Saturday, April 28, 2012

Designing the perfect baby's room

So you’re doing the baby’s room.

If you want to do the dream baby’s room there are certain things that you need to remember.

The first thing you need to realize is that any baby room that you are going to put together has got to functional. It isn’t going to help if the baby’s room looks pretty and cute but there is nowhere to change the baby. So you need a changing table in the room. If you don’t like the look of a changing table then use a dresser. Find a dresser that usually has a mirror attached to the back of it; they are about your waste height. 
Remove the mirror and place either a sheet of tempered glass on top or just sit the changing pad on top of the dresser. This gives you a perfect changing table and doesn’t look like a typical changing table. This will also give you lots of storage for the baby’s things.

Paint the trim and the wall colours so that they are soft and welcoming. You do not want to pick loud colours for a baby’s room; you want the baby to stay calm when it’s in the room not get all pumped up. This will also help you stay calm when the baby has decided to cry for 5 hours and you’re on your last patient nerve.

A nice chair rail placed on the higher portion of the wall with a different wall colour running up to the ceiling looks nice and allows you to change up the colour. If you have it in your budget put some wainscoting around the room, this helps warm the room up and if painted the proper colour can easily brighten up a room.

Your main light fixture should be not just cute but also functional. A ceiling fan is usually the best bet with a built in light, baby’s sometimes need to be cooled down in a hot room and there is no greater way to do that then with a ceiling fan. You can add other lights on side tables for night lights or to help set the mood and calm a crying baby.

The coolest thing to do in a baby’s room these days is to do a wall mural. You don’t have to paint the mural yourself, you can actually buy wallpaper that when installed in panels side by side make a mural. You can get murals that are a couple of feet wide up to 12 feet wide. In my baby’s room right now there is a 12 foot mural of Winnie the pooh and his friends. Its 7 feet high and was installed by the grandparents in under 2 hours. Wallpaper these days is a lot easier to use then it use too be, it now comes with the glue already applied on it. All you have to do as you unroll it is slide it threw a tray of water. The murals come off the roll in the order that they are suppose to go on the wall, you just line them up one after another after another.

Placing a shelf a couple feet from the ceiling is also another way to bring some character to the room; it’s a nice place to store things like stuffed animals and pictures that are out of the way. It also helps bring some character to the baby’s room.

Whatever you do make sure that you do not crowd the room with furniture, try to keep the baby’s room simple because overtime the room will fill up with gifts from relatives and other things that you find for the room. You never want to go overboard with filling a baby’s room especially when it hasn’t even arrived yet.
Remember that the room is your own unique space. You should make it your own, don’t just make it out to be trendy, make it your baby’s room. A common thing for people to do is to renovate the room so it allows them to change it to fit the baby’s growing personality.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rethinking Landscape: Going Native

Rethinking Landscape: Going Native

For most people, yard work comes with the territory of homeownership. Whether you find it fun or frustrating, there's no doubt that keeping your yard healthy and attractive helps maintain the value of your home and neighbourhood.

Traditionally, most yard work has been dominated by lawn care -- watering, mowing, trimming, and treating large sections of turf grass in the front and back of most suburban homes.

In fact, turf grass is the fifth-largest "crop" in the U.S. Mowing the grass consumes an estimated 800 million gallons of gas a year and accounts for 5% of our nation's air pollution. To keep turf areas green and healthy requires a lot of water. Grass can command up to 40% of the average home's water use.

These costs, along with pressures to conserve energy and water resources and reduce air pollution, have many homeowners considering other landscaping options.

So what's a homeowner to do without that big swath of grass fronting the house? Landscape experts advocate what's called "xeriscaping" (pronounced "zeri-scaping"), a strategy of plant selection and placement that not only serves to lower the amount of water needed for landscape irrigation but also reduces yard work without sacrificing curb appeal.

Simply, xeriscaping promotes the use of plants and turf species that are native to a given climate. As such, they 
are destined to thrive with the average amount of rainfall for that climate, and even survive periods of drought -- which is one reason native plants are often referred to as "drought-tolerant."

