Friday, July 29, 2011

Glass the hot new trend in bathrooms

Glass is the in thing in bathrooms!
More and more bathrooms have glass everywhere in them.
Instead of having the walls of your shower tiled, think of having large panes of glass installed. The backs of the glass are painted whatever colour you desire, it leaves your walls with clean lines and almost no joints. This makes cleaning easy with no grout lines to scrub. The glass panels are glued to the cement board walls and caulked around the bottom and top edges, giving you a waterproof seal. The cost of this is very reasonable. You can install this glass on the walls of the bathroom as a wainscoting; it gives you that nice clean streamlined look that has become very popular. A lot of times in smaller bathrooms too much tile can make the room feel busy and confined, when you install glass panels with their almost seamless edges the bathroom feels less busy.
Another way to use glass is to put a large mirror at one end of the bathroom to give the bathroom a feeling of depth so that you don’t feel so confined. It also allows people to check there clothes and make up instead of going to another room.
You don’t have to install large square mirrors over the vanities anymore; decorative mirrors have become very popular. You can get them in different shapes and sizes; you can get them edged so that there is a nice pattern around the outside edge. Picture framing the mirror with the same trim that the house has in it looks rather nice, or bordering them with some drapes to give it that window effect are popular. A new thing with bathroom mirrors is heated mirrors. This allows you to take as long and hot a shower as you want too without fogging up the mirror. The heater is installed at the back of the mirror and warms the glass keeping the mirror from fogging. You can have the heater customized to make a pattern, so if you want the mirror to have a round port hole look with the rest of it fogged, or if you want writing to appear in the mirror, nothing is impossible anymore.
Small makeup mirrors on pullout arms have come back in popularity, most of them magnify and have lights built into them.
Installing mirrors that run from floor to ceiling behind the vanity sink can give the bathroom that large feeling. It allows you to do an open concept vanity so that you can see the mirror under the sink at the back wall of the vanity. Then you have the taps from the sink come out of the wall through the mirror. It’s a striking look! To see one of these, log on to our website and go to the picture gallery.
One thing that hasn’t become that popular yet is glass counter tops for your vanity. It allows you to customize the colour and pattern; also you can do a glass backsplash with it. The counter top glass is very durable and easily cleaned.
So the next time your thinking about renovating your bathroom, think about installing glass instead of tile. If you have any questions about bathrooms or pictures of bathrooms feel free to email me at or visit our website at
Our design department would be happy to help you with your next bathroom renovation.
Rob Abbott
Operations Manger
Village builders Inc.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Planning your new house for your later years

