Friday, January 27, 2017

Ranch House: Raising the Roof


The casita at Rancho San Benito has been abandoned for many years. That is about to change.

The first time I approached the little stone building after buying the property, there was a large rattlesnake staring at me from under the kitchen counter. Scorpions, beetles, tarantulas and a variety of other creeping and crawling organisms scuttled away as I explored the dingy, dank rooms and moved accumulated debris aside.

Since the ranch house in this state is uninhabitable, I've been renting a small place in the nearby pueblo. Now I have decided it's time to quit renting and live in my own house. However, it needs more than cleaning and fumigation to be made comfortable.

The floor is cracked and uneven and the doors rotten and termite-damaged. The galvanized, corrugated metal roof, where it has not collapsed from rotten supports, is so rusted that pinholes of daylight show through like constellations in the night sky. And the ceiling is so low that I can reach up and touch it without stretching.

I'd like to have a little more headroom to keep the heat out of the living space and generally want to make the place more comfortable and secure. The work will include reinforcing the old walls and increasing the height of the ceiling by about 80cm, putting on a solid roof with skylights, enclosing the outdoor kitchen, replacing the floors and putting in new windows, doors and mosquito screens to help with safety and ventilation.

We'll also build a 5 x 7 meter above-ground water storage tank, to be filled by the windmill pump from the old hand-dug, stone-lined well. This will allow us to accumulate water for household use and irrigation when the wind blows and will serve as a swimming pool for refreshing dips after hot work in the fields.


After a long, fruitless search for a good contractor who would work in this remote area, I fell back on the engineer who has done several projects for me in Mérida. It turns out that some of his albañiles actually live in a pueblo not far away, so the logistics will not be as difficult as I had thought. Two of his employees, an engineer and an architect, came to the ranch with me this week to measure, draw plans and put together a budget for the project.

I hope to break ground within two weeks and to move in by April.


Text and images copyright 2017 by Marc Olson

14 comments:

  1. Outstanding! I am looking forward to lots of photos and descriptions of what's happening at the Rancho in coming months. Distraction very much needed. Can't wait.

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    1. The blog has been dormant for awhile. I am hoping that this project will help me get into a routine of posting regularly again. Thanks for your continued support.

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  2. Can't wait to see the results of this project. You have a talent for turning ruins into wonderful places.

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. As I mentioned in a comment above, I plan to begin posting more regularly. As construction proceeds I will update the blog.

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  3. Wouldn't it be easier and less costly to build a house from scratch, maybe incorporating a wall of the ruins, than remodeling? Whatever, best wishes on your new project!

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    1. This remodel will cost much less than building anything new. I don't want to invest in a new place out there yet. This will keep me comfortable until such time as I decide I need something nicer.

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  4. Best of luck with your renovation project. Hope to see progress reports as the work continues!
    Saludos!

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    1. Thanks, I will keep the blog updated. I am terribly sorry I missed you recently when you passed through Merida. Next time for sure!

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    2. I totally understand. I was busy with family also for most of my time in Mérida.
      By the way, I really like that first photo. It would make a beautiful painting.

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  5. Marc, as you may know from my blog, I always do a painting to donate to the Ohio chapter of Los Amigos for their spring auction. Would you mind if I use the photo at the top of this blog post as the basis of a painting?

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    1. Of course, with great pleasure I support Amigos' Efforts.

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  6. So happy to see your return to your blog and the chance to see this become your new old home.

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  7. This is a fantastic blog. Yucatan is a gorgeous place with a lot to offer. Demasiada belleza no apreciada.

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  8. With that as the starting structure, your house could be seriously gorgeous. Congratulations to you and Victor.

    Al and Stew

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