Bill and Jenny 2002

First photo of our ‘New House’

Bit of help

A bit of help

Our friend Harry came to help Bill to do the roof as he wanted to see how it was done before he ‘tackled’ his own one. Most of the houses in Brittany have slate roofs.

Jenny and Bill Atkin would like to welcome you to Gravaud

We first saw the house at the begining of November 2002. We liked it so much that we put in an offer for it straight away. We knew by the end of December that our offer had been accepted. The final sale however didn’t take place until 12th of June 2003 

Ther it was gone

There it was gone - nearly




The day the house became ours

The day that it was finally ours we were able to start work straight away. The first job after clearing out all the rubbish from inside was to put an entire new roof on. After having stripped the old one off we were then left with just four stone outside walls.


Our smart new roof - front and back views

September 2004
Bill has just finished digging out the earth floor inside, ready for laying the concrete base. This will eventually be covered with ceramic tiles. This is the normal flooring used in most of the houses over here. They are very practical and hard wearing

New beams 1

The next job was removing all the old, rotten beams and floor boards that made up the ceiling downstairs, and the floor upstairs. All the old wood that was removed from the house we cut up and used on the wood burning stove that we eventually installed.

Main beam

The new main beam

New Beams 2

During the summer of 2005 our neighbour asked us if we would like to buy the  adjoining building to our little house. After much deliberation we decided that it would be a good idea. We could use it as a garage, and have lots of storage space as well. There is even room above for Bill to have his model railway layout!!!

Our new bit

Our new bit

We didn’t start working on this bit until the house was finished, but we broke through to it from the house area to save us having to go outside every time we needed something that was stored in there.

Breaking through
Little helper

Bill and Loghan hard at work

After breaking through the old chimney to get into the new bit, Bill then had some ‘help’ from my little french God son- Loghan- to build up the interior walls.

By February of 2006 we had the floor concreted and screeded ready for our ceramic tiles. Bill had also started building up the inner walls with blocks; Our planned schedule for 2006 was to finish the block work walls downstairs. Put in a patio door to the back garden. We also aimed to have the septic tank installed. This had to be done by ‘professionals’ as it was a major job to undertake. We also wanted the front door and windows in.

Back door

This is where the patio doors are going

September 2006 and look where we had got to:

 Our patio doors were in Bill had started to build a terraced area for us to sit and reflect on all the work that it took  to get us there!!

Patio door

We had already put some shutters on the outside of the building as soon as we had bought the house. Now we needed to put  a new door and also some windows in to replace the existing ones that had rotted away.


We have a brand new window in place in the downstairs hole, and we have a stable door installed for the front door.

New front door
Fosse Septique

On one sunny day in July the men turned up to install the fosse septique (septic tank) for us.

What a job! the back garden had to be completely cleared of all the old tree stumps, brambles and ferns that had been there for I don’t know how long.

They took about a week to do it all. Then we had to have some one official to come and inspect it, and to give us the relevant certification to say that it was all OK.

Bill was in England while all  this was going on. It was quite an experience having to deal with it on my own.

Back Garden

I spent weeks raking the garden over to tidy up the mess that the digger men left after installing the fosse septique. When the raking was finished I threw a load of grass seed down to give me a bit of garden to work on next year. I must point out that I don’t actually like gardening!!!

In 2007 we decided to sell our  house in Guer and move to our new house in Gravaud.


Our old house - La Bardoulais in Guer

As you can see below, we have made a start on upstairs but it is nowhere near finished.At least the essentials are in and working!!


What luxury!!

Help with the new bit

We had lived in La Bardoulais in Guer since 1996 when we moved over permanently to live in France. Bill originally bought the house in 1990 and spent a lot of time renovating it. Eventually we decided that it was just too big for only the two of us and started looking for somewhere smaller. We were very happy to find our new house in Gravaud. As it needed renovating it was handy to be able to stay at La Bardoulais while we got on with the initial work at Gravaud.

In 2007 we decided the time was right to sell La Bardoulais and move over to Gravaud to finish the work. We were lucky enough to sell the house to the first couple that came to view it. We moved out and over to Gravaud in the July.

We had to sleep in the caravan at first as the upstairs hadn’t been completed. As Bill was in England for three weeks I had to do all the signing etc on my own.

Getting settled
Temp stairs

We are in!  The tiled floor is finished, but all the walls need are still waiting to be done. We also put up a temporary staircase.

It was certainly much easier getting things done once we’d moved over here. With not having to drive over every day we could just get up and start work.


Bill could finally start work on the new bit once we’d moved in. It meant that we could knock holes in the walls for windows and doors etc. With out worrying about leaving them open.

 We had a lot of birds nesting in there for a while until we were weather proofed.

Bill always had lots of help from Loghan as you can see!

The grass seed that I had put down at the end of 2006 had started to grow nicely, and had given me a bit of ‘garden’ to play with!

Bill had also started work on the patio area, which will eventually be tiled as well.

A friend of ours came and put up a fence round the garden to keep the dogs in.

New door and window
Kitchen a

The kitchen went in fairly quickly after moving in. We had  bought a plain oak one as I wanted to be able to paint it green. The tiles for the kitchen match our floor ones very well.

Kitchen b

Bill working hard with our flatpack kitchen units

New walls

In 2008 The roof on the ‘New Bit’ went on.

Whilst Bill was doing the kitchen I was busy re-jointing three of our down stairs stone walls ready for painting them cream.

It was a long job but well worth the effort. They make the room lovely and bright.

Just before Christmas 2007 we had our new and very posh staircase installed. The two men turned up at 7.30 am one very cold morning in December with a van full of bits of wood; By lunch time we had our lovely new staircase in.

Kitche c

Another major job for Bill was to completely renew the old corrugated iron roof on our ‘new bit’. What an awful job taking it all off. Bill took it all to our local tip where someone there helped him take it out of our trailer straight into another one to be taken and use somewhere else. How about that for a bit of recycling. We were very grateful to Eric for all the help he gave Bill with the roof.

Roof b
Roof c
Upstairs a

Bill was also tackling the upstairs space. We had decided on an open plan mezzanine for our one and only bedroom, with (specially requested by me) a vaulted ceiling. I think he did so well with all this. To start with there was just an open void right up to the top of the roof. With of course the lovely old beams.

Upstairs c
Upstairs b

These are almost  before and after photos. The framework in the picture on the left is for our new bathroom. Which you get a glimpse of on the right hand side in the photo below.

Upstairs d

When finished, the mezzanine covered the whole area of our original house. With the bathroom in one corner. We used solid pine floorboards over the area, which were then varnished. For my birthday in 2008 Bill bought me my super king- sized brass bed
After all this work and waiting it was time for a bit of relaxation for Bill. He was finally able to set up a little area in the bedroom where he could  ‘play with his trains!’

Breton Lady 1