Author: Mike Burns

Scott Billard: Site foreman

07 Feb Team profiles: Scott Billard

What's your name and job function? Scott Billard, Project Foreman Can you talk about your building trade background? After helping family and friends with odd projects for many years, I decided to make carpentry a career.  I attended the carpentry program at NSCC, then found myself happily employed with MRB contracting! What's the most satisfying part of your job? By far the most satisfying part of my job is stepping back to admire the work my teammates and I have done, whether it be a complete house or a small detail. Favourite tool? My favourite tool is my Stiletto hammer.  Although the hammer is not used as much as it used to be, it is still very satisfying to sink a 3 1/3" nail with a few solid strikes. Hobbies? When I am not working like a dog I can be found running with my dog. Marathon running is one of my favourite hobbies, which means lots of training between races. I also love playing hockey in the winter and golf in the summer....

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04 Feb Omar Gandhi: architect profile

Continuing with our people profile series, we are pleased to bring you an interview with architect Omar Gandhi. Can you tell us a little about your architectural background and experience? I graduated with a BA from the University of Toronto and then an undergraduate degree and Master of Architecture at Dalhousie University. I was fortunate enough to have worked for a wide array of firms after graduating in 2005. We moved to Toronto and I had the opportunity to work in a small department at a large firm (Young + Wright Architects). It’s there that I learned about wood frame construction and single family residential projects. After a few years I went on to another large firm in the city where I worked on a variety of projects, including installation work, residential and institutional. In 2008 my wife and I returned to Halifax. I worked for a very well known local firm who specializes in modern single family custom residential. In 2010 I started my own practice. You do quite a bit of modern architecture. What about modern design aesthetic inspires you? Modern architecture is honest. There are few opportunities to hide poor craftsmanship and a lack of thought or effort. It doesn’t...

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MRB Contracting, cladding, Kingsburg, new construction

28 Jan Monday’s field notes

Last week was beautiful with clear skies and amazing light. With the clear skies came cold weather. Air temps hovered below -10 C. for the entire week. Cold enough that some of the more sheltered bays around Kingsburg were frozen. It's strange to see a frozen briny ocean. It even seemed as if the tides had stopped affecting the shoreline along the bay roads. We spent the week working mostly on Kingsburg 1 - finishing off the Cape Cod siding and installing the skirting and decks. The place is coming together nicely. The drywall crew braved icy roads and finished up their side of things not without their own challenges from the cold.       The James Street portfolio had a few photo additions. The kitchens were fitted with modern minimalist Baltic birch cabinets. Concrete floors in the kitchen give way to beautiful hardwood floors throughout the rest of the space.   Hope you enjoyed the first on our Team Profile series featuring Mike Burns. Keep an eye for a new profile on Thursday. And as always, thanks for stopping by!...

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MRB Contracting, Halifax Nova Scotia, Mike Burns

24 Jan Team profiles: Mike Burns

What's your name and job function? Mike Burns, MRB president, business development, and lead project estimator. Can you talk about your building trade background? I've been in the construction industry for 14 years. I started as a finish carpenter when I was 16 and spent the next 5 years working in all aspects of carpentry and home building. After attending NSCC's Construction Management program I worked as project lead for David Watts Construction Services until the inception of MRB. What's the most satisfying part of your job? This is a hard question for me. I really do love my job; I don't think I could narrow it down to one thing. The short answer would be -standing back at the end of a project and looking at what has been created by the MRB Team and knowing that I had a part in the process. The other side of it would be working with the team that we have here. I've been on a lot of crews over the years but I have never been part of a group that was so like-minded and dedicated to the final product like our crew is. I find it very satisfying to work with the people that I do -crew,...

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21 Jan MRB attends ENERhouse 2013 builders conference

Last week we attended the 2013 ENERhouse conference here in Halifax. The conferene is put on by the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association. With an expert panel of revered building science professionals, and a theme of building energy efficient homes for the future, how could we stay away! We were pleased to hear from the panelists that the MRB build program has already implemented many of the technologies suggested in the conference. At the top of the list for high efficiency homes were things like: Plywood over OSB (oriented strand board) for exterior sheathing Super insulation (spray foam) High performance house wraps (like VaproShield) Over the next few months I will be discussing my views on these building materials and some of the systems that they are a part of. We can't wait to implement some of the great ideas we learned this week into the next MRB build! ...

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MRB Contracting, carpenters, builders, halifax nova scotia

17 Jan Thursday photo roundup

  From gray misty Monday, to bluebird sky Tuesday,   to snow storm Wednesday,   this week threw just about every type of weather at us.       Kingsburg 2 has windows and doors in and is ready for cladding. What will it be? It will be a combination of wood and metal. Stay tuned and as always thanks for checking in.   ...

