Sometimes, a fairly simple thing ends up turning into a saga – like the tale of our ill-fated balcony…
When we were first browsing the internet for a house in France (as you do), anything with a balcony beckoned us. The traditional ironwork balconies that are so prevalent in France are absolutely gorgeous, so to buy a house with a balcony was an absolute “must,” and one of the reasons we fell in love with our little stone townhouse in central France.
The downside was that our balcony was badly damaged – apparently hit by a passing truck, who knows when – and probably one of the reasons the house had stayed on the market for so long. Oh well, we reasoned, surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to get it repaired?
Admittedly it was rather dangerous, with a gaping hole to fall through if you had stepped out of the 1st floor door…
but with just the two of us there it wasn’t top of the priority list. The house was classed as “habitable” but sure needed a lot of work, and the internal renovations were much more pressing.
The balcony repair was definitely beyond our budding DIY skills, so eventually we found an ironworker nearby (who fortunately spoke English) who could re-form the bent support and he, in turn, organised a handyman to complete the repair.
Finally we had a functional balcony! And just in time before our first house guests arrived – although it was still awaiting a coat of paint to finish it off (something that remained low down on our priority list).
Just over a year later we were happily sitting down having a cuppa in the now converted attic, when a loud noise which shook the house destroyed our tranquillity, and to our dismay we looked out the window to see a truck wedged under our balcony. Oh dear, déjà vu!
We raced downstairs to check that no-one was hurt before surveying the damage. The driver was fine but remorseful and assured us the repair would be covered under insurance, and of course that was a comfort. On the up side, at least we had not got around to painting it yet.
After swapping details he drove away, choosing to drive forward instead of reversing, and painfully ripped away even more of the balcony as he went. We watched helplessly from upstairs as the ironwork gouged the truck roof, peeling it open like a giant sardine can, while the slate base crashed onto the pavement below.
The poor balcony was left in a sorry state.
What we didn’t realise was that it would take almost another 2 years to finalise the repairs through the insurers. It certainly made a joke of us agreeing to accept a concrete base (instead of the original slate) to expedite the repair.
So it turns out that balconies are a real pain in the neck to get repaired, with the need to co-ordinate 2 or more different French tradespeople (who aren’t in any hurry to get things done), and not just difficult for us because of our sub-standard language skills.
Now freshly painted (by no mean an easy task with all that intricate ironwork) with able assistance from my brother who was visiting at the time…
the balcony is now as beautiful as it ever was.
And let’s hope that’s the end of the story!