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Below you will find a selection of the most recent entries from bloggers in the Your Home section.

To view the entries from individual bloggers, click on the links below:

Liz Forest - EMF Management
Liz Forest is the founder and owner of EMF Management, a Swiss-registered renovation project management company servicing the international community in the greater Lake Geneva / Vaud region. EMF handles the heavy lifting so clients do not have to learn a new trade, take time off work, or sacrifice family holidays or their sanity just to make their house a home.

Gareth Jefferies - Alpine Property
Gareth Jefferies left the West Yorkshire Police in 1999 to make a new life for himself and his wife in the mountains.  Responsible for marketing and technology at Alpine Properties, a French-registered estate agency with bilingual agents located all over the French Alps, Gareth is usually the first contact you will have the company. He is always happy to discuss your project with you, usually by email, suggesting various properties and making appointments.

Virginie Dor - Space of Mine
As founder of Space of Mine, a professional business specializing in residential organizing, Virginie Dor is committed to helping individuals and families better their lives, take control of their surroundings and time by creating organizing solutions that are individually tailored to each client. As a proud member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), she is an expert in clutter control, work flow, space planning and time management.

Tara Lissner - Swiss Gardening School
An enthusiastic, self-taught gardener, Tara Lissner is passionate about gardening and eager to share her zeal and knowledge with other gardening fans. In 2012, she joined forces with Hester Macdonald, a British-trained landscape designer, to launch the Swiss Gardening School.

Aislinn Delmotte - Settling Here
Aislinn Delmotte runs Settling Here, a company which aims to provide practical help and advice to individuals, couples and families relocating to the Pays de Gex, a region where some of the customs are similar to those in neighbouring Switzerland, but where many aspects of living are entirely different.

Sophia Kelly - Sophia Kelly Home Design
Responding to the growing demand for home design services in the international community, Sophia Kelly provides a range of tailor-made services, which are perfect for clients who have just moved into a new home or who simply need help reorganizing one that they have lived in for many years!

 

 

© credit to EMF in-house photographer Gabrielle Ward

© credit to EMF in-house photographer Gabrielle Ward

The Challenge

How to prioritize your limited renovation budget when you are the new owner of a quaint three-story 120m2 village house that is located on a tiny lane with no land outside of the building’s four walls, three of which are contiguous with other homes?

Said home is situated in the old town of Collex-Bossy, and although the 1800s-era building itself is not classified, it sits in a Zone 4B heritage-protected neighbourhood. This means that relatively stringent cantonal regulations dictate every minute detail of the type of transformation and the choice of materials allowed when converting this space into a cosy family home.

The structure is currently uninhabitable thanks to the discovery of undersized structural beams, rampant wood worm, asbestos and lead. Although the electric radiators and hot water heater still function, current rules insist that the old electric-based heating system has to go.

Finding Solutions

One of the first and most pressing questions among many we tackled to date was how to replace the no-longer-authorised and energy-consuming electric heating system given the lack of a cellar or sufficient technical space for a larger furnace and boiler installation. We looked at the possibility of a heat pump installation hung externally from the second floor but the close proximity of the neighbours’ roofs and windows meant we would be unlikely to meet either physical distance or passive noise rules.

What is more, modern energy regulations in Geneva require that once a roof is reconstructed (remember, we will replace the timber roof truss and insulate the structure to 21st century standards), it must be fitted out with solar panelling and related equipment for heating water—another internal space zapper.

Luckily, after a full though technically-challenging energy audit, we have decided to go forward with a wood pellet heating system with underfloor distribution on the upper floors and radiator units under the ground floor windows. The latter was a compromise as we do not have the ceiling height necessary on the entry level for in-ground insulation plus an underfloor installation. Digging too far down into the stone and earth traditional foundation was also deemed too risky for the solidity of the building.

We found a compact modulable pellet store that will be installed in the very back of the ground-floor technical room that is large enough to minimise the number of deliveries needed throughout the year, thereby reducing recharge fees. Although the vehicles that supply pellets are too large to manoeuvre in the tiny lane, their long-tubed delivery system (similar to that used for oil) will just reach the small discreet recharge panel that will be integrated into the façade of the building.

A Pleasant Surprise

At the outset and during a few rather stressful moments in the planning process, this renovation project seemed to be full of nothing but constraints. However, we have had at least one rather pleasant surprise!

Because the home will be heated with wood pellets, a renewable energy source produced from wood waste, the owner will be eligible for an exemption on the solar-heated water installation and still qualify for generous subsidies. Why, you ask, would anyone in this day and age who is remotely environmentally conscious not want to voluntarily harness the sun’s free energy?

