Saturday, May 31, 2008

Four new things

Dear readers - I'm trying so hard to get you something. Really, I am. But I'm finding it surprisingly tough to summarize 1-1/2 years worth of info. So much drama to many pictures to sort though... Yet everyday that I don't post I get further behind in the story. So, here's the deal: for now, I'll just tell you four new things about the house and throw up lots of before and afts pics. Then next time, I can tell you four more new things. Eventually, I'll get all caught up.

How's that sound? Good?

Okay. Let's get started.


Seems impossible to believe that we’ve owned this house for 2.5 years, have been staring at it for over 3 years, have pour untold thousands into it, and yet we have not spent one single night there. We haven’t even had lunch inside it (I refuse). Our friends are still quietly shocked when they see its rubble-strewn interior for the first time. And its resale value would still be far less we’ve invested in it.

But. We are so close.

When you last saw photos of the house back in July 2006 (see Gutted Like a Fish, parts I, II and III), the house had basically four walls and a leaky roof. Remember? Well now, we have:

1) FABULOUS NEW WINDOWS, each of them lovingly handmade by our menuisier, M. Durand. The windows are exact copies of the originals, right down to the beautiful iron espagnolettes (window latches), which he took from the originals. The only difference is that these are double-glazed.

Here are a couple of "before" shots:

And now after!

Better, no?

I can’t tell you how delighted we are with them. You really need to get windows exactly right because if they're screwed up, the character of the entire house can change. M. Durand came through like a champ. They look great.

He also did our gorgeous new doors. Look:

Old Ugly Door:

New Lovely Door:

2) NEW FLOORS. Well, sort of. When last I posted, the house was completely gutted and had no floors. Now we have the beam-work that will support a floor, and insulation that will keep us from freezing in the winter. What we do not have is the actual, hardwood floor that makes a room pretty. But it should be laid by the end of June. Or so the the workers tell us. Anyway, in case you're interested, here is a picture of the insulation. I can't remember what it's called - and I 've never seen it before - but we're told that it's very ecologically-friendly:

Looks like rabbit poo, doesn't it? Maybe it is. Maybe that's why it's eco-friendly. Hmmm.

Moving on, we also now have:

3) WALLS Now this is a big one. At one point, we tore down all the walls on the upstairs floor, so that it looked like this:

instead of this:

Our decision to tear down the old walls and have new ones built resulted in a spit-and-fur-flying argument with our dear architect friends and led us to getting the shiftless architect we have now (details of that confusing time will be in a separate post).

Anyway, I present to you a series of our new plastered walls!

Upstairs hall:

Master Bedroom:

Master Bath:




Downstairs Hall:



(Don't worry, we kept the lovely old tiles in the hall. They're just covered up in this picture.)



And now, same angles, today!

And finally, we also now have:

4) PLUMBING. All-new, lovely pipes and hoses.

There was such drama around the plumbing. We had one of those nasty surprises more experienced home-restorers warn you about:

Sometime in late 2006, it occurred to someone – can’t remember who anymore – that maybe the old pipes in our house were never connected to the village mains. We had this checked out and yes, that’s exactly had happened. The pipes of this really old house weren’t connected to anything. This meant that all the crap that had come swirling down the pipes over the last several decades had simply drained into a big hole under the garden. While this might explain why everything grows so ferociously well there, it did not make us happy.

This news took pretty much everyone by surprise. We were surprised because the former owner attested in our deed that the house was connected to the mains. We also had a statement or something from the mayor of the village affirming that it was connected. So, the mayor was surprised too. And, like us, not happy. Because laying the pipe that would connect our house to the village mains would require tearing up our garden, digging a huge, long hole under the stone wall that surrounds the house, and digging up in the street in front of the house. An expensive endeavor. Our little village is not so rich. And, as we huffed indignantly, we certainly weren't going to pay for it.

Luckily, because of the attestations in the deed, we did not have to pay for it. The mayor (or someone - can't remember who...Dawg? A local lawyer?) spoke to the crusty old former owner of the house, and told him he'd be responsible for the cost. At first, the COFO balked, but after receiving a sharp letter from a lawyer in Paris threatening to sue, he immediately sent us a check for the full amount. He could have sued our village for reimbursement, but it has never occurred to him. Just as well, as he really made a killing off of this house.

But anyway, we got connnected to the mains and now we have plumbing! Finally!

Now, if only we had a toilet.

Coming up next: HEAT!


Kristina said...

I think it looks like it's coming along really really well. Can't wait for the boys to play together in your poopy garden!

The Muehli's said...

I'm so happy to see the before & after pics! I found your blog a long time ago on and thought I had lost the link when you disappeared for a while. G-reader saves me once again lol

Your house is looking fantastic. The new windows and door are beautiful! Does it blow your mind how far you've come in 1 1/2 years? Congrats on surviving so far and hoping to read more soon :)


Lola said...

Tina - won't that be great? Hopefully they'll be past the soil-eating stage by then.

Tiffany - thanks! Our minds are blown, definitely, but not because of how far we've come. It's been a long road...thanks again for reading and commenting!