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Paris Cracks that Keep Coming Back

Yesterday afternoon, after the usual Parler Paris Après Midi fun gathering, I rushed home to meet an official appraiser scheduled to evaluate my personal apartment.

The reason he was scheduled by BPI (Banque Patrimoine et Immobilier) is because the loan I am getting to purchase my tiny “pied-à-terre” investment property on rue Charlot (16.5 square meters!), is not based on the property I am purchasing, but is based on the equity I’ve built up in my primary residence. According to BPI officials, the apartment has increased in value so much over the last six years that there is plenty of purchasing power left over for even more than this one miniature studio. (You must know this makes me very happy, indeed!)

I was a bit nervous about the appraiser under-evaluating the property, and I won’t know the outcome for a while, but as a trained eye, he taught me much about my own humble abode I didn’t already know. He held a gadget that looked like an “Etch-a-Sketch,” that he made notes on using a pointing pen to tick off yes/no answers or select from a list of categories. I’d never seen the system before, but it was a very practical method of making precise notes.

Early on, he pointed out the cracks in the living room wall that outlined what appeared to have once been a door frame. This indicated that a door may have at one time led from the living room to the adjacent bedroom that doesn’t exist now. On the other side of the wall in the bedroom, the cracks mirror the ones in the living room, and I had never noticed the coincidence. The bedroom had been completely refurbished a couple of years ago, but the cracks come back quickly and naturally, as the building continues to move.

Cracks reappear all over the apartment, no matter how hard I try to have them patched and sealed. When I was living in the States, in much newer buildings, I would have been extremely concerned for structural problems and they would have been eyesores for me on a daily basis. These I have come to actually admire, like old friends that keep coming back.

I asked him if that affected the value of the property and he immediately shook his head — it is to be expected of a 17th-century building and it means nothing to the value; if anything, it is valued higher as the building has withstood centuries of life.

His trained eye could see the difference in the wood floors, where they had been patched and perhaps why. The herringbone design wide-slatted oak floor in the second bedroom are original, about 350 years old, and as he said, are “the really good floors.” The others he didn’t think were much more than 50 years old, although I’ve had other outside opinions about their age and type of wood. Either way, they are a golden tone and glow with the many lives of the past whose weight they have endured.

At the end of the inspection, which lasted about 30 minutes, he commented that “This is a very nice apartment” and I beamed with pride. I wondered if he said that to every apartment owner he encountered, or if he really meant it, even though he must see thousands of apartments every year, most of which would be much grander than this ancient space of 750 square feet.

That’s when I realized how much I love the three things dearest to my heart: my very adult daughter who is both bilingual and bicultural; my homey Paris apartment up three flights of 70 stairs where no angle is 90 degrees, the floors tilt down and the cracks keep coming back…and life in Paris itself, that is a never-ending adventure.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

Respond to Adrian

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We’re looking for a studio or one bedroom (approximately 30m2) apartment in Paris that needs complete renovation, in which we can film a House Hunters International episode! The filming takes about three hours with a small crew. There is no remuneration, but just the pleasure of seeing your apartment on American TV with millions of viewers! If you have such a property or know if someone who does, please contact me immediately at [email protected]


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