Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maximum hassle

That building your own home in Guatemala can be an aggravating experience is something I can attest to. But in the long term the decision to go out and buy an off-the-shelf model is one that will often be regretted more intensely and for longer! 

I took these pics yesterday outside the now almost-completed set of condominios which has plonked itself down between the northern limits of Jardines de Antigua and the Sindal, and as such is a perfect spot for taking in all the different pungent aromas emitted 24-7 by the Nestlé plant's monstrous Maggi cauldrons. 

When one goes to the trouble of undertaking a construction project, one starts to learn how to prioritise practicalities over aesthetics. So, invisible pongs aside, there are three things that immediately set off alarm bells for me in this set up: 

1) Barrotes, the iron bars that are a constant trope of Antigua's colonial architecture are supposed to provide a measure of security, not a handy ladder for reaching the first floor balcony from street level. (Though these could also be used as a fire escape...)

2) Borrow a five-year-old (with permission of course) and see if your doorbell is within their reach. If it is, move it higher up the wall. These timbres have been positioned for maximum hassle. 

3) Take a walk around the area around this development and you will see how many of the properties that have not taken specific precautions against it are afflicted by damp rising up their outer walls – without even having made the bizarre decision to run a flower bed along the whole of the facade. 

The exteriors of these homes will inevitably need repainting every year or so, but don't expect to be allowed to change from the pastel colour picked by the developer, or even to be able to implement a more water-resistant coating at the base, let alone remove the strip of grass and soil. 

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