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Greg Gunter of Dream Pro Homes – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
san miguel de allende home – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAs in the U.S., Readers, how hard it is to remodel or renovate in Mexico all depends on how extensive the renovation or remodel is. As a Realtor and architect in San Miguel de Allende, I can tell you that all residential construction here is reinforced concrete infilled with non-structural brick. What that means is that your structural header typically spans the width of a room, so if you want to simply double a door from a single width to a double-leaf French door, it is much easier and cheaper than in the U.S. If your renovation includes structural changes, or electrical and plumbing renovations, the cost climbs substantially, both in financial terms as well as frustration, mental energy and time. Be sure to work with a good Realtor who can steer you towards the best architects and contractors in the market you are buying.
Karen Herrtwich of S&S Auto – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Traditional architectures in this grand house in San Juan Cosala, near Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingTo remodel a property in Mexico, I would advise you to talk to lots of people and ask them for recommendations. Anywhere in the world, you get what you pay for, so if I get three quotes where one's really low, and you go with the low quote, there's probably a reason that it’s low. It's not going to use the same quality, with wiring, or the quality of plumbing is going to be poor. I would go with the guy who wants more, and hopefully get better quality. That's why I want recommendations. 
 
We do have Better Business Bureau here in Chapala. It's called PROFECO (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor, or Office of the Federal Prosecutor for the Consumer). I don't know if it's as good as the Business Bureau back home, but I would definitely be getting three quotes and ask everybody who they recommend.
 
The workmanship in Mexico is very different than in Canada because in Mexico we're working with concrete instead of wood. Much of the construction or remodeling techniques in Mexico is  a dying art, like making a cupola for instance. A cupola is a big, brick dome. These are really good bricklayers, and, as I understand, stone masons now are becoming very expensive back in Canada because there's not as many of them, and they're not trained as they are here. Good quality comes from asking who does good work, and going by recommendation.
 
The cost of contractors in Mexico is definitely cheaper than in Canada. From what I am told, the renovation that I'm doing would cost a lot more back home. Here in Chapala, it cost me US $15,000 – US $20,000 for a really nice kitchen, but in Toronto, it would probably cost US $50,000 US $60,000.
 
The weekly rate of construction workers here in Chapala and Ajijic can be discussed with the contractor because there are different levels of workers, but they're definitely paid less here than they are back in Canada.
 
(Traditional architectures in this grand house in San Juan Cosala, near Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Alicia Gomez of Collins Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Renovated home, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you are going to remodel a house in Mexico, first of all, you have to get a permit. You have to go to the city hall and tell them that you’re going to remodel your house and they will let you know what you need to do. They will ask you how many square meters you are going to remodel. You’re going to pay for insurance as well.  You also need to get a good builder to do the job.
 
It is not difficult to get a permit to remodel. I haven’t done any remodeling in my house yet but I have accompanied several American clients of mine to the city hall since they do not speak Spanish. I assisted them in getting the paperwork they need to get before they could remodel their houses. 
 
When you do a remodel, you get a contractor and most of the time a contractor has subcontractors working for him. You have to get the bill from the contractor for the IMSS (payroll taxes that go towards healthcare, etc.) of the employees. You have to make sure that you get the document from the IMSS in order to make sure that they are really paying.
 
(Renovated home, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
John Venator of Casa de los Venados – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Venator high walled house  before renovation – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingFirst of all, before you remodel in Mexico, ask a lot of questions. Talk to a lot of people, and get references. Ideally, if you can, even go and see houses that have been remodeled and who did the job. We were very fortunate in our remodel, partially by accident, in terms of the contractor we chose as well as, by a quirk of fate, that our friend in Cancun had an aunt who lived here in Valladolid and her husband happened to be an American Vietnam War Veteran, who was managing a small hotel close by.  (Valladolid is the town I live in, which is half way between Cancun and Merida.)  We talked him into being our construction manager and he managed the project on our behalf because my wife and I were still both living and working in Chicago then. So we couldn’t go down here to see how the job was going. 
 
If you are going to remodel, you have to do your homework in terms of seeing the work of the contractor you are going to hire. We also had an extremely good architect and there are a number of them here both in Valladolid as well as in Merida. Our architect happened to come from Merida.
 
There are a lot of very talented workers here. You will find good construction workers building and repairing walls, putting up new roofs, laying marble floors, and putting marble on the walls in the bathroom. We were paying about US $6 to $8 a day for some of those workers who basically got here a little after it got light because they like to work early especially during the summer and quit work at around 3 or 4 PM. 
 
Almost all of the furniture, (except the upholstered pieces in our house, which we bought from a store in Cancun), such as the end tables, chairs around the game table, my desk, our dining room table and chairs, and cabinets, were all built here in Valladolid. There are some very talented workshops here.
 
The thing that you do need to be sensitive to are the insects. Just like in Florida, insects here live all year round and termites can be a problem. So all the things and furniture that we had made out of wood are made of cedar, which is somewhat impervious to insects. You wouldn’t want to build something out of pine our any other kind of soft wood because they are more prone to potential problems with termites. Once every 5 years, we have a major fumigation at our house. Every 3 months, people come around and spray along the floorboards in all the rooms of the house to make sure that we don’t have any beetles or cockroaches.  
 
(John Venator's high-walled house in the state he found it before his renovation in Valladolid, Mexico, pictured.)

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