Renovating a barn

Hi Everybody,
Im single handedly renovating a barn in the Aveyron. My next task is to connect my barn to the mains drainage in the road outside. Any words of wisdom out there, Im a complete novice!


Just wondering how you are getting on…?! Did you manage to hire a van? awaiting the next installment with bated breath…

Hi Karen,

I dont know much about what you have mentioned above but if you need a plasterer/plasterboarder/renderer then i’d love to hear from you.

Otherwise best of luck with your dilemma!



Just logged on to this thread. Highly intrigued about your experiences with relative costs of wood in UK and France. I am looking to source wood for two double barn doors, four large double shutters, and five smaller ones. We go back and forth between London and Charente Maritime about 4 times a year with a VW 8-seater van with the seats removed, and lately a 6’x4’ trailer in tow. So getting the stuff out there is doable. What I don’t yet know is whether there is a general result of anyone’s researches as to whether wood is cheaper in France or UK. I would have thought that wood is more plentiful in France than UK and one would expect cheaper therefore. But perhaps not. Certainly paint is cheaper in UK. Good quality emulsion from B&Q was one-eighth of the equivalent cost in France and we bought in UK. Used small diggers were double in France compared to UK, and in the case of new (showroom) garden tractors (John Deere) French prices were nearly double. I bought a used garden tractor in the UK and trailered it out there last summer (after I had seen James’s) and have just bought a micro-digger and will be towing it out in April. As for van hire, I found it difficult to find a local UK van hire firm that would insure for driving in France. In the end I hired a van from Europcar in Cognac, drove to London, filled it with furniture, and drove back. I found Europcar hassle free and very helpful. They were more understanding and experienced about hiring for UK driving than the local UK hire firms were about hiring for French travel. It seemed completely standard to them compared to the ‘you must be joking guv’ response from the London guys. As I recall, it cost about £600 for a one week hire from Europcar. This was a biggie van.

Its true! However finding a van to hire is proving difficult. Im not sure about buying a van. I dont know if you have ever read Tony Hawkes book Piano in the A Pyrenees, but that starts with him buying a van to transport his piano!

I think you are absolutely right to be aware of price differences. We always look around as prices vary so much. We v rarely go back to the UK but even with delivery charges, stuff often works out cheaper bought there or even elsewhere in Europe. My dad was over at Xmas and was shocked at the price difference between France and the UK for insulation - he reckoned the French price was nearly twice that of the UK so I think if you shop wisely you should more than be able to recoup the hire costs. What about buying a van and selling it at the end of the project?

I went to the local wood yard to get a quote for some sterling board (OSB) and it came to 537 euros. I costed the same wood in the UK at 291. I was thinking of taking a lot of things over that are cheaper in the UK to offset the cost of van hire plus carrying the larger items, tools etc . Certainly the joists I used were cheaper in France than the UK. There are some really good deals on insulation in the uk at the moment and its light and easy to transport. I have a tight budget so thinking ahead and being aware of price difference is very important.

I’ve heard of people not realising that limousin oak flooring comes from France!!
But maybe Karen has lots of free wood available to her in the UK.

Hi Karen, I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I have so far found a plentiful supply of good quality timber here in France; almost every region has sawmills, les scieries, and there you will find that the price is extremely competetive. Comparing these places to Bricodepot or Gedimat, or Bricomarché. If you can work on the timber yourself you would save a lot by doing it this way. You could get it delivered to your site, in your case your house.(barn)

Im trying to hire a van so can take the wood I need out to France. It will save me money and I think I can offset the cost of the hire. Does anyone know of a good hire company in Essex?

