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MRB Contracting, Clifton Street, footings
Clifton St. | concrete for the footings

Where were we? Yes right, footings. After getting the Form-A-Drain installed it was time to make some forms for interior footings. Then we  draped the Form-A-Drain in drain cloth to keep out silt and other debris that may hamper drainage. The photo below shows the footings before concrete. All the steel is in, and everything is braced and ready to pour. The only way to get the concrete all the way around the footprint of the home is to use a pump truck. Lucky for us it worked out. Otherwise we would have been there quite a while with wheelbarrows. Proper trowling technique is a must. Cory shows us how it's done. The next step is the Delta-Footing cloth. You can never take too many precautions when it comes to moisture mitigation. It's getting cold and we didn't want the fresh concrete freezing overnight. A blanket of hay does the trick. Warm and cozy. The next step is to fill the exterior and interior of the footing with gravel to both provide drainage and bring the grade up for concrete. The stone slinger operator had a great technique in spreading the raining gravel evenly across the house. Now it's it's time to prepare for the ICF installation....

mrb donation
Community involvement | MRB table for Scott Jones

Our photographer friend Kelly Neil is currently holding an online auction to help raise money for Scott Jones. Scott is the victim of a violent attack that left him paralyzed. You can read more news about Scott and community support efforts on his website.   The MRB woodshop designed and built a one-of-a-kind Baltic Birch exposed edge hoop table veneered with high gloss white laminate, on top of custom walnut ply base. You can bid on the table a bunch of other cool local products on Kelly's website. Proceeds go to the Scott Jones fund. Click here to see the items up for auction and help support this noble cause....

MRB Contracting, halifax, foundations, formadrain
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....

mrb contracting, paralam beam, south end reno
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. ...

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

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

MRB Contracting, fence, slats
We build fences too

Summertime. What a better time to build a new fence in the backyard? Traditionally, fences were built to restrict movement across boundaries. In dense urban areas fences are a great way to add privacy. We designed this fence to serve both purposes. The slat design is a recurring theme for us and we've done various interpretations of it. This particular iteration uses the same dimension of wood and space to create a symmetrical viewscape along the property line. The only break in the line is the tree that straddles the  property line. We decided it was best to let nature be and work with the tree. ...

MRB Contracting, north end halifax, modern architecture
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. ...

MRB Contracting, Kingsburg, beach house
Kingsburg II – Shoebox revealed

The Shoebox was designed by Kevin Shoemaker. It consists of two buildings - the main house and the bunk house. We are really pleased with the finished result. Photos by Kelly Neil. ...

Kingsburg, beach house, MRB Contracting
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. ...

MRB Contracting, south end halifax, renovations, parallam
How to install an 850 pound beam

Creating an open living space in an older home is often one of the key facets of a renovation. While on the surface it can seem straight forward - [take out that wall and those posts and patch the ceiling], the reality is that often there are structural demands that require an engineers input. This South End Halifax home had three posts dividing a large living room. A previous addition to the home extended the living outward and the posts were installed to support the beam. In order to remove the two middle posts, an engineer specficied installing a 22' x 18" x 7" parallam beam to span the room. Easy right? Yes and no. We built two supporting walls on either side of the old beam, both on this floor and down below in the basement. These temporary walls will provide support while the old posts and beam are removed. Steevo  uses a sledge hammer to remove the old posts. The old beam was sandwiched between the old floor joists and the newer ones from the previous additions. The red pipes are from the in-floor heating. In the photo below you can see the empty space between the floor joists. The area was widened...

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Amos Wood | in the beginning

Recently we unveiled our Agricola Street renovation project for Amos Wood. Since then, the demolition crew  stripped the inside so that we could get started on our end. Not ones to sit around, we saw it fit to dig out the backyard to cast the supports for the new deck. Because Agricola Street homes are really close together, the only way to dig was by hand. Angus, never too shy to tackle hard work, toiled away for quite some time to get this thing dug. Chester dog was there on this drizzly day to provide moral support as we prepped the forms for concrete. Site forman Scott is meticulous to a fault. Here he is setting up a string line that will act as a control line to measure the 8 concrete supports for the new deck. Scott too doesn't shy away from heavy work. Below we  see him blurring time with his aggressive root chopping pick axe style. Meanwhile, across the back fence lived a prolific apple tree - right in the middle of Canada's largest city east of Montreal. Back to the task at hand, six of eight concrete forms are braced and ready to pour. And voila! It seems as if four-foot-deep stepping stones landed...

table_winner
A happy winner!

