The dry days were not as plentiful last summer (2021) which makes it difficult restoring our french farmhouse and barn roof. During the rainy days, we started new projects and completed some ongoing projects in the kitchen because we simply couldn’t get on the roof. February brought beautiful dry and bright weather and we were able to get on the roof and assess what to do next and practice how to do it. We’ve never hung tiles on baton hooks before so it was a little bit of a learning curve.
Then the price of wood in board format rocketed sky high due to market speculation. We found a cheaper alternative and covered it with a waterproof membrane but the cheaper wood soon warped due to the damp weather conditions. We couldn’t get on the roof to start slating with our new tiles quickly, so we are going back to our original plan of just tiles.
This means no under felting, no damp-proof membrane, no insulation, and no wood finish. This gives us the option to insulate and cover from the inside if we choose to do so at a later date. After living in several old houses with no felting and very old slate roofs we decided that for now, this is what we prefer. After all, our French farmhouse has a barn destined to be a workshop and creative artspace and the idea is that it will remain a large barn.
Getting back to why we took on the challenge of restoring our French farmhouse
We are keen not to over renovate our farmhouse. Yes, I am from Yorkshire, and being careful with money is in the blood. But seriously, while the budget must be considered, we don’t want to spend too many years of our life renovating. We fell in love with the Creuse area and the idyllic countryside lifestyle. We also fell in love with the idea of a perfect base to explore the whole of Europe.
It was that first impression with bucolic scenes that hooked us in. Clearing away the masses of deadwood, trees, and weeds revealed a beautiful home. Our intention is to fix and restore the broken parts and enjoy the modern updates for convenience. Where there have been new additions we have embraced them and where the old features remain we have restored them with matching materials mainly lime plaster, lime mortar, and granite.
We will be moving the earth away from the rear wall of the house to prevent water ingress and allow efficient drainage. We won’t be adding framework, insulation, and plasterboard in the older parts of the building that are relatively untouched. We are lime plastering the walls downstairs with a very homemade approach just like it was done back in the old days. We love the upgraded modern flat (ish) walls upstairs. We love the old-world wobbly charm downstairs.
In the barn where an old concrete slab and a breezeblock wall once stood, we have removed the wall and broken up the concrete. We have increased the height of the barn floor to link the house and barn together. There are now steps down to the ground floor of the barn complete with cattle troughs. We plan to create a wooden staircase up to the first floor and garden entrance through the huge barn doors.
The link created by the new opening from the kitchen to the barn makes for great access. The wall between the two is one-meter thick granite! Where the old granite stone floor remains in the barn with its old drainage channels we will clean and preserve as much of the existing stonework as possible. It remains to be seen how practical this ground floor will be. We hope to use the ground floor entrance area as a boot room and a place to store vegetables from our increasing veg patch.
The first floor of the barn was rotting due to a hole in the roof and too many years of weather indoors. It’s no surprise while restoring our french farmhouse that many of the outbuildings are (let’s say) suboptimal. We have removed one-third of the timber from the first floor. We aim to remove all of this timber including several tonnes of clay and mud on top of it. Reclaiming what we can we will recreate the first floor in the center of the barn. The remainder will be open from the ground floor to the roof.
This is the current plan for restoring our French Farmhouse and barn but as any self renovator knows. The journey is a long one and plans often change along the way. Thank you for following our adventure. x