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MRB Contracting, shop dogs, working dogs, halifax

14 Jan Shop dogs

Wikipedia definition for a working dog: A working dog is a canine working animal, i.e., a type of dog that is not merely a pet but learns and performs tasks to assist and/or entertain its human companions...

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MRB Contracting, Halifax, renovations, VaproShield, Keel Agencies

10 Jan Yes it’s cold: Thursday’s field notes

[caption id="attachment_1892" align="aligncenter" width="510"] A giant slab of ice that came out of our stainless steel dip tank lays in the sun unfazed. The block is over ten foot long and a foot tall.[/caption] It's true. Last week was really cold. This week has been warmer and yet it's still below freezing most days. With insulated coveralls and thermal gear it's like any other day. Progress is our goal. This week we have project updates from our two Kingsburg homes as well as from 2454 Halifax. 2454 received a makeover with a full removal of the old shingles and exterior trim. A layer of grey VaproShield was added for weather protection and pressure treated strapping was applied over the top to attach the exterior cladding. We won't tell what that's gonna be yet but we'll give you a hint. It's going to be white. At Kingsburg the team has been making steady progress with the Cape Cod siding on Kingsburg 1. The mix of vertical and horizontal orientation posses some challenges -we love challenges. Final windows installations took place as well. Finally, Kingsburg 2 is almost completely wrapped and strapped for siding. On this one we used the orange VaproShield for the both the bunkhouse...

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MRB Contracting, Halifax Nova Scotia, contractor, new year's resolution,

07 Jan Resolutions new & old

New Year's resolutions can be a bitter sweet affair. But we've made one anyway. Well sort of.   Often New Year's resolutions involve a difficult task or life change. And too often our goodwill and resolve is dissolved by late February -we forget that we even made a New Year's resolution. That is why we are keeping the same resolution we made last year. We will continue to pursue excellence in our work. We will continue to search for, and adopt proven innovative technologies. We will continue to build beautiful and strong modern homes. We will continue to work with great architects to fulfil our clients dreams. And we will continue to strive to be the best company we can be for our clients and for ourselves.  ...

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24 Dec Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

We want to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of our friends. A special thanks goes out to our clients. We'd also like to thank our subs, and especially our team. Without all of your hard work MRB would not be the same. Check back with us in January for new project updates and more....

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MRB Contracting, Renovations, halifax, contractors halifax, nova scotia

20 Dec Gutted part II: 2454 re-structure

A while ago we posted about a new Halifax project called Ironstone 2454. Since then a lot of work has happened there. Remember we gutted the place? That's right, everything except the roof was removed. The floors, support beams, stairs, walls -everything. The rebuilding process can be tricky as 120 year old homes generally are neither square nor plumb. Luckily the team has encountered a few of these before so our process is fairly wired. Once the old support beams and floors are removed, we install new beams and build new walls. Simple. Kinda. ...

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Mike Burns, MRB Contracting, chronicle herald, halifax, business news

17 Dec MRB Contracting featured in the Chronicle Herald

Saturday's front page of the Chronicle Herald business section featured a great article about MRB Contracting and Mike Burns.     Armed with youth, an eye for the modern aesthetic and a firm handle on the power of technology, a Halifax contracting firm is out to improve the relationship between homeowners and their contractors.  Click here to read the rest of the article on the Chronicle Herald's website....

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MRB Contracting, siding, Kingsburg, Nova Scotia, custom homes

13 Dec Cape Cod siding at Kingsburg 1

Cape Cod siding is a beautiful product. It demands the utmost attention to detail during installation to ensure a clean uniform finish. It exacts a carpenters skills and patience as every single piece must be cut to size with either 45, 22.5, 15, or 5 degree angle depending on where the piece is going to land. In addition, all fresh cuts are painted, nail holes near ends are pre-drilled, and joints are glued with PL construction adhesive. As rows go on they are checked to ensure that they are plumb or level depending on orientation. The end result? You'll see soon enough. One thing is for certain, you can't beat the durability of wood siding.             ...

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MRB Contracting, Halifax, NS

10 Dec In response to Steve Maxwell’s “When trades are devalued”

Passion for craftsmanship is not a relic of the past. MRB's team of young builders is proof of this fact. Last week Steve Maxwell, a widely syndicated home improvement columnist, wrote a piece about the decline of craftsmanship in the trades. Maxwell harkens back to a time when Canadian homes were built start to finish by a small group of tradespeople. He states that specialization in the industry over the past few decades has created an environment where accountability and pride have taken a back seat to profit. He also states that the trades have become a fall-back career for those who can’t seem to make it in careers that are perceived to be better. According to Maxwell, the current state of affairs is essentially a decline in quality and accountability. While many of Maxwell’ points ring true, there is well documented proof that there is a renaissance in the spirit of craftsmanship, not only in the building trades but also in many other fields like brewing, custom furniture and many other fields. Young people are re-energizing the traditions of craftsmanship. At MRB we specialize in building homes from start to finish. We do everything from the foundation, to framing, and finish...

