Mix Mat News

Big things have been happening over at Mix Mat. CEO Alex Van Dewark won a competition with our Mix Mat idea and we’ve partnered with Next Step Ministries to begin our philanthropic outreach initiatives.

Mix Mat Wins Prestigious Entrepreneur Competition

Recently Alex Van Dewark entered the Mix Mat into Chico State’s Center for Entrepreneurship competition and one. From there he took his idea up against the winners of four other participating California college campuses  in the Future Four Business Competition. Four schools and their business concept competition winners competed for over $8,500 in cash prizes, if front of a panel of highly experienced and powerful panel of judges- and Alex and the Mix Mat took first prize. For this he received $1,500 in cash and a scholarship (worth $6,500 ) to the entrepreneurial school, Bootup academy.

“BootUp is more than just a classroom, it is a complete, global startup ecosystem designed to create better entrepreneurs and accelerate their companies. They help entrepreneurs accomplish their startup goals by providing shared services including legal, accounting, event hosting and video production, plus a place to call home in the heart of Silicon Valley; startup best practices; mentoring with serial entrepreneurs; hands-on consulting; market access and funding.”

You can read more about this competition and BootUp here:



In the video below you can see Alex talking a bit at 2:34 and then again being awarded at the end around 5:45.

Mix Mats for Disaster Relief – We Need Your Help

Mix Mat has recently partnered with Next Step Ministries and is sending Mix Mats to be used on location at mission sites around the world dedicated to building and rebuilding the communities of those in need and that have been affected by disaster. Our mission is to to provide an affordable yet indispensable tool to the people on the ground trying to help. When projects are finished and the relief crews are leaving, the Mix Mats will be left for the locals to continue using so that they may continue to improve and upkeep their infrastructures. In relation to the kind of work Next Step is doing and how our Mix Mat will be used, Next Step provided us with these figures:

Next Step Ministry currently work in 16 different communities around the world

  • Most of our Domestic sites use concrete in small batches
    Uses of concrete are primarily for wheel chair ramps and decks
    We have however poured as many as 30 yards but those were ready mix trucks
    We have poured anywhere from 4-6 yards that was all mixed by hand
    Mainly for sidewalks, but we have mixed Foundation footers before
  • Our 3 International sites mix  a lot of Concrete, we do many full builds that include:
    Concrete Foundations
    Mortar for block
    Core filling of Concrete block
    Our primary method there is to mix by hand on the ground, typically called the “Volcano style”, and we like this method because we can mix a lot of concrete at one time. I have calculated that we can mix about 1/3 to a 1/2 yard of concrete per Volcano batch. We usually have 3 batches simultaneously for our big pours. Buckets are used to transport the mixed concrete
  • Next Step is primarily a volunteer organization
    this year we plan to have 7,000 students work with us
    They perform 99% of all the work we do.
    They perform all types of construction except for skilled trades such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC
    we have a small team of Construction Professionals that does this work

After using our Mix Mats at mission sites in West Virginia and New Mexico, Next Step Ministry contacted us and purchased 30 Mix Mats to be used on their mission trips and then turned over to the people afterwards. Our goal is to continue this tradition of donating and sharing Mix Mats to help those in need. We are currently in the planning process of getting Mix Mats to areas in need of disaster relief, such as post earthquake Nepal. You can help us get this ball rolling by liking and sharing our Facebook page and visiting the Mix Mat website http://www.themixmat.com/ where you can buy Mix Mats or donate them through our website to causes like the Nepal Earthquake.


Our Latest Custom Homes


Welcome inside one of our most recently completed custom homes. Located in the Vacaville hills this home is surrounded by breath taking views and was designed to not only maximize the vistas but to be functional and comfortable. Everything was taken into consideration during the design process of this home. The owners relocated to Vacaville to be closer to family but also wanted to enjoy the moderate climate. Their goal was to have more storage and land to create privacy and maintain a peaceful atmosphere, but they also wanted less square footage than their previous home in order to make up-keep easier and be more efficient. So from the location of the garage to the placement of the windows every inch of this home was designed to be 100% what the client wanted and needed.


