The overall impression of housing in Monterrey is a hillside of light-colored boxes. Some boxes are small and tidy and some are large and sprawling, but all begin with the same premise: cinderblocks, cement and squares.
Even the apartment buildings are built using the same plan. The only difference is that they go a few stories higher into the air.
If you want to expand your house, you just keep going up. The house below has added this second story over the last few months.
First, several piles of sand and gravel are dumped in front of the house. Then the cement is mixed by hand on the street in front of the house, scooped into a bucket and lifted to the second floor by a pulley system. This is repeated thousands of times until the addition to the house is complete. One day we did catch this real cement pump truck pouring a roof/floor/patio--the only big cement truck we have seen in the city.
Once all of the cinderblock is finished, the walls of the house are stuccoed inside and out. The scaffolding systems are quite unique and very precarious.
The construction of this apartment building saved some money (?) by using a sieve to separate the sand and gravel instead of paying to have them delivered separately. They did go to the expense of buying a cement mixer, though, so the mixing is faster. Pulleys are still used to lift the buckets of cement to the upper levels.
Rooflines and the Middle East effect:
Though most of the houses resemble stacked boxes (like the one below), periodically we will catch a glimpse of something unique.
The style that is the most intriguing to us is the domed roof. These appear quite often across the horizon and the overall feeling is more Middle Eastern than Mexican.
Other unique rooflines:
And, of course, the grand finale is color! Most houses here are not colorful; but just when it gets boring, fuchsia, orange, purple or green will jump out and grab your eyes forcing you to stop and sigh with wonder. I love the colors of Mexico!