It's amazing, in fact, how yards thrive that are planted with native species instead of imported shrubs, turf, and perennial plants. A visit to a local nursery will provide the necessary expertise and an abundance of native plants from which to select.

But while a xeriscaped yard is ideally designed to live and grow by what nature alone provides, it's still smart to have a measure of supplemental irrigation available. Specifically, new seedlings and starts in a vegetable garden or planter usually need extra water early on to promote healthy and sustainable root growth, while annuals -- namely colorful summer flower pots or beds -- also tend to need more water than what rainfall will provide.

To save water, consider a drip system that puts water as needed at the base of your plants. Installing a sprinkler system can ensure water is going only where it is needed –onto the lawn and not the driveway.
Both strategies also reduce weed growth, a chore that both passionate gardeners and weekend warriors would gladly shed.

Given xeriscape and water-efficient irrigation strategies, there's no reason why you can't have a beautiful yard that boosts your home's value while reducing your environmental footprint and your to-do list of yard maintenance chores.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders
3 Caroline St. E.
Creemore, Ontario
Canada LOM IG0

 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, April 23, 2012

Building Insulated Concrete Form custom homes

The evolution of ICF, building custom homes with ICF for over 20 years.

We have been building custom homes for over 30 years and in those thirty years we have strived to separate ourselves from the competition by building better quality and more efficient homes. One of the earliest things that we came to realize is that the easiest way to give our clientele a better home would be to start building a home with a modern foundation.

The drive to give clients a modern foundation led us past cement block or plain poured concrete, it led us to ICF. ICF stands for Insulated Concrete Forms. ICF’s are basically two pieces of polystyrene that are held together with plastic webs creating a cavity in the middle ranging from 4” to 12” depending on the application needed.   The form when installed creates a wall with polystyrene on the inside of the building and the outside of the building. The cavity in the middle is filled with concrete creating a concrete wall with insulation already installed on it.

Once we started installing ICF foundations and saw the benefit to our clientele we started steering more clients to do every floor out of it. This gave them ICF from the foundation all the way to the rafters of the roof.

Even though ICF homes cost more money to build the cost savings that they offered in energy efficiency were well worth it. The feedback that we received over the years helped galvanized the idea of helping people get a better home then just the typical wood walled one.

Over twenty years later we are still building ICF homes. It’s amazing to me how in twenty years the questions are still the same about ICF technology. In the early days people were unsure of the product because it was new, today more than two decades after we started using this product, I can safely say that it is the way that all custom homes should be built.

With all building techniques the product is only as good as the installation and with all building techniques there are tricks that experienced ICF installers will know so that the product works like it is suppose too. After more than two decades of installing this product, Village Builders has it down to an art form. We are able to train our new employee’s from the experiences of our existing employee’s. I have witnessed ICF installations that were done poorly and have even been contracted to fix other contractors mistakes, at no small cost to the homeowner.

The most important thing that you need to do when you are looking for a general contractor to build your custom home is to find out what they are comfortable building. A lot of general contractors do not like building houses out of ICF and will tell you all kinds of pitfalls with the product, this just means that they do not have enough experience with the product. If you want an ICF custom home then you should make sure that you hire a general contractor that will build you an ICF home and is excited to do so. You also want a general contractor that has a lot of experience building ICF homes, this will ensure that you get a home that is not just built out of ICF but built out of the right ICF.

Most people don’t realize that there are over 40 different ICF manufactures in North America alone. Like any product there are good ones and bad ones. No matter how good the installation if the product was a poorly manufactured product will leave you disappointed with the end result. This is another reason that I try to tell people to make sure the general contractor has experience in ICF construction. This will ensure that they know what product works the best and what product will give you what you want. Even though ICF’s are all the same basically in theory, there are a wide variety of ways ICF’s are manufactured so that they are easier to install, cheaper to buy, easier to move, easier to transport or even using different materials other then polystyrene. A lot of these companies come out trying to revolutionize the industry and most of them last for a couple of years and then disappear. It’s usually because either their idea’s ended up being extremely flawed or contractors found them hard to work with costing more time and money. If the product is hard to work with as it pertains to keeping walls straight and level then contractors wouldn’t use them. I have seen this happen to ICF manufactures, instead of re-engineering the product they try to sell it directly to the homeowner as a do-it-yourself project. The end result is always a disaster.

