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Everything posted by Bobc

  1. http://www.laboutiquedetoni.com/

    We have used them a lot - fast delivery - free for large orders.

    They carry in stock the more obscure Legrand items - we have just finished a large kitchen conversion where the client required Céliane switch and socket plaques in Fer Oyydé.

    These were in stock at a lower price than any local electrical wholesalers in our area.


    Bob Clarke

  2. "I'm trying to install a Linux OS on a spare PC. It's a version of Kubuntu which is downloaded as an .iso, which I've then burned as instructed, to a CD as a bootable disk. I can persuade the bios to install the cd drive and to run a version of DOS, and can change the drive to the one with the disk in, I can even get it to DIR list the contents of the disk (just the one file; Kubuntu_iso)

    How do I get it to open and unpack the files?"

    I know nothing about Linux but my 14 year old son is something of an expert - he suggests going to https://shipit.kubuntu.org/?loggingout=1 and ordering the Kubuntu CD which is free of charge.

    Any more advice then email [email protected]

    Kind regards,

    Bob Clarke


  3. "Hi all,

    We are installing a new wood burning stove in our Barn renovation, ( we do not have a chimney) the flue pipe will be taken through the external wall, could anyone please inform us of the regs in this case.

    Can we have just a pipe with a cowl at the top?

    Do we have to construct an external chimney?

    If so, does it have to have a liner?

    Any advise would be much appreciated


    As Charles has pointed out, horizontal runs of flue pipe are to be avoided.

    The absolute maximum for a horizontal run is 15cm - if you are putting your stove in a barn conversion then your walls are probably 50/60cm +. Your stove will not work with this length of horizontal pipe.

    If you need to go through through the outside wall then you need to use 45 degree joints and go through the wall at an angle - much more difficult with a thick stone wall.

    Better option would be to use double-insulated rigid stainless-steel flue pipe straight up from the stove against the internal wall and out through the roof - expensive but far more efficient.

    Take a look at the last pictures on our website under - Property Renovation Services/Charnwood Woodburning Stoves/Some of Our Installations - this was for a stove in a village house and needed four 45 degree bends and a lot of double-insulated rigid stainless-steel flue pipe - but achieved a high performance stove in a difficult location.

    The flue pipe and installation cost far more than the stove itself!


    Bob Clarke


  4. "Just as a final postscript, I thought I'd share my goods news with everyone.

    I put the refund request (form 3519) in with my March VAT return and

    the cash was credited to my business bank account this morning!!!

    Living proof that the French Authorities aren't necessarily as bad

    as UK TV would have us believe and things can get done in France

    without the hassle of professional advisors.

    Mind you, one swallow does not a summer make....

    Thankyou everyone for your help.



    Despite what others may tell you, it is possible to obtain a TVA refund in a timely manner.

    You have also done it without an accountant - even better!

    Kind regards,

    Bob Clarke


  5. "As I dont have an under 13 in the house I am hoping that one of you older people can help me!

    I am trying to find out if there is a Skype compatible phone in France that works with a Mac. I have seen such phones in Darty etc but they are only compatible with Vista or XP etc.

    Any ideas please


    You might want to look at the Philips VOIP841.

    Assuming that you have a broadband connection, then the base station simply plugs into a spare RJ45 socket on your modem/router and does not require any connection to your computer.

    Receives landline and Skype incoming calls and gives the option of using SkypeOut or landline for outgoing calls.

    Very good build quality with additional handsets available.

    We use ours with a Netgear DG834N modem/router and have had a good, reliable service.


    Bob Clarke


  6. We bought a Falcon Classic 110 Deluxe last year and have been very pleased with it.

    Both electric ovens heat up very quickly - the left hand oven has a boost setting which increases the heat up speed further.

    We regularly have both ovens running together with the electrically heated griddle plate with no problems with the supply ‘tripping’.

    No problems with excessive electricity consumption - we have friends with the same model - he is a French registered electrician and so would probably notice!

