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Misty123

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  1. I have heard that the pot bellied type are traditionally Spanish. The straight ones being French. In the same conversation I was speaking with someone who said they were refused planning premission because of this.
  2. We are in the third year of what we anticipated to be a 5-year project and are still on schedule and within our 25K budget.

    We are renovating a small village house into a 3-bedroom holiday home in southwest France near the Spanish border. It has not been lived in since 1970. It had a reasonably sound roof (some repairs needed), no floors upstairs no windows in the rear and an earth floor downstairs. No bathroom, kitchen plumbing or electrics but had mains supplies and a drain pipe along with resident bats, stray cats, and scorpions. Most of the internal walls needed repair. It has a small garden and a first floor terrace.  We are doing virtually all the work ourselves. We paid someone to lay concrete (too much like hard work on my own as my better half made is abundantly clear she was not up to mixing 25 tons of concrete), replace some roof tiles and fix a leak in a flat roof (discovered a leak on the last day of our visit after laying a pine floor upstairs), and point a stone wall (mind numbingly boring and well worth what we paid) 

    We get over about 8 times a year for between 3 days to 3 weeks at time. I am an electrician by trade and have some experience in the building game in the UK  (particularly in the art of botching and fudging [:)] ) The experience obviously helps but methods, materials and motivation are all different in France. 

    If we ever do it again - and we plan to - we would be more aware of a few potential pitfalls next time.

    • The cost of travel far exceeds the cost of materials, and is the often same as employing a builder for a week
    • We are a 3-hour drive (round trip) to our nearest full range DIY store. Our next project will be much closer. We have to allow a full day for a trip to the DIY store. They close between 12 and 2pm. It can take well over an hour find what you are looking for and then work out what you are actually buying. You can't just buy a bag of plaster, a tap connector or a can of varnish. For example, how do you ask a French sales assistant for a can of cellulose thinners and a 30 milliamp residual current device with 32 amp overload protection? Spending a whole day in the DIY store on a 4 day visit makes a big difference to what we can achieve. 
    • By far the cheapest supplier is Brico Depot but they tend to sell at the lower quality end of the range so you have to be careful what you are buying.  
    • A Brico Depot catalogue is our bible. It helps us budget and plan from the UK, it gives pictures for things with what they are called - words that cannot be found in any dictionary. They won't send one, you have to pick them up in person. They seem to be published in spring and have none left by the start of summer.  
    • French building materials often bear little resemblance to those we use in the UK. Things are not always obvious (for example, metric size PER plumbing pipe uses fittings measured in inches, Concrete 'breeze' blocks need to be placed the right way up ... I could go on... )
    • Rental car companies do not like us using their brand new Ford Focus as a builder's wagon. We cannot clean up a split bag of cement without them noticing and charging valeting to my credit card. We drive down once a year with a van or trailer (the trailer now lives there) and stock up with things like plasterboard, sand, gravel, timber etc. 
    • Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what we must do, what we can do and the way we should do it. All we can do is take it all on board and do what we think is best for us. It's a risk and we may have to undo some work and do it again, but that's all part of the fun.
    • We have had to be flexible with our plans and aspirations. Nothing original in the house is straight, horizontal or vertical. No two walls meet each other or floors or ceilings at 90 degrees. 'off the shelf' ready made things designed to be fitted against walls like staircases, fire places, kitchen units, bathroom suites, shower cubicles even beds and flatpack furniture do not fit without major adaptation. Deciding the best way to run floor tiles takes longer than actually laying them.  
    • The property we bought already had a mains water supply, mains drains, and electricity. We are ever so pleased about this and our next project would have to be something very special to be considered if it did not have them.
    • Our property is within the planning zone of the village church.  We have had to jump through flaming hoops to get the planning application through to convert a doorway into a window. Our village does, however, have a British person employed by the commune under 'entant cordial'  to assist the British with French bureaucracy. This has really helped. We hate our candyfloss pink painted walls but they’re staying pink because I've jumped through enough hoops already.  
    • The village community - particularly our nearest neighbours are delightful. They are friendly, helpful and patient with our appalling command of the French language. When we said to our neighbours that we were worried that we may be unwelcome as foreigners, let alone invading Brits, they replied that had we been Spanish German or Parisian, we would have already known about it. Our neighbour cuts the grass, forwards our mail, lets the meter reader in, and even leaves us bread, milk and something for breakfast if we're arriving on a late flight.

    After having the children it's the best and most rewarding thing we have ever done. We check Ryan air for cheap flights all the time and have even visited for just 2 nights (£60 for 2 return flights and £30 car hire). We are doing it on a very tight budget and are spending what we would otherwise spend on holidays and a pension top-up. My wife got a toilet and 10 sheets of plasterboard for her birthday this year, I think I'm getting some wall tiles and a sink unit. If we can't afford to buy materials at any particular time for one job we will do something else. There's always pointing, painting or plastering needed. There's no real pressure. At the end of the visit we tidy up, shut the door and catch the flight home until next time. Unless the job involves something time or weather critical we don't have to finish by a deadline because we don't have to live there. There have been times we thought we may have bitten more than we could chew and there are a few things that, with hindsight, we would have done a different way, but we are well over the top of the mountain and it's all downhill from now on. After 3 years we are both still eager to get back there. I wouldn't have spent over an hour typing this if I wasn't.

