OUR BLOG

MRB Contracting, Halifax builders, renovations, epdm
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! ...

modpod
MRB featured in allNovaScotia.com today

allNovaScotia.com 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 eastcoastmodern.ca...

MRB Contracting
Team First Aid & CPR

Recently the entire team took a first aid refresher course. We recorded the CPR practice session to see how everyone performed. So here is the grand debut. ...

MRB contracting, east coast living magazine, Omar Gandhi
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. ...

MRB Contracting, woodshop, walnut cabinets, custom cabinets
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. ...

green
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...

MRB Contactractiing, West End Halifax, renovations
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. ...

MRB Contracting, team, halifax ns
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...

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

dog
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]...

MRB Contracting, halifax nova scotia, contractor, builder,
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,...

MRB Contracting, Kingsburg Nova Scotia
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...

MRB Contracting, custom homes, Kingsburg, modern
Kingsburg 1 finished interior

Kingsburg 1 is complete now and we are very pleased with the results. We showed you some photos of the interior finishes as they were being developed. Today we have photos of the finished interior. This is just a sample however, as we will be doing a full portfolio shoot in the near future. [caption id="attachment_2602" align="aligncenter" width="510"] All the millwork was done in-house by our cabinetmaker Tom.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2606" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The kitchen features glass tile back-splash, Ceasarstone counter tops and Baltic birch cabinets.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2601" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The view from the entrance hallway to the back of the house. There is plenty of natural light in this ocean front home.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2615" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The wood burning stove will provide a cozy feel in the living area.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2612" align="aligncenter" width="364"] The bathroom walls and counter tops feature a solid surface Formica panel for complete water resistance and long lasting beauty.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2611" align="aligncenter" width="342"] A Baltic birch vanity sits atop heated concrete floors.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2605" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Custom barn doors in the master bedroom provide a traditional cottage feel.[/caption] ...

MRB Contractiong, Halifax NS, contractor, renovations
West End reno photos gallore

Work in the West End is progressing well. We've collected a ton of photos this week. Enjoy! [caption id="attachment_2563" align="aligncenter" width="380"] Scott assembles the 4-ply LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beam with construction adhesive and giant fasteners.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2565" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Angus builds a temporary wall to provide support for the LVL beam installation.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2567" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Our 4-ply LVL beam required a custom fabricated hanger. The beam was routed out to allow the hanger to sit in a flush recess.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2573" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The transition between the existing home and the addition required some structural strengthening. We used a 4-ply LVL beam to span the opening and provide the structural support. The beam was planned to remove the original finish and reveal the natural grain. It will be left exposed as part of the finish.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2571" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Sometimes you get lucky. This was a double floor joist that we put together. Right before installation we noticed the heart shaped knot detail. It will remain forever hidden under the floor but we have this photo to remember it.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2568" align="aligncenter" width="380"] Shingles come in all shapes and sizes. This one was as big a garbage can![/caption] [caption id="attachment_2564" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Here Brian is...

MRB Contracting, team profile, Halifax Nova Scotia, builders, custom homes
Team Profiles: Brian Mitchell

What's your name and job function? Brian Mitchell, Carpenter Can you talk about your building trade background? I started my experience in the building industry building log and timber frame homes.  After attending a trade school to learn the necessary skills, I worked as a craftsman building custom homes for about 6 years.  After moving east I continued to develop my skills in conventional home building, and MRB is a great place to learn and use some of the newest technologies and techniques our industry has to offer. What's the most satisfying part of your job? The most satisfying part of my job is seeing milestones in a project as they are completed.  When walls are framed, cladding is finished, or drywall is hung, the project takes on a new shape, and results in a sense of accomplishment and pride in what our team was able to create. Favourite tool? My favourite tool would have to be ( and I didn't want to be the first repeat) framing nailers. They are pretty awesome...

Tom
Kingsburg 2: photo roundup

It's been a little while since the last Kingsburg update. We're close to completion - just a few finishing details remain. Below are a photos from the mill work installation, outdoor details, and the custom stairs. [caption id="attachment_2513" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Every beach house deserves an outdoor shower![/caption] [caption id="attachment_2514" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Sliding barn door on the bunkhouse.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2515" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Tom the cabinetmaker inspecting the view in between installations.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2516" align="alignnone" width="383"] Some of the kitchen cabinets were installed.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2517" align="aligncenter" width="510"] We love the hardware on these upper cabinets.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2518" align="aligncenter" width="510"] The master bath vanity was installed as well.[/caption] ...

MRB Contracting, press, The Coast Halifax
See us in The Coast

MRB is featured in The Coast's 2013 City Guide edition. You can see more photos of this backyard deck on our portfolio page. ...

MRB Contracting, Halifax Nova Scotia, renovations
West End Reno photo roundup

Last week offered up a mixed bag of spring weather. From a beautiful sunny start to the week, to a sodden ending, we pushed through to get some concrete work done and a lot of framing. We even managed to get the backyard cleared of all debris and graded. The addition on this home will feature a modern look with no overhangs, metal and wood cladding, and minimalist detail. We're excited to see how the two designs will merge into one home. ...

MRB Contracting, Halifax, renovations
How to: tear the roof off – West End Reno

Below is an illustrated guide to tearing the roof off a West End Halifax home. [caption id="attachment_2431" align="aligncenter" width="380"] Step 1. Put a new blade in the reciprocating saw.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_2432" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Step 2. This is the part where we actually tore the roof off. How we did it is a trade secret.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_2433" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Step 3. Get rid of the rest of the evidence -uh wall. Briefly celebrate your success.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_2434" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Step 4. Cover and let simmer overnight.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_2435" align="aligncenter" width="510"] This stack of dimensional lumber is ready for framing the new addition. Let's just say it took more than 4 steps to get it from the street to the back yard.[/caption]...