Long Overdue Update

Hello family and friends and followers!


We know it’s been ages since a proper update, but as you can guess, we’ve been super busy!


To start with, we applied and received our construction permit!!! YAY!!! One more piece of paper on the front door allowing us to proceed!


As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve stopped all demolition on the “Phase 2” (i.e. our final living space), and are focusing only on the “Phase 1” (the efficiency and two bedroom apartments). In January, February, and March, we’ve laid down the base flooring for the efficiency apartment and half of the two bedroom apartment. We need to replace the floor joists in the rear of the two bedroom apartment before we can lay down flooring. This is the area on the southern side of the building where the “deck” was.


Since demolition and removal of all of the interior walls in Phase 1, some of the ceiling pieces have started to sag somewhat. Through lots of creativity, Heath was able to add two temporary support walls, even using a jack to push the rafters back up. He’ll also be going up into the ceiling to raise the joists and adding supports there.


We now have walls framed for nearly all of the efficiency apartment, including the bathroom and closet for the stackable washer and dryer.


And as of this weekend, we’ve got part of the walls framed up for the two bedroom, including the living room and part of the master bath and the laundry room.


Last, but not least, various helpers (including my bestie’s Dad, Frank, who is a Master Mason) have been slowly filling in the brick walls that were cut in to in previous renovations. Many thanks to Scott and Erin, too, for helping us lay some brick!



We unfortunately have roof leaks – AGAIN! Got a call in to our roofer to come take a look and get these last two leaks taken care of once and for all!

20170305_103413   20170305_103543

We’ll be taking a weekend off for Spring Break, but returning to work on March 18th and 19th if anyone wants to join us. Here’s our Work Weekends from now to June.

  • March 25/26
  • April 1/2
  • April 8/9
  • April 22/23
  • April 29/30
  • May 6/7
  • May 20/21
  • May 27 MOVING DAY (We will be moving either in to the lofts or into a different rental – we won’t be staying in our current rental for various reasons)

Please please please come and help if you can. No experience or tools necessary – just show up wearing close-toed shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty in. I promise it is a lot of fun, and we’ll feed you lunch, and give you a place to sleep for the weekend if you need it.

So what’s left for Heath and I to do for Phase 1?

  • Finish filling in the gaps in the brick wall
  • Finish framing all of the walls
  • Add floor joists to the southern section of Phase 1 (and lay the floors and add the framing)
  • Build new stairs
  • Drywall interior walls
  • Plaster brick walls
  • Sand interior doors and varnish or paint them (we’re restoring most of the old doors)
  • Lay tile in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Restore and install wood floors
  • Paint (this could possibly wait until June)
  • Install crown molding (this could possibly wait until June)

Plus, we need to get our fire sprinkler system installed, electric lines run, HVAC installed, plumbing finished (we have the rough-ins), 2 hour fire layer installed, windows repaired or new ones installed, and spray foam installation done. These are all professional jobs we’re hiring out. We are still waiting on the last fire sprinkler estimate and the last window estimate.

We’ve come in to a bit of discussion about the windows, but I think I’ll save that for another blog post. And I also have another video tour coming up soon!

A recent find

Forgot to share this:

Our most recent find came from the demolition of the front stairs. We have no idea what door this key might go to, or even if we still have the lock, but it is kind of nifty.

Also, check your Facebook event invitations, as we have added one work weekend for February. More dates soon to be added, for those interested in pitching in. 

Jumping in to 2017

The week before Christmas, Heath took off from work and with the help of our friend’s eldest son, did a bunch of odd projects, including completely removing the front stairs, nearly completing ceiling reinforcement in the east wing of the building, reorganizing our lumber stash, working on sanding paint off of more antique doors, bolting massive beams to support some of the existing ones that were partially damaged by termites, and a few other items on our list.

After Christmas, we pooled our gift certificates for home improvement stores and picked up some shiny new tools for our loft. We got a high-quality planer that does really beautiful work (but we’ll still need a table sander because we keep finding nails in planks that are dinging up the blade already and causing ridges along the wood). And we also got a small router table to use with a router that we already owned. These will help immensely! I believe that there’s only three tools left that we’re going to need – an infrared paint remover, a tile cutter, and the aforementioned table sander.

Currently we’re getting quotes from plumbers, HVAC companies, and window installers for the eastern wing, and it’s on my list to compile our quotes from our fire sprinkler companies to make a decision on that. And I’m also doing tons of historic research, looking at original deeds and documents to continue piecing together the history of the Zeiss building. I need to get all of my work completed in the first half of the year so that I can submit it before the September deadline to apply for our historical marker.

We’ll also soon be announcing several demo and construction weekends for January and February, likely taking a break in March. We’re going to need help removing the ceiling in our downstairs tenant, and installing a new one, as well as completing masonry upstairs. Once we get rough plumbing and electric in, we can get to work on flooring and walls. We’ll be tapping our previous helpers, and hoping those of you who’ve not joined us will jump in, too!

