Building a House In Mexico

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Posted by Ernie Gorrie Nov 1999

As some of you know, Glenna and I bought a building lot just north of Zihuatanejo. We were thinking we wanted to build a little house (600 – 900 sq ft) in a few years. But with the peso appearing to stabilize,inflation projected at 20-30% for the next year, and the recognition that if we don’t build, we’ll still be paying to stay in a hotel, we’re thinking of building this winter.

So… has anybody on the list built a small place in Mexico? We understand that we can expect to pay about US$35/sq ft. What construction methods seem to do best in similar sites (oceanfront,tepetate ground, electricity on-site, water mains in). I’m interested in the styrofoam block construction that is then filledwith concrete,but I don’t know how available that is in Mexico.

On a related topic, I’m thinking that electric toilets might be more environmentally friendly than a septic tankand I don’t know howpractical a septic tank would be in tepetate that close to the beach and water line. Any comments?

Posted by Steve on Marzo 20, 2000

Having recently purchased property on Isla Mujeres, and now being somewhat motivated to build a home there, I am interested in interviewing architects for the project. Any suggestions about who to speak with?

Posted by Jim in Cancun on Marzo 21, 2000

I am in the process of remodeling a house that I bought in Cancun a couple of years ago. I have lived here about 13 years.

1. If you are going to be building on Isla, I suggest you get an architect that lives on Isla and knows all of the people and has all of the contacts for building permits, licenses, etc.

2. If you do not speak fluent Spanish, I suggest you get someone who speaks fluent English.

3. As on any island, prices will be a little higher both for material, accessories and labor, so be prepared.

4. Any architect you choose should come with references and buildings that you should be able to check. Good luck.

Posted by Carey Sutton on Marzo 23, 2000

We’ve been building a large house and now a casita on a lot in the town of San Miguel on Cozumel, and I’d like to say that Jim’s advice is excellent. I would further add the following opinions:

#1. Build something small to start. This will allow you to see what it is REALLY going to cost to build something bigger later and also helps you avoid losing TOO much money if you have problems with the people you’ve chosen to work with.

#2. Build new instead of buying an existing structure and remodeling. Why? Sure, it’s often cheaper in the short run to remodel. But then you also get the generally EXORABLE plumbing and wiring that come with older houses in this area. You’ll surely have to redo everything. And it’s not easy to do like in the US. Think about it. They have to bash out huge lines of holes in heavy concrete walls. A ghastly mess. Also, some things CAN’T be remodeled. Low ceilings, for example, are a toughie to do without huge expense. And some aspects of plumbing like shower traps, for instance. They didn’t until recently use traps in showers here. This means that the smell of the sewer will come wafting up your shower pipes and there’s nothing you can do about this. Build it new, however, and you can build it right–adding insulation into the concrete blocks, for example, and using an electrician and plumber who work to U.S. code standards – although good luck on that one. It’s taken us 2 years to find such a wonderful gem!


Published or Updated on: March 20, 2000 by Discussion Thread Forum © 2009
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