lespetitesgarennes

Our Grand Design in Montemboeuf, Charente, France


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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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Somebody paints the wall – Quelqu’un peind le mur

Sanding man

Sanding man

As the wall was going up on the outside, on the inside work started on the painting the walls on the inside.  First things first, the whole are had to be sanded to make the surface ready to paint.  The poor chap above was given this task and it looks like he did it on a very warm day. Luckily he still seemed to have a smile on his face!

I will not post lots of photos of paint drying, but it is an important step in the build process, so in needed blogging about!  We still haven’t quite decided on all the colours, but we are getting there. We even roped in our neighbours and lodger to help us choose our colours, but we only got as far as the grey and orange!  We do not have that long to decide because our decorator needs to order the paint from the UK. Paint colours are quite important for the feel and look of the house, so although we don’t have long, ew can’t rush these things either….

The thing about finding songs to match the title of the blog post, or vise versa is that you come across some crackers (and some not so much).  I will leave you to decide which this is.

Take it away Tracy


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Hello walls – Salut les murs

The wall is complete!

The wall is complete!

The wall is complete, and doesn’t it look great!  We are so pleased with how it looks, and I think our mason, Stuart is rather proud of himself as well.  All it needs now is a bit of lavender, landscaping and lighting and it will be perfect.  When the sun is shining on it, that creamy stone is going to look fantastic.  It really has been a labour of love for Stuart and you can see that in the details around the doors and windows.

I think that the stone wall really adds something to Tom’s design and while I think that if we had clad the whole building in timber it would have also looked great, this wall adds a whole new dimension.

The wall and timber cladding

The wall and timber cladding

The wall also extends to the pergola, which will make the area in to a really lovely, warm and sunny spot.  I can’t wait to get over there an see it.  I am also not sure we’ll be able to resist sitting on the pergola with something cold and delicious – even if we are surrounded by building equipment.

Hello Faron Young!  (I tried very hard to find something other than Pink Floyd, and I manged, just)


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Wonderwall – Le mur formidable

SLM building the wall cladding

SLM building the wall cladding

Last weekend, Tom took a trip to Montemboeuf to catch up with our builders who were all kind enough to meet him at the weekend.  He managed to sort quite a few problems out, so it was a good job that he went.  Unfortunately, these problems have resulted in more costs for us.  This is a pain and does mean budgets will have to be reduced elsewhere, but this is all part of the building process.  Still, at least now it is all resolved and we do not have to worry about the painting or the kitchen installation. It just goes to show what a difference being on site makes and if we could have been, I think we would both liked to have been there for the whole build.

We also have a date for our kitchen delivery, whoop whoop.  Luckily, it should be delivered and installed by the time Tom next goes out there in July.

SLM Construction also started on our external wall cladding.  I was slightly skeptical of this idea especially when I saw how lovely the timber cladding looked.  I have always loved the colour of this stone, so I was happy for it to be used, I just wasn’t sure how it would work with the timber.  Now that the wall has started, I think it looks amazing and I don’t know why I ever had any reservations. I should by now trust Tom with his design ideas.  You would think I would have learnt to after all this time.  I must take heed when he tells me his new thoughts for our interiors!

In other good news, the sheep are back!  The farmer has kindly erected a fence around our new hedge so that they don’t go nibbling on that.  From what Tom told me we really need them on site because everything has been growing really well – including the hedge and the newly planted trees. I wonder if Jeff (le fermier) will give us one of his sheep?!

Well it had to be didn’t it?  Take it away Liam…


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How do like your Agilia in the morning? – Comment prenez vous votre Agilia le matin?

LaFarge truck arrives on site

LaFarge truck arrives on site

On a dark early morning in late November, two big white whirring trucks turned up on our site.  Finally the time had arrived to lay our concrete slab!  This was such an exciting moment in the build process and neither of us can wait to see it.  Our builders have done a fantastic job throughout the build and have always kept us informed with photos and now a video!  The finish is so smooth it looks like water.  It is probably a good job i’m not there because wet concrete is s bit like ‘a moth to a flame’ and i’d be very tempted to write my name.  I don’t think Tom or our future guests would be too impressed because it is likely that (all be it with a resin on top) that this will be out floor finish.

Below is a video that Stuart our builder took of the concrete being poured.

To the right of the video you will have seen a big hole in the ground.  Don’t worry, we haven’t missed a bit, this is where our pergola/terrace structure will sit, and where will will eat cheese, drink wine and look at the view!  Seeing the guys smoothing out the slab, you can see how amazing this Agilia is.

Our foundations are now complete a great achievement with no problems, we are now ready for our timber frame.  We also managed to avoid the classic Grand Designs mishap of spending all our money just to get out of the ground.  Now where’s that bathroom and kitchen catalogue…..

 


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Insulation, I love you – isolation, je t’aime

Insulation, polythene film and service pipes

Insulation, polythene film and service pipes

First of all, apologies for the slightly tenuous title of this post, but I used it because I thought that it would be a good excuse to post the song at the end of this entry – enjoy!

Since we last wrote our builders have put down a wire mesh, which will to help reinforce the slab, some (plenty) insulation and finally a layer of polythene film.  The polythene film has been put down to keep the concrete slab and the insulation apart to allow movement between the two.  You can see the design of this as a cross-section in a previous post.

To make this house as energy efficient as possible, Tom has designed in quite a lot of insulation, both in the floor and the walls.  This means that the house will not need to have any central heating. We will have a poêle à bois for when the weather gets cold and because they are a warming addition to the living room.  This should be all we need! Also, as mentioned earlier, the use of the concrete slab will help with the thermal mass of the house.

The next stage of the process will to lay the concrete slab. We hope that this will be complete by the end of next week. Although, continuing with our obsession with the weather, it looks set to turn over the next few days. Thank heavens for Agilia concrete!

The song

As promised here is that song I wanted to add – if you can think of a better title using Insulation, please let me know.


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u-block the sunshine of my life – u-block le soleil de ma vie

Foundations looking east

Foundations looking east

Did you ever see such a beautiful set of foundations?  What to some may be just a load of concrete and concrete blocks to us it is the very foundation of our house – literally! As you can see things are still moving quickly on site and the foundations are nearly finished. Our builder has placed a u-block on top of the concrete block wall to help support the timber frame. Hopefully the foundations will be finished in the next week or so.  I am really looking forward to being on site again because I think I’ll get a better impression of the scale of the build. I had thought in a previous post that I had an idea of the size of the house, but seeing these pictures, I don’t think I have.  It looks quite small to me, even though I know it isn’t!  I will have to do my ‘Grand Designs gawping’ when I get there after all.  Montemboeuf looks to still be bathing in glorious sunshine, we just hope that this great weather stays for when we head out there and for when the timber frame starts to go up at the end of the month.

Tintin update – I haven’t got much further with my attempt to read Tintin in French – it is harder than you might think!

In honour of our last post, I couldn’t resist putting up a little video.  It is also quite appropriate here, considering the name of the band.