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Everything posted by zeb

  1. We stayed near Nay last September, just south of Pau, and had a fabulous holiday thanks in part to information given by members of this forum. There is loads to see and do. We were actually in the Vallee d'Ossau (if you google it, there is a website) and there are walks everywhere. You could try a gite hire through gites-de-France. Ours was a three epi wonderful old Bearnais house which accommodated 6 (three huge double bedrooms with fantastic views of the pic du midi Ossau) with a high season rent of 270 euros!! pm me if you want details. Good luck.
  2. I don't think I've ever read comments by guests on a website - as someone else said, they will have been carefully picked from the guestbook and are bound to be 100%positive and gushing! It's the location, property description, photos and what's included in the price which concern me. I'm very careful after a disaster in the early ninties when we found we had booked a gite in the Auvergne for a fortnight which had no bathroom (it did have an al fresco shower suspended from a tree), and a chemical loo which we had to empty before use!!! Yes, we did leave a few pages of suggestions! A little off topic, I know, but do any of you worry if your guests don't leave a message in the guestbook? Some friends have a gite and they are always concerned if there isn't a message left at the end of a stay - they chew over all the possible reasons why for days!
  3. [quote user="Val_2"]And the french pay up or even beforehand sometimes!!![/quote] Luckily we've never had a problems over payment with any of our customers, English, French or Dutch - they've all been great and paid the deposit just before work commenced and then when asked, either in stages or when job is completed. Maybe we have nicer people in Charente! Yes, it could be worth leafletting cars in shop or builders' merchants car parks (gosh, where do the apostrophes go there??), although we have never done that - I gave a floor sanding and waxing job to someone in North London who had leafletted my car and got a superb floor! Back on track. I had good responses to garden maintenance adverts in French News four years ago. I just placed an advert to cooincide with holidays as folks tend to come out to their new holiday home, find an acre of knee high grass and panic! As I said, MOH hasn't needed to advertise much as his business evolved from our old business and he had built a good customer base, but if you've got funds to spare Karen try a largish advert in FN and/or Connextion for a couple of months. Be quick though with French News - I think ads have to be placed by the 21st of the preceding month.
  4. LOL JK, can you ask him to knit me a wooley jumper and hat to match please? Something really colourful!
  5. All I can suggest is that you put business cards in local shops (English food shop?) and bars. Sign write your van and park it in builders' merchants car parks regularly (we did this unintentionally with a borrowed van, and had a queue when we appeared from the shop!) and advertise in French News and Connextion. You could also leave leaflets on cars parked in shopping centres. We have been really luckly and the majority of our work has been by word of mouth and recommendations, but you have to get your first jobs somehow...........! You could also hang about in bars, which I did when I first started my gardening micro several years ago. The woman running the bar gave me a job one day and then recommended me to holiday home owners who popped in! Good luck.
  6. Lots to learn Big Mac! Most of the woodland is coppiced i.e. really well managed, so that there is an ongoing harvest of wood.
  7. If anyone is interested in installing their own woodburner, there's an article with photos in this month's Maison et Travaux. Looks simple!
  8. Hi sandy - sorry to hear about your husband's accident, hopefully he'll enjoy the enforced rest and that his arm mends quickly. I remember that happening to me and, after a few weeks of being in a pot, I just couldn't stop scratching!!! The relief to have it off, but then it still took weeks to get back to normal strength. Anyway, I can certainly vouch for the Pau area of the Pyrenees. It's absolutely beautiful. We're planning to make the move there at some point when we find the right place but properties are much more expensive there than here, but there is sooo much to see and do! At the moment we live in Charente and love it here. We have a small business but at times it's really been a struggle and, unless your French is very good, you'll find that you need lots of British folks around to get work. It's nothing like the UK. The health and pension charges are really high, so make sure you can get work before you register (this is a legal requirement for s/e) otherwise life is just as miserable as anywhere if you are struggling to pay the bills. Make sure you have enough capital for your family to get by on for a least 2 years so that you can build up a business/customer base, and in the meantime, learn FRENCH - you'll struggle to manage without it. On the bright side though, we've always had plenty of work (although sometimes payments are very erratic), life is much more relaxed and the sun shines here much more than it did in NE Essex!! Not sure about carp lakes in the Pyrenees, but as you say there are several in the Limousin. Vienne and North Dordogne. Do a search on google for agence immobiliers in Haute-Pyrenees, Pyrenees-Atlantique and Haute Garonne. That will give you an idea of properties available and prices (and keep you busy for days!). Good luck. Good luck.
  9. French artisans would use the metal railing system with plasterboard. Reasons are that metal doesn't warp, get eaten, rot etc as wood might and also has holes to enable electrics to be fed through. But, I'd say, if you are doing it yourself and don't want to learn a whole new system, and constructing wooden studwork is what you are comfortable with, go for it. Many do!
  10. No sign of park and pay yet ( we drove round and round last week looking for a parking space), but my neighbour who worked at Limoges recently says that they are bringing it in at both airports this Spring. It's a shame but as there are sooo many UK reg cars (and hire cars) clogging up the car parks, sorry but I now think it's necessary.
  11. ....and don't forget that there is very little work during the winter months unless, like us, you are able to get some vine pruning. We actually gave up the garden maintenance micro earlier this year and changed our registration to a different trade (which had evolved from that) as our fairly expensive machinery cost a fortune to service/maintain/renew. Our accountant charges us around 2000 euros for fairly simple accounting. We didn't bother with an accountant for the micro as it was just a case of sending out factures for long term jobs and totting up income for the tax form annually. There is a higher tax allowance for micros and in some areas you can get deferrment of cotisations if you are under 40 and don't mind paying the full whack and what's owing later. Some changes are promised but no date has been given yet. It's impossible to work part-time - you have the same cotisations for the first couple of years as they are worked out to a formula which assumes you work a 35 hour week, then adjusted in the third year. I think it's fairly true to say you work the morning for France and the afternoon for yourself! Good luck.
