custom fabrication


04 Feb Gottingen St | interior trim

Steevo and the team at Gottingen have been thankful for work indoors. This past week has been a big push on getting the interior trims completed. We called on our friends at East Coast Specialty Hardwoods to custom match the trims to the homes original. We sent them samples of what we needed and they shaped them out of poplar wood, which paints very well. Window casings were reproduced with two pieces. One wide trim and the second a backband. Each door has plinth blocks to set the casings on, and the baseboard is a three piece assembley with base, cap , and shoe. We also got the behemoth stone bathtub in place. The corbels that frame the arch in this were hand made by Forbes Restoration. They were made to replicate the two old plaster ones that unfortunately we were unable to save. ...

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MRB Contracting, Clifton St., framing, air tight

09 Jan Clifton St. | framing part 2

For many carpenters, framing is one our favourite aspects of building a home. And what's not to love? We get to take a giant pile of sticks and convert them into a structure using nail guns and saws! In our last post we talked about some of the techniques we use for controlling air and moisture. Air and moisture can find ways of sneaking into (or out of) a house in ways that you never imagined. Each step of the build process offers opportunities to enhance the ability to minimize this fact. During framing we use acoustic seal between all plates (floor and top-plates) as well as in between the post laminations and header areas. The smallest space in between two pieces of lumber can cause the house to loose heat. The bead of acoustic seal creates an air and moisture barrier between the sandwiched together lumber. Sometimes when you think about how many things have to come together for an empty space to become a liveable house it seems really abstract. It's not unlike running marathon. You start with one foot and then the next. Every step counts and every step can make a difference. A runner cannot skip steps and...

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net zero energy house, karuna house

19 Dec Inspiration | Net zero energy

What exactly is a net zero energy structure? Wikipedia tells us it's "a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually." That means that it's both off the municipal power grid, and does not utilize fossil fuels for energy. As you can imagine, this is no easy feat and yet it has been done. The Karuna House in Oregon has just received 3 prestigious green building awards, including LEED Platinum certification. So as to obtain the three certifications, and become a net zero energy structure, Karuna House was designed and built to have an advanced building enclosure. It also features an optimized solar design that works to drive energy loads to very low levels. The energy needed for the household is supplied via a solar photovoltaic array of less than 10 kilowatts. At MRB we are utilizing most of these technologies - from the various types of advanced performance weather membranes, to HVAC systems, to carefully planned insulation. However, we've yet to ingrate these technologies in an intentional way so as to create a net zero energy home. We'd love to be the first company to do build a net zero energy home here in Nova Scotia. To learn more about the Karuna House...

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28 Nov Amos Wood | street view redo

Did you miss Amos Wood yet? The guys have been there all along, refining all the structural details that you'll never see but nevertheless play an integral role in the finished product. Aside from continuing the interior, the team ripped off the entire facade. The photo below shows an almost uninterrupted view of Agricola Street. The extra light allowed for better detailed photos of the interior framing. The place is beginning to take shape. Some of the interior walls are complete. New sheathing and a deck were added up top. Our usual window and door program was used here as well. Finally, a view of Amos Wood from across the street. It won't be long before the team starts cladding and then we'll really have something! ...

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MRB Contracting, halifax, foundations, formadrain

31 Oct Clifton St. | footings

Work has begun in earnest on the Clifton St. house. Since our last update the two old homes were demolished. The lot was excavated, service lines were installed, and space was made to build the foundation. Below is what the lot looked like after demolition and excavation. The black hose in the bottom of the photo is from a water pump. It's not uncommon for some groundwater to filter to the surface when land is excavated like this. It was a muddy mess. Generally the concrete forms for pouring footings are built with wood. For this project however we are using a hollow PVC Lego like form that's a "3-in-1 foundation solution that forms footings, provides an integrated drainage system, and can be easily adapted to vent radon." The hollow core in the forms allows water to drain away from the foundation rather than pool or seep into the basement. It's tough to make  sense out of what's happening in the photos. In the next post we''ll have photos of the completed footings and the footprint of the house will be clear. Lot's more to come on this project. Stay tuned....

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mrb contracting, paralam beam, south end reno

29 Oct What ever happened to that 850lb. beam?!

Remember the recent blog post about installing the giant parallam beam? Since then much has happened on this project and though these are not the final photos they will give you an idea as to what the final outcome will be. As a refresher, here is what the room looked like before the new beam was installed. Here is what it looks like now. The rooms are being painted and the floors refinished. Keep checking in for final photos of this South End Halifax renovation. It's quite a transformation. ...