One of the most important concepts in designing this home was that we were downsizing square footage for the owners- not storage and accessibility. Excess space needed to be discarded without sacrificing personality and purpose with it. With this in mind we designed an open airy floor plan that felt large but still designated purpose.


The front door opens up immediately into a living area, but by creating some spacial symmetry, we managed to create a music room and dining room before you’ve even made it past the entry way.  We accomplished this by using a combination of wood floors to connect the kitchen to the dining room, tile in the entry way, and carpet in the music room along with a smartly placed pair of french doors. By breaking up the literal flooring it gave us the freedom to divvy up a large space and turn it into several smaller spaces without making it feel cramped or confusing. Every room has it’s purpose.

KAN_0454Moving in to the living and Kitchen area, we used the bar to create a separation of space without building walls. When paired with the pendant lights hanging above the bar we were able to create spacial awareness without closing anything off. This keeps the flow open and allows for the abundant light to pour in from all angles while also still providing the storage and counter space desired in the kitchen. The hard wood floor runs concurrently through the living, kitchen and dining rooms as well as the hall ways to create a natural flow throughout the house.


The breakfast nook is one of our favorite features because it’s a great example of how we designed the home to bring the natural light and beauty in. As was mentioned, the windows let in the natural light from outside, but they also look out on the land that first attracted our clients to this location in the first place. Custom homes should always be built to highlight the positive qualities of the location. What good is it building a home for the views if you’re going to end up looking at your neighbors yard, or a storage area?


A lot of attention went into the smaller details as well. All of the fixtures, lighting, hardware, paint colors, cabinetry, and materials were selected to create a consistent atmosphere throughout the home. Warm colors and earth tones were very popular with the owners so we sought to incorporate them every where we could.

KAN_0483Moving around to the pack of the house, this porch was built to frame the same amazing view the breakfast nook looks out on. Because of the location, summers do get up into the triple digits, so we worked to build a patio that would stay cool and protected from the elements without hindering the view. There’s also a walkway that wraps around the entire property, which is useful in the country for staying out of the mud during the rainy season.

Full House EditThe same consideration led to the design of the garage. The walk way that wraps around the house connects to a breezeway between the main house and the garage. This area makes a great shady space for the dog. It protects him from the elements while also keeping his house and toys out of sight. Creating a breezeway here also solved the issue of unloading vehicles in the rain. It’s position in relation to the house provides privacy and function without hiding the view, and also will help to keep things cool in the summertime. The garage is also large in comparison to the main house. This goes back to the original idea that the owners wanted more storage and function with less upkeep. By smartly positioning the garage and home within the lot all of these things were achieved, the location was used to its full potential, and the owners have themselves a brand new completely custom home that fits their needs.

Stone & Wood in the Home

Today we’re taking a look at some of the architectural elements we work with and how they can completely change the dynamics of a project’s aesthetic appeal.

If a room is just walls, a ceiling, and a floor, then what makes one room better than another? The answer lies in the details. One of our favorite parts of any project is the detail work. There are so many fun an different ways to elevate the quality of a space and usually it can be achieved by paying attention to the simplest details. Whether it’s paying special attention to the finish of the paint, caulking cleanly around new fixtures, installing matching hardware, or something more complex like adding a custom made stone, wood,  glass or metal architectural elements, it all adds up in the end. Here’s a look at some architectural elements we’ve designed, created and used over the years in stone and wood.


