you ever meet my brother –in-law, George, just ask him. He will say it’s true cuz he always comments to me that I do that.
Anyway, there we were in the library and Tinki’s room snappin’ a line to get ready for the next big day of drilling. Dude was so worried about the huge holes he was going to put into the side of the house that he couldn’t stop talking about whether it was a good idea to do it or just leave it alone.
Between you and me, if I had to snap that line then he needs to just get over it and make the big decision. I’m the supervisor and I just tell him what to do AFTER he makes the decision. See, that’s how it works here. That way, I don’t get in trouble only he does 🙂
So after we snapped the line, guess what?? You got it! We drilled another large hole in the wall. This time it was the wall between the library and Tinki’s room cuz that was where that large 12 meter rod was going. I hoped that I wouldn’t come back the next day and the house was in ruins.
Well, another day of work was finished and we kept telling ourselves how behind schedule we were. I don’t think I want a schedule any more. It’s not working anyway……
Today was the day we were going to tackle the framing for the drywall in the master bedroom. This room was going to be the most work since we had to frame two walls, one of which has a large window.
Before beginning, however, Dude wanted to take the remaining 10 pieces of drywall that we had left in the garage the day before and take them up to the third story to get them out of the way. I was definitely not looking forward to that since the second flight of stairs is a little steeper than the first flight and the doorway is shorter, as well.
Off we went carrying each piece one at a time. This took a while. Here’s how it looked.
Now, I believe, I can call myself Wonder Woman, but only because I wonder how the heck I was able to help him get that stuff up there!
Now it was time for the framing. We got all the metal studs and the rails we needed, plus got all our tools; screws, anchors and nails, drills, the Metabo (yes-we were able to find something to use it for), measuring tape and level. One tool eluded us, though. The tin snips. I had no idea what the heck these were, but Dude told me to go and find them anyway.
“I don’t know what they look like”, I said.
“You know, TIN SNIPS”, yelling at my like that was gonna suddenly enlighten me on what the heck these were.
“Dude, I don’t know what you are talking about. You have to explain to me what they look like or how am I going to find them?”
“Oh, come on! They have yellow handles on them”.
Cool, thanks. That helps tremendously. So off I went searching for something with yellow handles. I went hunting around the tools and after what seemed like a lifetime found my little, yellow-handled tool.
“Here”, I said, “Found them”.
“Those aren’t it. Those are the wire cutters”, he said.
Dang it! I went back to the tools for some more hunting. Luckily I found another tool with yellow handles. Back upstairs I went.
“Here”, I said, “Are these it?”
“No, those are pliers”.
“Dude, can you just come look for them cuz this is gonna take too long. I seriously don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Off he went and guess what?? He couldn’t find them either! We must have looked around for those things for like two hours, no kidding. He was so pissed. The problem is that we just have stuff everywhere and it is making it really difficult to work and find things we need.
After our hunting trip that lasted FOREVER, Dude finally found the tin snips.
We started framing the outer wall of the master bedroom. On this wall we also hung some orange sheets of insulation, but needed to leave a small space between the insulation and the wall so that the wall could breathe properly. There are a lot of moisture issues with the wall.
I swear this framing business is a bunch of hog wash! I totally know what I DON”T want to do in my next life. It took us into really late in the evening before we finished and with all the loud drilling and clanging of the metal studs and rails, we probably are already on our neighbor’s hate mail list.
Framing for drywall takes entirely too much time. All the measuring of the studs and rails and walls, the drilling of every single hole to put the screws in, the anchoring of some screws, the custom cutting of the studs and rails before hanging them so they fit onto the wall, the screws that don’t work and you have to keep working at it to get them to hold the metal studs and rails together because they are not well made,
(by the way, don’t buy these screws, they’re stupid and don’t work well)
the fact that you have to be extra careful or you’re bound to cut your hands on the metal, you have to use three different drills, five different screws, two different levels, a couple of measuring tapes, pencils, markers (so you know where to drill and where you need to put all the electrical stuff later on) and on, and on, and on. By the end of the day, Dude was super frustrated cuz this was not going well. I was taking us entirely too long.
I, on the other hand, thought we were doing well and was completely oblivious to his point since I had never done this before, so I was feeling pretty good about the day. He sure was working hard to burst my bubble and bring me down to his level of feeling crappy. I was just glad that we finished the framing in the one whole room! Yaaay us!
