Friday, November 25, 2011

How to install windows in a new house

The proper way to install a window;
If you standing near a window in your home and you can feel a breeze blowing across your cheek and the window isn’t open, well it might be because the window was never installed properly. Here is the way that Village Builder’s installs a window so that you never feel a draft.
Just to be clear there are as many different kinds of windows as there is houses in Canada. There are different companies, different shapes, styles and different ways of making windows. I will try to explain the way to install windows in a new home using the most common windows.
Installing a window in a new home;
First you need to frame the opening correctly. This might sound like an easy thing, but a lot of window manufacturers will tell you to frame the opening leaving a ¼ all the way around or less. Keeping the window opening tight might sound like the right thing to do, but actually it is the worst. You need to leave ½ an inch all the way around the window at a minimum!  That means if the window is 40 inches by 30 inches then your framing size should be 41 inches by 31 inches.
Once you have it framed and sheeted then you need to install your house wrap. Pull the house wrap in and around the framed opening stapling it as you go. This helps keep the house wrap tight on the sheeting and also will help keep the air penetration down around the window.
Then you install a strip of waterproofing that is about 9 inches wide on the bottom of the window framing. It should go from one side of the window opening to the other and run up the side of the opening about 12 inches. This will ensure that if and when the window fails the framing will not be rotten when you replace the window.
You then install the window. Depending on the type of window you are installing this could mean a bunch different installations.
·         If installing a window with nailing fins on the outside, you level the window horizontally and move it in or out so that the outside of the window is where you want it to sit. You adjust the window level with shim shingles, placing them 8 inches from the top and bottom on all sides of the window. Depending on how big the window is you might require more shim points. Then you use roofing nails to nail the nailing fins on the outside of the window.
·         If installing a window without nailing fins, then you do everything the same except that you either screw or use finishing nails at the points where you installed the shims to hold the window in place. Remember to countersink them so that they can be filled when finishing later.
Now that the window is where you want it, you then use low expansion spray foam and fill the void between the window and the framing. You must not fill the whole cavity right away, spray in the foam around the whole window moving constantly never stopping in any one place and let it dry. Once it has dried then you may proceed to fill more of the cavity around the window, you will have to do this several times before the cavity is completely full. The dangers of putting too much spray foam around the windows all at once are pretty serious! You can actually break the window if the foam expands too much. Or if the window is an operator you can jamb the window so tight that it will never open.
Some key things to understanding the insulation around the window;
·         Only use spray foam around the window, do not use fibreglass insulation, or roxall. The reason is that fibreglass insulation and roxall are designed to allow air to pass through them; they just slow it down to allow the furnace in the house to warm it up. Spray foam allows no air penetration.
·         Only use low expansion spray foam. I am repeating myself for a good reason. The high expansion spray foam will break the window you are foaming; also low expansion spray foam is denser and is able to restrict the flow of air easier.
·         Make sure the window is in properly because once you spray foam the window it will never move. Spray foam holds so well that you could take out all the screws and nails that are holding the window in place and the window wouldn’t move. Trying to remove the spray foam to move the window later will be a nightmare.
·         Make sure the window is set at the proper depth on the outside of the building not the inside. It’s more important to get the window in the proper place relative to whatever you are placing on the outside of the house. It doesn’t matter if the inside build out doesn’t end up where you want it, if it’s too short then you add a jamb extension on later.
Now that the window is installed and properly secured in its final resting place you can move on to the outside of the window. If your window has nailing flanges then you simple take you’re waterproofing and start by covering the nailing flange to the edge of the window. The 6”to 9” waterproofing will then extend out and cover said distance creating a water and air barrier. You put the bottom piece of waterproofing on first covering the piece of waterproofing that you have already installed and then the sides. The last piece is always installed above the window. This will give you a perfect water and air tight seal around the window.
If your window doesn’t have a nailing flange, then you install a drip cap first on top of the window, and then put your waterproofing over it. This will help direct the water away from the window. Unfortunately you cannot install waterproofing on the sides and bottom of this window because there is nothing for the waterproofing to attach to at the window. So installing the waterproofing becomes a waste of time and money.
All windows should have a drip cap installed over them regardless of where they are installed in the house.
When you complete the siding or stone around the building, you’re going to want to go around and caulk all the windows and the trims that are touching or placed near them, especially any trims above the window. Use a good quality outdoor weather resistance caulking. Caulk all joints that you can. This will help stop all air leakage around the windows.

