After twelve months hard work, the cottage has been transformed from dilapidated old barn with mud floors to a finished house. See the results here. Brittany Holiday Cottage
I’ve blogged in the past about Auto Entrepreneur as a great way to start a new small business in France, you only pay tax on your receipts, without any fixed costs like some regimes.
I recently received an unexpected tax demand for Tax Professionelle (or rather Cotosation Fonciere Des Entreprises – CFE). I knew when starting the programming business that I was exempt from tax professionelle for the two years following the year of creation (2009 in my case). After a quick visit to the tax office this morning to question the bill, it turns out that it was sent in error, and has been cancelled for this year (2011).
I will need to pay from next year – but the bit that surprised me was that the bill is NOT based on your revenue. It is based on the number of employees, your company assets and the location of the business. The lady in the tax office confirmed that if your sales are very low, then it is entirely possible to be out of pocket at the end of the year.
Not much of an incentive to become an entrepreneur !
A word of warning to anyone running an Auto Entrepreneur who receives a Tax Proffesionelle (aka CFE) bill, check the date you started your business and if you have very low revenues, then it might not be worth it.
NOTE – I am not a lawyer or tax professional, so this does not constitute advice and you should seek professional advice.
Hugh and I have not managed to fly our planes for a couple of weeks, so yesterday we decided to fly come what may. The wind was too strong, but ambition got the better of ability.
Hugh’s plane got blown downwind and caught a load of turbulence at the edge of the maize field and he sensibly ditched it. Fortunately no damage done except some minor scratches. We really struggled to find the plane buried in the crops and it was only an occasional beep from the speed controller that helped us home in on it’s location.
Being smart, I decided to not go down wind and keep my plane nice and close, but completely messed up the landing and somehow managed to land tail first, snapping the rear of the fuselage.
A bit of glue and both are airworthy again.
As the saying goes, ‘There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old and bold pilots’. We were both too bold !
With the kids back to school tomorrow and the clocks having gone back I thought it was time to take some advice from Gardeners World and put the Geraniums (I think they are Pelargonium’s actually) to bed for the winter.
I’m not really a gardener, so no greenhouse, but I do have a garage with a window. The advice seems to be to put the plants inside and water very occasionally. The last bit is easy, finding space in the garage was not so easy.
After 9 months building work, the garage was a complete mess. Everything was scattered everywhere, with tools all over, muck, half bags of cement, paint pots, wood off cuts, rolls of insulation. You name it, it had just been chucked in the garage, and I could hardly get in the door.
Making the space took all day, and a couple of trips to the Dechetterie (rubbish dump), to clear out and organise. At least I can lay my hands on my tools without climbing over compressors and insulation.
Let’s hope the plants make it over winter to adorn the gite next spring.
When I renovated the gite I put in electric underfloor heating in the Kitchen and Sitting room so I could rent in the low season.
This week I had some guests arriving, but the weather forecast predicted cooler temperatures. It was time to turn on the heating for the first time since it was fitted in the spring.
The underfloor heating is on two separate circuits with one floor temperature thermostat each. The lounge worked fine, but bad news – the kitchen thermostat did not work at all. The LCD display was dead. Swapping the lounge and kitchen thermostats heated the kitchen OK – so thank goodness the heating wires and floor sensor buried under the tiles worked OK.
With people coming in a couple of days I couldn’t find anywhere locally to buy a replacement, so I had to ‘borrow’ the thermostat from our house. Disaster averted.
The broken thermostat is on it’s way back to the manufacturer (who were very helpful on the phone).
Next year I think I’ll check things a little earlier.
I been very lax at updating my blog. The last 12 months have been very hectic.
The cottage is now finished, but below are a brief selection of photos showing the progress.
With the opening in the wall and the beams cut for the staircase it’s time for the floorboards.
The original oak beams on one side of the gite were in very good condition and structurally sound. In the other side they had been badly attacked by various wood eating insects and not in a good condition. In both cases I scrapped back any loose wood and pressure washed. Once dried all the woodwork was sprayed a couple of times with a universal wood treatment product.
The good quality beams were not flat enough, there was a level change of up to 6cm in places, to lay floorboards directly. By fitting 44x63mm timber at 40cm centers across the beams (with a bit of packing and some notches) I was able to create a level, flat floor for boarding.
The other side was more problematic. The beams were not structurally sound, and had even greater level changes. To solve the problem I used 175x63mm joists running parallel to the existing beams hung on wall plates with joist hangars.
The bottom of the new joists covered about one third of the beams so leaving most of the original oak exposed, but purely decorative. The new floor is effectively floating above the oak beams. Some of the noggins do rest on the oak beams to help stability.
Once all the joists had been fitted it was just all covered with 15cm wide tongue and groove floor boards. The floorboards were second class quality (i.e. some knot holes) but at less than 10 euros per sq meter, it worked out cheaper than chipboard, felt and laminate/carpet.
A standard off the shelf two-quarter turn staircase requires and opening 180cm by 180cm. Fortunately in the corner of the room for the staircase the second beam was 185cm from the wall. It means there is no room to plasterboard the stonework so it got a good pressure washing and will be pointed.
To make the hole I just chopped 190cm back along the beam from the wall. The removed portion was approx 240cm long as it was embedded in the wall, so it was just a matter of turning it 90 degrees to fit across the cut end and into a new hole in the wall.
I simply made ‘half-lap’ joints (well third-lap joints) to fit the cross beam and pegged into the end grain with some 14mm steel bar.
For most of the joints and cutting I used a chainsaw. The central core of an oak beam is like concrete, incredibly strong.
In order to gain access between the two halves of the building upstairs I needed an opening.
The walls are approx 60cm thick of stone and mud construction. The basic procedure is fairly simple, but quite scary. Bash one or two holes above the proposed lintel and insert a couple of strong bit of wood. Using acro props, support the stone above the hole. Don’t forget to use acro props below on the ground floor to support the first floor.
Removing the stone is fairly easy, it’s all held together with mud. The biggest job is getting rid of all the waste. The photo only shows about one third of the stone removed.
Once the opening is large enough, shuttering and lots of concrete. I cast the sides and a couple of days later poured the lintel. Once set, remove the supports and fill in the holes above the lintel.
The next stage of the renovation has started.
This is the house next door. It’s basically the second half of the longere, the first half I renovated a couple of years ago and now live there. This part is basically an empty shell, 12m long by 6m deep. There is a central wall splitting the space in two, one end the proposed kitchen diner and the other the lounge. Upstairs there will be three bedrooms.
The gallery shows the starting point. The roof is new (replaced a couple of years ago) but inside there is nothing except the old beams. No flooring etc.
My first job is to stabilise the roof timbers. There has been some A-Frame spread over the years but it does not look like it has moved for a very long time. However it’s prudent to tie the supporting timber into the walls. I’ll also add some cross members later.
Once the ‘concrete boots’ are set in place I can start with cleaning up and treating the beams and laying the first floor.