Monday, February 08, 2021

French renovations, Day 49: Hallway excavation & plumber!

5,682 steps

I started first thing in the morning excavating the hallway floor. We need to connect to the sewer line that serves the toilet and I wanted to see what we were dealing with. (The plumber was scheduled to come in the afternoon so I thought I'd do some digging in advance of his visit.) It only took an hour and a half, and that includes taking down some of the concrete wall as well. Now we can't do anything else until we get our water shutoff valve replaced.

In the front half of the apartment, we have old terra cotta tiles (tomettes). I'd be happy to keep them--if they were in good shape. Unfortunately many of them are broken or missing, and our floor is visibly uneven. My thought is to take the entire floor off down to the old solives (cross-beams).

FYI our floor is composed of the following:
  • tomettes
  • about 1/2" (1.5 cm) of hard mortar
  • 4-5" (10-12 cm) of earth
  • After this you start seeing the tops of the cross-beams (solives) peeking out (these beams rest on top of the large load-bearing "poutres", going from one poutre to another). There is lots more earth that goes between each solive.
We figure that we'll remove close to 6" of flooring down to the tops of the solives, then build the floor back up with OSB, a soundproofing underlayment, and the final flooring. So overall we will probably gain 4" of extra headspace in the room.

Of course taking of 41 sq meters of tomettes and earth will be a MASSIVE project. Just in the tiny area I excavated, I filled 6 bags, each weighing probably 20-30 lbs.

Eric has been voting for trying to restore the tomettes. I don't know--the floor is more like an ocean than a lake in terms of how not-flat it is.

Anyway, this is a very long and technical explanation. It's interesting to me but might not be to the rest of you 🙂

The plumber was this super jovial, energetic guy about our age, highly recommended by a friend. He had some great suggestions as we were talking through our project. He's going to write up a detailed estimate and is happy to do as much or as little as we want him to and will adjust things accordingly.

For sure we'll hire him to tie into the main sewer lines. We will likely do all of the water lines ourselves and maybe the drain lines from each sink/tub/etc. into the sewer connections. But...if the price is right, maybe we'll pay him to do it all! It would free up our time for other projects.

I had to bring the girls to our family doctor for medical certificates for soccer. We shouldn't have needed them since we have ones that are only a year old and the soccer forms say they're good for 3 years. But the secretary at Cavigal said we needed an official "stamp" on the registration forms. Also it was our first time using a carte vitale! Very exciting.

Here's how it works: you receive your carte vitale (medical insurance card). It's the size of a credit card and has a chip and your photo on it. When you go to the doctor/dentist/etc. you give them the card. They insert it into a card reader and it automatically pays your healthcare provider a set percentage of their fee, usually 70%.

So, for example, our visit was 25 Euros but we only had to pay 7.5 Euros ourselves. (Most people also have a "mutuelle", or additional private health insurance, that covers the remaining 30%.) The doctor is reimbursed with no further paperwork. It's so simple that it's almost mind-boggling. There are no secretaries, no bundles of paper, no insurance claims to process, no coding and cross-coding.

Here's our mama dove, happy as can be in our terra cotta pot. She doesn't even move when I hang out the laundry right next to her.


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