No, this is not a bar chart drawn by a drunken graphic artist. Nor is it an example of mid-century modernistic post-neo-deconstructionist art. (Although I’ll frame and sell it if this image catches on.)
These are shapes of lots in the Centro of Mérida, put side by side and seen in proportion to each other. These shapes represent houses we saw on the casa crawl, or through an agent, and contained features we would want, like a central courtyard, full-sized pool or a casita in the rear.
Everyone who has seen our space tells us we have enough room to do all this, but I wanted proof.
I’ve been tracing outlines from the Google satellite images to compare them with the place we bought. I can only ask you to believe me when I tell this isn’t an exercise in “whose is bigger.” I’m merely trying to figure out what’s reasonable to build in a lot our size.
I’ve never had a sense of scale, which you’d know if you’ve ever seen me lug home a sofa that doesn’t fit where I wanted it to. It’s even harder when we have never seen our property filled with furniture, or trimmed of jungle growth out back. Sometimes the property seems pretty big, sometimes it seems woefully small. Other properties seemed bigger than they were because they were surrounded by smaller facades, or had soaring ceilings in the front rooms, or if the listing agent was under 5-foot-6. A wide house might have given the impression of ample proportions because you entered to see rooms on each side of you, but in our price range they were usually shallow, basically a narrow house turned sideways, with more exposure to street noise.
In the end, this exercise showed me something. Our property, the hot pink one, fourth from right, is pretty average. It’s not the widest, but we’re deeper than a lot of the lots we’ve thought of as enormous. The proportions and dimensions of our new lot won’t hold us back from building anything we have seen. It’s our wallet that will do that. This was a revealing exercise and I recommend it to anyone who has been visiting properties in town. The property all the way to the right looked much, much larger than ours. It was its generous width, and its more impressive room scale, that fooled us.
If you’re viewing lots of ruins, and have certain space-consuming features in mind for your future casa, I certainly hope you are taking copious notes. I have, and when the paper stack got too tall, I transferred them to a Google page with a map and virtual pushpins. When you’re ready to compare, take a screen grab all the properties you want off of the Google satellite map, making sure each snap captures them in the same zoom setting. Then, in Photoshop or something like it, trace the property and fill with a color. Not all properties will be that clear in satellite, with huge trees concealing property line. Others will be easy to spot. Move your filled shape to a new document and line them all up.
What seemed large might now seem smaller, and what seemed too small might now seem workable.
It’s a little sad to resort to tracing Google satellite images, but I am responding to a sheer lack of resources for buyers of houses of this sort. Also, real estate agents or sellers often didn’t have accurate and certified measurements on hand, much less any reasonable estimates in writing. He or she would eyeball the property and tell us what size the property seemed to them to be. As exacting as officials here are when you need a permit or license, being vague about details is an accepted sales practice here.