25 Jan 2007

More settling in . . . .

Hard to believe that I’ve been here for over two weeks already. Most things are now unpacked and put away, if only temporarily. The garage is still full of furniture to be collected (not yet organised) and rubbish for the dump.
My internet is now connected – the password and connection instructions arrived in the mail from France Telecom and I managed to get that organised. However, the satellite television connection is not so straight forward. Martin the electronics man turned up as planned yesterday and spent a lot of time high up a ladder against the courtyard wall. Then gives me the bad news that he can’t get a signal for the channels I want from there – cannot clear the neighbour’s roof. However, it can be rigged up from the front beam of the barn, on an extension pole (not that pretty!). But – given the developments of my meeting with the architect a few days ago – this will only be a temporary installation…….
Bruno was recommended to me by someone in the village who had used his services previously. He is an architect, and previously the Maire of the village of Homps (where I stayed in September). We went out to the barn and discussed the possibility of converting it into living space. Quite early on, he discussed budget and cost per square metre – sadly it was immediately apparent that it was way beyond my budget to do this. In hindsight, I had been overly optimistic in this department …..
So – back to the house and a walk around to discuss ways of dividing the house into two living areas – one to rent, one for me. This took a while, and finally we’d hit upon something that could work. Oh, and he advised that there was no way I would be able to turn any part of the attic into a roof terrace. The village is listed as ‘historical’ and this type of renovation is no longer allowed.
And then he says – but of course, you don’t need to develop ALL of the barn. So back to the barn – and to cut a long story short – it will probably be possible to halve the size of the conversion and create a much smaller living area for myself. Basically, it is an area of 10m x 10m (two levels). The idea is to remove the roof and beams from the front half, and be left with an area of say 10m wide and 5 deep. Still a good size of living area for one person. Not only is this the solution that allows me to go ahead with this plan, but it also increases my courtyard area by approximately 50 square metres. Yeh – more plants!
The architect is coming by again on Monday, and we will discuss what role he will play. There are three ways in which I can use him – (1) to apply for the planning permission, (2) to design and draw up the plans, and (3) to oversee / project manage the whole build. At this stage, I’m only committing to 1 and 2, and will decide how to approach the construction side of things a bit later.
So, back to the satellite dish – Martin says that the re-installation of the dish can be incorporated into the new build so that it is disguised as best as possible. So, he'll be returning in a few days with a new-improved mast.

Moving sideways

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