Spring is for sprucing up

José walks atop glass. The dark area is covered with shade cloth.

I wait till April and May each year to do repairs. It’s the height of the dry season, and outside renovations don’t run the risk of getting soaked. Quite a few have been done already, mostly at the Downtown Casita where painting, plumbing and electrical occurred.

Yesterday, one of my guys, José, did some minor exterior painting here at the Hacienda, and then he climbed atop the roof of the upstairs terraza with a pressure washer to remove a year’s accumulation of gunk. The interesting aspect is that the roof is glass. He treads lightly and tries to stay atop the steel beams.

Old faithful.

My focus now turns to the water heater, which is about 16 years old. We started out with an identical heater 18 years ago, but it failed after two years and was replaced for free because it was still under warranty. It’s a big sucker, and has always worked great.

It has a nonstop pilot light, however, and it sits quite near the propane tank, which concerns me a bit. Plus, I would like to spend less on gas. I tried to reduce gas costs years ago by installing first one solar water heater, then another. Neither were worth warm spit, so I’m turning to another solution, one of those on-demand heaters.

But I’ve had bad luck with those too. We installed one in the Mexico City condo, and it’s been quite temperamental. We installed another in the Downtown Casita some years back because the little cheap traditional heater the home came with worked poorly. The new on-demand heater was no better, so I installed a large, traditional heater, which works great.

Avera.

We also have an on-demand heater in my child bride’s pastry kitchen. It’s never failed us in seven years.

I’m going to buy an Avera instantaneous heater, probably the model that costs 3,199 pesos. It has great reviews on the Avera website, and I’ll also keep the old heater online. I can switch from one to the other. Another option is a modulating model. Anyone have experience with those?

Homeownership, never an idle moment.

Raising the roof

Roof tiles removed, they’re about to take down the rotted wooden beam.

No sooner had our guys finished the banana tree removal and filled the space with rock and concrete than they moved onto the second phase of this week’s toil, which was replacing a rotted wood beam and cross boards on the side of a carport.

The carport did not start life as a carport. It started as simply a covered area in one corner of the double lot we purchased in 2002 to build the Hacienda. It had been used as a party space by the lawyer’s family who previously owned it. There was nothing more on the double lot except a stand-alone bathroom on the far end of the property.

We began using it as a carport on one side and a junk-collection area on the other side. In 2014, we converted most of the trash area into my child bride’s pastry kitchen. That’s one wall of the pastry kitchen you see in the top photo.

But this week’s problem was rotting wood on one side of the roof. The guys removed tons of clay tiles and then the outermost beam, purchased a new beam, trucked it here, stained it, replaced it, and re-covered it with the clay tiles, all in just four hours.

New beam gets stained. The fellow on the left is fond of observing.
New beam is now in place, and cross boards are being laid down.
Voilá. The roof is ready to last another 20-plus years.

The rock-and-concrete “table” that was finished Thursday was dry by today, so we hoisted a couple of decorative pots atop it because we’re all about art, green and otherwise.

Far better-looking than the dead stand of bananas, ¿no?

Looking to next year

Every second morning, more or less, after biscuits, honey and café Americano negro, I head outside to sweep and view the dawning day, which is most always a pleasant sensation. Today was no exception, cool, clear and blue.

I stood on the yard patio and looked up at the house, parts of which have not been painted in 17 years. The area up there, around the glass-brick windows, has the original paint, and it looks better in the photo than it does in real life.

The main reason that has not been repainted is its relative inaccessibility. You cannot walk up there without removing the clay tiles which, now that I think about it, also need to be taken up, cleaned and replaced. And some are broken, and they need replacing with new ones. This work would disturb the bats and the workmen who find them.

Renovation work here almost invariably takes place in December through May, which is to say when it is not raining every day, so I’m thinking about this now.

Perhaps even more than the paint and tile, I want to remove this section of grass below and replace it with concrete and something or other that has yet to be decided, anything but the grass and weeds currently in residence.

I really want to do this, but I really do not want the hassle and disorder it will require for a couple of weeks, guys coming every morning and hanging around most of the day.

But it will happen. Some things are inevitable.

Might even install a fountain there. That would look snappy.

I would keep the aloe vera and philodendron.

By the way, yesterday’s post about having to put comments into full moderation has been deleted because the problem has been solved. FYI.

Adding a new hole

vista
Just after dawn today. Sweet. Cool too.

GUYS WILL ring the gate bell tomorrow about 8:30 a.m. — they wanted to come even earlier, but I said no — to add a drain hole to the upstairs terraza.

When the floor on the upstairs terraza was built in 2003, the then-guys were not aware that it would be an open space, so the floor is completely level. And then it was left open to the elements. When it rained, a sizable lake formed on the floor and stayed for months, which was one reason we decided to cover it entirely last year.

There have long been two drain holes, but they don’t work for two reasons. One is that they are tiny. The other is that the floor is level, not even slightly tilted to the drain holes. The glass roof has eliminated most of the flooding problem but not entirely, especially when the rain blows from the sole direction where there is no canvas curtain.

The direction you see in the top photo.

The guys will cut a low, 18-inch-wide space in the terraza’s brick wall at floor level, and that will let me sweep the rainwater to the other side where it will fall to the ground.

There is nothing a Mexican brick mason cannot make right.

hole
One of the two useless holes we now have.