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We’ve long worked with stone carvers that are experts of their field. Above are just a few examples of the mantle, sconce, and banister pieces we’ve had created. These pieces can be as simple or intricate in design as you like them to be and either way they add an heir of sophistication to the space. Of course if you’re looking for something that makes a bolder statement, there’s always something like these hand carved, solid marble, family crest fireplace and mantle pieces we had created for a custom home. Of course each project comes down to representing the client it’s for. We’ve used stone to create pillars and columns as well as used elaborately carved marble pieces as sinks and vanities. It also makes up a huge chunk of the floors and counter tops we install. Stone adds a classic finished element of style wherever it’s applied and we’re amazed at all the new ways we’ve been able to incorporate it.

ArchElm.10ArchElm.11 ArchElm.12



ArchElm.32 ArchElm.31 Res.Custom.07

No material is more prominent in building than wood. With so many variations and applications the possibilities for wood detail are endless. Exposed beams instantly add some drama to high ceiling rooms and can be natural, distressed, or anything else the design calls for. Another big wood feature is cabinetry. Easily the most functional of wood elements, picking the right cabinets, with details you like, and having them installed correctly can save you headaches later as well as really bring a room to life. And woods just as good inside as it is out. Adding an arbor can completely transform a simple backyard or garden area. They help designate spacial use while also providing beautiful frame work for the plants around them. The center photo below shows how varying the color of the wood can add dimension, depth and class (the custom sauna lounge seat isn’t a bad use of wood either). Wood is probably the most easily customized element to work with. It can be shaped, stained, functional, decorative, prominent or understated, but no matter how you use it, it always makes a statement.

Res.BackPatio.03 Res.Sauna.05Res.VacavilleTrellis.04

If you have any questions about our stone and wood architectural elements, please contact us. On our next blog well take a look at some of our glass and metal architectural elements. Let us know if there’s any examples of these you’d like to know more about.

Van Dewark Inc voted “BEST OF 2014”

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A few months ago you may remember we reached out to our past clients, sub contractors and supporters and asked them to vote for us in The Vacaville Reporter’s annual “Best Of” competition. Shortly after, it was announced that Van Dewark Construction Inc was voted “Best Contractor of 2014”. It’s a real honor to be named “Best of” anything really, but as a company that covers a large area doing a wide variety of jobs, we’re really happy our work still stands out in our own community the most and that the place we call home is so proud to have us. We wanted to take a moment to really thank the people that voted. We know life gets busy and sometimes it’s easy to over look things like this, so the fact that you took the time to log in and vote for us, because you felt the quality of our work was worth the title, means a lot to us. We absolutely love what we do and feel really blessed to be able to do it here. Thank you for your continued support and patronage. 2014 was such a great year for us and we’ve loved sharing some our projects with you as we go along. Stayed tuned in 2015 as we continue to take on great projects and deliver results both we and you can be proud of. If you’d like a copy of The Reporter’s “Best of 2014” magazine, with a full list of all the winners, we have some down at our showroom on Merchant St. Feel free to grab a couple and see what other great service people you voted “best” of our community!


Steve Van Dewark and the Van Dewark Inc Team


Build Your Dream Home and Save Money


Everyone is looking for a place to call home, but finding the right home isn’t always so easy. Weather conditions, space, schools, views, accessibility and affordability are just a few of the many factors that can influence a homebuyer. Combined with a temperamental housing market and individual aesthetic preferences- it can seem down right impossible to find your “dream home” these days.

While existing homes can come with a lot of character and potential, making an existing home really feel like your own and bringing it up to date can be expensive and time consuming. For fans of remodeling and those in love with the challenge of reinventing a space, an existing home can be an alluring adventure. However, for people ready to lay down roots and step into their new life all at once, the renovation route can be overwhelming and riddled with unforeseeable obstacles along the way.

“Bidding war situations like these drive up the overall cost and can leave little cash left over for renovations and upgrades”

Renovation dreams aside, first you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope you can find a home you like enough to put more work into in the first place. With the pickings becoming increasingly slim in popular areas it’s not uncommon for buyers to find a home that suits them, along with several other buyers that feel the exact same way. These situations leave a buyer hoping no one wants that home more than they do and more importantly that no one can afford it more than they can. Bidding war situations like these drive up the overall cost and can leave little cash left over for renovations and upgrades, at least starting out.

