Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pre-winter checklist for your home

Checklist for preparing your home or cottage for the upcoming winter;
·         Turn off water to all outside taps. In newer homes you don’t have to do this but for the vast majority of people that don’t live in a relative in home you should do this. Once the water is off to the outside taps, turn them on until any remaining water runs out. Then turn them off and they should be fine for the winter. In newer homes you probably don’t have to do this because your taps will have what are called frost free. This means that you can leave the water on to the outside taps and they will not brake when the temperature drops below freezing.
·         Unhook all hoses from outside taps. Garden hoses will cause frost to penetrate the tap on the outside of the house and will cause a leak.
·         Make sure all downspouts from the eave trough are properly connected and drain away from the building.
·         Clean out all gutters so that they flow properly and you do not end up with ice damming causing leaks in your roof.
·         Make sure the sump pump is working fine, in the fall when you get snow and rain, melting snow can place a lot of water next to the foundation. Also make sure that the exhaust for the sump pump is functioning properly and that water is always draining away from the house so that the water will not freeze in the pipe.
·         Clean out all window wells of leaves and debris. You do not want the drains that connect from your window wells to your weepers to not work properly; you could end up creating a pool effect and have water penetrate around the basement windows and damaging the basement.
·         Turn your furnace on before you need it so that you know that it works. If you are worried that there could be a problem have a furnace company come out and do a proper start up and make sure everything is working properly. This will also allow you to open windows if there you are worried about the furnace throwing dust and hair into the air.
·         Change the filter in the furnace and open all the registers in the house so that when the furnace turns on the whole house will be heated evenly.
·         Make sure that the intake and exhaust for your furnace and HRV are clear of debris, or weeds and leaves.
·         Clean the chimney of your fireplace or hire someone to clean it for you, this will help the wood burning fireplace operate more efficiently and reduce the risk of fire in the chimney. Make sure that the firewood is out of the weather and the kindling is dry.
·         Trim all tree’s that are near the house or hanging over the house. Tree branches will grow all summer and when they get loaded with snow or freezing rain they can droop or fall on the house or against the house causing damage.
·         Check all exterior windows and doors make sure that they shut properly and that you do not feel any drafts around the edge of the door. Installing a simple sweep can save you a lot of money on your heating bill. Also check that the caulking around the window or door is not cracked or peeling.
·         When weather turns colder animals start looking for places to winter, if you don’t give them the opportunity to settle in then you will have not have a problem with them. So repair any holes that you see in your facia, soffit, siding or stucco.
·         If you have a hot tub make sure that the water is topped up so that you don’t have to try and use the outside taps in the winter.
·         Make sure that the shingles on the roof look like they are in good shape. Any shingles that are curled or starting to wear thin should be replaced. If you end up with snow or ice build up that will be the first place it will leak.
This is just a simple check list to help you prepare for the coming of winter. Depending on where you live and how you heat your home you will want to add or subtract certain things from this list.
Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Buying local series: Kitchen companies

Buying local series: Kitchen companies
When building a new home it is always best to buy from the local businesses in the area or community that you are constructing the home. No matter if it’s your summer home or a second home buying locally always makes more sense. This time I’m writing about the reason you should be buying your kitchen from a local kitchen manufacture.
Kitchen companies;
In most homes the centre piece or the central hub of the home is the kitchen. Whether it is a large kitchen or a small kitchen every person passes through it, sits in it or prepares meals in it. It is probably the one room in your home that every single person will be in and out of multiple times a day. So the look and feel of your kitchen is extremely important to the overall feeling of the home. It is also the room that takes the most wear and tear. Nowhere else in the home is there boiling hot liquids, cooking foods, dirty dishes piled up, soapy water and appliances that are physically touched dozens of times a day. The kitchen will see more people in it and through it then all the other rooms combined.
You need a kitchen that is well built so that it will last as long as you need it too. You also need someone that is close by so that when something does go wrong you can have it fixed right away.
