Taste of Life as a Contractor in France

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It’s inevitable that, when living and working as a ‘Jobbing Builder’ in France, you are eventually going to have what are known as ‘One of those days’, Well yesterday, for me, was such a day!
In all truth it didn’t start that badly, even though it was a cold and frosty morning the traffic could be seen moving on the roads, indicating that the journey to site shouldn’t be too bad, So I wished my son happy birthday (16 today, already!!) So, whilst my wife took him and his sister off to school and I set about sorting out the tools I thought I was going to need for the day.
When I eventually got to my site with thought of perhaps doing a half day, after following several cars along completely clear roads at the obligatory snails pace, I met up with my clients, a lovely Anglo-French couple, and discussed the order of the day.


First task was to finish installing the new VMC into the new bathroom and toilet, then connect the electrical sockets in the office and finish off by installing some new lighting on the landing. So up into the loft space take up the flooring that the homeowner has installed, which meant taking up the battens that he had fixed wires to to hold the glass fibre insulation in place – resulting in me being covered in glass fibre of course and spending the rest of the day scratching.
Much poking and prodding later the cables to control the speed of the fan and the ducting were in place and the motor was powered up, success! and Lunch Time. If I just do a couple more hours and get the office finished then it can be painted next week before the timber flooring goes down.
So after lunch I moved onto the office plug sockets and heating controls,(slowing down slightly now after the Christmas break) fixed the trunking in place, fed the cables to the sockets, the heating controller and the velux blinds, cut the power and connected to the feed, Success! Well, by now I’m really dragging my heals around, but If I can get the lights done it’ll be a bonus.
Okay, So final task of the day – Install some new lighting on the landing, so off to the local trade store, pick up the bits I’m going to need and back to site and back to the loft!
I’d fixed the switches and the the trunking in place, fed my cables to the junction box and was just about to start connecting everything up when Madam arrived with a Cup of coffee and a slice of Fruit Cake – Result! Now I have a nut allergy and always check ingredients, (for Always, read Usually and for Usually, Read Sometimes!), but Madam knows about the allergy so no great problems – except this time of course! Walnuts! It’s not a major problem – it’s like I have fits or something but it did mean a breakneck speed drive down the motorway, avoiding those STILL doing 40kph, to get some Anti-Histamine tablets and Strong Coffee (any excuse for more coffee).
That just leaves the story of taking my son to his horse riding lesson. Let’s just say that it involved driving at 40kph for the right reasons, a bit of sliding downhill in a car and a fair bit of walking!
photo: Sue E

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Timothy Dahl

Timothy Dahl

Founder/EIC at Charles & Hudson
Timothy’s background includes stints at This Old House, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home and Woman’s Day. His work has been published on Wired Design, Bob Vila, DIY Network, The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics and he has been featured on the Martha Stewart radio show and as a speaker at the ALT Design Summit, K/BIS and the National Hardware Show.
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