Alternatively, production homes are becoming increasingly popular as developers scramble to meet the demand for housing while also maximizing profits. Working with a production home builder can be great for people looking to have a brand new home that’s efficient and up to date. The price is right and the turn around time is quick, but it’s important to remember that these houses are often built in large groups to cut down on production costs and maximize the usage of the developer’s property.

While design choices are usually on point with current trends, they’re also designed to generally appeal to anyone and everyone. Often times, buyers that get in at the start of a production housing development are offered a few customizable options for their particular home. This can offset the cookie cutter feeling, but doesn’t always make up for small lot sizes and a general lack of independent personality. As efficient and attractive as production homes are, ultimately they’re tailored to fit the developer’s needs and not necessarily yours.

So with quality older homes packing in the charm and character, but none of the amenities, and new production homes providing efficiency and style but without the heart and soul (and space), a third option is becoming increasingly popular. Where once custom building was thought to be reserved for the most lavish of projects, it’s becoming a more and more viable option. Custom homes are exactly that- custom, tailored to your individual needs and unique desires. Working with an experienced contractor like Van Dewark Construction inc. and an architect you can build your dream home, put it exactly where you want it, and rest assured it’s built to last with the most efficient and cost effective features available.

“Building your dream home isn’t about building something bigger, it’s about building something that works better -for you.”

When you decide to build custom, the first step is knowing what you want, what you need, and what you’d like for the future. Armed with that information you and your experienced custom build team can work together to create a budget everyone can stick to and a plan to run with. Building your dream home isn’t about building something bigger, it’s about building something that works better -for you. Take for example one of our latest completed custom homes. The homeowners wanted to downsize square footage but increase the functionality of both their living space and land. Ready to be away from the bustle of town and noisy neighbors, they chose a spacious but not ostentatious lot in the country. Once the lot was acquired Van Dewark Construction and an architect were brought in.

Our clients worked with the architect to design a home they would love from the ground up, a home that would grow with them and meet their needs. The lot was divided to accommodate a smaller home than they’d previously lived in, but allowed them to add storage and work space to the property, which addressed one of their biggest needs right off the bat. Once the plans were drawn we went to work, continuing to problem solve and constantly look for better productivity and longevity solutions along the way.

After months of hard work, collaboration, and keeping the client’s goals foremost in our mind, we proudly handed over the keys and watched them step into the home they’d been dreaming of for so long. The home was designed to be reasonably managed by two people, but is also large enough for entertaining and over night guests. Spare bedrooms were allocated according to functionality, but also created with the expansion of family in mind. Windows and patios were placed according to the surrounding vistas and sun light, while also maintaining privacy.

Every inch of the main house was designed and crafted to not only suit the client, but also save them money in the long run by maximizing functionality and efficiency. By working with an experienced architect and Van Dewark Construction our clients were able to build the custom home they always wanted, right here in Vacaville. And better yet- they could afford to build it and will save money maintaining it for years to come. This project was such a great success because all three parties worked together to prioritize the clients’ needs, design a beautiful as well as functional home, trim the fat, and make more sustainable and efficient choices that allowed them to get exactly what they wanted.

“With proper planning, prioritizing and research, you can have everything you want”

Though the process takes a bit more time, and the upfront cost can be more than that of a pre-existing or production built home, a custom home can save you a substantial amount of time and money in the long run. With proper planning, prioritizing and research, you can have everything you want, cut the expense of things you don’t need, and afford to live exactly where you want to for years to come. Every homeowner has different ideals and necessities when it comes to finding a place to live, so it’s important to know that now more than ever custom building may be a viable option for you. Especially if you chose to work with the right team.