When building a home the kitchen installation is a tricky thing. The builder needs the kitchen to be installed on a certain date because there are a lot of things that can’t be finished until the kitchen cabinets are installed. If the kitchen maker is 2 hours away instead of right down the street then he may have problems getting them to deliver and install when he wants them too. If the kitchen is delivered too early on a build, the cabinets might not be installed and then they have to be stored on site. This is a bad thing for cabinets, the more you handle a cabinet the more likely you will scratch or dent the cabinet. A construction site is no place for cabinets. Even when a builder wants the kitchen installed, the cabinets are vulnerable until they are put in place. Once they are installed the builder can take proper care to protect them as a whole. If the cabinets show up too early some of the things that can restrict them from being installed are as follows;
·         Flooring isn’t layed so cabinets cannot be placed on floor.
·         Drywall isn’t finished, so cabinets could be covered in drywall mud and dust.
·         Ceilings are not primed and painted; cabinets could be covered in paint. Also if cabinets are installed and the painter wants to paint above them he could stand on them and cause damage.
·         Electrical isn’t complete, causing the electricians to have to remove cabinets from walls to run wire, possibly standing on lower cabinets.
·         Venting for range hood not run causing cabinets to be removed from the wall.
·         Plumbing rough in not complete, cabinets would need to be removed to place plumbing and then reinstalled.
Those are just a handful of things that can restrict the cabinets from being installed.
If the kitchen is late being installed because of distance of travel with weather or schedule then there are a lot of things in the house that cannot be finished;
·         Counter top templating is done after cabinets are all in place. Without cabinets there can be no ordering of the counter tops.
·         Without counter tops the sinks, taps and appliances can’t be installed.
·         Painting of walls can’t be finished until cabinets and counter tops are installed.
·         Tile backsplash can’t be installed without cabinets and counter tops.
·         If you have custom coated wood floors, the final coat is installed after kitchen has been installed.
·         The baseboards that run up against the cabinets can’t be completed.
·         Electrical cannot be completed if there is in cabinet lighting, or under cabinet lighting.
·         Appliances cannot be delivered or installed.
A kitchen installer that is too far from the build site could easily not have the time or the resources to install in the time frame that your builder needs them too. This could cause delays in the completion of your home. A local installer will have the flexibility to install when you need them. A local builder is also able to do a partial install if that is what the builder requires. They could install just the lower cabinets and store the upper cabinets until the builder is ready for them. This could allow other work to continue while allowing the builder to fix a certain area that was in the way of the upper cabinets.
In the future you might want to update, or add to your kitchen. If you went with the local kitchen manufacturer then they would be able to stop in and help you plan this and give you a proper quote on the work.
So remember when you are thinking of that dream kitchen give the local company a look, they probably will surprise you with superior service and quality.
Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Buying local series: Electronics Installer/dealer

Buying local series: Electronics
When building a new home it is always best to buy from the local businesses in the area or community that you are constructing the home. No matter if it’s your summer home or a second home buying locally always makes more sense. This time I’m writing about the reason you should be buying your electronics locally, I’m talking about the Electronics installer/dealer.
Electronics Installer/dealer:
One of the main items that is being installed into people’s homes these days are electronics. I’m not just talking about the amplifier for your stereo or the receiver for your cable. Today’s house is outfitted with almost more structured wiring then electrical wiring. Structured wiring is all the cable that is installed for everything electronic, such as internet, phone, speakers and auto controls.
Dealing with a local electronics installer is the best way to go to get the level of service that you will require when you try to operate all of your new equipment. Usually the company that installs the structured wiring will also be able to supply you with the equipment that will allow your house to function as you want it too. Because there is such a wide verity of electronics on the market today it is safer and easier for you to have the installer supply the equipment. If they don’t supply the equipment you could end up having problems with the compatibility of all the components when you try to operate them once they are hooked up. The software in these components have become so complicated that you almost have to be a computer wizard to be able to properly program them.
