Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 the year in review for Village Builders Inc.

2012 the year in review for Village Builders Inc.

It has been an interesting year for Village builders Inc in 2012.
We enjoyed another good year in a construction economy that has seen the industry slow down overall in the province of Ontario. The effect has not been felt in the Collingwood/Blue Mountain area until this year.


The trend for houses seems to be that they are getting more expense per square foot. Houses are becoming more complicated than they ever have before. Houses are being loaded with all the bells and whistles, every feature imaginable is added that will make life a little easier. Natural gas backup generators are now a common theme in all our houses, this has been a growing trend since the year of the big East Coast blackout. Electronics and automation is on the rise with more tech savy clients wanting to be able to control their house functions from there smart phones.

The trend for pre 2008 were that the houses grew in size, but were close to the same price per square foot and tended to be in the chalet or country style. The trend in 2012 was houses of all sizes, shapes, styles and locations but with an ever rising price per square foot.

•         Energy efficiency in all the aspects of the home is growing year over year, 2012 was no different. High efficiency gas furnaces are now the norm and if the property allows geothermal heating in the rural area's then this seems to be the only sensible option for houses that have no access to natural gas. With the changing of the Ontario building code more insulation is being added to houses, in the walls, the basement and in the attic because of the new code. With the ever rising cost of electricity there is a push to do as much of the components of the home in natural gas as possible. To help properly heat houses evenly homeowners are opting for electronic dampers, these are run on low voltage and operate on an independent thermastat that allows you to have different temperatures in every part of the house, this is done by controlling where the air goes when it comes form the furnace.

•         A larger percentage of houses that we built or were building in 2012 were getting away from wood siding and are turning to stone, steel or cement siding. By wood siding is still the most popular option in custom homes overall.

•         Steel roofs have become the most popular option for at least half of the houses that were built. With the uncertainty of the quality of shingles these days and the extreme weather steel will continue to grow in popularity. Enviroshake is the other option that is growing in popularity; this is an environmentally friendly product that is made of recycled materials, rubber and waste from ethanol plants.

•         Decking is undergoing a major revolution with so many new products and options. Composite decking is becoming the most popular because of its longevity, but a new product on the market that is making a major dent is called thermally modified wood. Thermally modified wood is the process of heating and pressurizing wood until the cells collapse. This makes the product last a lot longer than conventional decking. The product is suppose to last for 40 years before you have to worry about rot. Also the natural wood decking turns silver like cedar after a short time but if you want the natural wood look then all you have to do is stain it with a special stain that is provided for you and it will look new for years to come.

•         Fireplaces are growing in size, especially natural gas fireplaces, with so many options out there people are being buried by choices and so are builders. The new style is to install fireplaces that are wider then they are tall so that the fireplace is 1 or 2 ft high and 2 to 4 ft wide. These fireplaces give a very modern look to a room and can be installed in smaller spaces.

•         Painted trim is the most popular way to finish off the house in 2012 and reclaimed floors that are finished on site were also extremely popular. This is a trend that has continued from previous years.

•         Window sizes seem to have grown in size. Also the amount of different manufactures that we seem to be using has continued to grow as well. New to windows is the availability to pick windows that allow solar heat in or completely block it depending on which direction the house faces.

•         Houses with attached double car garages seems to be the norm again in 2012, this is a trend that has continued for many years. Garages have become more important than the space that you could use for landscaping. People are opting to maximize the building size on the lot.

•         Master suites are the norm in all houses built in 2012; this is a trend that has continued for years. Suites commonly all contain a large bedroom, large Ensuite bathroom and an ever growing walk in closet with custom shelving units installed.

Overall it seems that homeowners are becoming more and more confused with the over abundance in choices that they are able to find on either the internet or in the stores. There is a growing lag on the building process because of homeowners being bogged down with choices and in some cases doubling the time it takes to build a custom home.


2012 see’s Heather the estimator leave at the end of the year because she is having a baby. Congratulations to her and welcome to Craig who will be taking her place while she is gone. Craig is no stranger to Village Builders; he is one of our carpenters that is moving in the office and out of the cold for the winter.

Design Department

This year marks the 2nd anniversary of the interior design department at Village Builders.

Village Builders would like to thank all our clients that chose to use us this year, you all helped make it another great year for Village Builders Inc in 2012.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village builders Inc.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 construction year in review for the Collingwod, Blue Mountains, Creemore and Wasaga beach area

Review of residential construction in the Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Creemore and surrounding area for 2012

2012 was a disappointing year for the construction industry in this area of Ontario. But this area wasn’t the only part of Ontario that had a disappointing year, there were a lot of places in Ontario that had almost no new housing starts and no new work coming in the future. Ontario single handily pulled the national construction rate down to its lowest level since the crash of 08. Almost every other province showed growth in the construction industry.

Collingwood/Blue Mountains

The Collingwood/Blue Mountains area which seemed to buck this trend in previous years has come back to the pack and saw construction slow. A lot of builders were able to stay busy but were not able to accumulate any backlog of work into the future and the volume of work they did was less than in previous years with many builders shedding employees.

The Collingwood/Blue Mountain market has been flooded with “custom builders” as they call themselves over the last 3 or 4 years. The construction market was not strong enough to feed all the builders that have setup shop in the area. Many want-to-be big home builders found themselves without any work. A lot of start up builders have been forced to sub themselves out to builders with better reputations and sustainable amount of work.

The home builders with good reputations and track records of quality and fine workmanship stayed busy but found that there weren’t as many jobs to price as previous years.

New home building which has seemed to carry the market in previous years was down significantly. The renovation market which was also flooded with company’s looking for work carried the load this year with a lot of people turning toward remodeling their current home or repairing existing problems with it.  Additions which seemed to be at an all time low seem to be making a slow come back. The sluggish real estate market has slowed construction because of the low turnover of property as well.

The Collingwood area seemed to have a reel spike in commercial redevelopment with many new projects, a lot of them started last year and were still being working on this year.

Creemore/Clearview Township

The large increase in development fees and building permit fees has had a large effect on the market in the Clearview township area for the last couple of years. Clearview Township has created a have and have not society with their massive increase in the cost of building permits and development fees. It has come to the point where only larger homes are being built in that township because smaller homes have become too expensive for the average person to build. Only the wealthy are now able to build a home in the Clearview township area. This of course means that residential construction has almost come to a halt. Very little residential construction was started or completed in the Clearview township area in 2012. Most of the work in the area took place in the Collingwood area and into the Wasaga Beach area. The renovation market though in the Clearview area did see an uptake with people opting to buy older homes and renovate them instead of paying the large development fees. But even this market is having trouble finding traction with the tighter building codes that were introduced at the start of the 2012 year.

Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach seemed to have a healthy construction year, with many older cottages being either torn down for new homes or older cottages being completely renovated from top to bottom because of lot restrictions. Construction can be found on almost every street in the Wasaga Beach area, the closer to the water the more work there seems to be happening. Also the projects are larger and more expensive because of the value of the property near the water is so high. Wasaga beach seems to be the place that is leading construction in new homes and renovations. This has a lot to do with the reduced prices of older homes and the lower development fees compared to the surrounding areas.

Almost all work was done in all areas for clients from the range of 50 to 70 years old. This is a trend that has existed for the last decade and looks to continue into the future.

With the delay of winter conditions this year it seems to have given the construction industry an extra shot in the arm. Less people seemed to be laid off at Christmas time this year compared to previous ones in the construction sector. A lot of home builders took the opportunity to get a start on new homes and get the majority of their framing completed before the winter weather. But building departments across the region are reporting lower then expected numbers of applications for new projects at the end of the year.

Overall it seemed that the year of 2012 was a down year for a lot of builders and renovators. It seemed to depend on market reputation, with the leaders in the industry staying busy and the rest fighting over what was left over. This year really separated the builders who run a well maintained company and the "builders" that run their company on a whim. 2012 was a slower year than the 2011 one, which breaks the trend of steady growth year over year that has been happening since the 2008 credit crunch, 2008 saw the construction market almost completely dry up.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The evolution of floor protection

The evolution of floor protection

Contractors are always looking for better and simpler ways to protect newly installed floors or existing floors when renovating. As one of those contractors I have tried almost everything on the market at least once.
What I have found threw trial and error is what works well and what doesn’t. The other thing that I have realized is that with the changing world of flooring, so goes the world of flooring protection.
I have used some companies that are reputable but wouldn’t stand behind their warranty when their product failed and have used other companies that their products simply didn’t work like advertised.

