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How to Build a House in Yucatan

Before we moved to Yucatan, we spent two years renovating a 70-year-old Spanish Revival home in central California. While the process was initially quite enjoyable, several unexpected problems resulted in a project that took twice as long to complete than originally planned. It also cost a considerable amount more than we had budgeted. In the end, we swore off another project and bought a fully renovated house in Merida’s Centro Historico for considerably less.

Oddly enough, it didn’t take long before we found ourselves engaged in the renovation of a smaller colonial house to use as an office. Perhaps we’re slow learners, or we just can’t accept defeat. Yet, contrary to our expectations, the project was completed quickly and on budget, despite the arrival of a major hurricane near the end of construction.

If you plan to renovate one of Merida’s lovely colonial homes, or to build a new home in the area, don’t be surprised if your experience is like either or neither of ours. No matter where you are in the world, building a house can be simple or complicated, easy or hard, a dream or a nightmare.

Having said all that, there are some things that you should consider if you are going to build or renovate in Yucatan. Many of our readers have asked our opinions on this subject, so we are offering them in this article. By no means is this meant to cover every possible situation, and we would hope that anyone who has something valuable to share will comment below.

The most important thing we have learned is that if you are building in Yucatan, then choose a local architect and construction firm that has several years of experience in Yucatan. Select those who have a portfolio that matches your tastes and a list of satisfied references. There are many here who do and several of these are listed at the end of this article. All of the architects we interviewed for this article speak English and their firms have at least one additional person on staff who speaks English as well. Several other architectural firms who specifically have developed their English-speaking skills in order to communicate better with English-speaking clients are listed on the Yucatan Expatriate Services website as affiliates here.

Many foreigners who come to Yucatan learn the basics of renovation and remodeling. Depending on the scope of your project, they may offer a reasonable alternative to using a local firm. But remember that they do not have friends or family in the business, nor in government, and it is through this network of personal resources that the majority of Mexican business gets done.

Local architects and contractors are well connected and know the local markets and best practices. They will be able to advise you on construction and design techniques that work best in a tropical climate using materials that are most common to the area. They know the authorities in the government and the culturally accepted way to make things happen. In the long run, they will probably achieve the results you want at a better price.

Ask for a design and presupuesto (estimate) from more than one firm. Most will include the price of this effort in the cost of renovation and/or construction. The ones who are not awarded the contract will charge a nominal fee, which depends on the scope of your project. This process will educate you on many levels and help you to choose the best design, engineering and construction options. It will also help you determine which firm is the best fit for your project and is the most responsive to your needs.

Always obtain a design and presupuesto BEFORE starting work. It may be impossible to have a design that is complete in every detail, but the closer it is to including all line items required to complete the project, the fewer unhappy surprises there will be later on.

Most firms we interviewed will charge as little as 10% and as much as 30% of your construction budget to design, administrate and supervise your project. The amount you pay is not always a case of “you get what you pay for,” so be sure to shop around.

Follow the laws of Mexico. In the past, many construction projects in Mexico have been preformed by an informal labor force and paid abajo de agua (literally, under water, but it means under the table). Recent changes by federal and local governments makes this approach more risky than it used to be. Avoid using free-lance labor on large projects, and be sure that all workers are paid Social Security.

Obtain a standard construction contract from your Mexican architect or Notaria (lawyer). At a minimum, it should limit your liability for budget overruns and may include incentives for completing the project to a schedule. The contract should also stipulate that all workers be paid Social Security by the contractor (not you). The contract must be signed by all parties and notarized to be enforceable. All of the firms listed below will enter into a standard construction contract.

If the intended use for your finished renovation or new construction is a rental property or other income-producing venture, you should contract with a lawyer and accountant to establish a Mexican corporation (SA de CV) or limited liability company (S de RL de CV). You will need to report your rental or other income and pay taxes, or risk penalties and fines from Hacienda, the Mexican IRS. One local reputable accounting firm that can help in English is DFK. Contact Fernando López at flopex [at] dfk [dot] com [dot] mx.

Always obtain all required permits before beginning work. Many colonial homes in Merida’s Centro are designated as "historic" and will require a permit and inspection by INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History). If you fail to obtain the proper permits, your project can be suspended and you will have to pay fines to resume.

Below is a list of local architects and construction firms that we interviewed for this article. They are well-known and have between seven and twenty years of experience in Merida and the surrounding areas of Yucatan. You should contact them well in advance of when you hope to begin your project, as many already have a waiting list.

Suerte!

Ing. Rafael Dominguez Barjan
Victor Cruz Dominguez
Estilo Yucatan
Some of the architects here speak English
(999) 738-9089
ingdguez [at] avantel [dot] net [dot] mx
www.estiloyucatan.com
Design and Construction, Renovations and New

Arq. Carlos de la Barrera Cardeña
Maya DBN Arquitectos
Speaks English
(999) 924 -9825
(044)(999) 277-2312
maya [dot] dbn [at] hotmail [dot] com
www.mayadbn.com
Design and Construction, Renovations and New Residential

Alfredo Enriquez
Speaks Spanish only
(999) 928-2860
(044 999) 968-2269
Renovations Only

Arturo Campos
Speaks English
contactanos [at] camposarquitecto [dot] com
www.arturocampos.com.mx
(999) 926-9080
Construction, Design & Renovations

Mario H. Justiniano C.
Speaks Spanish and English
(999) 987-6027
justiniano [at] prodigy [dot] net [dot] mx
General Contractor
Construction and Remodeling

Manuel J. Kuk Padilla
Speaks Spanish only
(044-999) 958-0034
manuelkukpadilla [at] hotmail [dot] com [dot] mx
General Contractor
Construction and Remodeling

Arq. Alvaro Ponce
Yucatan Sol & Ponce Arquitectos
Speaks English
(999) 943-3075
corvine [at] jponce [dot] com
Design, Construction by MIGA
Renovations and New

Arq. Henry Ponce
Speaks English
(999) 926-0018, 947-2233
hponce [at] henryponce [dot] com
www.henryponce.com
Design and Construction, Renovations and New

Reyes Ríos + Larrain Arquitectos
Speaks English
(999) 928-7841
info [at] reyesrioslarrain [dot] com
www.reyesrioslarrain.com
Architectural, Interior and Landscaping Design, Project Management & Construction Consulting
Renovations and New

Ruben Portela Rodriguez
Ambientes Diseño Arquetectonico
Speaks English
(999) 938-2152
Cell: (044-9999) 70-1614
ambientesda [at] prodigy [dot] net [dot] mx
Design and Construction, Renovations and New

Arq. Miguel Rojanes
Speaks English
(044 999) 101-0060
m_rojano [at] yahoo [dot] com
Design and Construction, Renovations and New

Arq. Mercedes Sanchez and Alvaro Cervera
Cervera Sanchez Arquitectos
Speaks English
(044 999) 958-0961
Cervera_sanchez_arquitectos [at] msn [dot] com

www.architectsinyucatan.com
Design and Construction, Renovations and New Residential

Arq. Pedro Herrera
Speaks English
(044 999) 127-2738
pemaheco [at] gmail [dot] com
Design and Construction, Renovations and New

 


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81 Responses to “How to Build a House in Yucatan”

  1. Great information as always (also a lot of common sense reminders no matter where anyone plans to do construction).

    Hope all is going well with your construction activities.

