Sunday, 14 August 2011

The New Wall !

We bought our house in France in 2005 and the photo below is what the front of the house looked like at that stage.


In 2006, we stripped the walls of the house of the old moth-eaten plaster, as you can see below, to expose the beautiful stone. In a bygone age, people had applied plaster to the stone walls of their houses to demonstrate to their neighbours  their newfound wealth. We did the opposite!!
The shutters had received one coat of paint at the time of the photo below but you can clearly see what we thought was a solid gate and fence.

By 2010, solid it was not; strong winter winds and rain, together with too-short hinges and poorly seasoned supermarket timber used by the (now bankrupt) builder, had caused the gates to drop in the centre, so they didn't open properly. We had them replaced with new purpose made oak framed units, filled in with sequoia panels.  These should last a bit longer, we hope! See HERE

By early 2011, we had got fed up with trying to patch the fence, which the wind had blown over a couple of times in the intervening years.  The posts were rotten!

While Nigel was here in July, we removed the whole fence, and deposited the remains at the dump, which by this time was where it belonged!

At the end of July, we employed a local builder  who dug the trench

and put in the foundations.

At the beginning of August, the wall was started

and by the afternoon it was at full height, only one man doing all the work!

Almost there, only tidying up still to do.

Now compare this photo with the first one, what an improvement :-)

I apologise for the strange tint in the last picture, but the camera obviously couldn't cope with the  odd colour sky and a slight drizzle when I took this.
Nigel has not seen the wall in 'real life' yet, but I hope he will be as happy as I am when he gets here.

Don't forget the giveaway, see HERE to be drawn on the 24th August

86 comments:

  1. This is a first for me to be first to comment on one of your posts Diane. I love the before and after look of the house, gate and boundary, it looks lovely. By coincidence our renovation project is now at the garden gate and boundary wall stage, D has finished building the wall but it still needs plastering.

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  2. Thanks Linda for the speedy comment LOL. I wanted to try and take on building this wall but N said no, it was too much for me!! I have to admit that even if I had succeeded with the wall I could never have done the plaster to anywhere near this standard!!! Take care Diane

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  3. Now that aught to hold up! I like the tale of the fence, gate, and wall! Nice to see the change in photos. My camera will do that too. I'm frustrated right now with it. I was all set to get a new one then I found out I probably need a new computer with more memory! :) It never ends...just like home ownership! ;)

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  4. Lyndsey I know only to well what it is like. You think all is OK and no money to spend for a while then something unexpected happens. Our next trick is bringing down a large cedar tree which has died in the garden, now why did it have to do that when we thought we had finished spending for the time being!!! Keep well Diane

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  5. Big improvement. It looks so much better!

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  6. Thanks Nadege, I sincerely hope that this now lasts our life time!! Diane

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  7. What a wonderful transformation. Nigel can't help but be pleased. I'll wager you are glad to have this huge chore behind you. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

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  8. Very interesting to see the transition. I can't believe that one mad did all that work and finished it by the end of the day!

    Beautiful house and glad to see that you are keeping the old charm of the beautiful house!

    Do you have to speak French to survive in France? stupid question huh :D , How difficult it is for an American to move to France and live in France with her Indian husband? Just curious

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  9. Thanks Mary, I am sure he will be happy but he is always very critical :-) You are right I am very glad this is behind me. Take care, Diane

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  10. I think look really lovely! gloria

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  11. Wow, that's looking great. Nice to see a before and after picture. You will be glad when it's finished and I'm sure Nigel will pleased. Doing a house up is never ending isn't it. Dan is doing our bathroom up at the moment. Aaargh. It's driving me mad!! Mess everywhere. Lol

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  12. Sailor I have seldom seen anyone work as hard as this man did. He was at the house by 08h30 and although he took the typical French lunch break, he did not leave several times until 21h00 in the evening! I have answered your other question on your blog. Diane

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  13. Thanks Gloria, I hope this time it will last!! Diane

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  14. Ellie tell me about it. There is always work to be done especially when the house is somewhere in the region of 200 years old!! I hope the bathroom does not take long, that is one room in the house you cannot do without LOL. Diane

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  15. It looks fantastic Diane. The new gate in green and the well built new wall. Looks like your artisan did a super job. You live and learn eh? Especially in a new country.