He had a point, though, we still had a lot more to do and our moving day was getting ever so closer.
Guess what we got to look forward to the next day??? More framing. Yuck.
If you want to see more photos of our framing extravaganza , they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.
The day after no success on the glued floors, Dude and I headed over to LeRoy-Merlin. He wanted to look for some kind of magic tool to help us out. When we got there we made a beeline for the tool section (secretly I think he was super excited because we all know how much guys like the tool section of hardware stores). I swear we were there for 3 hours because he couldn’t decide what drill and bit would work the best. He was trying them all out and then going back and forth between, like, 5 of them making sure that when he picked that “just perfect one” it really was “the one”.
As with everything else in France, the items are labeled differently and the companies that are the suppliers are even different in many cases, so we never know what a decent brand is and what not to buy. Certain brands that they sell in the states, and we are familiar with, cost and arm and a leg here so we have to rule those ones out instantaneously.
That is what brought us down to the 5 we were thinking about. I tell you I was feeling like I was watching the grass grow. I got so bored that I felt like putting one of those dang drills to the temple and just going for it. I kept after him to hurry up, but he was really indecisive about what to get. He didn’t want a piece of junk that was gonna break right away, but he also didn’t want to spend a flat fortune.
In the end, he went with good ol’ Metabo. This brand was one he was familiar with and he said it had a good reputation. On the side of the box it actually has the tag line of Work. Don’t play. Hilarious, I tell you. Then he went over and grabbed the bit (that looked like a scraper) and made sure that the drill was SDS+ and had some special chuck. Yaah…., um….., ok. Whatever that means in Dude language.
We also set out to buy a shopvac cuz with all the dust and grime we were stirring up with this project we were gonna need one. Dang those things are expensive here.
Off we went to the house really excited (we really were, no lie) cuz this tool was awesome and it was gonna work great. We were optimistic on this one.
When we got to the house, we suited up and Dude got to work on the floors with the drill. He fired that thing up and it was loud! Someone from the other side of town probably thought we were doing road construction that’s how loud it was.
You know what?? I didn’t really work THAT great. It didn’t do any more damage to that dang glue than our good ol’ fashion elbow grease did! In the video below, it seems to look like we are getting some where with it, but in reality if you look at the floor around him, he still has a lot do and it just isn’t fast enough. He was actually get more done when just chiseling by hand. We need something that was just gonna melt this stuff away!
By the way, how he sounds with his mask. That’s what I kind of get to hear all the time. Sort of like what the kids on Charlie Brown hear when their teacher talks. 🙂
He kept plugging away at it for a while though, and the drill bit didn’t want to stay in the drill. Then he decided that he was gonna tape the bit onto the drill. Still wasn’t working. Then he taped a crowbar onto the bit which was taped onto the drill. He was hoping to put more pressure on the bit so it could get up underneath the glue and lift it off much easier and faster. This was also a no go. It was too hard on his hands and too slow for the liking.
After about 30 minutes, he just gave up. He figured what little he had accomplished with the drill and bit, he could have probably done the same darn thing by hand.
That dumb drill went right back into the box and into the closet.
I went to the second story stairs to do some more chiseling. I really didn’t want to use any harsh chemicals, but we we getting to that point.
Sometime later Dude came down stairs and said to me. “Will you go over to Point P and pick up some Acetone, maybe that will work.” I replied, “No can do. Point P is closed now.”
Frustration on his part had now ensued. We both were sick of these floors so I tried to look up where the nearest hardware store was to the house so I could go get some harsh chemicals.
As luck would have it, I found a Mr. Bricolage that would still be open for some time. I packed it in and headed out. The cool thing about driving all by myself is that I can totally blast my radio as loud as I want and nobody is gonna tell me I can’t. So guess what?? That is just what I did. The whole 30 minutes of country road driving that it took me to get to the store. Ahh, freedom…..
Once at the store, I found the Acetone right away (lucky for me it’s the same name in English). I called Dude and said I was successful and you know what he told me? He said, “Fine some paint thinner, too”. Dang it. I don’t know what that is in French.