  2. I would like to add the name of Henry Ponce to your list. I have done several projects with him over the last 2 years and have found him to be extremely professional and honest in every way.

    His design work is excellant as well as his construction. He has built a company of young, talented, educated people and a dedicated construction team. Everyone in his firm cares about their work and their clients. http://www.henryponce.com

  3. You are right! The most important thing is to choose a local architect. After two frustrating years of working with a largely inexperienced and completely untrained gringa, with no credentials, it is my pleasure to recommend Mercedes Sanchez, who is included in your list of local architects. Mercedes and her husband Alvaro (also an architect) have ten years of experience in both commercial and domestic projects. They truly understand what they are doing and have turned the work on my house back into the exciting and creative experience that I had always hoped it would be.

  4. Great information! I would never have known to think about the labor laws concerning the people working on the project. I would have assumed it would be taken care of by the project manager or architect! And I had no idea you could have a legal document to protect you against major over budget costs. This is very reassuring! I recognize a few names on the list you gave. Thank you!

  5. Hola Jim,

    Thanks. You’re right, of course, and we planned to add Henry Ponce to the list just as soon as he returned to Merida so we could interview him!

  6. My Spanish is marginal (I’m constantly trying to improve my vocabulary) so I’m interested to know who (out of the list of referrals above) speaks some English in order to make this process bearable.

    I will be renovating a small home (currently vacant but was used as a business) in Centro in 2007. I am returning to Merida in January 2007 and plan to meet with architect/contractors to see if my job is of interest to them. I purchased the property in May of 2006.

    Thanks for any information you can provide.

    Kevin

  7. We have added notes about languages spoken to the list now. Thanks, Kevin!

  8. Again, an interesting and informative piece of writing. Thanks for all your fine work.

    It bears noting once more that your list is really just the tip of the iceberg insofar as architects and contractors are concerned. While stories about unscrupulous, incompetent, and/or irresponsible building professionals are rampant in the expat community in Merida, there are some “gems” that really stand out. Of course, Victor Cruz and Henry Ponce are names that expats generally hear when they are embarking on a renovation/construction project. However, there are other very fine and honest architects who have not (at least yet) made it their primary business to serve the expat community. We are now working with a local architect on a renovation project, and we are delighted with the work that he is doing for us. (Alas, he does not speak English but this is not a problem for us.)

    Thanks again for your great work.

  9. We have been warned that even though a contractor pays his/her workers Seguro Social (Social Security), the owner of the house is ultimately liable for this responsibility. We are checking this with our lawyers and will report back as soon as we know more.

  10. So glad to see you did not add the name of ******* for construction. I had a horrible experience with him. But I have since found wonderful people to work with who are honest and live by a code of integrity.

    (Editors note: We do not wish to disparage anyone on this website. But we also do not wish to consciously recommend anyone about whom we have heard multiple complaints. We pass this comment on to let all of you know that there are good people here to work with, and if you do your homework, you have a good chance of finding one of them!)

  11. I would also like to know who is responsible for paying social security. My gringa contractor did not pay it to her workers because (she informed me) “only big companies” pay it and she could not afford to pay it and continue to offer me such low rates. I find this particularly interesting in light of the fact that my current architects/contractors do pay social security while simultaneously offering me better work at a lower price.

  12. Hola John,

    We’ve researched this some more and have learned several things. In general, the Mexican Government holds the top employer responsible for payroll taxes. For example, if you own a business and have employees on payroll, then you will file their personal income taxes, not them. If you are building or renovating a house, then you are the top employer and responsible for paying the worker’s social security. Of course, these duties are usually delegated, to an accountant in the first case and a contractor in the second.

    Our accountant at DFK has assured us that there is a specific phrase you should include in your construction contract that will firmly fix any penalties on your contractor should he not fulfill the responsibilities you delegate to him in this regard.

    Just like in the States, contractors game the system to reduce the amount of payroll taxes paid. They may list only half their crew on payroll or they may claim to pay them less than they do (the minimum wage is roughly $40 pesos a day, but most workers earn $100-$200).

    Traditionally, your gringa ex-contractor is right. Only big construction firms paid and everyone else worked under the table. This is probably still mostly true, but thanks to the construction boom, some of these smaller contractors are bigger than they think.

  13. This is a great web site! Very informative so first I would like to say thanks for doing this.

    I am planning on building in Chelem. I have a limited budget and big ideas so I was planning to engage an Architect who could design the master plan and then build in stages as money permits. Your artical mentions that the architects that are not awarded the construction contract charge a nominal fee. My question is what is nominal and given I am only wanting a design at this point, what should I expect to pay for blueprints?

    Thanks yall rock!

  14. Thanks Paul,

    Based on a three bedroom residential construction, most local architects we interviewed produce the design (as CAD drawings, including floor plans, elevations, electrical and plumbing), a detailed cost analysis, 2-3 computer generated 3D images, and obtain building permits for $3000 – $4000 USD. Your costs will vary, depending on just how BIG your ideas turn out to be… ;)

  15. i’m looking to build in sisal.. can anyone help me out with contacts?
    thanks craig

  16. Most of the architects listed here would probably consider a project in Sisal.

  17. Hola a todos. It’s funny I’m from Merida and I’m an architect, but I’m living in Texas…

    Me da gusto leer lo que expresan de mi ciudad, de mi gente y de companeros de profesion…

    Todo trabajo realizado en construccion se debe sacar permiso ante las autoridades y pagar el seguro social de los trabajadores, se puede pagar de dos formas: El contratista, previo acuerdo con el dueno en el presupuesto, ya que esto se cobrara en el trabajo, o el dueno puede pagarlo personalmente ante el IMSS con su permiso de construccion y existen tabuladores sobre los metros cuadrados de construccion, y en base a eso le cobraran, pero en este ultimo punto, solo hay que tener bien el numero de personas y los nombres de los trabajadores.

    La mejor opcion es que la pague el contratista, solamente hay que checar que en el contrato este estipulado.

    Como diseno de una casa, se cobra un % sobre el estimado del costo final, que va del 5% al 20% dependiendo del arquitecto.

