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Chanson de la Semaine

'If It Pays The Rent'

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Concreting The Ground Floor

This was all a bit controversial because we had to remove some very nice 1950s tiling in order to install a new floor with its associated pipe work and electric cables. After we'd taken up the tiles - we managed to reclaim a few - we had to dig down to remove a layer of earth so that we'd have enough room for a concrete floor, joists and floorboards. We moved the dirt out to the garden to the same spot that we'd moved the attic debris.

The downstairs bathroom will be in the far corner of the long room and all the drainage and water gets buried below the concrete there. The main drainage pipe goes from this corner, cutting across the living room and then out through the wall alongside the breadoven. That continues outside and connects with the Fosse. Oh, and that's Roger's arse poking out from the rubble. He was getting the pipe through the wall.

After six tons of sand had been spread evenly over the surface and compacted, the floor was covered with a waterproof membrane and reinforcing mesh laid on top. We laid bricks at regular intervals to indicate the finished concrete level, so that when the concrete was being poured we could get a consistent level throughout the ground floor.

The concrete arrived in two bloody big trucks. One contained 6 cubic metres and had a pump attached. The other was the refill truck and contained 8 cubic metres. The combined quantity of both trucks amounted to 33 tons of liquid concrete. They parked the trucks on the garden opposite the gable end of the house (the other end from the breadoven). We weren't overly fussed about achieving the perfect finish internally cos that floor will be covered in joists and floorboarding. That's just as well cos when the concrete pump started spewing out the liquid concrete there wasn't a great deal of time available for refinement. A couple of mates - Paul and Jim, came to help spread the torrent. Again, that was just as well, cos it would have been impossible for the two of us to have done it.

The Front Terrace

This area, stretching from the front of the bread oven to the end of the house, will eventually be indoors - sun room and boot room. Because the house is on a slope we had to build a reinforcing wall level with the front step of the house. Originally there was a small concrete terrace and small fenced off garden, in front of the house and a patch of grass and weeds in front of the bread oven. When we dug away the soil from the left-hand garden we uncovered an old stone forecourt. It might have belonged to the house or, possibly, an earlier building that was on the site of the fosse septique. Our fosse septique man broke the old concrete up with his big tonka toy and saved us a lot of back break. We filled the area within the wall with rubble, sand, membrane/reinforcing mesh and then concreted it.

The Path

This area running alongside the gable use to be a pedestrian entrance. We had our friendly fosse man clear the soil that ran right up to the house wall, so that we could build a revetment wall to keep the garden water runoff from soaking the gable wall. We put a dranage pipe at the base of the garden side of the wall that exits out to the road, covered that in weed membrane and then gravel, to allow water to seep through. We've covered the path and the drainage pipe with most of the hardcore, which has sat in front of the house for yonks. We concreted the path at the same time as the house and terrace.

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