Before the drywall is installed, check the vapour barrier around the window, the vapour barrier should stop at the edge of the framing for the window. That edge should be taped with Tuck tape as tight to the spray foam as you can manage. This will help stop air transfer from the walls beside the window even after the drywall has been installed.
Check around the edge of the window with your hand, were you installed the spray foam. You’re trying to feel any drafts or gaps in the spray foam that you may have missed. This is your last chance to insulate, so add spray foam to anywhere you think there could use some more. Be careful that you do not add too much, remember that the foam expands. Once the foam has dried and you have trimmed away any excess foam that protrudes past the window jambs you can install your trim.
Once your trim has been installed and most of the painting has been completed you are going to want to caulk the trim. Caulk all the edges with as thin a bead of caulking as you can manage. This is the last step in stopping air leakage. Any air that happened to seep through all the other measures will be stopped here by the caulking. The trim might feel cold to the touch, but you wouldn’t have any drafts around the windows. The cold air will warm up in the walls from the furnace inside the house.
So if you do everything I have listed here you should end up with a draft proof window.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders inc.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buying local series: Roofing Contractor

Buying local series: Roofing Contractor
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 having your roof supplied and installed by a roofing contractor locally, I’m talking about the local roofing contractor.
Roofing Contractor:
Something that is often forgotten about is the material that is installed on your roof and the way it was installed. That is the way it should be on a new home, you should take the roof for granted and never think about it because it does what it’s supposed to do and that is keep the elements on the outside.
Now to be perfectly honest roofing a house isn’t rocket science but there are certain things that should be done by the installer to insure that the roof stays watertight for many years to come. So if you’re thinking that you should be getting a roofing contractor from somewhere else like a larger city you are wasting your time and probably your money. Local roofing contractors wherever you build your home or chalet are probably just as good as the one from a larger urban area.
Some of the advantages of retaining a local roofing contractor:
·         They know the local weather patterns and prevailing winds. This will allow them to be able to properly flash your home so that even in the worst of storms your roof stays water tight.
·         Your general contractor will have used a local roofing contractor a fair number of times and will understand the strengths and weaknesses. This allows him to properly supervise the installation of the roof.
·         They will be able to give you advice on what products perform better in the area that the house is being built. An example is if you have heavy snow loads where you are building the home then you might want to go with a steel roof instead of asphalt shingles so that the roof will properly shed snow and water, keeping the ice build up to a minimum.
·         For warranty they are not far away to come over and immediately do repairs on anything that would be there fault.
·         If you have an emergency, like tornado level winds tore shingles off the roof, they are able to quickly come over and tarp the place to protect the inside of the residence. Then they are able to organize a quick and efficient repair. They are also able to give you quotes for your insurance company so that you can have the roof fixed.
·         Since there local you don’t have to drive far to see the quality of their work on other homes.
·          You don’t have to go far to check there references, just knock on the door of a home they did and ask your questions.
·         If your building in a high area and you need your house shingled in the winter, a roofing contractor from out of the area will be reluctant to come up when it is snowing hard. The local roofer is able to be closer to the site and able to work on the job even when they are not ideal conditions.
·         Because they are local they have a certain reputation to uphold and will want you to be happy when they are done, so the service level should be higher.
If you hire a roofing contractor thinking that you are saving money buy getting him from out of the build area, remember you get what you pay for, that means they are not just charging less than the local roofer, but they are also going to commute to the site too. A company that is willing to do this should raise some red flags for you as the homeowner. It probably means that they are undercutting the job just to get it and will try to make the money up somewhere else in over priced extras that they didn’t include in the quote. Other thing a lot of roofing contractors will do is they will take on a job out of their normal area just to keep their crews working. But if they pick up jobs that are closer to their normal area and they can make better money at it because they don’t have to pay their men to travel then you get put on the back burner.
Waiting for a roofer can cause serious delays in the building of your home.
Mechanical, plumbing, electrical cannot be installed until the roofing material is properly installed. Before any of this can happen, you need to install the windows and no contractor will do that until the roof is properly installed.
So when you are building your new home or chalet, or just getting a replacement roof, it’s better for everyone when you get the local roofing contractor to do it and not someone from out of the area.
Rob Abbott
Operations manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How residential elevators are becoming more popular in new homes

