Woodlands Cottage

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Woodlands Cottage Today

If you have read the story of the “big build” you will realise that we are greatly relieved that the project is nearing completion especially if I tell you that I have not bored you with all the downsides of building in France!! We have achieved what we set out to do and are now proud to open our doors to discerning holiday makers!

Treignac is a lovely town all year round but takes on an extra buzz in the summer. Youngsters come each year to compete in the French Kayak championships, this year taking place between the 6th -9th June. There are many organised walks from April until September and on July 15 a night walk in the Monedieres, not for the faint hearted! The beach is a popular venue: swimming, canoeing, table tennis, trampoline, play area and of course a bar and restaurant for the less energetic! There is a great feeling of tranquillity and relaxation in Treignac and that’s probably why we live here full time and always feel we are on holiday!

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The Big Build!

Foundations were a nightmare, as fast as we dug the trenches they filled with water from one of the many sources we discovered on the land. We resorted to constructing pillars deep in the ground and eventually the day arrived for the concrete to be poured. That was fun, the nozzle delivering the concrete had a mind of its own so it wasn’t only the pillars that had concrete on them!!!


Loads of concrete!

Loads of concrete!

We were on our way!

Yet another large lorry negotiated the narrow twisty road to deliver wood,  duly measured, cut and screwed to form the solid base for the house.

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Our next task was probably the most important, sorting out the pieces of the jig saw, in other words matching up the walls from the markings made when the house was taken down. Thank goodness Paul had been thorough and all the piles seemed to make sense. Once the base plates were in the walls starting growing,  layer by layer,  slotting in the internal walls at the same time. Some just fell into place with ease,  others had suffered from being stored and needed a little more persuasion!


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Like Pinocchio’s’ nose, it grew and grew and it wasn’t long before it became a house instead of a pile of wood

P1000915 (Small)and looked like this

It was at this stage the design of the house had to be changed as per the planning permission and our thoughts turned to supporting the weight of the new roof.

P1000929 (Small)This called for big beams!!!

P1000934 (Small)And strong shoulders!

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 To achieve this

An even bigger lorry arrived with the trusses. At this point I have to say, that in general, the French are not renowned for their quick efficient service, however Champeau of Eymoutier were brilliant and even went out of their way to make sure we had a delivery before their annual August break.

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 Now it was all hands on deck, venturing into the unknown!! By this time the weather had turned really hot and we started work at 6am so we could finish before the sun became unbearable. Now the favourite tool of all workmen came into its own, the” Paslode” Bang bang bang and the trusses were up!


And then the topping out.

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Paslode proudly standing where no man has stood before!!

We were now into September 2013 when we started the tedious task of plumbing, electrics and fitting out, lots of work but nothing much to show for it. Work continued throughout the winter with just a break at Christmas, it just seemed to go on and on. Work on the fosse septique couldn’t continue as the ground was so wet and the digger was in danger of sliding into the house.  Again frustration set in, we were so close and yet so far. By April we were finished and only just in time for our first guests, they were arriving Thursday pm and the electric was turned on Thursday am!!!


Before The Big Build!

Before our “Big Build” begins, there is another story, some may say amusing, others reckless!!!
Once our minds had been made up that we would have another gite Tony spent much of his time on the internet searching for a wooden house in kit form, brand new, delivered and erected. You can imagine my surprise when, one evening, he announced that he had pushed the “buy now” button on E bay! Not only was it not new, delivered and erected, but it was still occupied in Hertfordshire, and we had no land to put it on !!!!! The saga begins.
Tony and a friend flew over to the UK and spent a week dismantling it, a painstaking job, marking each piece as it came down so we would know how to put it up again! A month later they were back in the UK to supervise the loading for transport to France. Even that was a disaster as the driver fell off the load and landed up in intensive care with a punctured lung, no delivery that day! Meanwhile in France, the tractors, trailers and helpers organised to help unload had to be disbanded. The load eventually arrived 3 weeks later and our lovely garden became a builders yard!! All this happened in April & May 2012.By September we had purchased the land but meanwhile the French planning authority would not allow us to keep the same roof. This involved completely re-designing the structure and submitting plans again. After lots more paperwork and meetings, permission was given in October, too late to start building. We were concerned as to how the house would fare under plastic covers for the winter but we had no choice but to wait and see. As it happens, it was probably the wettest winter we had ever had in France and it didn’t stop raining until the end of May. We know the real meaning of frustration!!!
In June we started leveling the land for the foundations and the site took on the appearance of a quarry!