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    • Winter: Mitigating the Risks

      February 13, 2020

      If we were fair weather builders, we wouldn’t get much done. The reality is that, while we’re not exactly Alberta, winter conditions can show up any time here in the Shuswap. We keep the wheels of the construction industry turning throughout the winter months with proper planning, preparing for the worst, and sometimes a little risk-taking.

      Our recently-started project in McArthur Heights is a great example. Our clients had tight timelines, but we were confident we could finish their project on time -- which meant starting on time.

      We anticipated early road bans this year, so we excavated in advance of receiving building development permit approval, which we knew was a formality having kept in constant communication with the regional district. Permits were approved January 30, and we were ready to pour footings the following week. Then, two days ago, we poured the foundation walls. As expected, road bans went on last week, but we had already contacted the Ministry of Transport and received approval for 70 percent weight loads for the pour.

      We used specialty ready-mix with additional cement, hot water, extra calcium chloride accelerant, and no fly ash for faster set to achieve strength. As you can see from the photos below, we made good use of our insulated tarps, which are vital to keep the new concrete at the proper temperature during the initial stages of curing. We also left the forms on for two weeks to aid in the curing process. Temperature sensors in both footings and walls continue to show nicely warming, curing concrete.

      Road bans will remain place for a couple of months to prevent damage during the thaw. But again, we headed off any issues with this by stockpiling backfill materials onsite and leaving an excavator at the job. When we’ve achieved optimal concrete strength and weather becomes acceptable for backfilling and drain installation, we’ll be ready to go.

      Hats off to our foundation crew for this project, the Neufeld family, for braving the weather and managing over slippery and cold winter conditions to make this happen. If they hadn’t been ready, willing and able, we would have had a three-month delay waiting for the road bans to be lifted.

      It’s been a challenging winter. But we’re happy we could get this project off to great start despite the weather, thanks to some out-of-the-box planning and a bit of risk-taking in terms of responsibility for development and building permit issues if they would have arisen.

    • Modernization...with Rustic Charm

      February 09, 2020

      Winter persists here in the Shuswap, but our staff and trades are working in the warmth, bring one of our jobs to a conclusion on the North Shore.

      The project is a major retrofit and update of a waterfront home. The owners wanted to retain the charm of the original structure, and we think we’ve all accomplished that. Tongue and groove panelling on the ceilings, including in the new upper floor loft, definitely helps to achieve this, as does the beautiful rustic natural stone fireplace in the great room.

      Some of the other features of this home include a custom staircase to the new loft, which we’re currently starting to build offsite, and stained wood trims and beams throughout. Hunter Douglas window coverings have been measured and are on order, lighting choices have been finalized, and new appliances will soon be delivered, as the kitchen is largely complete (see photos below).

      This week, we’ll begin all flooring including tile work in the bathrooms, templating for the granite countertops, and interior door installation.

      We couldn’t be happier with our progress on this thoroughly enjoyable project, and are looking forward to posting photos when completed in March.

    • Best in Class...Again!

      February 04, 2020

      Copper Island Fine Homes was a huge winner at the Canadian Home Builders Association Central Interior 15th Annual Keystone Awards Gala, held on Saturday February 1, 2020 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

      The sold-out event recognized and honoured the outstanding achievements made by those within the Central Interior Region of British Columbia home building industry over the past year and celebrated all who went above and beyond in upholding the highest level of construction industry excellence.

      There were a record number of entries this year. Each submission was judged by three award-winning, well-respected industry professionals from Saskatchewan and Ontario. Judges privately tallied their ballots for each entry and submitted them confidentially to a monitor from the accounting firm BDO Canada, who compiled the results of each category in complete secrecy.

      When it was all over, Copper Island had won three coveted gold awards: Most Unique Design (a wine room in one of our homes), Best House between $1.5 - 3 million, and Best Customer Service.

      “It was such stiff competition this year, and we were up against some of the other top builders in the area,” says Greg Vistisen, President and CEO of Copper Island. “Awards like this recognize not only the talents of our staff and our many sub-trades, but also the hard-won construction systems we’ve strived to perfect—systems which ensure a high quality product. It is nice to be recognized by our peers for the tremendous amount of effort and dedication by our team.”

      Vistisen says all the awards are important, but perhaps none more so than the Best Customer Award, which is based on the judges' review of our service program, photos and written submission.

      “Kelly Reid, CHBA Central Interior President, commented to me personally that the Best Customer Service award was the pinnacle of the awards and our team should be extremely proud of our accomplishment,” he says. “I agree. Customer service remains the cornerstone of our success. Our team focuses on a process of continual improvement. We know we are human and make mistakes, but we strive to recognize those mistakes and engineer systems to ensure they are not repeated. To be honoured with this award makes it clear that our efforts are appreciated by our customers.”

