Author: Mike Burns


12 Nov Keel Agencies profile

At MRB we believe that longevity of what we build is the cornerstone of sustainability. We are not alone. Recently we had chance to chat with Stefan and Breanna, partners at Keel Agencies. Keel specializes in building products of all types, with a focus on more sustainable approaches and long lifestyle products. Their market ranges across Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Bermuda. From permeable pavers, to products for vegetative roofs, storm water management, breathable membranes, mineral based insulation, fire-stop products, all types of fasteners, and architectural finishes, Keel's list of building products is quite impressive and growing. One of the product lines they represent is called VaproShield. In our last post we talked about using the VaproShield products for weather proofing the doors and windows at Kingsburg 1. The WrapShield product we used for the doors and windows is akin to GoreTex - a real innovation for the building industry. And that's just the beginning. Keel also represents products from Firestone, STI Inc., Bison and more. The photos below illustrate some samples of various steel and wire products used for lighting, shade and flooring. It's not the products alone that defines Keel Agencies focus. Stefan and Breanna are members of the Canadian Green Building Council....

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08 Nov Kingsburg 1: windows & walls

  This week the team has been busy weather proofing window and door openings, installing windows and doors, and starting to install the strapping for the siding installation. As you can see from the photo above, we begin our day before the street lights go out. Kingsburg is quite exposed to our erratic North Atlantic weather. Heavy winds and rains can wreak havoc on doors and windows. That is why we are using some innovative new technologies to ensure water stays out while providing some breathability to allow any moisture to dry. The orange membrane around the window and door opening is called WrapSheild -by a company called VaproShield. It is water resistant and vapor permeable. Once installed a layer of Liqui-Flash is applied to enhance moisture protection. Before the doors and windows go in, a bead of special weather resistant caulk is applied to create a seal between the framing and the door and window flanges.     Finally, another layer of WrapShield is applied over the finished window installation. The layering of weather proofing materials ensures that the doors and windows will stand up to the extreme weather conditions. We also began installing the strapping that the siding will be attached to. You'll notice that...

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MRB Contracting, kingsburg nova scotia, modern home

05 Nov Kingsburg 1 & 2: Sandy’s week

What a crazy week last week was for the East Coast. Our best wishes go out to those who have been affected by hurricane Sandy. We were lucky that we only got a bit of wind (nothing out of the ordinary for Nova Scotia), and a lot of rain.   Even with the bleak weather forecast the team maintained a steady pace in Kingsburg. Kingsburg 1 in the photo above has the roofing completed as well as the tar paper. Kingburg 2 Below is a shot showing the floor joists installed.   Another view of the floor joists. The scenery from this house will be spectacular.     Last week we showed you the wall construction of the bunkhouse. In the photo below you can see the mezzanine beginning to take shape.   The photo below was taken from the main floor of the bunkhouse with the opening in the mezzanine in the background. The design will afford the space a feeling of open space with its high ceilings.   Later this week we'll profile a local company that provides some really interesting architectural building products. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!...

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Trunk Studio, MRB Woodshop

29 Oct Trunk Studio Profile with designer Jess Tasker

MRB Woodshop recently collaborated with a Halifax furniture designer to build a line of chairs. Jess Tasker is the founder of Trunk Studio, a furniture design firm focused on creating unique and classically Canadian inspired furnishings. Here is a short profile about Jess, her design inspirations and Trunk Studio. Can you tell us a little about yourself and Trunk Studio? I grew up attending an arts school as a kid and later minored in art (and rugby) at St.FX. I have always had a strong sense of design and a love of furniture. Dwell and House & Home can always be found on my bedside table. I worked in carpentry for a couple of years which made the daunting task of designing functional furniture more achievable. Having some idea of how to put pieces together helps me when I am designing. What was your design inspiration for the Station Chair? The inspiration for The Station Chair came from a combination of things. First, I love the simplicity of the Danish Modern furniture style. Secondly, I wanted to create a line with a Canadian identity. If you look at the chair you can see echoes of an Adirondack chair (or as we native Ontarians call...