  12. Not a central ceiling rose in sight at chez nous and no queries from our delightful French electrician! He loved my lighting system (mostly Ikea) and was more concerned about me not wanting TV aerial sockets and phone points in every room!
  13. Eddie - Not sure where you are based but look in www.pagesjaunes.fr and arrange for a local menusiere to come and give you a quote for supply and fix. From experience, it's better to get the person who makes them to fit the windows as, if there are any problems it's down to them. If you fit them it may invalidate any guarantee. Having said that though, if your window openings are a standard size you may be able to buy what you want from the bricos - have a look at www.lapeyre.fr for fenetres. Don't forget that in France they come with the frames. Good luck.
  14. Thanks all for your comments. Most of the spec is OK ( it's a very large job and we are bidding for a bit at a time), it's just one or two bits which seem a bit penny pinching and they are the ones which will cause the problems later (the shower rooms). Have managed to convince the guy that he definitely needs the electrician to install extractors, and for the rest we have rewritten the devis with disclaimer for guy to sign, but today will discuss hydrofuge - FGS, it will only work out at a couple of hundred euros extra, if that! If he doesn't like it...........! Thanks.......
  15. Having quoted for a job, the client wants to cut corners in some places (ordinary placo in shower/bathrooms, cheaper foil insulation, no extractor fans etc). We've pointed out that we can't guarantee any work/material in these instances but how do we stand legally? Should we say as much on our devis - will that cover us? The property is being converted to sell on.
  16. Your husband will have to do the stage, the one week course run by the Chambre de Metiers which explains tax regimes, business set ups etc before he actually registers, so it may be a good idea to contact your local Chambre de Metiers for a list of dates (all artisans have to do this). If he's able to do the stage before moving, maybe you can get the business registered to coincide with actually moving over. PS You start paying hefty cotisations (social charges) from when you register so make sure that there's plenty of work lined up first.
  17. Are you using Lutece 2000L or 3000L? They give a longer working time than some.
  18. This may be a bit out of date but I hope it will help with business set up (it's in English): http://www.apce.com/index.php?rubrique_id=300000112&type_page=IL&pays=1 AFAIK Many of the folks advertising as builders/diggerdrivers/gardeners/property agents with no SIRET number but with a UK registration number, in English mags and newspapers in France are pulling a fast one! How can you be living and registered in the UK but available for fosse installation or renovating someone's property at any time in the Dordogne?
  19. Sorry if I mislead anyone. The first and second year's cotisations are worked out to a formula and in our case (and a couple of others I know) amounted to just under 4000euros a year (unless you can convince whoever you register with CdM, CdC etc that your turnover will be quite low, that's what you will have to pay, then hope for a rebate later on) - in my case garden and property maintenance. If your turnover (and in our case this is mainly labour charges - we are not buying and selling)is at the ceiling for the first and subsequent years, your cotisation charges will be adjusted upwards accordingly from year three. I was hit a couple of months back for cotisation charges for 2004 and 2005 and given a month to pay them! As Val says, the more you earn, the more you pay. If you are buying and selling, your micro ceiling is around 76000 euros and bookkeeping is a bit more complicated - if you are paying TVA on goods and want to claim it back then it's really better not to go for the micro entreprise, but the next tax regime. However, as I said, according to recent news, things may change for the better if the government can agree a scheme whereby new micros pay less. In any case, speak to a local accountant (just for advise - don't sign up with one) and get the correct facts based on your proposed work and your region as there may be aid available for new businesses. Val - I agree with a lot you say, but many of us without mortgages, children and employees can manage (just about) on the micro. It's much easier and less stressful (for those who have no need of TVA repayments) than running a firm which necessitates the added costs of an accountant. And, it's much easier to step up from micro entreprise to the reel tax regime plus TVA registration than step backwards. Yes, as TU says, it's hard for small businesses in France and I buy the odd lottery ticket! But, the cotisations you pay cover you and your families health charges (you also have to have a top up insurance), and may give you a teeny pension one day.
  20. There really isn't much point in registering and working unless you're going to make some money, is there? As an artisan, gardener, hairdresser or similar running a micro your turnover ceiling is 27000 (for shops, chambre d'hotes etc it's around 76000 euros) of which in the first and second years you'll pay around 4000 a year in cotisations (health, pension and a bit to help towards France's debt). Depending on your income from the first and second years your cotisations will be adjusted up or down in year three. There is tax on top according to your income but you do get a higher tax allowance with a micro as you can't claim expenses as you can with other tax regimes. Apparently things may change for the better, according to the French government. Sorry, not explaining this very well - it's a bit late for me! The following website is a bit out of date but may help. http://www.apce.com/index.php?rubrique_id=300000112&type_page=IL&pays=1
  21. ....and if anyone is interested regarding the obligations of the artisans/works the decennale covers, this is a useful site: http://www.conseils-infos-batiment.fr/garanties/decennale.php
  22. We didn't pressure wash the interior walls, just scraped out the old loose muck from between the stones, repointed using Parex (a ready mix in sacks) which included the brushing back process so all the stonework got cleaned anyway. You could use a chaux and local sand mix (cheaper) but make sure you always use the same proportions otherwise, if you do it in stages, you'll get some colour/shade variation. I don't think it's a good idea to use a sealer over the top as the stonework needs to breathe - that's the whole point of using lime (never use cement). I just run the hoover over the walls occasionally (very occasionally) - for those who know me personally, there should be a smiley here!!!
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