Tag Archives: construction

First Act

First Act

First Act

Every play has its First Act: the part with the first signs of the story line. It unfolds what we have tasted in the Prelude. For our adventure of the Super Gîtes that First Act was today.

The previous owners started renovating the kitchen–but stopped right when they finished the ceiling. You can see the electricity points where they wanted to hang the lights. They came no further than a light bulb. That IS convenient, but not pretty. The ceiling was OK and yet we opened it, smashed it with a hammer.

I consider this to be the First Act. The demolition of what is there. All you have seen of the interior will be gone soon, coated with a thin layer of white dust. Dead electricity wires sticking out of the stone walls and no sewer to release your daily pressure. This division of the ‘show’ will reveal the death of an old house and take around one  month (I hope).

We will tear down the kitchen, the bathroom, the ceiling of chambre 2, the sewer system, the electricity plan, the walls of chambre 3, and the roof of the right wing. Then we’ll make holes in the roof of the living room. Uff! When I think about it I feel my heart pounding. The first act is a dangerous spectacle of dust and stones…debris is the magic word. It will be messy.

From the dust it will rise: the best holiday home you can imagine. 🙂

And the kitchen ceiling? We know now it can contain the extraction hood.

You can see what’s there now here and what will be there then there.

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Glasshouse

glasshouse |ˈglasˌhous| noun [Brit.]

a greenhouse, |ˈgrēnˌhous|, a glass building in which plants are grown that need protection from cold weather.

This weekend we found our inspiration for the flower and veggie garden. This strange, neck-shaped piece between the orchard and the field has always been a bit of a struggle for us. We had no idea how to turn it into something of value. Should it be a playing ground? A beautifully simple grass field? A kitchen garden full of savory herbs?

Since we’re living in the fast lane, we actually do take time to enjoy the good moments of life. So one sunny Saturday we went to Staverden Castle (Kasteel Staverden). We only had thoughts of some wine and finger food, but

There it was! The Victorian Glasshouse.

The metal structure painted white with its elegant, cave-shaped roof grabbed our attention. We went inside over and over again. It was warm, comfortable, useful, inspiring! And it had absolutely dazzling character. This was exactly the eye-catcher that this part of our garden cried out for! If we build a glasshouse like this at the end of the heart line, we’d have a perfect ‘folly’. It would bring great perspective to the flower garden and drive people right into this part of the garden where they could wander between the blooming beds and enjoy the scents of nature.

The glasshouse could also be used as a winter shelter for citrus trees or as a greenhouse for orchids, or even a nursery for our the indigenous plants of our garden. With just a few seats and a heater it would make a fantastic place to sit in early spring or even late autumn. Can you imagine reading a book surrounded by the smell of orange blossoms with buckets of rain pounding on the metal and glass above?

Our only problem was where to get one?! 🙂

We placed an ad on the Dutch eBay. The copy we placed translated as: “There’s no match between our house from 1813 and a modern aluminum glasshouse. Therefore we’re looking for an ancient Victorian glasshouse between 20 square meters and 40 square meters which has a brick substructure. Who has got one or knows somebody that has got one and wants to get rid of it? It is not a problem if it is a bit broken; it can be a renovation project. We’ll come to pick it up wherever in the Netherlands and Belgium.”

If you are from the UK and you have one to offer, don’t hesitate to reply. 😀

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Dualism

We bought the mill in March 2009, and now four months later we’re still in doubt. What to do? Who to chose to complete the renovations? Let me explain the situation further.

When we bought the house we needed a renovation plan to get a bank guaranty. We found Monsieur Lafon, a local entrepreneur de batisement, a supervisor for building projects. He lives three towns away and is a very sincere and serious man. He showed us his current projects and presented us with a good quote. We got our bank guaranty. Note: Monsieur Lafon does not speak any English.

Then two weeks later we met Stéphane, a handyman who lives one house away. He’s very nice and a hard worker. He introduced us to his four lovely children. He showed us one gîte where he did only the plaster work. The quote he gave us was 25% lower than Monsieur Lafon’s. Stéphane speaks fluent English, but he needs a lot of support in ordering and payment.

So we have two men, two quotes, two characters, but one project. What would you do? 🙂

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Old turning to New

The Old Door

The Old Door

Almost two weeks ago we’ve asked our neighbor to make us new doors. It was a kinda test to see how he did. Stéphane is nice and smart, speaks English but can he make a door? The answer is obviously YES he can.

The old doors were completely rotten and turned to the right. When we first took a look it looked quite simple but apparently the sandstone doorposts had handled more than one door in the past and were full of iron pins, not able to have any extra or they would break. We needed to change the situation.

The New Door

The New Door

We now think this part of the barn was used as a black smith for fixing horseshoes. There used to be a fire place and the floor looks like a cattle barn. We also found one horse shoe. Maybe we should ask the old Monsieur Le Noble next time.

Anyway the new doors swing to the left and are waiting for their final color. Every area has its own ‘official’ colors to use for shutters and doors. The mayor knows.

What do you think would look nice on these doors? 😉

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At some point …

… you start to doubt. OK, we decided, let’s fly in a specialist. Someone who knows what to look for and how to assess the value of the property in all its aspects.

The wooden construction of the mill is ...

The wooden construction of the mill is ...

So we contacted a retired building inspector and asked him what he thought of the project.  He’s undeniably a decent man and a skilled negotiator. he said: “Marco, you’ve bought a beautiful barn, but I doubt whether you will be able to live in it.” And he smiled.

“OK, so the roof is not so good?” “No.”

“OK, the tiles are not so good?” “No, not really.”

“OK, then, and the wooden construction?” “Son, it needs some work.”

“Great! So it needs some work. Fine! How much?” “Over 200k euro’s worth,” he said quietly.

Silence. That we could calculate.

In the photo here you can see the outside tiles. In January 2010 you’ll not be able to see any of this. It’ll all be covered and hidden behind fresh, new white plastered walls.

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