    Go for it. You can umm and ahh 'till the cows come home and providing you are not burning bridges to do it you can always back track. Contact a few estate agents in the area you fancy, tell them what you are looking for at 90% of your absolute maximum budget, organise your flight and hotel/pension and ask them for 4 or 5 viewings per day of what they think fits your bill. We saw about 12 properties over 4 days with 5 different estate agents with the original intention of just looking at the sort of thing that was available. We saw a lot of rubbish and a lot of properties the agents wanted to off load, some were better than others, but within 2 days of getting home we were placing an offer on one.

    Sorry, this has turned out to be rather long...

  3. It was 30 degrees on our terrace in January and it lasted all day - its in the mountains as well.  However it goes v. cold at night but worth it for lovely hot days.
  4. This might sound really dense but if the car is not actually in France for most of the time as its going to be kept in a private compound in Spain, do we have to re-register it at all?

  5. I know this has been covered many times but having trawled the posts both with and without the search facility and I am still somewhat bemused and confused. I apologise for raising this yet again but we are looking into buying an old car because we thought this may be easier and cheaper than hiring but it seems that it is almost impossible to do this and stay within the law. I must have mis-understood somewhere along the line...

    We are UK residents owning a holiday home in PO (66). 
    We visit about 10 times a year for one or two weeks at a time.
    We fly in and out of Girona Spain and drive into France.
    The car will spend most of the time in a private car park in Spain  - but be used mostly on French roads.
    It is not feasable to return the car to the UK for UK tax, MOT and insurance purposes.
    We have a French address but we are not French residents.
    We do not have a Spanish address.

    It appears that:
    We cannot use a UK registered vehicle as it is impractical to return it to the UK every 30 (or 90) days.
    We cannot register in Spain - where it will be mostly kept,  because we have no Spanish address.  
    We cannot register it in France because we are not technically French residents.

    Presumably the French option is the closest, but if we ever needed to claim (touching wood), is it possible the Insurance company may still refuse the claim because we are non-residents? Would the fact that the car was kept outside France also invalidate the insurance in the same way it would be if it was UK registered with UK insurance? Is this is one of the things one is just not legally permitted to do?

    On one hand we don't want to try to cheat the system or 'bend the rules' as we want to be legal and covered should the unthinkable happen, on the other hand, it has to be finantially and practically realistic as an alternative to hiring.[8-)] 

  6. Does anyone know of a company that does not charge the daily rate of 7 euros for going over the border from Spain to France?  None of them used to and you never know till you get there if they are going to or not!  We go to Gerona and usually use SolMar (who now charge).

  7. Couldn't you put ceramic tiles on it or decking?  That would hide the cracks and look nice!
  8. I think it looks really charming as it is! 
  9. Whitey, we will definately get some Syntillator, we had that for floor boards.  Did you use anything to 'clean' up the stones first or did you just paint them with the varnish?
  10. Hi all

    A builder has just finished buttering in an interior wall for us, and a nice job it is too.  However our French neighbour has told us that we should now wipe the exposed stone faces with a mix of sulphuric acid and Linseed to get rid of the surface residue.  Does anyone know if this works and if not, can I buy something ready mixed from Brico to do the job?

    Also we would like to seal in the wall so it shows up the colours of the stones to good effect.  Does anyone know of anything suitable for this?

    Many thanks.

     

     

     

  11. Wow!  Never realised there was so much to this!  Glad I asked question now.  Its a holiday home and its the whole of the first floor which comprises living room and two bedrooms (there is a bathroom but we are going to tile that).  The floorboards came from Brico so it probably is a cheap pine - it came in click together packs and its sanded but not treated/varnished.  The people we bought the place off had already don two thirds in it so we had to complete it.  We have already soaked it, and the rest of the new beams in the house with anti-termite stuff a couple of times.  I was hoping to get like a honey colour in the end as its quite 'yellow' at present.  We have no pets/dogs and I imagine that it will be quite light wear ie. no kitchen on that floor and the living room is like a second living room with a terrace off so it won't be used for dining etc.  I think its important to get all the rooms the same colour as the landing leads into the other rooms and it would look odd I think to have one room one colour another a different colour etc. 

    Thanks for any further help on this

    Misty

     

  12. Hi all

    Can anyone reccomend how we should finish our newly laid floorboards?  Do we stain them first then clear varnish or is there a stain & varnish product like we have in the UK?  We looked in Brico but they don't have the same sort of range that we have in the UK and I am totally confused about what we should do.

    Also, are we allowed to take varnish in tins on a flight?

    Thanks for any advice.

     

     

     

     

  13. Hi all

    Can anyone reccomend how we should finish our newly laid floorboards?  Do we stain them first then clear varnish or is there a stain & varnish product like we have in the UK?  We looked in Brico but they don't have the same sort of range that we have in the UK and I am totally confused about what we should do.

    Also, are we allowed to take varnish in tins on a flight?

    Thanks for any advice.

     

     

     

     

  14. Hi all

    Can anyone reccomend how we should finish our newly laid floorboards?  Do we stain them first then clear varnish or is there a stain & varnish product like we have in the UK?  We looked in Brico but they don't have the same sort of range that we have in the UK and I am totally confused about what we should do.

    Also, are we allowed to take varnish in tins on a flight?

    Thanks for any advice.

     

     

     

     

  15. Hi all

    Can anyone reccomend how we should finish our newly laid floorboards?  Do we stain them first then clear varnish or is there a stain & varnish product like we have in the UK?  We looked in Brico but they don't have the same sort of range that we have in the UK and I am totally confused about what we should do.

    Also, are we allowed to take varnish in tins on a flight?

    Thanks for any advice.

     

     

     

     

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