Friday, 25 October 2013

The installation of a microstation.....

These past two days we have been having our shiny new microstation installed. Here in La Belle France not many places actually have mains drainage, its a huge country and they are trying to roll out mains across the country but it will take time and us rural lot will probably be some of the last on the list to get it. Traditionally most houses have a septic tank (fosse septique) which includes filtration systems of the water that comes out. This is usually over a gravel and sand layered bed system and can take up quite a lot of your garden or land space, and after time the sand can become saturated and contaminated and need changing. Also any land that has had a fosse drainage bed on cannot be built on in the future. Laws have also changed in the last 2 years which mean that the requirements to pass inspection by SPANC (great name) have got harder. SPANC is the Service Public d'Assainissement Non Collectiff and they are the local government agency responsible for:

  • Advise and assist individuals in the development of their sewerage system;
  •  Control of sewerage facilities

Because of the size and future contamination issues with fosses and not to mention the cost being higher than other types of system, France has now approved the use of Microstations in France as a way of treating sewage and waste water without having the need for any filtration bed. The local company who are contracted to undertake all of the work for SPANC are actively trying to get more households to uptake the use of microstations over fosses in our local area. All of the household waste water and sewage goes into the microstation which is usually made up of three or more internal compartments, depending on the size of property and how many people are living there.  Each compartment does a different part of the waste treatment and what comes out at the end is basically clean water that can be run off into a water course or field - not that I'd want to try and use the water for anything. A good website to find more information is and info on the unit in English at and this is the company that we used for our microstation at our contractors suggestion. I have to say for ease of comprehension and because we had some friends who used the same contractor we did use a english guy for the work However he had brilliant french and sorted out all the paperwork and registration of our microstation with SVL (spanc sub contractors) was very honest and very hard working and he and his French colleague did a great job for us. 
Before any work can start we had to have SVL come round and do a inspection of the land and see of the area that we had selected was suitable for the microstation. they check where the outlet pipe is going to go and proximity to other houses. As well as checking that the outlet pipe isn't going into a still water area i.e a pond but into moving water or draining over a field. After this was all approved we could continue with the work. 
The microstation - suitable for up to 6 people
Clearing the hole for it to go in.
That's Phil actually in the hole, shows you how big it actually is.

I must say it looks a bit like a battle ground here now. The land is generally trashed but that was to be expected when a huge great whole gets dug in the ground.

This was left open before it could be backfilled. Because we had to wait for SVL to come and inspect it and make sure that everything was ok. This collection of small visits by SVL added up to 338 euros, not a bad hourly rate if you can get it. 

Three men and a baby , the svl inspector checking it out.

The microstation needs electric to run and will only cost less than 50 euros a year. I can cope with that. We also had to run a  small trench in to take the electric wiring.

starting the fill in,
A ditch needs digging to put the electric cable in that runs from the house to power the microstation. 
After the workmen left the chickens were keen to help in the digging process!

This finished product is above, it will need raking out and grass seeding. These pipes etc. will always be above ground as they need to be able to be inspected if need be by SVL. Dave will make the area hidden by building a false wooden well over the big green hat and a plant pot or two over the inspection portal. Its not pretty but is needed and we can landscape around it. This is at the end of the house so in a area never used, so won't cause us a problem.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

So Trous, funny how its seems (to be never ending roof work that it)

Is it just me or is the weather really erratic this autumn? I swear that every time we poke our heads outside to try and get up on the roof to finish off the rain comes down. The thing is as soon as the roof is wet it is too dangerous to walk over until it dry's off again because it gets slippy.

But in between the rain, showers and damn right stormy weather (we had 26cm rain in 2.5 hours at one point) yes we did have leaks :(

As you can see we had to put some bowls out to catch the water but I didn't feel too bad about it as our neighbour who has a nice shiny new house and roof also had some leaks. He was furious I must add as didn't expect that. So a few leaks when we haven't finished our little roof isn't so bad in such a major storm.

we have been moving on with the roof. As long as the weather holds we should be able to finish it in a couple of weeks. Dave's shoulder is a lot better and now its only the weather that is holding us back. I can do a lot of the tiling on my own so hopefully will soon show you all a finished roof.

The Ridgeline is now fully concreted, this photo was taken on the 24th Oct and look at the weather!!
The green thing in the photo is our new Microstation (for waste water - a bit like a septic tank) which is being put in today. Updates in the next blog.

We have also been making the most of the glut of nuts that appear to be on the trees this year. Near so are some old chestnut trees and we managed to collect about 3.5 kilos on the first visit to the woods!! 

We have also managed to get some mushrooms, this sadly is not a positive thing as they were growing indoors!! The back wall of our kitchen is one of the places that had a leak on it from the roof for years and it sprouted some champignons. It has now been treated and hopefully as soon as the roof is finished we won't get a re-occurrence.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

I hope its not trous.......

As the summer months slopes sadly by into autumn our thoughts have been directed towards making sure that the house and barns remain in a warm water tight condition. We have rather gotten used to the warmth and lovely dryness in here after summer and would wish that all can remain that way. No more buckets out in this house I hope, after all it had not been lived in for 40 years  when we started this renovation we had a great  deal of holes and leaks.

So to ensure that these aspirations come to fruition we continued on the roof at the back of the house. As there is only me with the occasional help of Dave (my other half) working on the roof it takes a fair bit of time. However the roof is fully re-wooded and treated and membraned now. The membrane is a breathable waterproof one so that in the future even if some tiles break or move we should remain water proof.
Before winter we have a large list of things to do, which when you first look at it can be a bit daunting. We need to build a temporary rear wall on the barn and enclose the utility room in as well as insulate the bathroom and a plethora of other jobs. It’s just a case of getting the motivation to sit down and prioritize these things.

One of the hardest jobs that we have tried here is to re do the ridge of the house. This has to be done before the re-tiling of the house can be done, the roof has been re-boarded and had membrane put down, now just needing the ridge doing before we can finish the re-tiling. To make the ridge, one needs to bring the under tiles (sous plats) up to meet each other on both sides of the roof and then concrete in between them, forming a flat base to put the curved ridge tiles over.  Its actually quite a hard job and I found that I couldn't do it and had to wait for the evenings when Dave wasn't working or on the weekend if the weather holds.
This is the ridge line.

The sous plates and tiles (tuiles) are put down to lift the ridge then gutters are put in over the sous plats. The left of the picture shows the concrete under base going on. This has to dry before the next bit can be done.. after this we put on new ridge tiles and concrete them in either side of the ridge.

 Sadly during this work time we had to go back to the UK for a family funeral, and when we came back it was raining - to the point of the lavoir flooding. Dave had a stinking cold and hurt his shoulder at work :( so work is progressing VERY slowly. But after all that is the general pace of life in France so who are we to change it?

To be continued.....

P.s back to the title, a trous is a hole in french ;)