Building the House

John and Judy Snyder's Retirement in Mexico - created by Judy Snyder


Where to Begin

The Exploration Trip

Finding THE Place

Steps Toward Making it Happen

Tying Things Up NOB

The Actual Move

Building the House

A Photo Tour of the Building Project

Heads Up

Here in Mexico We Enjoy...

So What's So Different About Mexico?











































































 A little of Judy's creativity on the cactus paddle




As was planned, only the foundation

of the house, the cistern, and the septic tank  had been completed when we arrived with all our belongings.  We wanted to be here for the rest of the construction.  Once we arrived we decided that it wouldn’t do us much good to have a house without water so we had a water tower/storage building built over the septic tank.  We also were extremely grateful that we had stopped at the construction of the foundation because the man who was doing the work, we found out, was truly a “jack of all trades and master of none.”  Almost everything he did was done improperly, or halfway.  It has cost money and a great deal of time to correct his bungling, but correcting it was less costly than it would be have been in the future to tear up improperly done plumbing, etc.


In extreme contrast to the man who did such poor work, we are overwhelmingly grateful for the bricklayer and his helper who are currently working for us.  Jesus, our bricklayer, (John says “How can you go wrong when Jesus is building your house?”) is conscientious, trustworthy, dependable, frugal, hard-working, innovative, resourceful, experienced, knowledgeable, meticulous, skilled and truly many other things we couldn’t think of adjectives for.  Besides all that he has a great personality.


I designed the house so we had our tense moments when I wasn't sure how high a wall should be and exactly how it was to connect with a different type roof.  After all, I am NOT an architect.  However, between John and Jesus, they always figured it out and always did their best to make these turn out the way I had intended them.

The house is somewhat the old hacienda style with the courtyard in the middle.  After 19 months at the apartment, we moved into the first wing (dining room, kitchen and laundry room), using the dining room as our bedroom.  Recently we've moved into our own room across the courtyard.  The office and guest rooms are also finished.  The livingroom isn't livable yet, although the fireplace is finished and the walls are plastered.


John is acting as general contractor in addition to Chief Everything-Else-That-Needs-to-be-Done, including all the cabinet installation, making door frames and putting up doors and trim.  We are very happy that we brought all the doors for the house with us from the States.  They cost about 3 times as much here and the quality is poor.  We couldn't bring the door frames, however, since our walls are about 7 inches thick, as opposed to the 4-inch walls in the U.S.  He tried  ordering "pre-hung" frames here.  He took the door to the "best" door-making company in this city.  When he picked up his order, the frames were taped together in three pieces and when he got them home and assembled them, they were too large for the opening (despite the measurements he had submitted with his order).   Since then, he buys raw lumber (any other is hard to come by), straightens the edges, planes it, sands it, cuts the hinge seats, assembles it, and finally hangs the door.


He has also installed the cabinets we brought from the States.  I wanted one of those pantries with all the neat fold out shelves, but didn't want to pay Home Depot the price of more than $900--so we bought the pantry cabinet and John made the fancy fold-out shelves for about $60.00  What a savings and I'm the envy of all my friends who see it.

His advice: “Don’t retire; it’s too much work.”  In spite of the long, tiring days, we love it here. 


I  (Judy) have been responsible for painting all the doors and woodwork, staining and varnishing some cabinets hanging wallpaper, and choosing all the paint, tile, fixtures,etc.  My experience with the wood trim is as frustrating as John's with his wood projects.  The wood is poor quality and needs a lot of TLC before painting it.


Because we are using our pension money to build the house, we are going very slowly.  We regulate the amount of materials we buy in a month.  That, together with the wages of our two workers and food, gasoline, etc. comes out about even at the end of the month.


There are advantages to going slowly.  It's much easier to catch mistakes that crop up.  Some errors we found were in the design. (Opps, I decided to change the way the door opened, but forgot to change the location of the light switch.)  Jose (the plumber/electrician) is very capable and has spent a lot of hours working here on the property. 


Another person who has done a great deal toward the construction of the house is Javier.  He has done all the steel construction including the steel beams, the big gates, etc.




The infrastructure which John planned and coordinated the construction of was a huge part of the bringing our plan to fruition.  There is a fresh water cistern under the courtyard and another huge one on the highest point of the lot.  Fresh water is pumped from one of these cisterns to water tanks on top of the tower.  (See picture:  fortunately we still do not have a steady supply of water and are buying tanks which are delivered to the house. 


This year (2008) we built an additional huge cistern on the lowest part of the lot which collects run-off water and gray water.  During the dry season this water is used to irrigate the trees and bushes which we have planted.  We can also buy recycled water and have it put into this cistern from the street.  All the trees and bushes have irrigation lines running to them. 


No home would be complete without some kind of living plants.  When we bought the lot, it had been a corn field for way too long and the soil was very poor.  We have planted 21 fruit trees (that includes 2 pecan trees), rose bushes, flowering bushes and several types of cacti.  It's been a lot of work, but this year the bushes really looked great and we even got a little fruit from the trees.