Renovating in France | A phoenix emerges from the rubble

Written by on May 20, 2013 in My French House

renovate in France

Having removed the roof from the old pig shed (and survived being knocked out by a roof  tile dropped on my head) – we now had an empty three walled shell.

It was time to move the hot tub in!

Yep – the pig shed was earmarked for an Italian hot tub bargain that I had got from a company that was selling off stock. It had been covered in bubble wrap and a giant tarpaulin for three years in the shed and weighed an absolute ton.

We managed to get it onto a hand pallet truck (don’t ask, we have so much stuff in our house) and wheel it down the garden into the building. It had to go in at this stage as once the last wall was up there would be no way to get it in through the door or windows. I honestly don’t know how we managed between the two of us but we did – we pulled and pushed that trolley with the hot tub balanced precariously down a 100 metre grass hill that was the front garden and into the building.

renovate in france

After that we built a new wall with holes for a door and windows, repaired the existing walls, laid a concrete floor and rebuilt the roof. We had to keep moving the hot tub from one place to another and work round it – it wasn’t easy.

The OH is a builder and carpenter and knows what he is doing. I on the other hand know nothing of building and renovation and what I am taught I seem to forget instantly – causing the OH to shout at me, the lowly apprentice. I dread to think what the French neighbours must think of all our yelling at times. This usually occurs when I am told to get a tool and get the wrong tool – this happens a lot. I am called names and sent back until I get it right. Being an apprentice labourer is not all fun.

renovate in france

Putting the roof back on involved the OH making the gable ends down on the ground and then us having to haul them up to the top of the walls – they were big and very heavy.

One of my (many) phobias is heights.

After a bit of coaxing, followed by an instruction to “bloody well man up”, I mounted the ladder to the top of the wall where I was to pull the heavy wooden gable ends up while the OH lifted them.

How we don’t both have hernias is something I will never understand.

We finally, after much heavy breathing, grunting (not in a good way) and swearing, got the first gable resting on the top of the wall. My job was to stand and hold it while the OH bolted it down. I felt sick and dizzy standing up there holding this huge wooden frame that weighed more than me and was taller than me. Pierre the farmer went by on his tractor and laughed out loud at the latest antics of the mad English pair.

By the end of the day we had the gable ends up and secure. By the end of the week we had the roof tiled.

It was time to do the internal work – electrics, stud wall, insulate, stud ceiling, plaster board, plaster, paint, lay wood floor. All the time the hot tub had to be moved about, still on the palate truck, in its bubble wrap. We had no idea if it would even work after three years being in storage. We’d unwapped it and tested that it turned on – the lights came on, but it couldn’t be fully tested without being filled with water – we just had to hope for the best but I’m sure you know what happened next…

The pig pen reborn.

A bientôt, Janine

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  1. Celia says:

    Janine! I just read all your stories about your home that you've been renovating! I hadn't come across them before was so enjoy your writing. It truly has been a labor of love – what else could you call it?! You and the gov-nor are a great team by the sounds of it. I look forward to seeing more stories about your renos!! I hate spiders too!!