Author: Mike Burns


19 Jul and the Harvest Table winner is….!!!

Congratulations to John DeWolf! You are the winner of this beautiful hand crafted harvest table built here in the MRB Contracting wood shop. Please contact our Operations Manager,  Lindsay at 902.455.3202 for details on claiming your prize. Thanks to all of you who participated in our giveaway. As we stated in the original contest post last week, we will be making a series of these tables for sale. Below is a photo of our most recent addition - this one was also made with locally sourced pine -the aluminium legs were fabricated in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. For more information on this harvest table visit our shop page. ...

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MRB Contracting, dump trailers, housekeeping,

18 Jul Housekeeping: trailer makeovers

Even though we're as busy as usual, we have to take advantage of these warm sunny days to take care of our gear. Our two well-used dump trailers needed some maintenance.  From lubing up all the moving parts, to grinding off rust, to a fresh paint and wood panels, the trailers are getting complete makeovers. Nothing feels better than taking care of our tools. ...

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MRB Contracting, halifax nova scotia, contractor, builder,

16 Jul What our clients are saying

MRB's perfectionism is seen in every inch and corner of our cottage. Erica & Rick Baker The challenges of having renovations to a 20 year old home would have been daunting since my husband passed away, if not for the excellent consideration and professionalism taken by Mike Burns and his most efficient crew. Rosemary LeFresne ...

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MRB Contracting, halifax, nova scotia, custom furniture, harvest table


Want to win this table? This pine and aluminium harvest table was constructed in our woodshop using locally sourced lumber and metal fabrication. And we are giving it away via our Facebook page. The contest rules are easy: 'Like' our Facebook page Share the Harvest Table giveaway status update on your wall All entries will get their name into a hardhat We will choose  a winner when our page reaches 500 'Likes' or after 2 weeks Over the last few years MRB woodshop has produced various types of furniture . We’ve created giant outdoor tables from rough hewn lumber, the Station Chair, modern office desks featuring metal and wood, and finally the custom cabinetry we are well known for. Stay tuned for new pieces, or if you’d like us to build something for you, please contact us or stop by the office....

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MRB Contracting, Halifax renovations, contractors, custom carpentry

11 Jul Purcell’s Cove room makeover

Sometimes we get jobs that challenge our ingenuity. This was such a project. The upstairs room featured a large open area with low vaulted ceilings in various angles. On top of that, there were quite a few existing skylights. The task was to add a diving wall to create a new bedroom space - leaving the landing area as a den/sitting room. In addition, we needed to match the stain on the other doors and trim. In old homes such as this one it's rare to find square or straight lines anywhere. Steevo worked out the numbers to create a wall that would dissect the room in the most natural way - without interfering with the skylights and blending some angles to create a more uniform appearance. We painted the entire space for a fresh clean look. Matching a stain to an existing older look is quite tough. We think these turned out pretty well after two coats of stain and two coats of varnish.   Below are a few photos of the finished project. ...

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MRB Cotracting

09 Jul Staging

Contrary to how it may seem, this is not the set  of some construction themed Off-Broadway production. The fellas have been upgrading their safety training. This time around was a scaffolding safety course. More to come. ...

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MRB Contracting, renovations, halifax, nova scotia, contractors,

04 Jul West End Reno updates

You thought we'd forgotten didn't you? Nope. The West End reno is almost complete. In recent days most of the work has consisted of getting the electrical work, drywall, paint and other finishes compeleted. We did manage to get a few photos to keep you up to date. Next update we'll have photos of the amazing cabinets built in our wood shop. [caption id="attachment_2900" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Omar Gandhi photo[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2901" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Omar Gandhi photo[/caption] ...

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MRB Contracting, Halifax builders, renovations, epdm

27 Jun EPDM roof and deck reno

Below are a few photos of a small rooftop patio renovation. For a roof covering we used Firestone's EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) single-ply roofing system. While EPDM has been used in commercial applications for some time, its use on residential applications in our region is starting to take off. It's an easy to install, long lasting roofing membrane for low sloped roofs. Thanks to our friends at Keel Agencies for the support on this great product. Brian and Angus roll out the adhesive on the sheathing before installing the membrane. The deck construction consisted of a traditional design with pressure treated lumber to match the pre-existing structure. A new deck just in time for summer! ...

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25 Jun MRB featured in today posted an article today titled "Modern Architecture hits the prefab market." The article highlights the work of architect Nicholas Fudge and marketing guru Steve Chiasson of East Coast Modern Ltd. We are teaming up with East Coast Modern to be the exclusive builders of their ModPods. East Coast Modern has also teamed up with MRB Contracting Inc., the North End Halifax outfit headed by Michael Burns, to build the ModPods and HotMods and complete the finishing work on the ModHauses. We're excited to see the development of this initiative and its promise to make modern architecture accessible to a wider demographic. One of the first chances for Haligonians to catch a glimpse of an East Coast Modern design will be at the Canada Cup beach volleyball tournament (SandJam) on the Halifax waterfront. Photos from

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MRB contracting, east coast living magazine, Omar Gandhi

18 Jun East Coast Living cover!

MRB Contracting and architect Omar Gandhi's Fox Point project in Hubbards, Nova Scotia is featured on the cover of East Coast Living's summer 2013 issue. The Fox Point project in Hubbards has received plenty of attention internationally via Architecture Daily and dezeen Magazine. It's great to see the project on a Canadian publication as well.  Congratulations to Omar Gandhi for the well deserved accolades. ...

