Once we decided to move to France, we had so many ideas for our future dream home. We absolutely loved the idea of having a self-sustainable lifestyle. To not only own a house and land that was completely ours, but also to produce our own energy, to source our own water, to be able to live off the land.. and so much more.
The house we have bought here in rural France is an old stone building. We have been told it was built in around 1900. When we got the keys, renovations had been started by the previous owners, such as a (partial) new roof, new septic tank, second floor on one part of the building, new doors and windows and a hot water system.
The house has otherwise had very little done to it. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but for us it’s perfect. It means we have free reign on how to insulate, heat and design our home. With no old insulation or oil-heating system (as very common in France) to tackle, it means we can get straight into developing our own system. We are also fortunate to have 2.5 acres of land included with the property to utilise.
To create our eco-friendly home, we have decided to concentrate on the following key factors:
1. Creating an energy efficient home
Having a home that is not only sustainable in construction but also in energy usage is so important to us. Since the main structure is built, it comes down to insulation and our heating method of choice to ensure maximum energy efficiency. Insulation is very important as good insulation will minimise the amount we will need to heat the house, therefore using less electricity. We plan on having an underfloor heating system run by an air-to-water heat pump, reducing the amount of electricity required further as this takes energy from the air outside and turns it into usable energy.
2. Creating electricity and heating from renewable resources
Down the line we plan on eventually running completely off of renewable sources. We haven’t decided on the exact system, but it will likely involve solar power, and also potentially wind power if we are able to secure the appropriate permissions. By being completely off grid, we will be using 100% renewable resources of energy and minimising our carbon footprint in the long run.
3. Collecting our own drinkable (potable) water
We plan to be able to collect and create our own potable and non-potable water for everything from drinking, to cooking, to showering and watering the plants. We have a huge roof to be able to utilise rainwater, and we can then treat it ourselves. This combined with the fact we have our own septic tank means we can be completely off-grid for both clean water and our waste water.
4. Growing our own food
Having 2.5 acres of land to work with means we have plenty of space for growing our own food. We plan on starting small and slowly working towards being able to grow the majority of food ourselves. We also have lots of foraging opportunities, not only on our land but also in our area.
5. Using eco-friendly materials and tools to build
We thoroughly research methods and materials for renovation, always keeping sustainability at the forefront of our minds. You can read more about our process here. We also plan to utilise everything we own already, especially as the previous owners left behind lots of materials such as plasterboard and wood. For tools, we plan to buy second hand whenever possible, and also choose tools with sustainable materials over those with plastic.
6. Furnishing our home in a sustainable way
Once the main elements of the build are completed, the only thing left will be to decorate. We plan on sourcing as much of our furniture and decor as we possibly can second hand. We also plan to upcycle as much as we can as well. Buying second hand is the most sustainable way to shop, and although it isn’t always possible for everything, we hope to source the majority of our furnishings this way. For new purchases we will always buy from eco-friendly and ethical companies.
We have so much to do but we are very excited to embark on this journey and take you along with us.