Hi Karen, no the same man isn’t needed, but if he is a friendly guy he could give you advice, it never hurts to ask! In case you don’t, the waste pipe has to be 100mm diameter, ordinary plastic waste pipe obtainable at all brico stores. You buy it in sections of 3meters, or even 4, a bit awkward to get home in a car. I use my trailor, or no doubt it can be delivered. Use a glue that is for the purpose, and read the instructions!! I say this because it sets very quickly and you need to have the pipe exactly where you want it before glueing. Normally the drop required is 1cm in a linear meter. Is the sewer in the road the place you are aiming for? Check this first, and the depth you need your pipe to be. In my case I had a fosse septique installed and left it all to the professionals, but the rainwater drainage, and connections from the house I did myself; Rubber gloves are handy for a good grip! Bonne courage! Rosie

I think it could be a lifeline for me!!

Hi Sanford & Keith,
Sounds like we are in a similar boat. Lets share our stories of renovation, Im sure we can learn a lot!

Thanks Rosie. I have got a water meter installed by default. The water man meant to install it for my neighbours but accidentally put it in my garden! So all I have to do is run a pipe from house to meter and get him to turn it on. The tip about insulation is timely though, given how cold it was in the snow a couple of weeks ago. I m problably being a bit dim, but does the same man come and connect me to the waste water manhole? I’ll have to dig a trench across my drive to get to it and Im not sure how deep it will need to be in order to marry up with the sewer in the road. Im back in March, Ill take a better look and make some enquiries about any local diggers hiding in the local barns - with willing operators of course : )

Hi all
A renovation group has just been started - might be interesting for those of us whose lives revolve around trips to Mr. Flipping Bricolage…
C x


My new life-partner Keith and I will be arriving in Eymet this June and beginning the process of determining how to go about the renovations of our home on Rue du Loup, which I had gutted a couple of years ago in anticapation of having the funds needed to have the entire property renovated. Now that I know we do not have the funds to have it renovated by others, we too are looking forward to the task and all of the challanges ahead with creating our home in Eymet.

Good luck to everyone in the process and congrats to those who have completed the task already.


Hi Karen, in small communities the Mairie organises their local ‘water board man’ to connect you. In larger towns it will be an organisation like SAUR. The local guy will come along and go into the manhole cover you mentioned in the road. You have to provide a water pipe coming along through your trench, right up to their manhole. He will connect your pipe at their end; at your end (presumably near your boundary) you will have a meter installed down in a box like construction and a pipe continuing out from under it. This pipe then goes into your house through a wall or suitable opening. The onus is on you to make sure this is adequately insulated. Be aware that there are HUNDREDS (well, ok quite a few!) of different sizes of pipes and connectors!!! A trap for the unwary. Do ask the locals for help with info, its a good idea. A friendly plumber can help connect your pipes and install a temporary tap indoors till you get the right place for it. Hope this helps, been there, done that, and thankfully now have running water, hot and cold! Cheers, Rosie

Thank you for that. Sounds like I had better get digging! Maybe I should ask in the village if someone has a digger they can make a trench for me

Hi Rosie,
Sounds like you too have taken on a huge project, tell me its all worth it!
I asked the Mairie about where I could connect too and he confirmed the manhole at the top of my drive way. I have to get the waste pipe across the garden into the barn, then it will have to drop down to road level, cross my drive into the manhole. I just thought this would be a professional job. I dont mind doing the donkey work i.e. digging out the channel but after that i would prefer to leave to someone who knows. How did your local Mairie ‘connect’ you? Did they have to put in a manhole? or more than that? Sorry if the question seems a bit stupid, this really is all new to me! I Have attached a picture of the small garden I have to get pipe across and on the other picture you can see the wall through which i have to bring the pipe and the drop, which is about 4 foot down to the road. From there it has to cross my drive, underground, to get to the manhole. Hope that makes sense.

Hi Karen,
This is very interesting to me!!! I am building a house out of a large stable, its now two storeys and has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a downstairs loo. Huge landings and hall, and lots more. I have been living here alone while I build, and have been through many of the stages that you have yet to come to…! As for the drainage, you need your water pipe to be buried down in a channel far enough down to avoid frost and damage by inadvertent digging. Maybe a minipel to dig? quicker than by hand pick and shovel. Have you contacted the local mairie so they can connect you? They were happy to arrange this for me. Will keep an eye on your progress! Good luck, Rosie