It's all about the specification...

I'm told. Of course it's also about the budget, right? Renovating when you are not a 'squillionaire' with bottomless pocket is tough. Decisions, decisions! The whole thing is just scary really.

You buy a pile in France and then you have to decide how on earth to finance the renovations? How much do we spend on a house when values remain low and housing stock high? Of course we could do it ourselves but we aren't retired or free tot are a year off, yet.

The house isn't liveable.

Some would say it is?

If retired or semi retired, I'd certainly go the whole hog and try and make some of it habitable whilst living on the job.

Honestly, we aren't ready for that yet and may never be.

I think, once the planning permission was granted, it just hit me!


We have ourselves quite the expensive task, but even before we spend a penny on the real deal, we need to spend some more to get the specification done.

It's at this point one needs to get it all right. He's always saying "never change your mind because the builder will make you pay". So we now need to think about every electrical socket and light fitting, not to mention the how each wall is covered and everything else in-between. I've also just discovered that we need the services of a structural engineer! Dam and blast holidays for years to come for us!

In the past, our home renovations have been limited to a loft conversion, a new bathroom and some stud walling. It was not very taxing really. Our then architect was as old as the hills, still used a pen and paper and did most of the project management for us. I think as home reno's go we are a bit green around the gills!

This time round it's on foreign soil and a pretty big project of a barn and house with extension.

I do feel like calling in Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs and soon! I would welcome his unwanted advice! It's not a chateau, I know, but we are taking an old, much loved Doctors house, centre of the town, hub of the community that was and modernizing it to the 9th degree. All eyes will be on us, there will be nowhere to hide!

What car crash tele that would be, eh! Me, who sees in cushions, kitchens and colour and him, an engineer, that knows it all and then some! I keep having to remind him that this is our home, not a corporate build.

My lovely chap, let's face it, would be quite happy in a cabin, off grid and his money under his mattress. So I do feel with some certainty, that there will be some very heated rows and they will begin tonight!

That said, he won't be around much for his project, as he will be away earning the he's leaving me to it, literally!

Oh god!

This project is his really. Those that have followed me from the beginning understand that I didn't love the house or France that much in the beginning. Couldn't really see myself in the house or France long term for that matter. Years go by and things change and here we jolly well are.

I am project manager!

One of the biggest issues I had with the house, was where the heck was my kitchen going to go? I'm a kitchen gal through and through. The standing joke between him and I, is that I don't do less than 30ft kitchens! It's not a joke really but a fact. I live in my kitchen.

I also don't want to go down the route of keeping it old. Our grand old dame is getting a major facelift not a makeover. I don't want the issues of expensive heating bills down the line.

There are currently many pokey, dark rooms on any given floor and the kitchen, is 4 x 6 corridor to the back door. We've had it ripped out since, but that hideous blue 80's formica still gives me nightmares! It was totally at odds with the rest of the house.

The whole house is gloomy and lacks light. I think bringing light in is so very important, especially for those long winter months.

The laundry or pantry (both, maybe) is a room off the so called kitchen. Even knocked together, the shape and position would be wrong. Of course we realized it was time to call in an architect, to solve this and many other issues, pronto.

I think 'him in doors' had rose tinted glasses on, the day he viewed the house. He sort of missed the rot, the wood worm and the fungus, amongst other things.

It's gonna to cost a fortune to make this work!

Anyway the architect did a great job of interpreting our needs and wants. He's introduced light into the centre of the house and given me the dream kitchen by knocking down the old coach house and drawing in an extension. He's moved the cellar steps and even given us a coffee prep area! It will be an amazing home once finished. We just have to start it, I guess!

I can't see anything build wise happening before spring now, can you?. That gives us time to think about the lovely bit at the end, the interior design. Now that bit I will enjoy immensely.

It will never have the biggest of gardens our french Wreck, but it does have a walled garden which will end up being a mediterranean styled terrace with pool.

The next step right now, is to ensure the specification is done and clear, so that we can get accurate quotes from contractors. Then we will know how many brass buttons to polish off eh!

So tonight we are going to sit and try and agree all this with each other and then the architect. There may be some progress tonight and there may be wine, lots of wine.

I still can't help being concerned about Boris and Brexit. So the foot is off the pedal to see what happens there. I don't think it would be very wise to spend another penny until we know the outcome, do you?

Whichever way we look at this project and the time taken to get to this point, we haven't really had to do too much but now it really begins!

D x

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