Tag Archives: construction in mexico

A room of her own–fixing the roof

With the rainy season fast approaching, it was imperative that the roof was fixed.  It wouldn’t do to arrive and find that the beds and computers got wet.  My husband agreed to do the work and even called the owner to name his price.  So the arrangement was instead of paying rent this month, I would buy the materials and pay my husband.

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The roof had already received a coat of impermeabilizante (waterproofing), hence the red color, but as there were holes in the cement, a layer of paint wasn’t enough to keep the water out.

First, the roof needed to be swept and the accumulated debris disposed of.  The house was not constructed very well.  The rainwater pooled at the sides and over the years corroded the roof, leaving it in its current dilapidated condition.

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This cement tinaco (water storage container) is at least 20 years old.

Next, the holes in the ceiling were filled in.

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Then the chipopote (tar) mixed with gas for easier spreading was applied to the worst spots.  It’s possible there will still be one or two minor leaks, but we won’t know until the rainy season arrives in full force.

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Finally, the ceiling received another coat of plaster.  I wasn’t so worried about the cosmetic appearance, but my husband thought it should at least look passable.

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It’s been more work than I imagined getting the place into a comfortable state for working and I’m not finished yet.  The bathroom still feels icky and even though we don’t use it for showering, it’d be nice to fix it up a bit. It certainly is better than it was! I have to keep in mind that this isn’t my house though.  It doesn’t pay for me to invest in unessential repairs.

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Chim Chimney

Do you ever think that maybe some skills should not be lost through the generations? I’m all for forward progress and all, but really, what if we find out that (for example) eating GMO food causes cancer and we want to go back to organic farming. Nowadays, even the farmers seem to have forgotten how to go that route.

Another useful skill that has been lost is how to build a fireplace and chimney. Not so long ago, people would build their own houses around a central hearth, so somebody in the village knew how to make chimneys, probably a good many somebodies. Why hasn’t that skill been preserved?

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An outdoor fireplace my husband built in the States back when we had a different life.

As you probably know, we have a fireplace and chimney. My husband built it himself. Nobody else in La Yacata has one. The few people in nearby Moroleon that have one don’t use them because the smoke comes back in. My husband seems to be the lone chimney maker hereabouts, but nobody seems interested in having one installed. Why? Electric heaters. Gas heaters. Hot air electric heaters. Space heaters. All of which were totally inefficient and impractical for us so the fireplace was the way to go.

Is it difficult to build a chimney? No more than any other type of building I suspect, although every site that gives directions on how to build one tells you it just might burn your house down. What a bunch of pessimists! Our house is made of brick, stone and cement so it would take quite a fire to completely destroy it.

We didn’t have a fireplace in mind when we build our house, but after the first winter, we decided it would be a great addition. It does get cold here in Mexico, not so cold as say, Canada, but cold enough for a roaring fire to be just the thing some days.

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So since the chimney wasn’t in our design, the first step was to make a hole in the kitchen wall. My husband started from the ground and made the first section. About halfway up the first section is where the actual fireplace is on the inside of the house. He used cement sewer pipes that are readily available here in Mexico for the inside tube of the chimney, cementing it in place with a round of bricks.

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The second section up has a smaller cement sewer pipe so the outer wall is not as big. He is planning on going up another floor because our second floor now has a roof and may be inhabited one day. Therefore, the third section will have another yet smaller cement sewer pipe and smaller surrounding brickwork, to be topped off with some sort of little roof so that the rain doesn’t get in and drown out our fire.

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Ignore the wire, it’s not part of the chimney.  We run a wire from our DVD player to the car battery out the hole when we want to watch movies.  Obviously not when we are using the fireplace!

The hearth has an air hole that he made from a car tailpipe. It’s about 8-10 inches from the floor of the hearth and the purpose is to allow the air to circulate and go UP the chimney rather than back into the room. Seems those chimney builders in Moroleon neglected this little step giving fireplaces such a bad rep around here.

