Building and Remodeling

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Building and Remodeling

By Mitch Keenan

One of the great benefits of building or remodeling in Yucatán is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to construction costs in Canada, Europe, and the USA. Labor is inexpensive and materials: hard woods, stone, marble and cement are very reasonable.

It is a very good idea to hire a reputable architect that either has a construction crew or works closely with a good contractor. Trying to save a few bucks by hiring your own guys and running the construction yourself is NOT a good idea. I know, I know, you were a general contractor and/or a handyman and you can do it yourself with the help of a few laborers. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have seen well-intentioned people with construction experience, start their own projects and end up paying more to get someone to come in and fix the mess.

Moving to Merida

When it comes to getting the permits, buying the materials, managing the laborers, paying employee taxes, and understanding local customs and workers' expectations and requirements, a good local architect/contractor can save you money, time and a lot of frustration!

Mérida has many good architects and contractors. Get some recommendations from your real estate person or a local friend. Ask to see the architect's portfolio of previous projects and ask for references. A good architect is going to be delighted to show you their stuff.

Go in with a basic plan of what you want, i.e., number of bedrooms, baths, room sizes, floor plan, patio, pool, garden, etc.

Just about everything in Yucatan is currently constructed out of cement block. When constructed properly, using the correct mixtures of sand,
concrete, water, experience and expertise - the structures are extremely durable and virtually indestructible. This is why damages from hurricanes are usually limited to windows, doors, windmills, and

Concrete structures should have at least two good coats of sellador (sealer) applied to them before they are painted. Due to the humidity in Yucatán and the propensity of cement and mampostería (many older
structures are a stone type of construction known as mampostería) to absorb moisture, make certain you prepare and dry your surfaces. Before painting, make certain that the walls are good and dry! Then apply a few coats of sellador on your interior and exterior walls. Sellador is inexpensive and well worth the extra labor.

Albañiles (concrete construction tradesmen) are currently in high demand as the growth of Yucatán continues to boom. Finding good, experienced albañiles is important. If you are building on the 
beach, you especially want to make certain that you have employed albañiles with the integrity to make certain that the concrete is being mixed with sweet water (not salt water). Many of the decrepit buildings on the beach that have been destroyed by hurricanes were poorly constructed because the cement mixture contained salt water.

If your house is inside the boundaries of the Centro Histórico or Patrimonio Histórico, you may need permission to make changes to the house, especially the facade. Another reason to find a good architect/contractor to help you with your project. You will be glad you did!

If you are thinking of moving to Merida or are simply curious about this wonderful old Colonial city, this new program, now available in full HD and shot by award-winning professionals, is just what you have been looking for. Over 40 informative and entertaining minutes of beautiful scenes of Merida and the surrounding areas. 
Hear opinions and insight from actual expat residents about what makes Merida their choice of anywhere in the world to live. Discover how they went about the building and renovating process and why they chose to live here. Get a peek inside some of the city's spectacular colonial homes for the very first time. Exquisite scenes of Merida are supplemented by an introduction to archeological sites, Progreso and the beaches, Izamal and more. This is a MUST SEE video!

For information about the new environmental regulations, contact

Builders in Yucatán:

Casa Yucatan Real Estate and Construction
Arq. Gabriela Cornelio
Tel: +52 (999) 926 7705
Cel: (999) 127 5224

World Studio International - Keith Heitke and David Sterling
Building and Remodeling

Recommended reading:

- Yucatan Real Estate
- Real Estate - Colonial Homes
- Real Estate - Beach Homes
- Buying Property in the Yucatan Peninsula
- Vacation Rentals in the Yucatan
- Furnishing Your Yucatan Home



I thought this might prove interesting to your readers, while it seems as advertising I just though that an unbiased view may help anyone who is considering repairs or construction in the future.