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MRB Contracting, woodshop, walnut cabinets, custom cabinets

13 Jun Walnut cabinet fabrication

Tom's been busy building some walnut veneer cabinets for a special project. As you can see in the photos below there are a whole heap of layers here that will eventually come together to make the boxes and doors for the cabinets. = In the detail below you can see how Tom added a hardwood strip to the edge of the ply doors. Then he uses a router to trim the edges flush with the door. From here on it's a lot of meticulous sanding. It's just bananas. ...

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11 Jun Sustainability and green building

Sustainability is: the capacity to endure. In our industry, as in many others, the words sustainable and green are often used as sales speak. Green marketing has become a powerful tool for selling products and often it takes reading between the lines to find out what makes a product or service ‘green’. Bamboo floors are a great example of faux sustainability claims. From the costs of shipping bamboo, to the questionable labour practices in the countries where it is produced, to the carcinogenic chemicals used to finish the product, bamboo is hardly a sustainable choice in Canada. Compare that to maple or birch hardwood floors made in Canada and the equation changes. Rather than focus our energies on building green homes, we strive to build homes that will last for generations. In doing so we choose materials and building processes with that goal in mind. We craft homes with energy efficiency and weather resistant characteristics. Our team pursues a high level of accuracy in every step of the building process to avoid performance failures in the future. The topic of green materials and processes is always hot in our office - we are constantly researching and testing new materials. And when one of our homes...

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MRB Contactractiing, West End Halifax, renovations

06 Jun West End Reno updates

The West End Reno exterior is close to completion.  Last week the guys installed the rest of the cladding - this time a galvanized corrugated material. Wood and metal come together well on this addition. As you can see in the photos, the windows were also installed. The big window took six guys to hoist into place.  More to come as the interior gets detailed. ...

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MRB Contracting, team, halifax ns

04 Jun Team Profiles: Angus Erskine

What's your name and job function? Angus Erskine, carpenter. Can you talk about your building trade background? I first got an interest in high school shop class. I completed the NSCC  carpentry program in 2012 and started working in construction. What's the most satisfying part of your job? The most satisfying part of the job is seeing the finished product and looking back on the trials and tribulations, the ups and the downs, and constantly trying to improve on what I've done. Favourite tool? My favourite tool is my Estwing catspaw. Best catspaw on site...

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MRB Contracting, modern architecture, kingsburg nova scotia, beach house

30 May Choices

There are million considerations when choosing to build a home. Budget is usually a primary factor in decision making. Followed by things like design, materials, energy efficiency, finishes, and so on. The point we're trying to make here is that having a choice is very important in the process. We don't necessarily agree with all of the ideas Catherine Mohr shares in the video below. What we do like is how she went about testing ideas and looking for the best options to fit her needs. We are so inundated with marketing that it's important to take a step back sometimes and to look at the numbers. We hope you enjoy this short TED talk on green building. ...

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28 May Certain Teed fascia and soffit installation

On this job the client wanted to install a Certain Teed PVC board for the fascia soffit and on his turn of the century home. We started by stripping down old material and nails. Where necessary we created framing for attaching the new soffit. The original home dates back to 1898 so in many cases our golden rule of keeping things level, plum and square was put to the test. [caption id="attachment_2710" align="aligncenter" width="478"] This is what the overhang on the front porch looked like before we started.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2712" align="aligncenter" width="512"] We framed down the rafters to match the heights of the the adjoining planes and to give us a level nailing surface.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2713" align="aligncenter" width="512"] And the finished result sans paint. A little primer and exterior trim paint and she'll be complete.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2717" align="aligncenter" width="510"] And just in case things got weird, we had security on site ensuring that the work got done. This little guy could look most adults in the eyes without a stepping stool.[/caption]...

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MRB Contracting, halifax nova scotia, contractor, builder,

23 May Ironstone update

It's been a while since our last Ironstone update. Lot's of work has happened inside, primarily insulation, electric and plumbing. Among the new changes out back are a new concrete drive shared between our office and the Ironstone home. On the office corner we created a form to cast our logo into the drive. [caption id="attachment_2662" align="aligncenter" width="510"] We chose to fence-in the back patio with plywood installed in a horizontal tile style. The plywood was treated with Lifetime to protect it from the elements. In a few weeks all of the ply will fade to an even gray.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2665" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The stairs and railings upstairs will also feature ply cladding.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2663" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Cool hardware. Below that colar is a long stainless steel pipe that goes down to the frostline.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2666" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Geometric lines accent a beautiful old tree.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2668" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Scott is decking the top floor on a sunny day.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2669" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Here Angus is installing the stair risers and treads.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2670" align="aligncenter" width="478"] The boss pressure washing the concrete to prep it for sealing.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2660" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Meanwhile, in the wood shop, Tom is working away on a special project.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2667" align="aligncenter" width="510"] In the office,...

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MRB Contracting, Kingsburg Nova Scotia

21 May Materials: Plywood Vs. OSB

At MRB we strictly use plywood over OSB (oriented strand board) for all wall, roof and floor sheathing applications. As part of a new “materials” series on our blog we’ll be discussing building materials and why we choose certain products. A quick Google search on the use of plywood vs. OSB provides and array of anecdotal and evidence-based information. A University of Massachusetts study published in 2005 by Paul Fisette delves into great detail in comparing plywood and OSB. He states that OSB and plywood share the same performance and span ratings. While both products may perform the same in lab tests, that is not the case in real world applications where OSB consistently underperforms when in contact with moisture. OSB is a less expensive product and perhaps because of this it has become a standard in construction applications over the last few years. However, cost savings in the beginning don’t always equal cost savings in the long run. A few reasons why we choose plywood over OSB: OSB off-gasses higher levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde than plywood - making it more of a health hazard for homeowners. Plywood is much more stable when in contact with moisture. OSB’s density allows for greater absorption and expansion...

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