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New West End Reno

Last week we embarked on a West End Halifax renovation. Without giving it all away, we can tell you that the reno encompasses expanding the footprint of the home, updating the floorplan in the living area, and deleting an old (and I mean Old) shed from the backyard. Beneath the asphalt shingles on the shed roof were discovered slate shingles. Amazing! It was like being in Wales. The crocuses seem to thrive in spite of the crazy spring weather shifts and demolition happening all around. The old sky lights are gone. Next, the entire roof line will come down to make room for the expanded footprint. The new living area received a full basement treatment with ICF walls and FormADrain footings. A day or two more of demolition and the framing begins. Stay tuned for more updates!   photos by Omar Gandhi & Scott Billard  ...

MRB Contracting, tools, carpenter tools
Carpenter’s tools

Ever wonder what carpenters have in those bags hanging off their hips? At MRB all the guys have slightly different setups. Below is a sampling of the basic gear a carpenter would have on a daily basis. Some of the tools include: hammer, cats paw, speed square, chalk line, screw driver, pliers, pencils, tape measure, razor knives, a torpedo level, chisel, a wrench, and a sliding bevel. Other things you may find in a carpenter's bag can include dirt, rocks, random fasteners, small pieces of wood, and who knows what else. ...

MRB Contracting, modern architecture, kingsburg nova scotia, beach house
When metal meets wood

A few weeks ago we gave you a sneak peak of the cladding on Kingsburg 2. The design called for a natural horizontal wood siding for the main house, and white corrugated metal for the bunkhouse. To bridge the gap between the two, the architect added recesses and bump-outs to the main house and incorporated the white metal detail. The windows have a natural galvanized finish detail. You may wonder why the roof line looks unfinished. That's because the metal drip cap has yet to be installed. Keep checking in for our full completed portfolio of Kingsburg 2. ...

MRB Contrating, Halifax Nova Scotia, custom kitchen, baltic birch
Baltic birch kitchen: Kingsburg 1

So far we've showcased the exterior of the Kingsburg projects. Today we wanted to show you a little from the kitchen and one of the bedrooms. Our cabinetmaker executed the architects cabinet designs using a mix of melamine and Baltic birch plywood. The matched end-grain detail is flawless and gives these custom cabinets a refined finish.   Below is a short sequence that shows the cabinets before the Caesar Stone and glass tile back splash installation. Pine was used for flooring. The colours of the pine pop once they are sanded and finished.   The photo below is one of the living area ceiling. Two large north west facing windows provide lots of natural light late into the afternoon.   The master bedroom also graces Baltic birch cabinets built in-house.   Stay tuned for more interior photos of Kingsburg....

MRB contracting, kingsburg, modern, cladding
this is a tease: when wood meets metal

We could show you more imagery of when metal and wood meet at last on this unique modern cube. For the moment we offer you this small glimpse. Check back with us soon! ...

MRB Contracting, modern architecture
Photo roundup: Kingsburg 2

The beginning of the week bathed us in sun as we continued cladding Kingsburg 2. The week however turned windy and cold. The North Atlantic never fails to provide plenty of weather excitement.   Tom strikes a line and gets ready to trim the ends off the deck boards. Three out of four walls are complete. The next step is a surprise.  ...

MRB Contracting, Halifax NS
Team profiles: Tom Premier

What's your name and job function? Tom Premier, Cabinetmaker Can you talk about your building trade background: In 2001 I started an apprenticeship at a custom woodwork shop in Maple Ridge, BC, where I worked for six years. I learned about all aspects of the trade, while gaining experience building high-end custom millwork for both residential and commercial applications. I also attended BCIT, where I attained my journeyman ticket as well as Red Seal endorsement in Joinery. During this experience I developed a keen eye for quality and design, as well as a love for the craft. In 2007, I moved to Rossland, BC where I worked for a contractor, renovating old homes from the gold rush era and getting really dirty. I continued with my woodworking on the side, all the while making custom furniture and helping friends with kitchen renovations. In 2011, I followed my heart to Halifax, and in doing so found the perfect job with MRB Contracting. If I’m not in the shop creating top-of-the-line cabinetry, you can find me on site with my tool belt on, making jokes and filling up Scott Billard’s tool belt with pebbles. All joking aside, I’m lucky in that I love what I do, and that I’m...

