A garden and a doorway

Hi there, it’s been a while. I felt like there hadn’t been any major progress, so I didn’t really know what to post about. Plus, life kind of got in the way. But now that I’m looking back to find pictures, there’s a whole lot I can show you. Two things in particular: the garden and the bathroom.

So when I left off, we had finished the roof. You can see it here along with recent progress on the future vegetable garden.

almost like a real house

For reference, here’s what the vegetation looked like before. And an action shot of the brush-cutting which T did in February. 99% him by the way. I threw some branches on the fire but that’s about it.

before … and burning

On to the bathroom, which will be in the lean-to on the left side of the house. After our roofers finished, half of the old roof was inside the lean-to, so we had to dig it out (I actually did help with that!). And once we did, we got to the rock that the house is built on. We had a mini rock quarry operation going on, where T excavated slabs of rock to try and get a level ground.

left-July, right-October

Now that it was a bit cleaned up, we could call on our father-son roofing-masonry  team to come and open up a doorway between the main house and the bathroom.

lintel in place, stones coming down on the son side
the father side
the opening complete, beginning to concrete

And finally, the finished product. Since the bathroom is higher than the main house, the stairs will go down from the front door, stop at a landing in front of the door to the bathroom, then turn back down towards the ground floor.

view from the front door … and back up

More views

from the main house … looking down into the bathroom from the front

Next up is getting everything ready to pour the concrete floor in both the main house and the bathroom. Which means more digging, putting in drains (inside and outside), leveling, and then a whole bunch of layers of stuff to keep out the humidity and solidify the floor.

A bientôt!


The roof – part 3: tiles!

I was waiting to be completely done with the roof before posting, but since it’s ALMOST done and we’ve already moved on to other things, here’s the final installment.

Last you read, the roof panels were up and the gutters put in. We could have left it at that, but to better protect the roof and also to make it perty, we added tiles. T saw a sign on the side of the road a few months ago: “Tuiles à vendre”, so we were able to get some cheap used tiles. New ones would have stood out too much, and did I mention they were cheap?

They were just 10 minutes up the road, sold by the brother of our wood guy. There were 1300 of them to somehow get up to the house. The first attempt was in my Clio with our neighbor’s trailer.

la remorque

I have no idea how to drive with a trailer, and the extra weight meant that we couldn’t take a whole lot at a time. We wound up putting down the back seat and transporting the tiles directly in the car. After consulting the owner’s manual on weight limits for my car and doing a bit of math, we figured we could take about 150 each trip.

Since my car can’t make it up the path to the house, we stopped at the bottom and wheelbarrowed them up to the water tower.

halfway there

Our very helpful neighbor got the tractor of another very helpful neighbor and helped us get them all the way up to the house.

trip 1 of 3
tiles ready

The roofers left the scaffolding in place so that we could get on to the roof. To hold the tiles in place on the panels, we used hooks that I didn’t take a picture of. We started by drilling a hole 9 cm from the bottom of each of the rows for the first hook.


The tile slides right in to the bottom hook, you add another hook to the top and then slide on the next tile.

5 tiles down

Easy enough, until you get to the top of a line or around the skylight and a whole tile won’t fit, which means it needs to be cut. Also easy enough with a circular saw, except that we don’t have electricity. So we went out a bought a generator.

marking out the cut
cutting the tiles
somewhat precise cuts

The hardest part was actually getting the tiles up to the roof. I could only carry three at a time up the ladder, but we still knocked it out in about 3 days. We wound up using around 800 tiles.

We still need to finish the edges, but the roof is 99% done.

you can’t tell but there are tiles, promise

Right now we’re finishing cleaning out the debris, and picking away at the rock to make it as uniform as possible. We hope to be pouring the foundation in about two weeks, which means putting in drainage, deciding on where to put pipes, and way more stuff I’m sure!

The roof – part 2: renaissance

Now that the old roof is gone, the new one can go up! First there was a bit of masonry to take care of, good thing our roofers are also masons.

The lintel of the window in the front needed to be changed. So they took down the stones to get to the wooden lintel, changed it out with one of the old roof beams, and then put the wall back up. They also leveled out the walls all around the house.

changing the lintel
re-building the wall

Next came the wooden frame. And a layer of cement along the top of the walls.

level cemented walls

Now that the frame was done, the roof covering could go up. We decided to use fiber cement roof plates that we will later cover with tiles.

plaques sous tuile
putting up the plates

We also had some skylights put in, since there aren’t that many windows. And skylights are cheaper than putting a window in a 60 cm thick wall. They had to be way up near the ridge of the roof to minimize any chances of a leak.

skylights and a leg

Et voilà! The almost finished product.

roof! chimney! skylight!
more roof! and tiles ready to go

The house is dry! Well, there still aren’t doors and windows, but it’s a big step forward. We could leave the roof as is, but we decided to finish the job with roof tiles. The roofers left us the scaffolding until the end of June so we could put them up ourselves.

Next up, S & T tiling the roof!