Fall update – lots of news

Shockingly, I don’t have photos on our progress, not because there hasn’t been any, but because we’ve been so incredibly busy.

As many of you know, we suffered some damage from hurricane Harvey last month. Our roofer has been remiss in coming to fix leaks that we told him about in June. So of course we had leaks during the hurricane. Also, one of those leaks trickled all the way down to one of our tenant’s offices, ruining the window trim and framing. We’ll have to replace that, but as of this posting, I’m STILL waiting to get our roof repairs finished!

Our biggest, most time-consuming construction job has been masonry. It’s just a slow and tedious process, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We also got lintels to support our apartment’s front door, so there’s really only a bit of brick-laying left to do.

Another huge issue is fire suppression – both literally and figuratively. I’ve been doing the run around between getting estimates from contractors and the city fire marshal and our architect, and it is hard getting a clear answer on what is required for our structure. Needless to say, we’ve gotten wildly varying quotes from $25,000 to $70,000. Tomorrow the city fire marshal, our architect, and I will be having a meeting to try to iron all of this out. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Of course we want our building to be safe, but not with unnecessary extra added lines and cost.

Last, but definitely not least, we are moving! Not to the lofts, obviously, but we will be leaving our large rental townhouse next to downtown.  When we first moved here, we thought we’d only be renting for a year or two. We have the sweetest landlords now, but it comes down to finances. Instead of continuing to chuck rent money into a property that isn’t ours, Heath ran the numbers, and found that if we could get the right house for the right price, we’d not only cut our monthly payment for residence significantly, we’d be getting something for it: equity and future investment.

So, just on a whim, really, we searched for houses that were for sale in town with enough bedrooms, and at a price that would allow us to cut costs. There was really only one that fit the bill, and last week we signed on it! Homeowners again! Yay! As you might have guessed, we got the house for a low price because it is a fixer-upper. Luckily the items that we need to update can be taken care of in a much faster amount of time than at the loft. We aim to do about 2/3rds of our list before we move in, and then pick away at the rest month-by-month. Which puts our moving date somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

It’s a cute house with loads of personality that just needs some love. The kids are already head-over-heels for it, and the hardest part so far has been prioritizing the renovations. Luckily, we’ve got loads of renovation experience under our belts right now, so we’re up to the task, and excited for the change.

After we are settled in, work will resume on the loft. My hope is that by the time we are ready to get back to the loft, we’ll have selected our fire suppression contractor, and they will have completed the installation. Hopefully. :/


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!


I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m so excited: after receiving several offers on our house, yesterday we picked one! We are elated! If all goes well, we will close in early June, allowing our eldest to finish his school year at his current school.

We’ve also found a lovely townhouse to rent in Brenham while we do our renovations on the Zeiss Building. It just happens to be a short walk from the Zeiss Building, making it very easy for us to access it when we need to. Plus, it has space for us to house guests – those of our family and friends who said they wish to help with renovations will have a free place to stay! Yay!

And lastly, we submitted our project to a list of architects in the Brenham area, and have already received some responses. Once we settle on an architect, and have a price estimate on construction costs, we’ll be able to apply for our construction loan. First order of business will be to hire professionals to remove the lead paint and asbestos. Then, we (and hopefully friends and family) will do most, if not all, of the deconstruction.

So, between now and the middle of June, we’ll be busy packing, cleaning, and unpacking.

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!”

First Hit to the Wallet

So, in order to add to the down-payment for the Zeiss building, we pulled a hefty amount from our savings and retirement. Anywho, today we started our taxes, and it is pretty grim, like five-figure grim. We were expecting a hit, however, and still have two months worth of rent checks coming in from our business renters before our taxes are due to make up the difference between what we owe, and what we had already set aside. Next year’s taxes won’t be so bad, and the year after that we should really be ahead, assuming we are able to build and fill all three of the upper level apartments.

This Saturday we are making a trek out to Brenham to drop another load of our things into storage, and to show a friend of ours the building. If you want to help us load or unload and get a tour of the building, drop me a line. The weather is unfortunately looking ominous for our area and Brenham, so we’re not sure yet if we’ll be renting a truck or borrowing a pickup.