Moving on up.
Let me start off this post by saying my Beau Pere is boss. We are so fortunate to have friends and family in the region who are able to help us with such a big renovation project and my father-in-law is the best help we could ever find.
I am constantly amazed, AMAZED, at everything he knows how to do. Carpentry, masonry, electricity…he’s saved us a ton of worries, time and not to mention money.
The last couple of months have been dedicated to securing some basic structural work that we needed in order to move forward with the project. We spent a good part of the summer dismantling a 3 ton stone wall that wasn’t supporting anything, but was putting all it’s weight on a lower supporting beam (we had 3 experts tell us we could take it out and when we did we found the rest of a niche that was hidden behind it, further proof that the wall had been added at a much later date).
When we got the wall out we had to put in a new beam where it had left a hole in the above floor boards. We had several options including using an IPN metal beam or a solid wood one. Both options were very expensive and would have been difficult to transport and implement.
However, Beau Pere had a different solution: Just use a series of wood 2 x 4s imbedded into the stone masonry and then solidify them together with the longest screws I’ve ever seen. My husband, brother-in-law and I were all on hand to help and gawk in amazement as he finished the assembly.
The outside of the 2 x 4s were then covered with wood planks and the edges were mounted with wood “ears” specially cut by a carpenter neighbor friend who had all the cutting equipment for the “ears” and the wood plugs that will later conceal the screw holes. After the masonry work is done we’ll stain the wood to better match the color of the other original beams.
The other big project my Beau Pere finished was cutting the trémie where our colimaçon will go.
Colimaçon is the French word for spiral staircase. The nice thing about doing a reno project real slow is that it gives you the time to really think about the layout. In the beginning we had just assumed that we would access the different floors by the outside stairwell tower, but we later realized that the stairwell would be impossible to insulate and that we’d lose a lot of heat by just opening the doors and going in between the two main floors. So the new idea became to make a sort of loft within our Tour, joining the main living floor with the floor that housed the bedrooms. It’s a lot cozier and energy-efficient. We won’t lose heat from opening the main doors to the stairwell and the heat from our future wood stove will be able to waft up to warm the bedrooms.
We finalized the floor plans and told Beau Pere where we wanted it to go. A couple of weeks later we came back to our Tour and lo and behold the hole was there. I really have no idea how he managed to saw into the floor boards like he did. Like I said he is just a boss of bricolage.
While we might have been able to do some of the masonry work ourselves, we decided to call in the professionals to do the job. Next month a team will come in to repoint and joint the stone walls. They will also restore the main fireplace’s chimney, small square niches and the big niche you see below. That’s honestly something we couldn’t have done alone.
Also, because of budget concerns we had to make a big decision: Do we restore and repoint the inside of the outer stairwell tower or repoint and joint the outside? Beau Pere said to definitely do the outside in order to protect it from any further water damage and see about the inside later. We didn’t need much convincing and followed his advice.
So in addition to doing the interior walls of the main floor, the pros will also be doing the whole exterior of the outer tower! All 4 stories of 17th century loveliness. Now that’s something we really couldn’t have done ourselves.
So, these are the before pics. Our Tour is about to get a major face lift.