When building a new home or renovating an older home, you should always think about the future. Most of my clients that I work for are from the baby boomer generation, so they are in retirement or getting close to it. The work that we are doing for them now is probably going to be the last big project that they want to do in their life time.
When designing your retirement home, the one that you anticipate living in for the rest of your life you need to think about all the things you might need when you get into your 80’s and 90’s. With modern medicine helping people live longer and longer you have to plan ahead. That means that things that ended the life of people 20 years ago are manageable today. It doesn’t mean that there are cures but it doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence either.
So here are some helpful hints that you should incorporate into a new home or major renovation for the future you:
The first thing that a lot of older people have problems with is there mobility. So one simple thing that you can do is have your master bedroom on the first floor of the house. This allows you not to have to alter the house later with stair lifts; it’s a simple thing to do and is a major growing trend in houses today. It also allows you not to have to climb the stairs to do cleaning because everything is contained on the first floor. It’s a lot easier if you only have to venture up stairs when there is company coming to stay overnight then cleaning both floors every time you think it needs to be done.
If putting the master bedroom on the first floor isn’t an option then, design a room such as a den or study that can be converted into a bedroom later in life. If you are building a new home a simple thing to do is have the builder design a space in the home where a future elevator can be installed. It’s an easy thing to have done when the house is being built. All it requires is a spot in the house where there is about a 5 foot square shaft that can be created from the first floor to the second floor without having to change anything structural in the building. The only cost then would be the elevator equipment itself.
If you plan to have a future master bedroom on the first floor, then install a full bathroom on the first floor not just a powder room.
Ensuite bathrooms should have doors that are 36” wide at the least; you should do this also with the shower door as well. If you believe that because of past illness in the family that someone will end up needing a wheelchair then large doors are really important.
Instead of putting in a curb in your shower, install a hump. This does the same thing as a curb, it keeps the water from spilling across the floor, but it allows a wheelchair to be rolled into the shower.
When talking about wheelchair access the whole master ensuite should be built with a wheelchair in mind. You can install a lower vanity and sink, you should also leave a space in the middle of the room so that the wheelchair can be turned a 180 degrees and in the shower it should be made large enough to except a wheelchair and a helper. Installing a bench seat in the shower with a hand shower comes in handy, it allows you to sit down, without the fear of not getting back up, plus it’s great for women to shave their legs on. Having the builder install solid blocking in the walls for grab bar installation is a smart way to prepare for the future as well.
Design your decks so that there is a future space to install a ramp when stairs become difficult to negotiate.
You should also have your landscaping designed without a lot of steps, making your landscaping more self sufficient will help in the future when you do not have the energy or time to make it outside to tend to it.
 Having an attached garage with an entrance that has very few steps is a smart way to allow yourself to stay in your dream home longer. Even if you have a big set of steps to the front door, you should be able to drive into your garage and walk into your house with little effort and with very few steps. This will give you added years in your home.
Have an alarm system installed in your house when it is being built. You don’t even have to have it activated until years down the road when you think you need it. It will help you and your family feel better when at the touch of button, or even a voice command you can have an ambulance on its way.
There are other small things you can do to help yourself, have an instant hot water tap installed in the kitchen. This allows you to have a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate without having to wait for the kettle to boil. No more standing in the kitchen.
If you install structural wiring throughout the house, you can operate the whole house on a remote. So you can turn on the music or TV. without having to leave the room. You can turn the lights on and off at the push of a button, run the security, you can actually almost run anything electronics in the house from one remote.
So when planning to build or renovate your dream home remember that in the future there will be certain things that you will require. Proper planning will go a long way.
Rob Abbott
Operations Manger
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Dog Shower a gift to Fido

The dog shower is one of the fastest growing trends in custom homes lately. Every client that I’m building a home for that has a dog is having one of these installed.
A dog shower is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a shower built to wash dogs. This is especially important for people that live near the water or have a pond. The shower is usually placed in the garage to minimize the mess. Heated or not it doesn’t matter, if the garage isn’t heated then the shower needs a shut off in the house to drain and winterize it to prevent freezing of the water pipes. A shower can be as simply as hot and cold water pipes connected to a faucet with a hand shower and a drain installed in the garage floor to take away the water. Or you can have a fully enclosed dog shower with a glass door; usually the doors are only a couple of feet high so that the owner can stand on the outside and wash the dog on the inside. You can use durable tile that has lots of grip so that Fido doesn’t slip and hurt itself.  The short door also allows you to dry the dog off before it walks across the floor.
So now you have a place to wash the dog and a place to keep all the dog shampoo, flee and tic treatments instead of in your washrooms.
The dog shower serves as much more than just a dog shower, it makes for a great place to wash off your muddy boots and shoes. This gives you a place to leave them while they dry as well.
Gardening tools and outdoor items can be easily washed in warm water and left to dry with little clean up required.
One of the biggest side benefit to a dog shower is that can be used to clean off little children that found that wonderful mud puddle. So no more making the child strip at the front door and having them walk through the whole house to the closest shower or bathtub, everything is done before they enter the main living area.
There are a few other things that are growing trends in new houses that deal with pets.
Instead of having cages that you have to move around and fold up when company comes, have custom made cages that are built into pieces of furniture. So in the top of a large cabinet in the mud room you have storage for all your hats and gloves, but in the bottom you have one or two cages so that the dogs can be put out of the way where they wouldn’t bother anyone and a place that the dogs will feel comfortable and safe.
Doggy doors that lead into the garage allow the dog to come in out of the weather without the homeowner having to run out and retrieve the dog. This gives the dog freedom to move around and allows the homeowner to lock the door when they are away so that nothing else comes in.
If your dog spends a lot of time on tile floors, especially in the same room all the time, a great thing to do is to install heat cables underneath the tile. This keeps the tile warm all year round and will help the dog when it gets older to keep its hips healthy.
So when you’re thinking about, or designing your new custom home remember Fido, he’s part of the family too. These simple things can save you a lot of work and hardship in the future.
If you need a dog shower designed, feel free to contact me at or visit our website at
Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bring in Habitat for Humanity before you do the demolition of your home