Here are some tips that you should look for when trying to buy flooring protection;

You need to know exactly what you are covering. Is it tile, carpet, hardwood, factory finished wood or onsite finished wood.

You want to avoid any product that has a fair bit of adhesive. The adhesive can either leave a residue on the floor or damage the finish on the floor. Only carpet protection should have a fairly aggressive adhesive.

If you are doing construction over a newly laid hardwood floor then you will need to buy something that will absorb the impact of tools or material.

There are different products on the market for the different areas of a home. You should be buying different materials for different parts of the house. Hallways need a material that will take more of a beating then bedrooms.

Special consideration has to be paid to stairs, especially custom stairs. Stairs need something that will stick to them to stop a tripping hazard but not to sticky that it reacts the finish on the floor.

Look for products that don’t require you to use any tape to attach it to the floor. Tape left on the floor to long will damage the finish.

One of the products that I am impressed with that I have been using for the past couple of months is called RAM BOARD. It is a paper product; it looks a lot like craft paper that you buy at your local hardware store but the biggest difference is the thickness. It is about a 1/8” thick and when you are talking floor protection that’s pretty thick. It is so thick that it will absorb liquid spills from coffees and cans of paint. It is also thick enough to take a marginal amount of impact without damaging the floor below it. The RAM BOARD is heavy enough that when you roll it out it usually stays in place. When you want to cover a wide area you simply tape the joints together leaving the outside edges tape free. The total weight of the paper together holds itself in place. It’s also thick enough and water absorbing enough to use at the front door in the winter when you have a lot of people coming inside with wet footwear. Ram board is durable enough that you can re-use it from one job to the next. What we do is vacuum the Ram board and then roll it up and tape it so that it stays rolled and compact until it is needed on the next project.

If you are still using saws and saw horses inside then you have two options, you can either put a sheet of plywood on the floor where the legs of the sawhorses will end up or you can buy some thick carpet underlay and put that down. Usually the plywood will take a beating better but you have to be careful when moving it through doors that you don’t damage the frames or walls.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How long will it take to build my home?

How long will it take to build my home?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions that I receive from perspective clients and clients that have already agreed to have us construct their new home.

The question is actually quiet complicated to answer.

The first thing that you need to know is that any custom home builder that you want to hire should be able to give you an accurate schedule to build your home. When I say accurate schedule I mean a detailed schedule that tells you what is going to happen every month and how many days it should take to construct every part of the house.

In custom home building everything that says “custom” takes time to build. A custom home takes time to build because of that one word.

A “custom” home is “custom” because it allows the homeowners to have a say in absolutely everything that is in the house. A builder that builds subdivisions builds the same home over and over again and requires the homeowner to choose everything before they process starts from a pre-approved list.

Custom homes do not do that, they allow homeowners to pick every single thing in the home.  A lot of the choices that are made in a custom home are made before the house has even started but there are also a significant number of things that you will end up deciding on as the house is being built.

A custom home is built at a speed that the homeowner can keep up with the choices that they have to make; this allows the home to truly be called a custom home. Since all these decisions can take time then you can’t rush the building of the home, also some choices that you the homeowner will make before the building process starts you will end up changing after you start to see the building take shape and get a feel for the space.

The other reason that time is taken to build a custom home is for quality control. The faster a home is built the more mistakes can be made, and the more mistakes that are made the more problems you can end up with down the line after the home is built.

The average custom home takes from 8 months to 2 years to build. I understand that this is a large range, but because of all the variables in building a custom home it truly depends on the size and complexity of the home. Custom homes can vary from 3000 square feet up to 10 to 20,000 square feet. The larger the home the longer it takes to construct and customize it.

The one way that a homeowner can help accelerate the build process is to make as many decisions as possible before you even start building the home. Also you should hire an interior designer before the build starts so that you can have someone to bounce ideas off. It’s always easier to make decisions when you have someone to bounce ideas off, especially if that person is a professional interior designer.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Planning your renovation: Your lifestyle profile

Planning your Remodel: Your Lifestyle Profile

As professional remodeling contractors, we strive to create a unique home for each of our clients, a house that "fits" each family's wants and needs. Our sales and design staff carefully consider the number of people in your household, the gender and age of every family member, and even your particular preferences, interests, and special needs. In short, we try to capture the essence of how you live now and make an educated guess about how you'll live in your remodeled house for years to come.

This 'lifestyle profile' helps to shape everything about your renewed house, from the simplest and most obvious -- such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms -- to less common features, such as personal and public entertainment areas, specialized storage space, and even the home's architectural style.

Conducting this comprehensive assessment of your family's wants and needs is a critical step in finding ideal remodeling solutions.

To prepare for this assessment, spend some time thinking about your current lifestyle with an eye to how it might change in the future. Consider the following:

Who lives in the house? In addition to a simple count (including pets) of those living under your roof, consider how each person in the family uses the house now and is likely to use it in the near future. For example, a couple facing an 'empty nest' may want to convert a bedroom to a home office, yoga room, or hobby space, while a young, growing family might consider expanding the family room, opening up the kitchen to a living space, or expanding storage options into a reworked attic area. A family with two children might like a Jack-and-Jill bath or an open "loft" space between bedrooms to serve as a common area for the kids. If regular visitors are a part of your lifestyle, you might consider adding a separate suite above the garage that could double as a hobby space or home office.

How are you getting around? Regardless of your age or current physical limitation, remember that a temporary or chronic impairment might limit your ability to get around your house in the future. If bedrooms are on the second floor, even a pulled muscle can keep you from climbing the stairs. Remodeling to create a main-level "flex" space (especially one with semi-private access to a bathroom) offers a comfortable alternative to a couch or a cot in times of a temporary disability, and easily converts to a permanent bedroom on the lower level when stairs are best left to younger family members or guests.

Floor coverings, cabinet and counter heights, and appliance locations can be tastefully altered to make them easier to navigate regardless of your current physical state. Consider, too, assuring ease of access around the house from the outside, including at-grade entrances and a continuous walkway for at least one entrance, instead of paving stones.

Hobbies and activities. During the next few weeks or even months, compile a list of hobbies and activities that you enjoy in and around your house. Include those activities you wish you could enjoy if the circumstances were just right.

Indoors, you might enjoy a game room or a place for a big-screen television to watch your favorite sporting events, equipped with a mini-kitchen for entertaining friends or family. Maybe you've been longing for a hobby room where you could spread out your art or craft projects and install specialized storage. With the right room, you could even teach a class!

Your interests outdoors may lead to an extension of the garage, or perhaps an improved organizing system within the existing footprint, to better manage yard, garden, or pool maintenance tools. There may even be space to create a workshop, also with the benefit of better long-term storage. Adding an outdoor kitchen, dining, and lounge area is an increasingly popular remodeling option for those who like to entertain outside.

As a remodeling firm dedicated to making your housing dreams a reality, we are committed to providing solutions that are tailor-made for each client. Armed with a solid understanding of your particular wants and needs helps us to pinpoint the right project for your family and to deliver a remodeled home that suits your circumstances now and in the future.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, December 17, 2012

We want an outdoor kitchen, but who do we call first?


We want an outdoor kitchen but we are having trouble deciding who to call to have it designed and installed. Do we call a landscaper, a kitchen maker or do we call a contractor?


The answer to your question is that you will actually need to call all of them.
Since you need to call all of them you should be calling a general contractor first. One of the main jobs of a general contractor is to organize everyone involved in the job.

An outdoor kitchen designed and installed in the appropriate way involves almost every trade that you would need to have a kitchen installed inside your home. The only trade you don’t need outside is the drywaller, but you do require different people like landscapers and depending on what you want you could end up needing a whole host of other specialty trades.

