Monday, 31 December 2018

Building in New Zealand - the interior fitout

Things get interesting now but messy and often frustrating at this stage. There may be scheduling hold-ups. Be prepared to deal with mistakes being made. Stay focussed and involved so you can identify errors while they can still be rectified. Your house is insulated and the gib stoppers have been busy. Do make sure they haven't gibbed over power points. I had that problem and it took some reminders to get it fixed. There's a device that can be used to identify the hidden metal casing surrounding powerpoints hidden behind gib which minimises the likelihood of them putting holes in the wrong places.
Speaking of holes in the wrong places; my joinery in the laundry ended up covering the only place one could have a light switch. The hole was all ready to go then got covered by  cupboard. They ended up putting a covering over the hole inside the cupboard and putting the light switch outside the laundry. A practical solution.
However there was no hole for my clothes drier to connect to a power point and the hole for the washing machine cord was in a stupid location so another big hole was needed. That didn't get rectified until the very end of the build.

You'll want to check the electrician has done his thing correctly but this will happen after the painters have had at least two weeks exclusive access to your home. They don't like to share with other trades at this stage as they need easy access and will start with the wet areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. In the third week your kitchen will go in and the plumber will be working on site with the painters. Be prepared for touch-ups as other trades knock walls and mark them; skirting boards in particular.

The flooring goes down after the painters have mostly completed things and it's a good idea for the installers to put down cardboard to walk on to protect your new flooring - vinyl planking in my case. Then the builder put down plastic 'paths' to walk on after the carpet had been laid.

The extra joinery I had arranged went in smoothly and without incident leaving me with a tidy and elegant library with a roomy window seat providing good storage for items such as photo albums, sheet music. Some of you might find it good for storing toys. The garage bench and cupboards are great for storing garden chemicals, tools and towels for cleaning up messes.

Make sure you check in with your window treatments supplier at this point to make sure they are on track for installation after your house has been cleaned.

Surprises: the kitchen took several weeks, I don't know if that is normal. The cupboard fronts wrapped in plastic were some of the last things to be installed along with appliances, splashbacks and plumbing. Decide where on the sink(s) you want your tap located. My pantry needed bifold doors as space was limited. These are fiddly for builders to do and require adjustments.

The bathrooms took ages, mostly due to the fact the tilers seemed occupied elsewhere. Tilers are always busy, be prepared to suck it up and hope for the best.

My fit-out was complicated by the fire surround installation. The fire surround is big and a real leap of faith that it will look right in the room. Happily my fabricator Peter did a good job and liased with my builder and tiler as it was chicken and egg as to how to get it installed. I'm certain there was a bit of head-scratching as to how to get it together with space gaps for safety and aesthetics.

Finding the right marble isn't always easy. I managed all that myself to save money because everything extra your builder does gets a 15% margin added PLUS GST on top of all that.

There was no hearth mentioned in my building contract despite the fact there was a log fire, and it was at this time I realised I needed to spend a lot more time and money getting a suitable hearth installed.

 Another reminder that your builder often doesn't put everything you need in the contract, probably so you don't realise the house is going to cost more than you think.

I can attest that there are many traps and you will go over budget and in my case, being unemployed during the build and facing mounting costs made me constantly anxious. The last two weeks were the most anxiety-ridden of the whole build. More on that in future.

The electrican did his best to get the hang length of my chandeliers correct without me to advise but the one in my bedroom was too low. He came back and fixed that while he was installing the outdoor lighting.

As you can see, this is a busy time in the build. You need to keep on top of it all and keep the pressure on your builder. if it looks like things have ground to a halt they probably have so ask the hard questions or your build will go down the pecking order for urgent work on other houses. In my case it was busier than it should have been as the painters hadn't painted the soffits and I had to wait weeks for them to get on with that. The celcrete columns hadn't been started.