Mieke stopped by the office this week to pick up the table her husband John DeWolf won in our giveaway a few weeks ago. Congratulations guys! We hope you enjoy it. For more information about our tables and custom furniture visit the our shop page on our website. ...

CBC news, deck collapse
Dartmouth deck collapse | what we learned

The deck collapse that happened in Dartmouth this past week has a lot of people talking about proper construction methods and also wondering about their own safety. Decks are not unlike houses in that they require the same engineering principles to handle the load capacity that they are designed for. The way decks are supported and attached to a home, especially if they are elevated, should receive as much attention and importance as the home itself. After all, they are living spaces and we should feel as safe on them as we would in our living rooms. [caption id="attachment_1745" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Multilevel decks in West Halifax[/caption] And because decks are exposed to weather year-round, extra care must be taken wherever wood makes contact with concrete, or even with other wood, where moisture may stay for long periods of time deteriorating the integrity of the lumber. It’s also important to note that building codes usually delineate the baseline or minimum requirements for construction processes. Conscientious builders and homeowners alike tend to exceed the minimum standards to unsure safety, and just as importantly, a longer lifespan. [caption id="attachment_2663" align="aligncenter" width="510"] It's always best when wood and concrete don't make direct contact.[/caption] For more information on HRM's...

MRB Contracting, renovations, north end halifax, flats
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. ...

MRB Contracting, renovations, garage, cedar deck, construction
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. ...

MRB Contracting, Halifax NS, renovations, modern architecture, halifax contractor
Our holistic approach

We live in a world of specialization. The natural world however is built on diversity. In residential construction, specialization often manifests itself in the stages of a home build. It’s not uncommon for a company to build the foundation, another to frame the home, another to do cladding, and yet another to do interior finishes. We like the holistic approach. Our carpenters work on a new build from the foundation all the way to the finish details. In building, errors at the foundation have a cumulative effect through the framing and on up to the trim and finishes. By being involved in the entire process we have a vested interest in achieving the best possible results each step of the way. We know that our framing will line up on the foundation. We know that the windows will fit in the rough openings. We know that our finishes will look clean and intentional. The approach of focusing on the whole could be a metaphor for modern living. Perhaps the specialization model that permeates across most industries is creating an unnatural system. The jack of all trades approach could just be the best new “old” way of doing things....

MRB Contracting, agricola street, renovations, Amos Wood
Agricola Street: Amos Wood renovation

Over the last few years, Agricola Street in Halifax's North End has been undergoing urban renewal. New buildings have cropped up housing businesses and people. Many of the old salt box homes on the street have been renovated, often maintaining the colourfull historic charm of this stretch of Halifax. MRB is embarking on a project to renovate an old building, which in its current state is all but habitable. From stone-filled milk crates and concrete blocks holding down the tarped roof, to the dilapidated exterior finishes, the home is in desperate need of structural and aesthetic work. The scope? to completely gut the interior of the structure and develop the space into a work live unit. The downstairs will host a showroom for Amos Wood - a specialty wood prodcuts business based in Block House, Nova Scotia. Upstairs will be developed into a modern flat. [caption id="attachment_3546" align="aligncenter" width="380"] Sidewalk view[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3548" align="aligncenter" width="510"] You don't see random shingle patterns like this all too often.[/caption] We'll keep you posted with project updates in the coming months....

MRB Contracting, google analytics, web visits
10,000 – the magic number

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, has a theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given activity. This blog post is not about that. We simply wanted to say that we've now had over 10,000 people  visit our website. And that is something! Drop us a comment and tell us what you like about our blog so we can continue to create the content you love. ...

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