Here's what's happening with the process of getting a new wood stove. As I said earlier, we were disappointed that the Invicta people wanted to rip out the insulation and the stainless steel chimney liner in our fireplace and put it all back new before they would put in a new stove. It seemed to us that the fee for doing all that, 2,500 € was slightly over the top. The current fittings are not that old and the chimney liner has been swept annually.
Earlier this week, we went to see a local wood-stove specialist here in Saint-Aignan. He and his wife/office manager (they seem to be a mom-and-pop operation) had nothing good to say about Invicta stoves — calling them shoddy merchandise, basically. I think they just want to sell the brands and models that they want to sell. They deal in Supra stoves, which compete directly with Invicta's and seem to be comparable in features and quality. Both are sold by the major hardware and building-supply stores here in France.
Problem is, the Supra stoves that we like are slightly too big to fit inside our fireplace. And we don't want to have the fireplace torn out, as both the Invicta and Supra people have proposed as part of the deal. We like the look of our tufa-stone cheminée. It was one of the things we found attractive about the house when we bought it 12 years ago, and when you start tearing things out in an old house you never know what extra problems and expenses you might be signing up for.
After we ruled out removing the fireplace, the Supra installer proposed putting in a fireplace insert and closing in the big fireplace opening completely. The insert he wants to sell us has a built-in electric fan, so that would mean running wires to it across the ceiling of the utility room downstairs and up through the tile floor or brick fireplace floor. We don't want an electric "turbo" fan. We had one in our fireplace insert in San Francisco but we couldn't use it because it made way too much noise. Been there, done that. Anyway, the Supra installer's stock answer to every suggestion we made about the job was: « Ah, ça ne serait pas beau ! » In whose opinion, I want to know, would it not be pretty?
Left to right, the current fireplace; the Supra installer's suggestion; and my idea of painting the fireplace front to match the walls.
Besides, the insert he recommends costs nearly 2,000 € all by itself, and the work to install it, including the electricity and the fireplace enclosure (habillage, he called it, or "dressing it up") will probably cost at least another 2,000 € — probably more. That's way over budget. I did a couple of rough mockups in Photoshop to try to get a better idea of what the fireplace might look like, and I'm not happy it. The Supra man wants to sell us a Cadillac solution, when what we want and need is a Toyota. (No offense intended to anyone who drives a Toyota, which is of course a good, comfortable, reliable vehicle. Remember I drive a Peugeot and a Citroën!)
At this point, we are leaning toward just keeping our old stove for another year. We will try to buy logs cut to fit it. That means we can focus on other home-improvement projects this year and think about the stove again at a later date. It's not our primary source of heat for the house, and nowadays we don't even spend evenings by the fire the way we used to, before we had the loft space finished in 2010 and made it into our TV and computer family room.
Meanwhile, we have one more stove installer coming on the 19th to give us a third opinion on the stove and fireplace. We'll see if he can change our minds about postponing the job for another year.
I tossed in a couple of flower pictures to dress this post up. Habillage !