A blog about one woman's journey to Merida

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Renovation Costs in Merida ~ My Tiny Project ~ Part I

I've found over the past year that very few bloggers give specific costs of renovations to their Merida homes. I can understand their discretion.

I've decided that I'm going to post all the costs involved with mi nido. Maybe by doing so, someone will either find an answer to their question or learn from my mistakes.

I'll try to list all the repairs needed in my home in my next post, but for the time being I want to share the first project I tackled.

Because most houses in Centro are attached to neighboring homes, you don't have the benefit of an alley. Any work done in the interior courtyard has to be schlepped through the house. Best to start out back first.  This especially holds true if you're planning a pool or other major work. 

I come from a family known for several things...some good, some bad.  Some members are horticulturists.  If it's green they can handle it.  One cousin grows orchids, another is an amazing arborist and a third deals in carnivorous plants. They've got it covered.

My aunt and uncle are the oracles of all things rooted in the earth.  They would never forgive me if I let beautiful established trees and plants suffer from neglect, so the garden became my first priority. I'm still in the States and had to rely on the kindness of strangers and two good friends to make it all happen.  Friends who were heading to Merida to check on their own project made time to supply a key to the landscaper and take some photos of the house for me.

I first saw the house in February of this year, put in an offer and closed in March.  The house had only been vacant for two months and the garden looked good compared to many I'd seen. Great shade, a few aloe and a nice patio with pavers. 

I returned in May and was glad to see that even though the bougainvillea had spread out more than up, things seemed to be under control.  The coco palm needed a bit of attention but not a big project. I headed to Home Depot and bought some basic yard tools.

May 2013
The tall, beautiful tree that shades most of the yard is a Ceiba as best as I can tell. If it is, I'll be thrilled.  Hanging from the lowest branch was a swing that must have served some children well.  Unfortunately the vinyl rope from the swing was strangling the branch and it needed to come off.

I contacted a landscaper and forwarded photos to him.  Would he be able to attend to the bougainvillea and branch?   He was more than happy to and noticed from the photos that there was some debris under the tree that needed clearing out.  He would handle that also.  We agreed that he would start to train the bougie to climb on the wall, cut down the swing, clear out trash and assess the general health of the plants.  He also dispatched the termite throughway that had extended from the tree over the wall.

Price $1,700 Mex.

Well, a lot can happened between May and August which is evident from the before and after photos the landscaper sent.   He may be kicking himself in the pants for the quote he gave...but I hope not.

Morning of August 12, 2013
Before the Miracle

I couldn't be happier with the results and look forward to working with him in the future.  That is, if he'll have me!

Afternoon of August 12, 2013
After the Miracle

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lessons Learned From Other Bloggers and My Merida Courtyard

There are several excellent blogs written by expats living in Merida that I've relied on for much needed information and advice.

Over the past year I've learned to read between the lines as I search for answers about how to proceed with my journey south. You have to diligently keep up with posts...eventually, a gem of information appears that will come in handy later.

What's the best way to deal with creatures that find their way into the house?   How do you deal with constant weeping of moisture on the walls? (My favorite solution was don't bother and just hide it behind a great piece of furniture).  How do you set up garbage pick up?    I usually take a screen shot of info that will come in handy down the pike.

There is one blogger who's lived in Merida for many years. She's a do it yourselfer who takes on projects that most people would hire someone else to do. The results are wonderful and I respect the fact that she not only takes on some rather daunting projects, but is also willing to pass along the results in her posts. Occasionally she will say that a project didn't quite work out the way she planned but you'd never know it by the photos.

Now, I don't know this woman's financial situation but I can say this. She's not afraid to give things a try. She seems to get great pleasure from her results and the process to, and I respect that in a person.

Another long time expat seals his own roof. I would love to say one day that I did the same and maybe I will.

Then there's the man who hasn't moved to Merida yet, but clearly has his finger on the pulse of the city. He brings it all to life for me.

When I was young we lived in New York City and spent weekends at my grandparents home on the north shore of Long Island.  My grandfather built the house by himself...taking years to complete it. He was a linotype setter and had no formal construction experience. It was after the Depression and things were completed as funds were available.  Seventy years later I'm doing the same thing. My father died when I was six and I looked up to my grandfather. He taught my how to use tools, paint, bang nails and to have faith in myself. Those lessons have served me well during the last fifty years.

I don't live in Merida yet and am maintaining a two family house here in New York, so juggling two homes that need tweaks and repairs can be daunting sometimes. I've learned in life to take a breath, and accept that there are things I can't control. No use stressing about the future.   There will be plenty of time to stress later.  I'm enjoying the journey for now and will do what I can as time goes by.

That being said, there's one thing I can't and shouldn't put off and that's my Merida courtyard. I'm fortunate in that there is a wonderful tree in the courtyard about 15 meters high that provides much needed shade. It seems as if some of the lower branches have started to wither between February and May. There are several termite trails creeping up the trunk, an old swing tied to it that seems to be choking the lowest limb, and the previous owners had deposited some debris around the base of the trunk.

Here's my thoughts on trees. They take years to grow, they offer beauty and shade, and we often take them for granted.

I have many moderately priced projects to tackle in Merida. Electrical, some minor plumbing,  painting and small carpentry work. There are two large cedar closets that need to be stripped and refinished. I was given two quotes of $8200 MEX for the work...I know I can handle that one my own.

I found a company that will come in and clean out and remove the debris, cut down the swing, deal with the trunk, train the runaway bougainvillea to climb the wall and rescue the hidden gems in the garden. They're charging $1500 MEX, and will come in monthly after that for a fee of $650 MEX. I consider that a small price to pay to maintain the one thing I cherish most about "mi nido".

When I finally make Merida my home, I'll tackle as many projects as I can and hopefully will be happy with the results. In the meantime I'll take inspiration from fellow bloggers and soak up all the pearls of wisdom they're offering for free.