ICF is the next step in house evolution and after two or three decades of use in the custom home industry it’s time that this became the norm and not the option. If you are thinking about building an ICF custom home then you should make sure that you get an ICF general contractor that will give you the high quality that you want and deserve.

Give us a call for your ICF house build or checkout our website at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The changing of roofing materials in today's modern custom homes

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 6

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.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;

Roofing materials

Twenty years ago, roofing materials were mostly asphalt shingles. Other less popular materials were cedar shingles and steel roofs.
Today’s roofing material have gone through some changes, but not as many as you would think in 20 years. The staple of most houses built toady is still asphalt shingles. With ever changing weather conditions today’s shingles are lasting shorter and shorter amounts of time. Asphalt shingles (either from the weather or from poor manufacturing) are not lasting as long as they did 20 years ago. This is pushing more and more people to more expensive alternatives to get longer life for their roof. Here are some of the new products people are using and some of the materials that have been around for a long time but have been advanced;

Enviroshake. This is a roofing material that has been manufactured from recycled materials and plant extract waste material from ethanol manufacturing plants. They are formed to look like cedar shakes, right down to the wood grain that is stamped in them. It is installed the same way that cedar shakes are installed but have a 50 year warranty. They go on black and fade in 6 months to a silver finish that makes them look like a cedar shake. Cedar shakes do not have the longevity that they used too. Enviroshakes are slowly becoming closer to the same price as what it costs to have a cedar shake roof, but they are still more expensive at this time.

Steel roofs. Steel roofs do not look like a barn roof anymore. There are so many different looks to steel roofs now days that with a little research you should be able to find the style and colour that fits you and your new home. With standing seem steel roofs becoming ever more popular you can now have steel roofs without the look of industrial or agricultural roofs. Steel roofs now come in a wide variety of colours and the paint has a life time warranty. A steel roof should last your home a lifetime. Steel also has the ability to withstand high winds and impact from debris and low hanging tree branches. UV doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on the steel or the finished paint.

More and more custom homes are covering the roof completely in Ice and Water shield. This is a peel and stick membrane that gives your roof a watertight seal even after the roofing material fails. Twenty years ago they did one row as the norm and it was installed at the eves. Ice and Water shield works by coating the nails or screws that penetrate it with a waterproof coating creating a perfect watertight seal.

Houses are now having a vent strip installed across the peak, they are then shingled over. This replaces the standard 3 or 4 roof vents. It gives the roof a clean look and adds more square footage of venting to help the roof breath.

Starter strip and valley flashings used to be painted steel or straight galvanized steel. Today they are aluminum. This allows an easier installation because the aluminum is lighter and doesn’t rust like steel. You can now get aluminum starter and valleys in a variety of colours to help match the roof colour.

Typical asphalt shingles are slowly being replaced by shingles that are made with fibreglass backing. This is supposed to allow the shingle to stand up to higher winds. Because shingles are failing quicker in the harsher weather, shingle companies have come out with a premium option for asphalt shingles. These premium shingles are 2 or 3 times thicker than the typical shingle and they also cost a fair bit more. Theses shingles have longer warranties and seem to be able to stand up longer to harsh weather then the cheaper conventional single ply shingles.

Look for part 7 coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Painting evolutions in custom home building

Modern Day Construction for custom homes                      Part 5

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.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;


Twenty years ago, most paint was the same, it just depended on how many coats you wanted to apply and the colour you wanted.

Today paint has reached a whole different level. The most popular paint now is LoVo paint. That means that the paint is made so that there is no chemical off-gassing. There are a lot of paints that are now environmentally friendly not just LoVo. LoVo stands for Low Volatile Organic Compounds; this basically means that there is little or no off gassing of harmful chemicals into the air inside and outside of your home. This is good for the air quality in your new home and the overall environment outside of your home.

