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Building Safe and Beautiful

by Mandy Blume
Blumestone safe and beautiful

Safe and Beautiful

Marketing a business seems simple enough, but in construction, we usually get jobs by “word-of-mouth”. People generally share how we are on time and how beautiful, but it’s not easy to explain what truly makes us different. Over and over, we find our clients do not realize the effort we put into creating a safe and beautiful environment. It’s an odd thing to explain, but the materials in the structure truly make a difference.

The best comparison is having a 5-star prepared meal; but one chef uses grocery store ingredients that are 5-14 days old and ripened in transit versus a chef who goes to the farmer’s market and gets fresh, ripe, organic ingredients as much as possible. This is our effort in the building business.

Many folks tell us that we should market this difference. But we find that since it is not a common practice, people aren’t sure why our efforts are important. But just like the food we consume builds a stronger body; better materials, a few simple adjustments, and intentional placement, truly make a safer environment in our constructions.

After completing college together in Mechanical Engineering and Business, we respectively pursued higher degrees and certifications in health. These combinations and having kids with compromised immune systems shape the way we design and build.

Tangible Experience

Jim is brilliant at solving problems with his unique engineering brain. Where some see a fast way to make it look pretty and get out, we see the opportunity to create a space with a little less electrical interference, a little less off-gas, a little more functionality, and thusly, a lot more natural place.

As expected, each job is unique and provides a fun challenge. Every job requires us to identify how we can best use our skills to create a sound structure that fits the client’s wishes, while we “step it up” to provide the cleanest environment which optimizes health in their living/ working space. Our vision is to make each build safe and beautiful, from the “Inside Out”.

Not all of our recommendations cost a lot of money. One simple way to improve a space is incorporating live plants. We share our thoughts about it in this article. These learnings over the years are why our goal of “Building a Better Lifestyle” is so rewarding. When we have clients tell us how great they feel in the new place, or share the excitement of how their space is so clean and peaceful; we know we have succeeded.

 

 

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Building The Wooden Rooster Cafe in Seminole

by Mandy Blume
The Wooden Rooster Cafe

The Wooden Rooster,  a french crepe cafe

We’ve built some fun places and we are pretty picky in our efforts to build in a better, more healthy way. One of our more recent builds was an easy choice. We were asked to build a wonderful cafe and I’d like to highlight this delicious, french-american burst of deliciousness, The Wooden Rooster.

The Wooden Rooster Cafe

We enjoy getting out and supporting our local businesses for our date nights. And one of our favorite spots is The Wooden Rooster. They have the most perfect, savory and dessert crepes, along with coffee, drinks, salads and more. We frequent the downtown St. Petersburg location, and after a conversation with the owners, we are set to build their second cafe in a new, open style mall in Seminole.

The Wooden Rooster is a great, hangout spot, offering coffees, WIFI, and crepes designed by it’s french owner. Experiencing the culinary, french escape right here in Tampa Bay Florida; minus the expense of a long flight, is a treat. The environment offers a french, modern, organic ambiance as family photos from France hang on the walls. These photos, custom wooden benches, tables and center bar create a “Farm-meets-elegance” charm with a welcoming atmosphere.

As far as the food goes, we highly recommend the Nutty Joe (sans Oreos) with a buckwheat (less gluten) crepe, nutella filling, a scoop of ice cream, with the coffee expresso pour over. Our children love The Burg and the TLT for breakfast and lunch. The menu is constantly changing and visible here.

The Wooden Rooster Seminole Jeremy and Lisette

 

 

The Building Difference

Additionally, from a builder’s perspective, the plumbing is built with pipes that do not leach petroleum nor metal. Our effort to build better, means that our clients can use cleaner water in their business. For the walls, we use stains and no VOC paints so that the employees and guests can breathe cleaner air. There are several differences in our work that are a direct result of our experiences that you can watch here.

After breakfast or lunch, the Seminole location is also a destination spot. To walk off the food, you can stroll between shops for every need and want you may have.

