OUR BLOG

MRB Contracting, Halifax, renovations, VaproShield, Keel Agencies
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...

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

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

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

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

MRB Contracting, Halifax, NS
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...

MRB Contracting, KIngsburg, Nova Scotia, Modern Architecture
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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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...

MRB Contracting, Ironstone, renovations
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...

MRB Contracting, Kingsburg Nova Scotia
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. ...

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

MRB Contracting, HALIFAX Nova Scotia, Omar Gandhi
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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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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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...

MRB Contracting, kingsburg nova scotia, modern home
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!...

Trunk Studio, MRB Woodshop
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...

MRB Contracting, Kingsburg Nova Scotia, modern architecture
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...

MRB Woodshop, Halifas Nova Scotia,
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. ...

dezeen magazine, MRB Contracting, Omar Gandhi Architect
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.  ...