Summer Sweating!

As usual, I’m remiss on updating. We’ve been enjoying our summer so far – hope you have, too. Even with the heat, we’ve managed to get more work done.  Let’s back up a bit, first, though.

On Memorial Weekend, we had our dear friends, the Shelbourne family, back again, and they, with the Tavary family helped us do jobs that we could not do alone. The first picture is of Heath and Scott driving supports into the rear wall so we could finish the flooring in the south east corner of the building. It was hard work, drilling through age-old brick while on a narrow scaffold, but they got it done.

Charity is pictured here, working on the seemingly never-ending task of masonry. We just can’t finish framing walls until we get this masonry finished!

We had such a big crew that instead of our usual stack of pizzas, I ordered ahead for the biggest sandwich I’ve ever seen in my life! I think everyone was happy (and tired of pizza, LOL!).

Another completed job is decking for the AC unit for the two-bedroom apartment. While we will have lovely exposed beams in the living room and kitchen for this apartment, the hallway, bathrooms and laundry room will be a regular height ceiling to accommodate the AC unit, ductwork, electrics, and whatever else we need to hide.

If you are friends with us on Facebook, you also saw that our first set of windows was delivered and installed! Yay! Final caulking and installation of a sloping metal plate to prevent water damage happened today (no pictures of that latter work yet).

These upstairs ones are the three windows that were replaced (note to self – need to get exterior “after” photos).

We plan to replace the original trim work (too many layers of toxic paints and damage to save most of them). We have a few samples left that we can use as templates to recreate the original. Sorry the photo is a little bright, but here’s what it will eventually look like. The rosette square will go in the top two corners with the moulding running down either side and the top. We will be crafting new windowsills. We’ll probably not paint the trim, but use a similar stain as in the photo (maybe a little lighter?).

Unfortunately, we’ve been having more leaks!! Luckily, the warranty on our roof repairs from earlier this year has covered all of the work. Some of them are new leaks, and some old. One of them is really worrisome, located in the smaller bedroom of the two-bed apartment. We’ll be adding framing and flooring somewhat soon, so we need to get that fixed. There’s a challenge with the flashing on where the roof connects to our 3-story neighbor, but luckily our neighbors are willing to work with us and our roofer.

When we started to work on the area where our apartment door will be, we realized that we needed to cut in to the flooring, and figure out the final height for everything. Of course we want the hallway outside of our apartment to line up with the door and our interior. Doors will be installed soonish (see next paragraph), so we have to make sure to give room for the door to open inwards. Here’s a photo of what we had to cut, and the debris. I’m just amazed at the number of layers in what was previously the main dance floor.

That’s a lot of room for insulation, running pipes and electricity, and we’ll still probably end up raising our floor to ceiling dimensions.

Don’t worry, we’ll be piecing that gorgeous flooring back together again! None of it is getting thrown out. My job will be to sort the pile for later use, and pull nails.

Lastly… masonry. Oh bricks, you tiresome bricks! To do it right, we have to make sure everything is lined up as we go. It is just so slow-going, and the masonry is holding up pretty much everything else. Once we finish the masonry, we can frame the last few walls of phase 1. Once we frame the walls, we can get them treated for termite prevention, run the electric, set up the AC, finish the plumbing, install drywall, install doors, install rear windows, install insulation… uggh! So right now, it’s just masonry holding us up. Oh, and nailing down a fire sprinkler contractor – so many challenges to that.

In closing, I’ll leave you with an updated 4-Corners Collage. Lots of fun, since now we have some walls blocking our “view” and it is no longer wide open in phase 1. Not much has changed on the west side of the building, though. Except more debris.

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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.

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:

Floors coming up

We decided to post-pone the removal of the middle section of ceiling for now for a variety of reasons, and have gotten started on carefully removing the floor beams in the eastern third of the building. This eastern third will eventually contain the efficiency apartment and the two-bedroom apartment that we’ll be opening up to lease to the public. Take a look:

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View of the back room (south-east corner). After we redo the floors and seal them, the windows will go, and this whole area will be a deck (foreground), part of a bedroom for the two-bed apt (middleground), and a small balcony for the two-bed apt.

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Closer view of the back room. Unfortunately, the ceiling in the shop below is in very poor shape. But on the up side, we will be able to access everything underneath this third of the building easily, replacing the ceiling for the tenant in the process.

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View looking into the rear-room. You can see that it is slightly higher right now. We’ll be lowering it to meet with the rest of the building.

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At the top of the stairs (left side of photo) coming up from Main Street, floor boards are slowly being removed to expose the beams. A temporary walk-way has been created with some recycled plywood boards.

At this point, our plan seems to be that we’ll be completely building out the eastern third of the building so that these two living spaces are complete. We’ll then put most of our belongings into storage, and live in these two spaces while we finish completing our own space. Of course, plans may change. But that’s what we’re thinking right now.

The big question is when. We still don’t know. As the months get hotter, it will become much more difficult to work up in the loft for any length of time. We’re trying to avoid as many social commitments as we can for the month of May so we can spend every spare minute picking away at the structure. I’d like to hope that we’d be finished with the eastern section by the end of November, but I could be severely under-estimating our progress.

In the next few weeks we’re supposed to have our next meeting with our architect, which will also include a consultation with his structural engineer. We’ll be examining all of the beams that have been exposed in the ceiling and in the floor, and any plan of action that might be needed. So far, in our uneducated opinion, our girl looks great! There’s one beam that is badly damaged by termites that will need to be replaced. And another beam got butchered where an over-zealous plumber got really creative installing indoor plumbing. But other than that, we seem to be okay so far.

As usual, if you have some free time on a weekend, we’d love to have some help. You don’t need experience, just a willingness to work. We’ll feed you, give you a place to sleep if you are coming in from out of town.