Truly, at the end of the day it never ceases to amaze us how in just a few months, our team can take a concrete box, and create a space designed by a wonderful local architect, and end up with something so beautiful. Of course, there is a lot of hard work but it is spectacular to watch, none-the-less.

Directory

If you are local to Tampa Bay, The Wooden Rooster is a great destination spot and I’d love to hear which crepe you enjoy the best!

The Wooden Rooster at Seminole City Center Mall, across from The Studio Grill Movie Theater
7839 113TH ST. N. SUITE F
SEMINOLE, FL 33772

If you are looking to build a cleaner commercial structure, we look forward to speaking with you on how we might partner with you in building a better lifestyle for you and your team.

 

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Construction during a Pandemic

by Mandy Blume
Construction in a Pandemic

Pandemic Impact on Construction

Today we face a pandemic, and it seems we are facing more than a virus. In construction, as we race to help in crisis circumstances, I’m reflective of the day. In this particular time, it appears we are also facing; fear, panic, rumors, re-prioritizing of affairs, and… a lack of toilet tissue.

Twenty years ago, when Jim moved from his professional desk job to a “hands-on construction job” with Walt Disney World, there was a noticeable difference when someone asked our profession. With a professional desk job as a Mechanical Engineer, graduating from California Polytechnic University, in the top 5%, the respect was evident. However, when he wanted to get his hands dirty and build, and we started a business, the tone changed. 

The response didn’t matter so much because we love what we do. Taking ugly things or nothing and building something beautiful and biodynamic is a rewarding career for both of us. It’s fun to guide and watch; a business owner create a space to fulfill that dream, or a family move into a place they can call home. 

However, in the twenty years of building, this pandemic is changing things in areas we didn’t expect.

A New Liftstation

A few months back, we installed a new pump for a lift station at a job site. We had to convert and renovate six hotel buildings into 300 workforce apartments. 

It’s been fun to watch homeless families move into the complex with grant monies provided and experience the gratitude of folks moving into their very own apartment. We were hired to do this job, but we get to see the joy of these families. Most tell us this is the most beautiful and most affordable apartment in the area. It puts a smile on our faces, and our team sleeps well at night. The developer showed us other projects and explained that our work is leagues above the rest. Now make no mistake, other folks haven’t lost a kid to cancer while fostering to adopt. Our experiences cause us to take a less profit margin so we can build with more biodynamic materials.

We use granite, which is durable and wooden cabinet doors and boxes. There is a lot less toxins in the properties we build. But that means that we do not have the high margins of the other contractors. When we get this feedback from the folks who are living in the places we build; well, these moments are extraordinary. Certainly, one day we hope to create a demand for more green building (less toxins), and we hope to have better margins.

studio-apartments pandemic

But today, on Sunday, a frantic call comes. Many folks already seem to be on edge from this pandemic virus. But on this call, the newly installed lift station is broken. As our team gathers and creates a by-pass so everyone can still shower and use the bathroom, we discover the problem. 

Rags

Rags are clogging the pump at the lift station. Our best guess is that because there are people who bought lots of toilet tissue, there are, in contrast, folks with no toilet tissue. 

Therefore, as we pull wipes and rags out of the clogged pipes, we call the owner. The volume of rags is alarming. After a discussion, it is determined that we should buy a grinding pump to chew up the rags and keep the pipes flowing. The work begins.

These are not pretty nor beautiful moments, but it is undoubtedly the time when you realize how essential it is to keep our infrastructure up. I’m not going to show you a picture of the before, but the area is clean now. We may not get the professional accolades as tradesmen, but we are proud to be included with the many men and women who keep homes and businesses functioning. 

It’s happening all over the place. Tampa, Florida calls it the Fatberg.

Fatberg from pandemic

lift station and a pandemic

Flowing

The new pump is working great, and we hope that the posted notices to: “not flush rags down the toilet” along with our super-chomper pump will manage these unexpected consequences of a pandemic virus.

But we also feel a sense of pride as we stand with our fellow tradesman in keeping the infrastructure going; our waste pick-up drivers, mail carriers, farmers, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, and more. It is in times like these that we realize we are all in this together, and we are all essential.

