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Buying materials in the UK


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I only tot up my reciepts once a year, I did it today and surprisingly it was one year to the day since I last did it, it yielded a surprise in how much my spending pattern has changed since 2005.

Back then I was all wide eyed and wearing the rose tinted specs, I had what was for me a ton of money behind me, practically nothing in UK rental income (I had a house-sitter at the time) which was less than the income from my savings (anyone remember those!) however the £ was at €1.48 and stuff generally looked cheap here, I was only really buying in the UK what I could not find in France.

A lot has changed since then, 2/3rds of what I had put by has already been wiped out and I realise that it was never enough to have started with, my income from the UK has dropped 25% due to the exchange rate and my costs there have gone up significantly, for the last few years I have been on an economy drive and seen my monthly outgoings reduce from €631 in 2007 to €348 in 2010 despite rising prices, I do these at the end of the year and dont expect to have reduced it any further this year but maybe............

Anyway during this period of hardship I have been very conscious of where I spend money on the build, getting best value if you like, I am making things like staircases that i would have bought before, I have not even used a labourer for several years, more and more money is being spent in the UK where things are generally cheaper but until today i didnt realise just how significant it has become.

Globallement I have bought 12% of my materials in the UK but in the first year it represented only 2.5% of the budget, in the last year it has been 51% [:-))]

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What are the outgoings on, everything, or just some things.

In France our outgoings ie bills in 2004 were approx 700€ month as we paid everything by prelevement, so down to a couple of hundred a month in Nov and Dec. Then we had to pay for food, diesel, car maintenance (husband detests working on cars, although he could ) clothes and holidays and savings(ha!! some chance) and work on the house and boiler servicing, the list goes on, I've probably forgotten some things.

Just been sorting out more paperwork this afternoon and found my accounts book 1996 to 2004, no idea where the next one is.

Our first 18 months in France and we were quite well off. We managed to get a cheap appt and pay went up just about everything month with inflation, then Mitterand stopped that and we started getting a house built and then we were poor for quite a few years.


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Pretty much everything, taxes fonçieres et d'habitation, electricity, water, telephone/internet, (house insurance has been suspended for a few years), car insurance, CT and service/repair parts, diesel and food, anything on top of that is considered either a luxury or unexpected and has to come out of savings.

I include all my trips to the UK, fuel ferry, tolls etc and also what I spend in Tesco/Asda etc as most of this is brought back to France for the store cupboard, there is nothing included for clothing but the few clothes I do buy come from Tesco so effectively are included.

Exceptionally this year I have had to replace every item of clothing that I own with the exception of socks, even though I have only replaced the minimum to get by I am sure that it will have pushed up the spending figure, perhaps not though as I no longer drink alcohol.

Things that are not included and come from savings are non essentials that I choose to pay for to retain my sanity, gym and keep fit classes, my cotisation to my diving club etc, 2 years ago I did actually go away with them at Pacques to Cassis which was exceptional, if it were something I did every year then I would have added €80 per month, I suppose by that token I should add €20 per month to cover the gym and diving club as  I will continue with them.

I actually feel that I live very well especially as I no longer have to answer to a patron or customers, its a good experience for me after many years of living aisé, one thing is for sure that when I get my first rental income in France my disposable income will shoot up exponentially, when and if all the apartments are finished and let I will feel like a billionaire.

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6 years ago I said I would have it all done in 2 years!

I recently re-read an e-mail that I sent 1 year ago saying I would have the first 2 flats finished in 6 months!

I am going to stick my neck out now and say publicly that the first two will be finished within a(nother) year!

As you can probably tell I am not rushed or fussed and am enjoying the journey [:D]

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Good luck to you, you deserve it [:)]

 One tip:  Aim for the 'respectable' end of the market, and try to make sure you get some sort of insurance for unpaid rent.

I let out two places at a very low rent, but they should cover my basic expenses,

 at least in theory....

Both get the APL from the CAF...but it means that I have to help them with the paperwork.

One got it wrong while I was in Hospital, and I haven't had any rent for 5 months.

The other has a 'debt' with the CAF (details I don't fully understand [8-)]) and so the CAF  keeps back 60€ a month for the moment to pay it off, which of course means that I am paying the tenant's loan...

In total that I am getting 220€  month instead of 480€, and the season of paying taxes approaches fast...

I think I have 'pigeon' tattooed on my fore head

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[quote user="Chancer"] 6 years ago I said I would have it all done in 2 years!
I am going to stick my neck out now and say publicly that the first two will be finished within a(nother) year!
As you can probably tell I am not rushed or fussed and am enjoying the journey [:D][/quote]

Quite a few parallels there, in 2004 we thought it would be finished by 2007, that was the big plan, i's dotted, t's crossed, all pigs fed and ready to fly; then perhaps it would be 2008 (even chiselled in stone), finally life got in the way and as they say 'there's still a bit to do'. As projects go it still yields enough pleasure that the journey has become neither rushed or fussed and as enjoyable as the finished article may hopefully be in the future, though I am not going to stick my neck out[8-|].

As for buying in France, of course in 2004 and for quite a few years it was enjoyable with the exchange as it was to buy everything in France, and travelling light. However I had to become more organised getting materials, rather than just in time when I discovered in France not everything was available off the shelf, and you were expected to commander à l'avance and wait 10 days even after driving up to 60-70K and back again. Exchange rates and fuel prices changed, which meant prices of obtaining locally was perhaps more than inconvenient but expensive; that was when I felt obliged to start a bill of quantities and accumulate materials ready for each segment (I won't say professionally) and at the same realised this was easier and cheaper in UK. Consequently I start with UK sourced materials and top off with local which though a significant chunk, well into four figures, is certainly less than it was.

Total spend so far? well who's counting, I gave up after getting ripped off and getting control back, do you add in ripping out and doing work again? It's certainly more cost effective to control who does what and when, and do what you can yourself.[;-)]

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