So, I started reading all the harsh chemical labels and opening up the bottles to sniff the stuff. Man I was high, by the time I left that store. I’m sure I lost some brain cells that evening. The funny thing is that you can actually open the bottles. There was no safety on them! You can’t do that in the states! Nice perk of being here if your into that, though.
Through all the drug sniffing I finally found what I thought to be paint thinner. I grabbed a small bottle of that and a HUGE jug of Acetone and headed for the counter. You should have seen the look the girl gave me. It was like, “Hum, what you buying just these two items for?” I just smiled and shook my head “yes” like I was up to something (plus I must have had a goofy look on my face since I was still high from sniffing the chemicals) and I walked out the door with my treasure. Bonjournee J
When leaving I spotted the best place in the whole world to go to the bathroom, McDonald’s. Yes sir-eee bob. I pulled into the parking lot and in McDos I went. Clue to all, if you are on the road in France and need a bathroom, McDos is the place. They’re open 7 days a week, you don’t got to pay to do your business and the bathrooms are cleaned every 30 minutes (at least that’s what the sign says in there). I tend to believe it cuz they have been pretty tidy when I’ve used them.
Upon leaving, I spotted some teenagers walking out with some delicious chocolate sundaes. Ok, I’m down with that. Those fumes were still lingering and they were telling me that French fries, a coke and a chocolate sundae were calling my name. I seriously never eat that bad. I tend to avoid crappy foods as much as possible, but today I was blaming the chemicals. I bought the farm, folks. Dude and I were going “fast food” tonight. It was McDo for dinner. Boy was he gonna be surprise and you know what? I didn’t even feel guilty when I left with my sack of crap. If I was gonna be a construction worker (I was already dressed for the part –all sloppy with dirt and construction grime on me) then I was gonna eat like one today.
Back to the house I headed. So there I was in the car with McDo in the front see, my chemicals in thetrunk and I was flying down the country road blasting my music. Ahhh, what more could a construction girl want.
I should have known that my bliss was destined not to last. All of a sudden I said to myself, “What the heck is that smell? It smells a little bit like……CHEMICALS!!!!” I suddenly started to panic cuz I was afraid I was gonna blow myself up. Seriously. I envisioned body parts and fries all over this beautiful country road.
I quickly found a place to pull over to the side and opened up the trunk. Wow! Fumes galore! The bottles had fallen over and some of the chemicals had dribbled out. I grabbed both bottles and put them outside on the ground then I called Dude to let him know what happened. Do you know what that man said to me? He said, “What?!! You spilled chemicals all over the car?!! It will wreck the paint! Take them out of the car!” Nice. Thanks for caring about ME, Dude. All he was concerned about was Benoit. I could just feel the love emitting heat waves from the phone. By the way, I didn’t spill them ALL OVER the car, just the back part. Sheesh!
So, there I was hanging out for a bit on the side of the road, a lone woman with the trunk open, chemicals on the ground and eating fries. I was sure hoping no one would come by and offer me help because I wasn’t sure how I was gonna explain myself.
After about 10 or 15 minutes, the smell from the car dissipated and I was able to head home. When I made it back, Dude comes out all flustered about the car and checkin’ it out and everything. He never once as me if I was fine and if I still had some brain cells left. Yup, he’s got my back alright.
I showed him the gourmet meal I bought and we went up stairs to eat before tackling the floor again.
After McDo, we once again suited up (this time I put my mask on) and went up stairs, opened all the windows for good ventilation and proceeded with pouring the chemicals on the floor. We tried the Acetone on one side of the room and the paint thinner on the other. Then we waited a minute to see which one would work the best. The hard part was waiting since we didn’t know what to expect or how long to wait.
Then we started scraping away hoping that the glue would just melt right off and we would be home free. Nothing happened. The chemicals did absolutely NOTHING to the glue. This was impossible! How was it that Acetone and paint thinner would have no effect at all! This stuff is harsh, man! We were completely stumped at this point. We had no ideas left in us. What in the world was this glue made of?
Now we had to put our thinking caps on again. We were really tired of this by now and just wanted to move on. This glue situation was taking up all our time and we had so many other projects on our plate.
I guess it was back to LeRoy Merlin in the morning. It was time to search out another tool to help us.
I just wanted this to be over…..and I can still smell those chemicals.