Flintstones was profiled by Robert Bornholz in the July/August 2010 edition of Canadian Builder’s Quarterly. PDF link here.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES AFFECT HOW WE LIVE. How we live affects the types or homes we build and what we put in them. This is a broad truth, but Mike DePalma can give you a very specific example: fireplaces. “When people used fireplaces for heat, they used them every day, so that the brick and chimneys dried out,” he says. “Now we use furnaces, which are far more efficient yet don’t dry out the brickwork with their exhaust. Brickwork rots and deteriorates from moisture.” Unusual issues such as this one are at the forefront or DePalma’s company, Flintstones Masonry and Home Improvements Ltd., which specializes in brickwork for rebuilding, restoring, and maintaining heritage fireplaces and chimneys. Flintstones established itself by offering thorough knowledge of both heritage building and modern requirements, as well as by developing people with the skills to do high quality work.
“We spent 40 years building up the name and reputation of our company,” DePalma adds. “Ninety percent of our work is in the heritage neighbourhoods of Victoria. Most or our business comes from happy homeowners and other tradesmen who appreciate our work. We have tradesmen who have been doing this for years and love their trade and consider their work art.”Because brick and mortar are porous, the freeze-and-thaw weather of’ British Columbia causes the materials to rapidly deteriorate. As they do, exhaust from the heating unit or carbon monoxide from the lire penetrates through the brickwork into the home, endangering families. However, like with an automobile, a lot of’ deterioration can be prevented. “Don’t wait until there are pieces of’ brick falling on the roof’ and water dripping from your ceiling,” DePalma advises. “Maintenance can be done in a day; rebuilding takes two weeks or more.”
Also important for homeowners with these heritage fireplaces is the fact that building codes have changed, The codes reflect increasing safety but, according to De Palma, also complicate the renovation process. “You are not allowed to have combustibles within two inches of chimney and fireplace masonry,” he says. “To meet today’s codes, it’s necessary to use other methods, such as shrinking the masonry to create the two-inch space requirement or using steel or other non-combustible materials.” Rebuilding requires even more specialized knowledge and can be a grueling process. “In a complete restoration, we tear the entire unit down to the ground,” he explains.