Of late I have seen a number of inexpensive toy car/building facade sets at Dollar or Toy Stores. This piece came with 2 toy cars, and cost $1.50 CDN.
I have seen it in several colours, painted as a police station, fire hall, and military HQ. It is moulded in styrene plastic, the garage and building doors open, and there is a 30mm deep 'shelf' as a second floor.
When I saw it, I knew it had possibilities. It also had a major advantage for me: The doors and windows are already made and detailed. All I needed to make was the rear of the building, and add some details on the front.
I started by removing the garage with a razor saw. This went well enough. I didn't worry about marring the side wall as it would be covered later.
I then built the back of the building using plastic sheet. It's a simple box, and merely extended the floor & walls from the original piece.
I added supports for an interior floor at the same level as the 'shelf' floor. The joins don't need to be perfect, as they too will be covered.
When the walls had set, I cut strips from a file folder and glued them to the rear walls using liquid cement. I added corners from the same material.
The walkway and balcony were made from popsicle sticks, scored down the centre. The balcony was framed with craft sticks, and the railing was made from craft sticks and toothpicks. The toothpicks came with the turned decorative design, perfect for stanchions.
The recessed roof was the hardest bit to manufacture: It's recessed from a wide ledge and has a decorative edge.
I made a sandwich of three layers pf plastic to continue the decoration, even though many buildings only had this decoration at the front.
It turned out well enough, but could have just as easily had a peaked roof surrounded by a ledge.
The false front was cut from Sintra, scored to have a board texture. I should have added supports, but didn't.
I made the signs and menu with Photoshop, and printed them out. I glued the large sign to a piece of card and then to the railing.
The rear door is plastic card on a wire hinge, and the framing is made from wooden craft picks.
I'm not certain that the facade really saved me any time or effort, but it got me to make the building, so that's good.
As an aside, 'Ma' is in fact a little Chinese man.