More on the exterior and landscaping in a future post. Next post looks at window treatments and extra touches to make your house your home.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Building in NZ - preplumb and prewire

Your home is starting to look like something you will live in in the not so distant future. This is the start of seeing little of your builder and more of other trades. There are many other trades and it's not just the plumber and electrician and the insulation guys. Suppliers are all specialists and they install their own products. Some are required to produce producer statements and garantees for you to get your Code Compliance at the end of the build.

You might never meet your plumber at this point. Like me you may turn up to a site inspection and the plumbing is just there, but no taps or water cyclinder, no showers, vanities or toilets. This is the PRE stage where basic piping is done but nothing the owner will see to use will be installed at this stage.

However, beware that mistakes aren't made even now. I cannot impress on you too much that the buck stops with you and you need to know your plan and specifications inside and out. Dream it if necessary and even then you might not pick up on mistakes the first time they are visible.

Case in point: on seeing the plumbing for my ensuite I commented that it was going to be impossible for the recessed bathroom cabinet to be installed if the blumbing ran behind it. Oops! Plumber had to come back and put a dog-leg in the piping but the recessed cabinet was going to give more grief in the future (more on that in a future post).

I deliberately eliminated the bath from the original plan as baths use too much water and are not 'sustainable'. Plus, most people I asked never used their baths, except for kids. My house is not designed for families or kids. I would have liked a bigger bathroom and third bedroom but I was limited in what I could do as I had to use a standard plan and could only tweak it and the subdivision developer insisted on a certain size of house (overall, too big for me). Without plenty of money and an architect you can't have what you want. Compromises happen from start to finish but you can still have something you like.

Notice that the window sills and frames are now in, the insulation is in the roof and exterior walls. Cavity sliders are useful but complicated things which take time to install and paint.

You will have a detailed walk-through with your electrician. There will already be a basic plan submitted to the Council for the building consent but it will not have been your choice. You should have already submitted a plan though to your builder for costing because electricians are a cost that is not fixed. Danger! I used a building plan and colour coded every place I needed power points, TV and internet connections, downlights, chandeliers, outdoor lighting.

I hate houses with ceilings full of downlights. Most new homes are like this. I feel assaulted by a wall of light. There's no atmosphere or 'feel'. Lighting should be functional but also emotional so I've got only the basics of downlights in purely functional areas but French-style chandeliers everywhere else. They were an expense not covered by the lighting PC amounts and the cost wasn't insignificant, though I saved on downlight costs. My ceilings will also not be full of holes, more tranquil.

Don't be surprised when your electrician draws all over your framing, making notes for him/herself on what goes where and they MUST take photos or write everything down because during the internal fitout mistakes will probably occur and need to be corrected.

Please do consider outdoor lighting requirements for the future before they pour your slab or at the least NOW. I needed to be certain that cabling would be available under my patios, before they were poured so conduit holes had to be made in my slab and then through the cladding. Even then, the builder made mistakes and blocked up two feeds. Fortunately the electrician was able to find a work-around.

Your log or gas fire will go in now but it won't be fully installed. There can be quite a delay on that.  You will wait quite some time for a garage door too. The telecoms box and the fuse box will be prewired. What a forest! It's rather impressive that what you see at this point will actually become a fully functioning modern home.

You can't take anything for granted. It's YOUR house and the number of mistakes that can be made increases. Next post - the interior fitout which means gibbing and painting etc.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Building in NZ - Wrapping your house

This post looks at getting your house to the weatherproof stage. Your framing is up and your roof is on so it's time to start covering it with windows, doors and cladding. You'll discover that your joinery will go in just after the framing  and then therre's the building paper (remarkably thin) and thicker weatherproof stuff that will be put around your windows and under any doors and French doors to keep the weather off the wood. The soffits (eaves) get done too.

