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    • Ready for Lumber

      January 29, 2021

      In St. Ives, we’re ready to start framing what will be a stunning lakefront home.

      Below are a couple of photos that show the finished foundation, which we’ve completed using ICF blocks. These interlocking polystyrene blocks first act as forms to hold concrete until it cures, and then remain in place to provide a higher degree of energy efficiency than a standard foundation. In addition to efficiency, there’s also a body of evidence to suggest ICF walls are stronger because the blocks contribute to better and more stable curing of concrete.

      In the top photo, you can also see what is now our preferred method of moisture or damp proofing. In the past, damp proofing of foundations has been done with tar spray. This is still used today, but we believe the dimple design foundation wrap provides a better and more reliable solution. This product was first developed in Europe and has been increasingly used in Canada and the USA since the 1980s. Foundation wrap is a plastic membrane that is wrapped around the foundation walls, from the perimeter drains up to the expected finish grade. The dimple design of the wrap creates an air gap between the membrane and foundation wall so moisture is never in contact with the poured concrete wall. Any water in the soil will be funnelled to the perimeter drains, leaving the foundation walls dry. The material is flexible and durable, non-toxic, resistant to soil acidity and easy to install--even in cold weather. Shifting and settlement cracks will not affect the membrane.

      Meanwhile, on the bottom photo, you can clearly see the ICF blocks remaining in place on the inside of the foundation wall, which add considerably to the home’s energy efficiency.

      Next up: a framing update in the weeks ahead.

    • Trussed Up

      January 26, 2021

      When it comes to framing a house, almost every component is cut and built onsite. But there’s one exception to that rule: roof trusses, which we always leave in the hands of the qualified experts at Kamloops Truss.

      It’s absolutely essential that trusses are built in a facility like Kamloops Truss under the watchful eye of qualified designers and structural engineers. In short, trusses are devices that transfer heavy weight loads from where you don’t want them to where you do. A roof truss designer or engineer works with the house plans to create a structure that takes the weight of the roof, plus the maximum amount of snow that can fall in our area during an extreme weather event, and transfers it out into the load-bearing walls of your house. From there, the load is transferred to the foundation and footings, and ultimately, the stable ground underneath the home.

      What makes a truss different from other structures in the house is the clever and efficient way they carry the load. Trusses are actually very lightweight (and often look flimsy), but by making use of the inherent rigid geometry of triangles, they are incredibly strong.

      Imagine you have a set of popsicle sticks. If you connect three sticks together in a triangle, you get a structure that stays rigid even if you don’t tighten the bolts or screws holding it together. But a square made with four sticks will turn into a rhombus and flatten when you push on it, no matter how tight the bolts or screws are. So if you want to make an entire structure that’s rigid regardless of the rigidity of its connections, you start with a triangle and build onto it by adding more triangles. That, essentially, is a roof truss.

      Last week, Copper Island General Manager Marcus Picton and Project Supervisor Dean Friesen took a tour of the Kamloops Truss production facility. In the top photo below, you can see an excellent example of a flat roof truss and how triangles are used throughout its construction.

      Our thanks to the staff and management for taking the time to show us your impressive operation!

    • Two For One

      January 22, 2021

      We’ve taken advantage of the great weather in the past few weeks to make some good progress with one of our new waterfront projects in Scotch Creek.

      This project, which involves a tear down of an existing home followed by new construction, was delayed by multiple permitting issues. We finally got the green light late last year, and the weather cooperated enough that we were able to excavate and move forward with foundation and framing. Now, with the weather finally about take a turn for the worse, we’ll be looking for ways to avoid further delays.

      One way we’ll do accomplish this is to do a monolithic foundation pour, or mono-pour. Typically, any new construction begins with cribbing and pouring footings, which is then followed by forming and pouring the foundation walls on top of the footings. With a mono-pour, we’ve formed both the footings and foundation walls at the same time, and we’ll pump concrete for both simultaneously.

