The History of the Gite
The building was erected in around 1936 by the Beal family. There was previously a barn attached to the house situated to the east of the present building, which burnt down after being struck by lightning and with the insurance payout our barn was built. Two of our current neighbours are members of the Beal family.
Although the building was previously a cow shed and barn, the farmers of the area generally did not farm as their sole source of income. Most also worked part time in the local towns, in sawmills or metal foundries, to supplement the farm income.
The space now occupied by the gîte was the cow shed. Mangers ran along the rear wall and there was a calf pen at one end. At the opposite end were a dairy and a bedsitting room where grandmère Beal lived towards the end of her life. The lean-to that now houses our heat pump was a forge. On the first floor the ramp led up to a hay and grain storage area the central floor being reinforced to take the weight of a cart.
We purchased the building in December 2009 and began the slow process of renovation. The original design was by an English architect but a local French architect was appointed to oversee the progress of the works under our instructions as "Maitre d’Ouvrage." In general where there were existing openings in the building they were retained and some new ones were created to bring light into the structure. The structural work, as well as the bulk of the finishes, was carried out by tradesmen from the local area. Second fix carpentry, some tiling, decoration and the rest of the finishes we did ourselves.
The heating and hot water system are effected by means of a network of pipes at a depth of approximately 1 meter beneath the garden. A water/glycol mix is pumped through this network and then through a heat pump inside the building. The resulting warmed water is then circulated beneath the floors to heat the rooms. The warm air in the building is then put through a second heat exchanger to heat the water.