Expats living in the colonial cities of Mexico can modernize their rustic Mexican colonial homes with today’s conveniences. Hiring an experienced architect, remaining patient during remodel and having realistic expectations on cost can ensure that your Mexican remodeling project is one that results in your dream home, at a fraction of the cost to create the equivalent in the US. See the following article from International Living to learn more.
Like many expats who move to Mexico, I dreamed of living in a Spanish colonial house. These old houses, with their high, wood-beamed ceilings, central patios, and traditional tile floors, have all the seductive romance of Old Mexico.
They also make amazingly gracious, comfortable living spaces. That is, once they’re updated for modern living. High-speed Internet, telephone, and cable television may not be romantic, but most of us couldn’t do without them.
Fortunately, renovating old colonials is a thriving business in Mexico. In most colonial cities you’ll find local architects who are experienced with colonial renovation. A good architect knows how to renovate respectfully, maintaining the traditional charm while discreetly adding modern conveniences.
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I did buy and renovate a colonial property in Mexico, in the seaside World Heritage city of Campeche, in the Yucatán Peninsula. Like major house renovations anywhere, mine caused the usual frustration and hair-tearing—and took a year to complete.
But in the end I had a colonial home with 20-foot ceilings…gleaming, traditional tile floors…and a private lap pool in my interior courtyard, with a colonnaded walkway and lounging area beside it. And for all that I paid a fraction of what it would have cost me in the U.S.
I learned a lot from the experience. Based on my own renovation—as well as what I’ve heard from others who’ve renovated—here are a few tips for those of you dreaming of renovating your own colonial dream house:
- For best results, get an architect who’s renovated genuine colonial houses before. There are tricks to dealing with walls and floors that may be hundreds of years old. An architect—no matter how talented—who’s only built modern homes may not know these.
- Look at other properties an architect has renovated to see if you like his or her work. Some are good work-a-day craftsmen—while others are real artists, who can create wow-worthy features that never would have occurred to you. If you can get the latter, you’re golden.
- In Mexico renovation and new construction cost about the same. So if you find the perfect property and it’s lacking a few walls, don’t worry. You won’t be spending more to erect new ones that you would to repair old ones.
- Expect to fall in love with all sorts of items that weren’t in your original budget, from specific light fixtures to tile patterns to window fittings. That’s okay. It’s your house, after all. Just work with your architect to decide which over-budget items you’ll indulge in.
- The renovation always takes longer than expected. Get used to the idea. If you absolutely must move in by a certain date, consider putting penalties in the contract for late deadlines—or alternatively, bonuses for meeting deadlines early.
I’ve lived in my renovated colonial house for over a year now. I’ve gotten used to marrying centuries-old traditional style with modern amenities like a flat-screen television, high-speed Internet, and built-in dishwasher. I cook meals on a modern, six-burner stove, then serve them in a dining room with a high, wood-beamed ceiling, wrought-iron chandeliers, and a languidly turning ceiling fan.
On hot days, I take a quick dip in the pool in my central patio. In the evenings, I invite friends to join me there for drinks. We stretch out in the pool loungers, enjoy the cool night air, and watch the moonlight reflect off the pool’s placid waters.
As with any major renovation, I didn’t get 100% of what I’d expected. But it comes pretty close. Overall, am I happy with my new, gracious, colonial lifestyle?
This article has been republished from International Living.