I’ve mentioned in some previous posts that the time has now come for me to get stuck into the improvements that are needed to my house. I could continue living here as it is and just finish off the kitchen, re-do the bathroom and decorate right through but there’s only one problem with that. I’ve got an extended family and, yes, even a few friends, and with only one spare bedroom, it makes it hard for them to come and visit me. It also became clear over Christmas and New Year that as my sister has to spend most of her time in a wheelchair, it would be really nice to have a bedroom on the ground floor where she and my brother-in-law could sleep while they’re here.
I worked up several different ideas to use the space up in my ‘grenier’ and add a ground-floor extension to give me what I want and eventually came to a final concept that works and is also economically feasible. I wanted to get cracking as soon as possible but then found on looking further into the French planning system that it’s unlikely, even if everything runs smoothly, that I’ll be able to start moving before the autumn. And also at pain of a heavy fine if I do anything in advance of receiving planning consent.
This was a bit disappointing as I have a very large, very old and very dirty lime tree right outside my backdoor that will interfere with my extension plans and will have to go – hooray, as it really is filthy to live under! My plan was to get rid of it as soon as possible, before the spring when it will start growing again. I’d already received a quote from a local firm to do the job and also the groundwork for the proposed extension, but now that they can’t move on the latter, I had them back in again on Friday to give me a revised quote for taking out the lime and a few other smaller trees at the northern end of my house and clearing away what could be laughingly described as a ‘flower bed’ at the other end.
In the meantime, as my proposed extension will add less than 170 sq metres of space, I don’t need an architect to draw up the plans and drawings that I will need to submit for planning (and in any case, an architect isn’t needed for any work on a single house on a single plot of land), so rather than do them myself by hand, which I could do, I’ve been teaching myself Architect’s CAD.
I looked at several systems that are available on the internet and after trying a few out, ended up installing a system called Edificius. This is aimed at professional users and is a very interesting concept. Instead of purchasing a licence to use it on a machine (or machines in a company), you get the whole bang-shoot for free along with lots of video tutorials, free technical backup and access to a free forum. You then start using it to create your projects and only pay when you want to print anything. This is great for me, because I have the full system to laboriously work my way through in order to create the plans and drawings that I will need and not some kind of time-limited trial or cut-down version that may or may not do what I want. And at the end, I’ll only have a fairly limited number of drawings etc to print off and assuming that I will be successful, it won’t have cost me anything except for my time and effort to get to that point.
I’ll maybe go into the system in a bit more detail at some other time, but for now all I’ll say is that modern so-called BIM systems are incredibly clever. As well as allowing people more experienced than me to create new designs or modifications to existing ones in double-quick time, they also let you put the end result onto terrain in its surroundings and also give you a full list of the products and materials that you’ll need for the job together with a cost breakdown. Fantastic!
My house was created almost 50 years ago when I’m pretty sure that nobody cared very much what anyone was building in rural France. I think that it was put together from two farm outbuildings that I’m pretty sure must have existed for years, if not generations previously, and I highly doubt that if any formal plans ever existed that they now exist any more. So my idea was that if I could create a model of my existing house the benefits would be twofold. Firstly, I could then go on to extend it and add the improvements that I’m seeking and in the process produce the drawings and plans that I’ll need to do so and secondly, the model would give me what will probably be the only plans of my house that will exist.
I’m nowhere near it yet, but I’m slowly but surely getting up to speed with the software and grinding out the model bit by bit. I’m not saying it’s easy, because it isn’t as Edificius is very complex and capable software that I’ll probably never become fully conversant with. Here are some shots from various angles of the stage I’ve reached with the 3-D model with accurate light and shadows at various times of day.
I’ve managed to overcome lots of little challenges along the way with several things needing to be done over and over again to get them right. The software has also delivered up a few quirky surprises that have slowed me down, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll get to where I want to before too long 😉