Heritage projects which continue to inspire us

Heritage is important to the vast majority of us. After all, preserving our heritage helps to protect the future for future generations. Many of like to retain traditional features in our homes if we have an older property, and we often like to visit historic places of interest whilst on holiday.

 

In recent months we have shared stories of two heritage projects, one which was completed a few years ago in Dax and another planned for the future in Orthez. Understanding our culture and the local traditions are therefore extremely important to us.

 

A couple of other stories from across our region further illustrate this point.

 

The luxurious Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz – built in 1854 by Napoleon III for his wife Eugénie de Montijo – opens for reservations in early November. This is following its successful renovation into a hotel that forms part of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation empire. In the summer of 2022, the hotel will be open to the public[1].   The Hôtel du Palais is a lavish affair – 86 guestrooms and 56 suites which the company is hoping will blend tradition with modernity.

 

Another renovation project is similarly interesting and inspiring. Less opulent perhaps, but an undertaking which embraces France’s heritage and traditions: the frigate Hermione.

 

Currently undergoing renovations to its hull and other repairs in a dry dock in Bayonne, the Hermione is a replica of the 18th century ship of the same name. This vessel is celebrated because it was used by an American General to travel back to the United States, allowing him to re-join his forces in the wars of independence.

 

Today, the Hermione is the largest seaworthy replica in the world. Managed by an Association, the Hermione undertakes a variety of training projects, travelling around France and the world. It is a magnificent boat. We wish it a speedy return to the high seas, hopefully by the spring of 2022[2].

 

Two different projects; each serving different needs, with varying budgets and objectives; but which share a common purpose: to retain the heritage and protect the future.

It is no different to a housing project in many respects. By combining the use of modern and traditional techniques and materials, here at Kiwi Construction we are able to design and renovate properties that reflect both planning requirements and the local heritage.  

 

If you would like to discuss your own renovation or construction project, please get in touch.

 

Joeline & Grant

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Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

 

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

 

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/         

[1] https://tophotel.news/hyatt-unveils-the-new-look-hotel-du-palais-biarritz/

[2] https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/societe/l-hermione-restera-plus-longtemps-que-prevu-a-bayonne-1630991863

Inspirational architecture that inspires us

The heritage, traditions and architecture of our area has inspired so ever since we first moved to the Landes twenty years ago.

Dax is a case in point. Grant used to play rugby for Dax, and over the years we have come to really appreciate and enjoy what the town has to offer, whether this is the Dax Feria festival held during the summer or the lovely buildings within this important spa town.

Renovating property is of course our raison d’être. We enjoy the challenge of restoring properties, retaining the essential character of a building whilst updating and modernising to ensure that it is a comfortable place to live in.

The Hotel Splendid in Dax is a great example of a building that was reborn. The architect was André Granet, designing the hotel in the era of the ‘roaring twenties’ in 1928. Therefore the building has as a distinctive Art Deco style, and was frequented by many famous people, one example being the writer Ernest Hemingway.

Locals will know it is an extremely large hotel totalling 13,500 m2 in size, comprising 149 rooms and suites. However, in recent years the hotel building deteriorated, closing in 2013.

Fortunately, that though is not the end of the story!

Work began in 2014 to renovate the Hotel Splendid and over a period of four years was lovingly restored by a large team of artisans, including work on the chandeliers of the hall of the staircase. The reconstruction project cost more than 16,5m€ and reopened in the spring of 2018.

We think it is a truly wonderful building – a real asset to Dax. We hope you do too.

If you would like to discuss your own renovation or construction project, please get in touch.

Joeline & Grant

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Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (0) 6 11 80 21 86

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/         

Photo Credit: Hotel Splendid

Orthez, capital of the historic Béarn – and our latest project!

We have an exciting new project…

Recently we took on a new property venture in the centre of Orthez, Béarn’s historic capital for two centuries. The building has an interesting history. Originally used as a hotel, the previous family – who lived there for more than two generations – converted the property into a clothes shop, before closing the business a few years ago.

As soon as we saw the property, we loved it, because of its heritage and the renovation opportunities.

It is located opposite a 15th century church, its’ heritage dating to the time of Gaston Fébus, Count of Foix and Viscount of the Béarn way back in the Middle Ages.

The site has huge potential, with the possibility of converting it into residential apartments or mixed use, for example with a restaurant or brasserie. Like any renovation project, there is much to be done… however, with vision, imagination, planning and hard work we are very confident that the property will be transformed over the next two years.

Respecting the heritage of a building whilst giving it a new lease of life as a result of a renovation is at the heart of what we do. We have over 25 years’ experience of living and working in France, and value hugely being part of our local community here in the Landes.

You may be very familiar with one of our common expressions – seeking to make the impossible, possible for our clients. We guess the same applies here! At the current time this wonderful old building is certainly in need of some TLC. But that’s our goal to give just that… and it promises to be a fascinating journey.

If you would like to discuss your own renovation or construction project, please get in touch.