Like me you'll probably be very excited to catch your first glimpse of your new front door and door hardware. Have they installed what you ordered? Check.                                                  I discovered there had been a mixup with the layout of the French doors with one side window for the third bedroom. Despite my signing off on the joinery schedule and the notes on it to get the window on the correct side to match the building plans someone had made a cockup ordering it and the builder hadn't even noticed it was not like in the plans and installed it anyway. 
Do not underestimate how easily, and sometimes carelessly, trades get things wrong. Common sense doesn't come into it. There are so many indians involved in a house build that it's hard to know where to pin the blame. I studied the mistake and decided I would just have to live with it. I couldn't face holding up the build so that it could be replaced with the correct layout and in fact no one was offering that as an option. I suspect they were hoping I'd live with it. I gave a big internal sigh and decided I'd just have to get used to the way it was. It does, however, give pause and reminds me that vigilance is necessary and, like giving birth, we must question everything the so-called experts do or say because the buck stops with us, the owner.

After the paper is on gaps are filled with expanding foam and battens are attached to the outside of the house. These are to create a gap between the paper and the aerated concrete panels. I'm using celcrete but there are other brands of this type of cladding. The aerated concrete panels are light and the air gap behind them allows moisture to descend and leave the building.
This stage took forever and it shouldn't have. I also felt the celcrete guys were a bit slap dash leaving huge chunks out of corners and other edges for the plasterer to fill. More expanded foam was evident which, to my eyes, wasn't well applied. I queried it. The next time I saw the building plastic mesh corners had been applied to give shape and a bit of strength and plastered over.
You can see the supports for the pergolas attached to the framing. The plastering dries out and undercoat and two top coats are applied. You just have to trust that two coats really are applied. At this stage the house is weatherproof but the soffits are not yet painted.
The next stage involves the interior and this is where traffic jams and holdups can easily happen with the sub-trades. Next blogpost - the complications of interior fitouts as the excitement tries to mount.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Building in NZ- Framing and roof

This is a more interesting and certainly visually interesting phase of a build.
The first time you will see your builder (the guy with the nail gun) is at the framing stage. The framing is  all pre-prepared in a factory and then delivered to site.

Bottoms of doorways and window sills have thick aluminium paper put on them for extra protection and the bottom beam of timber that touches your slab has a waterproof material attached so the walls don't come into direct contact with the concrete.

 The builders just erect it like a jigsaw puzzel, attach the metal connectors/reinforcers, do the roof trusses and the purlins for the roof to lie down on. They also create the valleys from wood. These days the builder working for a big firm does stuff-all really. The sub-trades come in and do their specialities. I hadn't expected quite that degree of specialisation.

I was fortunate to receive laminate framing. This is stronger and straighter than standard pine framing and consists of slices of wood bonded together with glue. It moves less because the slices of wood  often use grain across various directions. My lot was supplied by Nelson Pine.

After the basic framing is up it's time to install the safety nets. These protect visitors like me from having bits of wood or even tools dropped on my head . Then up goes the scaffolding which is going to remain for an interminable time.

You will note that the shell of my framed chimney and fireplace is built in wood. Looks like plywood. And my design has cute little 'shoulders'. I wanted a design with some character to suggest a cottage, even though it's clearly not one. Throughout the design phase I have always wanted to add in lots of light and views of the future garden as well as include plenty of private places with indoor-outoor flow, each spot with it's own character.

This is a home where I can escape to many different 'places' to conduct activities, depending on the wind direction and my interest at the time. There's also consideration for providing private facilities for my future BnB guests or visitors.

The roofing guys are specialists. Your builder does not do the roof. Those roofing guys clamber over everything without harnesses. Occasionally there are accidents. My team leader told me one of his guys slippped recently and sliced off three fingers and a thumb with the slicer for trimming the coloursteel. Ugghh! He's in hospital for weeks and that's his roofing career over.

These days they use screws rather than nails. Before the steel roof goes on they lay the black roofing paper. There's facia to be done, spouting. Then poof! These roofing guys have disappeared and the Builder comes back. The builder in my case, installs the metal strips running the length of the house for the ceiling gib to attach to.

Meanwhile the builder was getting impatient for my drainlayer to finish his work. This is a horribly messy stage as there are piles of rubbishy soil and rocks on site from the excavators and the drainlayer. I shall have to spend more money and pay to have it carted away as it's too mixed up to be of any great use other than a bit of backfilling around the foundation line.