    Tambien pueden encontrar otras opciones en la Facultad de Arquitectura de la UADY, ahi estudiantes de los ultimos cursos, lo haran mas barato.

    Lo mejor, es contratar al mismo arquitecto que te disena que te construya…

    Si tienen algunas dudas, por favor decirmelas, y podria ayudarlos con mucho gusto, incluso poniendolos en contacto con otros arquitectos, para que amplien sus horizontes…

    Email: mariolopemolina [at] hotmail [dot] com

    ——————————-
    [WGs English Translation:]

    I’m pleased to read what you have to say about my city, my people and my colleagues in this profession…

    All construction work should be performed with permission from the authorities (INAH and Ayuntamiento) and by paying social security to the workers, which can be done in two ways: The contractor, with previous agreement with the owner in a budget estimate, where this is part of the labor rate, or the owner can pay it personally to the IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social) with a construction permit. There are tables for the square meters under construction and you will pay based on these, but on this last point, you only have to have the number and names of the workers.

    The best way is to pay the contractor. You only have to check that this is stipulated in the contract.

    As for the design of the house, it costs a percent of the estimated total cost, which is going to be from 5% to 20% depending on the architect.

    You can also find other options at the UADY (Universidad Autonimo de Yucatan) Faculty of Architecture. There are students there in their last year of studies who will work for less.

    It is best to contract with the same architect who designed the house to also build it…

    If you have any questions, please let me know. It would be my pleasure to help you, including putting you in contact with other architects in order to expand your horizons…

    Email: mariolopemolina [at] hotmail [dot] com

  18. I’m glad that there are forums like this that help people from other countries that are planning to design, build or renovate in Yucatan with tips and info regarding the ways, customes and obligations from both parties prior to start a business relationship with a local architect. I have worked for a number of Americans myself and I have found out that most of the times problems arise because of a lack of communication between the client and the architect: the architect/contractor is used to a certain way of doing things and the client is used to a completely different way… if these topics are well discussed between both parties, I can assure you that building and living in this beautiful city is going to be a memorable and enjoying experience!. Greetings!!

    Arq. Victor Carrillo Alayola
    Email: carpe95 [at] gmail [dot] com

  19. Last year we rented a house in Telchac Puerto. Next door to the rented house a new house was built and I watched closely the daily progress and the way the Mexican workers did their job. Admiring the stamina and the loving care they had for the job on hand.

    One day a man showed up at our door asking for water for the construction because they ran out of their supply. The gentleman who was Mr. Victor Carrillo of Carrillo y Peon Arquitectos. This was the start of a relationship with Victor and his wife Ingrid. As greenhorns, we were considering to buy a hurricane damaged house and asked Victors opinion. He inspected the house and said that he could certainly repair a part of the house but because of many reasons he would not recommend us to buy it. Later, we found a building lot, 10 meter wide on the road by the beach, but a questionable width on the beach. Again, Victor warned us not to buy it, and it turned out that this lot was only 6 meter wide on the beach. Finally, we found a lot we liked. Now the problem was that the owner of the lot did not wish to wait for 3 months until the paperwork will be completed. We ended up that Victor bought the lot with our money, and I signed a Power of Attorney for Ingrid, who finally bought the land from Victor for me.

    You must understand that the Carrillos had to have our total confidence, we left ourselves wide open.

    To this honest couple of professionals we submitted a simple plan for our small house and transfered sufficient funds to build the house. For the final signing of the papers I came down,and allowed Victor to use our money for the building as he see fit. Victor and some friends we know sent us pictures of the progress of the building during the next three months. We arrived to Telchac after a 6 day drive from Ontario, opened the house, had a hot shower, cooked our dinner on our new gas stove and stored our foodstuff in our new fridge. The house was clean and ready for us. Next morning came the surprise, the obvious talent of this architect of making a pleasant building out of limited funds adding small conveniences, structural and aesthetic beauty where we expected only a box-like building.

    To answer the original question how to build a house in the Yucatan my answer is to find honest, talented, reliable professionals like Victor and Ingrid Carrillo are, and trust them with your dreams. They certainly came through for us with flying colours.

  20. [...] Architects and Contractors in Merida [...]

  21. i have found a property a short distance out of valladolid on which i would like to build a modest retirement home. there is no electicity available at the site. could you recommend a local builder with a knowledge of alternative energy production that might speak english.

    thanks, jb.

  22. [...] We did the leg work and took the time to learn as much as we could about the right way to do things. This effort resulted in our article, How To Build a House in Yucatan. [...]

  23. Thanks again to Working Gringos for timely and important information.

    My wife and I operate a small architecture and design firm in New York. Last year, we bought a small house in Merida. With a limited budget, we asked acquaintances here for names of Contractors and Architects; avoiding the better-known, (and more expensive) big names; looking instead for an english-speaking, maybe younger, less “established” partner.

    Our priorities, from personal experience, and friend’s suggestions, were-

    1. english-speaking/ good communicator/ intermediary.
    2. innovative/ fresh ideas/ willing to listen, knows history and tradition, but not blindly fixed on Ex-Pat nostalgia.
    3. guidance thru, and experience with, local building regulations, requirements and realistic timetables.
    4. understanding of cultural nuances (esp. w/ albaniles!).
    5. a cellphone full of experienced workers.
    6. close, constant supervision!

    After alot of interviews, discussions, and estimates, (as well as some no-shows) we chose to work with Arq. Carlos de la Barrera. With his close supervision, we got a fantastic plumber and electrician, albaniles that actually showed up on Mondays, (for those w/ some experience down here, Monday, “St. Lunes Day”, is often considered a no-show day), and a wonderful, finished house…………within our budget.

    Feel free to contact us, http://www.odelab.com, with any questions; (e.g. we are happy to pass on tradesman’s names) or other help. Or Carlos at itzaes [at] rocketmail [dot] com

    Good Luck!

  24. Okay thanks for the great info. I found an architect and have crossed my fingers on making the right choice. I met with him last month and am hoping to see some drawings in the next 6 weeks or so. However, he does not do construction, only the drawings, so once I have the drawings I will be looking to have different contractors bid on the job. Any references would be appreciated. I am also trying to figure how much I should buget for construction. I have heard prices range from $24USD per sq ft to $150USD per sq meter. Since I will be building on the beach, I would expect the rate to be different than a sq ft or sq meter rate in town given how deep the building foundation must be. Can anyone recommend a set of numbers I can use for planning purposes?

    Thanks,
    Paul

  25. Paul,

    As you’ve noticed by now, the range of building possibilites in Yucatan make it difficult to pin down a cost per square foot. You can probably design a house that will cost less than $30 or more than $100, depending on materials, practices, crew and your tastes.

