In July of 2009 we were contracted to build an addition on a historical building in downtown Bellingham. The house was a beautiful Victorian style home in the lettered streets with a pristine English-style garden covering every inch of the property.
Most custom jobs we take on have unique challenges. This one was no different. We were asked to put a 350 square foot addition right in the middle of an established garden without disturbing it. All of the plants within the footprint of the addition had specific relocation instructions as well. We were also asked to continue the look of the existing Victorian façade on the addition. Some Victorians are decorated like ornate gingerbread cookie houses you see around the holidays. This one was more subdued than that, but there were some very ornate details we had to copy to perfection.
As you might have noticed from earlier posts, no one within the walls of Squalicum Builders is easily intimidated by creative challenges. I think we actually look for projects that stretch us as builders and as people.
The excavation was similar to doing delicate surgery. We took the dirt off the property one bucket-full at a time. During the framing phase, a few tree branches needed to be trimmed, but that is about it. We kept the site as clean as possible to help keep the garden we were working in beautiful. In the slideshow at the end of the post you can see the detail on the eaves we reproduced from the original. Can you spot the wooden toy wheels? Yeah, that is what those circles are. Continue reading
The majority of our business has been in residential construction. In the last few years we have tried our hand at a few commercial projects to broaden our skill set and get some different perspective. We have since learned new things and met new people who have helped us become better contractors.
One of the major aspects we needed to learn was the code in commercial construction. We are very read in the International Residential Building Code, but commercial is a whole other world. Health Department and ADA regulations became familiar to us very quickly.
The Daisy Café used to be the Toulouse Café and we helped change that. We had to bring the kitchen up to Health Department standards. It was interesting to clean a commercial kitchen that didn’t pass the Health code in the beginning and improve it to pass a very stringent multiple point inspection. I appreciate the Health Department so much more now! We took that knowledge and used it at Greene’s Corner and Room2Think which both have kitchen facilities. The Daisy Café is now one of our favorite places to have “business meetings” and plot out our next ventures. It is a good feeling to eat at a place and think ‘Hey, we made this place better than what it was and I know the kitchen passed inspection!’ Continue reading
A few years ago we were hired to do a remodel project on a home in Ferndale. The family who hired us wanted to add a bonus room above their garage that connected to the upper story of their house. We drew up a design and a budget that fit.
Everything was going just as planned with the demolition until we came to the roof. It had to be ripped off so we could build a new floor above it. Taking a roof off a garage that size is not very difficult but it creates a lot of garbage that has to be hauled to the dump. We usually try to separate out all of the wood debris from the non-recyclable construction waste that is produced on our sites if it is possible. In this situation the idea was raised to just lift the roof and truss structure off the top with a crane, set it down on the ground during the construction of the second floor and put it back on top of the new walls. We added up the labor, time and cost of that demolition. Then we calculated the crane cost and time for detaching and reattaching the structure. In the end we figured it would save just a few hundred dollars, but the true savings was in the reuse of what we had. Continue reading