Episode 99 – Project mis-management

???????????????????????????????Renovation, restoration, prevarication

If you are thinking of trying to mastermind a property project from another country, which you can only visit to oversee about six times a year (for a few days) using guys who don’t speak your native tongue who don’t really “do” emails my considered advice is DON’T!

Don’t get me wrong.My artisans/workmen  at French house are beyond reproach and are doing a good job; but there will be times when they come up against an issue where their bit of the work comes up against another trade’s who isn’t on site at that point so everything grinds to a halt. I cannot afford a dedicated Project Manager so please don’t ask;  My wonderful Builder is keeping “an eye” but he is not charging for this and he is not omniscient

Whilst you will find contractors with a broad range of trade’s or multi-skilled  on call in other countries, you are very unlikely to find this in rural village France. Here, folk have a trade and they will not step outside and tread on another trade’s toes.

All my guys are acknowledged and experienced experts in their own areas, that’s fine & I trust them to get on with it as and when they can.

They all know that I am a control freak, so if they are not sure what I want they STOP! Quite right too.

Here is an example of why we keep hitting delays on our project. We knocked a doorway through massive spine wall from terrace bedroom to what will be jackandjill shower room. We co-ordinated installation of new roof lights, demolition of another stupidly sited wall (that split the tulip bedroom in  half) created two brand new access doorways, got the centuries old lead pipe replaced with new stuff, plumbed in the WC, prepped for new basin, built a new wall and tiled the floor etc etc. 20140426_174401Unfortunately  when M.Plombier unwrapped my state of the art eco friendly miserly fuel consumption chrome towel rail/radiator that will warm this room and which feeds off my new all singing all dancing eco-boiler he realised that this towel rad also incorporates a facility which allows it to be switched to electric heating element   when central heating isn’t on. So he stopped.

We just need to arrange a date  for sparky and gasman to get together   in our house at the same time on the same day and converse…….I have every faith in them


About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
This entry was posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France, What we did, how we did it and what we used and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Episode 99 – Project mis-management

  1. Lynda says:

    LOL, my husband worked at a shop that had an electrician they called Sparky behind his back. Apparently, they were all mystified as to why he was still walking and amazed that he hadn’t burned the place down.


  2. bizzyella says:

    Oh, ow, I have so been through that. In Paris I had to fire my French guy and hire a team of Croatians — just to get a one-bedroom apartment in a modern building done. Modern being 70s but still. It was so painful that if I had not found English contractors, I would not have bought the house. Even so I’m finding that coming down from Paris creates problems. Like you, I find that if I’m not here, not much happens. My PM was so ineffectual that I fired him. Also, things are more complicated in France. A dual-system towel rack? And nobody knows until it arrives on site? That’s so typical. It’s time to pull out the cliches, Madame la Proprietaire. Eyes on the prize, no way out but through, etc., etc., rinse repeat. It will be lovely when it’s done.


    • yes I know
      And the towel rad was down to me. I could not find what I wanted in France under 400 euros. So I bought in UK for £125 and they sent to plumber direct for £14, no contest.
      Really I am not complaining, I like & respect my old-fashioned workforce, just telling it how it is


      • bizzyella says:

        Ah, so you’re the one… Good try, though. The difference between English and French prices is in itself worth a post.


      • I have mentioned price and product disparities before but think I might pull together some advice- learned the hard way- and post on that next
        really I should write the book, any publishers out there reading this??????????????
        Maybe we could co-write an American/English blockbusting opus?
        I can do the bargain basement bit ” how to get what you want on a stupidly tiny budget”

        Liked by 1 person

    • I like that
      “Madame la Proprietaire”
      May start styling myself that..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I find it difficult enough coordinating renovations in my own surroundings – you’re very brave to be doing all this from abroad! Am sure it will be all worth it in the end onwards and upwards! 🙂


  4. Chris says:

    We have heard so many horror stories and we are our third monsieur plombier now. The first 2 were good at their trade but kind of difficult to pin down, one took 5 months to replace a radiator the other fixed a burst as an emergency, (next day) but was never heard of again. Our latest is also good at plumbing, a wee bit faster and seems to turn up as promised but here is the really good bit, he’s also a qualified electrician and is very nifty with plaster and a float to cover the gouging out of walls usual to such work. So fitting our new gas hob, electric oven, re piping the gas supply and fitting an extractor hood, plus chasing in a cable and fitting a mains socket, all properly finished and ready for painting, one man, one day. And, he replies to emails too, usually within a week. I will never knock French tradesmen again.


    • Hi Chris
      Yes, generally ours have come in and done a good job, but multi-skilled and email savvy down here in rural Languedoc is very rare. One electrician we appointed went out of business but we got our money back, thanks to our builder, who walks on water as far as I am concerned!
      Our guys are all local, so if there is a problem we can go and see them and talk about it.They are honest, they honour their quotes on a project that has dragged on for years and they do what they are paid to do and more.


  5. Clair says:

    Wonder if your “guys” (everybody needs A Guy, right?) would Skype? Might make the experience a bit easier. I can’t wait to see how all the hard work and patience turns out!


    • Clair, Skype?
      They barely email down there. My lovely plumber doesn’t even have a computer
      No, we have to go down there and knock on his door and explain things
      there again, this is undoubtably part of Campagne’s village charm


  6. Osyth says:

    It is quite a thing that you are doing and I guess there are bound to be hiccups and misunderstandings. But that doesn’t make it easy and I wish you Bonne Courage – you will get there and with your talent it will be a triumph 🙂


  7. Clair says:

    Lol, sounds exasperating! They really don’t “do” email? That’s too bad. You could just run whatever they send through a translator. You’d think it would be easier for everyone involved that way.


    • Well, we speak pretty good builder’s French now but there is still room for things to be misconstrued. ( I could name a couple of English workmen who have misunderstood something I said in their own language!)
      I wouldn’t expect the French guys to translate into English, it’s their country we are choosing to do this project in!!
      Just one of those things that we have to contend with & explains why we haven’t finished, which is our fault too as we should have made the time to be onsite


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