La Petite Touche The Story Continues


In January 2009,

the weather remained cold, but it was still possible to get some work done, including preparing the new window in Gite 2

The new salon window

In February 2009

it was reported that further developments had taken place, but the weather had also played its part. Because of the cold weather (yes 2008/9's winter was also pretty cold) the laying of the chape (concrete screed) for the upper floor was delayed and then it took longer to dry than expected. (The lower the ambient temperature the longer the concrete would take to go off.) There was also snow ("it doesn't snow in the Loire")! However there had been some progress, as the upstairs did by now have a flat floor!

Upstairs, the new floor was laid and stair cutouts made

Upstairs - the new floor Cutouts for Stairs

In Gite 2 The Cave and the new Kitchen start to take shape

Gite 2 - the kitchen (with the cave) Gite 2 - the kitchen (with the cave)

By 1st March the new front door for Gite 2 was in place

The new Front door

April 2009

and the weather had improved from the inclement days of February. The new Lucarne (dormer window) had been fitted in Le Petit Bosquet. (The sight of 2 artisans using chain saws to cut through the roof timbers was more than a man could take!) All the doors and windows for Le Vieil Atelier were in and the internal plumbing and electrical work was moving on apace. Upstairs in Gite 2 some minor redesign work had taken place as, following the laying of the chape, it became clear that the intended bedroom layout would mean lots of bumped heads! Not entirely unexpected that something would come "out of the woodwork" as the work progressed. But it was resolved, thankfully, before any of the internal walls had been fitted.

Gite 1 - new lucarne Gite 1 - new lucarne 2

Outside, the "Rose Garden" benefited from the addition of new roses and the first blooms were eagerly awaited! We had also taken out a conifer that wasn't where we wanted one to be. The Courtyard and driveway however were looking "battleworn" and would clearly need attention once the major works were completed, as would the area around the back of the house.

During May 2009,

as the weather got better, so the pace of work seemed to have quickened. Surely not just a coincidence but possibly helped by longer days. (With no internal lighting what you can do in mid-winter does have limitations!) Since the last update only a few weeks before, the drylining, along with the addition of huge amounts of insulation, had been completed and work also moved on with the electricity and plumbing. The new salon in Gite 2 looked wonderful. The floor tiles were "imminent" and even some of the bathroom fitments had started to appear. We would soon be in a position to start decorating and putting in some of the finishing touches.

Outside, more work had been undertaken with the addition of further roses in the "Rose Garden" and three new trees in the orchard. The growing season was well and truly upon us and everything seemed to be gaining inches every week. We found out that we have some bluebells next to the hangar. Every year we seem to find something new.

The downstairs shower room in Gite 1:

Gite 1 - new shower room Gite 1 - new shower room

Upstairs walls and insulation for the bedroom in Gite 1

Gite 1 - bedroom Gite 1 - the new lucarne from inside
Gite 1 - bathroom

In the salon of Gite 2, new ceiling traditionally plastered and dryline walls

Gite 2 - the salon Gite 2 - new ceiling

And also in Gite 2 the Cave and the Kitchen get the drylining treatment

Gite 2 - the kitchen (walls going up) Gite 2 - the kitchen (towards the cave)

And upstairs walls and insulation are added

Upstairs - the new bedroom Upstairs - new bedroom 2

July 2009

As predicted in the update in May, decorations had by now started. However, in Gite 1 only the upstairs rooms had been started and the bedroom completed. Attempts to decorate had been interrupted by "the carreleurs" starting work, in the downstairs salon, which was now starting to look like one room! In Gite 2, downstairs we made more progress with 3 coats in the new kitchen - one more for the ceilings still required - and the decoration of the salon was now completed. The stairwell was still "work in progress" (partly because we couldn't decide what colour to do it) but the bedroom had been completed.

The tiled floor of the salon in Gite 1

Gite 1 - salon - tiled

with decoration of the bedroom completed

Upstairs - the new bedroom painted Upstairs - new bedroom again

And the almost completed decorations to the kitchen, whilst the cave will remain with "feature" bare walls!

Gite 2 - the kitchen painted Gite 2 - the cave

The salon and the kitchen in Gite 2 are tiled

Gite 2 - the Salon tiled Gite 2 - tiled Kitchen

The Bedroom in Gite 1 tiled

Gite 1 - tiled bedroom

In terms of the structural work, things were pretty much complete by this time, with the exception of the staircases, which are the last major item (partly so that they don't get used until the renovations are complete). Internally we had a working bathroom and kitchen, which effectively meant that passable comfort was now almost possible. The remaining work was scheduled over the next few weeks (before and after holidays). Apart from the staircases and glazing of the small windows, the remaining items were either cosmetic or final fix; electric lights, power sockets, and the like; with shower and bathroom fittings and the remainder of the wall tiling. Still quite a bit to do, but progress much more visible.