    We have found that if you keep to local materials and building practices, and if you are not too flamboyant in your design, but you still want modern comforts like good water pressure and modern lighting, then a reasonable number is between $45 and $55 per square foot.

    Our architects have recommended several things to keep costs down while not harming our investment. Among these is the use of CPVC rather than copper plumbing, which has advantages in this environment and is not subject to damage from fire or earthquakes like back in California or other parts of Mexico.

  26. We are in the process of buying a home in the area. Everything about the house is in good condition and very charming except the floor tiles. They are not beatiful tiles common to the area and are throughout the house which is generous in space.

    Does anyone have experience replacing tiles throughout an entire house which is otherwise in good repair? We are open to advice and recommendations of contractors to do the work.

  27. This might sound dumb but my sister and I are buying a condo in Cancun at Bayview Grande in the Hotel zone.
    I was wondering if you know any store near Cancun that sells Benjamin Moore paints. She has to have this brand.
    Reminds me when I was married.Lol

    Thanks,
    Joe Leone

  28. Sorry, Joe, Benjamin Moore does not sell paint in Mexico, only the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. But if you can get your hands on a BM color chip and take it to a Comex store, we’re confident they can match it for you. They’re very good at that here.

  29. I am interested in finding out what the market is like if you want to buy in Merida and then rent your house out. I know in some of the cities along the coast renting your property out is very profitable but how is it in Merida?

  30. Hi,
    Does anyone have a price per square ft estimate of construction costs in the Yucatan? Not including the design. My mother is a non-practicing architect. Would her design be sufficient for a contractor to work from?

  31. hello

    I own a lot in the mayan riviera and have a home designed ready to build. the quotes I received for the foundation is super high around $360,000 before we start to build the home. I would appreciate heaaring from anyone who experience in this area.

  32. Hello

    Building in the mayan riviera 20 min from Cancun. Home designed and ready to build. Received high quotes for foundation $360,000 and that is before we start to build.
    Would love to hear if you have any experience in foundations and who woulod you recommend.
    thank you

    anna turner

  33. We have a few questions for you, Anna.

    Is that $360,000 pesos or USD?
    How big (square feet or meters) is your planned house?

    In general, we suggest you get a presupuesto (estimate) for the entire construction, not just the foundation. A good architect/contractor will break down the costs in the estimate so you can see how much the foundation alone costs. If that price is in dollars, unless you are building the Taj Mahal, that seems way out of line.

    And just one more note of caution, things are different on the Mayan Riviera than they are here in Merida…. and they cost more too. You might be able to get an architect from here to build there. Try calling some of the names on our list!

  34. Depending on where, exactly, you are building, Anna, the foundation can cost more than within the city of Merida. In Merida, the bedrock is only a few inches or a foot or two down. Along any of the coasts, the bedrock can be that close or it can be dozens of feet down, under lots of sand. So, if you are building close to the beach, you are going to need a much more substantial foundation than if you are building inland. Foundations there will not usually reach the bedrock, but will be excavated down to the “hard pan” or very firmly compacted sand. That can be 10, 20 or more feet deep. Soil conditions are paramount.

    The second measure, as the WGs mentioned, is the size of the planned house? Not only the square feet (or meters), but whether it will be one, two or more stories tall. In coastal hurricane areas, you need a deep strong foundation to ‘hold up’ a taller building, particularly if bedrock is not near the surface.

    The third is access. How far are you from Cancun? Trucking stone, blocks and cement can be very expensive. If you are far from a large city, you’ll pay a premium for getting the materials there. The farther you are, the more the premium. Gasoline/diesel is very expensive.

    Last, the “Cancun to Xcalak Coast” (so-called Mayan Riviera other uppity names rub me wrong – danged marketers!) is more expensive than the Merida area. Mexicans are accustomed to “rich gringos” and know they can get a lot more. And, they have an idea how much you’ve paid for land there, so they know you’ve got money. Building costs are at a premium on the “East Coast.”

    So, if you tell us folks more about the exact nature of your plans, maybe someone will chime in with more advice. The WGs advice about consulting Merida architects is a good one. They’ll likely charge you to drive over (a 4 or more hour drive, depending on where you are) and check it out.

  35. re foundation

    Thank you for your advise. I will be in Merida to check out homes 1-4th June and will talk to a few builders when I am there. Yes the estimate I got was $360,000 US.

    Merida looks wonderful and I am looking forward to visiting. I love your site, very useful
    Thank you again.

    Anna

  36. Love your site; enjoyable, informative, witty,etc.,etc. I was at your IL “workshop” in Cancun in May…tried to meet up with you after but couldn’t spot you in the crowd!
    CasiYucateco mentioned something that kind of threw me off. Is the implication that foundations on the beach have to be 10-20 deep or more? Or do they dig footings for pilings for the continuous footing to that depth and then just use them to prevent settling? I can see how this could add considerably to the cost. Can the estimated depth be confirmed before buying a lot (like checking permits from houses built close by, or local builders knowing from experience). I’m a builder in Maryland (remodeler actually) and we have to go down 32″ to frost line. I’m seriously considering beach front in Yucatan and really hadn’t even considered this. Thanks

  37. The answer depends on the ‘on-site’ soil (sand) conditions, as well as the construction planned for the site.

    If there are lots with construction on them, you possibly could check to see how the previous homes were built. If not, you could possibly ask for engineering tests (you pay for) prior to closing on the lot, as a part of the purchase contract.

    Everything can or should be up for negotiation.

    Remember that hurricanes hit Yucatan with regularity. In some places, a sea wall or a raised platform (of rubble behind solid masonry wall) is used to keep the home out of storm surge range. So, the depth of the foundation or the amount of work done will depend on the permanence desired for the home, the soil conditions, the size of the home, etc.

    You can hire a contractor with drilling machinery or one who has guys willing to dig deep with shovels. It’s really not possible to give solid cost advice on unknown locations on unknown structures. And, perhaps, the lot you buy will have solid bedrock within a few feet of the surface. Beach areas tend to be different than inland.

    In “Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya” Jeanine Lee Kitchel explains a lot about the construction of their beach home in Puerto Morelos. It’s one place to begin….

  38. I have been doing alot of research on what one would have to do in order to purchase a home in the Yucatan and what it would take to do a renovation. All of the information I came across has been very knowledgable, but I have not come across information on A/C systems & tankless waterheaters. What can you tell me about those? What would it take to put an A/C system in and are there tankless waterheaters in use in Mexico? Also, what can you tell me about pools? What would it take to put a small one in?