      This creates a little more up-front work for us, as it’s imperative to ensure both the footings cribbing and wall forms are integrated and reinforced a little bit more rigorously. And we’ll have to increase the slump of the concrete on the day we pump—it needs to be a little stiffer so that it doesn’t squeeze out of the bottom as we pump in from the top. The benefit, of course, is that we’ll save a few days of precious time by doing footings and walls at the same time. And a few days of saved time can make a huge difference at this time of the year.

      In the top photo below, you can see our cribbing for footings prior to the walls being formed. And in the two photos underneath, you can see what it currently looks like, with the forms erected on top of the cribbing, ready for concrete. We’ll now be watching the forecast closely in the hopes of getting another warm spell next week. Regardless, it’s a given that, once poured, we’ll be wrapping the entire project in insulated tarps to ensure the temperature of the new concrete is optimal for proper curing.

      Watch for further updates in the weeks ahead.

    • The Right Tool...

      January 16, 2021

      When it comes to great weather, we've had it pretty good here in the Shuswap over the past stretch. Our crews working in the elements have enjoyed some pretty mild and relatively dry conditions during the past few weeks. But that's all about to change next week, if forecasts are to be taken seriously.

      At our Turtle Valley project, two of our staff carpenters, Chuck Beaton and Mark Orchard, are hoping to beat the cold weather as they strive to finish the exterior of this two story, off-the-grid custom family home. To help them complete the siding, we've rented a SkyTrak zoom boom telehandler. Not only does this versatile tool help us get the job done faster, it's also a lot safer -- particularly during winter on a two story home such as this.

      Meanwhile, inside the home, kitchen cabinets are in the process of being installed (see inset photo). Later this month, flooring installation will get underway. We're on track to complete the home for the new owners at some point in March.

      Incidentally, many of our staff and subtrades say this is the most tranquil and relaxing place they've had worked at!

    • We're Cleaning House!

      January 08, 2021

      Literally. In fact, we're always cleaning our under-construction homes. Here at Copper Island Fine Homes, a clean construction site is critically important -- for safety, for worker moral, for accuracy and quality, and just because it's the right thing to do.

      We obviously can't guarantee that all of our worksites always look like the photos below, which were taken yesterday at one of our current projects, a stunning West Coast style home on the lake shore in Eagle Bay. Construction is a messy business, and sometimes work takes precedence over neat and tidy. But we're always striving to keep our projects this clean, and encouraging our staff and sub-trades to clean up after themselves so that the next trades who come along don't have to deal with a mess.

      The home was cleaned by our father and daughter Project Supervisors, Dean and Heidi Friesen. The timing was perfect, as the spotless house was ready for our cabinet company to come and mark out all cabinet locations yesterday. And the clean site is being greatly appreciated by our plumbers, who arrived on site this morning to start their plumbing rough in.

      A week from today, Heidi and our electricians will be doing a virtual electrical walk-through with our clients using FaceTime. In preparation for the meeting, we fully expect the home to look very similar as it does in the photos below!

    • Tear Down....Build Up!

      January 05, 2021

      Sometimes we think we're in the demolition business! A growing number of our projects involve teardowns of older homes around the Shuswap, followed by a modern new home build. And the majority of these extensive projects are located on lakefront lots, which is the case for this new one we're now fully immersed in, in the North Shore community of Scotch Creek.

      The images below give you a great idea of what we're going to be doing. The existing structure, a single level cabin that's undoubtedly helped create some amazing holiday memories in its time, will soon be levelled to make way for the stunning two story home that you see in the conceptual drawings beneath the photo. At some point later this year, we'll proudly hand over the finished project to the owners so they can move forward with creating a entire new set of memories on the property, in somewhat more luxurious surroundings. Interestingly, the project is right next door to a similar one that we completed a few years ago for their neighbours.

      These are challenging yet highly rewarding projects for us. We work hand in hand with the home owners every step of the way, using our extensive experience to help them secure all necessary assessments and permitting for demolition, septic systems, riparian, and new home construction. It's a bit of a juggling act, but we've been through it successfully many times.