Outdoor kitchens require permits; this is one reason that you need a proper design and plan. Your contractor will help you work with the designer so that you get a proper design, a fair price and also ensure that you get a permit so that you don’t have problems later. Your contractor will be able to recommend a landscaper that is suited to the task; also they will be able to have a proper kitchen maker to supply and install it.

Building a kitchen outside requires some different thinking, thinking that requires you to use materials that will withstand the damaging weather that the kitchen would not face if it was inside.

So in conclusion you should hire a general contractor and let them worry about all the other sub-trades, designs, permits, plans and specialty materials.

Thanks for the questions, keep them coming.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Custom home theatre rooms in the modern home

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 13

In today’s modern world of construction things are changing year to year faster than they did decade to decade in any other previous time period. In this multi part series I will traverse through an entire house starting with the foundation and working my way up to the roof and then to the finishing’s. I will explain what has changed in the last twenty years in custom home building.
One thing that you should be able to take away from this is how important it is to not just hire the right general contractor to build your custom home but how important it is to hire one that is up on today’s building methods.

Home theatres

Twenty years ago home theatres meant that your tv was sitting on at the end of the room on top of a cabinet and maybe if you were advanced enough you had it hooked up to a couple of speakers.

Today’s home theatres mean just that, home theatres. There are separate rooms built into custom homes now that are completely insulated and sound proof so that no matter what the volume level of the movie you are watching it will not bother anyone else in the home. Speakers are inset in the walls and ceilings, so that the room appears to be speaker less, this gives the viewer the perception that the sound is coming to them naturally instead of through speakers.

HD projectors are now mounted in the ceilings with a 120 inch curved screen that rappel’s out of the ceiling with a push of a button. The size of the screen is dictated by the size of the wall it is being placed on and the distance the viewer is able to sit away from it.

Whole rooms are dedicated to the housing of the components that are required to make everything run smoothly. Custom movie chairs are now available that move and vibrate depending on what is happening in the movie. LED lighting is used for the accent and also because it does not produce heat.

In a sealed theatre room it is very important to have an independent cooling unit so that the room is kept at the perfect temperature to watch movies. The component room as well needs its own version of this so that the mountains of equipment will not overheat and be damaged.

Theatre room are wired with multiple pairs of different wires so that depending on the piece of equipment they will always be able to function.

You can never tell where the future is going so the installation of different wiring technology in the future will have to be accomplished. The easy way to do this is to install conduits in the walls and ceilings where the existing wiring has been so that in the future you can “fish” new wiring from one place to the other.

Looking for part 14 coming soon....

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Roof over your head

The Roof Over Your Head

A roof is a primary factor in any home's curb appeal. But more important, it serves a critical role in  managing water and moisture, and guarding against damage caused by high winds .

The home owners have many choices of roofing products to use on their homes.  Since curb appeal is very important, many roofing product companies have websites that help you visualize what a new roofing colour, texture and/or product will look like on your house.

Products.  Few people think all roofing products preform the same, shed water from the house. The first
thing the owner needs to determine is the weather that the roof is going to be exposed too, like high winds, lots of snow sitting on roof etc. Some roofs come with lifetime warranties, be sure to read the fine print on warranties , lifetime does not necessary mean your lifetime. The next decision is your budget, but remember you usually get what you pay for.
The roofing industry's is notorious for "shading " contractors. You must do your homework and select a roofing contractor who has prove of liability insurance, workers compensation, references that must be checked.
In addition to the shingles or panels, the roofing contractor must discuss with you about the ventilation of your roof. The ventilation is more important than the product used on the roof. It will determine how your new roof covering will preform and how many years it will last., plus it could affect your product warranty. If the contractor does not mention ventilation look for another contractor.

Managing Water. Obviously, the roof is a home's first line of defense against rain and snow. But equally important is the roof's capacity to effectively and quickly shed water runoff away from the house.
The best practice to manage water is to properly install the shingles and appropriate flashing components per the manufacturer's specifications and standards. Flashings should be constructed along valleys and other V-shaped or odd roof intersections, at the eave corners (called "kick-outs"), and at every penetration, such as vent pipes, chimneys, and skylights. Water should flow down the roof to a gutter and downspout system, which expels the water harmlessly away from the home and its foundation.

Durability. A home's roof also is an important component in high winds . Recent advancements in building products, practices, and codes have made today's roof even more resilient against these forces of nature.
In addition to using the proper ring-shank nails and fastener spacing to secure a roof's plywood deck to the roof trusses, peel-and-stick, water-resistant membranes between the deck and conventional roofing felt paper are an effective shield against damage. This would be important should the shingles become broken or loose during a storm and allow wind and water to reach the deck.
Of course, properly fastening the roofing finish to the deck is critical to withstand damage.

As a professional remodeling contractor, it is our responsibility to deliver the best project possible. In addition to ensuring the proper installation of every roofing system, we also investigate and incorporate additional methods and materials that improve the performance of the roof and our homes overall.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Do you really need to clean your chimney?


Do you really need to clean your chimney?


This is a question I receive from many of my clients after I have built them a new home.

You absolutely have to clean your chimney. The amount that you have to clean the chimney is the real question.

If you seldom use your fireplace then you only need to have the chimney cleaned once a year. You should have the chimney cleaned in the late summer or the early fall just before you will be getting ready to use it.

The reason that you clean it at that time is so that if any birds or animals have made their home in the chimney flue then the cleaning will remove it.

If you use your fireplace a lot then you should have it cleaned twice a year, once in the early fall and once late in the winter.

The reason that you have to get your chimney cleaned is because when you burn wood you release creosote that rises up the chimney in the smoke. As the smoke cools near the top of the chimney the creosote is deposited on the sides of the chimney walls. Over time the creosote builds up and will create problems.

Some of the problems that built up creosote creates are as follows;

The more creosote that builds up on the side walls of the chimney lining the more is restricted. When air is restricted in the chimney the fireplace has trouble drawing air and so in turn the fireplace doesn’t work as well because it is starving for air.

Creosote builds up and causes heat to stay trapped in the chimney, as heat builds in the chimney the creosote particles can ignite causing a fire in the chimney. Many houses have burnt down because of chimney fires.

Prevention of chimney fires is the most important reason to clean your chimney.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Quickdrive auto feed screw system

Framing a floor? Is your back hurting from bending over installing the screws in the plywood? Try the quickdrive gun!

In today’s modern built homes gone are the days were we use nails to attach the plywood sheeting to the floor joist with a little bit of glue put under them. Today’s sub-floors are screwed down every 8 inches and glued down with adhesive that is applied to every floor joist. That means that you are installing 1000’s of screws.

The tool of choice for us in this matter is the quickdrive screw gun.

There are many versions of this tool now on the market but the quickdrive was one of the originals in this application.

Quickdrive is an auto-feed screw system that allows you to screw sheeting down to the floor joist without ever having to bend over.

The quickdrive auto-feed system works on roughly the same principles as your stick framing guns. You insert a magazine in the feeder system that is screws instead of nails and it feeds the fastener into the drive head, this allows you to install 30 or 40 screws in a row instead of one at a time.

You simply insect the magazine of screws, position the quickdrive over the area that you want the screw to be installed in, hold the quickdrive at a 90 degree angle to the sheeting, pull the trigger on the handle so that the motor is running at top speed and push down. The screw gun will drive the screw into the sheeting and the brake will engage when the screw has reached the set depth.

The quickdrive is a corded screw gun with a bar extension down to the drive head where the screws are installed from. You can screw a whole 4x8 sheet of plywood down in about a minute.

The most common size of screws used for sheeting floors is the 1 ¾ inch screw. But they now make and supply a wide range of screws for many applications. You can now purchase composite deck screws at your desired length to speed up large deck projects. The drive head is adjustable to the length of screws that you require and the depth of countersink that you desire.

The reason that the quickdrive system works so well is because of its simple design. The makers of the quickdrive system have been smart enough to leave it alone even in the face of stiff competition in the market place today.

I would recommend this auto-feed system to anyone that asked.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Designing that spacious new home

That Spacious New Home Feel:
By Design

Does it seem to you that new homes are generally bigger than older ones? If so, your observation is correct. The average new home today is nearly 500 square feet (or 25%) larger than the average house built 20 years ago, and 12% larger than those built in the late 1990s.