    Our cooker was supplied by Expert, Marmande (47). A good trade discount, plus free delivery and installation. No connection other than a satisfied customer.

    Kind regards,

    Bob Clarke


  7. "I read that it is advisable to use primer when tiling on tiles.

    I just want to warn people to be careful of the fumes.

    "I used some a few days ago and it has made me ill.

    I used a mask , but just a dust mask so no use against fumes ....silly me.

    Do not know if I can post the brand name , so if you want to know , PM me........it is a blue liquid"

    Better still, use a professional tiling adhesive such as W&B weber.fix plus.

    We have renovated numerous bathrooms, using this to tile over existing tiles without any problems - obviously some basic research into the underlying wall is required.

    If you would like more advice please PM me.

    Kind regards,

    Bob Clarke


  8. Our business is set up as a SARL and my understanding is that it is a French legal requirement that a SARL must use an accountant to prepare end of year accounts, TVA returns, etc.

    Most of our work is invoiced at 5,5% TVA, whereas nearly all our purchases are at 19,6% TVA.

    As a result we receive refunds from the Impots which usually are several thousand Euros at a time.

    Our accountant completes our TVA return on a quarterly basis - the return for the last quarter of 2007 was due by the end of January and carried a large refund - this was transferred into our business account within 7 working days of the return due date. I understand that there is a special form that has to be completed by the accountant to request the refund and that this can only be transferred into your business bank account.

    For anyone in the Villeneuve-sur-Lot (47) area, I can thoroughly recommend Jean Plagnes at @com.enterprise



    Bob Clarke


  9. "I'm just about to build a shower cubicle (three walls and a glass door).

    I'm in two minds as to whether to use bathroom plasterboard or to use normal plasterboard and seal it with .... well, what would I seal it with? ... I know there is a product but not sure what it's called over here in France.  I guess this would be the cheaper options (I'm building two large shower cubicles, so the plasterboard route could be costly."

    If you are building shower cubicles, large or otherwise then you need to use the correct materials as a base for the tiling.

    Standard plasterboard should not be used anywhere in a bathroom. Green placo hydro should be used for any wall and ceiling areas that are going to be painted, rendered or otherwise decorated.

    Shower cubicles should be constructed with waterproof panels such as those suggested by Expat Paul. We use panels from the German company Wedi www.wedi.de These are available from any decent French plumbers suppliers and cost around 30 Euros per m² which is a pretty low price for a material which is 100% waterproof, unlike green plasterboard.

    To seal all the joints between the panels and the shower base you use a rubber tape which is bedded in with wall tile adhesive - this costs around 4,40 Euros per metre.

    You then end up with a watertight shell which can be tiled and jointed.

    If you are building a large walk-in shower then Wedi produce large preformed shower bases ready for tiling with an integral drain. Available in sizes up to 180 x 90 cm which can be extended by using additional floor panels.

    For any large shower you need an efficient waste trap with preferably a 50mm waste pipe and also a good extractor system to remove the steam.

    Forget paint-on finishes to waterproof plasterboard in showers. Tile joint is not waterproof and eventually water will get behind the tiles and the plasterboard will rot and disintegrate - green plasterboard will just take a little longer!

    As others have said - do it once and do it right.


    Bob Clarke


  10. Good to know that there is someone else out there with the Philips 841 phone!

    Would agree that it is expensive but good value for the build quality and performance.

    I would be interested to know if you have been able to get the landline voicemail screen notification to work. We have Skype Pro and it works fine for missed Skype calls. We have FT voicemail and the phone picks them up but does not show on screen that you have a landline voicemail.

    Kind regards,


  11. ‘Thanks Panda.

     Thought that may be the case.

     Would anyone else like to comment of their experience of VOIP calls from home. Free, Alice, SFR etc

     Piddy. ‘

    We have a Philips VOIP 841 wi-fi Skype phone. This is plugged in directly into our Netgear router and works without any connection to a pc.

