Monday, October 21, 2013

Face Lift: The Beginning


At long last I have gone and done it. After ten years of avoiding the issue, I am getting the house a face lift.

I actually liked the patina that the front of the place had developed over the years. My house has a pleasant, traditional design. It's a classic of its kind with a stately presence, but with the wear and tear it has endured over the years, it has blended into the street, and I like that.

I always figured that an unkempt facade provided a small measure of security, assuming that any potential house robbers would be less attracted to places that did not look well-to-do. And these old stone houses are notoriously difficult to keep fresh looking anyhow. It's easier just to relax and not fret about frequent touch ups and repairs. After all, if a house is this old, why can't it look its age? Those of us humans who are at peace with the aging process decide to take care of our health but not worry excessively about normal wrinkles, sags and graying or falling hair. Cracks, peeling paint and mold streaks add character to an old house in the tropics and can be gracefully ignored in my book, at least to a certain extent.

But things deteriorated beyond the "gracefully aging" stage. This was brought home to me not long ago when I walked out the front door one morning and found several chunks of the facade, each about the size of a large candy bar, laying where they had fallen on the sidewalk. I realized that despite my affection for the house's patina, for reasons of safety it was in need of a face lift.



Actually, for years neighbors had been asking me why I didn't redo my house. "I thought gringos liked things nice and new," one said. A number of buildings on the block have been redone and freshly painted over the past couple of years, and in its scruffiness my place was beginning to stand out from the rest.

The city has a program to preserve and restore the city's architectural heritage, officially called, "Programa de Rescate de Fachadas del Ayuntamiento de Mérida." Literally that means, Facade Recovery Program of the City of Mérida. The program employs a squadron of skilled artisans who repair and carefully reproduce deteriorating facades of historic buildings in the city. The work is done free of cost. All a building owner has to do is get on the list, wait for the work to be scheduled, sign a contract, and provide needed materials. It's very organized. A detailed budget of materials and their costs is delivered beforehand and the contract describing the building owner and city's responsibilities during the project is explained in detail.

That's a pretty good deal, and the quality of the work is top notch. Construction makes a bit of a mess of the house, but will be worthwhile in the end. The historic facade will be renewed and ready to accumulate another few decades of patina before it needs serious attention again. I was a bit tired of living with the pink prior owners had painted the place years ago anyhow, so now I can make a change. And more important, no innocent passerby is going to get clobbered in the head by a falling chunk of my house.

15 comments:

  1. It was always easy to spot your house when walking down the street. In the near future, maybe not so much anymore.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lee, I take that as a compliment. I guess the house will look more like the rest now, for better, I suppose...

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    2. I loved you facade. I do understand both sides - blending and improving. Good luck on both!

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    3. Thanks. I know that once I get used to having a shiny-new house I will like it.

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  2. "Facade Recovery Program of the City of Mérida". What a wonderful program!
    Construction is always a mess and it takes us out of our space for a while(sometimes a long while), but the end result is rewarding. Enjoy your "new" home.

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    Replies
    1. It is a great program and things are turning out well. I am looking forward to the new look, and to being able to keep the house clean again. It's a pretty dusty and dirty process and the mess has filtered throughout the house.

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  3. What colour will it be Marc, or is that a surprise ? I noticed that you were looking for short-term accommodation...did you already sell it ?

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    1. I wanted to paint it a traditional white, but apparently that's not allowed. I'll go with a cream, I think, with white trim and black metalwork. Darker colors seem to fade out faster. I hope a light color will not show fading and will be easier to touch up.

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  4. Please post a picture of the completed job. How is the new roof holding up?

    Bob Gill
    Phoenix, AZ

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    Replies
    1. The roof's fine. I will post again with final results on the facade.

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  5. I have always liked the ragged look. That may explain why I look as I do. Torn short and ripped shirts are a sign of a life lived well.

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  6. They have something similar in San Miguel Centro. The colors are controlled from a standard palette

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  7. Your home looks like a "grand old dame or gentleman," in the best sense. I think s/he will be pleased to be spruced up by local artisans. The spirit will live on no matter what. Keep us posted.

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  8. I also think there is something to be said for the "well worn look" of an old house, but if it become dangerous that is another thing entirely, I am so impressed with Merida's program of restoring old buildings. That is really wonderful!

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  9. I too shared the notion that a ratty exterior led bad guys to better looking abodes. But after about six years, the rattiness got to me, and I had our place painted, the part that faces the street. It's nice to look nice. That's a great program the city has for you.

    Looking forward to the After shots.

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