However, mere square footage is not the primary reason why new homes are more spacious than their predecessors.

Homes are now designed to enhance the perception of larger space and to allow a variety of functions in the common areas of the home. Open floor plans, increasingly popular across all housing types, sizes and prices, create long views through the home and afford "shared" spaces that serve multiple needs.

The perfect example of this concept is the combination kitchen-eating nook-family room. An uninterrupted view from either end makes this space appear quite large as each "area" spills easily into the next. A kitchen island extended into the eating area, for instance, may serve as the family's everyday dining area, homework or bill-paying center, or craft counter. In turn, that area transitions seamlessly into the family room where family members and guests can relax but stay in touch with activity and conversations in the kitchen -- where the cook used to be isolated!

This perceived space is made even greater by a row of windows along the long wall of the room looking into the back yard. More windows may be located on the kitchen and/or family room end-walls.
These windows extend the long interior view even further to the exterior of the house, giving the illusion of more space inside. Extensive daylight -- especially from three walls -- also creates a more comfortable and energy efficient living space.

The benefits of the open plan kitchen-eating nook-family room are now being extended to include other rooms on the main floor of the house. Passageways from the living room and formal dining rooms to the more informal areas of the house are uninterrupted by doors to maintain the shared usage and long sightlines that create the feeling of spaciousness.

The open plan concept is taken to its extreme in floor plans that eliminate the distinction between living room and family room to create a "great room" that is entirely open to other areas of the house. Another variant, the loft-style house (born out of urban industrial warehouse space adapted to residential use) offers an open floor plan that is completely flexible in its use -- and therefore appears to be the most spacious option of all.

Other design features that enhance perceived or actual space in new homes include the use of higher ceilings -- most effective in large rooms where good proportion can be maintained -- and greater access to usable outdoor living areas. Patios, decks and balconies fitted with furnishings, cooking and eating areas, pools and spas, and lounge areas with flat-screen TVs and fireplaces are a more recent and popular innovation in new homes that actually boosts a home's practical footprint.

In summary, it is clear that design trends in new homes offer greater space and lifestyle flexibility. Existing homes, even those from a decade ago, cannot match the spacious look and feel of new homes.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Does my deck need a railing?

Does my new deck need a railing? Some of my deck is about 12 inches off the ground but on some sides there is 26 inches to the ground.


The answer to your question is yes you do need a railing and no you don’t need a railing.

The parts of your deck that are 12 inches off the ground do not require a railing. They do not require anything at all.

The parts of your deck that are 26 inches off the ground do need a railing. Any area of your deck that is more the 24 inches off the ground requires a railing. When you get into building a railing you can’t just get away with installing a railing at the proper height. You have to also install spindles. Your spindles should be set at no farther apart then 4 inches. This is the building code.

If the ground around your deck is fairly up and down then you might want to put a railing around most of the deck instead of trying to install a railing only were the deck is too high off the ground.

A great way to meet the building code requirements is to install seating around the outside edge of the deck. Your seating cannot though just be a bench seat. Your seating to qualify must have a back rest that acts as a railing also. It’s a great way to jazz up your deck, create much needed seating and comply with the building code.

Another way is to install stairs in areas where your deck is to high off the ground, stairs also can act as seating and help give your deck a more finished look. If you have an area that is small but over the height limit then stairs are an easy way to meet the code.

Thanks for the question

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Laundry Rooms in the modern home

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 12

In today’s modern world of construction things are changing year to year faster than they did decade to decade in any other previous time period. In this multi part series I will traverse through an entire house starting with the foundation and working my way up to the roof and then to the finishing’s. I will explain what has changed in the last twenty years in custom home building.
One thing that you should be able to take away from this is how important it is to not just hire the right general contractor to build your custom home but how important it is to hire one that is up on today’s building methods.

Laundry Rooms

Twenty years ago the laundry room was also usually the mud room and also the “everything else room”. It just had to be functional and usually was accessed through the garage or the back door.

Today’s custom homes have a dedicated laundry room for the washing and folding of clothes. With the aging population in North America the laundry room is being placed on the same floor as the master bedroom. Laundry rooms don’t just hold the washer and dryer anymore, they also have a sink, a folding table and a place to do your ironing. Storage is also a major design concern. Laundry rooms are to be well organized so that they always look clean and well kept.

With the advent of steam washer and dryers, plumbers are now running water lines to the dryers and the exhaust for dryers has become solid metal piping because of the extreme heat that dryers produce these days. Washer and dryers come with options like pedestals to help with storage and reduce the amount of bending over. There are options for folding surfaces that are installed on top of washers and dryers that help with storage and convenience.

Custom cabinetry is the norm in laundry rooms, they are no longer a hidden part of the home, they are a stop on any house tour. Laundry sinks are not simply white plastic stand alone items, they are chrome or white porcelain country style sinks made by Franke.

Laundry rooms are now well insulated to reduce noise from the laundry on high spin and are well lit with multiple fixtures. Laundry rooms are also wired for sound so that you can have a little music while you clean your clothes.

Looking for part 13 coming soon....

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is building a new home the better way to go?

Building is Better

Is it better to build a new home or remodel an older one?  It will depend on the cost of remodeling , maintance and the future energy costs of the older home. Certainly new homes provide greater benefits than remodeling.

Better Construction. Today's new homes, specifically those offered by a professional builder dedicated to high performance and durability, are better built than those of even a decade ago, and much better built than those of a generation ago.

In every aspect, from windows and doors to structural and mechanical systems, a new home today is built to deliver a higher, more integrated level of comfort, convenience, flexibility, and efficiency. As a result, a new home stands up better to inclement weather conditions, requires less maintenance, and costs less to heat and cool than an existing home. Even when older homes are upgraded with new products and systems, the outdated structural and mechanical elements cannot integrate these products for their optimum performance.

Lifestyle Flexibility. New homes are designed to accommodate changing lifestyles and household circumstances. Open floor plans with bonus or extra rooms enable homeowners to use and re-use spaces as home offices, nurseries, in-law suites, art studios, or workshops to suit practical needs and whimsical passions throughout the life of the home.

By contrast, home remodeling is typically done to address an immediate need, such as making room for an in-home business or an elderly parent, which may not suit a future need or stage in life. New homes are designed and equipped to allow the owners to age in place. This type of design is the owners' best insurance against the need for future big remodeling projects or moves to another home.

Financial Stability. Because of their superior construction and lifestyle flexibility, new homes hold their value better than older ones, especially those that have not been remodeled to modern standards. Even the older home that has been well remodeled to accommodate a specific need -- such as the room for the in-home business or elderly parent -- will not appeal to future buyers who don't share the same household circumstances. By contrast, a well-designed and built new home will appeal to a large population of potential buyers, if and when that time comes. At the very least, the new home will show a greater increase in value because of its mass appeal.

Pride in Ownership. Whether you buy a new home or remodel your existing home, you are a homeowner. However, a new home differs from an older home because of the choices that professional builders allow the new owner to make. If you decide to build, you can suit your personal tastes and needs. When you tailor a new home from the ground up, you not only have the pleasure of achieving a 'perfect fit' but also the long-term satisfaction of having created a more satisfying, comfortable, and convenient home. The element of personal creativity adds great pride in ownership.

The Hassle Factor. Living through a remodeling project can be very stressful on a family's day-to-day routines. Although a new-home project presents some challenges, it is done without intruding on existing home life. New owners can relax (at least a little), maintain normal family life and enjoy the creative process instead of dreading the dirt and noise. With the right builder, visiting the new house under construction, witnessing its progress, and moving into a space in which everything is brand new is an exciting and fulfilling experience.

As a professional builder and remodeler we are open to discuss whether it makes sense to remodel an existing home or construct a new one.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Should I hire an interior designer for my new home?


My husband and I just built house, I think I have a good sense of style but I’m worried that I won’t be able to do justice to out beautiful new home, should I call a professional?


Good question, as a custom home builder I actually have witnessed many a homeowner try to do all the interior design and interior decorating themselves. A lot of time the results are less than appealing.