    It also functions as a normal cordless landline phone.

    Quality on SkypeOut calls is very good - we have free calls to French landline numbers and low cost calls to the UK.

    Seems to be the only decent wi-fi Skype phone on the market - avoid the Belkin wi-fi ‘dog’!



  12. We have used software from EBP www.ebp.com for the last few years to manage our accounts, produce devis, factures, TVA returns, etc.

    They also have software for businesses that do not require devis, etc.

    You might also want to look at software aimed at the gite/chambre d’hote market:


    You can download a trial version.



  13. "Hi,

    I live in Pas de Calais and the window frames in my house are showing signs of wear. Are they easy to remove and replace? Anybody done this? I would like the wood grain PVC if possible. My patio door is woodgrain PVC and it would match up if the windows were the same. Anybody in this area used a window company for replacements windows? Costly?



    If you really want PVC (see below) then Lapeyre sell decor chene miel finish pvc windows and doors in their Elegance (possibly a contradiction in terms!) PVC range.

    "PVC is disgusting and certainly not necessary for window frames. Do the world a favour and use wood..........then you won't have to worry about the grain.


    Agree completely

    "Added to which, wood grain PVC windows still look like white PVC windows covered in Fablon (or "sticky-back plastic" if you are a certain age...). Hideous at best. No prospect of getting permission for them around here, either."

    As above - unfortunately in our area, north 47, the planners have allowed the blight of PVC. I have been dismayed to drive past old stone buildings being restored and then fitted with white PVC windows and doors.

    "wooden windows ....... too much yearly maintenance and the added hassle of them contracting and swelling with the weather .......still each to their own"

    Over the last few years we have replaced all our windows with Lapeyre Tradition Chene - we have also fitted these for clients, together with the lower cost Lapeyre Isoprix Bois - none of these have contracted or swelled with the weather - possibly you are confusing modern wooden windows with old single-glazed windows made from softwood.



  14. A company in our local town, Castillonnès produces a large range of window and door cornerstones, lintels, etc. in reconstituted stone.


    They are available throughout France from branches of Point P and most decent builders merchants.

    If you need advice on fitting and pointing, etc, please send me a PM


  15. I purchased the phone from the Skype online shop.

    Ordered on a Monday, despatched on Thursday from Germany via UPS and delivered the following Monday.

    The only feature of the phone that I have not worked out yet is the landline voicemail - Skype voicemail works fine and shows an indicator on the display if there is a message. France Telecom voicemail messages are recorded and can be picked up by ringing 3103 but there is no indicator on the display that there is a message. A minor detail that I will sort out when I have some spare time.

    I omitted to mention in my last post that Amazon offered a full refund for the poor quality Belkin wifi phone. One to be avoided!



  16. We have used Skype since the early days and found using it via a computer with headphones and a microphone very limiting.

    What we really wanted was the freedom of our Siemens cordless phone system with the bonus of Skype - we experimented with a cordless DualPhone and then a USB adaptor that connected our Siemens phone to the PC - both of these proved to be unreliable with dropped calls and poor speech quality.

    The introduction this year of wi-fi Skype phones which provided Skype without the need for a PC looked very promising and we purchased a Belkin phone from amazon.fr - this proved to be pretty badly made and the person being called suffered a bad echo of their speech on their landline handset.

    Internet research ( should have done this before buying!) showed that this was a major problem with the Belkin phone and other badged makes such as Netgear. Worryingly these continue to be sold by Amazon and Skype.

    Having done more research we purchased a Philips VOIP841 wi-fi phone from Skype. At around 150 Euros this has proved to be first-class. You get a base station with power supply which plugs into your ADSL router via a RJ45 cable and the phone with it’s own base station/charger and power supply which you can site wherever convenient. No need to have the computer connected or turned on.

    Build quality is superb and installation with a Netgear router took only a few minutes. Performance is very good - for incoming calls it works as a normal landline or Skype phone - for outgoing calls simply enter the number and choose SkypeOut or Landline on the phone.

