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Some folks have been kind enough to ask how our building works are coming along. Afterall, this is supposed to be a blog about our French Renovation, as a few have reminded me. Fair point! Others have requested more photos and videos, indicating that these are long overdue of the house and garden progress. So, this posting and those that follow are for all of you! Many thanks for your interest and continued patience.

Welsey pruning the Mimosa trees damaged by the unexpected freezing cold weather in early Febuary 2012.

Yes… it’s true. At long last as of May this year, we started our 3rd round of renovations within the house and gardens including the old chai (wine-making room.) Whoo hoo! Not only is phase 3 underway, we are employing a new builder making it our 3rd team of artisans in what will soon be our 3rd year here in France. Who would have thought it would take nearly 3 years to get this far?

It’s an odd number, 3, isn’t it? No real pun intended, although obviously 3 is an ODD number. But, there is a lot of significance twined around this number – all differing depending upon cultures and countries. And, of course, there are also plenty of clichés and sayings involving the number 3. My favorite and most fervently hoped for at this time is that, “Three times a charm” or even better, “Three times lucky!” become true.

Of course in the US, you often hear, “Three strikes and you’re out!”. This could be referring to an actual baseball game or in day-to-day conversation it generally means, “You’ve got 3 chances to clean up your act scum-bucket or else you’re gonna be thrown in jail” or… “If you screw up a 3rd time, your ass is fired!”

There are many reasons why I hope 3 proves to be the charm, and not “you’re out”. The past 2 1/2+ years of building and renovation works hasn’t always been easy, fun or cheap. Nor especially lucky or charmed. Which reminds me of other sayings and meanings around “3”. For example,

  • Good things come in 3.” (I like this 1, 2. Which numerical also adds up to 3. That must be good, right?)
  • “Three sheets to the wind.” Meaning, you are so drunk that you’ve tied your foresail to the wrong side of the boat with 3 ropes instead of one .
  • “We are like the 3 musketeers!”
  • “There are 3 things right/wrong about this: bla, bla and bla”
  • Or the favorite amongst self-help authors, “There are three things we all should do every day.”
  • Einstein’s Three Rules of Work: “1) Out of clutter find simplicity; 2) From discord find harmony; 3) In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” This might work for us, too.
  • “There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can’t stand Picasso, those who can’t stand Raphael, and those who’ve never heard of either of them.” – John White
  • “There are three things I always forget. Names, faces — the third I can’t remember.” – Italo Svevo
  • “A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.” – William Faulkner
  • “There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning, and yearning.” – Christopher Morley
  • “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain

Plus there are many more meanings… don’t even get me started on the Chinese, Eastern Philosophy, Tarot or Astrological and Numerological significance attached to 3, plus other religious or cultural meanings.

But back to the building works. There’s way too much to talk about in just one posting. So, I shall break up the progress reports into multiple articles, complete with photos and videos. As a general update, however, Phase 3 involves:

  • Completing the attic rooms (Yeah… all that work was scheduled to be done and dusted last year.)
  • Central heating throughout (Ditto to the above)
  • Extended electrics throughout
  • Renovation of the chai and the old bedrooms on the floor above, which will comprise the “Caretaker’s Suite”
  • Extensive landscaping throughout the property, including some fountains, a new guest driveway and carpark (Video of the best DIY investment: A Must Have!)
  • Pool (Also supposed to have been built last year. With this hot weather, we heartily wish the pool was already in-ground and ready for use.)
  • Plus, unfortunately, Phase 3 includes re-placing, re-doing or repairing building and plumbing works done by past building teams. Luckily, we brought on a new electrician, who is very skilled and reliable, early on nearing the end of Phase 1 to avoid much “sparky” re-dos.

Before and After Le Palais des Poulets Workshop Doors

So there you have it – the senior executive update on our renovation and landscape projects. More to come on Phase 3, Team 3 in Year 3 very shortly. I hope for those that are beginning their own renovation projects or contemplating the same are not discouraged from what I’ve written here. There are plenty of rewards to be experienced when undertaking such an enterprise, but there is also much to learn. Far more than Steve and I realised, even when others warned us. This is why the next few posts will focus on:

  • How to Plan Your French Renovation
  • What to Look for in a Builder
  • How to Deal with French Bureaucracy
  • How to Finance your Building / Renovation Project

All of which will try to be as moan-free as possible on what we’ve learned to-date. Hopefully, as the saying goes, you will learn from our mistakes and avoid much of the down-sides to building your dream home and life.