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MRB Contracting, renovation, cedar shingles, vent grid, vaproshield

24 Oct Cedar shingles | why we love them

We love cedar shingles. Why? The aesthetic of cedar shingles is timeless and transcends many architectural genres. From ultra traditional Victorian homes to modern cubes, cedar shingle cladding provides a beautiful texture and an organic feel not achieved with other cladding materials such as vinyl. The other reason we love cedar shingles? They provide superior weather proofing and can last for a very long time. It's not uncommon to find perfectly dry sheathing under 50 year old shingles.   As with any wood cladding material, proper installation is a must. Cedar's natural weathering properties allow it to last for many years while exposed to the elements. Installation plays a key role in ensuring the longest life span. On this renovation project we were tasked with matching a dormer and wall with cedar shingles - matching the look on the rest of the home. The first order of business after removing the old cladding and trim was to install a house wrap and rain screen. For house wrap we used VaproShield. The black mesh seen here is the rain screen material called Ventgrid. Ventgrid provides a 1/2 inch air space between the house wrap and the shingles. This means that when water does make it through...

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MRB Contracting, Agricola street, renovation, amos wood, North End

22 Oct Amos Wood | interior framing begins

A couple of weeks ago we started chronicling our latest North End renovation for Amos Wood. Since the last update the guys have been working hard re-framing some of the structural elements of the building. Temporary walls were erected to put in new LVL support beams. 2x6 studs are used to straighten and re-frame the interior walls. Often with old homes like this one the walls are curvy and out of plumb. Aside from the aesthetic problems, crooked main walls will affect everything from interior connecting walls to finishes, so this step is key. It's always interesting to see the old bones and the touches that previous owners added to the place. This purple fireplace door is no exception. Another view of the old walls. Here you can see the plaster seeping through the lath. This old doorway is still standing, but not for long. A view of the backyard from upstairs. Our lumber rack is full and the beams and floor joists are ready for installation. The neighbors pet owl keeps an eye on us. ...

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MRB Contracting, north end halifax, modern architecture

15 Oct Clifton St. -our latest North End Halifax project

We are super excited about this new family home. By the time you read this, these two old homes will be no more. In their place will be a modern family home that will utilize many advanced technologies in energy efficiency, rain water harvesting, and structural design. There are so many cool things going on with this new place that it's hard not to spill all the details. We can tell you that the gardens and home are designed in harmony. Stay tuned for more updates. ...

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Kingsburg, beach house, MRB Contracting

08 Oct Kingsburg I revealed

Those of you who've been following our blog over the last year will remember the Kingsburg beach houses. We chronicled the progress of two homes from start to finish. Now we are pleased to show you the homes as they exist with their owners personal touches. Photos by Kelly Neil. First off is Kingsburg I, designed by architect Chad Jamieson, Halifax. We'll let the photos speak for themselves. ...

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MRB Contracting, renovations, north end halifax, flats

19 Sep Ironstone updates – it’s done!

Our Ironstone project is practically complete. The last Ironstone update included photos of the completed lower level flat. Today's blog are of the upstairs unit. All of the fixtures and millwork are in. Closets are outfitted with shelving. Doors are hung. Bathroom is complete. Heated concrete floors are finished. The photo below shows what it looked like before. ...

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MRB Contracting, renovations, garage, cedar deck, construction

17 Sep Garage redux part III

Last week we showed you photos of the garage project halfway through its development. Today we have some similar photos with more complete finishes. For the front entry we installed a new cedar deck with a horizontal slat detail. The side entry to the garage deck also has a slat detail down to the grade to compliment the front. Glass panels fill the voids for the rest of the deck railings, allowing unobtrusive views of the landscape. The cedar decking looks fresh with its natural red hues. Soon the salty air from St. Margaret's Bay will turn it to a classic grey. Cedar has the longest lifespan of any other outdoor decking material. Below is another view of the deck railing detail. Finally, a photo of the finished concrete floor in all it's polished greatness. ...

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MRB Contracting, renovations, concrete floor, halifax, builder, contractor, cedar deck

03 Sep Garage redux part II

Our garage reno project is coming along nicely. The garage is fully framed and insulated. The concrete floors poured and finished to a smooth texture. Each piece of cedar used for decking has been individually dipped in a Lifetime solution to further expand its life expectancy. This 22' by 26' cedar deck offers great views of the amazing landscaping on the property -and when the leaves fall, a fantastic view of St. Margaretes Bay. The guys blended the new structure with the existing walkway to create a seamless transition between the two. Access to the deck from ground level on the top side of the property was created using pre-existing piers. Below is a view of the two car garage before the deck was installed. Check back for the next update to see what the cladding will look like! ...

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MRB Contracting, renovations, halifax, door installation, contractor, Blue Skin, VaproShield

29 Aug How to: giant door installation

Replacing an old door is not unlike the process described in our last How to for windows. It's important to ensure that the door opening is properly prepped for protection from moisture and temperature. The other key thing to remember is our carpenter's mantra: level, plumb and square. In this case we were replacing an old door measuring about 10 by 9 feet. The first challenge was removing the old door without causing damage to the interior or exterior of the home -and without breaking the non-tempered glass panes. The next step is prepping the door opening. We removed any water damaged material and replaced it with new lumber. Then we wrapped the opening in VaproShield for breathable moisture protection. The photo below illustrates the scale of the door. Angus is 6'4" and with arms raised he barely fills the space! The replacement door comes from Martin Doors & Windows. It is a one piece unit weighing in at around 500 pounds. It took 6 guys to get the new door in place. A new concrete sill was poured to replace the void left by water damaged timbers. Then a coat of Blueskin primer was liberally applied to the concrete before covering it in Blueskin membrane....