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  16. That looks fantastic. You have put such love and labor into your second home.

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  17. Thanks Craig, you are so right you do live and learn. We should have put up a wall right at the beginning, we would have saved money but no point in crying over spilled milk! I was very impressed with this guy, he worked hard and did and did what I think is a great job. Diane

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  18. Thank you Susan, hope it will not be very long before it is the first (and only) home :-) Diane

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  19. I really like it. Really nice pictures you are showing us.:-) Hugs Stina

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  20. Stina thanks for visiting and your comment. Keep well Diane x

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  21. It looks amazing Diane - a real improvement. xx

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  22. The wall looks really good Diane, and besides the odd lick of paint etc, should be relatively maintenance free. I heard on the TV only this evening that the avarage life of a wooden fence post is only 3 years.
    Great post with a beginning, a middle and an end!

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  23. We always try to take before and after pictures, too. Such a feeling of accomplishment when things are completed and you can look back to where you started. Very impressive work...one man, one day! Wow!

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  24. Job well done, Diane! Looks really good; no wonder you are pleased with it! Sometimes in life we just have to take the long road.... but we get there in the end!

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  25. Thanks Diane, just so long as it lasts this time I don't mind!! Diane

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  26. Gaynor well we are lucky that our fence (with help) lasted a bit longer than the 3 years! Apart from the gates which are painted with 10 year paint, and the shutters seem to have proved this right as they are doing well after 6 years, there should be no painting. The crepi is coloured so it only needs the water stains to be cleaned off it. I need to do the posts sometime! Take care Diane

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  27. Deb from WhatsInMyAttic I was amazed what one man could accomplish, he was impressive. Thankfully we have pictures of every room before and after, some have some serious changes!! Keep well Diane

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  28. Colin and Elizabeth, yes this was the long road, but I hope we have succeeded in reaching the end or at least in our life time! Keep well Diane

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  29. What a difference "Before and After". Of course I like the "After" better:D I am also doing some refurbishment of our condo so this is a hetic month for me coordinating with the various contractors.

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  30. Quay Po Cooks, alterations inside are a real pain it always makes a mess, at least these were outside changes :-) Diane

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  31. I'm taking your advise with FireFox.
    I like your wall.

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  32. Leon well done, glad it worked for you :-)) Diane

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  33. Oh how beautiful! The wall is terrific and should last a few hundred years!! Love the green paint!

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  34. Thanks Ann as long as it lasts our life time I will be happy :-) Diane

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  35. Great job, it looks like it's been there forever!!!

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  36. I love the pointing on the house - are they firebricks above the window? Odd place to have a chimney?!!
    looking forward to seeing you on Thursday - will find that google reference for you xxx

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  37. Du beau travail.Je vous souhaite à vous et à votre mari de vivre encore de très nombreuses années heureux dans cette maison si bien rénovée!

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  38. What a lovely home, Diane. Although, I have to say I'm not sure I'd want all the work that it takes to keep it up. At least not at this point in my life. What was really nice was to hear a "good worker" story here in France. Keep this guy working. He needs to be rewarded.

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  39. The new wall looks brilliant. You should feel much more relaxed about it now - no more fence panels to blow down or gates to become wonky. Good job.

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  40. Oh wow! That wall looks so much better than that green fence, and has given your house more 'presence'! I don't think that we are going to take the old render of the outside walls of our house though, as I don't think that it will suit it like it does yours, so we shall just have another coat of chaux put over it. But your house looks really nice now.

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  41. You have certainly put in a lot of work Diane - and I'm sure it's worth it - your new fence is now sturdy and hopefully will last a lifetime.
    Love the natural stone work of the house!

