Tag Archives: building in Mexico

Rainy Season Projects

With the rainy season upon us, some of our proposed construction projects have to be put on hold.

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On the other hand, my sister-in-law has started construction on her house across the street from us in La Yacata because building in the rainy season means you don’t have to buy any water for the cement mix. My husband, son, father-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law are working like a machine to get the foundation done. My sister-in-law is also out there every day after the tortillas have sold to bring nourishment and help out.

That’s not to say all construction on our house has ceased. Our little projects this month included the installation of a small window in the spare room and the front porch screen door.

The front of the animal side of our property was also patched with cement and the roof bit angled ready for tejas (roofing tiles).

I also found what I think might have been part of a gun cabinet at a junk store and lo and behold it’s just the thing for some kitchen shelves.

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Next month’s projects may or may not include a banana tree, so stay tuned!

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Beefing up Security

If you remember last year after persons unknown hoisted two of our goats and the neighbor’s sheep over the wall, we did some security upgrades. We raised the 6-foot wall to 9 feet and added some motion activated solar lights.  As part of our remodeling projects this year, we did some more.

First, we turned our front gate to the animal area into a more or less solid set of doors. My husband used laminas (corrugated roofing) from a neighbor’s discarded chicken house (or at least that’s what the neighbor called it. I’m not convinced his chickens ever considered it a worthy home). As that bit of lamina wasn’t enough to completely cover the door, he bought a few more segments and had the welder come and finish the job.

Our greenhouse had two barred windows put in, preventing front entry to that area. However, we didn’t have enough moolah for the back barred windows which leaves a decided gap that a determined zombie neighbor could pull himself through and get in to wreck havoc with our plants.

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See that back right corner? That’s the neighbor’s roof. And yes, that’s me, looking like a frog on a log there!

Therefore, a roll of barbed wire was purchased in the meantime and strung from one end of the compound to the other. I’m not positive it will completely deter would-be intruders but it might slow them up a bit until we can afford those back two barred windows.

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We also took some indoor precautions.  I finally went ahead and ordered the carbon dioxide detectors that have been in my virtual shopping cart for a few months.  In the news recently, there was a story about a family vacationing in Mexico who died from a leak in the hot water heater. This prompted my actual purchase. Since they came in a pack of three, one went upstairs, one next to my son’s room and the third is on standby or if we need to make the storage room a bedroom again.  I know they work because the other day my husband was fiddling with the truck and the exhaust fumes set it off. It’s a horrible high pitch beeping! 

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However, carbon dioxide alarms will not detect a gas leak.  So in addition to the CO2 alarms, I ordered a natural gas detector.  I’m always the first (and sometimes only) person in the house who smells something funny when there is a leak in our gas tank hose. When my nose says there is an issue, I nag my husband until he checks it with the ol’ soapy water method.  I’m usually proven right. Our tank is outside, so the chances if the fumes causing death are low, but gas is expensive these days ($580 per tank) and we don’t have that kind of money to burn. I tested this out too, and it works just dandy.

The security bug hit my husband as well and he went and priced those security camera setups. I’m not sure we need to go that far though. Besides, he’d probably stay up all night watching the video feed of the cows grazing down the neighbor’s crops.

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A bit of remodeling–The stairs and backroom

Pictured above you can see the stairs and back room when they were just the stairs and back porch.  This was our son’s fifth birthday party.  A number of the attendees are no longer with us, sadly.

In the remodel, the stairs were more time consuming than the huge expanse of floor that made up the upstairs living area because of all the angles and cuts.  There was also a limit that could be done each day which was the reach of my husband’s arm.  But little, by little, he tiled the stairs.

We had decided on the wooden handrail, but we had to wait a bit for that.  Carpenter Harley’s business was booming and he couldn’t get to it right away. When it was finally ready, my husband changed his mind on where he wanted the first post to be.  I had to work so I let them duke it out on their own.  My husband won the battle but the railing is one post short.

The stairs after we made a room out of the back porch.

The railing was sturdier than I imaged it would be for the price Carpenter Harley charged us.  Of course, installation took all day.  It didn’t help that the carpenter left all his tools at home and had to go and get them before he and his son could even get started. Despite all that, I am so pleased with the finished result!

No, these are not Christmas lights.  The steps are very dark at night and in lieu of actual electricity, I ordered a string of solar lights.  My husband installed the recharging panel outside and ran these little lights through a hole in the wall.  Now, there are twinkling (or not) lights at the top of our stairs to aid in ascent and descent.

