Thursday, January 27, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 400-401: Heat pump woes

Yesterday was so stressful that I couldn't even bring myself to write about it. Today I'm feeling a bit more optimistic so here is the drama of the past two days.

So, remember back in the summer when we had heat pumps installed for both floors? Well, it turns out the installer didn't put the compressors on the roof, which is what we had originally gotten permission for. Instead, he put them on a side wall on our building, one that faces inward near a courtyard (ie, not visible from the street). But in all of Old Nice, it's forbidden to mount heat pumps, ventilation fans, etc on any facade.

Also the installer never asked us if it was ok and never even told us he did it. We only found out afterward. (He might not have known the regulations in Old Nice...but still, he should have talked to us first).

And then, a month ago, we got an official notice of complain from the building next door about our AC units. Although they are attached to our wall, they technically overhang the "space" owned by the building and so that building has jurisdiction over that area.

For the past month I've been trying to get the AC guy to move the compressors up onto the roof, where they should have gone on the first place. He's been slow to respond and still hasn't even figured out a solution of how to mount them (depsite me sending him ideas).

Yesterday, I got an email from our syndic (the person who manages our building) that the neighbors have filed a formal complaint with the city department in charge of urban planning. We have to get hte compressors moved ASAP or face a lawsuit and/or a process with the police.

The problem is: now that the city is aware of our situation, we might not be able to simply mount them on the roof as originally planned. Even though technically it's not against regulations, the city will now be coming to inspect our rooftop and we have to get permission in advance and have our plans approved before we do anything.

So that was yesterday. I was so stressed last night that it felt like the terrible period of panic attacks and insomnia I went through 4 years ago. And of course I woke up at 4:45 am and couldn't turn my brain off.

But, I called the city office first thing in the morning and ended up with a really helpful person. He was familiar with our case and I explained what had happened up to that point and asked what we should do next. He said to email him with our proposed installation and gave us some ideas that would likely help, such as hiding the compressors inside of a little enclosure made to look like a chimney.

His office is in charge of historic preservation so they need to ensure the esthetic qualities of any changes to the exterior buildings. And I appreciate that they're doing's just a pain that we have to go through all of this now! But I left the phone call feeling more optimistic.

I called our syndic and explained the situation. Then I drafted a proposal outlining our installation plans and CC'd our syndic and our AC installer on everything.

It's definitely not something you're taught how to do in French class!

Here is the letter I wrote, plus pictures I took up on the rooftop:

"Bonjour M. ___,

Merci de m'avoir parlé ce matin. J'espère qu'on peut trouver une solution rapidement afin de déplacer les compresseurs et de soulager l'immeuble à côté.

Je propose d'installer les deux compresseurs sur notre toit derrière les puits de lumière. Dans cette photo, j'ai marqué l'emplacement provisoire en bleu. Notre installateur va poser les compresseurs sur un type de support pour les toits inclinés; il est actuellement en train de chercher une solution pour la pose.

Ensuite on peut créer une fausse cheminée qui entoure les compresseurs et les supports, peinte de la même couleur que notre façade. Je suis montée sur notre toit et j'ai pris une photo des cheminées dans le voisinage (flèches bleues). La cage sera enlevable pour l'entretien des compresseurs.

3 faces de la cage seront solides et une face aura un grille en métal qui permet la ventilation des compresseurs. (Comme dans la photo ci-bas).

J'espère que cette solution sera agréable pour vous et que cela va préserver l'esthétisme du Vieux Nice. Nous sommes aussi ouverts à d'autres idées ou suggestions. N'hésitez pas à nous contacter par mail ou téléphone.

Rixa et Eric FREEZE"

Then I went on a run because I had all this nervous energy to discharge. Then Eric and I built a wall.

ps, you can spy at least one unauthorized compressor in the 2nd photo.


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