You will have multiple systems at any one time operating and talking to each other to perform the functions that you require it to do. Here are some of the things that you can control in a house;
·         Furnace, you can control the temperature of the house remotely from your cell phone, also you are able to receive alerts if the temperature of the house drops below a certain temperature.
·         Sound and Video. You can control the music or sound in every room of the house, allowing you to us different formats such as cds, mps or radio. The volume can be controlled from a wall mounted dial, a handheld remote or your cell phone.
·         Security. You can turn the security on and off remotely from your cell phone or computer. It will send you an alert if something goes wrong in the house, like a sump pump has failed in the basement, or there’s been a brake in, or a power failure. If your house has security cameras then you can stream them online to view the inside or the outside of the house depending on how many cameras you have.
·         Control the lights. You can control the lights from your computer or your cell phone. So if you think that you left any lights on when you left for that 2 week vacation then you just turn them off remotely. Also you can set a schedule for the lights to come on and off depending on what you require. Gone are the days when you stumble to the front door trying to see the hole were the key is suppose to fit in because someone forgot to leave a light on. Interior/exterior lights can also be controlled with a hand held remote control, so when you go to bed you just have to hit a button on the remote and all the lights in the house will go off. Some can even be programmed to stay on while dimmed.
·         In house home theatres with powered 9 foot screens that repel out of the ceiling in front of stadium seating are now popular. They require a whole system dedicated to run your personal movie theatre with all the speakers, projection and lighting.
·         Remotely turn on gas fireplaces to warm up one room before you arrive in that room or to help set the mood.
·         Operate your garage door from your phone or your computer; you don’t have to worry if you forgot to put the garage door down.
·         In home intercoms, depending on the size of the house, or if you have a person that needs a lot of care then these systems work wonderful. Especially when you can have a hand held device instead of one on the wall.

That is just some of the things that can and are being done in new houses today. The list grows longer everyday as more and more technology comes on the market.
All of those functions, systems and components have to be programmed to talk to each other. A person has to physically program them to talk to each other and connect the hardware appropriately. With a local electronics dealer/installer you would be able to get them to come over to help you when you have problems with the system. You will have problems; they are basically a bunch of computers hooked together. You need a person locally who will take the time to show you how to work it, then be close enough to come over for tech support. If your automatic lights are not working you don’t want to wait a month for the next available techi to come to you because you live to far away.
You also want someone close that you can do future business with when you want to upgrade your system.
The local installer/dealer might cost a little more at the start, but it will be worth it in the end when you need the tech support to control your house.
So please, buy local.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders inc.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Buying Local Series: Window Dealers

Buying local: Window Dealers
Buying Local can save you time and money in the long run when building your custom home.
When you are building your custom home the more things that you choose from the local area where the house is being built can be better for you and better for the local economy.
If you are building a new home, second home or recreational property it’s better to buy the things you need from the local suppliers even if they are more expensive. Having all of the material for you build sent from different regions because you believe you can save a little bit of money can turn out to be the worst thing you do, if you look at the consequences of your actions you might change your mind.
If you are saving 10% on items you are buying in a different location and then having them shipped to your build site that might sound like a smart economic choice, except until you have a problem with anything. Problems could be as follows; damaged during shipping, warranty, parts missing, some assembly required with no instructions or you just want to return part or all of the order. Companies that ship things considerable distances usually will charge you a large fee to take part or all of your order back if you’re not happy with it. Also for warranty, if could take months or even years before you can get someone from the company up to your home to look at the issue and usually they will charge you to come and look, even if it’s a warranty issue.
This is going to be a series on all the different types of local contractors that you can buy from and why you should buy from them. This first one in this series will be about window dealers.