Well other than the obvious reason of budget savings (in the region of Fr. 15,000 for equipment and installation), this home does not have sufficient internal space for the double boiler and converter necessary to receive energy from the thermal roof panels. If it had been imposed on the project by building regulations, it is likely that we would have lost the ground floor guest bath and a portion of the vital technical room.

Instead, we are not only saving part of the project budget which will be dedicated to triple glazing on the new windows, an energy plus, but also we will be economising on technical space leaving more room for living space. A big win for this client.

If you would like to check back on this project’s progress, we will be posting photos and milestones, that is once the cantonal authorities grant the construction permit, so don't hesitate to look in on our website or join up to the EMF mailing list for regular updates.

Author's bio

Liz Forest 200

Liz Forest is the founder and owner of EMF Management, a Swiss-registered renovation project management company servicing the international community in the greater Lake Geneva / Vaud region.

Liz spent the first ten years of her professional career as a free-market micro-economist and project manager. A move to Geneva in 1997 with her young family inspired a change from the corporate world ... and a home purchase over a decade ago taught Liz exactly what property ownership and renovating in Switzerland entails.

In 2013, Liz founded EMF to provide renovation project management services to busy expat homeowners who want to transform their space without the overwhelm. EMF handles the heavy lifting so clients do not have to learn a new trade, take time off work, or sacrifice family holidays or their sanity just to make their house a home.

www.emf-management.com

grapes 2018b

By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

Harvest is a time of new beginnings, as the long hot summer draws to a close, the hum of traffic increases as schools return to their academic routines and the garden gives its final push of colour and splendor before the weather changes and autumn is really upon us. We have had the most spectacular summer season. The Swiss federal office of meteorology has declared 2018 the third hottest summer since records began in 1864; only 2003 and 2015 were warmer. Rainfall this year has also been record breaking, noticable by its absence, between 20-30% below average. These extreme weather conditions affect the home gardener making planting decisions more and more critical. Right plant right place the byword of Beth Chatto, the well-known British plantswoman, is now more important than ever.

How have you coped with these tricky conditions this summer? My lawn is once again dry and yellow with the soil beneath parched and dusty. I thought the pots on my terrace were large enough to cope with dry conditions but they have proven to not be big enough, note to self even larger pots for next year. Leaves are turning and falling from the trees at a surprising rate much earlier than I’m used to. The fruit on my trees are already mature which caught me a little off guard. Always adapting to changing conditions, there is never a dull moment.

On a more positive note, the roses have been truly magnificent, repeat blooming varieties giving their all for the entire summer – I don’t know how a garden can be complete without a rose. Returning from a trip a few years ago to find courgettes the size of a small dog, I refrained from planting them this year however we have enjoyed weeks of delicious fragrant cherry tomatoes with basil and more green beans than I know what to do with. My direct vegetable seed sowing efforts were less successful. I think the super hot conditions combined with sporadic watering just sunk them. Next year I’ll give in and spend time filling fiddly seed trays with compost and transplant out seedlings when they are robust enough to survive. Something I have not missed this year is slugs. For once the heat seems to have significantly impacted their numbers, let’s hope this means going into autumn there will be even fewer of these pests around to damage our plants. The box wood caterpillar however is never far off and I’ve ended up spraying against this pest already twice this summer. I keep a keen eye out for small white moths, I occasionally spray a jet of water from the hose through the small hedges to see if there are any to disturb. If I find some flying away I next take a closer look for caterpillars and their webbed cocoons. As I’ve mentioned before the best product on the market at the moment is Delfin by Andermatt Biogarten. This product is a drench which must be sprayed onto the shrubs in two parts, two to three weeks apart. Please think carefully before you plant box, while adding structure and form to the garden it now also brings significant maintenance.

eu 1473958 640

With the discussions on a Brexit deal still on going and up in the air, many British passport holders resident in neighbouring France are speedily trying to exchange UK drivers licences and applying for French residency and the carte de séjour. How might the deal affect British citizens who have recently relocated to France or have been in France a very long time? Well, truthfully nobody knows yet. Hence why some have decided to start the administrative task of preparing for a worst case scenario and applying for various bits of French paperwork.

