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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27 Aug Inspirations: Larry Haun

What does it mean to be a carpenter? I ask myself that question from time to time. In today’s residential construction, being a carpenter includes knowing how to work with many types of materials and systems -not just wood. And yet knowing how to work with wood, how to measure, cut and assemble complex structures, is still very much at the core of what we do. For inspiration I always look towards the masters. Larry Haun is one such inspiration. The man could drive a framing spike with two strikes of his hammer. He grew up during the Great Depression and honed his building skills through the post war California housing boom. He was a regular contributor to Fine Homebuilding Magazine and wrote extensively about building practices. There's a great piece on Larry Haun's life's work on the New York Times....

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MRB Contracting, renovations, decks, garage, contractor, halifax

22 Aug Garage redux

What better time of year to tear down an old carport/deck? One of our teams has been working down in St. Margaret's Bay on just such a project. The old structure flanks a beautiful house with views of the bay. The new structure will feature a fully insulated two-car garage with a giant deck on top. Here are a few photos of the project so far.   The below-grade side of the garage will be protected from cold with ICF walls.     Summer mornings in Halifax. What an amazing place to live! ...

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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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MRB Contracting, Halifax, renovations, modern architecrture, Omar Gandhi Architect, contractor Halifax

30 Jul West End reno wrap up

Perhaps you thought we'd forgotten to show you what the West End reno looked like when it was finished. Nope. Here are a few teaser  shots by Ricardo from MRB and Omar Gandhi - these will give you an idea until we get the final set of pro photos for our portfolio. This project came out nicely and we'd like to sincerely thank everyone involved. [caption id="attachment_3195" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Scott and Simon review final details of the project on the back deck. This photo really shows the scale of the large upstairs window. The views from up there are stunning.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3210" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Evening Instagram photo by Omar Gandhi[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_3190" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Flooring detail.[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="510"] Bath detial Instagram photo by Omar Gandhi[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_3187" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Upstairs view of the backyard before sodding.[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="510"] Evening Instagram photo by Omar Gandhi[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3209" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Exterior cladding detail Instagram photo by Omar Gandhi[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3211" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Evening Instagram photo by Omar Gandhi[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="510"] Scott was the project foreman for the West End reno. He's happy with the outcome.[/caption]...

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MRB Contracting, Shoebox, Kingsburg, cladding, siding

23 Jul The importance of proper rain screening

What's a rain screen? Here's the Wiki definition: ..the rainscreen is the first interruption between conditions that exist on the outside of a walled building and conditions that are required on the inside of a walled building. [caption id="attachment_2577" align="aligncenter" width="510"] VentGrid rain screen provides a 1/2" air space between the moisture barrier and cladding.[/caption] Weather in the Maritimes is of often characterized by driving rain and gale force winds. Keeping water from entering behind exterior walls is practically impossible. Proper rain screening allows both drainage and air flow -ensuring that water drains and dries. We use various forms of rain screen depending on the cladding program. Below is an interesting abbreviated history of previous technology solutions that failed. Our friends over at Keel Agencies originally posted this article written by Dan Morrison for Builder Magazine. [caption id="attachment_2211" align="aligncenter" width="478"] 5/4" pressure treated strapping provides over an 1" of air space.[/caption] 1930s Paint peels off walls after wall cavities are filled with a new product — insulation. Because walls do not dry evenly in an insulated wall, moisture pushed its way outward. Result: Paint peeled off in sheets, first “insulation is evil" cries break the airwaves. Solution: vapor retarders, like kraft-faced insulation 1970s Vapor retarders graduate to...

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19 Jul and the Harvest Table winner is….!!!

Congratulations to John DeWolf! You are the winner of this beautiful hand crafted harvest table built here in the MRB Contracting wood shop. Please contact our Operations Manager,  Lindsay at 902.455.3202 for details on claiming your prize. Thanks to all of you who participated in our giveaway. As we stated in the original contest post last week, we will be making a series of these tables for sale. Below is a photo of our most recent addition - this one was also made with locally sourced pine -the aluminium legs were fabricated in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. For more information on this harvest table visit our shop page. ...

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MRB Contracting, dump trailers, housekeeping,

18 Jul Housekeeping: trailer makeovers

Even though we're as busy as usual, we have to take advantage of these warm sunny days to take care of our gear. Our two well-used dump trailers needed some maintenance.  From lubing up all the moving parts, to grinding off rust, to a fresh paint and wood panels, the trailers are getting complete makeovers. Nothing feels better than taking care of our tools. ...

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MRB Contracting, halifax nova scotia, contractor, builder,

16 Jul What our clients are saying

MRB's perfectionism is seen in every inch and corner of our cottage. Erica & Rick Baker The challenges of having renovations to a 20 year old home would have been daunting since my husband passed away, if not for the excellent consideration and professionalism taken by Mike Burns and his most efficient crew. Rosemary LeFresne ...

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MRB Contracting, halifax, nova scotia, custom furniture, harvest table


Want to win this table? This pine and aluminium harvest table was constructed in our woodshop using locally sourced lumber and metal fabrication. And we are giving it away via our Facebook page. The contest rules are easy: 'Like' our Facebook page Share the Harvest Table giveaway status update on your wall All entries will get their name into a hardhat We will choose  a winner when our page reaches 500 'Likes' or after 2 weeks Over the last few years MRB woodshop has produced various types of furniture . We’ve created giant outdoor tables from rough hewn lumber, the Station Chair, modern office desks featuring metal and wood, and finally the custom cabinetry we are well known for. Stay tuned for new pieces, or if you’d like us to build something for you, please contact us or stop by the office....

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MRB Contracting, Halifax renovations, contractors, custom carpentry

11 Jul Purcell’s Cove room makeover

Sometimes we get jobs that challenge our ingenuity. This was such a project. The upstairs room featured a large open area with low vaulted ceilings in various angles. On top of that, there were quite a few existing skylights. The task was to add a diving wall to create a new bedroom space - leaving the landing area as a den/sitting room. In addition, we needed to match the stain on the other doors and trim. In old homes such as this one it's rare to find square or straight lines anywhere. Steevo worked out the numbers to create a wall that would dissect the room in the most natural way - without interfering with the skylights and blending some angles to create a more uniform appearance. We painted the entire space for a fresh clean look. Matching a stain to an existing older look is quite tough. We think these turned out pretty well after two coats of stain and two coats of varnish.   Below are a few photos of the finished project. ...

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MRB Cotracting

09 Jul Staging

Contrary to how it may seem, this is not the set  of some construction themed Off-Broadway production. The fellas have been upgrading their safety training. This time around was a scaffolding safety course. More to come. ...

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MRB Contracting, renovations, halifax, nova scotia, contractors,

04 Jul West End Reno updates

You thought we'd forgotten didn't you? Nope. The West End reno is almost complete. In recent days most of the work has consisted of getting the electrical work, drywall, paint and other finishes compeleted. We did manage to get a few photos to keep you up to date. Next update we'll have photos of the amazing cabinets built in our wood shop. [caption id="attachment_2900" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Omar Gandhi photo[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2901" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Omar Gandhi photo[/caption] ...

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