Monday, August 20, 2007

Look Back to See Progress

If I look back at the pictures we took in late May, then I can really see some progress. It has been slow, and sometimes progress seems non-existent. The language problem is real. It takes a large amount of time to learn and adjust to the materials and methods used here in France. We have trouble using the telephone and asking complex questions, and we have trouble communicating with the vendors in person at BricoMarche, Monsieur Bricolage, MicoBrico and Romera. We have used catalogs published by the vendors of building materials, advice from friends, and advice from people we run into who interpret for us at the material vendors. In short, we learn from anywhere and everywhere we can.
In the top row of pictures you can see what it looked like as we were removing the floor that was so spongy and also 6 inches off level. In the first picture, looking up at the old floor joist that are now gone, you can see the old stone wall, as well as openings without windows and the water heater. In the second picture I am pulling up the sub-floor which consisted of a layer of drywall, which formed the ceiling below, and a layer of particle board. We then replaced the floor joist, (as related in a post back in June, "Joist a Walk in the Dark" or something like that) and put up a drywall ceiling which Nancy has since finished.
In the third picture you can see that Nancy has rendered the stone walls. It was very poor stone work so there was no soul searching involved in covering it up. You can see the rendering and several layers of wash with pigments that Nancy labored so hard at. A large leap in time and work brings us to the fourth picture. You may remember the post where we talked about putting up walls with metal studs. Here you see the results. You should also notice the new floor of fir planks salvaged from elsewhere in the house, the new walls, windows and doors. Behind the door in the corner is the hot water heater that we levitated for a couple of days, and behind the louvered doors, a closet. Nancy is shown working on the ceiling and walls, giving them a coat of mud. The new windows make a great difference in letting in light compared to the old, opaque and drafty window substitutes, even if there is not a particularly spectacular view out of them. Buying them was an adventure in spending large amounts of money based on my rough drawings, measurements and lots of pointing and pantomime.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in the fourth picture you can see a temporary light bulb, which means the room got wired by the newest electrician in France. And he is not a very happy electrician. He is pissed, fit to be tied, and disappointed with the cheesy, crappy, poorly designed products available in France. The switches, outlets, wire, and tools are all sub-standard compared to their American counterparts. Not just different.......crappy. And not only that, they are about five times more expensive. The only bright spot is the round electrical boxes, which means you just cut a hole in the drywall with a hole saw, and slap in the cute little electrical box. Neat and clean. But not so fast. Unfortunately, you can't cram all the wires, connectors and the outlet into the box. Go figure.
Now, divert your attention the last picture. That is what the rest of the deuxieme etage looks like. It is a collection of junk, building materials and residue that should be carried down the stairs and into the trash, not to mention a few tools. Next summer, it will be converted into a bathroom and a salon. You can come and help if you want, or just watch.


Anonymous said...

Well Doug, tell us what you really feel about lighting and electrical fixtures in France...don't hold back just to be polite!

Is there any chance of "upgrading" with American fixtures...or are the electrical systems there so different that there is no hope of using anything that isn't French?

Procter, I can see your fine touch in making the room look so much more should definitely be proud of yourself! Are you going to paint the closet doors, or leave them natural?

I'm curious to know how many coats of lime wash you put on the walls to get the "golden result" in your photo? Luke is "clueless" about all this remodeling...but quite curious!

Vous faites un travail merveilleux. Je vous salue!

Doug said...

Well, good question, Lukas. I had thought about bringing some switches because I dislike the European swithches, but then I would have had to bring switch plates, and boxes to attach the switches into. The American boxes are made to attach to wood studs, and I guess I could have dealt with that by attaching a piece of wood to the metal stud. No way could I bring American outlets because the appliances don't fit them and the wattage is different.

You just have to deal with the situation on the ground.

Anonymous said...

Well Doug, I guess you just have to take the "good" with the "bad"...and hope the "good" is in greater proportion!

Judging from the overall content of your blog...the good things vastly outnumber the bad I guess you'll have to deal with "dismal lighting" while enjoying the "bright wonders" of Leran and the surrounding towns!

So much for Luke's version of "down-home psychology"! I don't think "Dr. Phil" has to worry about his job! HA!

nancy said...

I stopped counting after about 5 coats of limewash I think. Just added another coat today, not really sure why. Habit, I guess. Maybe hoping it will hide all the bad spots. These walls already look 400 years old---some people would pay for that wouldn't they?

With regard to the doors, I'm thinking of staining them. I've been playing around with a linseed oil/turpentine mixture and added some powdered 'ocre rouge' pigment---quite nice. I will do the floor with this, and doors with a lighter shade. At least, that's what I'm thinking today.

Anonymous said...

Procter, it's always nice to hear from you! I wish I had your energy! I'm sure that everything will turn out beautifully...I have total confidence in your artistry!

Next year when you return to France after having some time to rest from your labors, you will look around and be amazed by what you have accomplished! And, you will be proud of yourselves, as well you should be.

Anonymous said...

Lukas- I must tell you that due to Nancy's energy she will not rest while back home in Moab, I can assure you that she and Doug will build,paint,rehab or re-tile something. I just hope someday there will be nothing left to redo in Moab or France and they will be forced to help the needy (aka me).
Doug and Nancy- you have already done so much in France! It is amazing! it looks great, all of it.Whatever became of the roof terrace project?

nancy said...

Ah, the elusive roof terrace project...funny you should ask. We met with a planner/designer way back on July 11, waited and waited for drawings. Turned out he tossed his original idea and moved on to Plan B; then canceled appointments. We meet this morning at his office in Rennes-les-Bains. So we may have good or depressing news to report later.