Author: emmypostma

The renovation has started!!!

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Finally the ‘real’ work is beginning: I have my ideas about how it should become, but is it possible? 
At this very moment there is only one toilet upstairs and one bathroom, on the ground floor, with a shower, but no toilet! 
The new bathroom will be in the room next to where the the toilet now is, the wall will be removed: so this will be a huge bathroom with shower, toilet and a roll top bath! 
But if we start there, we will have to do without a toilet for a while and if we start in the bathroom downstairs, we will have no shower. That could be a big problem while there will be 8 of us, man and women…
We, my friends and I, discuss the situation with the builder… and then he found the best solution: make a toilet in the downstairs bathroom and start working on the first floor with the new bathrooms! 

And then the big work starts: the drilling and demolition and suddenly there are holes in the wall and ceiling.
Not just little ones but very, very big holes…
Also the excitement is getting bigger and bigger, because we don ‘t know what kind of trouble will be revealed.
For instance, the septic tank: where exactly is it and is it working? Where are all those tubes going to? Or the toilet flushing: where is it going to? It should go to the septic tank, but is it really going there? Or will this be the first big problem?

Outside the chateau some of the drains are broken or seem to be there without any purpose. The question is: if the toilet is flushed where does it go to…? There are too many lids of tanks we cannot explain. 
After some digging and following the old toilet drain, it seems the drain is broken because it was blocked and the toilet water flushes into the wall and in the room underneath…
This room is already very badly damaged by termites and the floor is for 95% gone. This is how we discovered the room at our first visit. So it is obvious that the problem has a longer history! 
This room underneath was original the library but we call it now the “TERRIBLE” room.

An other problem is the electricity: there is not enough power for all supplies. Instead, there is a mash of cables, sometimes tight together, sometimes in old pipes and there are strange plugs for very small connectors.
If you put on the big water boiler you can’t use the washing machine at the same time. The electric fuses have been in deep trouble because of shortcuts or worse….?
To reset the system you have to go to another building 45 meters away. It is not a pleasant trip to make on your own during the night. That was exactly what happened in February, just an hour after Rutger and my sons had left for Holland. I couldn’t avoid a slight panic attack because I was all alone and it was freezing cold. Then armed with a key and a torch the problem seemed less difficult than I thought.

Most problems I encounter are not so easy to solve unfortunately…
For instant when we were deconstructing the ceiling of the old toiletroom we discovered that the termites had damaged the beams there as well. Of course I expected this would be the case but one can always hope that there is an exception.
For this probleem we had to find a solution: to reinforce the beams we need to put new beams on both sides and let them rest on the thick chateau walls. So we had to search for very large beams, size: 480 x 28 x 8 cm.
Will this mean the end of my budget? We are all worrying, beams are terrible expensive! 
But first we have to find a company which can provide those beams.
Surprise, surprise: there is a timber company near Neuvic, 5 minutes from the chateau!
A wonderful company with an impressive stout woman in charge.
We wanted oak beams but that wasn’t easy. Delivery time 4 weeks. We can’t afford such a delay. The woman in charge suggested Douglas beams instead.
I was rather nervous about the price of those beams. If it is more than 1000,- euro, I have to scrap something else out of my plan…! No way I couldn’t afford my roll top bath!

Fortunately it’s much cheaper than we expected, or is this figure she mentioned for just one beam? No, it is for all 4! I am very relieved and happy again. When will they be ready?
‘ La semaine prochaine (I will give you a phone call next week)’ , the woman tells us.
Let’s hope it will be okay and the delivery will be in time.
Next problem: We have to get those beams to the chateau and probably an even bigger problem, how will they get to the first floor? 

It sounds so romantic…

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It sounds so romantic: buying a chateau in France, a fairy tale!
It is a bit less romantic when in reality, there is so much damage done by termites, a lot of damp and a leaking roof. Reality is not so romantic when you know that I have to do almost everything by myself with a very limited budget.
The chateau needs a lot of TLC (Tender, love and care) and there will be a huge number of jobs to be done before I can live my dream: opening the B&B and most of all cooking for my dear guests…
Yet, I still see the future very optimistic!

Ok, not when it’s a dark and grey outside, the weather is cold and rainy and I have to sit inside early evenings: then I feel a bit depressed and lonely.
Not when it’s raining cats and dogs and I have to force myself to inspect the immense attic to see where it is leaking.
Not when I force myself to go to some of the rooms where it is damp and the wooden floor is wobbly. At those moments I am so afraid of all the problems that might occur and can not be solved because of my budget.

But most of the time I am very optimistic and dreaming of beautiful country bathrooms with roll top baths and lion feet, original French floor tiles (tomettes) and brocante treasures.

Meanwhile, everybody is asking me about the renovation and if the planning is going well.
But yet, I haven’t really started besides removing paint and wallpaper.
I am still thinking about the best layout for the bathrooms and the best materials (the most romantic materials I mean).
I think that is why I am still optimistic: I am dreaming about what it all could become…

Once upon a time…

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How it all started… “once upon a time”…there was a ‘chateau for sale’ or as the French agent mentioned “chateau in need of restoration”!
Rutger, my husband, sent me an email with information about the chateau with lots of photographs and the famous words: “needs a little bit of work, darling!”

This was such an invitation to someone who was dreaming for years about a Maison en France! A dream about a whole new life with lots of sun and living outside in a green environment.

I dreamed about starting a chambres d’hôtes (Bed & Breakfast) and especially about tables d’hôtes, so I could share my passion for cooking and good food with my guests!  I always loved watching tv programs about people moving to France who are starting a new life….

The pictures on the French real estate website showed a grey and neglected chateau, but with two promising little towers. Uhhmm, is this really what we are looking for?? But it made me curious and I convinced my husband to plan a visit or as they say in French ‘a Rendezvous’ (RDV).

January 2018, we payed a visit to the chateau for the first time and I think that I was smitten right away. What an unique opportunity: a chateau with lots of land around, to be precise 6 ha. Difficult to imagine how big that is. The chateau looked very sad on this rainy day, although I was impressed by it’s appearance. Inside it was not looking very promising. The whole place was full of all sorts of things: furniture, books, clothes and a lot of rubbish. Everywhere it was packed with useless stuff and dirt, but the worst of all was the water dripping on the stairs, it was obvious that something was leaking. It turned out to be the roof that was in a bad shape… In the kitchen it was clear that there were termites who made a view big holes in the beams.

We visited the chateau for a second time that week and I was convinced that it had a unique selling point with ten rooms, beautiful old features and those lovely towers. We went back to the Netherlands and the chateau was still on my mind…

But then there was a little crisis: Rutger did not want to live permanently in France and most of all, he didn’t want to buy the chateau. We seemed to have lost each other in the whole process… I thought it would be a real opportunity and didn’t want to give up so easily. So I did some research how to achieve the chateau on my own to make it into a succes. In the end I decided to buy the chateau on my own and have a big adventure while renovating the chateau. Maybe even the rest of my life.

So this happened already more than a year ago and at this moment I am in my dilapidated chateau all by myself. My husband Rutger just went back to Holland last week and my friend, who helped cleaning, just left two days ago. 
Here I am, for the next four weeks all by myself and it just crossed my mind “what was I thinking…?” 

Well it is the end of March, the sun is shining, I am most of the time outside in the garden or on the porch and it’s 20 degrees in the shade… 

To be  continued…To be  continued…