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.

Advertisements

Busy Busy Dizzy Dizzy

Our renovation project work has been super busy this week, though most of the progress has been made in the planning area. Emails are flying back and forth between us and our architect, the structural engineer, and the city so fast I can barely keep up. We’ve gotten our structural improvement plans for the eastern third of the building (where the two bedroom and efficiency apartment will go) through the first level of approval by the city. And details are being worked on to lay out the plumbing and electrical. We are also getting our quotes for fire suppression as required by the city because our building is both commercial and residential.

Putting in a fire sprinkler system will be fairly uncomplicated in the eastern third of the building, since we are already going to be replacing the old drop-ceiling in our wood repair shop tenant’s business. The challenging part will be next year, when we have to rip in to already existing ceilings of the dance studio and law office. But we’ll worry about that later.

This past weekend, the father of one of my closest friends came to share his masonry expertise with us. Frank, the masonry expert, and my husband, Heath, tore down several existing brick sections that needed to be leveled for doorways. They also started filling in some of the holes in walls with reclaimed brick. Check it out:

20160823_120916

First hole completely filled! Small hole that is in a wall between a kid’s bedroom and the bedroom of the two-bed apartment. I think there was previously a vent pass-through here.

20160823_120948

Originally a window opening, we are filling this in as it is going to be the back of a closet in one of the kid’s bedrooms.

20160823_121059

Needed to remove brick from another window opening to go down to the sub-flooring.

20160823_121107

This is yet another window opening that we broke open the bottom all the way down to the level of the floor joists.

Shout out to our crew of teenagers and friends for helping us haul TWO pallets of “Old Chicago” reclaimed bricks from the sidewalk up into the loft! Thanks Tavary Family and Kulow Kids! I don’t have a picture of the kids, unfortunately, but look at all of these bricks we hauled! And this photo is only half the load! Did I mention that there is no elevator? Basically, we start with a wheelbarrow at the top of the back stairs, and a line of people on the stairs passing bricks one-by-one up to the top. Once the wheelbarrow is full, one of us jogs it over to the designated drop area (needed to balance the floor load), another few folks unload it, the wheelbarrow goes back empty, and the process starts all over again. A bit tedious, but it’s the only way.

20160823_120855

This photo shows only half the load! There were more stacks to the right.

Oh, and this was only two of a total of seven pallets that we’ll eventually need. Can’t overload the floors with too many bricks, plus there’s not really enough room for that many. Luckily the brick company (Rudloff Bricks – great team!) will hold on to the rest of ours until we need another load delivered.

So, our current weekend job is filling holes in walls with bricks, and performing necessary structural improvements dictated to us by the structural engineer. Any one wanting to try their hand at masonry is welcome to come on over! 😀 And those of you who have been to demo days know that we’re not kidding.

P. S. I suffered my second job injury (the first was getting my feet tangled up in old wiring, and falling very hard on my left knee). Twofold stupid: I was wearing sandals, not my work boots, because it was supposed to be a quick meeting with the brick company representative and our master mason – and I wasn’t paying attention. There’s a missing floor plank in the very middle of the building. I stepped right into it with my right foot almost up to my hips. Oddly enough, I was saved by my phone, which was in a side cargo pocket, and prevented me from going all the way down. The phone bruised me badly, and I got scraped up on either sides of my leg. Thank goodness for my friend Heather’s homemade skin healing lotion! So… wear proper footwear, and pay attention, kids.

20160823_120910

My bruise, several days later, from the phone saving me. Thanks, Otterbox! And you can see a nearly-healed scrape on the bottom of the leg (Thanks again, Heather!).

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.

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:

20160502_160831

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.

20160502_160856

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.

20160502_160917

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.

20160502_160939

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.

Post-Demo Results and Finds

We’ve got some great progress to share from our demo weekend. I can’t think of why I haven’t taken my wide-angle lens to the loft before to take photos, but I did yesterday. Perhaps those who have never seen our project in person can better see the scope of it now. I took a shot standing in each corner, and you can really see how much work has been done.

IMG_7715_02

View from the north-east corner, ceilings gone all the way!

