Friday, October 23, 2009

Back in Ouagadougou, one thing JP and I spent hours discussing was our house back in France. The main topic was how to enlarge the living space. He was all for knocking out some interior walls. I was more a proponent of adding rooms in the loft of the huge garage.

It was all fun to daydream about, at any rate...

But as the time for the move back to France drew nearer and our family grew older, we began to realise that at least a few of our idle daydreams would have to become a reality if all six of us were to fit comfortably in our moderately-sized, old-fashioned home in the Alps.

The first big project would be to take off the existing sad little hovel serving as a back entry hall:

...and replace it with a good-sized room that could serve as a giant cloakroom and staging area. Something like this:

It would have closets to store all the coats and shoes. Plus, the space would make getting ready to go out in the winter SO much less painful. Having four big kids in the kitchen, struggling in and out of their ski gear is very claustrophobia-inducing, as well as messy.

But getting from the first photo to the second one is not proving to be easy. Right away when I arrived back in France in July of 2008, I began trying to contact people about getting work done on the house. Wheels began to turn, but with glacial slowness.

It's now October 2009- 15 months from the day I started trying to get this project going and it's only this week that the real action finally started up.

On Tuesday, a team of men arrived, tore down the old shack (which is SO not missed) and began digging the foundation.

Looks like fun, eh?
They also worked at the front, preparing to pour new stairs to access the main door of the house:

So, there's plenty of action around here lately and not just outside the house. There have been people constantly in and out of the house. On Wednesday, when my second group of English students left, I was sure to follow them out the door and say loudly "Good English lesson! See you next week for another English lesson!". I was afraid that the guys working outside were starting to suspect that I have a home meth lab and am dealing from my living room.

Or maybe not. Do they even have meth labs in the French Alps?

I digress...

That day there were over twenty people in and out of the house (students, friends, family). I don't know why, but I'd thought that my life would contract when I moved to France. It's far from the case (and I think that's awfully nice). However, the fact that my home seems to be a central traffic point is becoming an issue, as our entrances and exits become increasingly blocked by the work. This morning, for example, the back door was sealed with plastic sheets from the outside and the path from the front door was completely blocked by the backhoe. Mallory was afraid of missing her bus and crawled out a window on the north side of the house.

When I got home this morning (I had to take JP to Geneva), the guys were pouring cement in the pouring rain. I had to squeeze between some drippy shrubs and scramble up a muddy incline to get to a door. But when the cement is all poured, they've promised to build us a little bridge across the wet cement. And that's very good, as I really don't want to be crawling in and out the window all weekend...


Maryon said...

How exciting! Anything that involves "Space" making is exciting. I am sure you are pleased that they are mainly outside which keeps the dust,debris and disturbance to a minimum, if that is at all possible. When we had our building work done they were on site for 9 months and by the end of it I was a wreck and needed a holiday to recover my hubris.
Don't be in a hurry to undertake all that building upheaval either -as soon as we had the space to enjoy as a family, they all left home to go to University and we had too much space...which I promptly filled ...with cats!
Good luck with it all and I hope winter does not come early.

babzee said...

Love the low-tech architectural design. I wish I could revamp my house with colored pencils!

oreneta said...

Your making me worried. Gak...
Though we are meeting with the Architect again tomorrow.

Joy said...

Wheee!! I am one of those odd people that LOVE renovations. All the stages of it, from the design through to the knocking down walls and putting everything back together again.

Have fun with it all, Beth!! I'm happy to get my reno fix vicariously through you and your blog for a while. Thanks!