L'Appart by David Lebovitz

L'Appart by David Lebovitz

Author:David Lebovitz
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Published: 2017-11-07T05:00:00+00:00


Everything at the apartment was proceeding smoothly. The crew was redoing the wiring and getting the plumbing pipes ready before the new walls went up. Boxes and bags of wires and pipes were scattered around the place, along with tools and other equipment haphazardly left all over the place. The electrician worked at threading wires through the walls and ceilings. I left him alone.

My search for light fixtures, tiles, and cabinet pulls continued, so they’d also be ready when the crew needed them, to avoid delays. The electric radiators had been tossed out with the other debris, and Claude had suggested installing radiant heat under the floors. In San Francisco, I’d lived in a mid-century modern home with radiant heat. The gentle warmth that rose through the floor came from coils embedded in the concrete subfloor, through which hot water passed. My first winter in that house, I learned not to store 10-pound blocks of baking chocolate anywhere near the floor. On the upside, I discovered a great technique for melting a lot of chocolate at once.

I also learned that it wasn’t an economical way to heat a house. The system was installed in the 1960s when energy was cheap. It worked well, but in the 1990s, my heating bills went through the (uninsulated) roof. I wasn’t anxious to see what they would be in France, where electricity is notoriously expensive. “Non, non, Daveed,” Claude reassured me with a broad grin, when I expressed concerns about steep factures (or would that be devis…?) from Électricité de France. “A lot has changed since then, and the radiant heat systems are very efficient now. The heat is wonderful. In fact, I installed it in my apartment and it’s great. Pas de problème…”

Like the water filtration system that he’d talked me into installing, the same one he’d installed in his own apartment, which would rid my life of calcium, and clogged hot water heaters and dishwashers, radiant heat seemed like a good idea. I didn’t think to ask why someone who was renting an apartment would rip up the floors to install a brand-new heating system at their own expense. But since my floors were already down to the concrete, it didn’t seem like it would be all that difficult to lay the rolls of electrical coils down and install the new hardwood flooring over them. I was about to start the search for flooring, which I would buy prefinished, so it’d be ready to go after the heating coils were laid. I continued to take great pride at my efficiency in getting everything ready and organized, incorporating the thoughtful advice that I was getting from the contractor.

All I needed to do, Claude instructed, was to get hardwood flooring that was 9mm (about ⅓ inch) thick. Any thicker, and the heat would not pass through the wood. That was absolutely crucial, he insisted. I couldn’t use anything else.

With that in mind, Romain and I set out on a quest to find 9mm wood flooring at the hardwood flooring stores just outside Paris.


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