    Call quality is good with no dropped calls.

    You can also purchase additional handsets.



  17. Still young then!

    At 74 John Mayall is still doing European tours.

    I took my 13 year son, who is a keen guitar player, to John's concert in Monpazier in August. John found time to talk and have his picture taken with my son.

    Missed the Dion set but The Wanderer is a good old standard.


  18. "Anyone know of any stockists of Mapei products in Manche / Calvados or

    alternatively, any national chains that sock Mappei? It's an Italian

    company who've made a none too generous stab at providing a French

    website but there aren't any stockists listed and when we phone the

    company, we get voicemail and... surprise!... no one returns our calls.

    The main reason we're interested in Mapei is they do adhesive and grout

    suitable for tiling above underfloor heating and - this being the main

    reason for wanting to use them - they offer more grout colours than

    white and grey in this specific product range. So if you know of

    another company with a wide range of product colours for use over

    underfloor heating, we'd like to know. It's not that we must use

    Mapei... we'd just like more choice in grout than white and grey."

    Given the number of underfloor heating installations carried out in

    France, it would be reasonable to expect that there are adhesives and

    joints designed to cope with this rather than bringing in Italian


    Weber et Broutin produce Fermaflex Technic and Lafarge produce Lanko

    524 which are both designed for underfloor heating installations.

    These are both available from decent professional carrelage suppliers in all parts of France.

    For joint - Weber et Broutin produce a wide range of colours other than white (a non-starter for floors anyway) and grey.

    The downside is the cost - the coloured joints are only available in 1

    or 3kg cartons. To cover a large floor area the cost would be very high.

    Without knowing what type of floor tiles you are laying it is difficult to offer more advice.

    For terracotta type tiles we use Pierra Mortier-Joint Ton Pierre. At around 14 Euros for 25kg it is very cost-effective.

    It is also hydrofuge treated, making it ideal for kitchens and other high-traffic areas.

    If you would like more advice please PM me.


    Bob Clarke


  19. "Alane, i agree with you. There could indeed be several reasons for the

    cash to go belly up!! To be fair as well i think that a reserve fund

    should have been in place for this event and the builders should have

    been warned as soon as this fund was in danger of being breached.

     By the same token, the customer is not just binning his builders,

    which some do, at least he is actively trying to make amends and

    finding employment for them perhaps by way of apology.

    Has anyone asked if he has spoken to his builders since the posting to

    see how things went?? i also noticed that he has made a few postings,

    nice welcome to the forum.

    And in answer to Dicks quote, i too am in the building trade and its

    common practice for customers to pay up front both in France and the

    UK. Thru experience i have lost money buying materials and not getting

    paid, this in turn results in asking the customer to either open an

    account with a builders merchants or paying up front for some material

    costs and having stage payments from there on, Hugh.

    To lose time is nothing, to lose your own cash is hard to swalllow.


    I am a bit puzzled by your postings.

    We have replies by two people with different aliases but with the same website link, www.renovations24dordogne.com.

    This site has a very smart front page but none of the links work and

    the page is lacking in company details, Siret/TVA numbers, etc.

    If you are a registered French enterprise, why would you want clients

    to open an account at a builders merchants for materials. They will end

    up paying the full rate of TVA for projects which qualify for the

    reduced rate of 5,5% had you purchased and supplied the materials.

    In our area, the only ‘artisans’ who do this are the ‘gardeners’ who are carrying out building work on the black.


    Bob Clarke


  20. As ever on this Forum, an interesting thread:

    "A bit embarrassing but.......................

    Due to some restaints from my bank I am going to have to stop the work

    at my house for a while which means i am going to tell the builders

    they are to stop until further notice... they are good builders and

    they will be a bit pee'd off when I tell them as they are booked with

    me for another two to three months...so if anyone wants a couple of

    great builders that dont yet know they are available now...I can

    strongly recomend them and so can a lot of other people... I cant

    advertise on here so any interested parties please PM me and I will

    pass on the details. Dept 24 and close by.