Hitting Home Runs with Maroon 5

M5_SVD Sponsor

At Van Dewark Construction Inc., we believe that building up the people in our community is just as important as building houses. We’re proud to call Vacaville, CA our home and have loved watching it grow over the years. One thing we’ve always admired about Vacaville is its commitment to the kids of our community, which is why this year we are the proud sponsor of Vacaville Bobby Sox Team, Maroon 5! These spirited little gals are hitting the field and giving it all they’ve got, and we are honored to stand behind them. Youth sports and activities are imperative to creating a positive and healthy community for tomorrow’s residents. We’re happy to help support such a wonderful organization that inspires generation after generation of young women to work together, get involved, stay active, and take pride in their community. Opening Day was this past Saturday and we are looking forward to Maroon 5 and the rest of the Vacaville Bobby Sox league having a great season.


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“It’s Alive!!!” A Look at Spray Foam Insulation

Watching foam insulation expand is a bit like watching 1958’s The Blob. The inanimate mass grows and fills its surroundings at a surprising rate, giving it an almost lifelike appearance during installation. Spray foam expands up to 100 times its original volume within 4-10 seconds. However, unlike the Blob, after the foam expands it stays in one spot, forever. Van Dewark Construction has just finished installing foam insulation in one of our current custom home projects and seeing the process first hand really shed new light on its efficiency and appeal. Watching it fill every nook and cranny as it was expertly sprayed around beams and hard to reach places, I got to see just how airtight this stuff really is! Unlike it’s more common counterpart, fiberglass insulation, spray foam leaves no space open to airflow, meaning with the proper ventilation and application you can greatly improve your air quality, fire safety, energy efficiency, and much more.

Foam insulation has been popular on the east coast for quite some time because it drastically reduces and discourages the growth of mold. However, as energy prices rise and environmental awareness becomes more important it’s steadily gaining momentum out here on the west coast. For our project we chose to use Icynene Spray Foam to compliment our already incredibly efficient radiant heat floor system and add to the home’s overall efficiency. Icynene’s certified team did the work quick and efficiently while also taking the time to ensure it was done right.

Steve Van Dewark and the Icynene crew took a minute to explain to me a bit about how the application process and product work. They broke down everything from what the foam is made of (stuff that gets you on the GreenSpec® Directory and the Green Wizard directory…I may not understand the chemistry but the people who do seem to like this stuff, a lot), how the spray gun works (air keeps the barrel clear so the two components that make the foam expand don’t meet until they’re expelled), why they shave the excess off (no one wants lumpy drywall), and what some of the long term advantages of spray foam insulation are (it doesn’t expand or shrink over time, it keeps good air in and bad air out, keeps the entire structure- including the attic, roughly the same temperature, along with the aforementioned cost effectiveness, fire safety and comfort components). In the case of our current custom home project, spray foam insulation makes perfect sense. It compliments the other heating, cooling, and ventilation choices, helps cut down on circulating dust and allergens that are prominent in the area, and also helps to address some fire safety issues that the region is prone to.

It was a great day on the Van Dewark Construction site and I had a great time learning about spray foam insulation and watching its install. If you’d like to know more about spray foam insulation for your home or custom project, Steve has completed a number of projects involving spray foam and can answer any questions you may have. We’re always happy to help, because with any major home renovation or build project it’s important to do your homework first. For example, spray foam insulation might not be what your particular case needs, however, having a contractor that knows the pros and cons of multiple methods and products can save you time and money in the long run.

Spray Foam Insulation is being applied by one man, while another goes back and trims the excess off for a smooth finish when it is done expanding.
Filling every nook and cranny, creating a completely airtight finish that keeps the air you want in, and the pollutants and debris you hate out!

What is Radiant Floor Heating?


One thing we love about building custom homes is that we have the opportunity to build homes that are not only beautiful and unique, but conscientious and sustainable as well. Our latest custom home project combines these elements expertly in many ways, but one element we’re particularly fond of is its use of Radiant Floor Heating.