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MRB Contracting, Kingsburg Nova Scotia, modern architecture

25 Oct Kingsburg 2: beams & bunkhouses

  Our Kingsburg projects have been moving right along. This week the team has made great strides towards getting Kingsburg 2 ready for framing. After all the piers were poured it was time to connect some of the dots. The six big round piers on the top side of the hill are for the bunkhouse. The bunkhouse was sheathed with exposed v-groove pine which will be completely painted in white. Inside the bunkhouse there will be an L-shaped mezzanine for a play area with the living space below. The walls for the bunkhouse were build on the floor and then raised into position.   And while the project changes day by day, the view remains the same. Breathless. There are tractor operators and there are tractor operators. Kevin gently placed each of these half tonne beams in place with deft skill. Each beam was attached to the concrete piers and concrete walls using large anchor bolts. Here Smitty drills the holes with a hammer drill. Then he'll fill the hole with a fast setting two part epoxy and hammer in the bolts. Once the epoxy sets there's no getting the bolts out. The beams are then safely secured. The next step was to install the sill plate on...

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MRB Woodshop, Halifas Nova Scotia,

22 Oct Woodshop: cabinet doors

Friday was a focused day inside the MRB Woodshop. Tom and Brian each had their ear and eye protection on while their machines whirred and purred in syncopation. Chisels scraped and sanding blocks smoothed, blending birch and walnut pieces to form fluid minimalist shapes. Like artists at work, the Woodshop crew worked with a dedicated intentionality to produce something that's not been made before. These guys barely looked up from their work as we photographed the progress. These doors are the final touch for a project we mentioned in a recent post. The cabinets make up an impressive installation in a West Halifax living room that will be transformed from a mostly uninspiring place, to a library and acoustically correct sitting area. Below is a sequence illustrating some of processes in finishing a door. Tom's idea of perfection is above average. Stay tuned for photos of the finished installation. ...

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dezeen magazine, MRB Contracting, Omar Gandhi Architect

18 Oct Moore Studio featured in dezeen MAGAZINE

This week our Moore Studio project was featured in dezeen Magazine. We are super excited that our architect colleague Omar Gandhi is getting accolades on his designs. We are also proud of our execution of the project and we look forward to many more successful project collaborations to come! The story is packed with photos as well as concept drawings. Check it out and tell us what you think.  ...

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MRB Contracting, modern architeture, framing, Kingsburg Nova Scotia

15 Oct It’s a house! : Kingsurg 1

Indeed it is a house. The guys have finished framing the exterior of the home and finally we can get a sense of its shape.     This of course, is only the beginning. The exterior must be water proofed and clad with a modern finish. Then there's the roof, windows, doors, electric, plumbing...

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KIngsburg, MRB Contracting, modern architecture

11 Oct Kingsburg 1 & 2 updates: Oct 11th

After the long Thanksgiving weekend it was time to get back down to Kingsburg. Both projects are moving along nicely. The guys have sheeted the walls and part of the roof on Kingsburg 1. Today the rafters were installed. The place will be completely framed in a few days. The shot above is from the field. If you go back three weeks in our build timeline you'll notice a big difference. This is a closer photo from the same direction. The room on the right side of the photo will offer the homeowners a gorgeous ocean view. Below you can see the big beam the spans the length of the house. You can also see that some of the hangers for the rafters have been installed at the top of the roof line. A view from inside looking out towards the ocean. This photo was taken just outside the kitchen area of the home. The living room will be fitted with big windows -giving the residents the feeling of being outside. Below is the profile of the home as seen from Beach Hill Road. Bossman Smitty takes a moment after lunch to review the progress. It's been cold and rainy the last few days hence the...

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MRB Woodshop

04 Oct Wow. What a week.

What a great week we've had. From North End Halifax, to Halifax's West End, and down to Kingsburg, the team has been making great strides. Andrew and Ricardo finished installing the Cape Cod siding on our North End project. This 1890's home has had a massive makeover. North End Halifax has been undergoing urban renewal in recent years and we're happy to modernize the movement.     In Kingsburg, Nova Scotia, Smitty, Scott and Rob have been busy building walls at Kingsburg  1. These two photos hardly do justice to their progress. It's a good thing that the framing is moving along, October is here and soon the wind will turn cold. Those walls will come in handy as the guys move inside to work.   And finally,  a peek into a cool new project that Tom's  been working on in the Wood Shop. Here Tom is leveling the bottom row of custom crafted Baltic Burch cabinets that make up a small part of an updated living room in Halifax's West End. We'd tell you more about it but we like surprises.   ...

