Real Estate FYI / Houses of Merida Video: Restoration

Houses of Merida Video: Restoration

Houses of Merida Video: Restoration

8 October 2010 REAL ESTATE, Real Estate FYI 7

Click to watch the walkthrough on Vimeo!

Some of the most popular articles on Yucatan Living’s website are the Building Our House articles, where we chronicled in sometimes painful but always interesting detail, the process of renovating and building our home in Merida. In those seven articles, our readers were treated to a blow-by-blow account of what it takes to build a new colonial-style house, using traditional materials and methods.

In our Houses of Merida video series, we have taken our readers on tours of a number of restored colonial homes and haciendas. We have all appreciated the beauty of these hand-crafted architectural wonders.

But to really understand both the innate beauty that you can find in an old home here, and the effort and vision it takes to rescue one, we’ve decided to show you something different this time: a totally unrestored home, typical of what you can still find in Merida and some of the surrounding colonial towns. Not only will this give you a feel for the beauty that was once here a hundred years ago, but it will also give you an idea of what to expect the next time you go house-hunting with a Yucatan real estate agent.

The house in this video is not located in Merida, but in Motul, a colonial city just a half hour outside of Merida. Motul is a self-contained city that has its own central mercado (market), its own cathedral, and its own industry consisting of large maquiladoras (manufacturing plants) located in the countryside surrounding the city. Of course, many of Motul’s residents also commute to and work in Merida. Motul has a colorful history of its own, having started as a Mayan city in the 11th Century, and more recently being the birthplace of Yucatan’s famous governor, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, where his former residence is now a museum and library. With all that history, it’s no surprise that Motul has a number of unrestored colonial homes in the downtown area, one of which is featured in this latest Houses of Merida video.

Jen Lytle, from Tierra Yucatan Real Estate, takes us on a tour of this dilapidated but once incredibly grand edifice. We don’t know about you, but we find such beauty in these structures that once represented the ultimate in taste and grandeur, still struggling to maintain that grandeur amidst the elements and neglect. As you follow Jen through the video, walking through the rooms, maybe you will find yourself marveling at the beauty of the dusty pasta tiles, the rotting but beautifully carved wooden doors, the frescos painted on walls footed by weeds and trash, the graceful arches framing a courtyard filled with farm animals… the juxtaposition of elegance and decay is poignant and arresting.

Many of us have experienced the deep satisfaction of rescuing this kind of beauty and bringing it to light by renovating and restoring these homes. Some of us like it so much, we become serial renovators, buying and selling homes just so we can experience it again and again… that wouldn’t be the Working Gringos, mind you. But we know people like that… Some of our best friends are serial renovators.

It’s hard not to be seduced into buying a house like this. There are not many places in the world where you can find such neglected beauty that is so accessible. We know many will enjoy Jen’s informative explanations of how to look at the various elements of the house with a nod to history and an eye to what it would take to restore things to their original splendor.

You can contact Jen Lytle of Tierra Yucatan Real Estate at or visit


  • Richard 10 years ago

    Hello Jen
    What is the status of this property? Is it still on the market? and if so, what's the asking price? This property is just the right size for my large family.

  • PaulB 12 years ago

    Gregg: In designated historic districts, property owners wanting to change color are supposed to go to INAH and select from various permitted colors. It supposedly is no big deal, but I don't know for sure.

  • Gregg 12 years ago

    Thank you Jen

  • Jen Lytle 12 years ago

    Hi, Gregg -

    I have never asked permission to change the color on any of my properties; my advice would be just go ahead.

  • Gregg 12 years ago

    If a home needs repainting, and I wish to change the color, do I need INAH approval?

  • Working Gringos 12 years ago

    The property is currently listed at $159,000 USD, but the owners are accepting offers. You can click here to see the listing. It would seem that the property is rather large for a private residence (at least for most of us), but it would make a great Bed & Breakfast or small hotel. Determining the renovation costs would depend on what was planned for the property and how far you wanted to take the renovation. For example, you could replace some of the ruined wood-beamed ceilings with concrete beams, which would be less expensive. You could choose to remove some of the back rooms not facing the street and make the inner courtyard larger, or you could restore all of them and even add rooms. You could hire local contractors from Motul or import an architect who specializes in renovations. You get the idea. An estimate we've heard for a cost-conscious renovation of the existing structures would be between $150,000 and $200,000 USD.

  • RJ 12 years ago

    Spectacular !! The example in this movie is way too large for us, but using it as an example, about what would it cost to buy and then to restore??


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