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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

House Works

The signing for our house went off without a hitch.  Only casualties were my left hand (every page of the deal had to have my and my spouse's initials and there were a lot of pages) and my peace of mind (oh my goodness my bank is going to own me for the next 13 years - what was I thinking?)

Do I still love the house?  Absolutely.   But with legal ownership comes responsibilities (real or imagined).  For an example of the latter, I went over to the house yesterday, looked at the state of the garden and almost immediately started channeling my long-deceased American grandmother who liked to say, "No one is ever too destitute to pick up his yard and mow the lawn."  I then proceeded to weed the front garden until it was a bit better and I was weak, sick and completely exhausted.   After the fact it did occur to me that Grandma probably would have given me a pass - coming out of five months of chemotherapy is after all a perfectly legitimate excuse for having an untended yard.  But such is the insanity of the new homeowner. 

After having regained my mental stability, I went down this afternoon to drop off the key and talk to the contractor who will be doing the work inside the house.  Let's face it, maybe in a few weeks I will be able to work on the garden but I'm simply incompetent when it comes to rewiring the house, fixing the roof or redoing the hardwood floors.  Here are a few pictures of some of the basic stuff that needs to be done before we move  some time in mid-December.

 Heat was the first priority.  The house is set up for gas but it was never switched over from the original oil burning system.  This meant having to contact someone to check the oil tank, the water tank and all the radiators and then turn it on (and show us how to turn it on).  

We were in luck - all the radiators except one work and boy do they give off a lot of heat.  These ones are old but I think they are kind of pretty myself. The marble slabs on top will be the favored places for the cats to sleep.

For me the heating system is positively luxurious.  You see, in our apartment building the heat is central and we don't have any control over when it is turned on or off.  The idea that I can turn on my own heat whenever I like is going to change my life. 

Next up is the roof and what is just under the roof  There is water damage in two rooms so there must have been leaks at one point.  We were also concerned about the state of the insulation.  We were warned that this house is expensive to heat. Since most of the heat escapes via the roof it seemed wise to see what we can do right away to make it better.  EDF (Electricité de France) gave us a company to call and they had a look.  Roof is basically fine but it needs to be cleaned up and sealed.  As for the insulation, well, we need some.  

Finally, the electrical system has to be completely redone.  It's not bad enough to actually prevent us from moving in but it's not to code and we will have problems with the insurance company if we don't get it fixed.

One wonderful things the former owners did for us was to leave us the old light fixtures:  the little chandelier in the living room and the old-fashioned hanging light fixtures in the hallway and kitchen.  They will come down during the renovation and then they are going right back up.

Right there is enough to keep us busy for the next month or so.  After that comes the more cosmetic stuff:  floors, walls and the fireplace.  And then there's also little matter of the chimney we want to bump up and, of course, the kitchen.  I'll post a few more pictures of the state of things - I like the idea of having "before" pictures - and I'll also post a few of the work as it advances.  

The whole business may have me a bit giddy but, hey, it's exactly what I need right now:  a future-oriented project.


Shirl and Rowan said...

Hi, Victoria. Wowie. What fun to be able to work your own heat. We have the same thing here in Cambridge and everyone opens the windows and we run the air conditioner at night. Yikes. Could be more efficient. I agree with the "pass" on heavy gardening. One step at a time. I know how hard that is, especially when you have your own little place. Congratulations.
Rowan and Shirl

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Shirl, Hi Rowan,

Isn't that central heating grand? :-) You folks are still in Boston? Hope you made it through the recent weather alright.

My mother sent a note in response to this post. She wrote, "Loved the house post but I have one comment – yes your grandmother expected everyone to be clean and neat and certainly not to use poverty as an excuse to be less than clean and neat – inside and out – however she certainly would have given you a pass and come right over and proceeded to clean it all up. Yup, no slacker your grandmother and we really do need to consider what the neighbors might think."


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