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MRB Contracting, Kingsburg, framing, modern homes

01 Oct Kingsburg 1: Framing begins

Rain can definitely stall outdoor projects at this time of year. And with the flooding that's been happening in parts of the Province it's clear that we've had plenty of it. And yet at MRB Contracting rain is not a deterrent to getting things done. The guys have been busy with beginning the framing at Kingsburg 1.   [caption id="attachment_1126" align="aligncenter" width="510"] ...

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MRB Coontracting, exterior finish, cladding, siding, Halifax North End, urban renewal

27 Sep Cape Cod siding on James Street

The team split up this week to cover a calender full of projects. While a few of the guys went down to Kingsburg to begin framing Kingsburg 1, some remained in Halifax to finish up the exterior of the James Street project. For cladding we chose Cape Cod finished wood siding. It's a locally sourced product that not only provides the long wearing benefits of wood siding, but also gives the house a beautiful facade. [caption id="attachment_1058" align="alignleft" width="510"] We've had a few people stop by and ask about the lattice. We use lattice to provide air movement behind the siding. We also use tar paper for its water wicking and breathability characteristics. The two work in tandem to keep water out and to allow airflow to dissipate any moisture that may enter.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1060" align="alignleft" width="510"] A table saw, compound miter saw, and a builders level are essential tools for this project. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_1059" align="alignleft" width="510"] Moving steadily from the bottom on up, Andrew lines up another board and drives a stainless colour-matched nail to anchor it.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1062" align="alignleft" width="510"] Halfway up and we're closer to finishing up one side. Check in with us often for photos of the completed...

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MRB Contracting, custom fabrication, Halifax NS, team,

26 Sep MacGyver Moments

Rob needed to make an octagon from 10mm rebar stock for a big concrete pier.   He started by creating a diagram.   Then he channeled MacGyver, and with role of Tuck tape and an Olfa knife he set to work.   And Rob's MacGyver Moment is a success. ...

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MRB Contracting, Kingsburg, Halifax, Nova Scotia

24 Sep Kingsburg 1: Beams

And the work continues on Kingsburg 1. The beams connecting the concrete piers to the ICF walls went up last week. There's hardly a nearby place to get a cup of coffee around the job site. If anything we are self reliant. Where in the world is Kingsburg anyway? Kingsburg is a coastal community located about 130 kilometers from Halifax. Like many other coastal towns, fishing was a primary source of income for residents for many decades. With the decline of the Atlantic fisheries, the town has changed demographically. With two beaches, three lakes, and hiking trails, it has become a summer vacation spot. We are fortunate to work in such a pictureque location. Scott isn't taking it for granted as he inspects his beam installation. ...

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MRB Contracting, concrete

20 Sep Kingsburg 2: what there are 2?

What we didn't tell you? It's true. We've been commissioned to build two homes on adjoining lots. And although the early photos of the foundation work may look similar, the two homes are completely different on the outside. Both foundations feature ICF walls and Form-A-Drain technology. Both are modern homes - designed by architects specifically for each client. Both overlook the majestic North Atlantic. [caption id="attachment_970" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The quintessential MACK Truck concrete mixer in a red and yellow colorway.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_974" align="aligncenter" width="510"] It's not quite like looking down the barrel of a gun. But anyone at the end of this slide feels a sense of urgency to get the job done.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_971" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Caption contest photo. Comments are open.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_975" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Who says you can't push a loaded wheel barrel with style?[/caption] [caption id="attachment_973" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Scott moves material while Andrew and Rob deliberate about some final details.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_976" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The boys take the time to screed the concrete to get it level. This step is key in ensuring that the ICF walls, and everything else that goes above for that matter, remains level and true.[/caption] Wow. There is a lot happening down in Kingsburg. Stay tuned as we...

