Plumb the depths

French Property News - - Real Life -

Work pro­gressed and in spring 2007 we paid the fi­nal in­stal­ment to the elec­tri­cians. We could not have been hap­pier with the re­sult – but our joy was to be short lived.

That evening we went to bed af­ter a long soak in the bath. The next morn­ing when we came down to the kitchen (di­rectly be­low our bath­room), water was drip­ping from our brand-new light fit­tings onto our din­ing ta­ble. By night­fall we had reached the low­est point of our whole jour­ney. A plumber drilling var­i­ous holes in walls for five hours re­sulted in the shock­ing news that the whole house needed to be re­plumbed. The main cul­prits were the cast-iron down­pipes, which had dis­in­te­grated, and the lead pip­ing, which would have to be re­placed. Hav­ing been through a year-long re­wire, we knew ex­actly what was com­ing. But this was no com­fort when the quote of €43,750 jumped off the page and slapped us around the face. It felt like we were back to square one and nearly all our con­tin­gency bud­get was go­ing to be spent on plas­tic pipes and cop­per fit­tings.

Un­like the highly pro­fes­sional team of elec­tri­cians, the plum­bers were a night­mare. Six months in, they sacked the fore­man who, per­haps know­ing his days were num­bered, man­aged to re­verse the hot and cold water feeds so we had hot water fill­ing toi­let cis­terns and only cold water di­rected to the show­ers. Work­men walked in rub­ble-filled an­tique baths which then had to be re-enam­elled, tore huge holes into or­nate cor­niches – the list goes on and we were so glad when they fi­nally fin­ished.

Let the fun com­mence At least we could now move on to the ‘nice’ phase – paint­ing the walls, sand­ing then re-var­nish­ing the par­quet floors, buy­ing light fit­tings and fur­ni­ture, start­ing on mar­ket­ing, and land­scap­ing the gar­den. We called on friends and fam­ily and used ev­ery con­tact we had ever met for ev­ery­thing from beds to printed stationery. We were on a mis­sion to open and take some money!

De­spite the truly mas­sive set­back of the plumb­ing, we were for­tu­nate to have re­ceived some sound ad­vice, both from ex­pe­ri­enced friends and es­tab­lished B&B own­ers in France.

Noth­ing can be more valu­able than the rec­om­men­da­tion we had for a busi­ness ad­vi­sor/ac­coun­tant to help us through the process of reg­is­ter­ing the busi­ness and set­ting our­selves up as the right en­tity in France. I can’t over-stress the im­por­tance of get­ting this right from the word go.

We now had a busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion with our lo­cal cham­ber of com­merce as a ‘ cham­bre et ta­ble d’hôtes’ and we set a date of 22 May 2009 to open our doors to our first pay­ing guests… in just two months’ time.

Next month

Peter and Mark move to France and start run­ning the busi­ness

The quote of €43,750 jumped off the page and slapped us around the face

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