Sustainable Renovation of an old farmhouse with straw, stone & wood in Plouhinec. South Morbihan, France



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  • Description


    We are an originally Dutch family of 4, living in Brittany since 2011, in Plouhinec (South Morbihan), 5 km from the sea, "entre terre et mer"....
    We try to be as self sufficient as possible and in 2012 we have renovated an old barn to turn it into a sustainable holiday cottage. A few years ago we have summed up the courage to attack the old farmhouse ("a.k.a. the ruin") next to it in to another sustainable holiday cottage, which we finished in 2018. We rent out the 2 cottages, a classic caravan and a VW T3 Joker camper van from April to October and we have a vegetable garden and chickens. My husband and kids (12 and 15) are surfers, we like to do outdoor activities and stroll around at flea markets. We are very well integrated here, have a nice circle of French friends. The kids are completely bilingual and their English is improving every day.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    General Maintenance
    Help with Eco Projects

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    We love the exchange with people from other cultures, languages & life styles, so I am sure we will do a lot of talking with you whilst enjoying a cup of coffee or a glass of nice wine (or a beer, not to be denied as a Dutchman... or Breton for that matter) as well:-). And as said, we already renovated our cottages the sustainable way, and along the way we acquired quite some knowledge on sustainable building.

  • Help


    What's the project?
    As you can see on the photos the old farmhouse was a complete ruine, and we managed (with the help of our lovely workawayers) to bring it back into shape to create another cosy holiday cottage, but in a responsable and sustainable way, thus with straw, chalk and wood and re-using the old beautiful granit stones for the front. Now the 'house' side of the ruin is done, we need to start the 'barn' part, which should become a workshop / shaping room / garage / etc.

    What would you do here?
    As you can imagine we need help with the whole process of renovation. For the 'house side' we started in 2015 with the foundation and the ground floor construction, in 2016 we did most of the roof, insulating it with straw and we mounted the straw walls. In the beginning of 2017 we were working on the stone wall, followed by all the roof work and just before Christmas 2017 we finished the roof and we celebrated that the building is wind & waterproof, hurray! During spring 2018 we're attacking all the interior work, insulating the walls, making the rooms, electricity, plumping, painting, etc to have everything ready in July when the first guests arrived. In October 2018, we started the 'barn' side of the building. Winter 2019/20 we were working on the wooden structure of the walls and the roof and repairing the walls with the granite stones. And now we are ready to start working on the interior, starting with the foundation of the ground floor and the isolation of the first floor.

    So whether you have some carpenting skills, building skills in general, electricity, plumbing, etc etc, and even if you do not have particular skills at all, we can use your help! If it is not with the building (it stays however priority number 1), there is always somethings to do in the (vegetable) garden, and there is always weeding and seeding to be done; It will be a hands-on job, so whether you are alone or a couple, there are plenty things to do here... never a dull moment!

    My husband works when there are no waves to surf and adapts his time table accordingly, but normally in the weekends we would like to spend some time with the kids as well, so working days would be Mon-Fri, weather and waves permitting! Sometimes we will try to get some work done on Saturdays and Sundays, depending on the project and the weather (which here in Brittany can be an issue, especially in winter) and always within reason. We are open to any ideas or remarks you might have.

    We have already built 2 cottages now with straw and other sustainable materials, so we have learnt a lot by doing it (we even make our own paint), so if you like to learn about this way of building, we are happy to tell you all about it.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    French: Fluent
    Dutch: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    What can we offer you?
    You would be sleeping our Cosy Caravan (an old but very comfortable classic lady) with private sanitary facilities (shower and compost toilet). At working days, I prepare lunch and dinner which we eat together (we love to cook, using only local ingredients and things from the garden), as well as coffee and tea breaks, but we ask you to take care of your own breakfast (as we have a funny routine in the morning with the kids going to school, etc). As the caravan is well equipped you can cook yourselves on off-days. Shops and markets to get nice ingredients are close by.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    What can the region offer you?
    We love living here, close by the sea with great waves for all kinds of surfing and fishing and we have the woods in our backyard. We live 2 km from the Ria d'Etel, a beautiful inner sea. The area around the house is great for hiking, cycling, etc. The nearest city is Lorient, but we are not far away from Auray and Vannes either. Nearest trainstation is Auray or Lorient.
    You can come here by train or bus, however it might be useful to have a car to get around. We are only 2 km away from the village (bakery, butcher, supermarket, bars, etc) and we have bikes at your disposal. If you like we can show you the beautiful spots around here or you can discover them yourselves.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Roof finished... check Windows in...check What's next? (December 2017)
East wall, straw bales & chalk, nearly finished... (dec 2016)
The south wall finished, what a job! Stone mason 'à la bretonne' ! (May 2017)
Happy to meet you! From Brittany, with love:-)
Surf's good!
The beautiful coast line of Quiberon
Start of the roof (May 2016)
Straw bales arrive! (July 2016)
Our house
How we started a few years ago
Our cottage

Host ref number: 432555412575