      This is actually the fourth time Copper Island have captured this award in the past 15 years.

      Established in 1965, the Canadian Home Builders Association Central Interior is a not-for-profit, member-based residential construction industry association focused on providing industry leadership, education and advocacy. The association represents one of the largest industry sectors in Canada and currently holds a membership base of over 230 companies – including home builders, renovators, land developers, trade contractors, suppliers, lending institutions, insurance providers and service professionals.

      Photo caption: the staff of Copper Island Fine Homes with the hardware. Left to right: Tammy Packer, Greg Vistisen, Lynda Curran, Melody Thompson, Tim Lukashuk, Kathy Moore, Dean Friesen, Heidi Friesen, Tracy Vistisen, and Chuck Beaton.


    • Sicamous: Extending Our Range!

      January 31, 2020

      We’ve had the opportunity to take on projects in Sicamous over the years, but it’s only recently that we’ve been confident in our capacity to work that far afield. We needed to establish working relationships with top quality trades, ensure construction systems are in place to work from a distance, and have the office and field staff to cover the additional workload.

      All that is now in place, and so we’re happy to be taking on our first client in Sicamous—a businessman from Calgary who sought us out after having heard of our reputation to deliver with quality workmanship.

      The project involves removing an existing garage foundation and replacing it with a larger foundation and rental cabin, with RV storage and laundry facilities below. The cabin is part of an existing multi-unit resort that was purchased by our client.

      We received our plans and designs in late August, but we’ve only just received development permit approval, after approximately five months after relentless work by our team: securing an over-height permit, an extensive site survey, a landscaping buffer plan at highway, permission to log for onsite water well, a highway access permit, structural engineering approvals, proof of corporate directorship, septic design confirmation, riparian water course confirmation, and water rights confirmation.

      We’re now waiting only for building permit issuance, which is due to arrive any day. Our excavator and foundation crew are standing by, and fortunately, the weather has smartened up. Needless to say, after such an extensive delay, we’re exploring all avenues to bring this project back in schedule.

      A big shoutout to truss designer Andy Andreasen at Salmon Arm Truss, who did the roof design for the original structure and adjusted it for us to suit our client's needs. Andy responded to our request to quickly do the work last Fall when we were attempting to start construction as soon as possible.

      The cabin will feature a 945 SF lower floor and a 945 SF main floor, and over-height garage bays for RV storage. The driveway be placed lower down into the grade between five foot retaining walls, also necessary to accommodate the RV storage. Landscaping and paver walkways will also be matched to the design of the existing resort.

      We’re looking forward to our first project start in Sicamous and offering our services to those who need them in the area and throughout the Shuswap.

    • Challenges...and Solutions

      January 27, 2020

      Building in the Shuswap is rarely as easy as new home construction in a city subdivision. Rugged terrain and steep slopes are the primary reasons for this. Ingenuity, knowledge, experience, perseverance and even a little risk-taking are all required to meet these challenges.

      We’re employing all of those ingredients in this brand new start in MacArthur Heights. Our clients, who hail from Calgary, purchased a building lot with extraordinary views, and opted for a custom home plan created by Kamloops’ Grant Bergman, one of our area’s most experienced and knowledgeable designers.

      We started the project last September by carefully siting and elevating the home to maximize the views west down Shuswap Lake. The house was purposely designed with a rear side entry garage and a long, sweeping driveway to reduce the slope up from the road as much as possible. Pushing the house back on the lot also ensures privacy on the deck as well as larger front and side yards for the gravity-fed septic field.

      With our clients on a tight schedule, we then made a decision to proceed with excavation and footings in December without all permits in place, in order to beat the weather and the impending road bans, which see us severely restricted in terms of what equipment and materials we can move to our building sites every year during the spring thaw. Considering the heavy snows and extreme cold temperatures that we experienced shortly after, it appears our gamble will pay off. Permits are arriving this week, which means the regional district can inspect the already-placed footings (which our engineer has already inspected at our optional request). The result is that we should soon be able to pour the foundation walls during the warming trend, and well before the upcoming road bans.

      Extra work was required to also conform to the CSRD’s steep slopes permit with geotechnical engineering approvals. Structural engineers have also been brought into the mix; we now have prescribed engineering enhancements that meet our standards and give all of us – our clients and our team – confidence to proceed knowing that all trusses, point loads, sheer walls, and footing capacities all meet or exceed code.

      During the excavation, we also encountered unanticipated shale rock on the site (see photo below). Our excavation contractor, Darcy Lessard of Lessard Excavating, took care of this unexpected problem with a rock hammer. This avoided expensive blasting, and our owners will have the benefit of a rock solid foundation. We’re hoping we have seen the last of the heavy snows and colder temperatures. Our thanks to our foundation crew and field teams, which have done an outstanding job working through these conditions and site challenges.

    • Back to Work...

      January 23, 2020

      Warmer weather and retreating snow are the ingredients we needed to get back to work on this new Copper Island Fine Homes project on Eagle Bay Road.

      We poured this foundation before Christmas, and the break in the weather sees us back onsite, working hard to get this beautiful walkout basement home ready for framing. The photos below show the work that goes into a home during this phase -- installation of perimeter and roof drains, installation of foundation insulation, and backfilling inside and outside of the foundation with structural fill.

      The left photo shows the inside of the foundation prior to backfilling and compaction, while the right photo is the finished product: ready for slab pouring, which we'll do when we're guaranteed a few days of good weather.

      The photo on the left also provides a sample of the views the owners can expect when we're done late this summer -- picturesque sunsets over Copper Island.

      Our thanks to our clients for allowing us to build their Shuswap dream home.

    • Great Weather for Drywall!

      January 16, 2020

      We haven’t been able to work outside this week. But it’s been great weather for drywall, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with our renovation project in Celista, which is an extensive update of an existing waterfront home, including construction of a new upper floor loft.

      We were locked up on this project well before the frigid weather arrived, and we’d also commissioned fireplaces and and new HVAC. That, along with completed roughins and insulation, allowed us to focus on drywall in total comfort, blissfully unaware of how cold it’s been outside.

      Here’s a few photos of the work in progress.




    • West Coast Wrapup

      January 10, 2020

      Here’s an update of a project that we started last summer.

      The West Coast style home is perched high up in MacArthur Heights. Our clients purchased the lot believing that their final product would offer stunning views west over Copper Island and the Shuswap Lake, and our staff and sub-trades who have been working in the home can confirm that the vistas are indeed spectacular.

      We have just over one month to complete this beautiful home, which is due to be handed over to our clients on February 14th. We are in an excellent position to finish on or ahead of schedule, thanks to the diligence of our clients in making critical finishing decisions well in advance of when they have been needed, and also our staff and trades.

      All the flooring, with the exception of tile, is now complete throughout the home. The tiling is well underway, granite countertops and sinks have been installed, as has all trim. Our plumbers just started their final installs, and electrical finishing is up next. Appliances arrive on January 21st.

      Outside, exterior finishing is complete, including the final stages of the stonework.

      Our thanks to our clients for choosing us to build their Shuswap dream!

    • The Show Goes On...

      January 06, 2020
      Even in the dead of winter, construction marches on here in the Shuswap.

      Building at this time of the year requires taking the proper precautions, a flexible schedule, and tenacity. But it's not impossible, and in some ways, there are advantages -- for example, we expect that our trusted sub-trades will have a plenty of time in their own schedules at the point in spring when we need them to begin roughing in this new start on Eagle Bay Road.

      We managed to pour the foundation of this beautiful lakeview walkout rancher just before Christmas. To offset any potential problems with freezing weather, we left the forms on over the holidays, and wrapped the entire foundation with insulated blankets to retain the heat necessary to cure the concrete at an ideal temperature.

      We just stripped the foundation in the past couple of days, and we were please -- but not surprised -- to find it had cured beautifully. We're now ready for framing to begin, and we'll post some more progress updates and details in the next few weeks.
       
    • Home for the Holidays!

      December 22, 2019

      What could be better than handing off a brand new custom home to its new owners during the week of Christmas?

      That's exactly what staff members Dean Friesen and Heidi Friesen will be doing this week. Along with other members of our staff and our valued sub-trades, Dean and Heidi have brought this stunning North Shore lakefront home to completion just in time for the holidays.

      This project has been an absolute joy for us to work on. Our clients have been exceptional, and their new West Coast style home has amazing features and finishes that reflect their excellent taste. One of many highlights is the floor on the lower level, which reminds of us just how beautiful concrete can be, all by itself. As you can see from the photos below, it's been polished to a tile-like finish and cut so that it actually looks like tile. And because it's been installed with under-slab radiant heating, it will be beautifully warm throughout the winter months (and refreshingly cool during our hot summers).

      The main floor is very clean, simple and beautiful. Large lake view windows and beautiful white oak hardwood floors accentuate the modern nature of the home. High ceilings bring light in from all angles.

      Among the home's many green features is a Tesla Powerwall whole-home battery back-up. It also has a Tesla car charging station in the garage.

      Our thanks to our staff and our superb sub-trades for making this home the perfect Christmas present for our clients.