      All permits are now in place for this project, and we'll be immediately moving forward with a safe and efficient tear down, followed by our award-winning new home construction. Check back to see our progress on this exciting new project. Our thanks to the home owners for entrusting us with their updated Shuswap dream!

    • Building Blocks

      December 24, 2020

      As our crews book a few days off for the holidays, we’re happy to report excellent progress on one of our projects on the north shore – a custom lakefront home that is now taking shape after significant delays obtaining our permits.

      We’re particularly pleased to be building the foundation with ICF blocks. ICF, which is short for insulated concrete form, is technology that was developed in the late 60s and uses interlocking polystyrene blocks which act as forms for the concrete foundation – and then remain in place to provide a higher degree of energy efficiency than a standard foundation.

      Despite their excellent track record, we really thought that, by now, we’d be building more homes using ICF blocks. After all, not only are ICF foundations more energy efficient, they’re also less prone to moisture intrusion, and less sensitive to cold temperatures than poured concrete foundations. It’s true that the cost of ICF is modestly more than traditional methods of construction, but the cost savings in the form of reduced energy bills over a lifetime of ownership more than make up for the initial outlay.

      There’s also research that suggests ICF walls are stronger because the ICFs contribute to better and more stable curing of concrete.

      If you’d like to know more about construction using ICF, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – no other builder in the Shuswap has as much experience as we do using this innovative and green approach to house construction.

    • Watching Paint Dry!

      December 14, 2020

      Normally, watching paint dry is as boring as...well...watching paint dry. But we’re very relieved to be watching paint dry at one of our new home builds in Turtle Valley.

      Why? Well, this stunning new home is being built without any hydro or natural gas availability. And since we typically use a ton of electrical heat and fans to cure drywall (particularly in the fall or winter), we were a touch apprehensive about how long it would take us to work through the drywall stage in preparation for painting. One of the options we considered was renting an industrial diesel generator to power our 220 volt heaters. But in the end, we didn't need to.

      As you can see from the photo below, we are now, in fact, at the painting stage. Heidi Friesen, our Project Manager, explains how we managed to complete and cure the drywall without any hydro except what we had available from the home’s new array of solar panels.

      “We ran the solar to power the plugs in the house that had heaters plugged in to them,” says Heidi. “We also had a wood burning fireplace going everyday. And we had rented a propane construction heater to help when we needed that extra heat.”

      She adds that all the interior trim has been completely finished, and that our painters are now prepping and spraying all the trim. They will then carry on and paint the whole house. Cabinets are due to arrive in early January, with flooring to follow mid-January.

      This stunning home has provided us with an excellent opportunity to learn more about off-grid construction—something we believe we’ll be doing more and more of in coming years, considering the alternative energy sources now viable, and customers’ increasing desire to live in our area’s beautiful rural and wilderness settings.

    • Race Against the Weather

      December 07, 2020

      After months of delays obtaining demolition and building permits from the CSRD, we're finally underway with this teardown/new build in St. Ives. As you can see from the photo below, we're taking advantage of the weather to get our footings poured this week, and once that's complete, we'll be racing against the thermometer with the foundation and framing.

      Unfortunately, it's a not a race we're likely to win, despite the fact that we've bulked up our foundation and framing crew with extra personnel. You can only hold off the typical Shuswap winter weather for so long, and that means we'll no doubt be shovelling snow from the job site in the near future. Needless to say, it will be vital to get a roof on this project as soon as possible. But even keeping the snow off doesn't prevent cold weather from interfering with the building process -- for example, it's likely that our foundation and slabs will require insulation and even heat to cure properly.

      Of course, we're used to facing challenges with most of our jobs, so we're confident we'll have our clients in their beautiful new West Coast lakefront home in time to enjoy some summer in 2021. Stay tuned for more updates.

    • 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.