I haven’t been able to write for a while and with good reason. Dude and I are at our breaking point after this past week. It has been devastating to us. The house situation has turned from bad to worse.
Here is how it has been:
On Wednesday (remember rushing home in the rain to fix the roof)once we were able to get the plastic on the house, the damage to the 3rd story stopped, but there is still damage non-the-less to the work we have already spent countless days and weeks on. The ceiling in the hallway and one of the bedrooms has water damage now and that is something new that we are going to have to repair in addition to everything else. To top it off, the torrential storms that we have been having has caused a lot more damage to date. Now the window in Tinki’s room is leaking and we just made a new wall there, so that will have to be redone.
On Thursday morning we awoke to water being everywhere in large pools on the floor in the one room that we are living in. It’s coming from the second story roof (which we have no access to) and we can’t cover it at all. As a result, we have towels and buckets everywhere to catch the water. It is also coming through a large crack in the side wall of this room and pretty much the whole wall is soaked with water. The back part of this room, which is connected to our bedroom wall, is leaking also which means all the work we did in there will be destroyed, as well. That room took weeks upon weeks to fix in the first place. It has also been dripping on two old and heavy pieces of furniture that are impossible to move so we have just put a bucket on top of them. We are now going to have to knock down the main wall that is leaking and rebuild it.
On Friday evening we went downstairs in the apartment, which is housing every belonging we own while the main house is being remodeled (it has boxes and furniture from floor to ceiling) and found that due to all the rain, the toilet had been backing up for a while and there was sewage and water all over the bathroom floor and in the bedroom. As a result of this, some of our furniture was damaged and so are the walls and bathroom floor and because the whole house is connected on one line, we have not been able to use any of the bathrooms in the main house. This means that we haven’t been able to use any sink, toilet or shower since Friday night. We’ve had to be very inventive on going to the bathroom since we can’t flush and on getting clean since we can’t use the shower. Dude and I have tried to snake the drains and use chemicals but nothing has worked. We even went outside and dug up some of the pipe in the yard and drilled holes in it to see if we could find the issue and snake it. Were we could dig up the pipe, we found that the issue wasn’t there which means that it runs along the house under our nice concrete slab or under the ground in our neighbor’s yard. Due to the severity of the problem and where the problem potentially lies, we haven’t been able to fix the issue so we are still without a bathroom as I am writing.
The other unfortunate thing was that on Friday night when I went to get the pipe snake and chemicals, it was raining very hard. When I got home Dude needed my help quickly and when I drove up to the gate he had me roll down the window so he could tell me where he wanted me to park the car so we could work on the drain. It was pouring and in my haste to help I left the car window down. Five hours later when I went to move the car into the driveway and then the garage, I found the inside of the car to be flooded with water.
We had to get what little towels we had left (since most are on the floor upstairs where the leaks are) and dry out the car as much as possible and then we left the doors open and the windows down and a fan blowing directly on it to dry it out as fast as possible. Before going to bed that night I found that the back window didn’t roll up any longer cuz the motor for it was soaked. The next morning when I went down to try it, though, it had dried out and was working. Wow, one thing gone right, at least.
This morning we had the agent who sold us the house come over and we showed him the problem. He is having a plumber come out, but I haven’t been able to find out when that will be. Dude and I are worried that it could be a really big issue and we might have to redo the main line which will cost a ton of money that we don’t have.
Then Saturday morning came around and we had some severe electrical storms in the area. A lightning bolt hit a line not far from us and we lost power for a bit. It ended up blowing the breaker. When we were able to get power back we found that it fried our cable box and since Saturday we have had no television, no phones and no internet (hence no posts).
Our area has had substantial flooding and some of it is in our yard. We can’t seem to get the water flowing away from the house so as not to cause more damage. We have been out in the rain for days just trenching the yard to get the water to move out into the street. There were a few times that the lightning was so bad that I ran back in the house because it was just too close. There are also many roads that have been closed and it looks like the surrounding valleys are giant pools.
So our weekend has done Dude and me in. We just sat around in the dark, with no phone, no internet, no television, no bathroom and leaks dripping everywhere around us.
Normally I have something sarcastic or funny to insert, but this time, I don’t. This has really taken its toll on us and to be quite honest it’s hard to get up in the morning and yet, I have to cuz I have to go to work. We feel overwhelmed and just can’t seem to get done any project on this house. We still have no floors and no kitchen and are so far from ever accomplishing that part of the whole remodel that I fear it will never happen.