Paint can be bought at such a high quality now that a lot of times you only have to apply one coat to change the colour of a wall, as long as the existing colour is not to dark or bold.

There are now specific paint for specific rooms in the house. For example; there is paint that is made just for bathrooms. It has been engineered to withstand moisture and eliminate the growth of mold and mildew. This will help eliminate paint cracking and peeling because of high moisture from showers in the bathrooms.

Other wall treatments that have made significant strides in the last two decades are things like wallpaper and boarders. Wallpaper now comes with the glue already applied. All you have to do is wet it and apply it to the wall. The imagery on wallpaper and borders is impressive as well with most pictures and scenes looking like they came right out of a movie. Wallpaper scenes that stretch across an entire wall almost look seamless today and the choices have grown exponentially with all genres being available. 

Most custom painting is still applied the same way that it was two decades ago with painters rolling it on and doing detail work by hand. Most primer though is applied by sprayer, allowing a painting contractor the ability to prime a whole house in a single day.

The amount of companies that are making paint today and the wide variety of different colours and types that you can buy are almost mind boggling. It is very easy to be overwhelmed with paint choices in today’s marketplace.

Custom homes are still primed and then painted with at least 2 coats of paint, usually when dealing with a higher upscale clientele there ends up being 3 coats to help give the home that deep rich colour feeling.

Look for part 6 coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What are the five key questions you should ask your Renovating contractor?

5 Key Questions for Your Remodeler

You've finally decided to move forward and remodel your home. Perhaps you've invited us into your living room or have cornered us in our sales center. Now what?
As a professional remodeling contractor, we are prepared to answer any questions you have as you make a decision about whether to invest in a home improvement project. But while we encourage and welcome this dialogue, we often find that home owners aren't typically prepared for that opportunity. In many cases, the questions we get are limited to how much will it cost (or cost per square foot) and whether we can cut a deal.
While those are valid questions, we think they only scratch the surface of what home owners need to know to help ensure a satisfying experience with our company or any professional remodeler.
So here are the top five questions we think home owners should ask when they are on the cusp of a remodeling project...and why they matter:
  1. Who will run the job?
    We will assign a site superintendent or "lead" skilled in home remodeling and a production manager . Our production manager is your first person to contact to get the most accurate and up-to-date information and answer questions about your project. Of course, you can always contact the main office, but your first call should be to your production manager. We believe this gives you the best of both worlds; a dedicated manager as your day-to-day go to person, along with our site supervisor and availability of our entire staff in support of you and your remodeling project.
  2. Will you show up every day?
    Understanding how we work and the pacing of a typical remodeling project is critical to having a positive experience. In fact, sometimes (if not often), there are very few people on the jobsite, but that doesn't mean things aren't progressing. There may be an inspection scheduled or a delivery on the way that will trigger crews and subcontractors to return and continue their work...perhaps even later that day, if not the next morning. We keep a tight schedule and our business depends on being efficient, but there are occasional lulls in the process that we'll point out when we go over the project schedule with you.
  3. How will you deal with construction debris?
    Most (if not all) remodeling projects create their fair share of debris, both from demolition and new construction. We will work with you and your neighbors to find a suitable place for a right-sized dumpster that is convenient for us yet out of the way as best as possible. We'll empty it when it's full and take it away as soon as we no longer need it.
  4. Can you supply references?
    We are happy to provide you with a list of people who have recently hired us for a remodeling project similar to yours. We encourage you to call them and ask about their experience and level of satisfaction. Any professional remodeler should have references at the ready, including financial partners, trade contractors, materials suppliers, and others we work with that can provide perspective on our professionalism and track record of performance.
  5. How do you handle changes?
    Most people don't ask this question because they can't envision making a change during a remodeling project, but it happens all the time. We work diligently with you to create a detailed list of specifications for your project before we break ground, but we also have change order policies and procedures in place -- which we share with you up front and in the sales contract -- to account for changes after the project begins.
Armed with the answers to this handful of questions, we think you'll be more confident in your remodeling decisions and more likely to be satisfied with the result and the experience.
Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders
3 Caroline St. E.
Creemore, Ontario
Canada LOM IG0

 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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tips to make your custom home environmentally friendly

Green building in the modern world

In today’s world everyone wants to be green or at least greener.
This usually means that making smarter decisions when you are building your custom home. The one thing that everyone needs to understand is that it costs money to go green. Green products are sold as a luxury item because they are not completely main stream yet. Here are some simple things that you can do when you’re having your house built that will help you go green and not blow the budget right out of the water.

