When you buy an apartment in France you’ll receive a copy of the building’s rule book. Typically it’s a thick red softback book which contains a long list of dos and don’ts governing the running of the apartment block. Most of which are just plain common sense and ensure we can all live together in the one building in relative harmony. And most of the time, it works. From time to time, M Le President – not Macron, but the guy that’s head of our building committee – puts up notes reminding us about various rules. For example, no hanging washing out on the balconies or hanging beach towels over the railings to dry. These indiscretions are often committed by holidaymakers unfamiliar with the myriad of rules.
When we bought our current apartment it needed a complete overhaul. Aware that it was going to be both noisy and dusty for my neighbours, I went on a charm offensive knocking on doors to introduce myself and giving them my mobile number so they could contact me if there were any problems. We were living off-site during most of the major works. I got the works properly approved, and even though I had my own plumber doing the bathrooms, also involved the building’s plumber. This is an important point as each building has its own eccentricities and none more so than the plumbing and heating which are shared utilities. I also posted a note in the lift apologising for noise, inconvenience etc.
I did get a couple of calls of complaint but, on further investigation, none were to do with my works but rather those in another apartment which hadn’t adhered to the protocol. For example, work can only be carried out between 08:00 – 12:00 and 14:00 – 18:00 on weekdays, excluding Bank holidays, July and August, by workmen with the requisite qualifications, Siret (registration) number and liability insurance. The latter is extremely important as leaks can be a common occurrence and you don’t want to find yourself saddled with the costs of your builder’s incompetence.
By and large everyone adheres to these rules apart from one neighbour in our block who doesn’t think they apply to him. He’s renovated a kitchen and a bathroom working only week-ends with a mate. His excuse is that’s the only time he has available. Seems reasonable, but he works for himself from home. What he means is his mate is only available at the weekend and, in order to complete the job, they need to work all weekend – no warnings and certainly no apologies.
However, it appears he was celebrating his 45th birthday this week-end with a party – my invite must’ve gotten lost in the post – and he’s put up a note in the lift apologising in advance for the noise. Either it’s going to be really noisy, or he’s mellowing in his old age. A quick chat with the neighbours, who all find it equally amusing, revealed none of us have been invited so I needn’t feel slighted.
PS Didn’t hear any noise from the party. Must’ve been a tame affair!