The next stage will be wrapping the house and installing joinery. All good, but after that things seem to have ground to halt.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Building in NZ - From building consent to foundations

 Getting the building consent proved not quite as straightforward as I expected. The working drawings done for the Council took almost double the time my builder had orignally told me, delaying things. The council then requested additional drawings for the chimney, despite the fact they have not requested them for the same type of chimney before for other clients.

I have the temerity to want shoulders on my cute little 'traditional' chimney. Silly me for not wanting the usual 'box' shape. Council farms this consent work out to various organisations so there's not a lot of consistency and it takes more time. Council staff themselves are probably not doing a lot of pouring over your drawings.

There was a further delay and also expense because, again, I was selfish enough to want to access my section via a driveway. You what? Yep, my house is NEAR an intersection (not on it) so I was told I would need a Resource Consent. Is it no wonder we love to hate council bureaucracy? I'm in a modern subdivision. You'd think that council consent for a subdivision to go ahead would assume homeowners would be able to build their driveways automatically. Nope.

Following the issuing of the consent a surveyor was sent to survey the section ready for excavation and to take GPS coordinates. Lucky for me, I suppose, I am unemployed and very motivated to avoid mistakes. I did a drive-by of my section to see what the surveyor was up to. No-one was there. I drove on and found a surveyor nearby busily doing his thing with his equipment on another section so I got out of the car and said
 "Are you sure you are surveying the right property? I'm expecting a surveyor for my land today, there's the truck with the digger on it parked beside the fence."
"Oh yes, it's all fine, I've got the coordinates here," said the very young guy who seemed to talk about the hooss rather than the house, determined to ignore me. Well, what could I do?

I got back in my car and drove away but I felt very uneasy. "Stuff it! I said to myself, better an embarassment or confrontation than an expensive, delaying cockup." I drove back to the guy and said "I really think you should check because my surveyor is missing, this section you are on has not been sold. See, no SOLD sticker." I stood my ground. He walked away and called his office. I couldn't hear what was said but he came back and said "Yeah you are probably right but I would have worked it out eventually," he nonchalantly quipped. My jaw dropped.

Later, I drove past to see him checking the GPS coordinates on MY section. I phoned my builder and informed them of the mistake. Almost half the day had been lost. They really appreciated my vigilance as a day lost stuffs up all subsequent trades booked in. Construction is so busy in Rolleston you can't risk a tradie being unavailable because the schedule changed. I had no confidence in the surveyor and told my builder so. "Someone needs to check his work, I don't want my house positioned incorrectly."
The builder came back to me and said it was the first time they had had a problem with that surveying company which was very sorry and embarassed. I was now feeling nervous about everything.

 Surveying done, the excavators fired up the digger and started carving into my virgin ground. What a lot of earth gets unearthed. As predicted, there were quite a few stones in it but less than I expected.
The excavators mark out the house footprint, dig down and then have an engineer test the ground all over where your foundations are going to go. Bad news, the engineer said that the  foundations would have to be excavated a lot deeper than originally planned. This will require significant extra costs to me as the contract always has an 'out' regarding increased costs for foundations since one cannot know the soil issues in advance of excavation.

Important note: If you need cables/conduit for outside lighting your builder needs to know your exterior lighting plan well in advance so pipes can be put in before the slab is poured. The plumber will also come and put sticky-out pipes into the base before they pour for your water supply/toilet/shower. If you are having a tiled shower you will see the shape of it in the pour. You will also see the rebate in the concrete for your eventual garage door.

Gradually the foundations took shape. After digging the soil out metal is piled in and compacted until the levels are right. Then sand. The boxing is done and a polythene moisture barrier is laid out on top and up the sides. On top of this reinforcing rods and placeholders are laid. Another inspection is done and then you are allowed to pour.