Happy New Year and Happy 2017 to all of our readers near and far! I posted on January 1st on my Facebook page that my wish for the new year was to celebrate my birthday this fall in the living room of our completed project. Here’s hoping! At the very least, I hope we get Phase 1 complete (or at least habitable) before our rental lease is up at the end of May. It will be so much easier to work on Phase 2 once we are living there, not to mention saving a bunch of cash by not paying rent.





Current status

Hi all,

I know it’s been a while since we posted anything substantial. In case you missed it, check out my husband’s previous post for the final plans for phase one of our project!

We have been really busy working on the space of one of our tenants (the fancy law office), upgrading and fixing their office before their grand opening. We still have a few more items to tick off her list.

Our current projects with the upstairs of the loft are finding a fire suppression/sprinkler system installation company, continuing the roof/ceiling structural improvements in the phase 1 section of the building, and occasionally working on sanding layers upon layers of paint off of historic solid doors. Our first quote for the fire suppression system was off the charts, so we’re hoping that we can get a better deal.

As soon as we settle on a fire suppression system, and schedule the installation, we’ll be tapping our network of helpers. Our next big demo will require a HUGE workforce. We’ll be tearing out the ceiling of our tenant who owns the woodworking shop, as well as the front stairs (we are making them less steep by adding a landing and a turn halfway up). Our goal is to get the fire suppression installed within a week, so as not to inconvenience our tenant. The following weekend, we’ll need a ton of folks to help us build a new ceiling for the tenant, and rebuild the stairwell.

If you’ve not helped out yet on a Demo Weekend, we would love to have you. As always, we provide food, beer, and lodging, and you bring clothes to get dirty in.

Slowing down

So, as many of our readers know, it has been unusually hot here in central Texas. While many other parts of the country have started to cool off, we are still in the 90’s every day, and not getting out of the 70’s at night. This makes it very challenging to work in the loft, even early in the day. Consequently, work has been slowing down somewhat.

We need to do masonry, but that’s an all-day job – once we mix a batch of mortar, we need to use it all up. Heath is doing a side project of stripping the paint off of the doors, but it is extremely slow work. He’s still not finished the first door – and we have 30. We’re determined to reuse all of them, though. They’re great heavy soundproofed doors.


Heath scrapes paint stripper off the trim on our first door. He’s already done the other side of this one. Doesn’t it look lovely?

We’ve also been doing minor structural reinforcements to the roof as required by the structural engineer.

Oh! And as of this Thursday, we SHOULD have a completely leak-proof roof! YAY! No more problems dumping water on our neighbors, no more leaking into our tenants’ spaces! And when we finish renovating the upstairs, we don’t have to worry about all of our hard work getting leaked on, either. Yaaaay!!

Really what we’re waiting for is the plans from the architect for the layout of the fire sprinkler system, plumbing and electrical for the two apartments on the east side of the building. Once we have those, we’ll be working with our very patient tenants, Kulow’s Woodworks and Chiropractics, to tear down the drop ceiling in their retail space, and replace it, adding the sprinkler system as we go. We’ll also be cutting in to their space slightly to alter the rise of the stairwell that comes out on Main Street. Once we get their ceiling in, we can worry about plumbing, electric, insulation, and then replacing the floors in the east wing, building walls, oh…. I’m getting ahead of myself again.

One of our other projects is updating the office of our lawyer tenant. We’ll be turning our attention to repairs caused by the leaky roof. Luckily Heath is able to do all of the repairs himself. We’ll also be trying our hand at tiling, tackling both the breakroom of the office, and the front stoop. For the latter, we’ve decided to go with a really classic black and white hexagon “penny” tile that was first popular a century ago.

I think that’s about it for now. Nearly every weekend for the foreseeable future we’ll be working up at the loft. If you want to try your hand at masonry, or help us with various other projects, we’d love to have your help, and will bend over backwards to house and feed you. Just let us know which weekend we should make up the spare bed. 😉

Construction Permit Obtained! YES!

We got a wonderful surprise yesterday: our construction permit from the city! The previous permit we have is for demolition (which we’ll still be finishing on the western 2/3rds, but we’re not there yet). Now we have a construction permit, which means we can move forward with structural repairs, and then electric and plumbing, and then floor insulation, and then the floors, and then, and, and, and… just so exciting!

In other news, we finally re-keyed the side door to the building on St. Charles Street! No more running up the front stairs, running across the loft, and running down the back stairs to open the side door. Eventually we’ll be replacing this door with a much nicer one. We needed to have easy access to the side stairs because we’ll soon be tearing out the front stairs and reworking them to make them more shallow with a second landing, and we needed an alternate way to get into the building.


Buchanan Locksmith services hard at work.

What’s on the agenda for this weekend? Masonry! My friend Kirsti’s dad, Frank, is coming again to help us fill in holes. My husband Heath will be working on odds and ends related to structural repairs. Want to help out? We could use it. No experience needed, just show up at Zeiss Lofts Saturday morning. 😉

Last, but definitely not least, we’ve finally found a roofer who will do all that’s needed for our roof, and at a decent price, without forcing us to redo the entire roof. Assuming the weather cooperates, the repairs will be done next week, including fixing some small but significant leaks, and upgrading the rear gutters.