When Jake told me he was renovating an old house in Northern France, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest.  I met Jake a number of years ago whilst freelancing at Laterite Architects in central London.  It wasn’t long before we were discussing the usual archi-geek topics – maker movement, renovation, hacks and how-to guides in between cups of coffee.  Jake went on afterwards to study at CAT (Center of Alternative Technology) in Wales, where he learned about sustainable construction and restoration techniques.  He’s the kind of Architect who figures out how things work, tweaks & tinkers with them to suit his own purposes.

Maison du Belle Roche

With house prices going mad in 2015 London, Jake decided instead to purchase in Brittany.  For the same cost as a one bed London flat, he found a 10 bedroom house near the town of Morlaix, in Bretagne, Northern France.  Set within 2Ha of walled woodland, Maison du Belle Roche is the court house to the 1580s Grand Manoir du Leslac’h.  Built in the 18th century the walls are constructed from local stone, the roof from slate tiles and timber floors throughout.  The years have worn the building and renovation (restoration) is required throughout as well as extensive landscape management.  

Mansion Belle Roche

Renovation & Restoration Project

Jake is looking for people or groups of friends interested to help out with the restoration project. whilst enjoying the summer months in a fantastic location. He is passionate about using sustainable construction techniques and passing his knowledge on to others.  This renovation project will include: lime/earth plastering, hemp lime insulation, masonry and stone work restoration with lime mortar, carpentry, architectural wood work repair and slate roofing. Assistance is also required with managing the landscape, including planting of a wild flower meadow and orchard.

Of the 10 bedrooms, 4 are habitable. The 2 hectares of woodland are available to be used for camping or to park a camper van. The house offers a renovated living room, kitchen and shower & toilet room, so comfortable for any stay. There is electricity, water and WiFi internet.  Food and drink is offered to those who volunteer with an evening barbecue and dietary requirements can be accommodated. Jake also has two wet suits and surfboards for anyone looking to enjoy the surf at St. Efflam beach just a 10 minute walk away!

The beach of St. Efflam is famous for its annual horse race during the first week of July.  Anyone interested in a (free) working holiday should enquire on the Belle Roche Workaway profile.  You will be collected to and from the local train stations at Lannion or Morlaix.  I’m planning to head there this August ’17 to help out with renovating Jake’s pile and learn a few things from the man himself!