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Taking Stock of Our Renovation in Mexico

It has been a year since we arrived in Merida. I’d hoped that our renovation would be complete by now, but that was unrealistic. Before we arrived, I’d drawn up plans, eager to begin the project right away. We had owned this property for a long time but had not seen it for a few years. Working from memory, original plans and old photos is not the same as seeing it in person. In January, I modified the plan, and asked for a new quote. Builders in Merida are busy, and this set us back a few months.

Our property is over 1800 square meters (19,400 Sq feet). It is an enormous project, with a fifty-year-old cement structure. Even if we were not dividing the house into two homes, we would need new wiring. Some Mexicans still use two electrical wires, but safety demands a third grounding wire. They could feed some new conduit through the existing routing, but, of course, we needed more outlets and lights in different places. We are redoing all the wiring and the plumbing pipes.

It surprised me to see newly finished walls broken to accommodate either electrical conduit or water-pipes. Apparently, linear plans are uncommon here. Instead, the engineer or architect marks the walls for the plumber and electrician to show where to put things. Then the “albañile” refinishes the wall. It may be more efficient to do it on paper before they install cement, but who am I to question what works?

In ground pools are expensive and time-consuming projects, but in Merida they present a unique issue. The Yucatan Peninsula is almost solid stone. There was only a foot of soil before they hit rock. A small caterpillar might have fit into our back yard, but it was cheaper to hire a jack hammer and someone to operate it. This poor soul has been drilling for over a month on the first pool. He has almost completed a 4 x 6 x1.5-meter hole (13 x20 x 5 foot). The noise and dust made for a long month, and we still have another pool to dig.

I maintained most of the existing walls but moving a door in cement is a bigger job than with drywall. We added three meters (9.5 feet) onto one bedroom plus a new entrance and two large terrazas. I am impressed with the work our fourteen cement workers are doing and am guardedly confident the cement will be completed in a few more months.

Building our villa in Huatulco taught us that Mexico has its own rhythm, and I promised myself not to feel anxiety over timelines. I think we are progressing well and am not stressed about the timeframe… yet. But the carpenter and the iron monger have yet to put in an appearance and this is beginning to make me nervous.

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