The backroom

We mostly used the backroom for a lot of junk storage.  We don’t have any closets and some things (like my school supplies) are just too costly to replace.  So the room was piled high with boxes of stuff.

library

Before

After

My husband and son made some awesome bookshelves a few years ago for me.  Before that, my books were in piles around the house.  (No closets remember?)  He added some doors to the top shelves for a new storage space. My husband left a gap between the bottom of the bookshelves and the floor for that tile we were going to put down someday.

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Well, that someday finally arrived. As you can see, the tile on the lower floor is not the same.  I think they complement one another.  I have hopes of having French doors installed right here at the intersection of flooring, but that will have to wait.  Maybe a throw rug at the junction of the two floors?  

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The back room needed some additional work before we could call it done.  This is the area where the boila (hot water heater) is located.  Remember, this had been a porch before.  Now that the upstairs was closed in, the gas fumes gathered on the second floor when we lit it to heat water for a shower.  Not good.  So my husband installed an air outtake tube. I also ordered a carbon dioxide sensor to install upstairs, just to be on the safe side.  The boila still wasn’t pretty, so we asked carpenter Harvey to make a cancel (screen) to hide it from view.

The door also had to be altered to allow for the tile to fit underneath.  This entailed getting another power inverter since the previous one had fried.  With the power inverter and his handy-dandy tools, my husband fixed it right up.

Of course, the room was repainted too.  It really has a nice homey feel to it now!

 

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A bit of remodeling–Wood work

Our nearly ready bathroom needed a door.  Plus we never did get around to having a door installed for our bedroom downstairs.  We called our Harley driving carpenter for estimates. (He drives a Harley and his ringtone is Sweet Child o’Mine–not your typical Mexican in these here parts.)

Once the door estimates were agreed upon, we asked about a frame for that gaping hole that used to be an exterior window in the laundry room.  The price was acceptable, so we added it to the list.

I also wanted curtain rods and while we were at it, a towel rack for the bathroom. Measurements were taken.  Wood stains were discussed and agreed upon.

We also asked for an estimate on a handrail for the steps.  It was a bit pricey so we told him we’d have to wait on that, at least until the steps had tile on them.

A few weeks later, the order was ready and he and his ponytailed son came out with a generator.  Since he also owns lots in La Yacata he knows there isn’t any electricity here yet.

The generator was placed on the back porch.  It didn’t have any oil to run.  So a trip to town was made for the oil.  

My husband asked if he could use the generator as well.  A few weeks ago the power inverter that we used to run things from the truck battery burnt to a crisp.  As it served us more than 10 good years, it was only to be expected, but it left us without a way to run hand tools.  The carpenter was reluctant.  He had borrowed the generator from a friend.  My husband offered to pay for the gas it used.  Ok, then.  So while the carpenter installed the doors and his son installed the curtain rods, my husband drilled 4 holes.  Two for the shelf my son made last year in carpentry class and one for my picture of Pandora’s box. Everyone who sees it asks which saint is represented in the painting and look at me oddly when I tell them it’s Pandora.  I guess she isn’t on the Catholic calendar of saints.  The final hole was for the mirror in the bathroom.  More on that later.

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When it came time to install the window, my husband wasn’t happy with the way it looked.  There was some tense testosterone discussion with the albañil (bricklayer) who built the house casting doubt on the quality of work done by the carpintero (carpenter) and the carpintero casting doubt on the quality of the work done by the albañil.  Finally, the carpintero caved and went home to get some more tools to modify the frame.

Yet another trip to town was undertaken when the son discovered he had forgotten to pack the bag of wall anchors.  This time the carpenter brought back drinks for everyone.

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I was assigned to help the son while my husband appointed himself main carpenter helper.  I handed things up the ladder and moved the cord so the drills would reach.  Only in moving the cord, I knocked over the carpenter’s beer. AHHH! It’s thirsty work you know.  

Moments later I  knocked over the frame for the bathroom door.  I resigned my position of carpenter’s assistant’s helper and took a seat on the sidelines.

It was a particularly clumsy day for me all around. Earlier in the morning,  I had a spectacular fall in the bathroom while moving the mirror from the bathtub where my husband had placed it for safekeeping.  I missed the step and fell, knocking over and breaking the chair I had been using to wash the windows.  Much to my surprise, I did NOT break the mirror that I was clutching.  I did bang up my shoulder and both knees though.  And then there was the broken chair.

Before

We asked if the carpenter could repair chairs.  He could.  We asked if he could refinish the table which was a wedding gift from my mom but had gotten banged up over the years.  He could.  I asked if he could make me a bench for my piano.  He could.  

I was delighted with the “new” dining room set, however, the chairs came back shorter than they were when they left, although now usable.  This meant new chairs had to be purchased.  This project has become WAY over budget.

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