  39. I will need information on central air, direct tv, tankless waterheaters. We are plkaning to move to yucatan from florida

  40. I agree 100 % with this article. I just finished 2 constructions. One is my salon and day spa in Merida and the other a house I built for myself in Cholul. For my certain things were easier than for the average expat, a) because I speak fluently Spanish and b) my wife is from Merida. But still, not everything comes without head aches.
    1) One thing is sure, don’t believe that rules can be bent because you are in Mexico. While it might be true in some cases, it becomes more and more difficult. So just don’t try it and get all your permits as required.
    2) find the right arquitect/constructing company. That’s not an easy task since there are many companies around and quality of service varies a lot (to say the least).
    Covering all your needs (arquitect, construction,…) with just one company is the best I believe.
    The company I can recommend and that worked for me in both cases is the company of Miguel Sosa Correa (speaks only spanish though) tel ++52 (999) 948 9985.
    Anyway, be prepared that not always goes smoothly.
    Usually, construction companies hire formen which are regular employess. These people are coming from villages around Merida and bring their own group of workers from their home village. The construction company then hires these workers for the duration of the job (important to make sure that they are really employed with taxes and social security paid !!!).
    This configuartion sometimes causes problems. The “patron” (boss) often has no direct control over his workers, but rely on his formen.
    Also be prepared that a typical week in the construction business is 4 days. Nobody works on Sunday and more often than not, on Mondays workers fail to show up for work. Saturday doesn’t yield a lot of progress since most workers only work until noon. Deducting breakfast time and other down times, there is not much work to be expected on Satrurdays.
    Once you found a company you trust let them buy the constructing materials. Normally they have their long standing relation ships with suppliers and most of the time get better prices than the ones you would get doing your own shopping.
    Still, don’t forget to supervise. Trust is good, but control is better.
    As was mentioned in the article, it’s really critical that you get a clear outline of the project and it’s expected costs. You should detail as much as possible.
    From my point of view, the next time I construct something, I will try to build in a penalty for delays in the contract.
    Be careful with the construction materials used. Often companies chose cheap materials just to get you a better offer than their competition. Compare each single item in your proposals to make sure you are comparing apples with apples.
    There would be much more I could write here. Feel free to contact me if you need any tips.

  41. I have two properties I own in yucatan that would like to sell one in colonia serapio and the other in chenku (786)715-0028

  42. Ruddy, just a question: I suppose this phone# is in the US, correct ?
    Can you be contacted via email ? If interested you can write directly to Claudia Cano at ventas [at] feztiva [dot] com

  43. Molly had asked a question concerning tile work and we are in the same boat. The house is in good shape but needs some TLC. The newer part of the house has cheap aluminum windows, some are louvered, and the floors in some area are very generic. What we need is someone who can do tile work, windows, doors and a few larger jobs. We would like to turn a room in the front of the house into a garage and add a pool to the backyard. Any information or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

  44. Dear Working Gringos,

    My name is Camilo Aldama-Chase and I am a thesis student at the Tulane School of Architecture. I will be graduating with a Masters in Architecture in May and will be in the job market at the end of the summer. I traveled to the Yucatan when I was younger and found it enchanting. I think it would be a great place to live and work.

    I am an energetic young designer well versed in the areas of design/build and sustainable design. I looked at the websites of some the architects listed above and am in the process of sending out emails. I was wondering if you had any advice or good leads related to getting a job as an intern architect at a firm in Merida, Playa del Carmen or other coastal areas of Yucatan or Quintana Roo.

  45. I am getting to this forum late, but reading above, I have a question: When working gringos says “We have found that if you keep to local materials and building practices, and if you are not too flamboyant in your design, but you still want modern comforts like good water pressure and modern lighting, then a reasonable number is between $45 and $55 per square foot.” – do they mean $45-55 USD or pesos?

  46. We mean USD. Thanks for helping us clear that up.

  47. Has anyone stayed at or know someone who has rented one of Mauricio Abraham Pinto Escarilla’s beach house rentals in the Progreso area? I found the houses on vacationrentals.com, but am having a difficult time finding any other info about these rentals or this family business. Any information would be appreciate.

    Thank you,
    Janet Boop

  48. Thank you for taking the time to help other gringos understand what is involved in building in the Yucatan.

  49. [...] How to Build a House in Merida [...]

  50. Great articles! My wife & I have a house in the Merida area and our tap water has just turned green. Anyone know how to deal with this. Is it a water tank issue, a well issue, is it a seasonal issue? What causes it? We pay someone in the village to clean every couple of weeks, so the water gets used at that time. Any comments would be appreciated.

  51. Bill,
    It sounds like dirt has gotten into your water tank (tinaco) somehow and you are now growing algae in your tinaco. Our advice would be to drain the tinaco completely and have someone clean it thoroughly. If your tinaco doesn’t have a top on it, that would be strongly advised. With a secure top, no dirt should get in and there should be no reason for algae to grow.

  52. Green algae can only grow with light. I agree completely with the Working Gringos. I suspect the top of your tinaco is missing or very loose. Or you have a cisterna (ground-level or underground tank that is pumped up to the tinacos) and the top to that is off.

    Green algae means sunlight. Other than a missing tapa (lid), you may have very thin-walled white plastic piping that is allowing sunlight to enter pipes on the roof or side of a sunlit wall. Most likely, it’s the lid.

    Clean it all out with 50% chlorox 50% water, scrub down the inside of the tinaco and seal the top on so that not even the tiniest gnat or ray of light can get inside.

  53. My wife and I live in Madison Wisconsin and a few years ago we decided to buy a property in Merida for our retirement. We purchased a property in Cholul that, in spite of needing some work, was surrounded by beautiful trees and had the country feel that we had hoped for. We were then lucky to read in yucatanliving.com about the experience that Ted Vanya and his wife had when they had their house built by a young couple of architects named Victor and Ingrid Carrillo. What impressed us most about the article was that Ted and his wife remained in Canada while their house was built, and placed their total confidence in the Carrillos. We knew that we needed someone we could trust too, since our jobs are in Madison and we could only come to Merida during our vacations. The Carrillos responded right away to our email and to all of our following questions in a timely manner, so it didn’t take long for us to make our decision. The project was started in March of 2009 and in the summer of 2010 we were already enjoying our beautiful house in Cholul. We are very happy with the quality of their work and their professionalism. During the whole process they would send pictures to us, which were actually one of our greatest joys in the last few months, and we would transfer money to them as the different phases of the project were completed. We were also very thankful to Victor for sending his workers back to our house during our last visit to polish up a few minor details even more. What’s more we have been able to foster a friendship with both Victor and Ingrid. We recommend their services wholly and without reservation.

  54. I am thinking about moving to the area and had some questions on building practices. It seems that most of the homes are concrete, and tile with additions of wood.

    How expensive is this to do yourself, with the advice, or plan from a professional? Does the area have a building store to buy materials?

    My boyfriend is a builder and are do it yourselfers!

    Thanks for your help and advice.

