Our First Year

We have owned/run Casa Colonial Atitlan for a year now. There have been some really fun times thanks to some great guests but there has also been a lot of work. Like buying anything used, you will find things you want to change and things you will need to fix. Here is our story so far.

The biggest problem here was the lack of storage space — for anything. There was a garage, all be in too small, but it was where you park things, not store things as the main entrance to the property was through the garage.
The solution was to build a bodega above it. It would not block the view from the hotel proper and we would end up with a five by eight meter area for storage and a workshop.
A loza (concrete slab) was poured supported by the garage walls and a concrete block building was constructed. I did the electrical also adding outlets and lights in the garage.

The walkway from the garage to the stairs was just a row of clay tiles. They were replaced with a laja (flat rock) walkway cemented in place.

The washing machine and lavandero were just outside with no roof. We added a roof and proper electricity.

Finally, there was a small third room on the bottom level. Rather than a real bathroom it just had a toilet (and nothing else) behind a shower curtain. It has been upgraded with a complete bathroom giving us an additional rental unit.

I have met the electrician who did the work here. I would not recommend him to wire your chicken coop. While there are still a few things to do on the upstairs related to electrical, here is what we have done:
• Replaced an assortment of one and two breaker boxes and a fused switch with a proper 24-position breaker box.
• Added the missing physical ground to the box.
• Completely rewired the downstairs. There used to be one 2-wire circuit that served all three rooms and the laundry area. There are now four separate 3-wire circuits.
• Added an inverter/charger and batteries for critical circuits (such as computer equipment).
• Added a PV solar array such that the inverter is running off the batteries charged by the PV array almost all the time.
• Added a 6kW backup diesel generator.
• Replaced virtually all the incandescent lighting with LEDs.
• Added an electronic lock for the porton and a camera to view the street. (Both currently broken to do a lightening strike on the pole in front of the building.)

• Added an irrigation water system. There is irrigation water here but we added a PV solar powered pump and tank up the hill so we could cultivate more crops.
• Replaced two electric water heaters (whose total consumption was more than the current available at the service entrance) with one flash gas water heater.
• Re-routed the upstairs sewer into the good, correctly built septic tank.
• Added hot water to the laundry area.
• Added a float switch to the water entrance. (This used to be a caretaker job to open the valve until the cistern was full.)
• Replaced a failing water pump with a new one.
• Replaced a small water storage tank (for pressure) up the hill with a larger one.
• Added water filters.

The kitchen used to be pretty useless. We have expanded it adding cabinets and counter space. A new sink and new windows remain on the list of changes.

The dining area is mostly plastic tables and chairs. We will upgrade this to wooden ones.

We have a small garden. We want to grow as much as possible of the vegetables we serve so the garden will get upgraded.

This would also go for fruit and nuts but the birds and squirrels seem to think the apples, guavas, figs, peaches, macadamias and, to a lesser extent, avocados we grow are for them. I don’t yet have a solution for this one. The good news is that they don’t see interested in the oranges and lemons.