Friday, June 03, 2005

Construction - Week 9

We've hit the wall. We just want to be finished. We're tired of having workers in the house from 8 AM to 6 PM, tired of the dust, tired of the noise and tired of living in limbo and chaos. I know this sounds a bit dramatic but bottom line is.....get it finished! And this is from a couple who 5 years ago built a new house from scratch in Houston and would have considered building another house at the point it was finished.

The thing that made me realize I was hitting the wall this week was the stairwell. There was an existing stairway from the living area to the old terrace which is now the new floor. A stairs had to be built from there to the new terrace. In the process the old space had taken a lot of hits from the construction and since we were plastering the new room slightly differently than the downstairs, I said "Replaster the whole stairwell like the new room." I thought that it would be like a coat of paint, you just go over the existing finish with the new. You can imagine my surprise when I came home from grocery shopping to lots of chip, chip, chip and rubble in the entry floor. Then I find out that you can't put a thin coat over old plaster because it will not adhere correctly. So...new plaster.

Construction - Week 9

Just when I thought the chipping was done, we were into another big "chipping." I wanted to sit down and cry. We have a drop cloth that encloses the stairwell...but that does not keep out all the dust and certainly not the footprints nor the plaster chips as they fall down the stairs in push into the sala. That was the hour I knew that I had hit the wall. Enough!

Some of the things I've learned from this experience...SO FAR...who knows what else I may discover about remodeling in Mexico.
  • Things will get lost in the translation. Not just the words but in the cultural translation.
  • Let it go. In the USA, I can demand and get what I want but here if I take a hardline, I will not win. Go with the flow...once again it is a different culture.
  • Realize that the Mexicans have their way to build things. You should ask questions but in the end you have to trust that they know what they are doing when they make a countertop 42 inches from the floor instead of 36 inches.
  • When you say make it like this existing door doesn't mean make it exactly like this door, to the craftsman it means make it similar to this. The way to get "closer" to what you want is to give them a drawing with EVERY measurement on it.
  • When they tell you we will be finished in 8 weeks, they don't actually mean 8 weeks....they mean we will be done in 8 weeks give or take a few weeks.
  • Be prepared for some surprises, some will be wonderful and others will be....well, surprises.

The new countertop and sink in the bathroom. It was 42 inches above the existing floor but when the tile was laid it is now 36 inches...I think it is...maybe I should measure....or maybe I should just let it go!

Construction - Week 9

The fireplace isn't exactly what I thought it would be, but it is one of the nice surprises.

Construction - Week 9

You can see in the fireplace photo they have started the tile on the floor of the new room.

The architect tells us that the masonry maestro will be out of here by next weekend and we can start with the painting, finish the plumbing and electrical and other finish work. Mmmmm.....we'll keep our fingers crossed. I had said that I thought the project would take 3 months. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that will be the case.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Very nice post, Billie. And the house is going to be beautiful. Your experiences and frustrations are similar to those we experienced during a major renovation/addition to our house two years ago. With the additional overlay of culture, but maybe not so much difference. "Give or take a few weeks" is a concept well-known to contractors here. Congratulations, your work and patience will be worth it.