I didn’t like the kitchen. It wasn’t really a kitchen, more like a counter with sink, stovetop and cabinets (muebles in French). The stovetop was old, the cabinets lopsided, loose knobs, and the backsplash in constant need of
scrubbing. Someday, I thought, when funds are available, I will tackle this.
That “someday” came last month. I noticed the wet walls in the adjoining toilet and wondered…this is not good! So I called
our local maconnerie and he came to check the problem. “I think it is the chimney,” he said. “But I have none,” I responded. “Not in the house,” he told me, “but you still have the opening
in the roof. Water can come in when there is rain,” he concluded. “Or, it may be your neighbor’s problem. If it is, it will be good for you. They have to do and pay to fix.”
So off he went
to check the neighbors and discovered it was not their problem. It was mine. He comes up with a devis, an estimate, for me to approve so he can begin work. Two days later, he discovers pools of water on the floor. (At this point,
we were not living in the house but had already moved to another one a few steps away). “You have to call your assurance (insurance) because this is going to be expensive.” He was excited over the mystery of the leak and the problem
but concerned about my ability to pay. “Does this mean we have to redo the kitchen space?” I asked. “Tout a fait” he said. Not bad, I thought, not bad at all.
So I call our insurance
agent and the insurance carrier to explain the problem. I have a “dégât d'eau.” It is urgent, I told them, because it is a location vacance (holiday rental) and I have guests coming. They asked if I wanted them
to send someone to do an estimate or if wanted to get one from a local artisan. I volunteered to provide it and hurriedly called our maconnerie to prepare one. He came with the devis, apologetic for the amount. “We
have to take down wall, find the leak, and change all your muebles. And we have to move things around in your small room.” I told him that it was alright and that I appreciated his quick response.
Once the devis
was emailed to the assurance, they sent an expert to survey the damage and to determine the compensation based on the estimate I provided. I asked our maconnerie to show up on the day of the survey to make sure he can explain the damage.
That was a wise move. The survey expert had a lot of questions about the devis and there was lively exchange between him and my contractor. Lively as I could not follow the conversation… or was it an argument? Whatever it
was, the expert was finally convinced and he drew up an estimate for the insurance reimbursement that I thought was generous. He also proposed that I call an appliance evaluator to test the working conditions of the appliances if reimbursement was also
The appliance people wanted a flat fee of 40 euros plus a 40 euro for each of the appliance tested. I had five: washing machine, dishwasher, stovetop, fridge and microwave. That’s a lot of 40 euros just
to check if they were working. I told our maconnerie and he was outraged. “C’est trop,” he said disgustedly. “Bring a long electric cord,” he ordered, “and we do the checking.”
We moved things around in the very small space, alternately plugging the appliances stacked against an opposite wall. Viola! All worked fine.
So I informed both the survey damage expert and the appliance expert that the
appliances were working and that I don't intend to seek reimbursement for them. I was hopeful that the email will prod the survey expert to complete his report and send it to the insurance carrier. I hope. Things move slowly around August;
papers misplaced, people change jobs, reimbursements forgotten or delayed. One has to acclimate quickly to the bureaucratic process.
Fortunately, our maconnerie already started work; on a hunt for the mysterious leak.
He found it behind the toilet wall. He reported that it had been probably been around for a year based on the calcium build-up on the pipe. I re-designed the kitchen space on paper; he critiqued and made corrections. He took me to the
Brico-Depot (hardware superstore) and we both wandered around to select cabinets, counters, etc. Back in the U.S. I do these things online and email my design and preferences to our contractor. Here, it’s like a partnership.