Latest major reno finished

This reno was a major project. The original house was mamepostria (stone) we moved walls, extended the terrace, expanded the kitchen and in reality nothing was left untouched. Everything new from the ground up, with new pool and court yard surround. Steps to the roof give the perfect spot to take in the sunset, or just sit on the Ocean side terrace and enjoy. The stone faced seawall protects the house in the event of a storm.

Can I build a second story?

One of the questions we get asked all the time, is can I build a second story. The simple answer is yes anything is possible, but it may take time and money. A lot of people assume a house made of block, is ready to take a second story as is and that is not true. A lineal meter of block wall can load a compressive weight of 750 kilos Which is not a lot when you are talking cement block of the original wall, new beams, new walls and an extra concrete roof. The second story in reality is supported by columns and beams and this is where extra time and costs are involved. The big question is how were your existing colums made and what weight were the footings designed to hold.

There are basically 3 types of columns used in Yucatan homes.

Sanct columns are the weakest they are just interlaced block with a piece of rebar in the center filled with a slurry of very wet concrete or mortar

Next is columns reinforced with Armex, Armex is a reinforced square tube made of a wire rings and thin rebar. the Armex mesh is filled with concrete for strength.

Best of all is rebar positioned in a square pattern so that the long lengths form the corners of square tube and that is tied to gether at close intervals with reinforced wire. Some times Armex is reinforced with rebar on the corners for additional loading capability. the column is then filled with concrete which should be vibrated to remove air pockets.

 

 

 

The next issue is the footings for the columns and how large they are. Obviously a small footing will not disperse a large load into the ground. The footings need to be large enough to support the wieght of a second story, with out sinking or twisting.

 

 

So the question, can I add a second story, is not an easy one to answer without knowing how the house was built. The good news is poorly built columns can be replaced, but it all adds to the time and cost of construction.

Before and after

We just finished this total reno and addition, this is the before.

 

This is at the almost finished stage. We took out walls, added archways built an addition on old terrace, added polished concrete floors, all new electrical and plumbing, chikkum finish in bathroom and kitchen and a lot more.

   

Birds eye view of one of our projects

One of our latest projects from a drone. Compound walled, pool being built along with massive terrace, with large bodega. Garage finished and main house reno ongoing.

 

Another project wraps up.

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This was the end result of building 2 rental casitas and Hacienda style entrance and carport

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A longterm project draws to a close.

This reno of a Centro home, involved new plumbing, electric, moving a kitchen, twinning the bathrooms building walls and a whole lot more, all on a very tight budget. We added antiqued concrete floors with pasta insets and the final touch was putting it all back together and polishing the floors.

 

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Modern alternatives to block buildings

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Anyone familiar with construction techniques in the Yucatan or other parts of Mexico, has seen the familiar block buildings. Block is easy to work with and makes a reasonably strong structure, if several variables are taken into consideration. A block structure is only as strong, as the mortar bonding the blocks together and the traditional Viga and Bovedilla roofs are extremely heavy. The other main issue with block construction is heat transfer, as typical block buildings here, do not have any insulation. I have done some testing with a laser temperature gun. On average a block wall facing the Yucatan sun, is approximately 4 degrees C warmer, than a wall not in the sun. That is a very large difference, if you are using A/C in the evening to cool a bedroom. Not only does the A/C have to overcome the ambient air temperature, but it also has to counter the effects of the Blocks radiating heat into the room.

There are more modern alternatives to block buildings and one of them is structural panels. Structural panels are an interlinked welded zigzag of wire, supporting a styrofoam core. These types of panels have been used for constructing multi story hotels and are hurricane resistant, they are that strong.

Some of the benefits of these types of panels is they are light weight, facilitate a faster build, but also very important is they insulate due to the styrofoam core. The panels come in various thicknesses and sizes, so that they can load a second or more stories or just be the wall for a simple single story home. Structural panels also come especially formed to be roof panels, so the suns energy is not easily transferred to the inside of your home. This also means cool air from your A/C unit does not strike a sun heated surface and warm up. It is the house version of a styrofoam cooler.

We have been working on several projects with the manufacturers tech advisor, using these structural panels.. This has offered our clients a lightweight and insulated option for the addition of second stories, as well as the option to build entirely out of the panels for a thermally efficient home.

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