I am not mad about buying the house (Dude has terrible regrets now). I am, however, angry at the old owners because we asked them to be upfront about the work that needed to be done so we could budget for it and make sure we did it in the right order. If they would have been honest with us about the severity of the roof, we would have done that first off. After all, we acquired the house at the end of July and we weren’t even living in it for the whole month of August not to mention that September and October were gorgeous here. We would have had plenty of time to fix the roof and not be worried about making it through the winter and how we are going to fix it when it won’t stop raining long enough to do so (it seems that we have several more days of lightning storms, high winds, and rain in our area). We also wouldn’t be pissed about all the work we have done so far getting ruined and it costing us more time and money.
Every day we are afraid that something else terrible will happen and we just don’t have the money or energy to fix it. Both of us are really depressed. This is really wearing on us mentally and emotionally.
Tonight we are spending the night at my office. Even thought we have to camp on the floor, it’s at least dry and warm and we have a bathroom and internet.
I tried to call SFR tonight get my new cable box and after being on the phone with them for 1 hour, I accomplished nothing. The guy said someone would call me back within 48 hours and for what, I don’t know. I explained to him that it was fried and just to send me a new one, but no, he had to give me the run around as usual. Now it will probably be another 2 to 3 weeks before we can have our phone, internet and television back.
To top it off, the French administration told me on Thursday that I have to redo all my immigration paperwork simply because I moved to a new department. Whatever. I didn’t even have the energy to argue with her.
I am afraid to see what this week has in store for us.
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.
Instead of writing about our first day in the new house. I decided to show you.
I’m glad I have some camping experience in my background!
I have a feeling we will be living like this for a while.
Day number 3 out at the house was day number 1 for moving all the rest of the furniture (that we were keeping) down from the third story and out of the kitchen and putting it in the living room. The living room/terrace is the one room in the house that needs minimal work. By that, I mean, a good cleaning and paint. Since it is not in need of too much repair we will most likely get to it after we move in. So for now, it is a storage room.
So Dude and I set out to move this ridiculously heavy antique furniture. We were quickly bummed out, though. We realized that most of it had been infested with wood worm. These little guys aren’t gonna to bother us humans, but in doing some quick research, we found that they are devastating to wood furniture and they are especially partial to antiques. Now we had to decide what to do. I desperately wanted to keep the stuff since it was super nice, but we needed to isolate it and treat it.
We began by inspecting each piece and if there were troubling signs we took the piece down to the apartment which Dude now refers to it as “the isolation room”. If the furniture looked fine, then we put it out onto the terrace. Inspecting the pieces, taking them apart (ie..drawers, doors and marble tops) so they wouldn’t be so dang heavy and then moving them, took the majority of the day. You definitely don’t realized how much work moving furniture is until you are only 2 people doing it. We could have busted that out in about 2 hours had we had a gang of movers with us!
Once all the pieces were moved and /or isolated, Dude set out to rip out the carpet on the third story and I set out to take of the wallpaper in the kitchen.
Of course, we found more problems. Dude found out that the bozos that put the carpet in decided that they were gonna use all the glue that the world had to offer and glue every bit of it to the concrete floors. It was a disaster. The glue was everywhere and in thick layers. They had actually put it down with a trowel! Good grief, these people want this carpet to last until Buck Rodgers came into town!
Meanwhile, I was having the same issue with the wallpaper in the kitchen. I think the same bozos were hired to put it up because they glued it to the walls without prepping them! This meant that I could only peel off the top layer and it left the bottom layer still stuck to the walls.
Going back to Dude, he was upstairs just frustrated because of the amount of work it was going to take to get the glue up. In his frustration he was cussin’ up a storm and throwing the really gross (not taken care of for 40 years) carpet out the third story window. As you can tell by now, we like pitching stuff out the window. Great stress relief, in case you want to try it!
He then comes down stairs and sees that not only will we have to scrape glue of the floors, but do the same thing to the walls. We were looking at DAYS worth of work.
Unfortunately, we also found out that these glue-happy guys had carpeted the master bedroom on the second floor, too, and they had wall papered the hallway and all the way down the stairs to the main floor. Dang I hate glue!
Because the bugged furniture moving had taken so much time, and the issues with the carpet and wallpaper, it had gotten late and we needed to pack it in for the night.
Tomorrow we would have to tackle how we were gonna get all the gunk off. When getting home we had to figure out what product to buy in GALLONS to get rid of our nasty wood worms.
Welcome to renovations in Provence. I think I should have read Peter Maylee a few more times. Like I said, stupid Americans…..
If you want to see more photos of Day 1 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.