Picture 2
Future tech

We are constantly researching new technologies to improve the performance and longevity of the homes we build. Through this process we learn a lot -both about how new tech can benefit homes, as well as how traditional methods and materials are sometimes a better alternative. Below is a short TED talk with Doris Kim Sung. She is a "biology student turned architect" who has been experimenting with breathable metal surfaces. The implications of her research are very exciting. ...

MRB Contracting, Shoebox, Kingsburg, cladding, siding
Monday photo roundup from Kingsburg

For the most part last week was bitterly cold. Winter's grip was firm as we began cladding Kingsburg 2. And yet we are optimistic. We can't wait to show you the marriage of wood and metal on this one. For now we'll let the photos do the talking.           ...

MRB Contracting, Halifax Nova Scotia, Lindsay
Team profiles: Lindsay Langille

What's your name and job function? Lindsay Langille, Operations Manager Can you talk about your building trade background? I grew up around construction my whole life, from drawing floor plans on restaurant napkins, to driving around "checking jobs" after dinner with Dad. As the daughter of an entrepreneur and land developer, construction was bound to be my path of choice. I graduated from NSCC with Construction Management in 2009 and worked for a commercial construction company for 2 years, before joining MRB in 2011. What's the most satisfying part of your job? The most satisfying part of my job is knowing I am a part of something awesome! And when I say a part of it, I mean it's not just a "job." Doesn't the quote say "if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life!" That's how I feel. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to work with, and I feel proud to be a part of the MRB team! Favourite tool? I'd have to say my favourite tool is our accounting program Xero, it is a web-based program that is incredibly user friendly and allows us to keep our financial data completely up to date and our...

MRB Contracting, ICF construction
MRB attends ICF training course

Last week a few of the guys attended an all day training session put on by Nudura - manufacturers of insulated concrete form blocks, otherwise known as ICF. ICF utilities EPS foam, plasctic and heavy gauge wire, to construct giant Lego-like buidling blocks that act as both concrete forms for walls and  insulators. While ICF technology has been around for over 20 years, it's only in the last few years that it's become a more mainstream building material. At MRB we like using ICF construction and we often use it for basements on new builds. EPS foam has very low VOC's (volatile organic compounds). It can be recycled and it's a flexible building material. ICF walls provide great insulation value by sandwiching a concrete wall between 2 layers of closed cell foam. The workshop was a great refresher for us and we're looking forward to our next ICF project.  ...

MRB Contracting, team,
Team profiles: Robert Emberley

What's your name and job function? Rob Emberley - Carpenter Can you talk about your building trade background? I attended the NSCC for carpentry from 2009 to 2011. I worked framing new homes during the summers of 2010 and 2011. I was put into contact with MRB through a friend that I attended NSCC with, and I have learned more in my time with MRB than I learned in all my previous experiences. What's the most satisfying part of your job? I would have to say the joy of creating is probably the most satisfying part of my job. Seeing an empty lot or an older house transformed into a beautiful home, and seeing every step along the transformation is very satisfying to me. Favourite tool? I would have to say my favourite tool would be my speed square -mostly because of the many uses that extend beyond a simple straight edge. The speed square can be used to find angles, as a lay out tool for wall framing, and as a guide for skill saw cuts. Hobbies? When I'm not working, I enjoy playing music and playing hockey....

MRB Cotracting, galva aluminum siding, halifax north end, renovations
Ironstone updates

It's been a little while since we updated the Ironstone project. Essentially the projects entails a complete gut job of a 120 year old home in Halifax's North End. Most of the structural work on the interior is complete. Among other things, we will be doing some super insulation on this one to keep the heating bills ultra low. In between times the sleek cladding arrived and the boys got to work installing it. We chose a galva-aluminum cladding finished in white. The metal cladding stands in contrast to the sister homes on either side -both clad in wood. And yet the lines and styles are not dissimilar -providing the three row houses their own identities withing a modernist palette.         Even when it's crazy cold, Brian and Angus still find humor in a day's work.   If we can work outside all winter, we can ride our bikes to work. There's free bike parking out back.    ...

Scott Billard: Site foreman
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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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...

MRB Contracting, cladding, Kingsburg, new construction
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!...

MRB Contracting, Halifax Nova Scotia, Mike Burns
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,...

ENERhouse2012
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! ...

MRB Contracting, carpenters, builders, halifax nova scotia
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.   ...

MRB Contracting, shop dogs, working dogs, halifax
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...