Front Wall Project - Preliminary Work

I've mentioned a number of times about the changes we plan to make to the facade of our house. Here are photos of the house when we bought it, and again after we completed the renovation to the interior. To the front the changes were only in the new windows and lights.

After having lived here in the house for a year and a half we have learned quite a few things;

1) We are indeed fortunate to have not one, but two spaces for off-street parking.
2)The open space in front collects trash and dirt, and it conducts noise and vehicle exhaust right through the windows if they are open.
3) And since the front faces the West when the sun hits the front windows the glass becomes so hot you can barely touch it and it heats up the house to the point of barely bearable.

You'll notice in the photos of the house with the new windows that several of them are covered by large pieces of cardboard. This is to keep the sun off and to prevent those rooms from becoming super heated by the afternoon sun.

Our plan is to construct a wall to entend 2 cinder blocks higher that the visible roof line. We had intended this project to be completed by January, Fenruary at the latest. LAST January/February (2008). Through a variety of unfortunate personal complications experienced by our contractor of choice they recommended a different contractor.

We contacted and met with contractor #2. Explained what we wanted, and that we wanted a way to remove the two columns that currently exist because they make parking tricky. Contractor #2 took 5 weeks to come back with a proposal that 1 did not address many of our requests, and 2 that now contained EIGHT columns. After several more meetings, and quite a few emails it was decided that contractor #2 was not for us.

Next up is contractor #3. Contractor #3 takes 5 days to come back with initial proposal, does not completely respond to ALL the things we inquired about, but offers an alternative to the columns which include additional support from the to be built wall itself that will ensure that the load of the roof is supported and not compromised. EUREKA!

After several meetings and numerous emails WE decide to reduce the scope of our project to just building the wall. All the other stuff; doors, new poured concrete flooring, re-doing the front sidewalk etc will be handled separately as separeate contracts. Seems too many requests really bog up the works. KISS (Keep it Simple Silly)

So now we have a contactor with a plan, we just need the permissions to start the job. We decide to handle getting the permissions ourselves - just cuz we have the time, and it will save us money, plus it's good life experience. Besides how hard can it be.

We are technically in Merida's Historic Centro. We are on the perimeter of Centro and our house is not historically significant, so getting our permits from INAH (INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE ANTROPOLOGÍA E HISTORIA) shouldn't be too hard. And they weren't. It's just that there seem to be no written guidelines/rules about what is required. It seems there is a 'general' understanding, but it could be just a bit different from one INAH representative to the other. Anyway, we make a preliminary run to INAH to determine whatis required, gather it all together and return later with our complete packet. Yippee! We have it all, it is accepted and should be ready in a week. That was easy. Well a week slips by, the second week comes - I call, we drop in, each time it should be ready, but one time they can't find it, the next oops the director still hasn't signed etc, etc. We turned our INAH packet in May 26, on June 17 we picked up our approved design plan. What INAH returned to us was 7 copies of one sheet of our packet with lots of official stamps and several scribbly initial style signatures. We inquired and they said for us to take this sheet to the Ayuntamiento (City).

June 18 we take our sheet of paper to the ayuntamiento. We make our way after several wrong turns to the correct office and I explain to the lady what we want. She looks questioningly at the sheet of paper and ask 'Where is our packet' We explain that INAH kept all 3 copies and only returned this sheet. She says she can't accept this as she has no idea what we actually want. We need to recreate our packet.

INAH Packet (3 copies)
first 20 pages of Fidecomiso
copies of first 4 pages of FM3
copies of first 2 pages of Passport, and copy of page with FM3 sticker
copy of our current paid fideicomiso, and taxes
copy of the city footprint of our property
photos of the house as it is
photos from our house in each direction, showing houses of neighbors
plans of what we want to do - with measurements, and graphic of what we expect it to look like.

Ayuntamiento Packet (3 copies)
originals of the INAH stamped approval
photos of the house as it is
plans of what we want to do - with measurements, and graphic of what we expect it to look like
first 3 pages of fideicomiso
copy of the city footprint of our property

We returned to Ayuntamiento with our documentation. No one told us we needed 3 copies of everything. We were very fortunate and we got a very nice lady that actually made the copies for us. Normally you must out to a tienda with a copy machine get your copies made and return.

We turned in our packet June 19, returned June 20 and was told that since our wall is above 2.5 meters in height we had to have the engineer/arquitecto sign and affirm his license number. Apparently 2.5 meters is the break point; higher and you need the arq/eng signatures, less that 2.5 mtrs and you don't.
We returned on June 23 and picked up our completed and authorized permits.

The workers started to work on Tuesday, July 1.
Right off the bat, through mis-communication, or lack of communication, the wall design will not be what we asked for and had approved. Our design had less that 1 meter walls coming off from the side walls to which the garage doors (portons) would attach. This would allow us to back straight in to the space and allow sufficient room to swing open the car doors, plus and place to relocate our water meter. Well, oops, the portons now will attach directly to the side walls which means we can't back straight in to the parking space but must continue to angle the car in so there is room to open the door.
Let's just see how the rest goes -
Here is what we have July 4, 2008