Renovating a house in the Creuse

To begin Renovating a house in the Creuse we had to prioritise the jobs.

We had to make it habitable.

After all, we had no electrics, the fosse septique was 60 years old and condemned, there was was spring water to the property and the wood burner in the ceiler had rusted away.

Essentially we were going to be camping inside 4 walls.

Some History

We don’t know exactly when the house was built but it was probably in the 1930’s. The staircase is very art deco as are the tiles in the hall.

Most of the fireplaces are all 1930’s marble yet is 1900 or earlier. Maybe it’s re-claimed? There is also very early carved stone sink walled up in a cupboard.

The strangest part of this building history is the bread oven. Attached to the house is a large slate roof lean-too. There is no door or way in. There is no bread oven access in the kitchen. It would have been a massive oven at 4m x 2.5m.

The oven part has long gone and is just a bricked up lean-too with just a window for access.

The plan with the bread oven is to knock through from the kitchen and turn it into the downstairs toilet.

Spring and Mains Water

We had a quote from early 2021 to bring mains water to the property, which was fairly reasonable. There is a spring, a pond and a well in the garden. A mains water pipe runs right past the ceiler door.

Currently there are four different unconnected boiler systems. All the copper pipework is crudely surface laid and would be the first thing most thing most interior designers tried to fix.

In France you aren’t allowed spring water as drinking water, however you can use it in you heating and to flush your toilets. Therefore, that is what we intend to do.

I have plumbed showers and kitchens before but a complete house will definitely be a challenge.

Fosse Septique

The concrete Septic Tank was installed in 1961 and was last emptied in 1990. The initial report that came with the house stated that it did not meet current regulations, was too small and was in terrible condition.

The garden would need excavating, the current potentially leaking tank removing and a new larger eco friendly one putting in it’s place


With the house came 3 very dodgy and condemned water heating boilers and 4 enamelled wood burners from the early 1900’s.

Disconnected Electrics

I trained as an electrician in the 1980’s before doing my degree, so within seconds of entering the house I could see this house was in a dangerous state. The very brief report that came with the house didn’t show anything a untrained observer couldn’t see.

The electrics come into the house via an overhead cable. Instead of going straight through the wall into the upstairs bedroom, some worryingly skinny cables (10mm2 – with no earth) runs down the outside of the house into the downstairs salon. What appears to have been the main fuse, had 55 written on it in tiny faded letters.

Although the brass and Bakelite electrical fittings have a gorgeous retro chic, they don’t meet modern regulations and need ripping out.

If I was to run more than 2 kettles of this incoming supply, chances are this cable would light the front path with a warm glow.

Not much thought was put into the aesthetics.

The house has no earth and was probably wired in the 1940’s.

Most rooms had only one un-earthed socket and one light. I noticed that a couple of these didn’t meet French regulations and had been daisy chained off the room next door.

There is absolutely no way any of the current electrics are going to be re-connected!

We are going to have to talk to the electricity board as the incoming electricity cable is a fraction of the size run to houses I’ve previously owned in the UK (35mm2 ).

The plan would be to drill a hole in the upstairs wall and place the meter upstairs, improving the aesthetics on the outside.


There are several lovely cast iron radiators. The intention is to restore them and run them from a wood burning AGA and a separate wood burning boiler in the ceiler.

Some of the radiators are prettier than others, with decorative castings, but a couple are a bit later from the early 1960’s.

We will strip the radiators back to bare metal, flush them out and completely re-plumb the system to hide the ugly pipework.

Most of the radiators are currently situated below drafty windows which isn’t ideal either.

If possible several rooms will also have under floor heating.

It’s a large house, the downstairs floors are tiled and the upstairs are oak parquet which makes under-floor heating tricky. We would also like to zone control the heating on timers. This may limit not just which rooms get under floor heating, but what type.

With the house comes a barn for storing logs and 750m2 of woodland. If we zone heat this house, with just two people living in it 90% of the year wood is an economical way off heating. The Limousin is a region rich in woodland so sourcing wood shouldn’t be a problem.