Sunday, June 27, 2010

Maisons de Crap

Yesterday I went to visit a house for sale. I knew it would be hopeless before I set foot in the place because I know what I want, and I knew it wasn't going to be it.

What I want:
A new, contemporary house with clean lines, not a splodge of crépi in sight, and a coherent floor plan. I don't want a project, I don't want to do DIY, and I don't want to live in a building site full of dust and stress while work is being carried out. I want one of these, actually:
Maison Bodard
What we have a lot of around us is rubbish like this:
maison style Languedocienne
They were built in the 1970s and 80s without style or taste by people who didn't have the levels of financial comfort of those on the Cote d'Azur. Often, the living area is on the first floor 'to make the most of the (non-existent) view', so instead of stepping out of your salon into the garden, you have to negotiate stairs of some sort to get a snip of basil.
living area on first floor
My heart sinks most when I hear the phrase 'ils ont favourisé la couchage'. This means loads of poky places where they've shoved a bedroom or place to sleep. The house I visited yesterday was one of those. Even the garage had been converted into an ugly veranda. The family used the house as a holiday home, even renting it out when they didn't need it, and it showed.

The kitchen was not the usual disaster of heavy oak, but an equally disastrous cheap white, scuffed, muck. The windows had never been changed since the house was built in 1975, neither had the electrics, so the original sockets were still there, not earthed! The downstairs loo had an original wallpaper in violent turquoise with densely packed small pink flowers, including on the door.

There were good things however: 1) the view, 2) the pool. But the house needed renovating from top to bottom. 'Oh, it could be done for 100€K' said the agent gaily. I looked at her in astonishment because I know it would cost double that if you wanted to put in quality stuff and do a good job. As the house is already on the market at 519€K - a special 'low price' in view of all the work that needs doing, but not low enough by a long stretch in my opinion, you'd take it beyond its true market price if you spent what needs spending.

So I left, as usual, dispirited. Land is a ridiculous price here, so my contemporary Bodard house is almost certainly nothing more than a pipe dream. Of course, I could move to the sticks and drive 45mins to get to work, but that is not a quality of life that suits me, so it's back to the drawing board, and more visits of crap.

Good thing I'm not in a hurry!


  1. It does get depressing, doesn't it?
    Who let these designers loose on us!

  2. You know, fly, I don't know how anyone who designed some of these houses has the nerve to be called an architect because they couldn't design their way out of a paper bag.

    The whole village of these houses needs to be razed to the ground so we can start again. No one wants these old houses anyway, they all want contemporary ones built to modern specifications and environmental considerations.

  3. I'm still speechless from the prices - did I read that right? 519,000 €? What is it? Gold-plated?

  4. Unfortunately not, PG, but people try to make up for that by saying that it is in this village, so as it's such a desirable place to live, you should be prepared to buy any old crap and be grateful.

    And of course agents are total toadies to sellers and snake-oil salesmen to buyers.

  5. I know how you feel, I have been looking at houses here in the countryside, and yes I want something with character, but not something that hasn't been touched for 50 years and needs gutting...hey ho, patience is a virtue..xx

  6. I agree, NWLG, I have a full time job and my writing work and I have no time and certainly no inclination to take on anything as stressful as a renovation project.

    Me, I want clé en main as they say - walk in and unpack :)

  7. Don't give up! You'll find something eventually although I totally get where you're coming from. French architects (and a lot in Britain for that matter) should be ashamed by the shambles that they call design. Around here a lot of the houses have crepi in pink and peach, yuck! Good luck with the search!

  8. Thanks, Piglet, you would think most places round here had been designed by a dim-witted drunken bloke off the street with dyslexia who couldn't tell his upside down from his back to front while he was high as a kite.

    No SANE architect would put his/her name to such crap... would they?



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