If you have any doubts then you should look into getting a professional interior designer. Interior designers are a very personal thing, don’t be afraid to call around and talk to several different designers. You will know the person you want to work with when you meet them.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t do any shopping for your new home or hang pictures and pick colours, but if you really want your home to flow and come together then there is nothing better than a second opinion, especially when the person is a professional at giving second opinions.

Interior designers don’t just pick colours for your walls; they are also able to shop for your furniture. One thing that most people don’t realize, interior designers have the ability to get large discounts when they buy furniture. This savings are then passed on to you, in short interior designers actually pay for themselves!
Interior designer can take the stress out of decorating a new home and can even make the process fun. So yes I would definitely recommend that you hire an interior designer.

Thanks for the question, keep them coming.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Don't be afraid to ask your contractor questions

Don’t ever be afraid to ask your contractor a question!

When you are having your dream home built, a good contractor will give you a tour of the project as it is being constructed. These guided tours are a great opportunity to educate yourself on how your home is being put together.

Do not be intimidated by the size and complexity of the building around you. If you don’t understand why something is the way it is then simply ask.

I have given many people tours of their new custom home when it is being constructed; the people that never ask me a question are usually the people that I have difficulty with later. People that do not ask a lot of questions usually make a lot of assumptions and those assumptions in their minds will grow into facts even if they are not correct. The best and easiest clients to have are the ones that ask a lot of questions and take the time to educate themselves about how their house is put together and how all the different parts of the home operate together.

As a client that is having a custom home built you should strive to be the easy client, be the client that asks questions when you don’t understand why something is constructed a certain way. I for one enjoy telling people about how their home is put together and why we do some of the things that we do, this is the easiest way that I as a high end custom home builder am able to distinguish my company from other companies and why we do things “my way”.

As a contractor that does this job 7 days a week 50 weeks of the year a lot of times I can take for granted that not everyone knows what I know, so I need my clients to ask me questions. This will help me understand their knowledge of their new custom home and also help dispel any misinformation that they might have obtained from another source.

Part of having a custom home built is getting the chance to watch your home be constructed and to learn about how it was put together.

So remember a good contractor wants you to ask questions, so ask away!

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'Futureproof' Your New Home with structured wiring

'Futureproof' Your New Home

Modern housing may not have reached Jetson-level performance just yet, but a growing number of new homes today are prepared for ever-increasing amounts of automation and electronics -- more than any existing or remodeled home can ever hope to be.

These homes, built during the last five years, are equipped with advanced wiring and cabling networks that enable the owners to add, reconfigure and accommodate more electronic systems and products -- from security cameras to iPod docks -- without extensive rewiring.

This type of network, in both its design and components, effectively "futureproofs" a home for new, low-voltage and cable-enabled consumer technologies. No one can predict the future, but a low-voltage home wiring scheme that provides a wealth of capacity (or bandwidth) together with flexibility of use goes a long way to anticipating consumer electronics to come.

Imagine, for example, that you want to link the personal computers in the house to a central printer in a home office. An advanced wiring system serving multi-port data, telecom, and cable outlets throughout the house allows the owners to plug in PCs anywhere and be connected. If you want to move a high-definition TV to another room or hook up a whole-house music system -- and add or replace components within those and other networks -- an advanced wiring system makes that flexible use easy.

The heart of a structured or advanced home wiring system is its design. In older homes, high-voltage electrical service is provided to every appliance, light fixture, outlet, and switch in what’s called a "daisy chain" configuration. There is no way to reconfigure the chain and its use without digging into the walls to rewire the house.

For a structured wiring scheme, each wire and cable is looped to a specific outlet and back to a centrally located service box -- a design called a "home run." From that central panel, an owner or professional electrician can configure and reconfigure which wires serve which outlets and can add capacity without tearing up walls.

In addition, the advanced wiring system serves only products and systems that need low-voltage electricity, which includes the vast majority consumer electronics such as PCs, MP3 players, security systems, and high-def televisions. While high-voltage wiring continues to supply electricity to major kitchen appliances and general lighting, the low-voltage wiring and cable, supplies only the level of electricity that consumer products need to operate, thus reducing consumption and the cost of energy.

The meteoric growth of structured wiring systems in new homes and the "futureproofing" they provide, offer a clear distinction and immediate value for buyers considering whether to purchase a new home or buy or stay in an older home.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting a new kitchen? What to do with the old cabinets

Are you getting a new kitchen? Don’t just throw away the cabinets!

If you are getting a new kitchen to replace your old and outdated one then you should think about doing something more with the old cabinets then just having them thrown in the garbage!

One of the easiest things you can do with the old cabinets is to install them somewhere else in your home. A lot of people don’t realize that cabinets are actually a bunch of single or double cabinets; this means that they are all built as smaller pieces. Even islands are built in pieces, why you ask is that important? It is important because it means that you or your contractor can take them apart without having to destroy or severally damage them.

There are always going to be some cabinets that you will not be able to re-use, sometimes they have been specially designed for a certain thing in the kitchen and other times they can be water damaged. But usually you should be able to salvage most or all of any kitchen.

Here are a couple of places in your own home that you can think about re-using your old kitchen cabinets;

Basement. Kitchen cabinets can make great storage cabinets, they can also work as cheap entertainment cabinets especially if it’s a room for your children and you know that they will be damaged.

Garage. Cabinets can be the answer to your storage problems. You can use the bottom cabinets to make a work bench and if you were able to save the counter top then you will have a place to work on things as well as store tools and yard equipment.

Build a bar. If you want an entertaining space like a bar then re-using old kitchen cabinets will save you a pile of money.

You can install cabinets in your children’s bedroom. They make great storage and will probably look better than just open shelving.

 Put it in closets. If you want a way to make a cheap and easy closet organizer then put them in the closet. This will help you organize all the things in your closet and it wouldn’t matter if the cabinets are a little rough or ugly because they will be hidden behind closed doors.

Another great thing that you can do with your old kitchen cabinets is give them to Habitat for Humanity. You can either drop it off yourself or call them and they might send over some volunteers to pick it up. It’s a great charity that helps struggling families afford homes of their own.

If your contractor is going to remove the kitchen for you a lot of times if you ask them, one of the workers will want to take some or all of the kitchen cabinets for themselves. People in the construction business are famous for buying old rundown houses and spending years fixing them up with used materials that are salvaged from renovation jobs they have completed.

So remember, when you are getting yourself a fancy new kitchen there are a lot of things that you can do instead of adding to our ever growing garbage piles. Give an old kitchen a new home and some new life.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Staging that new room after your renovation

One of the bigger concerns that we have to manage when renovating a home is living up to the expectations of the homeowner. You can show a homeowner a picture on a computer what their newly renovated home will look like after you have completed it, but they never really get a feel for the space until they are standing in it.

One great way to handle this is to stage the rooms with an interior designer before the homeowners see the final product. They can use the existing furniture, or they can bring in new pieces to help accent the rooms. Simple things that go along way for that visual wow factor are pillows and bedspreads. Also window treatments like blinds and drapes give the rooms a more lived in feel.

All this is called staging. What it does is bring the clients out of renovation that you where paid to do and into their brand new home. It gives off a different feeling when you walk into a room that has everything in its place, from area rugs to the lighting. It allows the clients to just walk in and enjoy the space, instead of getting to work themselves and having to make all kinds of decisions.

Staging allows the contractor to leave the client with warm and happy feelings.  This is important to contractors because they hope that they might have other renovation work in the future from the same people. Plus in our company (Village Builders) we go out of our way to try and please are clients so that every single client can be used as a reference, helping to generate more work with their friends, family and neighbours.

Renovating some ones home takes time, it seems always longer then the homeowner thinks that it should. It also seems to cost more than the homeowner originally wanted to spend at the beginning. So for the months that you renovate the home you are always trying to keep the relationship between the two parties as positive as possible. There are always things in renovating that go wrong; if they are not managed properly then the home owners can be left with a bitter taste in their mouths. So if you can leave them with a finished space that will remind them everyday how wonderful things turned out, then they will forget about the little things that went wrong. It’s truly a win-win for all parties involved.

If you require any renovating or designing in your home please feel free to contact me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bringing residential windows to light

Bringing Windows to Light

It wasn't that long ago that a window was a window ... was a window. Basically, a hole in the wall fitted with a wood-framed pane of glass that allowed a view to the outside and provided a little bit of daylight into a house.

