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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Holding Pattern

So, a lot of you have been asking what’s going on with the renovations?

First, how about the results of our most recent demo day:

View from the front stairs, facing south.

View from the front stairs, facing south.

View of the rear section of the building, facing east.

View of the rear section of the building, facing east.

Junk-free floor after filling up two dumpsters. View facing north.

Junk-free floor after filling up two dumpsters. View facing north.

To sum up, the entire eastern third of the building has officially completed the demolition phase. Yay!!! This means that we are now in the process of working on getting our construction permits for this section of the building. This “eastern third” will contain the efficiency apartment and the two bedroom apartment that we’ll be renting out in the future. We have demolition permits, but have to apply separately for our construction permits. Right now, we’re waiting for the structural engineer and our architect to get us the final construction plans for these two smaller apartments. Waiting… lots of waiting.

As soon as we have our plans in hand, we can go through the approval process from the city to get our construction permits. We’re hoping that it won’t take very long, but these things never go quickly.

Hopefully we can begin construction soon and are now aiming to complete the efficiency apartment and two bedroom apartment by the end of November. After these two apartments are completed, we can continue demolition of the western two-thirds of the building – this is the section that will contain our living space. For demolition, we’ll need to remove the remaining ceiling planks, and remove all of the flooring. Here’s hoping that will happen by the end of January. Then construction can begin on our new home!

What are we doing in the meantime? Well, truthfully, it was nice to take a break for a few weekends. There’s lots of fun to be had in Brenham in the summer, such as the Hot Nights Cool Tunes concert series every Saturday in downtown during July. We’re also taking the time to fix tenant issues, as well as reorganize our downstairs storage area to better accommodate items for the period where we’ll be living in the two small apartments and renovating the big one. Yesterday my husband Heath and I worked all day adding new shelves and moving some extraneous items over to the storage area.

We’re also working to organize our interior design, starting to pick styles, fixtures, tiles, wall colors, etc. We’re researching important stuff like fire sprinkler systems, insulation between apartments, where we’re going to locate AC units and water tanks, and so much more. We also have to start considering the exterior, though that probably won’t happen until late 2017 or early 2018.

So, even if we’re not physically working on the building for the next few weeks, we’re still ticking items off our lists. We’ll update again once we know more about our construction permits.

Even More Destruction!

Okay, not really destruction, but selective removal of wooden components for use in the future. I missed updating last week, so the pictures below will show two weeks worth of work.

On a side note, we picked up a new tool that it bonkers fun to use! I wish we had bought this way back at the beginning! The Air Locker AP700 is the best tool I’ve found to remove nails! It has an air actuated piston that punches the nail back out of the wood. On thin lumber, it will shoot the nail out of the wood, across the room, bounce off the wall, and come back to hit you in the chest. Don’t ask me how I found this out. Oh, and make sure you’re not aiming the board towards your feet or… crouch area. We’ll chalk these up to OTJ training. On thicker lumber (2x), it will punch a driven nail out so you can grab it with the crowbar. All you need is a little bit of the nail sticking out of the bottom so you can aim and pull the trigger. Anyone planning on recycling lumber, I highly recommend you get this little guy. We picked ours up off Amazon for under $60.

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AirLocker – Get yours TODAY!

I started where we left off with the porch ceiling/floor. I still can’t believe this structure was/is still standing with the original rafters/joists in place. The best I can guess is these have to be over 100 years old. All the ends where they connect into the wall are heavily rotted and only being held in place by luck. The hard part here is working over an existing shop that is in operation. As you can see, our renters, Mr. & Mrs. Kulow operate two business below. On is Mr. Kulows wood working office and the other is Mrs. Kulow Chiropractic office.  Trying very hard not to drop anything on their heads!

A special thanks to the Tavary family for all their help! Once again, they have been more than helpful in this project. We never could have gotten this far with out their help!

By the end of these last two weeks, I would say we’ve removed 2/3rds of the apartment flooring and 2/3rds of the old ceiling/flooring structure.

Under the front room flooring, we’ve had some good news and some bad news. Good news is that “sometime” in the past (guessing before 1930’s) structural steel columns & beams & a big 9×9 solid wood center beam were added to the flooring structure.

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BEAMS

This has really beefed up the structure, to the point that (I believe) we will pass the structural review by the licensed engineer without having to add anything to the floor. Still waiting on that report. Based upon those findings, I put together a quick sketch (Floor Joist Details ) on how I thought I could finish out the ceiling below and the floor above. And now for the bad news (maybe, still researching). After running it by our Architect, she had to say the dreaded words “fire code”. She is doing the research, but believes that their can not be non-sprinkled voids between two different zones. So, we may have to rip the ceiling off of Mr. & Mrs. Kulows place and attach it directly to the floor joists. I broke the news to Mr. & Mrs. Kulow and they were quite happy to work with me on this. Currently they have a drop ceiling in place, and would be happy to have the extra 3 feet of vertical height and insulated structures to limit their HVAC bills! It actually could become quite a design feature with the structural steel beams showing.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. Here’s some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

 

From existing to missing!

Slowly this floor is coming up. We’ve finally learned how to remove it quickly without causing major damage. Would you believe the sledgehammer is the answer?

And for last, I leave you with cuteness overload!

Guess What Day it is!

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My lovely wife more than happy to stop by Chip & Joanna Gains place (Magnolia Market) in Waco, TX to peruse and pick up some clothing. As readers may remember, we tried to get their show Fixer Upper to come down and do our project. Unfortunately, they declined our request, as they did not want to leave their base in Waco.

Saturday was a family day, with Dance recitals for our daughter and a birthday party for our eldest son, so I was only able work at the Loft on Sunday. Started at 8 am trying to get to the cool part of the day, but it was no use. The Texas heat is upon us for now, with a big touch of the Gulf Coast Humidity, making the upstairs one big sweat bath. I did get some accomplished, but had to take lots of breaks and gallons of water to survive. Hopefully we get a cool weather break soon.

The only cool find I discovered was an old 1940s lighbulb fixture still wired into the knob and tube wiring system.

Sunday I worked on the back porch rooms. When we pulled up the flooring, we discovered the structure to be dangerously rotted. We will have to pull all the wooden floor and flooring structure down and build it back up properly. It appears that the back porch was “fixed” in 1999, based upon the date stamps on the newer lumber pulled up, but it was only a BandAID.

As you can see in the next few pictures, I have to first pull up the 2x12s, then take out the 2×6 “old ceiling” sloped rafter and then take out the 2×6 “old ceiling” joist. Under that is a 2×4 ceiling joist with 1×8’s nailed at a spacing for old acoustic tile (now missing). All of these are tied together with vertical nailers and cross bracing between the old 2×6 joists. The 6 sections I removed took me 8 hours. I left the 2×4 ceiling to be removed from the downstairs.

We’re going to try and salvage as much of the 2x6s as possible, as they appear to be old growth lumber, judging on how heavy the beams were trying to pull them out. And of course we will reuse the 2x12x18′ beams. Reuse and recycle, that’s the game on this project. Not only to be a little bit green, but most important for me, to save money!

Speaking of saving money, if anyone has these type of 4x8x2 red bricks, please send them my way. We have a lot of holes in the brick walls that need filled in. Many Thanks in Advance!

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And Finally, here are the after pictures, kindly taken by my eldest: