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    • Marrying Steel and Timber

      November 27, 2020

      Lumber is one of the most amazing construction materials -- it's tough and durable, and allows for incredibly flexible house designs. But sometimes, it's just not strong enough.

      That's the case at one of our current projects on Eagle Bay Road. This waterfront West Coast beauty features a great deal of glass to take advantage of the amazing Shuswap vistas. And because of that, our engineers prescribed steel to replace lumber in one particularly critical area of the home. It provides a great deal of extra strength for the entire structure, which will be particularly important during those occasional high wind events we get throughout the year.

      You can see the steel section in the photos below. It's called a moment frame -- a rectilinear assemblage of beams and columns, with the beams rigidly connected to the columns. Resistance to lateral forces (for example, high winds) is provided primarily by rigid frame action -- that is, by the development of bending moment and shear force in the frame members and joints. Now that it's been craned into place and secured, our expanded crew can get on with the rest of the framing and sheathing, hopefully before winter arrives in earnest.

      The entire site and garage have been backfilled with gravel which improves cold weather compaction and creates a nice clean working space with excellent water drainage -- ideal for fall and winter construction. Trusses, roofing and window installation are scheduled in the weeks ahead.

      One of the challenges with this build was the steepness of the driveway in the original plan. We made a decision to change the location after careful consultation with our onsite teams, in order to reduce the grade. To achieve this, we are taking advantage of the public access road west of the home and creating a simple U-shaped driveway. Not only is it much less steep, it's also less expensive for the home owner and allows for more room for the septic field.

      This is yet another challenging and amazing project that we feel privileged to be working on. Watch for more updates in the weeks ahead.

    • Red Tape Delays...

      November 19, 2020

      We’re finally underway with this new lakefront build in St. Ives. The problem is, we’re getting started so late in the season. The reason? It’s taken us six months get our final permit approvals from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, or CSRD. We started the permit process for this home on May 7, 2020 and have only received our approvals.

      We believe these types of delays are being experienced by other builders. The reasons are unknown to us, but we’ll concede that some of the problems are likely due to COVID-19. We hope to work with the CSRD and see how we can all figure out some ways to improve permit turn-around time-frames.

      This home involves a teardown of an existing house. We received our demolition permit on November 2, and we were then able to complete the teardown last week. That allowed us to proceed with digging the new home’s foundation. We’re now working to get ahead of the upcoming snow and winter weather with larger-than-normal foundation and framing crews standing by.

      Meanwhile, we’re working through other challenges. A tight location and challenging soils requiring additional geotechnical assessment have been necessary for the septic system design, to ensure ground water does not mix with effluent. Another problem that’s been resolved deals is creating sufficient fire code separation—this requires fire-rated plywood for the east and west walls.

      We’re pleased to say that our structural engineering has passed inspection, and as soon as we’re able, we’ll start footing forming followed by the basement foundation walls using ICF Fox Blocks.

      The design selection process with our homeowners is underway for all major finishing components inside and out.

      Some of those features include Eldorado Cliffstone Boardwalk stone veneer, Charcoal Elite overhead doors with glass panels, custom-stained timbers from Daizen Joinery, stained Douglas Fir T&G soffits, vertical HardiePlank siding, black metal clad windows, stained fiberglass doors, and a standing seam metal roof.

      HVAC selections are also complete, with heating and cooling provided via a Lennox furnace, a 16 SEER heat pump, zoned heating and cooling system (both floors independent with own thermostats and ducting), Merc 16 pleated air cleaner, heat recovery ventilator, flow-through humidifier and furnace acid condensate neutralizer (prevents acid damage to septic fields – not a Code requirement but just another caring detail that we take of).

      As you can see from the plans below, the style is all West Coast, with extensive use of glass and timber. More updates to follow for this gorgeous new build.

    • Off the Grid!

      November 05, 2020

      This past summer, we started construction of a new custom home in tranquil Turtle Valley. Our clients, a wonderful young family from the Lower Mainland, wanted to relocate to the Shuswap as a lifestyle choice, and fell in love with the property when they first saw it. After purchasing it, they contracted Copper Island Fine Homes to build their new family home.

      The major hurdle that we all discovered was energizing the home with hydro. Together, we explored options with BC Hydro, but when we finally got an estimate of $80,000 to bring power to the property and learned that it would take a year or more to design, a decision was made to build the house off the grid using renewable energy.

      Part of that means a stunning solar array, already installed at the property as you can see in the top photo below. In addition to solar power and rechargeable batteries, the home will also utilize a propane furnace heating system during the colder months.

      We’re currently running three weeks behind schedule due to delays in foundation and framing construction, but we’re now making up time and working hard to get back on schedule. Fortunately, we are now entirely weatherproof, just in time as the snow begins to fly in earnest. As you can see in the other photos below, our heating and plumbing mechanical installs are complete, as are electrical rough-ins. That’s allowed us to begin insulation, and we’ve now spray-foamed our bumpouts, rim joists and exterior water lines. We’re currently installing batts and getting ready for blown-in ceiling insulation.

      The house is at lockup, with exterior doors installed and the garage sheeted for security. We’ve installed a sub-trade access door to minimize damage to the main house entry door. Drywall has been measured and ordered, and a beautiful wood burning fireplace has been installed.

      Outside, soffits are complete, and our siding and trims are on site and ready for installation. Duradek decking has been installed and railings are on order.

      There are some remaining challenges brought by the remoteness of the property. For example, the solar array, while up and functioning perfectly, doesn’t provide sufficient power to operate the industrial space heaters we need for drywall curing. Project Manager Dean Friesen is exploring all options with the homeowners to ensure we get proper heat to maintain construction schedule and proper drying. These options include a commercial generator and an electric furnace with fans. Another challenge is the long dirt road with significant slope and sharp curves -- it poses access challenges for heavy loads such as drywall and cabinet deliveries. We’re doing our best to bring loads in during weather breaks and adjust schedules and trade starts to work around these deliveries. Plow trucks are standing by as needed for snow clearing, sanding and vehicle extrication.

      In other words, we’re all up for the challenges!

    • Rock Solid

      October 31, 2020

      One of our current projects involves pouring quite possibly the most challenging foundation we’ve ever undertaken. Not that we shy away from a challenge!

      The project, a complete teardown and new build on Eagle Bay Road, is on a typically steep lakefront lot. It’s a complex site with a sloping grade that requires us to first form, pour and backfill the lower foundation for the main house, and then form and pour the footings and foundation for the upper garage. The process involves specialized structural and geotechnical engineering – for example, we’re backfilling with two to six inch rock beneath the garage footings, and using 15 mm rebar in a tight grid in the footings and foundation walls due to soil composition and height.

      After initial delays due to permitting, we’re entirely on schedule with the foundation process, thanks to the skills and efforts of our excavation contractor, Darcy Lessard, and our foundation and framing crew led by Steven Neufeld. This has allowed us to complete our underslab plumbing and prepare the basement for radiant heat installation (you can see the PEX pipe laid out in one of the photos below). Our pressure tests and inspections for this plumbing work have all passed with flying colours.

      This week, we’ll pour the basement slab, along with the garage footings and wall. Often we’ll wait to pour a slab until the roof is on in order to provide protection from the elements. But the projected sunny weather this week is allowing us to proceed with the slab now, saving our clients money on concrete heating and hoarding costs if we had waited until the roof was complete.

      This truly is a Copper Island Fine Home. As such, it features premium grade lumber, as opposed to standard construction grade. This lumber is just one step below Japanese-grade lumber, recognized as the best in the world. Using this lumber minimizes stud warping, checking, wall movements and drywall cracking down the road. We’re also employing a steel moment frame for structural stability on the lakefront wall, as prescribed by our structural engineers to limit wall movement due to significant volumes of glass. This is on site and ready for installation once the main floor is sheeted.

      Trusses, windows, exterior doors and roofing are all ordered, and sub-trades scheduled. We’re continuing to place more emphasis on pre-ordering well in advance to curb supply challenges brought by COVID-19.

      We’re extremely pleased with our progress, which should allow us to achieve our goal of having the roof sheeted and the entire structure weatherproofed before the snow really starts to fly.

    • Worth the Wait!

      October 23, 2020

      It's always a great day when we see the results of our work and hand off a new home to happy clients.

