Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New fosse - part six - Friday: Inspection and filling all the holes in

Continuing the story of installing a new fosse septique (septic tank) in our French holiday Gite in August ...

Come the morning, come the man from SAUR to inspect the new fosse installation. The system of construction and inspection is quite interesting, basically you pay the water company (in my case SAUR) €350 to take soil samples from round the garden then design the size and placement of the septic tank and filterbed. You then pay your builder to install everything (or if you're feeling brave and have plenty of time on your hands you can do it yourself), then the water company comes out and checks that it's been built according to the plans, and then it's the water company that guarantee that the system meets the regulations and will work for 10 years.

So the inspection man coming is an important step in the installation and Tony had to leave all the pipework, fosse and filterbed exposed so that the SAUR man could come and check everything. As Tony's been installing so many fosses in the area (usually 2 a week, mine was a biggy so took most of the week), he knew the inspection man fairly well but it didn't stop everything being carefully checked and ticked-off. All the pipes had to have an appropriate 'run' on them so that the waste would run in the right direction, the filterbed was measured to ensure it was the correct length and width, a depth-probe was pushed down through the gravel and sand of the filterbed to check that it was the requisite depth, and the distance of everything from boundary walls, property and nearby trees was checked as well. Half an hour or so later the man pronounced that everything was bon, another round of shaking hands, and we were approved to go!

Once the approval had been given Tony and the guys got on straight away with filling in all the trenches and starting to put the garden back together. The excess plastic around the filterbed was trimmed off and then over the top of the filterbed gravel went a layer of white weed-proof membrane (to stop anything growing down into the filterbed) and then Tony started the digger up. Firstly he levelled out the remaining sub-soil and then he started on the 2m high pile of topsoil that he'd removed before digging out the filter bed.

I think our kids thought that the topsoil pile had been specially made for them as they'd spent a fair bit of the week playing "king of the castle" and throwing each other down the hill, getting very muddy, then washing it off in the swimming pool - oh to be a child again!

Tony meanwhile was using the digger to level and sculpt all the soil around and over the filterbed in order to blend the soil level into the rest of the garden. As some 35 cubic metres of soil had been dug out of the garden for the filterbed, this all had to go somewhere and we were expecting there to be a somewhat obvious gradient to the garden, especially towards the laurel hedge that runs alongside our neighbours where it looked like the new ground level was about ½m above the original level. The end result though was a very pleasant surprise for both of us, there was no noticeable 'hump' in the garden, and there was only a gentle gradient down to hedge.

Finally the guys then connected the last of the new pipework to the soil pipe coming out of the house so it meant that we could use the toilet at last and flush into the new fosse (I'll draw a veil over the lack of toilet facilities for the proceeding 4 days), and then Tony and the guys started filling and levelling off the ground in the driveway.

Bennodet meanwhile was down the back of the house shovelling all the soil into the trench over the pipes to and from the filterbed, then the guys were out with rakes to smooth off the ground over the filterbed, sprinkle grass seed over the new garden, sweep the road, and then put back up the fence that they'd taken down so that they could get all the equipment on-site.

In the quote for the fosse works we'd asked Tony to also put down a weedproof membrane and new gravel in the driveway (to match the driveway on the opposite side we had laid in 2006). As the driveway was levelled out the guys started rolling out the membrane and pouring the gravel out. Unfortunately the builders merchant Tony had bought the gravel from had dropped the gravel that was destined for my drive over at Tony's house (40 miles away) rather than mine so Tony had to make several journeys with his truck to ferry the gravel over to my house before it could be tipped out and levelled off.

As the driveway started to take shape the last job of the day for Tony was to use the digger to level and sculpt the soil and topsoil in and around the fosse itself and the concrete pump chamber. It was getting fairly late by then but as they finished it was pretty clear that he'd not had the same success in blending in the soil levels. The problem was that the pump and fosse were about ½m below the surface level but as we needed to retain access to the lids over both the pump and the fosse, Tony had had to slope the soil down ½m from the ground level to the lids.
Promising to return on Monday to finish the last bits off the guys went off for a well deserved beer (or two).

Categories: ,

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home