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Our toasty fireplace

My husband finished it off with a seating area made from stones we plucked from our backyard. It’s lovely!

For fuel, we use dead mesquite branches we collect from around La Yacata. We can also use corn cobs (with the corn already removed of course). The fire burns faster with the corn cobs but most years we have plenty to keep it going. We could also use poop. Yep, dried cow patties or horse poop burns a long, long time. We don’t light our fire often enough to use up the mesquite branches or the corn cobs, so we haven’t had to go out and collect dung to burn yet, but hey, just in case, it is certainly good to know.

I’m sure that I’ve made it seem simpler than it actually was. There are measurements and bricklaying and figuring involved after all. It took about a week of work too. But it isn’t such an impossible task as one might think.

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Cozy up by a warm hearth this winter with Fire Starters & Fatwood at Pillow & Hearth!

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Building a dream–constructing a life

 

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.

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The first of the home building supplies arrive!

Once we established ownership of our two little lots in La Yacata (See Buying a Piece of Heaven –part 1) we decided to start building our castle in the desert.

My husband is a builder by trade, but not an architect, so our house and adjacent animal area have undergone several remodels in the 8 years we have lived here. Our home isn’t finished, not by a long shot. However, we determined that we wouldn’t get into debt during construction, so only do what we can afford when we can afford it.

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Our home has been built with love rather than skill!

We began with a kitchen, bathroom, 2 bedrooms, garage and back porch. We enclosed the back porch about a year later and added the laundry room upstairs. We are currently in the process of adding a bathroom and studio apartment, complete with fireplace, on the second floor. The idea is for our home to function as a multi-generational home when the grandkids arrive. As our son is 12, we think we’ll have time to finish it before then.

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Our finished kitchen

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Our bathroom door!

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Our partially tiled floor

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Our toasty fireplace

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The aljibe

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Our second-floor laundry area, complete with hand pump connected to the ajibe (dry well).

We had to make allowances for the fact that we have no running water, electricity or sewer system in our neck of the desert and no idea when those things might be installed. (See The beginning of the revolution). Therefore, we designed our home with plenty of natural light, a centrally located fireplace, the aljibe (water storage area) and means to recycle our gray water.

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Working on the second floor!

We used brick made in a little town nearby and stone from our own backyard for our lovely fireplace. Wood is dear here, so we weren’t able to put doors on the rooms until recently, and we still don’t have a bedroom door, but at least now the bathroom has one. We have also been able to tile the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms and hope this year to finish at least the downstairs. As a special treat for me this year, my husband and son made me a bookcase. I can now boast of having the first library in La Yacata!

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My library

As our animals are an integral part of our life here, as much attention as we have given our home has gone into their sheltering. Miss Piggy had her own bungalow, Mr. & Mrs. Muscovy and family had their own swimming pool, the chickens have their own swing, the goats their own corral, and the horses their own stalls. Kitty is the queen of the backyard and Chokis the puppy is king of the barn. Right now, only poor Fiona the donkey is left without a proper space to call her own, a situation which we are trying hard to rectify.

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The chicken “swing.”

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Goat area

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Duck pond

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Horse area

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The bungalow

 Our backyard also has undergone some changes. When our son was smaller, he had a clubhouse/swingset. When he was quite done with it, we removed it and planted more fruit trees as part of our quest for self-sufficiency. As a growing pre-teen, he enjoys the “free food” as much as he did the swing!

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Clubhouse

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One of our ever producing fruit trees

Building our own home has not been easy, but it has its own rewards.  We built this house as a family, we constructed our new lives in Mexico as a family, and we continue to remodel both our home and our lifestyle as we try to get it right.  And if we never get it finished, well, it’s the journey, not the destination after all.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family’s home.
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I’m Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn’t have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia’s nursing nest and changing room in spaces they already had.
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family’s newly renovated home and how it’s set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen‘s life is now host to her family’s homeschool adventures and a room they couldn’t imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she’s created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

 

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