IMG_7717_02

View from the North-west corner: ceilings gone for most of this section. You can see that ceilings still need to be removed in the middle. Also, some of the dropped ceiling still remains in the right back-ground. To the left is all of our lumber. To the right is debris that will end up in a dumpster on our next demo-day.

IMG_7719_02

View from south-west corner: in the foreground on left are some tools and metal cabling (the latter being saved for recycling). Beyond the red tool case is the debris pile. To the right, just out of sight is the back stairwell, and the doorway leading to the back room which will be the future deck.

IMG_7721_02

View from the south-east corner: all of the ceiling has been removed. We’ll remove the rafters but keep the roof. Floor will be re-done. Back wall/windows on left will go, replaced with wrought iron railing. This area is our (and another apartment’s) future back covered deck.

And I think that’s about it. Before we pull down the remaining section of ceiling, we are going to skip ahead and pull out the flooring! Ha! We want to start exposing some areas for the structural engineer, plus we need to start streamlining the process of restoring our flooring, especially on the east-side of the building, where it isn’t as well-kept. After we remove a section of the flooring, we’ll partially cover the opening with some temporary plywood so we can move all of the lumber out of the way of the ceiling demolition. And after the final ceiling is removed, we’ll move on to the floors – can’t wait to see what we find under there!

Speaking of finds, here’s some of our found objects of the weekend.

IMG_7724

Metal fuse boxes and we found Prince Albert’s can!

IMG_7725

After Heath went and bought needed extra hammers for the crew, a hammer fell out of the ceiling. Seriously. Looks like the end was sawn off.

IMG_7728

Difficult to see in the photo, but it says “Belknap” on the top, “Trade” on the left, “Mark” on the right, “Bluegrass” in the middle, and “Louisville” on the bottom. Probably 1930’s to maybe as late as 1960’s era.

IMG_7729

And as usual, a ton more hand-wrought square-head nails. I’m saving them for lots and lots of future craft and art projects.

That’s all for now, folks. We’ll be picking away at smaller projects just about every weekend we can, so if you are interested in taking a whack at some demolition, just let us know. And keep watching this space and your Facebook Events page for the next demo day! Thanks for keeping up with our project.

Demo Day Review

Saturday was a blazing day with a full crew of people. Unfortunately, we lost a few folks due to injuries and weather threats, so Sunday went a bit more slowly. The upside is, 4/5ths of the ceiling is now down, with only the last section in the middle to go. That includes two heavy air conditioning units hanging from the ceiling. But that’s in the future. Let’s share what we just did. First, the fun stuff.

We had one last “dropped” ceiling hiding the real ceiling that needed to go. It was barely attached to the last remaining non-brick wall, so the guys decided they could just yank the entire dropped ceiling down instead of piece-by-piece. It was by far the faster and easier route, and also a bit more amusing. Also mildly dangerous. Check out this video by our friend and one of our lovely volunteer workers, Miranda:

(Charity had some great videos, too, but you’ll have to be a friend of hers on Facebook).

Here’s some shots of us in action throughout the day:

20160416_093516

First find of the day: bird skeleton number 374

20160416_093647

Scott gets started on the ceiling in the northeast room of the building.

20160416_093704

Kaylea and Connor pull nails from reusable lumber.

20160416_093713

Heath had to build more saw horses because we had so many crew members.

20160416_093746

Mike sticks his head up in the southeast room’s ceiling.

20160416_093806

Miranda knows that Charity’s beatings of Zad will continue until morale improves.

20160416_130016

Zad and Charity take a much-deserved break.

20160416_140444

Scott is a prime example of how filthy things got. There was a lot of nasty dirt and debris under the rear room ceiling.

20160416_140527

And I do mean filthy… the clean part is where his glove stopped.

I’ve got pictures of the final results of this weekend coming up soon!

Much thanks to the Shelbourne Family, the Tavary Family, the Norris/Jackson Family, Miranda, and Jill who all helped out whether it was actual demolition, cooking, or keeping the kiddos out of our hair.

We’ll definitely be doing more demo weekends in upcoming months, hopefully before it gets too hot. Just keep watching this space for more details and/or your Facebook Events page.