    Peace, Julia

  55. Dear Julia,

    Ambitious people! Yay! I can rest in the shade while barking out orders… Oh, wait. No.

    Everything is available for purchase at local stores. Many times, there will be a local hardware shop just down the street, called a tlapaleria in Merida. Home Depot is actually in Merida too! Oh, wait again. It’s not the full selection Home Depot you’d expect in the USA and, generally speaking, it is the most expensive place to buy building materials. However sometimes the prices are good there. And, if you don’t feel like trying to explain it in Spanish, you can hunt around the store on your own for what you need. They might have it. And most likely, they won’t.

    Local firms supply everything you need: cement blocks, cement bags, piles of sand and gravel, shovels, wire, plumbing, 100% of what you need is available. Wood is more expensive since it is all imported.

    If you have never built with cement before, I’m not really sure it is a do-it-yourselfer type thing. You must know how to brace the material while it dries. You must know how to engineer the addition of rebar so it will have sufficient tensile strength.

    We just had about 700 sq ft built by someone else (no hot sun for us – continually delivering cash and cold water was the heaviest of our labor!) for about $14,000. That’s around $20 US per square foot. Now: that is ONLY the ROUGH finished cost – the raw concrete construction. No extras like wiring, plumbing, floor tiles, light fixtures, ceiling fans, A/C units, or doors and windows. Oh, the openings are there, but nothing else. It includes walls and roof. “Floor” was already there.

    From that point, you can “do-it-yourself” to finish it off nicely. Lay tile floors (many stores, lots of variety of types of tile materials in every color and pattern, some made locally). install wooden doors (or even make your own wooden doors), paint, waterproof the roof, make cabinets, whatever else you choose.

    Am I going to claim that was a typical cost? No. That’s cheaper than most because we speak Spanish and can communicate with all the builders’ workers, are flexible on dates, don’t mind where the piles of sand and gravel are dumped and don’t have to worry about heavy traffic (interrupting delivery of supplies) in the front of the house.

    But that is a starting cost.

    Come visit on vacation. Everyone loves to talk about house construction. See what the climate is like and how things are built. Then you can decide whether you’d like to build from scratch, buy a fixer-upper, or just buy a completed, gringo-ready house. Come take a look!

  56. Could someone please tell me the approx. going rate per m2 of construction at this time Oct. 2010? Many thanks

  57. I don’t think it is much changed from what I wrote in September. To be safe, for the raw construction, budget $25 to 35 US dollars per square foot, which works out to about $275 to $385 US dollars per square meter.

    That’s only the raw construction and only “space” (walls and roof) not including foundation. Then all the finish materials — tiles, pasta tiles, stonework, paint, light fixtures, kitchen and bath fixtures, plumbing, wiring, protectores, windows, doors, ceiling fans, A/C, etc — have to be added in. Since those vary by each person’s taste, it is nearly impossible to estimate the cost per square anything of those.

    Those are _very_ approximate numbers.

  58. I have $160,000 usd available to build a home in Merida. Excluding cost of land what size home could be built to American standards for that kind of money? With back courtyard and moderate size pool.

    How long would it take to build a home?

    After the home is finished what might it’s immediate resale value be?

    A general estimate is all I am looking for… Of course.

    Look at it from the perspective that if you had the money what might you be able to build that would satisfy you own personal expectations.

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  59. I’m considering to buy a “quinta” in south Merida, Colonia Vicario. I know this is not the expats’ favorite spot but since I can’t afford to buy property in a gringo neighborhood because it is more expensive, I found this opportunity very attractive. Its a little bit more than half of acre, with well water, about 80 fruit trees, electricity, a little one-bedroom cabin with 2 bathrooms. Its on Avenida 42. The area seems under construction, with lots of empty lots, one or two very nice haciendas from local folks that are renting them for “parties”. The rest of the houses look very poor and there aren’t many houses around. Does someone knows this area? “Por la 42, pasando el IMSS” and the military place? They are asking for 90,000.00 USD, I saw similar properties for much more in the North areas. Please if someone knows that area, give me your opinion, any comments are welcome. I would like to get your feedback. My wife’s dream is to build a “Little Hacienda” on this land.

  60. Scott & Tom both ask questions that are extremely difficult to answer.

    “For X dollars, how much home could be built?” Nearly impossible to answer. What design do you want for the home? Modern minimalist? Colonial imitation? High ceilings (how high)? One story? Two? Many rooms? Few rooms? AC in every room (apparently so, if it is “American standards”)? Garage? Carport? No parking? Iron windows? Wood windows? Aluminum windows?

    The resale value depends on the quality of the design, on the finishes used, the style or appearance, how appealing it is to typical buyers. So, there’s no possible answer. For that much, in my hands, I can say a very satisfactory house for two people could be built, with a guest bedroom or two, pool and garden.

    Tom, If that is the land I’m thinking of, it may have been for sale for a long time. (I could be wrong about which patch of land you are talking about.) It may be too high of a price for what is included in that part of town. If there are two “party areas” nearby, you may want to consider the noise that will cause — all night long loud music. Loud. Music. Also, it may be close to the airport which may be less than ideal. With more information about the location or the website offering the land, maybe someone will have more information aside from my speculation. $90,000 is a lot for a pool and a small building.

    Here’s one recommendation: “Drive through the area” using Google Maps. Most streets of Merida are mapped.

    Lastly, if you have not vacationed in the area and seen how things are done, it would be a very good idea to spend a week or so just looking around at the city, at a few houses, and enjoying the local culture. After that, make a decision if you want to continue looking in this area, if everything suits you.

    I could not locate a Colonia Vicario on my maps, but I may have missed it. I cannot tell the area of town from your description.

  61. Thank you “Casi Yucateco”,
    This property is located over Ave 42, Exit to Tahdzibichien. Dimensions are exactly 40 mts X 100 mts = 4000 Square Mts. 20 minutes away from the airport, we were there and never heart an airplane.
    The lot looks very nice, fenced, small one bedroom and 2 bathroom construcction. With potential for expancion, Fruit trees and nice garden area. One water well.
    My problem is that i don’t have any idea how much is too much for this area of Merida, I think it belongs to Kanasin County.
    The owner is asking for 1,000,000.00 pesos about 90,000.00 USD.
    Similar properties in the North areas are at least the double on price, can’t buy anything worthy for 90,000.00 USD in the North “gringos” Area.

    The people around looks nice and friendly but I don’t have any idea of how much is too much for this area. Or how “dangerous” could be. I will appreciate any comments if somebody knows these area. Or have any idea about prices around there. TK!

