First 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.)