Joeline & Grant

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Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

 

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

 

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/         

 

How to find peace and tranquillity in your own home.

Finding the time to relax and unwind is important to us all.

The last year has been a challenge for everyone, and increasingly people are reflecting upon how to deal with stress, as well as improve their wellbeing.

One of our longstanding clients in the pretty town of Salies-de-Béarn have precisely done that, and this year decided to create their own area of personal space. We have worked with the family for more than 10 years, helping them to gradually renovate the property inside and out.

The location is stunning. In the garden, you can see views of the Pyrénées mountains and the surrounding area is green and peaceful. So it was decided to build a pergola on the terrace, adjacent to their swimming pool. Our clients practice yoga and are interested in Zen teaching. We have therefore planned the project carefully, developing a good understanding of Zen design principles in the process.

In the photographs, you can see Grant and Marc working hard on the project. The pergola is made from Cumaru, the hardest wood in the world – with no staining required. As you can see, the pergola has amazing views. We were fortunate to capture one beautiful photo of the sun setting at the project completion.

In addition to constructing the pergola, we gave some of the outdoor buildings a freshen up with a coat of paint.

Today, the garden with its pergola is a haven of peace and tranquillity. It is a place to sit quietly, to read a book, or even chat with family and friends by enjoying the wonderful outlook. It is a location definitely to be recommended!

If you would like to plan your own personal retreat, or indeed any other type of renovation or new build project, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

Joeline & Grant

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Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

 

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

 

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/         

 

What makes you smile?

This may seem like a strange question. After all, with the Covid19 pandemic, the global health crisis and the huge impact this is making on people and their businesses across France, you may say that there is not too much to smile about!

However, smiling, laughing, having fun and enjoying ourselves is incredibly important, especially at the moment. So we decided to make this the subject of our blog, as 2021 is now well underway… with a brief reflection on last year.

What has been good about 2020?

Well, we have made it through the year! As a family, we – touch wood – kept our good health, continued to deliver various projects for our clients and found time to appreciate the good things in life.

2020 has also reminded us of another key aspect of our lives: the importance of the little things, however small.

For example, this year we have set out to become more self-sufficient by growing vegetables in our potager. We planted 10kg of bio potato plants, yet despite our hard efforts only harvested around 1kg.  It also took us 6 months to grow broccoli…It was not the return that we were expecting, but the whole experience was fun and brought us together as a family.

We did though have some other successes… Earlier in the spring we planted out lots of tomatoes with mixed results. Later in the summer  however, out of the compost bin we discovered what seemed like 25 different varieties of tomatoes, all which grew quickly and were delicious. So I guess it goes to prove that you cannot easily create the perfect garden… and instead have to let nature take its’ course.

Finally, may we take this opportunity to wish all of our friends, family and clients all the very best for the remainder of this year. Spring is on its way!

And – keep smiling!

Joeline & Grant

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Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

 

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

 

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/         

Why barn conversions are so popular in France

It is easy to understand why barn conversions are so appealing.

Barns are incredibly spacious and are therefore perfect for creating rooms and living areas which are generous in size, often with large windows that are full of character.

We love barn conversion projects, too.

Barn conversions are ideal for modern, contemporary open plan living, and for enjoying the wonderfully exposed beams, the high vaulted ceilings and the stone construction. They provide homeowners with a blank space to showcase their own creativity and style within an overall design.

Our home is a former barn and was originally occupied primarily by the farm animals with only three rooms used as living space. Now, it is a delightful family property which we love living in.

One of our other favourite renovation projects was also a barn project, Amou in the Chalosse, part of France’s historic Béarn region. Today it is a beautiful three-bedroomed property, complete with its’ own swimming pool.

Understanding how barns were constructed and the heritage they bring to the area is equally important.  Locals will be very familiar with the use of galet stones for barns and other buildings, the smooth stones found in rivers and inland when seas covered the land thousands of years ago.  Across the region, the types of rocks used vary, thus giving buildings their own distinctive look and style.

If you are considering converting an agricultural barn into living accommodation, you will need planning permission. This applies regardless of whether it is a stand-alone property or part of a number of dwellings. At Kiwi Construction, we can help you with obtaining planning permission, the design and layout and also oversee the renovation project, from start to finish.

Please feel free to get in touch to discuss your project.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

 

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

 

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/         

 

#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque #holidayhomes #bearn #landes #multidisciplined #inhouse

3 things to check before winter catches you out

We love the wintertime: the days when the air is incredibly clear and fresh, the snowfall, and the cold winter nights spent by the fire.

However, although there are many reasons to love winter, as we all know there is a less romantic side. Every winter we have our fair share of wind, rain and frost so it is important to start preparing your home for the colder weather to come. Here are a few tips:-

  1. Look after your chimney

During the winter there’s nothing to beat a wood burner or open fire to create a cosy and warm atmosphere in the home – but equally it’s crucial that your chimney flue pipes or ventilation pipe is swept a minimum of once a year by a qualified chimney sweep. They will provide you with a certificat de ramonage – and if the wood burner is your main source of heat and used regularly, we advise that twice a year is best. This reduces the chances of a potentially damaging chimney fire and will give you peace of mind.