Residential elevators are being installed more frequently in multi-level. With an aging population of baby boomers who desire to be independent, planning for future elevators make perfect sense. So framing an elevator shaft into your new home as it is being built will cut down on the future cost of the elevator installation and cut down on the reconstruction that your home will have to go through.
Elevators can be a large expense when they are installed. One way to get around this is to have just the elevator shaft roughed in when you have your house built or renovated. This allows you to pay for the cost of the framing and rough in while the house is being built and put on your mortgage. Then 20 years down the road when you require an elevator you will have had lots of time to save up for it. Installation of the elevator should be relatively easy because the house has been framed for this application.
 What you have to do is have an engineer or architect design you a future elevator shaft in the home. It usually consists of extra footings made of concrete in the basement, then larger beams that surround the shaft all the way up to the top floor. This will help transfer the load down to the foundation when the elevator is finally installed.
The great thing about roughing in the elevator shaft while the house is being built is that it cuts down on the renovation costs in the future. Also if you designate a certain area in the home for the elevator you can still use that space for storage or closest. When installing a future elevator you don’t leave it as an empty shaft, you install the floor joist, plywood and flooring on all floors. This allows you to use these spaces until you desire to have the rest of the elevator installed.
When they go to install the elevator they simply remove the drywall, floor joist and floor coverings. Then they install the elevator and all the mechanical means that it needs. What you have to make sure of is that you don’t install any heating ducts, water pipes, structured wiring or electrical lines through the shaft. This will make the installation of the elevator easier at a later date.
A couple of things that your contractor might have to keep in mind for a future installation of elevator;
·         No mechanical, water, structural or electrical lines inside the shaft.
·         Easy access to electrical panel for future motors to run lift. A lot of this equipment runs on 240 V so you need a large electrical cable run to were the motors will be placed. If electrical panel is not easily accessed from where motors are to be installed then install a 240 line that is not active and is for future use.
·         Have the shaft designed by an engineer so that it will meet building codes for your future elevator and not just to meet the standards for you sub- floor now. This can be done by the same engineer that specs all the beams and floor joist in the home.
·         Make sure you leave enough room for an elevator in the shaft. Usually you have to leave a minimum of 5 feet square for the elevator. This could have to be larger depending on the kind or elevator and the number of floors the elevator will have to lift. You should have the elevator shaft specifications done buy an elevator installation company. For a small fee they design you a future elevator and shaft.
·         You must leave enough room in the hallways going to the elevator on every floor. So that means that the hallways coming and going from the elevator shaft area must be considered handi-cap accessible. Local codes are all different depending on where you live but usually the code reads that you need to be able to turn a wheelchair in a 360 degree area.
·         Make sure that the door to your bedroom and all bathroom doors that you think you will be using are wheelchair accessible. Again check local building codes for that size.
·         Your going to want to install the elevator in an area that is out of the way but can be accessed from outside fairly easily. This area that you access the house from has to be able to have a future ramp installed. So choice a location that will allow a long ramp to be installed from the outside door.
·         Make sure you keep the specifications for all the elevators requirements in a safe place so that you can show the building department 20 years from now that it was engineered for that purpose.