My wife and I recently had some work done on our house by OSO BLANCO CONSTRUCTION and were very pleased with the result. We will be using them again and again.
We would recommend this company without reservation to others who wish to have repairs or modifications, etc to their existing property or even fully new construction.
A Canadian guy named Michael Harper, who controls and supports the workers, has a lot of experience in construction (25 years).
A Canadian lady named C.J.Matsson, who has a degree in Construction Administration and 20 years construction experience, is the person who sorts out the contracts and finances of the work. The work is carried out by a pleasant gang of Mexican builders, who are learning how to complete work to N.O.B standards.
Although a little messy while working the area, it is cleaned fully at the end of the shift. Mike does try to keep the area clean and tidy, even for a fussy wife like mine.
A progress report is sent/delivered to keep you up to date on the work, and any changes in your ideas or Mike’s alternate ideas are marked by paperwork so both the client and company know exactly where they stand.
All the construction work is guaranteed for a period of 12 months from date construction finished, and they DO RETURN (unlike some builders) if the problem is caused by them. While they are not cheap (still cheaper than N.O.B) I just wish we had found them three years ago when we first arrived in the Yucatan. We could have saved a great deal of money that we spent with so-called ‘qualified builders’.
The company can be found at:..

Colonia Doctores, Chicxulub Pto.


Flat Roof

I have been informed the roof on a home we recently bought is in need of repair. Would this mean we need a new roof or is there another way of repairing it? Will it fall thru if not repaired ? Im not very handy myself and I wonder about cost repair versas remove and replace?


re. flat roof

It is very difficult to answer your questions based on this information. Whether the roof needs to be replaced or can be repaired depends on the extent of the disrepair. You need to get a professional opinion...or better yet, several, including structural engineers. May I suggest you visit the construction forum: where you can log in and ask your questions.


Reader comment about construction experience

Note from YT editor: we received the comment below from reader John Hughes:

I am nearing the final stage of a redesign and complete renovation of a colonial home in historic Centro, Merida; and knowing well of the concerns that surround what one hopes will be the right choice of architect and builder can confidently share with others my positive experience.

Once I made the choice of Merida as my retirement destination and after some reading and research I made the fortuitous decision of contacting Casa Yucatan Real Estate, Design, and Construction. This company involves the partnership of local architect Gabriela Cornelio and contractor Adam Kowalski. Combined they bring years of experience building from the ground up, and redesigns and renovations of historic homes both in Centro and at the beach. Additionally, Adam brings to bear a decade of construction expertise from having worked in California.

In every multi layer step of this process, from design thru construction, combined they’re skillfully creating what is developing into a beautifully designed and well built structure promising to be the home of my dreams. Every design and construction detail has been well considered and skillfully built. I’ve continuously felt that they have kept my best interest at stake after fully considering my ideas and needs, so that I’ve come to trust intrinsically in their instincts and recommendations.

The experience has been a positive one, so much so that I can in all assurance recommend Casa Yucatan to anyone embarking on a home venture and seeking design and construction professionals that they can trust and be confident in.

February 3, 2014

John D. Hughes
Merida, Centro


Roof and water supply questions

Our house has an in-ground cistern and a submerged pump for water supply. Question: What are the pros and cons of a rooftop Vs an in-ground system? I've heard folks swear each was the best.
ALSO: Please, how does a fiberglass cloth / epoxy roof compare with a cement / epoxy roof? Thanks kindly for any help.


re roof

For construction info and advice, please visit:


Broken Link

Good Morning Juanita--

Thanks heaps for taking the time to reply.

It seems, however, that the provided link is ... kaput.

All the best.



re. broken link

Thanks for letting me know! I will check with the people who had that forum and see what's up. You could also look at and see if there are any construction-related threads, I'm sure there are :)


re. broken link

They took the forum down due to the high quantity of spam…but they are a great resource, very good builders, and have offered to answer your question directly:
Good luck!

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Yucatan Today is the leading tourist guide of Merida, Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula and was recently voted the best tourism website in all of Mexico! In our companion monthly magazine, we bring you the information you need to enjoy your experience while you are here. Read more