Plumb the depths
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.
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