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Our Grand Design in Montemboeuf, Charente, France


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Time to meet the builders, Part two! Le temps de rencontrer les constructeurs, la deuxième partie!

Not sure I can lend a hand on this!

Not sure I can lend a hand on this!

So we’re off! All three of us this time (Molly Tom and I) are off to Montemboeuf soon to meet the builders and the timber frame companies.  We have had most of the quotes back, so we have just been going through them to work out where we can make savings and if there is anything we need to add and/or remove from them.  The companies that Tom has met all seem really keen and are also full of ideas as to how we can make it a Passivhaus or as close to that as possible.   They have all been very helpful and I ma excited to meet them.  This is quite an important trip because at the end of it, we will have probably chosen our builders and timber frame company and will be ready to employ one of them.  This then makes the whole thing very real, but also very exciting.  I know Tom’s French is already up to it, but as I have said before, I think I am going to have to gem up on a few important building terms for when we start on site! Passe-moi le marteau s’il vous plaît (par exemple)

We have also heard back about our étude de sol (soil survey). They told us what I, the local farmer and a few others already knew, the soils isn’t clay, but loam. It is fine for building on, i.e. no complicated foundations needed, and is great for growing plants, fruit & veg etc.  Ideal for my lovely brother-on-law, Al who will hopefully be doing our landscape plans.  We did buy our land from the owner of Pépinières Charentaises,  so we hope that the land is fertile!

Watch this space, we’ll let you know how we get on…..

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Time to meet the builders! Le temps de rencontrer les constructeurs!

Section showing potential construction of building

Section showing potential construction of building

February was a great month, we received our permis de construire and our gorgeous baby girl, Molly was born! In between changing nappies I took some time to research for timber frame contractors and draw up a set of tender drawings. This resulted in a two day trip at the beginning of April to meet them as well as two general builders, and a civil engineer. The civil engineer is going to do an étude de sol (soil survey) which will tell us what the ground is like, therefore what type of foundations we will need. The general builders will do the groundworks, the drainage and the foundations. Then the timber frame contractors will do the walls, roof, doors, windows and cladding. This should leave us with a watertight but rather empty shell to start the internals.

The étude de sol is due to take place at the end of April. It involves digging a 3m hole in to the ground with a potentially large and scary looking machine.  Possibly something like the one below.

etude de sol machine

etude de sol machine

Anyway, fingers crossed that the soil isn’t too unstable so that we don’t require massive foundations!  All being well we will have the results before we go out again in May so that we can (hopefully) finalise costs with the builders and the timber frame companies.