The renovation of Chez Pouvet
Up on the roof
We are utilising the best of traditional techniques and traditional materials to repair and re-roof the buildings .
All roofs will be stripped, necessary timbers replaced and the beautiful Charente terracotta tiles reset. This is quite a challenge we have four buildings to complete all in various conditions - the barn alone has circa 27,000 tiles.
As each building becomes weatherproof we'll move to the interior transformations.
Exterior construction will include the fenced swimming pool, the cloisters, and extensive paths and gardens.
This can be hard going in the French winter!
The work so far - the first Gite
When we moved into the property we were able to have a proper look at the condition of the buildings. Oh dear!
We discovered that the roof had been leaking for years and so there was no alternative but to completely strip the building back to a shell. When we removed the stud walls the rain was running down the walls like a waterfall – very pretty but not ideal...
So we set about repairing the roof first. This was a major challenge as the Gite sits between two other buildings and so has to handle its own rain water plus the two other buildings as well. The quantity of water when it rains is therefore massive! The roof also has 2 valley gutters which were very difficult to access and are notoriously difficult to get right...
We stripped the roof back and replaced the volige (Sark boards) laid new felt, fitted new gutters, valley gutters as well as replacing many tiles that had become porous. This took 2 months. AND IT STILL LEAKED !!!!!!!!! So strip back again and this time render the overhanging walls and finish with one continuous run of lead flashing. AND IT STILL LEAKED !!!!!!!. (But not much) So strip back again and find the source of the leaks – not an easy thing to do. Pray, and finally we appear to have a 100% watertight roof. This roof took the best part of 3 months as Ian was doing this job on his own with the help of our neighbour, Arthur and it’s winter – no builders involved. It’s such fun when your tools stick to your hands because of the cold!
With the roof fixed we now looked at the walls. These had suffered much water damage so all four walls were repaired by back pointing with lime mortar and new stone added where required. With stone walls it’s important to check the top of the walls as water will get in. The walls are 50cm wide so this had to be done. All walls were capped with new stone and lime render.
The previous owners had installed an upstairs bedroom which did not work so the interior was completely ripped out. (We are having the Gite as a ground floor only with two en-suite bathrooms)
Next the floor! There were six floor levels with steps everywhere. Very dangerous for guests so we set about digging out and creating a new flat concrete floor. Now done. What a joy
We have raised the front door to create a bigger French door to catch more sunshine. This involved raising the lintel – in an unstable stone wall. Risky. But just like The boys on Top Gear “How hard can it be”?. Very actually! We had a wall collapse!! So this was duly repaired. This was very demoralising but you just keep going...
New velux windows were installed in the roof as well as new doors and small windows – which had to be made to measure.
We now have a stable, dry building and we are now doing the nice interior jobs. We have had all the oak beams shot blasted, repaired the King Post (well done to my old mate Steve who spent a day fitting a new post – proper job).
The ceiling is now finished and looks fantastic.
We have decided to put cedar window sills in which should look lovely. We removed the old oak ones which of course had dry rot...
So at last we are close to first fix with just internal walls to be built and plumbing and electrics to go in. The weather is delaying us at the moment because it’s too cold (about minus 12) to mix mortar.
Despite the delays and challenges we are very pleased with progress. The end result will be a very comfortable Gite (and a fully restored building) – a very satisfying feeling
A project like this is not for the feint hearted. It’s hard work. Ian works 5 days a week in all weathers. But he has lost 3 inches off his waist and put a stone on in weight! No need for Gym membership here.
When finished the Gite will have an open plan feel with modern kitchen, dining area, lounge area with wood burning stove, 2 en-suite bedrooms and a feature gallery overlooking the lounge.
Progress is solid
It's nearly finished now! We have finished all the internal walls, plastering and electrics and plumbing. Arthur has done a superb job on the plastering and Ian now knows how to mix the plaster just right! (and has done a tiny bit of plastering). As they say in the trade it's the first 40 years that are difficult – what a skill plastering is...
Ian has just finished doing the balustrade on the balcony and it looks great – see pictures below. The stainless flue on the log burner has also worked a treat and looks really crisp.
All there is to do now is finish the tiling in the bathrooms, lay floor finishes throughout and then fit the kitchen and decorate. Then Val can go to town on the interiors...
Ian's brother Stuart has tiled the first en suite – very nice job Stu!
Click images to enlarge