      We'll confess that we experienced our share of delays with this stunning new build on Eagle Bay Road. There were delays in our permitting with several government agencies, for both demolition of the existing home and the onset of construction of the new home. And COVID-19 also resulted in delays for several of our trusted trades. Nevertheless, we were in constant communication throughout with our clients, who were patient and understanding during the entire process, and are now ecstatic with the finished home. But don't take our word for it.

      "From the very start, Greg’s in-house team, including Dean, Melody, Kathy and Heidi, were a pleasure to work with and were in constant communication with us," our clients recently wrote in a testimonial. "In addition, the on-site contractors were polite and professional, and worked to ensure the highest building standards...When we met with Heidi and Dean for the handover, we were assured that Copper Island Fine Homes would stand by their workmanship and ensure that any deficiencies, questions or repairs would be dealt with promptly. We would highly recommend Copper Island Fine Homes to anyone building a new home and would be more than happy to talk directly about our experience."

      You can read their greatly appreciated testimonial, and testimonials from dozens more of our past clients, here

      As always, we're incredibly proud of all of the efforts of our in-house team and our extended family of sub-trades. The fact that they have continued to deliver such outstanding work in the midst of this pandemic speaks volumes!

    • Rural Renewal

      October 02, 2020

      We don’t really like to pat ourselves on the back too much, but it does seem as though we have become the Shuswap’s lakefront home renewal specialists. We’ve now completed more than a dozen whole-home teardown/new construction or renovation projects on or near the shores of the Shuswap Lake. And we’re just about to start yet another one.

      The existing Scotch Creek home, which has been owned essentially as a recreational property by the Kamloops owners, just didn’t have the space needed for a growing extended family. We were referred to the owners by neighbours who we completed a renovation for a few years ago.

      The owners asked us to explore the idea of building a second story on the existing home to create the needed space. But together, we determined that it simply wasn’t going to be cost effective or practical. So enter plan B--removing the entire house, followed by construction of an impressive new two story design.

      Our first telephone contact with the homeowners took place this past February. We then had our first site meeting in late May, during the heart of the pandemic. By August, the owners had settled on preliminary plans, and in September, those plans began to be finalized.

      Currently, we’re working on permitting and refining the design and finishing choices. The finished home will have a 1,436 square foot main floor, a 1,037 square foot upper floor, and a 711 square foot oversized garage. There will be four bedrooms, with the master on the main floor. Soaring 11-foot ceilings, varying pitch gable roof, and board and batten siding will all contribute to a stunning finished product.

      Besides permitting, we’re also working on a hydrogeological septic design to replace the existing aging system, riparian lake assessment to maintain the pristine foreshore, and a simple simple asbestos site remediation along with a CSRD demolition permit so that we can begin the house removal process.

      The existing home is shown below, along with the designer’s rendering of what will replace it. Stay tuned for more updates.

    • Concrete At Last!

      September 24, 2020

      We’re finally underway at an extensive tear-down/rebuild project on a stunning Eagle Bay waterfront lot.

      Ideally, we would have loved to have been well underway with this project at this point early in the fall, but Ministry of Environment approval delays forced us to slow down. However, earlier this week, we finally poured the footings for what will be an exquisite new home, and we’ll be pressing hard to get foundation walls poured next week. It’s always a balancing act trying to get back on schedule with winter approaching, pushing forward but taking great care to not compromise quality. As always, we’re confident we can achieve this balance.

      Our work to date in order to reach the footings milestone has been somewhat extraordinary. Drain rock and filter cloth was prescribed by our geotechnical engineers due to the discovery of underground water. The approximately 12 to 18 inches of drain rock extends well past the footings to ensure no hydrological pressure under the finished slab. We also pre-drilled the underground water line in advance of footings, with the service coming up inside furnace room in the exact location required.

      We’re pleased as always to note that our footing inspection by CSRD officials passed with flying colours.

      Note the black silt fencing on the lakeside of the foundation as prescribed by our riparian biologist to ensure lake protection from silt and sediment run off. We’ve also prepped the site with poly sheeting on the east side of the foundation to protect the neighbours’ bank from rain and sluffing.

      While we’re getting to work on foundation and framing of the actual structure, we’ll also be continuing outside with the design for extensive Allan Block retaining walls on the lake side to replace existing concrete walls that are in poor shape. Septic field design continues as well, as the field and tank location have been extremely challenging to determine due to lot slope and proximity to lake.

