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. ūüėČ


Four Corners


I don’t have some fancy video software for morphing pictures, so here’s my best take on it. I’ve been taking a shot from each of the four corners of the interior of the building periodically to keep track of the progression. The three consistent dates I have so far are:

  • August 2014 – we first viewed the building when it was still for sale
  • November 2015 – after the¬†asbestos and lead paint removal
  • January 2016 – mid-demo, but before the big demo day

And here’s a description of the corners:

  • NE: This started out as a pink bathroom. In the first photo, I’m actually standing in a bathroom stall, and you can see some of the lead-paint pink stall on the left. Not much to see from this angle right now, but after those walls come down this weekend, you’ll likely be able to see all the way to the other end of the building.
  • NW: This is where I hope to have my corner office/craft room. I love that the windows look out on a pretty part of Main Street with a tree just below. This area held lots and lots of dances and balls at one time. In the second picture, the paint is stripped down to the plaster, and doors removed. And in the final one, we’ve got walls down.
  • SW: I’m standing in what possibly will be the master bath eventually. This room was carpeted, and there was a closet where I stood, which is now opened up. During the asbestos removal, the plaster was taken off the brick wall, and the lower half of the wall separating this area from the dance floor was removed as well. And the carpet, too. Then Heath got all of the ceiling tiles down (though, the dropped ceiling remains, and needs to go), as well as a whole bunch of pipes and electric lines.
  • SE: This was most recently a kitchen for a small apartment that was upstairs I think in the 80s. All of the lead paint was stripped, as well as the cabinets. I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the wall post-lead paint removal, because Heath took out the whole wall. Eventually this will be part of the deck belonging to one of the two apartments that we’ll be constructing in addition to our own.

So that’s all for now. Time to go clean house before house guests arrive on Friday.

Big Update

An update is long overdue here on our Zeiss Lofts blog. There’s so much news to report.

First of all, lead paint and asbestos removal is complete. Yay! The changes made inside the loft are astounding. Check it out:




With the removal of the window trim, our window situation has become a bit more urgent. This week we’re meeting with window contractors to get quotes for replacement. None of the windows can stay – they’re all a mess – but we’ll be giving them to a reconstruction company who can reuse them, rather than throwing them in a dumpster. Win!

Another important bit of news: we have received our first two building permits (you need a permit for every little thing, apparently). The first is for construction of a wall in the lower level storage area, at the back of the home health care office. We needed a secure place to store the doors and some of our tools, and eventually strollers, bikes, etc. The second permit is for DEMOLITION! Woot!

Which brings me to¬†the last¬†topic – labor. We will accept any and all assistance for labor, whether it be in the loft, or watching our kiddos while the both of us work. We’ll pay in room and board and beer or wine. Nearly every weekend for the foreseeable future we will be spending ¬†time up in the loft working. That’s where you, our friends and family, come in. If you offered to help, please get in touch with us to put you on the calendar.

Here’s some of the pictures from demolition today:


This pile doubled by the end of the day.


Found a pretty copper pipe.

There's a lack of connection between these two walls.

There’s a lack of connection between these two walls.

Nails found behind a wall, left from a previous project and walled up.

Nails found behind a wall, left from a previous project and walled up.

Fall Plans

So, I was so tired last night after all of the work we did over the weekend that I forgot to post what’s happening next at Zeiss Lofts.


Trim that will have to be removed (and then replaced) to make way for electric and plumbing lines.

This week we’ll have asbestos removal. I drove by the building this morning, and the crew was already there and working. There’s very little asbestos to remove, luckily. Next week they’ll be removing all of the lead paint.

After that, demolition officially begins! Hopefully we’ll soon have our final plans in hand from the architect. Walls will be exposed to the studs, trim removed where we need to run electrical lines, rip out all of the nasty old carpet, the ceiling will be exposed, and the floor needs to be carefully taken up so we can run plumbing and electrical lines.

To save money, we’ll be doing all of the demolition ourselves. And hopefully those of you who have offered to help can come do so. I’ll be posting work weekends as soon as we finalize a few more details. Demolition will likely continue thru January at least.

Stay tuned! Next post in about two weeks, hopefully with pictures post lead-paint removal!



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.


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.


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


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







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.



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.


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.



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