Over the past 25 years, however, windows have changed dramatically. Not only are they far more energy-efficient than their predecessors, they are available in a wide range of styles, frames and glass options.

Today, professional remodelers and homeowners are able to precisely align a window's energy performance, cost, and style to achieve an optimum solution for a given project.
Among an increasing variety of window frame materials, here's how the tried-and-true measure up to the next generation.

Aluminum: Light, durable, easy to maintain, and generally inexpensive, aluminum-framed windows remain popular across the country and where affordability is an important consideration.
However, metal is more thermally conductive than other window frame materials, so it can be difficult to maintain a steady level of indoor comfort and reduce heating energy demand with an aluminum window, especially in markets that experience moderate to extremely cold weather.
In those conditions, the thermal conductivity of a metal-framed window may also cause condensation that can result in latent moisture damage to the overall window and adjacent materials. Aluminum frames with so-called "thermal breaks" or spacers that separate the indoor and outdoor frame sections can improve energy performance.

Wood: Wood-framed windows are popular for their aesthetic qualities; wood also is a very good insulating material, with low thermal conductivity.
The problem with wood is maintenance, especially the part of the frame that's exposed to weather. And, despite their insulating qualities, wood windows react to changes in ambient moisture and temperature, which may cause them to stick (when they swell in hot, humid weather) or create gaps (when they shrink in cold, dry conditions).
To address those issues, the exterior profile (or face) of wood-framed windows are often fitted with a vinyl or aluminum cladding that protects the wood frame from weather damage and reduces climate-caused fluctuations in the frame's integrity. A cladding also maintains the aesthetic qualities of wood, as the indoor section of the frame remains exposed and natural.

Vinyl: Window frames made from polyvinylchloride (PVC) combine durability, low thermal conductivity, and moisture resistance. They also are generally affordable and are a popular window frame material for new and remodeled homes.
To improve energy performance, some vinyl windows are infused or fitted with insulation material within their mostly hollow frames.
The issue with vinyl windows is aesthetics. They are available in a limited number of colors, usually white or light hues, which may not be compatible with an existing or historic home's exterior finish materials or architectural character.

Composites and Fiberglass: The latest generation of window frames seek to address the deficiencies of their predecessors. So-called "hybrid" frames combine various wood-based materials to achieve better stability, while wood-plastic composites boost thermal performance and durability.
Fiberglass, meanwhile, can be molded, shaped, textured, and colored to look like wood, but with far superior durability and strength and better insulating value. To date, fiberglass appears to be the window frame material of the future, with few downsides.
That being said, composites and fiberglass-framed windows are generally more expensive than any of their elders, but also promise to deliver better and longer-lasting performance.

As a professional remodeling contractor, we seek to educate ourselves about the increasingly diverse options available for residential windows. We want our homeowner clients to make the best possible decision about the types of windows that will appeal to their aesthetic needs while contributing to their health and supporting their pocketbook.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The kitchen in the modern home

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 11

In today’s modern world of construction things are changing year to year faster than they did decade to decade in any other previous time period. In this multi part series I will traverse through an entire house starting with the foundation and working my way up to the roof and then to the finishing’s. I will explain what has changed in the last twenty years in custom home building.

One thing that you should be able to take away from this is how important it is to not just hire the right general contractor to build your custom home but how important it is to hire one that is up on today’s building methods.


Twenty years ago most kitchens were made out of plywood or press board. They had laminate or tile counter tops and golden oak cabinet doors where all the rage. As long as the kitchen functioned for the preparer of the meals then the kitchen was well designed.

Today kitchen’s are considered the heart of the home. Kitchen’s today are getting larger and more open to the rest of the house. Kitchen’s today routinely flow right into the main living area or have a large eating area in them.

Design of kitchens is a major business with so many new ideas that a lot of contractors have trouble keeping up with the latest and greatest trends. Here are some examples of the big trends now days compared to

twenty years ago;

Multiple ovens. Gone are the days when you had one stove or a wall oven and a cook top. Today’s kitchens have multiple ovens, warming drawers to keep cooked food hot, gas burners on the cook top and electric ovens beneath. Also there are in wall ovens that have a steam cooking function.

Range exhaust hoods. Every year exhaust hooks get more elaborate and larger. They are ultra efficient at removing the gases and smoke from the cooking area, but they have become so powerful at venting to the outside that they can depressurize the house. Fresh air sometimes needs to be feed to the range hood and dampers installed in the HRV pipes to help regulate house pressure. Range hoods now have lights and can be made to look more like art and less like a piece of exhaust equipment.

Microwaves. Microwaves have changes a lot in the last two decades. They have become bigger, quieter and more efficient. Microwaves now can be mounted above your stove and used as an exhaust hood. They have a built in venting and exhaust hood motor that when piped properly will vent everything outside. They can also have lights built into the bottom just like range hoods. Microwaves also can be mounted under the counter out of sight. They are then used by top loading with a power drawer that comes out at the touch of a button.

Dishwashers. Twenty years ago everyone had there one dishwasher that was either installed under the counter or was on wheels and rolled out of the corner and attached to the kitchen sink. Today kitchens still have the dishwasher mounted under the counter but gone are the days of the roll out model. A lot of kitchens now have multiple dishwashers. Also there are multi level dishwashers to help save on water and power. There are even dishwashers that are built into the drawers of the cabinets. So you put your dirty dishes back in the cabinet where they always go and then you turn on that drawer or cabinet. Then all the dishes in that draw get washed at the same time and you never have to worry about pulling out that seldom used pot with dust in it.

Today kitchens are mostly built out of press board and not real wood or plywood. There is less shrinkage and it also allows designers to do more elaborate designs while keeping the costs down.

Cabinet doors are not golden oak anymore. There is such a wide verity of colours and stains today. Cherry is popular and so is fir. A big look in custom homes is the distressed look in kitchens. It is when they paint the kitchen with multi layers of paint, every layer with a different colour. Then they take a sander and at certain spots in the kitchen they sand wear spots into it. This reveals the next layer of paint and gives the kitchen a lived in and aged look.

Islands have become the norm in kitchens. Kitchen islands are now designed to be completely functional. They have sinks installed in them to help with food preparation. Islands are now built in multi levels so that there can be a food preparation on one side and on the other side it is a bar area for people to sit on stools to eat, drink and socialize with the cook. Storage is a big thing in islands too with more drawers and cabinets being built into the underside of the island. The island has been transformed into a gathering area for the house.

Twenty years ago there was the one sink in the kitchen, it was usually placed under or near a window. Today the big kitchen sink is still placed near a window, but there can be two or three other sinks in the kitchen depending on the size of the kitchen. Sinks are now coming in all shapes and sizes depending on style and what you want to do with it. Smaller sinks are placed in islands for washing of fruit and vegetables. Larger main kitchen sinks can come with side sinks to help dry dishes and there are even corner sinks to help maximize space and help save on counter top usability.

Today laminate is barely ever used in custom homes in the kitchen. The trend for the past decade is granite. But there are a lot more options then there was before depending on your budget. Butcher block tops are becoming popular again. Recycled glass with a painted finish underneath is a popular trend and manufactured counter tops like ceaser stone are really taking hold. The manufactured stone is very durable and comes with a great warranty, it is easier to maintain then granite and doesn’t need to be sealed annually. A lot of kitchens these days have one type of counter top material underneath the cabinets and a different one on the island. Or if its black granite on one then it’s a white granite on the other.

Drawer design and hardware have come a long way in two decades. Gone are the days when you would have lazy suzans in the corners. They have corner drawers that are hinged so that when you open the corner door the shelving is hinged to come forward into your view so that you can see everything in the cabinet. There is now cabinet door hardware that allows the door to go straight up out of the way instead of opening to the side. Little specialty drawers are now placed everywhere in kitchens to maximize the space. Drawers like a small drawer 4 inches high by the width of the kitchen sink and only 2 inches deep to hold your scrubbing brushes and steel wool abrasive pads. Vertical spice drawers have become popular because they can be installed anywhere you need them to be and they are a great way to fill in that empty space between two appliances.

