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Fun and Frustrations in France

Updated: May 9


In equal measure.

Oh what a lovely relaxing weekend, we've had here in the SOUTH WEST! Glorious down time after many stressful weeks, months or years even!

I'm still VERY taken with this area the second time around. It offers us everything we want and need in life, so I guess we have a long term plan now?

J'adore the Charente and its happy sunflowers!

Of course, It would be easy to regret not staying on here after November 2021, but we had family issues up the 'ying yang' and his client in London was rather calling the shots back then, so we jumped on the 'half life' bandwagon, which BTW was a terrible idea! It's also cost way too much in the end. The moral of this story is that 'life and shit often happen simultaneously' whether one likes it or not! Still, it's good to be back, familiar and better for us to move on positively from the last few years. I honestly can't believe how the years are flying by, I need a minute.

It's a nice thing though, isn't it? Knowing that despite France, being so generous with its land mass, we have found the 'area' of our dreams.

The French Wreck?

Keeping the faith here, that everything will work out in the end?

Or am I?

Sure it will.

Essentially, this renovation is only our second, the first in France, but the first where it's almost a new build inside ancient walls!

Anyway, despite our first sunny weekend back in La Belle France, still being super fresh in our minds, we have to remember the reason we are here and that's to get the house renovation done! Progress has been very, very slow since the run up to Christmas, but we had hoped for a spring push towards mid May to get us in, finally. That D Day is the 10th of May (this week) and of course it won't be happening now, because we simply need more trades on the job and we were deluded.

In other news, the beautiful reclaimed hallway floor has been quite the challenge, but the contractor has done an amazing job with it, way beyond expectations. However, I think his back may need a holiday now, bless him.

So we've rushed across the channel to get back to France full time and we are already changing the scope and priority list. Moving as quick as we can to try and get it all moving in the right direction. Why are we not surprised that we are at this juncture, because there's a pattern emerging here that's why. We cannot hope to manage this project from afar and as I said we are lacking 'boots on the ground' big time. The months pass by and we are still stuck in slow mode.

Trust has been a big feature in our decisions, after all the shenanigans last Spring. We felt it would be better to just cope with a slower reno, with folks we trust, until by Christmas 2023, we realised we'd never be done at the rate we were going. Months into 2024, we are pretty much as stuck as ever we were and it's become a real issue now. Each and every job is way more complex than we could have imagined. We do realise there's a tipping point coming soon, when suddenly all the big jobs will be done and then it's all about the finishing. It's a hump we need to get over and soon.

So we've pulled up our big girl and big boy pants, adapted to the fact that we are where we are and given ourselves extra breathing space, of around six to eight weeks, renting initially in the south west, to ensure it is done! Not ideal, but necessary, only the main contractor isn't going to be available for a big chunk of the next few months, which we didn't know with too much advance warning. Now we do, so we have to figure this out and soon.

Hey Ho! We roll with the punches. It's important to remember that people have lives of their own eh?

Him in doors and I had a summit last night, totted up the spends, versus the work done to date, what's left to do and of course what time we are being offered by our incumbent team. Getting the priority list sorted for what help we do have. It's deeply concerning, because between now and the end of June our contractors mostly have other commitments, which is fair enough. Don't get me wrong, we aren't after quick, cheap and cheerful fix, no sticking plaster approaches wanted, our contractors have real talent, but there is a budget and a limit to the time we have to get it finished. It a conumdrum.

Shit happens, it so does and people have lives to live as I said, they do, but that leaves us at a cross roads? This constant delaying cannot go on and we would be fools to let it. It's not and has never been an open ended project. It's also costing us a lot of time, money, sanity and the end date isn't nearly in sight. Remember, I'm not talking about a full finish here, just the rooms we need to be able to function in initially and then the work can carry on around us. At this rate we will still be renovating come Christmas 2025! If and when we move in, we need to be able to function because Mr H is still working full time. We can't be all over the house with plastering, knocking out plaster and ceilings and floors being worked on all at once, it would be impossible.

We just need to be able to plan ahead, but we can't as it stands which is never good. Not ever knowing how much time is going to be dedicated to renovating per week by the contractors, is taking its toll on us. It's worse than frustrating now, it's left us rather flummoxed to say the least.

How can we plan?

What to do?

Thats the million dollar question?

I guess we have no choice but to look around for more help? Boost the current team by taking some of the weight of the big stuff off them, It's necessary. The longer this goes on the more painful it becomes. I just don't know how people live in their properties whilst renovating? Mind you, they probably don't start the whole house in one go! We are learning the hard way. Yes, absolutely, we need people in to say, blast the plastering and other bigger jobs we need to be able to function at a basic level.

We do need consistency and commitment in abundance going forward. We also need more than a few days here and there to get the train back on the track so to speak. It's now abundantly clear, that we have to work with what we can get from the current team to a point, but not at the cost of us getting in at the end of June. That deadline has no give as it stands. Although, we are planning to find a longer stay 'somewhere' if need be. If we've learnt anything, it's to have a contingency plan.

There's no doubt that us not being on site has added to the mix somewhat, but I doubt the people working for us would have spent more time than they've already given? They give what they can I guess and I do feel that in hindsight a 'price per big job/per room' with a set, but reasonable time limit, would have been better for us? We live and learn eh?

Going forward, I'd like to know what's what and when, get value for money and if I don't it's a big problem for someone down the line, mainly us. When it get's too complex, way too demanding, we the client aren't winning, it's our problem to solve and it's time to sort it out once and for all. So he and I have been chatting throughout the rainy evenings here, to try and find a solution that suits everyone.

I know there's always a little push and shove, but when I feel there's a lack of momentum and availability, I have to find another way. I'm putting patient Donna back in the box for good and dragging P with me. It doesn't matter how good a trade is, if it's taking 100 times longer than we need it to due to lack af availability, it's just not going to work for us. For now, there's no point crying over split milk, we will just have to scout around again for some specific trades to help out move it all forward and I'm not above bringing them in from UK, Poland or wherever frankly! Needs must.

I do sincerely hope we are in by the back end of June, but I can't be certain at this point in time? Going forward it's going to be as difficult as we let it be, isn't it? I think he and I are alined in that we need a sharp end to the big stuff, so we can move on and live our lives, which have been on hold for far too long.

Put simply, we can't sit still anymore. We have to fill in the gaps with other people and make it work for us. We are also toying with never moving in, selling or renting it out and buying in the SW within the next year? However, that won't change the pace we need to finish it first!

Who knows where we will land, but for now, the only priority is getting to the finish line.

Send positive vibes?

Lord it's frustrating!

Life is a highway........!

D x

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