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MRB Contracting, KIngsburg, Nova Scotia, Modern Architecture

06 Dec Photo roundup from Kingsburg

We've been working high and low this week. From finishing up framing the second story of Kingsburg 2, to starting the cladding on Kingsburg 1, things are moving along as they should. Below Brian and Angus perform the framing nailer hand-off as they start installing the roof trusses on Kingsburg 2. This house features a concave roof that will funnel water into a scupper and down a drain pipe on one side of the house. There will be no roof overhangs.   The shot below was taken from the second story of Kingsburg 2. In the foreground is the similarly shaped bunk house. And behind it on the adjoining lot is Kingsburg 1 with it's elegant roof line. The next time you see a photo of that house it will be claded in beautiful Cape Cod wood siding. Another shot from upstairs. This corner of the house features two giant windows. The photo highlights some of our water proofing and insulation techniques - measures that happen during framing. On the left of the photo you can see 1.5 inch rigid foam that is sealed around its edges with acoustic caulking. Then a 2 ply LVL beam is installed for structural support. The foam will...

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03 Dec Who Could’a Told You?: you never know what you’ll find

Early this summer the team was removing an old front door on a renovation project. One of the boys unearthed a couple of really old and rare 45's. I can only imagine a little kid playing with daddy's record collection and 'accidentally' shoving a couple of records between some cracks on the floor. "Sweety have you seen my Lloyd Price soul record? I can't seem to find it anywhere? "Why no Daddy. Whatever would lead you to believe that I would know anything about those records...

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MRB Contracting, Ironstone, renovations

29 Nov Gutted: Ironstone project #1

gutted: past participle, past tense of gut (Verb) Take out the intestines and other internal organs of (a fish or other animal) before cooking it. Remove or destroy completely the internal parts of (a building or other structure). Above are a couple of standard definitions for the word gutted. In our industry we generally refer to definition number 2. Gutting a house to do a few small renovations like opening up the living space on the main floor is one thing. Taking everything out except for the roof and basement concrete  is another. In this series of photos  you can see phase one of gutting a house. All the lath and plaster are. All the fixtures, electrical wiring, door frames, doors, floors...

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MRB Contracting, Kingsburg Nova Scotia

26 Nov Kingsburg 2: framing

In many ways building a house is a straight forward process. All details pertaining to design, measurements, specs, and other essentials are contained in the plans. Things aren't quite as simple however when the task is at hand. Carpentry requires a whole lot of problem solving and creativity. Take dimensional lumber for example.  A 2x4  seems like a fairly standard piece of lumber that anyone can get at a hardware store. However, on closer inspection you'll notice that it may be bowed, it could wane, and almost always it is crowned. It's this simple challenge of making all of those imperfect pieces of natural lumber come together in a square and plum frame that makes us love what we do. Getting a week of clear sunny skies sweetens the pot. ...

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MRB Contracting, builder trend, custom homes, modern architecture, nova scotia

19 Nov Introducing MRB’s cloud project management

We are pleased to announce that we've officially launched our cloud based project management tool by Builder Trend. The software combines traditional project management tools like schedules, work orders, and reporting, with daily photo updates, internal email service, and more. Our clients now have access to real time updates and have the ability to quickly and effectively communicate changes. Other features include: access via mobile devices and computers warranty process photos documents change orders scheduling email   Click on the Client Login on the left side of the screen to watch a demo video of Builder Trend....

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MRB Contracting, HALIFAX Nova Scotia, Omar Gandhi

15 Nov Photo roudup

We could lament the rain. The truth however is that it's been a great week so far. While getting up before sunrise to make the trek to Kingsburg can feel daunting, sometimes watching the sun rise over country roads has its benefits. This week we received some photos of an Oxford Street deck we did a few months ago. We'll be adding a portfolio entry for this project soon. Here are a couple of shots to get excited about. And of course here we have our man Chester. Dapper and always alert for deer and squirrels. Architect Omar Gandhi sent us a couple of shots from living room renovation project he executed with MRB Woodshop. Stay tuned for a project portfolio. Down in Kingsburg the beginning of the week offered some amazing late Fall sunshine. The top of the bunkhouse offered an extra special vantage point for the guys as they worked on the parapet. The drive home from Kingsburg. On this evening we could feel the approaching storm in the air. Thanks for reading....

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