My foundation is a single-pour slab. I am told this can knock a couple of days off the foundation stage otherwise two separate pours take more time and are more ugly with a seam running around the foundations.

For more detailed info on NZ residential foundations go to:

Patience is required at this stage because it takes quite some time. You've got to get it right. The foundation guys were great and explained things to me. Some houses use a 'raft' system of polystyrene instead of heaps of metal and sand, especially to counter earthquakes but my guys said "This house is so solid now it's not going to budge unless there's a cataclysm." Solid as... And look how tidy and smooth my slab is, better than many.

Slab poured. OK, the boxing comes off now, slab is polished, and then expansion joints need to be cut in.  I am informed that winter's not a bad time of year to pour a slab as it slows drying thus increasing hardness. A shower of rain arrived to help keep things slowly curing.

Another council inspection and off we go for the drainlayer who takes more than a week to dig (agghh, Battle of the Somme returns) and lay pipes. Very messy and lots of stony ground dug up. He lays a base under the pipes so they don't sink then fills things in but I have useless earth left over. More dollar signs = get rid of it later. Really, when you build you have NO idea how much you will pay even with a fixed price contract.

The end of this stage has incurred days of delays due to the guy working alone and a day of rain mucking up inspection appointments, then backfill.
Next stage is exciting; the framing goes up.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Teaching English in France - a hiding to nowhere

There are many, many folks, young and older, teaching English as a second language around the world. It's an attractive idea if you want to keep employed, travel, and like teaching.
In order to be taken seriously when applying online for these teaching jobs you MUST do your homework on your preferred countries and have the following:
  • An undergraduate degree (preferably in an English-related field though some countries accept teachers with any kind of Bachelor degree. Masters is even better
  • An international TESOL certificate to prove you have seriously studied the pedagogy and done a residential course of at least 120 hours including substantial teaching practice. Online courses for this have limited value and are usually considered inferior or irrelevant.
  • A native speaker or equivalent
  • A clean driver license
  • A clean police record
  • Copies and originals of passport, degrees and certificates, Skype address 
  • And don't get old or you're screwed for most countries
You set up alerts on job sites like and build a profile. Make sure you have the legal right to teach in your chosen country. A country like France rarely advertises - at least its language schools rarely do as it's highly competitive and the pay is poor. If you are aged less than 30 you could try applying here
At best you might get a visa for a one-year stint otherwise if you are not an EU citizen you will be out of luck and will not be hired by anyone.

The best-paying jobs are those at French Universities but the rules and regulations block most of us because we are not 'fonctionnaires'; we are not from or in the French system and those privileged block those who aren't. It's a nasty little system which has no interest in how good a teacher you are. You win a post for one year as a lecteur or up to two years as a Maitre de Langue but you can never have this type of job again, anywhere. They are generally designed for Masters or PhD students to earn some money while completing their degree. It's very hard to break into this. Some teachers who are qualified and experienced like me get through a crack but it's rare. You will spend your life in a constant state of anxiety about how to find enough hours to live on and worrying if you will get paid.

If you are lucky enough to get one of these jobs you will be fed the crap jobs by the people who can never lose their cushy jobs. So often I spent my summer holidays planning for courses I was told I was taking only to find they had given the course to someone else less qualified or had changed or deleted the course without telling me.  All my courses were bespoke-designed by me, no matter if it was for Masters in Chemistry or Computers or Biotechnology, Sport or Business Administration, Translation of French Literature or Masters in Pharmacy, Water Technology or Marketing.

A pregnant teacher who had no qualifications or experience in communications was teaching a course on Intercultural Communication. I was asked to take it on while she was on maternity leave. I designed a new course with  research-based activities which the students loved. They loved it so much they asked the administration to keep me for the rest of the year. The administration was surprised by the student delegation (usually students have little good to say about their teachers) but agreed to that minus 4 hours of exams at the end as they 'weren't allowed' to give me the full set of hours. When the original teacher came back she had no idea how to mark the work as she had no idea of communications in the real world that wasn't in the crutch of an old text book she used. I was obliged to send her information and videos on basic topics so she could understand. I was heartbroken she got to keep the course and I didn't though the students weren't happy

The administration of university courses and teaching staff can be appallingly unprofessional. I'm speaking from experience. One of my Masters courses administrators told me I was now teaching at a distance, two late enrolment students were resident in Spain and I must adjust my evaluations and assignments for them accordingly. This was 5 weeks after my face-to-face course had started. Double the workload for me but no extra money.

