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Our Grand Design in Montemboeuf, Charente, France


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Lavender’s blue, lavender’s green – lavende est bleu, lavende est vert

33 North west 6pm

In early July 2016, we went over to La Maison Bois, to spend our first proper holiday there, i.e. one that didn’t involve a lot of work.  This meant that for the first time we were really able to enjoy the house and use as a holiday home.  We only had 2 weeks because our first guest were due to arrive on 16th July.  Unfortunately, there was a few bits and bobs that we needed to do to satisfy Gite de France and to get it ready for the first guests. One of the most important things was to get the entrance to the house looking more welcoming.  We started this by creating a flower bed at the front, which we then planted with lavender.  The creamy stone and lavender combination is seen throughout France, but probably because it works so well!

Tom also put up our sign a number, 11 bis is official.  The lovely blue number is a great improvement on the piece of wood that we had before.  Hopefully, it will be easier to find now as well.

Well, it just had to be didn’t? It was all about finding a decent version!

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The big event of the wooden building – Le grand rendez-vous de la construction bois

Présentation des projets du Prix Régional Construction bois 2015

Présentation des projets du Prix Régional Construction bois 2015

We have written about the organisation Futurobois a few times on this blog.  It was recommended to us but the regional Architect that we contact them to talk about our build.  The Architect also thought that they could help with suggesting a builder who could build to the specifications that Tom has designed. For those that don’t know  Futurobois is an inter-professional association of timber companies in the Poitou-Charentes region, including all firms, from logging, to architects, to sawmills, coopers and carpenters.  They also assist professionals in the responsible and sustainable development of their business, through collective or individual actions.

The also happen to hold a Regional Wood Awards which celebrates buildings made of timber that have been built over the last year. Now in its 11th Year, the event, ‘Building with wood;’ is being held on 29th January 2016 in Niort.  Tom and our builders Marandat entered the competition, but are yet to hear if they’ve been short listed.  However, the programme for the day has been released and we are chuffed to see that Tom’s building has been used on the front cover!  Even if the house is not short listed, this is great advertising, everyone who attends the conference will see his design and you can’t get much better than that!


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Almost there – Presque là

Oh Andy


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Tile be there – Carreau être là

Choosing new floor tiles

Choosing new floor tiles

Two weeks ago, Tom, Molly and I took a very quick trip to Montemboeuf to see how things were going with the build. Having not seen the house since Easter, I was expecting quite a few changes, and there certainly were.  The biggest change is of course our wall.  It completely changes the look of the house and it was so good to see Stuart’s handy work in the flesh.  I could see why he was so proud of it.  He is clearly a very talented mason.

Unfortunately, while we were there we discovered that after all the time and effort we took choosing tiles, we found out that our floor tiles were no longer being made and so we had to chose from a new set.  We narrowed it down to two, and Molly and Stuart had the deciding votes because Tom and I preferred different ones.

Stuart didn’t waste anytime in starting the work on the screed and the tiling.  Partly because, we couldn’t do anything else in the house before this was done!  The downstairs tiling in practically finished already, which means Bernard and Thromas (our electricians and plumbers) can start with the second fix!  With any luck, the tiling will be finished by the end of next week.  If all goes to plan, Tom may actually have a working kitchen and bathroom when he goes back in July.

Stuart also started work on the terrace.  it is apparently in the mid 30 degrees at the moment, very hot weather to be working outdoors. Still better that than on the roof!

On a slightly more annoying note, our doors are still not fixed. Doors and big windows always seem to be a moment of high tension in Grand Designs, and it is with us.  They went in easily enough, but now they don’t really work.  The manufacturers have been out a couple of times to try to fix the problem, but haven’t resolved it yet.  I just hope when they do come again, they fix them and don’t damage the tiling.

Oh yes Les Quatre Hautes


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The roof, the roof, the roof is on (fire), Le toit , le toit , le toit est sur ​​(le feu)

The roof is almost there!

The roof is almost there!

Well, not quite on fire thank goodness, but it is on! Finally, we can stand in the house and not get rained on. There is still a way to go with all the different layers, but it is one step closer.  There was talk of using scaffolding to get the roof on to the South side, but fortunately they found a way as it was not an expense that we wanted.  We are still hopeful that the windows will be put in by the end of the month, making the building watertight!

Tom is hoping that the carpenters will join us for a ‘Topping Out‘ ceremony  In building construction topping out is a builder’s rite traditionally held when the last beam (or its equivalent) is placed atop a structure during its erection.  According to Wikipedia (that fountain of knowledge) the practice of “topping out” a new building can be traced to an ancient Scandinavian religious rite. A tree was placed on top of a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits displaced in its construction. Long an important component of timber frame building, it migrated initially to England and Northern Europe, thence to the Americas.  Hopefully, it will be Champagne all round, well when in France….

While we were on site today, Tom even took the chance to explain to Molly the insulating properties of Pavatex.  As you can see, she was very excited.

Molly learns about Pavatex

Molly learns about Pavatex

We have also be spending a lot of time in Leroy Merlin, Cedeo and Dupont looking at bathrooms and fencing. Some big decisions need to be made over the next week and we can’t make these without seeing the type of bath, loo, taps and sinks that we will have.  As always it is hard not to get carried away! Slightly less exciting, but just as important is the dry lining and door packages.  Tom is doing his best to get me enthused about this, but compare this to choosing baths and there is no contest.

Rain is forecast for the next couple of days, so I think a trip to Ikea in Bordeaux might be on the cards.  I wonder how the French Ikea experience will compare to that of the one in Croydon?

 


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Our house, it has a crowd, there’s always something happening – Chez nous il y a beaucoup de monde, Il y a toujours quelque chose qui se passe.

Taking shape

Taking shape

Just a few photos to update you on the progress of the house.  These were taken just before Christmas.  Work is due to start on site again tomorrow.  We are expecting and hoping for a flurry of activity.


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There is a house in Montemboeuf – Il y a une Maison a Montemboeuf

 The house arrives

The house arrives as flat pack

Well almost….

Although a little delayed our house in Montemboeuf has finally started to go up.  Tom and I are both disappointed that we can not be there to see the beginning of the process as we had both been looking forward to this part of the build.  Fortunately, our timber frame company have sent us some photos of the progress – and it all seems to be happening very fast!

Our soon to be neigbours have also been kind enough to take a few as well, so at least we will have an idea as to how things are going.  Sadly we will no longer be watertight for Christmas, but at least they have made a start and when we get back in January we will see more of the house being erected.

It has been great to see Tom’s designs finally ‘in the flesh’ (almost).  I am also pleased to see that my portrait window in the bathroom made it to the cut of the final designs!  I also can’t believe how big some of the windows and doors look.  On the drawings it was hard to tell the scale of things, but seeing these images you really get the sense of how great the doors will look once finished.  We are both so eager to get out there and see it for real now.

Joyeux Noël!