An update about building a wooden chalet in South West France
How we are sourcing the utilities, water and electricity.
Three months ago at the beginning of March it is was becoming clearer that we needed a budget version contingency plan for finishing the house.
So how come three months later at the beginning of June we moved into the house with one water pipe and no electricity?
There was the meeting with Bertrand the electrician, the unwelcome revelation that we would have trouble getting power turned on unless the housing circuitry was complete. This meant finishing the minimum of, a kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom wiring. We met the 'Norme' the requirements for a new home.
The only way to have two sockets was to contact the authorising consenting body, the Consuel, for a temporary works supply or 'alimentation de chantier'. After some research we found this alternative requires another coffre or termination box with its own meter for 500 euros to have power for fifteen months.
As far as we know when we have our completed house circuitry or wiring stamped 'en accord' by a qualified electrician the Consuel will turn on the power.
Looking back, when I first heard this, the implications did not sink in.
Below the bottom line
Then there was the telephone conversation with M Chaud, the father of one of the best footballers in Craig's team. M Chaud is, in a less important role, a very good plumber and we were talking about some technical points.
Back further again, in March, after weeks of stress and poor nerves, partly as a result of the leaking windows, Craig and I did not know which way we were facing and so could not agree on a bathroom design. This meant that the day M Chaud had arrived to see what bathroom work we wanted to commission, he found he had to sketch a layout that we both rapidly agreed, including having a separate W.C.
Later that week, Tracy, a neighbour and an Immobilier or estate agent, arrived with two clients to show them our house. We were examining leaks as usual, but seeing a way forward, I grabbed Tracy by the arm and asked her how she would design the bathroom.
"A separate W.C ? Do you really want a separate W.C. you mean not in the same room?" she said.
"No, no of course not," I said just as quickly swayed another way. Tracy then set the washbasin opposite the window with sunlight falling on the mirror, knocked down the wall that M Chaud had so recently visualised and in two minutes changed it all around, which we both quickly agreed upon.
So that was how we came to our current bathroom design, à la Tracy.
So back to the telephone conversation with M Philippe Chaud, speaking in a strong local accent, trying, I realised, to clarify what we wanted in our bathroom.
"Evier ceramique ou plastique?"
"Is that the object that goes in the kitchen?" I said "for the washing?" "Yes, yes, yes," he said. "Ceramic" I said. "Ceramic is much better but it is more expensive," Philippe Chaud said. "Ceramic, the best," I said.
The next day when M Chaud went to Lacaze to install the septic tank outlet pipe, I saw he was carrying a brown envelope, he had finally brought the devis or estimate for this bathroom work. But as he walked towards the house, he thought better of it and replaced the envelope in the back of the van, plus tard, later.
My eyes fixed on the envelope I had soon opened it and sneaked a look while he was bent over the pipework.
The devis or estimate for 4,700 euros, 'too much.'
Later we chose the first three tasks which would connect the outlet pipes to the septic tank. Craig thought it included the internal pipes, but this, M Chaud later explained would be a few hundred euros more. Craig then asked for a bathroom tap and M Chaud put another 200 euros on the bill. I telephoned Philippe Chaud, leaving a message to say that we had a limit and no way could we go over that and please could we have a tap.
M Chaud called back, could Craig possibly help Alex, a former player of 'le foot' now in a rival team, and M Chaud's assistant? Craig pointed out, as ironies go, of all the team players Alex was the only one he had ever argued with. Still with Craig helping the "main d'oeuvre" or labour costs could be reduced. Agreed.
Off went Craig, yet again, the week before he had helped with the delta drainage pipes for Brondel Frères, now Craig became the plumber's assistant's assistant.
(Later on, he will be the builder and the tree planter while I will become the electrician).
So that is how Craig came to crawl in and out of the vide sanitaire while Alex tried propping pipes, precariously it seemed to me, on breezeblocks, parpaigns and placed the out pipes.
That was how the bottom line contingency plan became the survival camping kit which we began with in June.
The video background of the USA is not significant..