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MRB Wood shop, MRB Contracting, MRB Team

17 Sep Meanwhile -On James Street…

We are a diverse lot. And so it is that we have multiple projects on the go. This week while part of the team was down in Kingsburg, some of the boys stayed in Halifax to work on the James Street renovation. We installed new windows, exterior trim, and flashing. We also installed two beautiful black doors on the front of the home. This project is coming along nicely and we can't wait to see the finished exterior. But you'll have to wait. [caption id="attachment_950" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Andrew is installing flashing above the trim to protect it from water damage.[/caption] The brushed aluminum door handles needed a little trimming to properly match the new look. A fine metal file and some elbow grease finished off the job. The mix of traditional and modern minimalist elements on this home are quite unique to the neighborhood. Of course there's great work going down in Halifax even when most of the Team is away. Tom is always creating amazing things in the Wood Shop. Whether it be custom kitchen cabinetry, or in this case a series of chairs commissioned by a local furniture designer, Tom's saws are buzzing and his clamps clamped at all times. [caption id="attachment_947"...

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MRB Contracting, Kingsburg, concrete forms

13 Sep Kingsburg 1: cured concrete & waterproofing

[caption id="attachment_921" align="aligncenter" width="510"] At the moment it's hard to see much. But not for long![/caption] The team returned to Kingsburg 1 to find soggy ground but no damage from Hurricane Leslie. So we set to work on removing the bracing from the ICF walls that we'd installed before pouring concrete. [caption id="attachment_919" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Rob likes working with concrete. He was looking forward to removing the forms to see what the piers looked like.[/caption] Just another day at the MRB office - building modern living in timeless viewscapes. [caption id="attachment_918" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Rob removed the bottom two thirds of each form -leaving the top sections braced. This will help the piers remain stable while we back fill the holes to the finished grade.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_920" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Here's a close up of the wood grain left on a concrete pier after the plywood form was removed.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_917" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The exterior of the ICF is waterproofed -first a membrane which seals the walls from the top down to the outer edge of the footing.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_922" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The second and final layer of waterproofing is a semi-rigid plastic sheeting called dimple board. The dimpled surface allows air flow between the two barriers. [/caption] [caption...

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MRB Contracting, Kingsburg NS, modern home, ICF walls, concrete forms

10 Sep Kingsburg 1: Preparing for Leslie/ concrete work

[caption id="attachment_884" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Thursday Sep 6th forecast[/caption] We are in the midst of Atlantic  hurricane season. Hurricanes tend to dissipate or veer off before they reach the Maritimes. But it's not always the case and being prepared is part of being a Maritimer. And so it was that we found ourselves staring down a giant red blob heading our way. By Thursday, most weather forecasters were sure we'd get a "direct hit." Without wasting any time the team worked hard to get the ICF walls in place and braced for concrete. The ICF walls create the foundation for the front of the home. The rest of the home rests on 9 concrete piers. We fabricated  concrete forms for the piers and erected and braced them for concrete. The concrete and pump trucks arrived in the nick of time. By days end our project was ready for whatever Leslie had to offer. [caption id="attachment_888" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Smitty and Scott debriefing on the installation technique[/caption] [caption id="attachment_896" align="aligncenter" width="510"] This photo shows the ICF wall and 9 piers braced and ready for concrete.[/caption] It's hard to imagine what the house will look like at this point. So stay tuned for more. This week we will be...

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06 Sep Kingsburg 1: building a foundation

The Kingsburg 1 project is off to a great start. With clear sunny skies the team laid out foundation footings and poured the concrete before day's end. For this project we used a technology called Form-a-drain. What is Form-a-drain? Form-a-Drain forms precise foundation footings, with an ideally located foundation drainage system above the bottom of the footing and below the foundation wall. The system allows for simple adaptation to function as an effective means for radon reduction since it forms a complete loop around the foundation. Not only do the building blocks provide drainage, but they also reduce our use of building materials by combining concrete forms and drainage into one step. Effectively, this system is lower impact and has a longer lifecycle than traditional methods. [caption id="attachment_850" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Rob and Scott laying out the footings.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_855" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Drainage leading the water towards the sea.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_911" align="aligncenter" width="380"] Smitty and Burns taking care of business.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_912" align="aligncenter" width="510"] All done and ready for the ICF wall installation[/caption] And did we mention the view? This will be our office for the next few months. We can't wait to show you how it develops. ...

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