Why do I renovate, why do I blog?

The other day someone asked me what it was like to renovate a house as an expat in a country other than your own and why do I blog about it. It reminded me of the first project that we tackled after we bought our old farm-house.

I remember the first work that was done on our house was to demolish and replace the ceiling in our living room. When we bought the house there was a white polyurethane ceiling in the living room. The ceiling was suspiciously low compared to the other rooms in the house. In one corner of the room it bulged downwards a bit. We decided that there might be something wrong under the panels and started to investigate. After discovering that there had been a fire, which had charred the original wooden ceiling and burnt in-two one of the wooden beams causing it to sag down in one corner, we agreed that the ceiling had to come down and be replaced. Contacting a local contractor, he assured us he could do the work. He asked for a portion of the cost in advance and promised that work would be started in about two weeks. A few weeks later two me came walking up to our door. They had come from Romania. The two men had been told that we had work for them and that we would supply everything that they needed to do the job. They came with only a small sack with a change of clothes. They didn’t have any tools or equipment. We tried to contact the contractor but without success. We left messages but he never returned our calls. After giving up on trying to get in touch with the contractor we decided to buy the equipment that the men needed. We also had to furnish food and a place for the men to sleep. All of this was quite a shock to us. We had just arrived in the Czech Republic and was totally unprepared for such a thing. After the old roof was removed we found another contractor who completed the work. The new contractor was reliable and finished the work quickly. We were soon able to move furniture into our newly renovated living room. By getting off to a bad start, we learned very quickly that we would have to take an active part in the reconstruction if we ever wanted to finish the project.

Renovating a home in a foreign country obviously has its challenges. Everyday there is a new obstacle to climb over. Even the simplest things in the States can be big problems here. Learning a language, finding suppliers and material, finding reliable help. All very difficult outside ones own country. However there are not many 400 year old farm houses in the United States. If your heart is set on living in one then you have to go where the houses are. I don’t regret our decision to buy the house or the time it is taking us to finish renovating it. I only hope that we will be able to finish it in our lifetime! I blog about it because I think that someone else might have the same romantic idea that I once had about buying an old house whether it be in Bohemia or France or Italy or where ever. Maybe my experience will help someone else avoid the mistakes we have made. Or maybe for someone it will be enough to live the dream through my blog.

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