  62. Hola Tom,

    Definitely it is a large piece of land and as you say, it is hard to find that size for the same amount of money except maybe in the Caucel area going towards Sisal and Celestun beach. The only problem there is its location. If you do not mind the long drive north when you need to. I know that location and it is close to Seguro Social 42 Sur and not a great area to spend your bucks. You can buy for instance land for the same price and size in the east side going to Valladolid or west to Caucel or maybe close to Opichen hacienda. Good luck!

  63. We purchased then renovated a home in Merida and completed the project in June of 2010. We worked with Carlos de la Barrera on our project in Merida. The completed house is beautiful and more than we could have hoped for. We found working with Carlos to be easy and easy to manage through email, pictures, etc, as we were in the States for almost all of the project. We trusted Carlos completely and he come through. He went the extra mile and took us all around Merida to show us homes and what could be done. He even helped us get appliances…and a mattress! We would recommend Carlos to anyone looking to build, renovate in Merida.

  64. Architect recommendation:
    Renovating in Merida was new to my wife and me. We obtained half a dozen rough estimates for construction ranging from $350 US per square meter to $600 US per square meter. As a designer I wanted to work with an architect who had excellent communication skills.

    We visited Carlos Barrera on an existing jobsite and were immediately impressed with how thorough his renovation process was. I asked Carlos many questions about the construction process. On seeing my interest in the construction process, he went the extra mile to explain all aspects of the building process so that I could better understand exactly how things were done and how to get the best result with our limited budget.

    On awarding him the job, he commenced construction promptly and his crew worked tirelessly (including Mondays) to complete the build. I could tell that, to Carlos, building our house was as much a passion for him as it was for me. As my design inevitably evolved to incorporate new elements, Carlos made adjustments to the built process without any fuss. He sent videos and pictures regularly so that I was able to chart the progress from New York.

    As a local Meridano with strong ties to the community, he knew who to talk to get things done, whether it be a hardwood deck, or the specific variety of grass we requested. His financial dealings were completely transparent and we never felt we were being taken advantage of. On the contrary: on several occasions Carlos rejected a higher priced supplier in spite of the commission it would bring him.

    We are very pleased with the house and are building a second one with Carlos.

  65. Tom: That sounds like the land I know of. I do believe it has been for sale a long time. And the reason, I believe, is that most people will not pay that much money in that area of town. Yes, it is more than you can get in other areas and does have fruit trees.

    You will probably have the following expenses: many thousands of dollars to raise the wall around the property. It does have some wall, but not high enough to prevent burglary and theft (I don’t believe). You will have many thousands of dollars constructing a house. Two bathrooms and a bedroom is fine to start, but you’ll probably want other rooms for a hacienda. Building from scratch is much more expensive than changing around an existing building: new foundations, all new materials.

    You will likely not be able to sell it for what you pay for it. Yes, there are adventurous people who don’t care which part of town they live in and are willing to blend in with locals. But the biggest market is looking for either walkable neighborhoods or Centro houses or N Merida homes with plenty of parking/garage, etc. This is likely a “need a car to live” area, is not Centro or N Merida, few to no other expats nearby, but would have parking. So, if you are willing to buy in a less desirable area, willing to forget about ‘getting your money out of it’ and make it your lifelong home, or sell at a loss, then maybe you would be happy — IF it turns out the neighbors are quiet and peaceful.

    Also, at 4000 sq meters, that may be more land than you can own under a fideicomiso. (no problem if you are a Mx citizen) If you are an expat (not a Mexican citizen), you should discuss with a Notario (special real estate attorney) what options you may have (and total annual costs $$$ under each option) for owning that much land. You may find an option you like. Or you may be surprised at the carrying costs each year.

    There are very few homes in that area that cost $90,000. You may disagree with my opinions and be very happy there, but you asked for opinions.

    Here’s one really big suggestion I would make: Ask about renting it for a couple weeks and stay out there day and night. Eat and sleep there. See what the airport noise is like at 7 am or 10 pm or hours when you haven’t visited there briefly. See what the neighborhood is like at night. See how close any services and stores are to the property. If you still like it, then try negotiating on the price.

    Would you be happy with less land near Ucu or Caucel? Or an old ruin of a house within Merida with a large garden? Have you tried shopping Spanish-language want ads, rather than Internet real estate companies?

    What about checking for properties in Uman, Valladolid, Motul, Izamal? All of those areas may be lower priced and you may find a large plot of land for the same or lower price, if that is what you are looking for, and if you don’t mind living farther out. Locals will say that Kanasin has crime problems.

  66. Adam,
    Just curious: If your price estimates ranged from $350 US to $600 US per square meter, about where did your final project come in, once completed and all costs considered? (if you don’t mind sharing) Just wondering where Carlos came in on that range. Thanks!

  67. With regard to the prices mentioned above of $25-$35 USD per sq. ft. Is this for new construction? I am coming to Merida soon to look at some fixer homes, probably old colonials with good foundation and bones and in almost livable shape and wonder if I buy one of those what would cost per sq. ft be for just renovations. I realize it depends on what materials I would use but a ballpark would be good if someone could give me that. Thanks for all the great info yucatanliving.com
    Stan

  68. Stan,
    Are you asking for the cost of “fixing up” after purchase? The cost *including* purchase can be all over the map, due to the location (or location of business or residential nearby), due to ceiling heights, garden space, etc, etc.

    If the walls and floors are in good shape, here are a few numbers for ESTIMATING (could be far off, depending… on everything):

    each new electric connection: wall outlet, switch, ceiling fan box, wall light, ceiling light: $25 US + cost of wiring and materials (switches {apagadores}, outlets {contactos}, etc)

    Polishing old tile floors: a few hundred dollars.

    Painting: $5-6 US per square meter (varies wildly).

    Replace plumbing: varies too widely by house.
    Water filtration and pressure system after all plumbing is replaced: $1000 US or more + maintenance, or simply go with non-pressure cisterna/tinaco system.

    There isn’t a way to give a “square foot cost for renovations” since the conditions of each house varies so widely. If it is “almost livable”, then it depends on what standards you want to raise it to: functional and usable? colonial restoration? US electrical & plumbing? All those factors make it impossible to give a per square foot cost.

    When I mentioned $25 to $35 per sq ft, that was qualified by saying it was ONLY the Raw Construction with no finish materials: no windows, doors, tiles, electric fixtures, plumbing fixtures, no hardware, no shutters, no screens. Raw cement construction that gives you a concrete box. You could probably assume that renovation wouldn’t cost more than than (maybe 1/2 that, maybe less?) but there are far too many variables house by house for any honest estimate on a per square foot basis.

    The most important consideration is that the roof be sound and that the walls have sound cement mortar between the stones. If the old lime cement is powdering away, that will have to be redone. Surprisingly, that isn’t too expensive. Replacing or repairing a roof takes a lot of concrete and steel – expensive materials.