Fridges have changes a lot in the last 2 decades. They still do what they were originally designed to do which is keep things cold, but they also do so much more. Fridges now make ice, dispence water, have LED screens in them for controls or if you want to watch television. They are also bigger then they have ever been, with some models having built in wine chillers on one side. There are also fridges with no freezer in them, the freezer unit which can be just as big as the fridge can be installed standing next to it or in another room.

There are other specialty things that have become popular in kitchens. Things such as instant hot water taps, so that you can have tea without boiling water in a kettle. This requires you to install what we call a “little butler” water heater under the counter. Then you install a separate tap next to the normal kitchen taps at the sink.

Look for part 12 coming soon....

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Do you need help getting your building permit?

Are you trying to get a building permit? Hire a general contractor; they can help you with that.

In today’s world of home building, there are more and more rules to follow to try and build a new home. In some parts of the country you have to deal with other organizations other then the local municipal building department.

In the area that Village Builders Inc. does there business you almost never just deal with the local municipal building department. Usually when you are applying for a new building permit you have to deal with an Environmental commission, a conservation authority, a homeowners association, some time County officials, native bands, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and if you are building within a certain distance of a highway then you also need the Ministry of Transportations permission as well.

There are also other things that you have to consider, when you put the notice of project up on the vacant land you could end up having to deal with upset neighbours that don’t want you to build next to them. A lot of the times when it comes to neighbours it’s more that they want a say in where on your property you are going to build, are they going to have to look at it and what size and shape is it going to be.

Before you build your home you need to talk to the utility companies; some places it will cost you a lot of money to bring the electricity to you and other places you might not be able to get services such as municipal water, sewer and natural gas.

All of these things will dictate how and when you build your new dream home.

The easiest way to go about getting all these approvals is to hire your general contractor that you want to build your home before you even have the permit. What this will do is allow your contractor to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to dealing with all the parties involved.

Remember that you have a life and a job; there are other things that you could be doing then babysitting a permit application.

A general contractor will (once you have signed a contract for the construction of the home) usually help you with the permit applications for free, that’s right for free, it’s part of the service that a well respected general contractor will provide for you as part of the home building experience.

If you are looking for a general contractor to build your dream home then check out Village Builders at we do more than just build you a home, we want you to enjoy the experience.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Green Building: What it is and why it matters

Green Building: What it is and why it matters

Green building, sustainability and high-performance homes are now part of the vocabulary of new home construction. We welcome the attention brought to these important issues. As professional builders, however, we take the subject with a grain of salt. Green building is a far more complex topic than that portrayed in the media. News spots or magazine articles typically focus on specific areas like insulated windows, high-efficiency furnaces, roof-mounted solar panels, or recycled-content flooring.

Certainly, those products provide measurable benefits in terms of energy savings and improved use of natural resources, but genuine green building is much more complex. A green builder uses a systematic approach to design, construction, and on-going operational durability in which the sum of the benefits are far greater than the individual components. A green builder also knows how to personalize the green building approach to each homebuyer's needs and budget, carefully balancing the value that the client places on the benefits of green building as opposed to other choices available for new home construction.

It is true that all homes (and all buildings) leave an environmental "footprint." The materials we builders use in new construction use natural resources, such as trees and metal ores, even oil. The important goals of green building are to reduce the amount of natural resources required to build a house, and then to lessen the amount of energy used by the house. Energy efficiency over the life of the house further reduces the natural resources needed to produce electricity and natural gas.

To achieve those goals, we look for building materials, products, and systems that make the most (or best) use of every resource harvested while also performing better than traditional products. For example, an engineered beam uses smaller, fast-growing trees. Twice as much of each log can be used to make an engineered beam as compared with a comparably sized "glue-lam" beam created in a sawmill.  An engineered beam can also span longer, open spaces and resist warp better. A house that is free of even the smallest gaps does not waste energy.

Various green building certification programs are now available to help builders create more sustainable and resource-efficient homes. As we review them, however, we often find that the building practices we already have in place meet or exceed those standards. That's good news for our homebuyers and owners because it means we're already providing a high-performance home -- i.e., a home with many green features -- without adding to the cost or price. Of course, a client may choose to add additional features as budget, needs, and passion for the environment dictate.

With a systematic approach to green or sustainable building, we can build a new home that not only leaves as small an environmental footprint as possible, but also delivers convenience, comfort, safety, and a high level of value.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Preparing your hot tub for winter

Preparing your hot tub for winter

If you are one of the millions of people that now own a hot tub then there are a couple of things that you should do before the cold weather arrives.

Since most hot tubs are outside then the time to drain your hot tub and give it a good cleaning is in the fall before the temperature drops below zero. Once the temperature drops below zero you can damage your hot tub if you drain the water out and allow the water that is left in the lines to drop below zero and freeze.

When ice forms on jets and pumps they can be damaged and the act of restarting the hot tub and re-heating the hot tub is very hard on the components.
When you drain a tub and re-fill it, you are asking the heater in the hot tub to work extra hard to re-heat all the cold water that you pumped into it. In the winter it is even harder because the outside temperature fights against the heater making it run harder. This can cause the heater to endlessly blow the breaker damaging the breaker and the heater of the hot tub.

If you don’t need to drain your hot tub to clean it you should at least take the time to fill the hot tub to its desired level so that you do not have to do it when it is cold.

If you do use your hot tub frequently in the winter then you will probably have to add water sometime in the middle of the winter. What you should do is take a garden house and drain it of all the water and place it in the basement of your home. This will allow you to add water to your tub without fighting with a frozen garden hose.

If you hot tub is a little older then you should call your hot tub supplier and ask them to come out and drain the tub and do a system check. The worst thing that can happen to a hot tub is to have it fail in the middle of winter and freeze. Maintenance is always cheaper than trying to repair something later.

So before winter take the time to give your hot tub a once over.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prepare your eavetrough for winter

Prepare your gutters for winter

This may sound like a weird thing to worry about but gutters or eave trough can cause a lot of problems if they do not function properly.

If you do not inspect your gutters before the weather drops below zero then you could cause damage to your home.

The following is a list of the kind of damage that can happen to your home if your gutters aren’t clean before winter;

The gutters can become full of ice and snow, becoming too heavy and collapse.

Gutters that collapse can swing down breaking windows, damaging siding, decks, railings and landscaping.

People can be hit or injured from falling gutters after they exit a home.

Ice can back up onto the roof, under the shingles and cause leaks inside the home.

Soffits can get backed up with water or ice overflow from the gutters and be damaged beyond repair.

Down spouts can become packed with ice and rupture destroying the pipe.

Ruptured down pipes can allow too much water to be deposited beside the foundation leading to water problems in the basement.

Ruptured down pipes can also cause wood siding to be damaged by water endlessly soaking it.

When gutters become too heavy they can tear down the facia.

The facia can become so saturated with water that it rots or discolours.

The easiest way to avoid this is to inspect your gutters before the weather turns too cold. You need to inspect them after most of the leaves have fallen from the trees or you will be wasting your time.

If you don’t have the ability to do this or you don’t have the equipment or the knowledge to do this then you need to hire a professional. There are plenty of home maintenance companies that will come out and do a yearly inspection of your eave trough system for you.

What you need to be looking for is anything that could restrict the flow of water to the downpipes. All leaves, twigs, dirt and asphalt from your shingles should be removed until the base of the gutters are clean.

Then you should run a little water down the gutters to see if the water makes it all the way down the down pipes on to the lawn. If the water doesn’t make it down the down pipes then you might have to remove the pipe and inspect it for blockage. Sometimes you will have to snake the pipe with a stick or pole to get all the debris out of it.

Caulk any leaks or cracks that you find in the gutters and down pipes. This will help keep water from being saturated all over your siding and will also stop icicles from forming on the bottom side of your eave trough.

If you have eave trough that are extremely hard to get too or are dangerous to clean then you should think about having a leaf guard installed on them. This will prevent any leaves from getting into them in the future saving you the hassle of cleaning them every year.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Avoid greenwashing when building your custom home

Greenwashing: Beware!

The term "green" is being increasingly applied as an easy way to identify products, including building materials and new homes, as having a better or smaller impact on the environment.