For those of you not familiar with Radiant Floor Heating, it’s not a new concept. As early as 5,000 BC Koreans started using warm stones to try and heat things from the ground up. As with all things the idea spread and was adapted over time. Eventually gaining enough momentum to land itself in Europe where the ever clever Greeks picked it up and then later, the Romans.

Apparently when the Romans weren’t busy building empires and taking lots of group baths, they were very busy making home improvements. They realized things would be much cozier if they could heat up their cold stone floors from below, but how? Right under the floor is…well, the ground! So, never ones to be deterred by obstacles, they did the only logical thing and raised the floor up. They popped a couple of furnaces down there, vented it up through the ceiling to avoid smoking out the room and used the hot air and smoke to evenly and effectively warm their homes.

Today we get to skip the Roman pillar foundations and underground furnaces, and instead generate Radiant Floor Heating through either electricity or hot water that runs through tubes right beneath your floor. The electrical option is good if you just want to heat one room or a small area, however if you’d like to heat your whole house using Radiant Heat, a “hydronic” system (the one with the water and tubes) is definitely the more energy efficient (and money saving) option. It can easily be up to 30% more efficient than a forced air heating system, plus it’s much quieter and all the equipment is out of site. It also cuts down on moisture and helps maintain a household climate that doesn’t promote allergens or the growth of mold, bacteria, viruses, or dust mites, thus enriching your overall air quality.

That being said, renovating a house specifically to accommodate Radiant Floor Heating can get costly, especially if you haven’t done your homework and your contractor doesn’t know how to install it correctly. Luckily, you now know of one company you can trust with your custom build or Radiant Floor Heating install, (…us, obviously!) and now all that’s left is for you to decide what system works best for you (and we can probably help you figure that bit out too).

We’re so pleased with the progress on this custom home and we’re excited about sharing lesser know features and methods with you as we go along. If there’s anything you’d like to know more about, use our contact form and let us know! And stayed tuned for more updates!

Construction Services Bundle Package?

Here at the Van Dewark camp we’re so excited about all the changes that have taken place in the last six months. One of the most recognizable changes you may have noticed is our updated website. We loved our old setup, but as is the nature of our business – it was time for a remodel! The new website is more streamlined, making it easier to get in contact with us and view our work. There are still a few kinks to work out- mainly concerning our portfolio page, so bare with us in the following days, but we know it’s going to be fantastic in the end.

Our website isn’t the only part of us getting a remodel. No longer operating as simply Van Dewark Construction, we’re pleased to formally announce we are now operating under the umbrella of Van Dewark Incorporated. Van Dewark Construction, headed by Steve Van Dewark for over thirty years, remains our steadfast flagship, and after years of providing quality work to our clients we’ve expanded to include services specific to your needs.

We officially joined forces with our sister company Van Dewark Fine Art Carvings and opened the Van Dewark Showroom, located in Downtown Vacaville, in December of 2013. Headed by Van Dewark Construction‘s Senior Designer and Architectural Elements Director, Erika Van Dewark, the showroom houses her independent glass art as well as our architectural glass, stone, wood and metal elements.

(Eric Richardson, Project Manager of Van Dewark, Inc. Stone & Tile Division)

In addition to Construction and Fine Art Carvings, Van Dewark Inc. continues to expand with the introduction of The Van Dewark Inc. Stone and Tile Division. Our new division is run by highly renowned industry leader, Eric Richardson. Eric has served as a Northern California Advisor to the Ceramic Tile and Stone Institute for the past 20 years. He has over 35 years of Natural Stone slab experience including concept and design, fabrication, and the installation and completion of stone elements.

We are so proud to welcome Eric to the Van Dewark Inc. family and we love that we are able to offer so many premium construction services to our clients.  We’ve long sought to be a “bundle package” or all inclusive company, making sure that the quality of work is perfect from conception to completion. We look forward to bringing you more updates on our newest branch, current projects, and the unveiling of our new web portfolio in the near future.