Products such as windows and doors are a prime example; you may think that buying direct from the manufacturer is a better way to go because it seems that you are saving money. In reality if you look at all the costs associated with buying from them it could cost you more in the long term. Your local window supplier is technically a middle man for window companies; this means that he puts a percentage on top of your order to make a profit. In the world of big box stores people have been trained to think that the middle man is a bad thing. Actually someone like a window dealer is a good thing; instead of selling one type of window he sells dozens of window types and manufacturers. So by your budget, taste, wants and needs they can help you choose the exact window that will suit your build. Also window dealers get discounts from the manufacturers that they are able to pass on to you, making them more competitive. These discounts are not available to a homeowner even if they go straight to the source.  Once you have selected your windows, the window supplier will go over the order with your builder before it is placed with the manufacturer to insure that the measurements are all correct. The window dealer then tracks the progress of the window order so that it can be delivered to the building site when the contractor requires them. Many times with window manufacturers they ship the order as soon as the order is complete and ready to ship, this is because they have no room to store the windows at the factory. This can cause some major problems on a build site. A house that is being framed is a dangerous place for glass windows; there a lot of people working with air powered nailers and lots of lumber being carried around. It doesn’t take much for a window to be damaged in that kind of environment. If your windows have wood cladding on the inside, they can be damaged from the weather, windows are not made to handle weather on the inside, there made to keep the weather out. The biggest concern about having windows delivered early before they are ready to be installed is that they could be stolen. Many windows have been stolen off construction sites because they were stored on site before being installed. Window dealers are equipped with storage space to safely and securely store you windows until your builder calls them for delivery.
Speaking of delivery, if you order your windows from the manufacturer, they will ship them to the site in a transport or cube van with a driver. The driver is usually under orders that they are not to get off the truck bed. That means that when the windows are delivered the builder has to supply enough men to unload the truck themselves and carry the windows inside. Window dealers on the other hand will have had the windows delivered to their building, will reload the windows on to trucks and trailers and supply labour to help unload the windows. They will then help carry the windows into the building. It might not sound like a big deal to have your windows delivered in pickup trucks towing trailers; but if you have ever been on a construction site you would know there is no grass and very little driveway. This usually means that it is extremely difficult for tractor trailers or cube vans to get in to a construction site and turn around. Four wheel drive pickup trucks pulling trailers can pretty much go anywhere you need them to go to drop the windows off. All of this saves time and man hours that the homeowner has to pay for in the end. So the deal that you got from the manufacturer starts to look less and less like a deal and more like a giant headache.
When talking about warranty, window dealers are in the ideal position to help you. Window dealers buy such large volume of product from manufacturers they have more influence with them. That means that they will come out and fix warranty issues even before calling the manufacturer. They know that they will get paid for the warranty at a later date and so there goal is to keep you and the builder happy by doing the repair. If you are building a second home or recreational property having the windows come from a local window dealer means that the dealer can stop by your house to assess or fix the problem without you having to come up to the house to meet them. If you ever have a window broken from animals or flying debris during a storm, a window dealer will have the ability to have the window repaired properly.
A couple of other things that window dealers do that help save you money, they take responsibility if an order is delivered either incomplete or incorrect. They supply technical assistance to the builder if he has questions about certain window installations or answers questions on how window and doors should be properly operated, cleaned and maintained.
A window dealer is able to stop by the location of your build and assess what they believe you require for windows. So if you are building in a location with high wind and extreme weather he may suggest a certain window, the same if you are building a house in a real sandy location he may recommend that you install an all vinyl window so the sand doesn’t damage anything on the window over time.
Sometimes when a house is designed the designer doesn’t take into consideration the cost of the windows because of the shape or size. When the home owner starts to look around for pricing they could find that the windows are too expensive. A window dealer can assess the plans and come up with alternatives for windows that fit in the same space but do not cost nearly as much.
One last thing about buying local, in a world that has decided to go green there is nothing more green then buying locally.
So remember, when building your home try and buy locally it’s not just good for the local economy it’s good for you as the homeowner as well.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village builders Inc.