Often the university would insist I evaluate students who had never attended the course nor done any assignments via a 30 minute interview. I fail to see how students can be assessed for the language course if they have never attended it but I had to pull my head in and let them pass to make the university look good. For me, this happened so often I have no respect for any French university degree. Students are allowed to pass a course they never attended. Extra unpaid work for the poor teacher.

Oh, and you will have to supply your own equipment if you want to teach remotely as expected in the 21st century. You will probably not have a whiteboard (blackboard only in most of my courses) so my clothes were ruined with chalk dust. NO laptop or video projector so I had to supply my own. No internet to log onto the web in the classrooms, the blackout curtains would be lying ripped and broken on the floor for years. I would have to lug a suitcase of stuff up and down stairs as there were no lifts or those there were frequently not working. This damaged my personal sensitive electronics.

Too often the university would run out of money for photocopying essential worksheets - remember there were no textbooks supplied so part time teachers must supply all student materials. France deserves third world status but the money had been creatively pilfered or 'mis-managed' by a previous president for her pet projects. The classroom walls and ceilings had sheets of paint cracked and breaking off, reinforcing rods in internal structural columns were exposed because the concrete was disintegrating. What would YOU think of that?

The teachers find themselves doing the sort of admin tasks you would expect of the course administrators. The teachers are expendable, the employers know they are expendable and treat them as such because they can get away with anything, including not paying the teachers, which brings us to the plight of the vacataire.
 A vacataire is a supply teacher, brought in to teach a course of a few hours during a semester. There is no job security or holiday pay etc. You can't apply for these jobs unless: you have a principal non-teaching job of 900 hours per year or a principal teaching job of 300 hours per year. These hours don't seem like much. That's because these jobs only pay for face-to-face class time, not exam setting and marking, assignment marking, nor lesson preparation. You also have to supply all the teaching resources yourself. You will only get paid, at best, at the end of each half-year semester.

Many of these jobs might only offer you 4 hours or less per week. You will not be paid for prep or what can be extensive commuter time and money whizzing from one pathetic little job to another. If you accept a job on a Tuesday from 10am -12pm during a semester you might not be required every Tuesday but your calendar is now committed to that time so you can't get work elsewhere to fill in the blanks. During my last year in France teaching at tertiary level and elsewhere I had to juggle 6 employers, all with their timetables, widely different locations, different forms of administration and online systems. I was travelling 25 hours per week, non-paid just for the privilege of working multiple tiny jobs. The red-tape with HR is truly horrifying. They have so many stupid rules to block people working and the rules change all the time.

To work in Paris 4 hours a week for just a few weeks at just one employer I had to drive 35 mins to a train, wait then tackle the one-hour train trip, mostly standing with my suitcase full of equipment, to Paris, disembark and walk to the Metro which is up and down considerable numbers of stairs to catch a line, change lines, then walk to the employer. 2.5 hours EACH way. Hardly profitable but this is the desperate situation for teachers like I was.

I have recently discovered that many educational institutions have a rule that they won't employ teachers who are teachers/teaching. You have to have some other occupation and not be currently teaching anywhere. It's madness. No wonder the French are the most crap at language learning.

Keep in mind you are unlikely to be paid for the three-month summer holidays as there are no courses over that time. You probably won't be paid if your students are suddenly sent to do something else on the timetabled session. You never know where you are. You are helpless. But there's another issue becoming more and more serious for vacataires and short contract teachers. Not being employed legally and not, sometimes never, being paid.