    Heres hoping I can soften the blow....


    From an artisans point of view you would not be my most popular client.

    Presumably your financial problems have been brewing for a while and

    have not happened overnight.

    On the other hand, if your builders are any good and French registered

    then they will have future work that they can bring forward. Given that

    the French holiday season is almost upon us, it may not be the end of

    the world.

    As others have said, your main problem may be getting your original builders, or any others, back to do any work for you.

    As an aside, if you have signed devis with these builders (assuming

    that they are registered in France) then they could sue you under the

    French legal system.


    Bob Clarke


  21. Apart from all the pointless rubbish on this thread, take some time to

    think about the two French sisters, one expecting a child, who were

    killed by the the English van driver high on alcohol and drugs in 24.

    He has already received a pathetic 4 year jail term which his lawyer arugued was too severe?

    As with the earlier tragic incident in the Dordorgne, which we are not

    able to discuss, take some time to to think about the Pompiers who have

    to attend these avoidable incidents.

    Bob Clarke

  22. "Dose anyone know where I can buy tiles for a shower floor that look

    like pebbles? I've seen aone done like this and understand that they

    are in a 'mesh' form like mosaic tiles and are made to look like

    smooth, flattish pebbles. Anyone?


    The current issue (June 2006) of Maison et Travaux magazine has a very good article on laying these in a ‘wet’ environment.


    Bob Clarke


  23. "Are they polished glass mosaics? They may be slippy under wet, soapy feet."

    A good point.

    In reality, the combination of glass tiles and joint lines provides a

    more non-slip surface than a standard glazed ceramic shower tray.


    Bob Clarke


  24. "I am about to lay mosaic tiles (the glass variety) on the floor of a

    shower room. Would anyone know the right method for laying the tile

    cement ie 5mm V knotch, 6mm U, flat etc.

    With thanks


    Dear Keith,

    Assuming that you are laying small mosaic tiles on a mesh backing sheet

    then use the smallest V comb you can get to keep the adhesive thickness

    to a minimum.

    If the tiles are translucent glass, then you must use a high quality

    white adhesive such as Weber et Broutin Fermafix Pro or Lanko Prolipate


    For jointing (grouting) Weber et Broutin have a good choice of colours in their Ferma Joincolour range.

    There is a very good specialist article on working with glass tiles in the March 2004 issue of Fine Homebuilding.

    If you want to PM me your address, I can send you a photocopy.

    Kind regards;

    Bob Clarke


  25. "Hi There

    I have found this forum to be very informative in the past but have

    never added a post so for what its worth here goes the first. I have

    found one of the most expensive bills since leaving the UK I have is my

    phone, there has been a lot of press lately for a company called Skype

    which uses your internet connection to make free phone calls you just

    have to have a headset for your pc which is ok but you are tied to your

    pc, for those of you who already use the headset  there is an

    alternative, a box which simply just plugs in to your existing cordless

    phone and utilises that so you have the same freedom as a normal phone

    but using the internet to make the call, I have been using one of these

    boxes for a while now with no problems it was also very easy to install

    (which makes a change), the company who supplied me with the Skype box

    was www.ExpatComputerSupplies.Com. I hope this has been of some

    interest to you.


    My advice to anyone ordering online from ExpatComputerSupplies.com

    would be to contact them the day after placing your order to confirm

    that they are processing it.

    I ordered a Skype adaptor on the 26th of April with card payment via PayPal and duly received a confirmation e-mail from PayPal.

    I e-mailed ExpatComputerSupplies on the 11th of May to query the

    non-delivery of the adaptor and received a reply stating that PayPal

    had not passed the order on to them. The adaptor would be despatched

    within a couple of days.

    To date, I am still waiting for delivery, and an e-mail to them this morning has gone unanswered.

    Within this time I have ordered books and tools online from the States that have arrived within a week.


    Bob Clarke


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