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    • Creating a Fire-Resistant Home

      September 02, 2023

      It seems likely that building codes across Canada, including the BC Building Code, will be amended to address the rapidly growing threat of wildfires. The question is when – building codes changes seem to take place at glacial speed.

      But for people in our area who are considering a new build, or rebuilding a home damaged or destroyed by our recent wildfires, there are many tried and true practical methods of substantially fireproofing your house. And these methods (many of which can be used to retrofit an existing home) typically don’t involve substantially higher costs.

      The key thing to remember is that most homes lost in wildfires aren’t engulfed by a wall of flames. Instead, it’s the rain of embers deposited on houses by winds that spark the ignition (remember, embers can fly up to 10 kilometres ahead of a fire). And so practical fireproofing efforts focus on not giving those embers a chance to ignite the structure or anything in close proximity to the structure. These methods fall into two broad categories: fireproofing the structure, and fireproofing the yard or area surrounding the structure. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should give you a general idea of what to take into consideration when planning for a build or rebuild.

      Fireproofing the Structure

      As noted above, practical fireproofing efforts for your home are generally intended to prevent embers getting a necessary foothold and morphing into a blaze. An ember can become a full-blown fire when it comes into contact with flammable materials such as wood shingles or siding, gutters filled with leaves, or when it’s drawn inside the home via vents or broken windows.

      • Exterior Cladding: consider using fireproof materials such as concrete siding (i.e., HardiePlank), metal siding, stucco, and cultured stone. Avoid vinyl or wood siding products. Consider using fire-resistant materials such as LP Smartside Trim for window trims and fascia. Metal should be your only choice for soffit material, under roof overhangs and decks. And deck framing should never be left exposed underneath – these are areas where flames will be trapped and extreme heat will exist during a blaze.
      • Roofing: You should only be considering roofing materials that have a Class A fire-rating. These include metal roofing, high quality fibreglass asphalt shingles, torch down roofing, and concrete tiles (note that shingles or tile roofing systems must interlock tightly and not have openings that embers can find a home in). And while West Coast style homes with flat roofs are becoming more and more popular, homes with more pitch (slope) have been shown to be more fire-resistant, as embers tend to roll off. Generally speaking, you want to eliminate any nooks and crannies on your roof that can trap an ember for long enough for it to ignite the underlying structure.
      • Decks Surfaces: Decks are potentially a weak link in the event of a fire. Slatted wood decks are to be avoided. Some types of composite decking, particularly tightly fit together, offer a modest improvement. The most fire-resistant material for decks is concrete. If you insist on one of the very popular PVC or vinyl deck membranes, remember that, installed over plywood, this material only gives you a modest improvement over wood or composite slats. But if a layer of cement board is installed over the plywood, and PVC decking is installed on top the cement board, this achieves a Class A fire rating.
      • Venting: Your home has many, many vents, including kitchen and dryer vents, soffit venting, bathroom vents, and roof venting. All of these can suck embers into your home or attic. Quality aluminum soffit venting has openings that are too small for embers to pass through. But many other vents are suspect given they have openings of 1/4 inch or larger. It’s vital to ensure that vent screens for all vents, including roof vents, have openings no larger than 1/8 inch – and preferably, they’re even smaller.
      • Windows: Embers won’t be an issue for your windows. But with a nearby blaze, windows are the weakest link of any home. Extreme heat can shatter glass. Fortunately, our area has long-mandated double glazing (two layers of glass), which can withstand a fire for longer than single glazed. But if you really want to improve your window protection, consider triple glazing, or tempered glass. Tempered glass comes standard in all patio doors, but upgrading all your windows to tempered glass can make a difference – it doesn’t shatter nearly as easily. Finally, if you really want to make sure your windows aren’t your home’s weakest link, consider metal roll up shutters.
      • Doors: For many people, nothing beats the beauty of wood. But fire loves wood. Consider metal or metal cladding for any exterior doors, and that includes any overhead or garage doors. Many modern garage doors have glass inserts. If these are desired, ensure they are of double-glazed tempered glass, and not acrylic.
      • Fire Sprinklers: If you’re building new, consider installing integrated and automatic fire sprinkler systems for your roof and deck areas.

      Outside Your Home

      You can greatly improve your home’s ability to withstand a wildfire by creating a fire-resistant outdoor space. The goal is to create a defensive perimeter that has few or no features that can easily ignite and, in turn, ignite your home.

      • Outdoor Structures: Use non-flammable building products for any outdoor structures such as decks, fences, gazebos, pergolas and sheds.
      • Trees & Plants: consider creating an area of zero vegetation in the first few meters of the perimeter of your home, covering it with pea gravel or other rock material. There are many, many types of plants that are fire-resistant (for example, French Lavender and California Lilac). Plants to avoid are cedars, pines, bamboo and rosemary. Space any shrubs or trees appropriately so that, if they do ignite, they won’t immediately ignite neighbouring plants. Limit the height of any trees in your yard.
      • Rainwater Collection: There’s an ever increasing variety of large scale water collection and storage systems that you can employ during our rainier seasons and periods. You can use these systems to keep your property well-watered during water conservation seasons.
      • Clear Any Fuel: It goes without saying that landscape waste is essentially tinder for a fire. Keep landscape waste as far away as possible from your structure or anything ignitable.
      • Neighbourhood Collaboration: Consider creating a neighbourhood collaboration with your neighbours to assess surrounding properties and mitigate fire threats as a whole. Your personal fireproofing efforts might be enough to save your home in a wildfire, but your odds of success are that much greater if your neighbours’ houses and yards are also fire-resistant to the greatest extant possible.