      Our homeowners, who have vacationed for decades here but are are relocating from Calgary full-time, are well into their design phase and selections of appliances, cabinets, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, decking, windows, exterior doors, siding, and roofing. We’re working together to do everything we can to have selections made well in advance and orders placed because of anticipated manufacturing delays due to COVID-19.

      Watch for more updates on what promises to be one of our most outstanding (and challenging) projects.

    • Handoff in the Heights

      September 18, 2020

      As we hand off yet another Copper Island Fine Home to happy clients, we’re reminded that each house we build involves a relationship.

      In this case, we’re handing over the keys for a home that we started building early this year. But the actual process began in July, 2018, when we first met our clients, who are from Alberta and wanted to retire in Blind Bay. They needed help finding a building lot that met their needs and expectations—and in their case, a lake view at the top of the list.

      We assessed this MacArthur Heights lot for them and discovered it would indeed have a lake view after a few challenges were dealt with—some tall trees and a neighbour’s roof below were the main concerns. The trees could be easily dealt with, and we resolved the roof issue by having our surveyor shoot some elevation to ensure views would be available from both floors of a new house.

      Our clients went ahead and purchased the lot August 2019, and we started our custom design and pricing process to fit their budget. Last December, we reached an agreement and signed a contract. With that in place, we started work.

      Our original completion date was scheduled for November 27. Through hard work, creative scheduling, and a complete buy-in from our clients in terms of providing their choices and contributions on time, we completed the home this week. In the end, we were able to let our clients take possession nine weeks ahead of schedule, so that they could take advantage of the final weeks of summer to enjoy it.

      They’re looking forward to moving in, settling into their new community, meeting the neighbors, and enjoying the golf course. And their also looking forward to directing the landscaping of their impressive new home.

      Our thanks to our clients—like our staff and subtrades, they put a lot of effort into making their new home, with its impressive westward lake views, become a reality.

    • Finish Line In Sight

      September 06, 2020

      Our Eagle Bay Road view project is getting closer to completion. With just three weeks left at this stunning lakeview project, we find ourselves on track for an end-of-September handover to our clients, who are so pleased with our work that they opted to added a breezeway-connected garage which is now framed and ready for siding (you can see it in the photo below, along with the soaring floor-to-ceiling fireplace in the great room).

      Currently, we’re completing electrical finishing and lighting installs, painting touch-ups, finishing of all trims and beams, and shower doors. This week, we’ll also be completing the granite countertops, which have been back-ordered out of the USA due to COVID-19. And early next week, we’ll install carpets and appliances.

      When everything is completed to our satisfaction, we’ll begin our trademark Copper Island pre-occupancy cleaning process, and get ready for our final pre-delivery inspections.

      It’s been another exceptional project for us—with the spectacular views and such exceptional clients, we’ll miss working here!

    • Meanwhile, in Turtle Valley...

      August 29, 2020

      We’re a little behind schedule on our first ever project west of the Shuswap—a custom two-story in a relatively remote location south of Chase. Unfortunately, our framing crew had prior obligations on another project, which resulted in delays—but we’re moving fast on it now and looking forward to getting back on schedule, which is entirely achievable given that our framing crew now has some extra manpower.

      We’re happy to report that our foundation passed inspection with flying colours by the Thompson Nicola Regional District. Framing started earlier this week, with crawlspace walls completed, floor joists installed, and sub-floor sheeting glued and screwed. Exterior wall framing is now in progress, and our roof trusses will be arriving end of the coming week.

      Our roofers are standing by, and assuming we can get them on the project as soon as roof sheeting has been installed, we should be in great shape to get locked up before any weather issues. Windows and exterior doors are in production and on schedule.

      If there is anything negative to report, it’s the high cost of lumber. COVID-19 and USA trade issues have resulted in staggering 30 to 60 percent increase in prices in just the last few months.

      On the property itself, the septic system and well have now been installed. Our clients are still working with a BC Hydro design team to determine viability of onsite hydro versus solar and generator power.

      Our staff and sub-trades tell us that they’re really enjoying the outstanding weather and the gorgeous views and surroundings in Turtle Valley! Check out the photos below of our progress, including a worksite aerial photo taken with our new drone.