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MRB Contracting, renovations, window installation

15 Aug How to: replacing old windows

They say that there are lots of ways to skin a cat. However, there are not many ways to replace a window. The only way to ensure that a new window will be draft free and moisture free is to get down to the framing before installing the new unit. For example, some window installation methods like Inserts simply replace the window unit. If the existing RO (rough opening) is not air and water proof,  the Insert does little more than update the aesthetic of the home. There are a few key areas that must be addressed when replacing a window. Before we even begin with step one, we take precautionary steps to ensure that the home remains clean and as dust-free as possible. We use heavy paper to cover floors in the work area, and install dust barriers to protect the rest of the home during construction. 1. The new window must be the appropriate size for the opening and should meet or exceed standards. 2. Once the interior and exterior trim pieces are removed, the RO is cleaned and prepped for weather proofing. 3. The RO is prepped by installing a waterproof membrane. In this case we used VaproShield and Liquiflash to protect...

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MRB Contracting, demolition, Halifax builders

13 Aug 100th blog post

Wow! Time flies when you're busy building dream homes. It's been one year since we began blogging. And this is our 100th blog post. We'd like to thank everyone who's been following us here, on Facebook and Twitter. As I write this I wonder what has inspired you to continue to read our blog. Is it the photos? Or perhaps following the story behind each project? Or maybe you like some of the pieces we've written about building techniques and theory? Whatever it is we'd love to know so that we may continue creating content that you want to see. Send us an email or Tweet, or simply leave a comment below and let us know what you think. Below -a collection of  brief moments in time from the past year. Thanks again for reading.     ...

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MRB Contracting, halifax nova scotia, east coast modern, modpod, custom fabrication,

08 Aug Building a ModPod: an East Coast Modern and MRB collaboration

Sometimes when you hear the words 'prefab' and 'house' in the same sentence it conjures images of trailer parks and shoddy workmanship. In modern architecture that's not the case. Architect Nicholas Fudge of East Coast Modern created a series of prefab structures including the ModPod design. Modern architects have long embraced many of the benefits of prefabrication. Pre-fabricating a structure in a controlled environment allows for a more streamlined building process. It also puts less stress on the environment where the structure will live. The 12' x 16' ModPod is designed to be built off site, then shipped to its final destination. Angus and Rocket build the floor. The floors and walls were insulated the same as any home would be. Once sheathed, the ModPod is wrapped in VaproShield for ultimate moisture protection. All of the window and door openings are also treated with a product called LiquiFlash which further seals the openings against the elements. We'd like to give a big thanks to Keel Agencies for providing the weather proofing products. Three types of cladding adorn the exterior. First to go on is a whitewashed tongue and groove horizontal board wood siding. Next up is a white, corrugated metal siding. Finally, cedar shingles, each hand dipped and whitewashed in-house. Once...

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MRB Contracting, halifax nova scotia, renovations.

06 Aug Ironstone: interior details

The Ironstone project is nearly complete. The guys have been busy adding interior details - closets, floor and door trim, doors, and other finish details. The kitchen is starting to be installed. You'll notice the brown paper covering the floors. Beneath that paper lay heated concrete floors. The main floor unit will be available for rent starting September 1. If you are interested please contact Lindsay at  902.455.3202. The floor trim features 10" baseboards for a hearty feel. All seams and fastener holes are patched. The walls and trim will all be the same colour, unifying the space in a minimalist manner. Brian expertly routes the hinge placements on the solid core doors and door jams. Hanging doors is a bit of an art and requires lots of focus. Custom shelves in the bedroom closets provide intuitive storage options. In the kitchen Tom created custom cabinet boxes from melamine. The doors will be a combination of raw Baltic birch with matching grain and high gloss laminate doors.  The lower unit has an opening on the top of the wall between the living area and bedroom allowing the afternoon southern sun to filter throughout the space. ...

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cains arcade

01 Aug We love to build

There are many reasons to run a business -to make a living, to pursue a goal, to provide a service, and sometimes simply because you love the work. In our case, we love building. That's one of the primary reasons for our focus on architecturally designed homes. Each home is different, providing entirely new sets of challenges and creative opportunities. For many,the love of building starts at a young age. That's why we wanted to share Caine's Arcade with you. It's a short documentary about a young boy and his father in Southern California. Cain's creativity and resourcefulness in creating a cardboard arcade inspires us to continue to be passionate about building with our hands. Caine's Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo....

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