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  42. Really liked this post Diane and the new wall not only looks strong and that it will last, but it looks like it belongs and has been there for years. It looks well with the stone of the house. Love the green shutters and gates by the way :)

    Your man there sounds a proper old school artisan with pride in a job well done. When you see him you must tell him of all the compliments he has had from all over the world, on his work!

    I am sure your Nigel will love it.

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  43. lostpastremembered thanks, I hope it all stays there forever :-) Diane

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  44. Hi Roz, Yes they are fire bricks above the window. It used to be where the old stone sink was and the original oven was right next to it. On the inside of those firebricks is a hollow, maybe they had some way of heating water in there ???? Guess we will never know. Also looking forward to Thursday so long as I know how to get there ;-) A bientôt Diane

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  45. Delana Hopefully the work is now at a minimum, the last five years have been busy! It should now be general maintenance, other than I still want to put 3 rooms into the barn! The ceilings were done this year but now I need to save some more money for the walls and the floor! Keep well Diane

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  46. Jean I hope you are right, if this blows over we have a problem LOL Diane

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  47. Vera, yea the gateway makes it look quite imposing! I am so happy that we went back to the stone it looks so much better and there is no work to do to it. The other side is painted so that has to be kept in order. Take care Diane

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  48. Dianne I also love that natural stone, I do not understand why anyone should want to hide it!! Take care Diane

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  49. Thanks Dolly for all the kind comments. I was so impressed with this builder. He was introduced to me through the guy who did our roof for us who is now a good friend. He is also a very hard worker and does a great job. Take care, Diane xx

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  50. WOW!
    Great job!
    I am sure Nigel will love it, and it looks really safer!
    Lovely banner too!
    I am sure you are still very busy with your garden, recipes, and jewellery!!
    Keep well, Diane!

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  51. You have created a wonderful transformation of this place. I am studying all the details with great attention :)

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  52. Thanks Noushka, safety is not really an issue around here, no problems. Yes still busy and had visitors again last night who are on their way on a camping trip further south. They will then stay over on their way back again. Have not seen them for years, they were our neighbours in Joburg, so it was good to catch up. Diane

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  53. Olga glad you like the transformation. Hope this is the end so far as the outside is concerned, well other than a large tree that is coming down to tomorrow which has died. Watch this place!! Diane

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  54. I sympathize with your fence problems until you found a proper solution.

    We ended up putting up white cedar boards on a good frame cemented posts. And it is weathering well and looks better today than it did when built.

    We never painted this one we got as it weathers a nice gray color.

    I like your cottage without the stones being covered and I like the wall. Nice photos and explanation.

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  55. Dear Diane; I loved the old looks of your house and fence because it reminds me of my childhood and hometown, but I certainly like best the new fence and the wall as it was ment to be, this story of people trying to "show off" repairing the wrong way their houses is popular all over the world I guess. I recently went back to my hometown and I could not believe what they had done to my old nice house, I just couldn't even take any pictures it was so ugly, and they sure spent a lot of money changing the look!, big hug

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  56. Abraham Lincoln, when we first had the gate put up the wood looked beautiful, but, the artisan who made them for us said that with the extremes of weather here they should be painted for protection, so we matched up with the shutters. Long may they last :-) Diane

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  57. Pamela we have tried as far as possible to restore the house to its natural state. We still have the old stone sink and the original oven in our bedroom, obviously not in use, but they are quite eye catching. Diane

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  58. I like the "new" stone facade of your house much better. The new wall looks nice, too. I note that your building blocks are of different dimensions than the ones we use, which are 8" high, 16" wide and 8" deep. Funny the proportions the eye sees, isn't it? I'm sure Nigel will be very excited about seeing the new wall!