  69. Hi.
    Can you tell me what the maintenance costs are for a pressure water system?
    I have read that these are reverse osmosis?
    I believe these are “membrane” systems?
    Is it advisable to have the pressure system in order to enjoy a good shower, or use more than one faucet at a time, etc.?

    I have also read about installing a “transformer” to be assured of reliable power.
    Any comments on this (with costs) would be appreciated?
    thanks

  70. Thanks for all your great information. My wife and I visited Mexico for the first time last year and it has left an indelible impact on us and our consciousness. We hope to visit again next year and look for a piece to call our own.
    Thanks again

  71. Thank you for taking a stab at renovation costs. I do understand that it is difficult to pin down but you made a great effort and I appreciate your help.
    Cheers
    Stan

  72. “Bob Derek”

    There really are no maintenance costs involved with a pressure system other than the electricity to run the pump. By membrane system I assume you are referring to the membrane inside the pressure tank? Yes there is a membrane in the tanks to prevent the pump from turning on every time you turn on a faucet.

    The reverse osmosis setup is a separate system. Typical systems are small and located near or under a sink, consist of three small filters plus a small pump and pressure tank. This gives you a separate spigot near the sink that you can use for drinking water. Normally the filters are replaced yearly (I usually replace at 10 – 11 months). I do not remember the cost of these but they are relatively low cost. The system does use about 25 gallons of water a day to automatically flush its self periodically.

    It is usually recommended to use a water softener/conditioner in conjunction with the reverse osmosis system. The maintenance costs on the water softener is just the cost of the salt which again is minimal.

    I do not know about the transformer. Electrical outages and brown outs appear to be different depending on your location. I have had a few low voltage moments. I usually notice it when the TV gets dim when all of the cities air conditioners go on. I just turn the TV off. It may eventually burn out a pump motor if the pump is continually run in that condition but most pumps are cyclic and the odds are minimal.
    Personally I would not consider one. If you have a computer that is on all of the time you could protect it from under voltage with a computer power supply.

    Hope this answers some of your questions

  73. Just to clarify, many of us here also have water softening systems, which is what you might be referring to as the membrane system. This requires the addition of salt on a periodic basis, but salt is cheap and plentiful here. The reverse osmosis system is separate and in addition to the water softening system, which does use a membrane between the salt and the actual water that goes into your house.

    As you can imagine, we’ve been running computer systems for years here. We use a UPS system for each of them… a surge protector is not enough. And in a big lightning storm, we turn everything off. Also, we learned the hard way once that it is also important to unplug the telephone cord from the modem in a big storm. One lightning hit to a telephone pole, and your computer can still get fried, even if it is turned off.

  74. Thank you for the great information! We decided to rent and keep looking around :) .

  75. Scott “Answering your questions:

    I have $160,000 USD available to build a home in Merida. Excluding cost of land, what size home could be built to American standards for that kind of money? With back courtyard and moderate size pool.
    K.C. – For that budget, it could be done. It is all depends of the scale of the project.

    How long would it take to build a home?
    K.C. – I am a architect and we bought a colonial house, a two bedroom house, we built a pool and renovated the whole house. It took about 6 months. Having the money in your hands, as anything else, you can move things fast. My working team is very professional and they did an excellent work.

    After the home is finished what might it’s immediate resale value be?
    K.C. – At least 30% or more. All depends of the location.

    A general estimate is all I am looking for… Of course.
    K.C. – To get a price, you will need drawings for the scope of work.

    Look at it from the perspective that if you had the money what might you be able to build that would satisfy you own personal expectations.
    K.C. – Our house is a 2 bedroom colonial house in Merida, space enough for the three of us and we did everything with half of your budget (not including the cost of the house). We are very happy with the product.

    Thanks in advance for your input.
    K.C. – Sincerely,
    Kevin Cott – Architect, fluent in Spanish and English
    Experience in USA and Merida, Yucatan

  76. I am currently having an addition built on my place in Puerto Morelos and after having a few estimates given, I found the following unit rates for construction, note that all rates are given in pesos:

    Block 50/ square meter
    Roof 200/square meter
    Slab 150/square meter
    Footings 150/linear meter
    Concrete Posts 60/linear meter
    Exterior Finish 60/square meter

    These prices are not written in stone because my current contractor was willing to knock off almost 20% due to the fact that he wanted the work and was in the process of completing another project in the area. Key thing is to negotiate!!!
    By the way the building materials seem to be running me approximately 100 pesos/square foot and labor about the same. Water and sewer, doors, windows, electrical not included in the base price. Also one thing interesting to note is that your local building supply store is far cheaper than Home Depot!

  77. Bob Derek

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say installing a transformer to give you reliable power, as a transformer will not give you anything when the system is down.
    In order to ensure yourself reliable power would be to either install a battery back-up system or an emergency generator.

    To run off the batteries you would need to install the following;
    Battery Charging System
    Inverter (go from DC to AC power
    Automatic Transfer Switch
    you will also need to isolate your “critical requirements” from the balance of your load as you will probably not have a large enough system to carry all loads

    As with the UPS system described above you will also need an automatic transfer switch for a generator and an automatic start system for it unless you want to do everything by hand and unless you buy a generator large enough to supply all of your loads you must either shed loads through your breakers or have an emergency panel for your critical loads.

  78. Hi, I am planning on building a small two bedroom two bath house all on one floor. I would like to know the approximate construction cost for the basic structure as I plan on doing the finishing touches on electrical and plumbing. I already have a well and septic. I also plan on installing all finishing touches such as tiling paint etc. Thanks…John

  79. Well, there are so many variables, it is really hard to answer a wide open question.

    Do you want concrete block or mamposteria (stone) construction? Single thick or double thick walls?

    How high do you want the ceilings?

    Are you content with simple box form, or would you like architectural details like arches, columns, tile roofs, etc?

    It can even vary down to the number of electrical outlets, lights, and switches in a room due to conduit costs, etc.

    You really have to have a design and work with a building contractor or architect to decide the rough construction cost. Of course, you probably already know that “typical” electrical and plumbing work is done differently in Mexico.

    If you look above your post at the comments, people give various ideas of the construction costs. That gives you a rough idea, but the actual cost has too many variables to guess what someone wants based on two bedrooms, two baths, one story, IMHO.

  80. Coming to the Area of Merida for the month of Sept. possibly longer. We are licensed insured contractors near Philadelphia and looking to open a maintenance/remodeling division in that area, and myself, the owner eventually locate. Any help is much appreciated. This website is a wealth of information so far. Thanks to all!

    Regards,
    Kevin Hogue
    Performance Construction & Property Maintenance LLC

  81. Harald Jezek” do you have an email address. I am interested in finding some property in the country not too far from Merida to build a house seems like you’re the quy to ask for some info
    hnsberk

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