Allow habitat for humanity at your house before you tear it down.
If you decide to Demolish a home so that you can build another one you should really give habitat for humanity a call. It only takes a phone call to set up a time for them to come out and look at your existing home.
Some townships have it written in there building bylaws that you have to give habitat for humanity an opportunity to salvage anything usable from your house before you tear it down.
If you don’t know what habitat for humanity does, it is a non profit organization that builds houses for people that cannot afford to buy a house for themselves. It’s a truly wonderful organization and can help a lot of people in your community.
Habitat for humanity takes the things that they salvage from people’s homes and sells them in their store. They take the money from the sales of these items and put it toward the cost of building homes for people who need them. The homes are built with donations of materials, sometimes the donation of land and a lot of volunteer help. I have personally helped in some of these builds and have found it a very rewarding experience.
It’s not just a good deed that you are doing, a lot times habitat will take the windows, the kitchens, some furniture, flooring, wood ceilings, siding and everything else they think they can sell. One of the largest costs associated with demolishing a house is the removal to the dump. Trucking is expensive with the rising cost of fuel and at the dump you pay per pound. So the more material that is removed from your house before it is demolished then the less trucking you have and the less weight you’ll have to pay.
The other factor is that you lessen the impact on your local dump; houses take a lot of room up in a dump and space is becoming harder to find for dumps these days.
I have removed personal items like trim boards from doors for people who marked the height of their children as they were growing up. We then re-installed them in the new house once it was built so that they could always remember those times even through that building that it happened in is gone.
Sometimes gas fireplaces can be reused as well in a new home, as long as they are able to meet current safety standards.
So if you’re worried about all the waste that will come out of tearing down an old house to build a new one, think about picking up the phone and calling Habitat for Humanity. It will be good for your wallet and also good for your karma.
Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Women in Construction

