Did We Find A Reliable Plumber in France?

In order for our French Dream to stop being a nightmare, we either needed to find a reliable plumber or learn a few new skills.

Getting a Quote

The local plumber in the village was booked up for months to come. In fact he was booked up into the new year and we didn’t want to spend 6 months without water. We had a rather dodgy Irish plumber come around to quote and he plucked a figure of €12,000 out of the air within minutes of arrival. That was not even for the complete job, that was simply for connecting us to the mains and installing a boiler. Nothing else. No Bathroom installation, no toilet, no shower, etc – simply the basics. Obviously we didn’t give him time to explain his sums, we just shoved him out the door.

Many plumbers in France seemed quite keen on charging for quotes (devis) and for travel time in coming out to see us. Therefore, getting quotes was very hard. By the time you had a handful of quotes you could be several hundred euros down and many hours spent. Therefore, recommendation seemed to be the only way to go. Unfortunately if a plumber came recommended they were fully booked. Are you seeing the problem? If they weren’t fully booked they didn’t have 10 year insurance, a valid 13 digit SIRET number, KBIS details.
If they they turned up straight away, typically their quote was astronomical, they had no credentials, plus they definitely would not give insurance.
Therefore, by the time we had done the research, we bought the kit, started the install and were 10% of the way into the job. So, we just carried on.

Turning On the Water Supply

The man from the water company came out and was puzzled why our mains water supply wasn’t working. He got out his metal detector and started to trace the supply down the road. At first he found numerous tractor parts but no stop cock. In France they do not lay meshing to identify where pipes have been placed and this pipe had not been laid in trunking. Also, it had only been laid 30cm deep. It was a plastic pipe so his metal detector was fairly useless.

Cadastral Maps

Cadastral Maps take months to be processed by authorities and it had only been 4 weeks. Eventually he managed to get some hand updated sketches from head office but they were very inaccurate. You could see by the tarmac lines in the road they were several meters out.

When they dug up the road they basically forgot to make accurate maps, they laid the pipes at the incorrect depth and they placed the new stop cock in a rather lame position. On top of which they didn’t put in the plastic mesh 20cm below the surface and never bothered placing the pipe inside trunking. All in all, a pretty amateur job.

Hidden Stop Cock

It turned out, there was more than one stop tap to turn it on. The water company had decided that an ancient stop cock hiding under a huge bush had seen better days, so they put in a new stop cock. Unfortunately they chose to put the new one in right in the middle of a muddy ditch where leaves collect and will probably be lost forever unless someone digs it out every other week.

Turning on the tap

Upon turning on, we sprung a leak! I wasn’t a natural born plumber. The man from the water company then informed us that the water pressure in the Creuse was 5 to 6 bar. Nearly five times that I had previously experienced. He generously gave us a handful of washer and wished us good luck!

After 2 days of swapping out various fittings, tightening couplings I was about to give up and call in a professional. After sleeping on it one last time, I simplified a couple of things and everything started to fall into place and we were LEAK FREE!

We had a flushing toilet and a kitchen tap!

For some people that may be a given, but for us that meant we didn’t have to buy water or take trips to the local campsite every time we needed to us the toilet.

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