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  59. Diane, you have clearly done a huge amount to your house and it looks terrific. What a lovely part of the world to live in. Do you plan to do any other renovations? Fifi

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  60. Fifi we have done a huge amount to the house you are right. We still hope to put in another spare room and two offices (one each!) in the barn, but finances have called a halt to that for the time being! Our bedroom that now exists, used to be an earthen floor barn that a family lived in, with only one room that had a stone sink and built into the wall oven! It had an upstairs where the feed was kept for the farm animals. We have taken that floor out and we have the full height for my very tall husband :-) Diane

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  61. Margie I could not agree more, it seems such a shame to hide the lovely stone work, the walls are all stone and about a metre (yard+)thick. Some walls inside we also have the stone visible. The house is pretty much the same temperature inside regardless of outside in summer. Once warm in winter it seems to hold the heat well.
    The blocks here are also different to what I am used to in Zimbabwe and S.Africa! Diane

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  62. Quelle transformation. Bravo!!!! Très jolie.
    See soon

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  63. Diane, I bet Nigel will be one happy man when he sees the fence! It looks sturdy and mighty. I love the stone walls on your house and can't imagine why anyone would think plaster looks better. Our brick farm house in Ohio had 10 foot ceilings, very thick walls and large windows with deep sills. Just wondering what yours is in comparison. It's amazing how much can be done in one day!

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  64. I love how it looks Diane. We did renovations to the house that we bought 5 years ago too. Home improvement project is nice but stressful and expensive hahaha. Can't wait till our porch get done.

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  65. what a big difference now looking at the 1st and the last photo. Diane, you need not worry now that you have solid walls on the ground, no more fear of the strong wind and rain!

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  66. Pam I also cannot understand anyone covering up the lovely stone but..... Our walls are also very thick but they slim down under the windows as that is where the radiators are built in. I will at some stage do a blog on the building, not sure when but...... Take care Diane

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  67. chubskulit yes it is stressful especially if you are living in the middle of it all! Hopefully we are past the worst of it all!! Diane

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  68. lena I sincerely hope you are right, I was getting very fed up with trying to repair the wooden fence!!! Keep well Diane

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  69. Belo trabalho...Espectacular....
    Cumprimentos

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  70. It turned out beautifully Diane and looks so typical what I think of as French, as it should be. We love to remodel, but it can be stressful.
    Sam

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  71. Missed my visits..now trying to catch up with everyone..The wall/home looks beautiful..What a lovely place..I do think owning a home, our work is never finished..but it will take some doing to hurt that wall..wonderful work..Hope all is well with you..have a happy weekend..xoRosebud/Carolyn

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  72. huge difference, bravo !
    http://whatisbelgium.blogspot.com

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  73. The wooden fence in the 2nd photo looks wonderful. Too bad it wasn't strong. I like the after shot also. It is a big improvement in the look from the first photo. Job well done!

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  74. Fernando Santos, Obrigado pelo comentário Cumprimentos Diane

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  75. Sam there are many new houses that have recently been built in France, they just do not look French! Sad, as I also think the old stone houses look so typically French. Diane

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  76. Rosebud/Carolyn I agree old homes are constantly in need of something to be done to them but if you try to keep up it is generally not too bad!! Diane

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  77. Joyful we were also very happy with the original fence but it was just not built strong enough! In fact one section went over in the wind the first year it was put up. Because our builder had gone bankrupt the the guarantee was worth nothing!!! Diane

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  78. Oh Dianne,I need that builder here..pronto!!! I can supply him with bottles of KWV...but him being French... That was one heck of an expensive first fence,I love the look of the second one and am sure Nigel will love it!

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  79. Liesl he was brilliant, compared with what I am sure you are used to and what I have seen in the past I was very impressed. I love KWV, but yes the French may not think the same as I do!! I found it very difficult to change from SA wine to French wine and I still buy SA when I can. I have though to admit that there is nothing to beat Cognac so far as I am concerned. Take care Diane

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  80. I still remember your house in France. So, this is the 2nd renovation so far. Well, it looks good and better protection after all. I'm sure this won't gives you anymore troubles.
    Kristy

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  81. Kristy I certainly hope that there will be no more problems. This has been an expensive trip doing it all twice!! Diane

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