That's fine for marketing slogans and advertising headlines, but it's also dangerous if the product (or house) isn't truly sensitive to its environmental impact and is simply trying to ride the coattails of a sincere effort to lessen our carbon footprint.

In those instances, intended or not, the term "greenwashing" comes into play. Simply, it refers to incomplete, insincere, exaggerated, or downright untrue promises made about a product's environmental performance, with no real evidence to back it up.

As a professional builder confronted with "green" claims from a variety of building product manufacturers and some competitors, we are keenly aware of the threat that greenwashing can have on our credibility as a quality contractor.

So, in our business, we make every effort to substantiate the claims made by our suppliers regarding reduced water use, recycled content, energy efficiency, and other performance characteristics that relate to creating a "green" building.

How? Thankfully, the "green" movement within and outside of the building industry has spawned a wealth of independent, third-party companies that scientifically verify those claims with a battery of standards and test methods. When considering a product or system, we look for certifications from those entities, as well as specific performance information (such as the precise amount of energy the furnace claims to save) to give us confidence.

However, manufacturers and some builders may unintentionally misuse the certifications they earn from such testing or evaluation. For instance, there's no such thing as an "eco-friendly'" or "environmentally-sensitive" product or house, two terms that have no scientific basis and smack of greenwashing.

Failing to go the extra mile to verify environmental performance claims can put us at risk of becoming greenwashers, too. It's also our responsibility to surround so-called green products and systems with a quality-built house that effectively optimizes the energy use, water use, and durability of those products.

That way, we can all feel good, and be confident in, your investment and our combined efforts to make the Earth a healthier place to live for us and future generations.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trim in modern custom homes

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 10

In today’s modern world of construction things are changing year to year faster than they did decade to decade in any other previous time period. In this multi part series I will traverse through an entire house starting with the foundation and working my way up to the roof and then to the finishing’s. I will explain what has changed in the last twenty years in custom home building.

One thing that you should be able to take away from this is how important it is to not just hire the right general contractor to build your custom home but how important it is to hire one that is up on today’s building methods.


Twenty years ago if you wanted painted trim you used either MDF or pine. Most trim if it was made from real wood was made from one piece of wood.

Today’s trim if you are using real wood comes in a smaller one piece format. If you want larger elaborate trim in real wood it will usually come in a two piece format. There is still MDF trim but in custom homes it is almost nonexistent. Most painted trim is now popular with less people using pine every year. The reason for this is because popular has a denser cell structure which allows for easier painting. Also popular is almost completely free of knots, which saves time and money because you don’t have to spot treat the knots before priming and painting.

The big difference in trim is the how environmentally friendly trim companies have become in a short 2 decades. Most big trim companies use wood from only sustainable forests. Some companies can actually track the wood that your trim is made from all the way back to the forest that the tree came from. All cut offs and sawdust is reused in different forms, some use it to make finger joint trims (which is a cheaper form of trim that must be painted) and others use high pressure to form the sawdust into pucks. These pucks are then sold to the gardening industry as a natural fertilizer. The shift to popular has come about because it is an extremely fast growing tree and whole forests can be cut down, replanted and cut down again in the two decades that we are talking about in this blog.

The variety of different trim profiles has grown with the amount of different companies that are making it. From the big box stores to the custom trim companies, you almost have an unlimited choice of trim and trim profiles to pick from, depending only on your time and need.

There are certain types of species that you don’t see used in trim anymore, it is because the supply of those trees just doesn’t exist in the world anymore. Finding hemlock trim for example is very hard and extremely expensive. Because a lot of the large hardwoods take 50 to 100 years to grow trim companies have stopped producing trim out of them and moved to softer woods that can be made to look like these when stained.
In the future trim companies will have to become more creative in there trim making with the tree supply growing ever smaller.

Some trims like crown moldings have been shifted into other products that are easier to handle and avoid the shrinking and expanding that happens when you have a natural product like wood. Crown moldings are now being installed by drywallers instead of carpenters. This type of crown molding is made out of foam with a finished face. The drywaller mud’s the seams and corners and caulks the edges, this allows the crown molding to have a seamless finish to it.

Look for part 11 coming soon....

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Preparing your furnace for winter

Preparing your home for winter.

One of the major issues people have is that first cold day and they turn their furnace on and the furnace doesn’t work. They frantically call their mechanical contractor and he informs them that it will take them till tomorrow to get there because of all the no-heat calls that they have received. Once they come and repair the furnace then you are stuck with a large emergency repair bill.

There is an easy way to avoid this problem, schedule your mechanical contractor to come and do your maintenance and start up the month before the weather starts to turn cold. This way when the weather turns cold your furnace will be guaranteed to work the first try and you can avoid that costly emergency service bill. Maintenance bills are far cheaper and can be done at your and your contractor’s schedule.

With scheduling your furnace maintenance for around August or September you can schedule them in advance, you can also have your mechanical contractor call you every August to set up the appointment taking the burden off of you. You get a furnace that works well and when you need it too and your mechanical contractor gets a flexible schedule to work with you.

A lot of money can be saved by maintenance, parts can be replaced when they are worn instead of after they brake and cause damage to surrounding parts.

There are things you should do yourself before your mechanical contractor comes;

Cut the grass and weeds away from the intake and the exhaust of the furnace.

If you have an HRV do the same cutting and debris removal for it as well.

Remove any debris that you see in the vents, they are usually easy to remove and re-install.

You should also replace or clean your furnace filters as well. Dirty or damaged filters can cause a lot of damage to the furnace and also hurt performance by restricting airflow.

There are filters in your HRV system as well that you should be replaced or cleaned of all dust and debris like pet hair.

You can also go around and vacuum out all the vents and cold air returns so that you don’t have to worry about dust being thrown in the air when they furnace is fired up for the first time.

You should check that you do not have furniture or other things blocking the air vents or the cold air returns, this can put undue stress on the furnace as it starves it for air.

If you live in the country you should make sure that your furnace oil or propane tanks have been topped up, this is always easier to do when there isn’t any snow on the ground.

Remember it’s always cheaper to do it before you need it then after.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How much will my house cost?

The Cost Question

A question we get all the time is "what's your price per square foot?" The perception (or presumption), we assume, is that if you wanted to add or subtract a few square feet for whatever reason, you simply add or subtract that amount per foot from the price or cost of the house.

Simply, in our business, it doesn't work that way. For us, it's an impossible question to answer without a lot more information and detail, and one that can only be derived once the house is finished and all costs have been accounted for. Before that, it's akin to asking, "How much does a vacation cost?" without first knowing where and for how long you plan to go, and by what mode of transportation, among other considerations.

The fact is, the details (and therefore cost) of every house -- even those built on speculation by large-volume builders -- is different, and the cost of your house is entirely up to you, not your builder. Only you know how much you can afford and what you want in your new home. It's our job to apply our expertise and experience to finely detail your wants and needs and then build a home that meets (or ideally exceeds) those expectations while remaining within your budget.

That's why it is so important to determine and then share your budget with us from the first moment you select us to build your home. Budget information should precede any talk of contracts or actual construction.

Using the vacation analogy, we are like a travel agent working with you to plan a trip.

Still, the square-foot cost question persists. So, it might be helpful to understand what goes into or affects the cost (or ultimate price) of a new home to gain a better perspective on the question.

For instance, the costs of similarly sized homes can vary considerably due to their location (and even size and shape of the lot within the same neighborhood), the outline of the building, the type of and complexity of the foundation and roof, and many other construction and design characteristics that are not directly related to the square footage of the house.

In addition, costs including development impact fees and permits,  provincial and municipal mandated code requirements, can add from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars to the ultimate cost of a new home, regardless of size. Labor and material costs also can vary substantially based upon the time of year, availability and demand of building materials and workers, weather conditions, and the complexity of the project.

The list of variables goes on, and we're happy to discuss them with you and explain how they might impact the cost of your new home. But, in our view, it's short-sighted to ask us up-front what our homes cost per square foot, and certainly to base one of the most important decisions of your life on that metric alone.

Better, we think, to get a full understanding of our process and expertise and marry those skills with what you can afford and want and need in a new home to achieve your goals.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

 This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.