So far most posts which we have written and were related to our house were posts regarding the garden. Of course, it was way easier to write them: I had already written them for a gardening forum and all was required was simply copying them and translating them into English. At some point we had to start with the repairs inside the house. However, before getting into that, it is logical to present what we started with. So here are picture we took in Spring 2009 while the former owners still lived there. The idea is to introduce the extend of the work we have to do...
I expect I'll be able to post a few plans to accompany the pictures at some point. For now we only have paper versions and I'll have to scan them first...
Regarding the repairs we intended to do we chose to get some help from a general contractor to help us define exactly what we intended to do, choose the companies who would do the work and manage the day-to-day oversight of the project. In the end here is what was planned (roughly):
- install a rain water collection tank
- change the kitchen French window, which wasn't of the same model as the others on the ground floor of the house
- install insulated doors in the basement
- install new doors on the 1st floor
- plaster works:
- in the basement, insulate the ceiling and create a new room which would become the server room
- on the ground floor, remove the wall between the hall and the living room, add walls to create cupboards in the hall and the 3 rooms
- on the first floor, line the vertical parts of the walls to increase the insulation and add new walls to fit with the new plan
- replace completely the whole electric installation of the house
- add network cables to connect the whole house for either computer network, phone or TV
- install a network distribution rack in the future server room
- change completely the heating system (boiler, heaters and network)
- install a new bathroom on the first floor
- connect the house to the town gas network
- set up the rain water network
- replace the old water pumps in the basement
- replace the ugly tiles in the hall, living room, dining room, kitchen and ground floor corridor
- tiling of the toilets and bathroom on the first floor
- tiling of the new server room in the basement
- repair and painting of the walls and ceiling of both staircases
We asked for the estimates in July 2009, signed them in September 2009 and actual work by the various contractors started in October. So you can guess there are plenty of opportunities to describe how it went !
We were subjected to a rather big storm early in June - with somewhat... dramatic... consequences. Short version: some water sept in through the basement's walls on the front side of the house. We spent a good part of the night "playing" around with floor clothes and buckets. That's what it looked like in the morning:
This is the other part of the basement:
We definitely needed to take action quickly. Feeling paranoid and checking the basement every 5 minutes whenever it rains doesn't sound like much of a long-term plan. So we had an earthwork contractor come over to give us a quotation on weatherproofing the house's foundations on the front of the house.
As it turns out, it's kind of a good news/bad news scenario.
The good news: the contractor is (well, should be, anyway) coming this week to do the actual work. So, if everything goes as planned, we'll be able to stop worrying whenever it rains.
The bad news: we need to clear 1.5 to 2m of terrain along the wall.
So I had to remove all of this :
I started by moving annual plants (well, you never know, some of them might survive it), and today I moved all remaining perennial plants (or put them into jars).
I also had to clear the area between the manhole on the right and the right border of the picture below:
It took a while, but now I have a wonderful mine field where the lovely flower bed used to be
So where did the plants go? Well, I re-planted annuals wherever I could. Perennial plants are waiting in jars or buckets... That's what it looks like:
There were quite a few petunias amongst the annual plants I moved, and they're not in a very good shape for now. However the rest don't look too bad for now... Even if they were dying, it would not be a serious problem. Most perennial plants are looking fine as well, I'm only a little worried about rose bushes. Worst case scenario, I'll have to prune them to reduce the amount of leaves and flower buds they need to feed.
I find the situation quite annoying at any rate - having to destroy one of the few areas of the garden that really started to look good... On the other hand it's better to do it now, I suppose, as the plants haven't been taking root for too long. If we'd found out about the flooding later, their roots would have been more developed and it would have damaged them even more.
Still in the "mine field" category, but somewhat more rejoicing: I dug up some of the potatoes (the earliest cultivar).
Granted, most of them are really small, and the yield is low. On the other hand, this Spring was really dry and the soil was poor, so it's mostly a good surprise; in addition, potatoes seem to really improve the soil, as they break clods.
And yes, there are two types of potatoes on the picture: the red ones grew in the compost heap, probably from potato peelings!