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Add Beauty and Health to Your Home or Business with Plants

by Mandy Blume
Peace Lily beauty and health

Add Beauty and Health

Health is pretty important, and over the years we’ve been building, Jim and I discovered there are ways to build health. We also include fun elements as a way to boost health in the home. We started out like everyone, but having children and volunteering with foster children directed us to consider materials and designs that create more fun and less toxins.

I wanted to share some thoughts are health that may seem a bit off the topics of; concrete, wood, and actual building. However, it is something we find to be very important.

Building a business or a home, we generally start with the idea of creating a canvas. We guide our clients to build with a classic style, with less trendy fixtures so that in five years, it’s still a design that is enjoyed. This way, changes can be made with new colors and styles by changing the; chairs, sofas, throws, dishes, curtains, etc… These varying trends and tastes of the different seasons of life will match if the basic design is classic. It is here where we find the beauty of plants comes into the picture to really take a living or working space to the next level.

Green plants are always a great way to bring a living element to the interior space. The choices are limitless; edibles, ornamentals, but I really like intentional placement and thought. Shown is the Peace Lily, which is a family favorite for many reasons.

Peace Lily

The peace lily is a simple plant that is an overall “cleaning plant” known to mitigate:

  • mold spores,
  • formaldehyde, and
  • trichloroethylene.

For this reason, I place these plants in the laundry room and bathrooms, just like my grandmother did. It creates a functional health  advantage as well as providing a “living” element in a wet room.

From an aesthetic perspective, the white flowers will go with any color scheme of a business or home.

Additionally, I like the name. Peace is something we all aspire to have in this short life and I feel that the name of a plant somehow matters.

Fortunately, peace lilies are easy to maintain by merely watering one day a week. Unless it is placed in a dry spot next to direct sunlight, which you may want to water twice a week.

These are a few of the reasons we use plants. We believe they add an element of fun and the Peace Lily is a terrific, easy, beautiful, and functional addition to any space.

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Tension and Compression

by Jim Blume
tension compression

A Balance of Tension and Compression

There are two types of forces involved in building, tension and compression. To have a great structure, which we call, “strong bones”, there must be a balance of both tension and compression. Anticipating an inspection, we cut out these holes to reveal the rebar inside. Once the inspector validates the block wall is properly constructed, we will pour concrete into the top of the blocks to solidify and thus strengthen the walls of this two-story home.

Tension and compression

 

The beauty of being a builder is the daily reflection we get working with our hands or with the hum of equipment. Today, I reflect on strength. Rebar is in every foundation. It is bound together while concrete is poured inside the floor or walls to share the space.

A strange metaphor emerges, as I realize that the concrete material and steel material work together symbiotically. This unity is difficult, beautiful, organic, and unavoidable in order to be a strong structure. It is the order of things. The steel is stronger when you pull it, which translates to a type of tension. Conversely, concrete is strongest when it squeezes together; meaning it is in compression.

Analogy

To continue this thought process, I begin to smile thinking of my marriage. It is full of balancing acts with little  “gives” and “takes”. Sometimes, I’m pulled too far and the “tension” is uncomfortable. Other times, it’s confining and stifling with too much “compression”. But as time moves forward, this friction creates something beautiful. I’m grateful for experiences that strengthen my bond. If there is too much tension, I will “crack” or become frustrated. Likewise, if there is too much compression I will also “crack”.

It’s stretching to be a builder. Building a good home or a good business requires a good foundation. Every material has the capability to handle a specific amount of “pull” or tension. And each material also has an ability to handle a certain amount of “squeezing together” called compression.

Tension and Compression arrows

Together, this symbiotic tension and compression creates a very good structure that will outlast the storms we face in life.

We keep on building and appreciate the privilege. I hope that when life gets tough, I remember the value and strengthening of the process, even though it is an unwelcome refinement. A little give and take or “tension and compression” is a good thing. It just means we are still living and moving forward.