A natural floor

We thought we emptied all, but during the last weeks we took more plaster of the walls, removed some layers from a floor and thus, generated another 2,5 tonnes to bring to the dumping ground. Amongst some very old asbestos tubes, which to dispose was quite expensive.
floor patchAfter all, we started to build a new floor in the third level. We want to be sustainable, re-use old materials if possible and if we need to buy new material, than it should be as natural as possible.
So then, we thought of building the floor with hemp, as this is light, natural, antiseptic and a good insulation against temperature loss and noises. A bit of research was necessary to find a company selling it and we were wondering why it’s so difficult to get this kind of stuff. However, we bought it at http://www.materiaux-naturels.fr and here is the recipe:

  • 10 parts hemp fibers,
  • 3 parts sand,
  • 2 parts air lime,
  • 2 parts gypsum,
  • water and of course, a mixer.

You need to find a measure, we used our bakery bowl 😉 to have always the exact proportion. The hemp fibers needs to be the first in the mixer, with a bit water to let them swell a bit, than add the sand, water, lime, water, gypsum. Mix all until you get a pulp, not too liquid, not to strong, something like mashed potatoes.
floorYou have a bout 15 minutes to bring it onto the floor, than it’s set. The whole floor dries for several days, depending on temperature and humidity of your environment and it smells when the lime carbonation starts.
To finish the floor, you need to cover this layer with air lime-sand screed, which can be done immediately after placing the first layer with the hemp fibers.
Both together will be a perfect underground for tiling with old or handmade tiles, e.g. terracotta tiles.

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A new beginning

So, the house is empty now.
All the stuff which was inside we brought to the waste disposal sites, all the little walls are removed and now, we can see clearly damages on the beams, roof and the outer walls, can make plan how to continue.

Balkenkopf (timber beam head?)We have to renew the roof, this we knew from the beginning. Also, this we discovered while emptying the house, some of the beams under the roof are damaged by water infiltration exactly there, were they lie in the outer walls. To exchange them is not only a lot of work but also very difficult to realize as they are about 7 meters long, heavy and need to bring up 12 meters! As they are not damaged by termites, it might be possible to keep them. After searching the web we found two solutions:

  1. blaze repair plates
  2. replacement of the rotten parts with resin

An architect confirmed that any repair might be better than replacing a beam. It might be impossible to find old beams from the same wood, in particular in this length. When using new wood, we might risk future problems as the wood is probably dried chemically and will move during the next years until finally settled.
Let’s see what the specialists recommend us when visiting the house.

Despite of this, we need a scaffolding. We’ll probably buy one as renting costs about 100 € per day. It seems to be possible to get one in our size for about 2000 €. Finally, we have to redo 4 facades and buying might be the economic solution.

Information were to find a scaffold are very welcome!

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Old interior walls

IMG_3063We removed a lot of interior walls, which, according to some village people who know the house since a very long time, were made in the nineteen sixties.
We found it totally fascinating that these walls were made with cut stones from the Garrigue or partly with terra cotta tiles, put in a lot of gypsum. They were very thin, but heavy.
Anyway, we broke down all of them and reuse the stones in our garden. The tiles we have to clean and then we’ll reuse them in the house 😉

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First step – emptying the house

Première étageDuring the last four weeks, we emptied the house as it was full with a lot of stuff: old, rotten furniture, rubbish, bottles and other undefinable things. Usable items we gave to Emmaus, all the rest we brought to our nearby dècheteries.

Along with this, we also broke down all the internal walls (there were up to 6 rooms on one level!), removed the gypsum paneling on the beams, dismantled installations, ovens, tapestry and floor coverings. All in all, we filled one big container with old stuff and about 60 trailers à 600 kg with plaster, gypsum, bricks, wood and dirt.

We got a containerThe cave, the first and the second level are empty now, the last few gypsum paneling will be gone this evening 😉

And than, we need to empty the attic, still full with rubbish. We want to have this be done until the end of this week so that we are able to measure, plan and draft the plans for the future apartments.

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About the 22 Grand Rue project

This house in Fitou, France, probably dates back to the late 17th or beginning of 18th century and has been built in the shape how it appears nowadays.
It is, as many other houses of that decade, built with stones from the Garrigue and plastered with lime mortar. The house lies between two streets, the main street of the village and a smaller street, mainly used by pedestrians. Therefore, it has two entries, on in the back for people only and one at the front, for the trailers and tractors, because as so many people in the village, the owners were farmers e.g. winemakers.

The previous owners divided the formerly big rooms into smaller places as sometimes four generations lives under the same roof. These changes have had not a deep impact on the original structure, as the walls of the rooms could be easily removed.

We are restoring this house and creating three independent apartments.
December, 3rd 2012 we got the keys.
The three apartments will be available June July August 30th, 2013. … Well, it’s ready, when it’s ready:) stay tuned!
You can rent them.
Have fun reading the story and see you soon 😉

Tine and Hagen

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