Monday, July 30, 2007

Some Days We See Progress

Some of you have probably been wondering if we ever do any work anymore. The answer is yes, but some days it's hard to tell. There are days when we shouldn't ever pick up the tools, but head for market towns instead. Those are the days when progress is microscopic and frustration runs rampant.

When we purchased No. 14 Rue du Four, a compromise we made was forfeitting outdoor space. Our petite cours, because it is our only outdoor space, has been taken over by bags of chaux, ciment, mortier, and sable (thats lime, cement, mason's mortar and sand). Squeezed somewhere out there are a table, chairs and several potted plants. The goal has been, with the approval of the French powers-that-be, to have une toiture terrasse (a roof terrace). We met with a very energetic young British planner/designer who assessed our space, took measurements, went to the maire's office to retrieve necessary paperwork, and indicated that drawings would be emailed within a few days. I guess he's been living in France too long, because that was several weeks ago and no contact since.

While we were hoping to see plans for the roof terrace and proceed with further development on the deuxieme etage based upon those plans, we got tired of waiting and decided to forge ahead. The wood floor which used to create a loft above the deuxieme etage has been taken down because we are using that flooring in constructing the new bedroom on the third floor.

There were several options for building partition walls---hollow clay blocks that are called 'skinny brick', light plaster blocks that are tongue & grooved together, or plaque de platre on a steel framework.

Plaque de platre is drywall, but it was the "steel framework" that really had Doug mystified. For a guy who can pretty much build anything with 2 X 4's, just figuring out the individual componentry of "le fer en U galvanise" required the aid of a friend, Julien. He brought over a kit of bits and pieces of various sizes "un rail" and "un montant" (horizontal and vertical pieces) and even accompanied Doug to the MicoBrico. Lots of swearing was going down as Doug was attempting to screw metal to metal with drywall screws; my little French dictionary came in handy at Bricomarche as I translated 'vis autoperceuse' into self-tapping screws---voila! Then Aussie John drops off a magical crimping tool that totally eliminates the need for screws...period. Once Doug got the hang of it, the stud wall went up quickly and smoothly. He kept remarking how different this construction was from the States since the wall is built beginning with the door in place rather than roughing in an opening for a door at a later date.
The cost of the 'un rail' and 'un montant' are about the same as 2X4 studs, but significantly lighter, which is relatively important when considering that we are carrying everything up several flights of stairs. In fact, we just unload from Smokey and hand it up through the window. We hope to have the plaque de platre delivered via someone with a forklift who can shove it right into the deuxieme etage.

Today we started laying the flooring, pine or fir (pin ou sapin) by our best guess. We have seen similar stuff that gets dubbed "Western Rustic" because it has all the knots. We've laid floors before using pneumatic nail guns or a nailing machine that pre-angles the nails. No such luck here, it's all skill and labor, so a slower pace.
A couple of windows (fenetre) are on order, the walls have been lime plastered and limewashed; and if even for a brief period of time, we can report progress is being made.


Anonymous said...

Luke is in awe of your talents...sometimes I am barely able to follow the train of thought as you describe what you are doing...but when I see the pictures I get the drift (usually)!

I am utterly always!

Doog, now that you've paid off the injury to your pouce...try not to hurt any other body parts in your "pursuit of re-modeling excellence"!

Take care...both of you!

Anonymous said...

Hell yes there is progress! It looks fantastic, I can't believe how much you have accomplished. You have been there the same amount of time that we have been in our new house and we have done half as much.
Doug, does anyone there ask about your Crocs? Could I perhaps consider a career as a Croc Importer?
Kepp up the Bon Travails!

nancy said...

Amy,you make an unfair comparison. Don't you and Dan have, like, REAL JOBS, while Doug and I tinker and fritter? Translation: You accomplish alot more under pressure in less time, while we slave away entertaining the masses writing about it in our blog.