Dig, dig, diggin’ disasters!

I’m certain this post will not be of interest to most of you, as it deals with stinky things underground, but as a testament to our process, I wanted to record our little escapades.

When we first viewed the house, there was a concreted border outside the master bedroom wing. Of course, my first thought (as a die-hard party thrower) was “what a great place for a Boule/Petanque/Bocce Court!” Every contractor that visited the house had a different idea of what it might be. We heard that it might be anything from a huge buried rain water cistern, to nothing at all, to a large ancient watering hole for livestock.

Visions of Petanque on a warm summer night...

Visions of Petanque on a warm summer night… (note the low windows that were filled in at some point, leading us to believe that this part of the house is very old)

As time passed and we had to deal with the damp on the adjacent wing, the digging began to reroute the downspouts and install new drainage ditches beside the house. By removing the concrete borders on this mystery area, we found what appeared to be an enormous underground collection of water. We made a ditch and it flowed for two days. I wondered if we were going to show up the next day and have lakefront property!!!

Bye bye bocci ball...

Bye bye bocci ball…

But it finally quit flowing and we thought that was the end of it. But when the guys returned to install the septic tank, they discovered that this ‘trough’ had a concrete base in it and was nearly 5 feet deep! More water and sludge. Ugh. Apparently, this type of structure was often built beside the barn to provide cattle with a place to cool themselves in summer. We’ve now installed an extensive drain system including trenches filled with perforated pipe, geotextile, and rock to tie into the leach fields, so we will hope for the best when the rains come next winter!!!

Uh oh.


In changing the heating from oil to gas, we were fortunate to have our new propane tank buried in the yard. Hooray for new technology that allows us to hide this unsightly thing! The guys were very proficient and now we just have to wait for the grass to grow back to ‘hide’ the green cover.

'Proud as a Peacock' Theo doing a fake pose in the mini-digger.

‘Proud as a Peacock’ Theo doing a fake pose in the mini-digger (this one’s for you, August!).

Then the next day, our newest team member, five-year-old Flavio, drove this thing all over the yard with confidence!!!

Then the next day, our newest Le Coudeau Team Member, five-year-old Flavio (son of our Portuguese contractor Ribeiro), driving this thing all over the yard with confidence!!! Hahaha!!!

Between the septic tanks not being in stock to begin with, to partial deliveries, to faulty tanks that had to be exchanged, the septic system is not going in all that fast. But it WILL be exciting once we have running water again and can actually flush a toilet!!! The small things… ?

All in all, this project has gone unbelievably smooth, and we have been thankful for that. At least until last week when we popped over to the house for a quick evening visit to measure something or another and I heard water running in the back…

BUC (Big Ugly Crack)

BUC (Big Ugly Crack)

Followed the sound to the pool equipment room and the ankle-deep water was spurting out a round hole in the back of the house, not out of a pipe or hose, but a hole. The side of the utility room from where the water was coming has a meter-high planting bed, so it was impossible to find the source of the water. Then we noticed that the pool was filling up— every little crack was weeping, and a good stream was coming from the underwater light hole. Yikes. We shut off the water at the main source and returned the next day to find that the bottom of the pool had a gigantic crack in it. It had tried to float away. Obviously more insufficient drainage issues. So we will be replacing the ugly flagstone around the pool sooner rather than later since we have to open things up. Just hope we can get it all sorted out by the time hot weather hits!


This entry was posted in American Expats in France, Buying a House in France, Drainage and Foss Septic in Dordogne, Renovating a Home in France, Southwest France American Expat Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dig, dig, diggin’ disasters!

  1. Stewart says:

    this is a chapter out of the Tuscan Sun kids. Do you know how old the original house is? Fun reading. Hope to see Theo this week? Cheers

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