      Here at Copper Island Fine Homes, we are working double-time to get even more up to speed on practical methods of maximizing fire resistance in our work as we move forward after this incredibly difficult time. Please contact us at any time to discuss your build or rebuild and its fire-resistant features and safety precautions.

    • Wildfire & Rebuilding Update

      August 23, 2023

      Here at Copper Island Fine Homes, we have been devastated to see the destruction caused by the wildfires of the past week. But we're also inspired by the bravery and resilience that we've seen displayed by the fire crews who are working tirelessly to extinguish the blaze, and local residents who have been so greatly impacted by this unparalleled natural disaster. We've been working hard to answer the many phone calls and queries we've received to date, and it has quickly become apparent that we needed to create a working document to help people who are already starting to think about the enormous task of rebuilding their Shuswap dreams. Please click here to access this document, and keep in mind that we will update it as circumstances and new information require.

      Marcus Picton, CEO & General Manager, Copper Island Fine Homes

    • Fire Smart

      August 17, 2023

      It's difficult to think about business when unchecked wildfires are threatening the homes and lives of so many of our Shuswap neighbours.

      As of today, the communities of Lee Creek and Scotch are under evacuation alert by the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District (CSRD). The BC Wildfire Service continues to report some “significant southeastward” growth on the Lower East Adams Lake Fire, which is now an estimated 100 square kilometers in size. What's most concerning is that the forecast for tonight (August 17) and tomorrow includes risk of high winds and thunderstorms -- exactly what we don't need as this fire rages around us.

      The reality is that we could see an escalation of the evacuation alert to an evacuation order at any minute. We urge our neighbours on the North Shore to keep in mind how vulnerable we are given that we have just one primary exit route (the Squilax-Anglemont Road), and to heed the alert and the order to evacuate if it materializes.

      There are actions you can take right now. We urge you to pre-register for Emergency Support Services at Scotch Creek Lee Creek Fire Hall between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., as long as the evacuation alert is in place. We also urge you to pre-plan and arrange for emergency accommodation if required. Make sure you have your grab-and-go-bags filled with important personal items like medication, glasses and important documents packed and readily available. Those who need to leave their property should also bring their grab-and-go bags in case the alert is upgraded to an order while they’re away, as they won’t be able to return to their property.

      Also, please make sure you have the Alertable App downloaded to your phone. And you should prepare now to have enough resources on hand to shelter in place for 72 hours.

      Meanwhile, if you're not a North Shore resident but would like to help, we urge you to sign up and offer shelter to those evacuated by fires.

      Stay abreast of the latest news about this wildfire by clicking here. Here are some other important links:

      More critical tips and information can be seen in the graphic below.

    • Landscaping: The Finishing Touch

      July 29, 2023

      One of the final steps of the new home building process is landscaping. Here at Copper Island Fine Homes, we're happy to be involved in our clients' landscaping vision. But the reality is that landscaping is a highly personal aspect of new construction -- and one that most of our clients want to take the lead on after they've moved into their new Shuswap dream home. So we're happy to refer most clients to any of our area's highly reputable landscaping businesses...or even simply make some suggestions if they want to DIY their yard beautication.

      Last week, Marcus Picton, Copper Island Fine Homes CEO and General Manager, snapped a few photos of a home we completed in April in the Highlands subdivision of Shuswap Lake Estates. In this case, the new homeowners opted to hire a Salmon Arm-based landscaping contractor, Everything Earth Landscaping & Rockwork. As Marcus discovered, and as shown in the photos below, the company did a superb job of our clients' yard. In particular, we love how they used straight lines and right angles (especially in the feature Allen Block area beside the driveway) to complement the modern look of the home's profile and exterior finishing.

      If you've got questions about landscaping your project, or are looking for suggestions for landscaping contractors, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us


    • Highlands Builds Continue

      July 24, 2023

      Over the past few years, we've built a number of new homes in the beautiful Highlands subdivision of Shuswap Lake Estates. We're continuing that tradition with yet another view walkout rancher, which we're just getting ready to start in September for two clients who are relocating back to Canada from Mexico.

      Like most homes in the Highlands, this new build will feature stunning views of Copper Island and the Shuswap Lake. As you can see in the renderings below, the 1,420 square foot home will have a walkout, fully-finished basement, an oversized garage that's almost 600 square feet, and a beautiful partially covered sundeck that's accessed from the great room.