The last 3 houses that we have constructed have all had roughed in elevator shafts. It didn’t cost a lot of money or take a lot of time to do because we were framing the house from scratch anyways. Hopefully my clients will never need them, but its comforting thing to have if you believe you or your spouse will need it one day.
It is also a positive selling feature for the home, a lot of people are now thinking about building bungalows because they don’t want to go up and down stairs in their later years. This is a smart idea if you live on a big enough piece of property to accommodate a bungalow that has enough space for your needs.
So remember proper planning can help you save money in the future and an elevator shaft rough in can help you stay in your dream home years longer!

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders inc.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Buying Local series: Lumber yard/Building centre

Buying local series: Lumber Yard
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 lumber and building supplies locally, I’m talking about the local Lumber yard/building centre.
Lumber Yard/building centre:
The material that you buy to actually build your house can be purchased from a wide variety of places. It doesn’t matter what company you buy the material from, you should be buying as much as possible from the local building centre. This might sound like an obvious thing to do when building a new home, but there are a lot of general contractors and home owners that buy their material from where they currently reside instead of buying from where they are building. This happens for many reasons; one of the main ones is that the general contractor will shop the “build package” to several different places to get the best price to get the job. You might think that this is good for you as the home owner because it sounds like a cheaper way to go. In the long run it can actually cost you money, more money than if you just would have got the material locally.
A couple things that can raise the cost are as follows;
·         Most lumber yards will charge delivery if the building they are supplying is out of there area. Even if they claim free delivery that only applies when they are shipping you a full load of material (a full tractor trailer load).
·         Construction has become a 12 month of the year industry, with custom homes taking a year or more to build, this means that you are building through all four seasons. Lumber suppliers will be reluctant to ship you loads of material when the weather conditions are less than ideal. This means delays in the build process waiting for the material to be delivered.
·         Being forced to have full loads delivered, material sits outside in the elements and will warp or absorb large amounts of moisture. Also the longer material is onsite the more chance it has of being stolen or damaged from heavy equipment.
·         Most build sites are not very large, so it can be very difficult to store large quantities of material onsite. Material onsite then will have to be moved several times to allow the build process to continue, this adds cost in labour for the homeowner.
·         When you price a “build package” you get a better rate from lumber yards/building centers, so you get a set discount rate on everything you buy for that build. But if the supplier is too far away to deliver a small amount of material that you require to keep the project moving, you will have to buy it from the local dealer and will have to pay more because you will not get the bulk discount that you would if they were getting the whole house build.
·         Certain areas require special material because of ground conditions, weather conditions or building codes. A local lumber yard/building center will know these things when they price the job and price it with the appropriate material. The supplier that is not from the area will not know these conditions and you will have to pay more when you request a different product then what was specked.
These are just some of the things that can cost homeowners money when using a lumber yard/building centre that isn’t from the area.
A couple of simple things that local building centres are able to do that can save you time and money are as follows:
·         Drop off small orders while making other deliveries. Orders as small as a box of framing nails that are only worth $60.00. If they didn’t do it you would have to pay someone to get in a vehicle and drive to the supplier and drive back. This costs the homeowner more money and time in the end.
·         They are able to take back or pick up any unused material and give you credit for it. Suppliers from other areas will not do this.
·         They will waive all delivery fees.
·         A lot of lumber yards that are local will send extra hands in the delivery truck to help speed up the unloading process if it has to be done by hand.
·         They know the local conditions and can send the appropriate delivery vehicle. If the location is very tight or muddy, then they might send a 3 wheeled hitchhiker to deliver the material instead of a large boom truck.
·         They have contacts for you if you require a trade or a special service.
Most lumber yards/building centres are affiliated with a national organization that they do all of their purchasing from, so if you think that you can only get a speciality item from a building centre in your area you would be wrong. They all order from the same manufacture and can order in the same things for pretty much the same price.
If you have any warranty issues with anything you bought from them, you should be able to take it back because they know you personally as a client.
So remember when building that new house, please try to buy locally, it’s not just good for you, it’s also good for the local economy.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village builders Inc.