Universities and Grand Ecoles are doing this more and more. Complaints are becoming commonplace about even the most prestigious institutions known for turning out high level politicians and civil servants.

Here's what a few suffering teachers have to say in our recent teachers' forum:
The whole experience there was chaotic, stressful and unpleasant. I never got a security pass and had to always ask reception to let me and my students into class which started at 8am. I finally got my work email in week 11 and prior to that had no easy way of contacting my students (55 of them in total). I was given a job after a phone interview and was never given any course guidance until right at the end when I had to submit an exam paper which I did (3 versions). We agreed I would correct and grade these exams after the Xmas holidays. However on my return from Xmas holidays, I found out they had given my classes to another teacher who had not even contacted me about what I had taught my two groups.

Since vacataires in France do not, can not, will not organize, abuse of all sorts occurs. We are expendable and replaceable in the eyes of many administrators. 

We tried at *&^% and we tried at (*&^% and were met with little solidarity amongst our brethren and even less so from the salaried employees of these schools. There is really nowhere that I know of that you can take your grievances other than to the Prudhommes or a lawyer...Sorry to sound so glum but this has been my 18 year experience.
As a part-time or "adjunct" professor you're easily the last hired, most overworked, last paid. Totally unfair, of course. And it happens when you yourself, in a low-income pay bracket, may be in specially desperate need of your pay.  I've seen part-time people wait from six months to upwards of two years to be paid for their university work. Or never be paid at all.
Its HR department is an absolute shambles and you'll waste endless time and energy to get paid. I taught an M2 course in the first semester 2017-2018 (September - December 2017) and got paid end of May 2018 after...
- I had written a formal complaint to l’Académie de Paris;

- reported its administrative incompetence to the Ministry of Higher Education;

- threatened to go to the police and file a complaint.
In proper English this is called gross incompetence and vile disdain for hardworking teaching professionals. How come a university in a first country can't get its act together?
Let me simplify this: could you give me the name of ONE pastry shop in Paris that allows me to take away a tarte normande and possibly pay six months later? 

Some employers insist you must be self-employed as they refuse to pay the social charges part of your wage which a principal employer must do. They don't want the paperwork either. Unfortunately, becoming self-employed will not solve this problem as most employers require that you have had a certain level of income and paid taxes as an autoentrepreneur for the past THREE years.When the rules around employing vacataires became too impossible to work around I sought a position at an independent (not aligned to the STATE) language school on a CDII.

In theory it's a permanent position contract with zero hours. Whatever hours they promise to give you in the contract (yes, unlike the vacataires you have a contract) they have an automatic 'out' from delivering, citing reduced client demand if it suits. I thought I would be able to work almost full-time. They promised me as much work as I wanted in the areas of corporate work, language intensives for teenagers, training nurses in hospitals etc. It was all bullshit sugar-coated. If an adult student didn't turn up for their lesson I didn't get paid. My first week I worked 30 hours in front of the classes or individuals. Remember, I didn't get paid for the hundreds of hours spent planning or marking or doing admin. Those 30 hours never happened again. By the time I had to leave I was only getting 5 hours a week. Impossible to live like this despite the fact I'm very good at what I do. 

"Everything you guys have complained about is true.  I've worked in Higher Ed here in France & across Europe for many years and seen what you've described, and worse, first hand.   I've seen cases where it's taken one or two full years for people working as part-timers, as "vacataire université" or "chargé de cours", to get paid. A few times I've seen people put in a whole year of work and never get paid. Yes, and specifically within the Paris university system & often elsewhere -- part timers are incredibly exploited, chronically neglected."

So, thinking of teaching ESL or TESOL in France? You have been warned.
In addition you can check out this:

I would like to say that my time teaching 4 hours a week in the Faculté de Pharmacie at Paris-Sud was the best teaching experience I had. Lovely staff, professional and well-organised but the changing rules for employing non-permanent teachers are making finding quality teachers almost impossible. The State doesn't want outsiders and has been manouvring us out over recent years.