The drivers licence exchange between EU members states is relatively straightforward and if you are currently driving on a valid UK EU licence then you can swop it for a French EU licence. In fact, there is no obligation to do so unless you have committed a driving offense or your current EU licence is due to expire. However, to safeguard their EU driving licence and to avoid any possibility of having to sit and pass a French driving test (not an easy option), many British licence holders have now swopped their UK licence for a French one. The process can take a few months as all applicants in France (except Paris) go through the CERT EPE-PCI office in Nantes. It’s a postal application without a fee so it is essentially free-of-charge but requires passport photos, copies of various documents and two Cerfa forms to be completed. Applicants must also have been resident for at least 185 days in France at the time of the application.

A surge in demands for French residency permits has been noticed; you may hear these permits being referred to as Carte de Séjour (CdS), a physical card which hasn’t been required by passport holders of EU member states thanks to the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, and the subsequent EU directives which followed that Treaty. I personally remember going into the Préfecture in Lyon in 2000 to apply for my CdS as an EU citizen, but when I returned to France in 2010 I no longer needed one as I had the same rights to work and live as any French citizen in France, all of us being EU citizens.

British passport holders are now asking themselves, “Should I go get myself a CdS, especially if I will no longer be an EU citizen post Brexit?” Many are doing exactly that, especially those who have established their homes in France, have bought property, intend to retire in France and have children who have only ever lived in France! A point to note is: Right of permanent residence: Union citizens acquire this right after a five-year period of uninterrupted legal residence, provided that an expulsion decision has not been enforced against them. This right is no longer subject to any conditions. The same rule applies to family members who are not nationals of a Member State and who have lived with a Union citizen for five years. The right of permanent residence is lost only in the event of more than two successive years’ absence from the host Member State.+

Applications for residency should be made through the local préfectures in France.
For personal assistance with any of these matters please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The information in this blog post was up-to-date at the time of publishing 10 October 2018.

+ reference: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/147/free-movement-of-persons

Bio

aislinn delmotte

Aislinn Delmotte runs Settling Here, a company which aims to provide practical help and advice to individuals, couples and families relocating to or indeed already living in the Pays de Gex, a region where some of the customs are similar to those in neighbouring Switzerland, but where many aspects of living are entirely different.

Settling Here aims to bridge the gap between France and Switzerland and provide information which is specific not only to France but to the Pays de Gex region too. Settling Here provides individual assistance to clients and runs regular information sessions, bringing along regional experts to discuss certain topics which include, for example: taxes, house purchase and selling, health care in France, driving laws: job hunting in Switzerland and cross-border issues.

Settling Here
www.settlinghere.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+33 (0)673369656

space of mine shoes

By Virginie Dor, Space of Mine - Home Organizers

Getting ready for the holidays? There’s no better way to enjoy your vacation than to know you won’t be coming back to a messy home. Here are few of my favourite quick fixes:

Bedroom:

SOM bedroom

  • Use under-bed systems such as roll-out bins and vacuum seal bags to store off-season clothing or extra linen.
  • If you’re short on storage space, do away with nightstands and use bookshelves to frame your bed. Or a low shelf at the foot of your bed.
  • Room dividers using shelving units or tall cabinets not only help create extra storage space, but improve zoning in small spaces.
  • Keep your cords and chargers under control by re-using twist ties, washy tape and shoe boxes to hide extension cords. Don’t forget to label them.

elisabeth forest june blog
Photo credit: Gabrielle Ward

By Liz Forest, EMF Management

I recently read in a local expat group on Facebook a post by someone looking for a recommendation for an “honest carpenter”.

It turns out the person writing the post was actually looking for someone to install a custom wardrobe in their home. What ensued was a short explanation of the job (i.e., some shelves, a hanging bar, and a sliding door to hide it all) and the fact that the person had already received offers from two carpenters “for the same amount”. The person was clearly in search of a third offer significantly below this threshold. I read this to imply that both carpenters might be perpetrating highway robbery as the job was too simple for anyone to be paid such an exorbitant amount (NB: embellishment is my own).

These kind of posts are rife on FB. To be completely honest (in the spirit of the sought-after carpenter), they evoke in me a tiny bit of sadness followed in quick succession by incredulousness and a fair amount of frustration. Why?

Well first, as I run renovation projects for a living, I would normally be able to reply to such a FB post with the names of at least two or three truly honest carpenters with whom I have collaborated in the past and who do magnificent work.

Next, before replying, I have to ask myself if the writer means:

  • Honest = can be trusted when left alone in your home with your stuff
  • Honest = does not lie
  • Honest = does not cheat
  • Honest = performs the task as requested
  • Honest = does not try to take more of my money than I believe they are entitled to take for the job I want and need them to do