Now, I haven’t really braced myself for this post. I’m just going to write and hope for the best with regard to my mental state at the end. The scars run deep so they do.
So for those of you that haven’t glazed over on the intricate details on how to get electricity in your French home – here’s your next installment. And for those that missed the first one – put the kettle on you can read it here
So, we had a temporary supply in August. However, temporary means just that and we now had to start the process of obtaining a permanent supply. Now initially we thought that this would be September 2017 but the sheer amount of work involved meant that this was a tad optimistic. Given that Mr Normandy was more or less doing it on his Jack Jones.
Now, I must give a few credits to Roland that helped massively in the early days before he departed to the South of France – he cleared ferns, worked in the excessive heat and was right up on the roof passing slates to Mr Normandy.
And let us not forget John – John is a retired British Gas engineer and he fitted the pipe work to our thermal store and fitted our bathroom, shower and toilets so that Mr Normandy could get on with the rest of the house. This gave us crucial extra weeks to renovate. Without his help we never would have made the deadline to be out of our property on 9th December. John and his wife have been a constant support for us as a family and we love them to bits!
We started the electricity process with Enedis in August (temporary supply). In September we got an 8 page document “Proposition de Raccordement” with the promise of permanent electric within 8 weeks. Plus the engineer in August said we would have the permanent supply on 4 December.
Now, even though we live on a main road and the electrical supply was coming right into the house – Enedis would have to dig up the road for a trench. This would cost us 1100 euros. We now had an account with Enedis which showed where we were in the getting a permanent supply chain of events. We could never log into their main site but managed to navigate it by bookmarking a link to the page. Don’t ask #frustrating.
Anyhow, you could pay 50% of this balance (on line) before the works are carried out which we did. Now, before all that can happen you have to get the electrics passed by the Consuel. A non-profit organisation which ensures that electrical standards have been met.
The Consuel – sounds a bit ominous like The Godfather doesn’t it? If you go on forums it appears even more scarier. They will delight in telling you that nobody passes first time. It’s all a conspiracy you see to put you in your place. Be it that you’re a non-national, you’re not an official electrician etc etc. Oh my word, if you ask a question on these facebook groups brace yourself. One helpful naysayer told me that electrics are dangerous and best not to be doing it ourselves. You wouldn’t want to go bang now would you. Oh yes, I want to blow myself and my children. Do shut up. Of course that was my response.
Funnily enough my husband didn’t want this either. He had a book called “Electricity in you french house.” He’s not a qualified electrician but he does know how to wire a house. Of course he does! Like who doesn’t?!
He also researched extensively online (in French) using google translate. In particular, one of the main French electrical suppliers. This gave you a long list of dos and don’ts to assist you. He also took advice from a British chap who has lived her for 40 years and worked for an electrical French firm.
The amount of reading and going over the details took Mr Normandy many hours and was probably the most stressful time of the build for him. He had to get it passed first time as we couldn’t move in without a permanent supply of electric. The temporary supply was only 12 amps which isn’t enough to have your kettle, telly and washing machine on together.
I won’t bore you with all the details but we did use a combination of english and french ceiling roses, you only have to have a certain amount of rooms ready for inspection, you need to have your consumer unit at eye level, you have to 90mm diameter red gaine etc etc. So lots to it. If you have any specific questions, please leave a comment and I’ll get Mr Normandy to respond.
Taking all the above into consideration, we were only ready to make an appointment for The Consuel Inspector to come out in November.
This was cutting it fine as our moving date was now 9th December and didn’t Enedis say they’d be back on 4th December? Plus Enedis require the Consuel certificate to be ready and waiting before they come out. So it’s all about timing. Once you book the appointment with the Consuel they have to come out within 30 days to inspect.
They did let us know two weeks before they were due to come out at on 16th November. He was coming out at 3pm and my husband worked flat out that week. Even on the day of the inspection, he was trying to attach things that were ridiculously fiddly on the consumer unit.
We decided to call in the first of our big guns and make sure we had a fluent French speaker on site. We called in our French teacher who darted over to us after one of her lessons. She came just 10 minutes after the inspector (he was bang on time!). I didn’t want to fail because our French wasn’t up to scratch.
At one point, I thought oh no we’re not going to pass as he was saying something about the consumer unit. However, Ms Fluent gave us the nod out of his sight which was worthy of a fist pump. Yarp, we (the royal we) had passed first time – go that man! The man from the Consuel was a lovely chap, impeccably dressed and couldn’t have been nicer. He wasn’t looking to fail us – he was merely checking that everything was in order. So up yours renovating forums of France!
Now, Enedis (remember that old chestnut?) said they’d be back on 4 December to give us a permanent supply. We now had the holy grail of electrics – the approved Consuel Certificate we were all set. Or were we?
We posted the certificate and emailed a copy via our account on 16 November awaiting big things. Being a cynical dab hand at this, I telephoned the French number and got the shouty lady again. She simply said they had no dates to come out. You mudder @!~!!!!
She said this in English then she would resort to fast French and then back to English. I never asked her to speak English or spoke English to her. She also raved on about how I needed a contract with EDF – which I had although (unbeknown to me) this was a temporary account. I did have a permanent one but cancelled it – remember! I needed a permanent account with EDF. In addition she would let me know in two weeks when we would have a date. So not a date in two weeks – no in two weeks time I would get a date for when it would be done. And I still wanted to live here.
At this point, I wanted to reach down into the phone and rip her head off instead I phoned a lady that sorts people like this out. A french national and someone not to be messed with. She too can talk fast angry French. I had now brought in the second of my big guns.
It worked, this lady tore strips off them and pointed out they are obliged to come out – just like they had said in their 8 page document.
By the way, during this week, my daughter decided to slam the car door so hard on her thumb I had to take her to A&E. Not broken just x-ray and a whole lot of I don’t need this shit right now!
Anyhow, Enedis came out and dug the trench on 6th December – even then I still couldn’t rest on my laurels and I was right not to. They dug the trench and then they were gone.
The next day another gang turned up and did that awful shaking head thing. They needed something else and would be back tomorrow or the afternoon. I was like not tomorrow, please come back this afternoon. I even did a pleading motion with my hands. I mean I seriously had no pride left. I said we move in on 9th. It worked. Sure enough they came back in the afternoon.
It wasn’t over. The misery wasn’t over. There it was the gleaming black permanent electrical box right outside out gates. We had the certificate – which I might add that no one seemed to give a hoot about!
This Enedis chappie (all lovely by the way) says he can’t connect as I don’t have a permanent account with EDF #wails. I had already asked EDF if I needed it before – they said no it’s fine. They lied. It wasn’t fine and EDF are the ones that get Enedis to connect you. For the love of god. He was there ready and he left..without connecting us. By the way, you are still left with your temporary supply so you don’t get left without any electricity.
Now, it was EDF’s turn to get the phone calls. The tell me the next available date is… (I’m praying it’s not January)..12 December – 3 days after we move in. Or I could ask for an intervention (remember those – they don’t happen) which would cost about 35 euros. I left it. We could manage with no telly, internet etc for 3 days and we did.
I also had trouble paying the remainder of the 50% balance and was fearful they wouldn’t come out if that hadn’t been paid. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation the remainder of the balance. Anyhow, a friend phoned Enedis and the lady explained I had to input the whole amount – it would then deduct 50% from there. I assumed you simply put in what you had left to pay i.e the 50% but no.
Sure enough on 12 December, Enedis came out and gave us the magical permanent supply and later on that month they came out to disconnect the temporary box and that was it. As simple as that.
We had conquered the permanent electric supply.
Here are some useful links if you ever feel the need to go through the above