Progress!

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Finally opened up doorway from front to back area on west side of building.

We’ve been super busy having two of our three children in school and in extra-curricular activities. But that doesn’t mean that our renovation project has come to a standstill. We’ve made some progress and have started some forward momentum.

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Our two youngest play with a bag of toys we discovered in a sealed cabinet.

First, we’ve picked our architect: Upchurch Architects, Inc.  We really like their style, and their passion for restoring the past and bringing new life into Brenham. We’ve already had a few meetings with them, and plans are slowly starting to take shape. The planning is very complicated for many reasons. The challenges include working in a perfectly square space, floors at different levels, a few permanent walls that can’t be moved or removed, giving access to both stairwells, and having an entire side of the building without windows (the wall that connects to the building next door).  We think that Mr. Upchurch and his team are up to the challenge, however, as evidenced by his past work.

We’re also in the process of setting up the lead paint and asbestos removal. We’ve had three companies evaluate our project. All have said that pretty much all of the walls, and sadly all of the trim has to go due to lead paint. Unfortunately the cost to remove the paint from all of the trim would be astronomical. Luckily, most of the trim we should be able to recreate. There are a few doors and doorknobs we’ll have to remove ourselves and have a wood specialist take care of, such as the adorable Dutch (split) door in the kitchen. The asbestos spots are very small, and they appear to be the easy part of the job.

Once the lead paint and asbestos has been removed, we’ll be setting up work weekends, where we’ll ask friends and family to come down and help with deconstruction and even some of the renovations. We’re hoping to get all of the deconstruction and window replacement done during the winter months, because it gets so super hot up there right now. If you are interested in helping, just drop me a line.

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We have discovered more areas where there are original wood floors. Yay!

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And the best find yet was when my husband uncovered a plain dry-wall column to discover this bead-board treasure underneath!

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Unfortunately, someone destroyed the lower half of it, and damaged it significantly when they added electrical. We hope we can remove the plug and wiring and restore the column as it was originally.

 

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We’ve also run into a problem. We were hoping to leave all of the brick exposed as we uncovered it, rather than putting it back behind drywall. Unfortunately, when we started tearing off some of the walls, we noticed that the brick is very dry and crumbly. If you just gently run your fingers across it, dust will come off on your hand. We’ll have to seal the brick with a special process, and may have to consider covering up some of it with dry wall.

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And lastly we popped open a cabinet above a closet that had previously been sealed shut with paint. Inside we found all sorts of odds and ends, including a really nice volleyball net, an angel food cake pan, a grocery bag full of parts for a children’s train set (practically new!), a box with someone’s baseball cap collection (nothing seemed notable, other than the smell – hoping nothing is dead at the bottom), three brand-new professional sling-shots, a nearly flat bean-bag, and a bag of just an odd assortment of junk. Surprisingly, nothing was dusty, moldy, or eaten by bugs or mice – it seems the cabinet truly got sealed up with paint, probably since the 1980’s.

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That’s all for now. Hopefully our next update will have pictures of the project after the lead paint and asbestos removal.

It’s Official!

The next step in our journey has begun. We now have a “For Sale” sign in front of our house in Conroe. We’re so excited about our future adventures in Brenham, but it will be hard to leave our house. With the exception of our year and a half spent living in Switzerland, we’ve lived here in this house for nearly 11 years. We’ve had two dogs, two cats, and three kids. We’ve made dear friends of most of our immediate neighbors, who coincidentally each have children close in ages to our own. We also have many friends in the area that we will dearly miss.

We’ve been spending the past few months de-cluttering, cleaning (those Magic Erasers are the bomb!), painting, sorting, and slowly filling up a storage unit in Brenham with our things. We’ve still got more to do, but after talking with our realtor, we reached a point where the house was acceptable to show, and the sign went up on Thursday. On Friday we had one showing. On Saturday we had another, and on Sunday, we had THREE showings! I took up an offer from a friend of crashing at her house for a few hours on Sunday, and her three children and mine had a blast playing on their huge property. They even have chickens!

Toddler vs Chicken

Anyway, back to the house. We’ve still got some de-cluttering to do, plus a lot of things hiding in closets and under beds. We’ve had the living room repainted a nice tame boring beige, and right at this moment, I’m taking a break from painting the connecting hallway the same color. The kitchen is a huge painting project that I’m dreading and hoping we can pay someone to do. I will need to borrow an extension ladder to do the dining room, and then we’ll move on to the floors. We’ll stretch and clean the carpets for now. If we have trouble selling it, we might replace some of the carpet with hardwood. And if all else fails, we’ll have to redo the kitchen countertops and cabinets. Big ugh!

So, my break is up – back to painting. If you have any good home-selling juju to spare, send it our way! The higher price we get for our home, the more money we’ll have to put towards construction!

Polite “No”

So, as you all know, we’ve been attempting to see if any DIY shows wish to document our unique renovation. Up until today, we felt like we were blindly throwing our project into the ether. Our most recent submission was to a favorite show of ours, Grand Designs, which shows on BBC. We got hooked on it when we lived overseas in Switzerland (admittedly, our choices of English-language television were slim, but we sought out the show when we could). We’d started watching it again recently using our Roku device. Basically, the host, a licensed architect, follows a project for years, and it is always something completely unusual, like ruins of a castle, or someone turning an old chapel into a home. And it always is a monumental renovation. Sounds a bit familiar, right? A few days ago I submitted an email with all of our project information, photos, etc. We really are a perfect fit for the format of the show. Except for one key thing – we’re not in the UK. But, it was worth a shot. This morning I received a very nice email from a representative for the show confirming that they have no plans to film in the US at this time. But it was a personal reply! From a real person! A first! None of the other shows we have submitted our project to have sent us anything more than an automatic reply thanking us for our submission. I’m not sure if I should just keep resubmitting our project until we get a personal response or what. If you have thoughts on that, please leave them in the comments. In other news, we’ve begun the final push to get things ready for putting our house here in Conroe on the market. We decided to spend our spring break at home, working on the interior and exterior. Other than our eldest’s birthday on Saint Paddy’s Day, we have no plans. With any luck in another week or two, we’ll have a sign out front. Our hope is to find a buyer that will allow us to remain in the house until the end of the school year. However, if the perfect buyer comes along (i.e. one that wants to pay full price), we’ll figure something out. The more money we make on the house sale, the better construction loan we’ll be able to get, which will of course, make it easier for our renovation plans. So, send us all of your good mojo for selling our house! Hopefully my next update will be titled “Sold!”