Finally the staircase is fitted

Gite 2 - the Staircase Gite 2 - the Salon furnished

And kitchen fittings

Gite 2 - Kitchen fitted

Outside, "the heap" of all the stuff that had come out of the house during the renovations, remained to be cleared and the drive still awaited some, well a lot of, tlc. The roses seemed to have taken, albeit with one or two casualties, and the trees planted earlier in the year had begun to establish themselves. The hot weather at the end of June wasn't best for them though, but the rain in early July had helped a tad. (That, however, was the last rain until September which severely stressed the new trees and it won't be until Spring before we know whether they have survived.)

By August 2009,

further and visible progress had been made. The carreleurs (tilers) had now all but completed their work, both walls and floors. Only some final "plinth" work still remained to be completed; in both Gites. It was by now, at last, possible to see exactly how the rooms would look and they were really just awaiting furniture to be added. Except, of course, the salon in Gite 1 and the bathrooms which remained to be decorated.

The electrical and plumbing work had also moved forward with much progress here too. The large walk-in showers in the upstairs bathrooms had been fitted out and both bathrooms looked stunning! It was really worth it as we had had to find not one, but two, designs for them. (When the artisan went to order the first design that we had chosen, he was told that although the design appeared in the catalogue, actually they had never made any, so if they were required it would be "about 6 months" before they could be manufactured; which was much too long a lead time - and of course there was no guarantee they would ever actually produce any. So it was back to the catalogues to find another suitable design.) As it turned out the second choice was probably better than the original, if a bit more expensive. Having used them we are now convinced it was all so much the better.

And in the last week before the August holiday began in earnest one of the staircases was fitted.

The bathrooms have tiles and a shower enclosure

Gite 1 - bathroom Gite 1 - new shower room Upstairs - the bathroom and shower installed

So what remained to be done? Well we still awaited one staircase; due at the end of the month. Glazing of the small "feature" windows has been prefaced by delivery of the glass and at least one was complete, but finishing off still remained. Then there was the "heap"; mentioned in more than one past bulletin - still to be cleared. Filling in of the various holes made in the house, driveway and courtyard had also been done.

September 2009

saw the arrival of the furniture and kitchen cabinets. Both holiday cottages were now furnished to a greater or lesser extent although some furniture was still awaited. The new kitchen in Gite 2 was fitted and working, taps and a gas bottle being the only outstanding features.

On the renovation front, since last month was "August" not a lot happened. We still, at the time of writing, awaited a staircase, some shutters and the juliette balconies for the front of the house. However these were all "in fabrication" so would be arriving imminently. Outside there were still a number of holes to be filled, so we didn't get any more unwanted "guests"! (We had had a few souris which were relocated, humanely, away from the House.)

Those of you who were following the "heap" saga. Yes, it was still there, but it was destined to be leaving the premises soon.

Add a bespoke staircase and finally the furniture - "eh voila!" but still decorating to do here.

Gite 1 - salon - staircase Gite 1 - salon - staircase

October 2009

was 1 year since Phase 1 of the renovations started and the end was, thankfully, almost in sight.

Since the last update, the long awaited second staircase for Gite 2, shutters and Juliette Balconies for the front of the house, had all arrived and been fitted. Much of the snagging work had also been completed. The gaps around the small windows, holes in the walls and other minor jobs had been done. Also the exterior of the front of Gite 2 had been rendered, a fine job indeed! Only a few small jobs remained to be done, hopefully by the end of the month.

And so to the "heap". Finally it had been helped on its way and the courtyard area had been levelled to remove the ruts made by the crane when the new beam had been installed in Gite 2, last winter.

In November 2009

at long last we could report the completion of Phase 1 of La Petite Touche renovations. All of the minor snagging remarked upon in the October report had been completed and signed off.

Now that the renovation work is complete we can concentrate on those little finishing touches that make a house into a pleasant place to stay, such as additional lighting, pictures, mirrors and other decorations.

We also started work outside to make a couple of garden areas for each individual Gite and more roses were planted for the Rose garden. (This did not progress quite as well as it might have done because of the dry weather which extended to the end of October.)

The next major renovation work phase will be on the second half of the main house. But that will be another story!