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Tips for Building or Remodeling in Yucatán

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One of the great benefits of building or remodeling in Yucatán is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to construction costs in the U.S., Canada or Europe. Labor is inexpensive and materials – whether hardwoods, stone, marble or cement – are reasonably priced.

My first and best tip to give you is to hire a reputable architect or builder that either has a construction crew or works closely with a good contractor. Trying to save a few bucks by hiring your own workers and supervising the construction yourself is not a good plan.

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

Just about everything in Yucatán 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 damage from hurricanes is usually limited to windows, doors, windmills and vegetation.

Here is another good tip. You may know that we have high humidity in Mérida and the rest of Yucatán. Because of the high humidity and the absorbent nature of cement and mamposteria (stone and mortar construction), concrete and stone structures should have at least two good coats of sellador (sealer) applied to them before they are painted.  Wood finishes should also be well-sealed and maintained to avoid deterioration by humidity and insects.

Albiniles (concrete construction tradesmen) are currently in high demand as the growth of Yucatán continues to boom. Finding good, experienced albiniles is important. If you are building on the beach, you especially want to make certain that you have employed albiniles 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.

One final tip: Remember my first tip. Find a good architect/contractor to help you with your project. You will be glad you did!