Com­pletely gut­tered

Out­raged by a sky-high quote for new gut­ter­ing, a DIYER goes it alone

French Property News - - Contents - achard-sa.com lindab.com

Idon’t be­lieve it! €3,000 – they must be jok­ing!” Yes, I know this sounds like a cross be­tween Scrooge and Vic­tor Mel­drew but it re­ally was a gen­uine shock when we re­ceived the es­ti­mate for re­plac­ing our old barn gut­ter­ing.

As is usual in th­ese (sur­pris­ingly fre­quent) cases, my out­rage soon turned to prag­ma­tism and I started the ‘prac­ti­cal’ con­ver­sa­tion with my wife Rosie, which ran some­thing like this.

“How dif­fi­cult can it be tak­ing a few tiles off and re­plac­ing the old brack­ets? I can do that. I just need a bit of help and a lad­der.”

“Come on dear, you’re ap­proach­ing 70, with a bad back and have no idea what you are do­ing.”

My com­pet­i­tive, 30-year-old spirit re-ig­nites and I leap to the chal­lenge. The com­puter is started and off I go on a Google search of ‘How to re­place gal­vanised gut­ter­ing, at 70’.

Gal­vanised into ac­tion

The barn gut­ter­ing is the old gal­vanised zinc type but it had de­te­ri­o­rated to a state where it was be­com­ing a dan­ger. The down­pipe had been re­paired by tape, gunk and any­thing else that might keep it go­ing for a few more years. It had to be done.

DIY fo­rums on the in­ter­net, about the tra­di­tional type of French gal­vanised gut­ter­ing, con­tained hor­ror sto­ries and dire warn­ings against us­ing sol­der while at a height... or over­heat­ing the sol­der and burn­ing through the gut­ter­ing… or set­ting fire to the orig­i­nal tim­bers of the roof. Was I mad?

There had to be a sim­pler so­lu­tion. I trawled UK roof­ing sites to see if I could find an al­ter­na­tive. Two friends sug­gested us­ing plas­tic. On an old French barn? I don’t think so!

Even­tu­ally I found a com­pany called Lindab which sells gal­vanised steel gut­ter­ing and has out­lets in the UK, but was it avail­able in France? I emailed Thomas at Lindab in Swe­den and within hours re­ceived a pos­i­tive re­sponse that a new out­let for their prod­ucts was about to open in Lyon. I emailed Jean-christophe Achard in Lyon, who came straight back say­ing they could sup­ply the gut­ter­ing and de­liver to Bur­gundy. Re­sult!

I sent Jean-christophe my re­quire­ments, hav­ing costed the project in the UK. He sent me an es­ti­mate for the items within a day. The costs were al­most the same as in the UK, ex­clud­ing pack­ag­ing and de­liv­ery, but the thought of four five-me­tre lengths of gut­ter­ing flap­ping about on the top of my car on the French au­toroute made this cost worth its weight in gold. The de­liv­ery date was set for the week my son was avail­able to help me with the project.

Both Thomas at Lindab and Jean-christophe from Achards in Lyon pro­vided first-class help, even adapt­ing my list of re­quire­ments as I had in­ad­ver­tently dou­bled up on brack­ets. I had cal­cu­lated that, for half the cost of the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate, I could buy the gut­ter­ing and a scaf­fold­ing tower. I con­sid­ered hir­ing échafaudage (the very word seemed beyond me at this point) but the cost was quite high and I had no idea how long it would take. I could also use the tower for fu­ture work. I found and bought a suit­able scaf­fold on­line and ar­ranged a de­liv­ery date.

Scal­ing the heights

On the agreed day, the scaf­fold­ing tower ar­rived. IKEA flat-packs had noth­ing on this beast. With in­struc­tions in Slo­vakian and di­a­grams that made my three-year-old grand­daugh­ter’s draw­ings look like ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs, we set about the task; weird metal ob­jects, bolts and tools were strewn across the lawn. After five hours, we had some­thing that looked like the draw­ing even though there were sev­eral bolts and screws miss­ing (an­other story).

My son ar­rived on the same day as the gut­ter­ing and we un­packed the care­fully wrapped items. How could I have imag­ined bring­ing th­ese from the UK on top of the car!

We scaled the tower and worked out how to re­move the slate tiles. A twist of the metal clips and they slid out easily. It took most of the day in 30-de­gree heat to re­move two rows and the old bat­tens. This was nec­es­sary as the new gut­ter­ing brack­ets were to fit on the roof beams. Brack­ets to fit on the side of the beams would, in ret­ro­spect, have been bet­ter but that was our mis­cal­cu­la­tion.

Once the tiles were re­moved we were ready for the first bracket. We had bought a ‘bracket bend­ing’ tool, quite costly but es­sen­tial, to be

able to bend the steel brack­ets to the cor­rect an­gle. Lindab pro­vide an ex­cel­lent video on­line or on Youtube which makes the process per­fectly clear. Over an 18m span, it is es­sen­tial to get the cor­rect drop to the out­let so a line from one end to the other is very help­ful. We used a spirit level at­tached by duct tape to a length of straight wood to balance be­tween each bracket. It did the trick.

Mo­ment of truth

The beauty of the con­nec­tion sys­tem of each length of gut­ter­ing is that they in­ter­lock along the edges, and are then locked again by the joints which clip tight with a rub­ber seal. A cut is made in the last length of gut­ter­ing to ac­com­mo­date the rain hop­per which links over the gut­ter. This, in turn, con­nects to the down­pipes. No sol­der, no heat, no burns, barn still stand­ing! It needed two peo­ple but once we had the hang of it the process was quick and easy.

We com­pleted the job at 9pm in the twi­light of the evening be­fore our re­turn home to the UK. The down­pipes con­nect to the joints and are then screwed to the wall. You just have to get them the right way up. The mo­ment of truth came as we pointed the hosepipe onto the roof; 30 sec­onds later we had wa­ter drain­ing out of the spout – our cheers and yells of de­light must have sounded to our farmer neigh­bours as if we had struck oil!

A few mi­nor cuts from tiles, sore fin­gers from bend­ing clips and an aching back were the only real after-ef­fects. Oh, and be very aware that wasps love nest­ing un­der roof tiles. A wasp sting five me­tres up a scaf­fold tower is a novel ex­pe­ri­ence; do you jump to get quick relief from the acute pain or climb down sen­si­bly and suf­fer the agony for a few ex­tra sec­onds?

Never mind the pain; we had done it in three days, saved €1,500 and now have a scaf­fold tower of our very own. Bring on the rain! Now, I think the barn re­ally needs a wooden stair­case... how dif­fi­cult can that be?

The thought of fiveme­tre-long gut­ters flap­ping about on the top of my car on the au­toroute made the de­liv­ery cost worth its weight in gold

The gut­ters are made from gal­vanised zinc

Putting to­gether the flat­pack scaf­fold tower took a lot of brain power!

Rus­sell’s prop­erty is an old farm­house and barn in Bur­gundy

Each length of gut­ter­ing in­ter­locks along the edges, and is then locked again by joints with a rub­ber seal

As well as the gut­ter­ing, Rus­sell bought a scaf­fold tower and still saved money!

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