  1. Check and clean your guttering

During the autumn leaves and other debris can accumulate in your gutters. And if they become blocked, the water can spill over the side causing other problems such as mould or even damage to the foundations. So it is wise to check and clean your guttering now before it is too late.

  1. Check your heating system

If you have an oil or gas central heating system, don’t forget to have this serviced annually to ensure it stays well maintained and runs as efficiently as possible.

These are just a few tips to get your property ready for winter.

One final tip. The French government has recently extended the criteria for its Maprimerenov’ grant scheme, which means that more homeowners are eligible to apply for the financial assistance for energy efficiency and insulation type work. Please get in touch if you wish to discuss further.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

 

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/         

 

#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque #holidayhomes #bearn #landes #multidisciplined #inhouse

Getting ready for autumn

Autumn is approaching and we have a couple of projects of our own to share with you. 

The first is the renovation of a 30-year wooden monastery garden table, originally built by Grant. It is pretty sturdy as you can imagine – but was in need of a relook, so recently Grant and our sons Noah and Tibeau have been working hard to give it a makeover using a sander, grinder and of course, plenty of muscle.

Made of sleepers, Noah sanded the table down and once it had received some further TLC, treated it with linseed oil. It has lasted well since Grant first constructed it all that time ago – and the refurbished article should last another 30 years…

I have had some new projects to keep me fully occupied too during the very difficult covid period, apart from working on our business, Kiwi Construction.

Fish is one of our passion foods and smoked fish tastes sublime!

So, we have made our own smoker. We cured the salmon overnight, adding some sugar and salt to draw out any impurities from the first. Next, the fish was hung and smoked for four hours.

We love our smoked salmon at Christmas – we cherish the whole French tradition of eating together with family and friends, so the smoked salmon is a real treat….we can’t wait.

The Norris family really appreciates the values of working hard as well as playing hard; and it is great to have opportunities such as this, which bring us all together whatever is going on in the world.

Joeline

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Contact :

Grant & Joeline Norris

+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

https://www.kiwiconstruction.fr/          

Our postcard to you from Hossegor

We love Hossegor. If I had to explain in one sentence why, Grant and I would say:
It’s naturally beautiful with an amazing coastline; it is a foodie’s paradise and you can put your car keys away – because it’s a great place to travel around by bike.
However, that is not all! So I thought this month we’d share with you a few highlights of the time we spent this summer in this charming Landaise town, surrounded by the peaceful pine forests.

🚴‍♂‍ It’s better by bike. Hossegor is incredibly bike friendly – and great for pedestrians, too. There are bike lanes everywhere to go to the beach, travel into town or venture out into the countryside. Pop out to the boulangerie in the morning, head to the seafront for a cooling dip or enjoy a peaceful evening on the beach.
🥐🥘🦈 Food, glorious food. There are plenty of great cafés, bars and restaurants in town plus superb markets to buy the freshest of fruit, vegetables and seafood. For us, there is nothing better than an evening spent watching the sun go down enjoying some oysters, bulots and a cool glass of rosé. Perfect.
🌲 It is close to nature. Perhaps unlike some other towns nearby, Hossegor has magnificent natural surroundings and is easily accessible; close to the forest, the marine lake and within an hour of the Pyrénées mountains.

There cannot be many places with so much to offer: the sandy dunes and beaches, plenty of walks as well as cycle routes, the fab food and it is THE place to go for water sports.
We hope that you enjoy the photos – and if you have never visited, hopefully it inspires you to go someday…
Enjoy the rest of the summer,
Joeline
Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Contact :
Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0) 6 11 80 21 86

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

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How we are rethinking our home and outdoor space

This year all of us have spent more time living in our homes probably than ever before. Our home is our sanctuary, the place we retreat to in order to feel safe and comforted from the world.

In recent weeks we have spoken to many clients who together share the same aim: to make their homes function better, enabling them to relax and entertain with friends and family.

A recent project is a case in point.

We have been working with a client who run a B&B and live in the Béarn on a lovely estate, for at least 10 years. Over the past decade we have revamped the whole house, worked on the pool exterior and landscaped the garden.

In June, they asked us to work on another project: internally fitting a new bathroom and outside with the installation of a new pergola.

Pergolas are the ideal solution if you wish to extend the living space outside. They create enough shade to allow you to relax outside on hot days, provide greater privacy, add definition to a space and are the perfect place for entertaining. They look pretty stylish, too!

One of the things we are passionate about here at Kiwi is using natural products that suit the local environment. We understand the importance of valuing our heritage and enjoy blending modernity with the character of older buildings; for example, for the pergola we used oak sleepers for the retaining walls.

Our inhouse team of talented, multidisciplined trades look forward to helping you with your latest project. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Contact :
Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (o) 6 11 80 21 86

grant.norris@wanadoo.fr

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#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque #holidayhomes #bearn #landes #multidisciplined #inhouse