      The plan has been created by Meyer Designs out of Coldstream. Many of the home's finishes have yet to be determined. We'll be posting photos when we dig the foundation in a couple of months. Our sincere thanks to our new clients for entrusting us with their Shuswap dream home.

    • Gorgeous Deck Ceiling

      July 15, 2023

      We're always amazed with the creativity that many of our clients bring to their own projects. A great example of this can be found at one of current builds, a beautiful rancher that we're wrapping up in the Highlands subdivision of Shuswap Lake Estates.

      In this case, our clients wanted to add some natural materials to the upper deck to create a feeling of warmth when they're outside. So instead of a typical ceiling made from aluminum soffit material, they opted for a wood ceiling. We sourced some really nice tongue & groove cedar from Valleyview Industries out of Kamloops. Derek Lidstone of Lidstone Construction, who we've subcontracted to side this project for us, agreed to install it. He applied a clear coat stain on the cedar before installing. The result, as you can see in the photo below, is simply stunning!

      Derek has also completed all the Hardieplank siding and will be finishing up wrapping the posts and beams in fir as he works to finish the exterior. Inside, we're moving along as well. Laminate flooring and tile has installed, and baseboards and cabinet installs take place this coming week. We're aiming to complete this project by the middle of August to allow our clients the last few weeks of summer in their new home. 

    • Same Site, New House

      July 09, 2023

      Back in 2019, on the slopes above Celista on the Shuswap's North Shore, we completed a beautiful carriage house on a stunning two acre view property. The project featured living quarters and a huge open shop/storage area. It allowed the owners, originally from Alberta, to move themselves and their possessions onto the property while they completed plans for a main house. With a vision for the future, we made sure this project included both hydro and septic capacity for both structures.

      We're pleased to say we're back onsite, building that main house. Below you can see some photos of the framing well underway, with our trusted framing crew from Madera Contracting taking the lead role. We're getting close to having the roof fully finished and the structure ready for window and exterior door delivery. Throughout July, our Project Manager, Doug Mann, will be moving crews forward with HVAC, plumbing and electrical rough-ins.

      Our clients have engaged the services of designer Tanya Wassen, of Spot On Interior Design in Kamloops. Her eye for detail and the amount of information she provides will make the rough-in stage move forward smoothly, and we're looking forward to working with her through this entire project. 

      Watch for more details about this exciting project in the next few months.

    • Tougher Than Drywall

      June 22, 2023

      Here at Copper Island Fine Homes, we build a lot of shops and garages. To date, we've typically drywalled these types of projects -- after all, finished drywall gives a clean, polished look. But in work-use buildings, drywall has big disadvantage, in that it's easily scuffed or damaged.

      That was top of mind for one of our current workshop clients, who wanted something as attractive as drywall, but had the ability to withstand the bangs and bruises that come from daily use. So we sourced an alternative that's been developed by Trusscore, an Ontario-based company. Trusscore's flagship product is a system of interlocking PVC panels that can be installed on interior walls and ceilings in garages, workshops, storage units, barns and more.

      The panels, which replace drywall and fiber-reinforced products, are much easier to install and have a crisp, clean finished appearance. Just as important, they are incredibly strong and durable, thanks to nanotechnology. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we could source the product locally from Salmon Arm Home Building Centre. Below are some photos of how the product looks in our project. Note the Trusscore SlatWall panels, where are an on-the-wall organization system that’s easy to install, built to last, and seamlessly integrates with Trusscore Wall & Ceiling Board.

      You can learn more about this product at

    • Eleven Years Later...

      June 17, 2023

      We love it when our past clients pay us the ultimate compliment by having us come back and complete another project for them.

      That was the case recently, when the owners of a beautiful Copper Island custom home in Recline Ridge approached us with a request to finish their walkout basement. When we originally built the home 11 years ago, the owners had no use for any substantial finishing in the basement -- they were content to use it mainly for storage. Over the years, their needs have changed, and so they asked us to come back and update the entire lower level.

      "We installed flooring, doors, trim, and lighting, and completed the entire bathroom," explains CIFH Project Manager Heidi Friesen, who oversaw the update. "The client had us carry the colour, theme and style from the main floor down into the basement. It blended beautifully and still looks and feels like a modern home today."

      You can see some of the work in the photos below. Our thanks to our staff and sub-trades for their excellent work on this update -- and to our clients for their continued trust!

    • Give Me a Sign!

      June 10, 2023

      Many of you have no doubt seen our billboard on the south side of the Trans Canada Highway, just east of Balmoral corner. We've had it up for years...too many, in fact. We recently came to the conclusion that it was definitely in need of being updated to something more modern. So that's exactly what we did this week, and we're really proud of the result, which you can see in the photo below.

      We wanted to create something eyecatching and more creative than your typical highway billboard. So we chose two of our most recent builds and fitted the images so that we could cut away the rooflines in order to create what's almost a 3D effect. Our thanks to Mike DeFelice and his staff at High Impact Signs & Designs for the great work.

      Next time you find yourself heading from Blind Bay to Salmon Arm, please take a look. And if you like what you see, please let us know!