Women in construction
I wrote in an early blog about the trends in the construction industry and that one of the big trends was the injection of women into the construction industry. I’m not just talking about hiring women to answer the phone at your office. I’m talking about the hiring and training of women for all positions in your construction company regardless of the size.
With the ever changing nature of the construction industry employers should be looking for intelligent, hard working, high energy, quick learning, and driven reliable people. When looking at it from that point of view why would anyone immediately dismiss ½ of the population just because they are women? One thing I have learned from strong independent people is that they come in all shapes, sizes and genders. If you’re looking to hire for the long term, you want the person to be able to grow with the company and be able to move up through the company. So you want to hire someone that will have leadership qualities. That means that they are independent, strong willed and willing to take responsibility for their decisions.
In residential construction technology has changed the way houses are built. Gone are the days when you swung a hammer from morning to night, now people are trained on how to use a air driven framing hammer almost before there asked to swing there hammer. Everything is powered and cordless, that means it’s more about the skill you can develop with the tool then the power you put behind it. This is not saying that construction isn’t hard work, its damn hard work, but its more stamina these days than pure power. I have seen muscle bound guys be completely exhausted half way through the day while the skinny guy beside him isn’t even out of breath. Stamina can be gained overtime with repeated work, large muscles on the other hand are a lot harder to grow and maintain. So what does this have to do with women? The average female is lighter than the average male, but when you’re looking at stamina that means nothing, physical fitness for construction is not gender specific. With today’s safety standards workers are not suppose to pick up extremely heavy loads by themselves, so you already need a second set of hands so that you do not injure your back. I have seen many a muscled young man hurt himself because he thought that he was invincible. It’s not a weight lifting contest; you do not have to hire the strongest, biggest person that you can find. I will take brains over bronze any day.
One of the main reasons that there are not more women in construction is because they are discouraged by the older generations from even attempting a career in it. That’s something that my generation is starting to realize. That by eliminating women from your hiring practices sometimes you end up with no one to hire. You can actually go through a hiring for your company, interview 30 man and say to yourself well who’s the best of this bad lot. What people don’t understand is that construction has the tendency to attract people who have nothing else to do, so they have no skills or they have been let go from there desk job and think “well I can always do construction”. Not in my company they wouldn’t. I have had hundreds of older men that have been laid off from their desk job come to me for work; you can tell after you interview them that they are only in it for a pay check. This isn’t the kind of people you want in your company. I have found that when you interview people, just asking them some simple questions like why they want to work in this industry will tell you a lot about the person.
A lot of the women that I have hired for field work come from families that are in the construction industry. They already understand the physical nature of the business and understand how men behave around each other. I raise this point because with older men it’s something that seems to come up a lot. I have had men complain that they don’t want a woman on site because they will have to watch the way they act and what they say. Well this is one of the pluses of hiring women, if you have an all male crew, sometimes they are so type A that they can’t get along. They are constantly complaining to you about each other and the production suffers because of the way they interact with each other. Inject a female into this mix and all of a sudden it’s not a testosterone contest, men start to watch what they say and do to each other. They do this because they are worried that they will look like idiots in front of the female. The production of the crew goes up and the complaints go down. This is the same as when the older men pick on the young, what can happen is if you don’t put a stop to it, you’ll lose the younger worker. I have seen all male crews get into fist fights for no reason. It is never a bad thing to change things up with different personalities and different genders. One thing you will find with a lot of females that want to work in the construction industry is that they already realize the way males act around each other and a lot of the time it doesn’t bother them. Actually a lot of the females that I have hired seem to have the dirtiest jokes!  
Being married to a strong independent woman, being the son of a strong independent woman and being the brother of a strong independent woman, I have become aware of the possibilities of women in all walks of life and all jobs. Change is almost always a good thing for companies and one of the easiest ways to change the culture in your company is to hire women.
With today’s young people being different than even the former generation, you have to sift through people who believe that they are entitled to a pay check, that the pay check should be a large one and that they shouldn’t have to work hard for it. Gone are the days when you are able to hire farm kids looking for a different life, kids that are used to hard work and long days. More and more the young people I talk to think that a job in the trades is something for the poor and that the only way to a better life is through higher education. Now I have nothing against higher education, but not everyone in the country is going to benefit from spending a lot of money on an education that they may never use. With the apprentiship programs for most trade’s standard now days you can get a lifelong career. A career that is almost never affected by the changing economy. Licensed carpenters, electricians, plumbers and mechanical techs are never out of work long.
Just so you understand, I practise what I preach. I have hired many women as labours and apprentices. I have hired women as estimators, designers, accountants, bookkeepers and yes to even answer the phones.
I have found that after hiring women to work with me as estimators and designers, the work day is more enjoyable. Also women tend to look at problems and there solutions differently than I do. It has created a very healthy working environment and one that generates a lot of new ideas that are beneficial to the bottom line of the company.

So in the future when you are hiring do not discount an applicant because they are female, they might be exactly what your company needs.
If you are a women and you are looking for a job, do not be afraid to apply for a construction job, it could be the career that you have been looking for and if you find the right company you will enjoy getting up in the morning and going to work.
If you have any questions or comments you can reach me at
Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.