Start with insulation. The more insulation that you have installed into your new home the better the energy efficiency will be. Energy efficiency will help you limit your carbon footprint, lower the cost of operating your home and will help keep the value of your home over time. Adding insulation is not that costly compared to the entire budget for your home. Adding the right amount of insulation will pay for itself in energy savings in the long run. Insulation can be added to outside walls, attics, the under slab of concrete and the rim joist.

Energy efficient heating. If you have access to natural gas then the best and most economical way to go greener is too install the highest efficiency furnace that is on the market. You can also do in-floor radiant heating which is a wonderful way to heat your home evenly. It’s a more pricey option but will save you a lot of money in the long run.
If you are in an area that doesn’t have gas available you have the option of doing Geothermal heating. This is by far the most efficient heating that you can have in a home, but it is also the most expensive. Geothermal heating is piping installed underground; it is full of a liquid compound that is circulated through the pipes. The liquid absorbs the heat or cold that is already in the ground, this is then circulated back to the house and it flows through the furnace. The furnace passes air over these lines; this is then circulated through the house with a conventional ducting system. The only electricity that is used in this system is used to run a pump that circulates the liquid and the fan that pushes the air around the house.

Instant hot water. One plus if you do go for in-floor radiant heat is that it is run by a flash boiler. The flash boiler also will heat all the water in the house. What this does is allow a house to have on-demand hot water. Instead of a hot water tank being heated all the time until it is needed, a flash boiler instantly starts boiling water as soon as the tap is turned on. This reduces energy consumption lowering your electrical bills.
If you have geothermal heating then you have the bonus of having your water pre-heated by your furnace. The way it works is the lines that run from the ground into the furnace then run into a hot water tank. This hot water tank receives the well water or city water and raises the temperature of the water to 90 degrees. This is basically free hot water, the more air conditioning you use the more free hot water you receive.

When you are picking your finishing’s an eye toward being green will cost you more money but it shouldn't be a budget buster. A little investigating will go a long way in telling you which companies are doing business in an environmentally responsibility way and producing a greener product.
For example; you can have your trim bought from companies that have their trim cut from a responsible forest plan. These plans insure that any trees that are removed are replaced with new saplings to take their place.
Your floor coverings are also a big way to stay environmentally friendly.  What your carpet is made from can also affect your health. Buying a natural fibre carpet will help reduce the chance that you or your family will be allergic to it. Hardwood flooring should be bought from a company that enforces an environmentally friendly position.
Even paint can be environmental choice. There are higher quality paints that are called Lovo which stands for Low Volatile Organic Compounds. This paint is made in an environmentally friendly way using mostly organic material and will not off gas in your home after it has dried.

These are some of the easier choices that you can make to stay green; most of them will not blow your budget. Some of the more expensive options will save you money well into the future and probably for the entire time that you own the home. They will also raise the value of resale for your home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Drywall in modern day construction for custom home building

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 4

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.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;


Twenty years ago standard drywall made from gyprock was applied on all the walls in the house, other than thickness of the drywall (ceiling board vs. wall board) there wasn’t really any difference in the material. The corner beads were all made of metal and there were only a couple of standard corners to choice from, with the square corner being the most popular. In bathrooms you used cement board for anywhere they were going to install tile. The installation of drywall was a mix of drywall nails and drywall screws.
Today there is almost different drywall depending on the type and use of the room. The drywall in the normal walls and ceilings hasn’t changed much and the application to install it is pretty much the same with everyone using screws now all the time instead of nails. Here are some of the new things products that drywallers are using;

If they are drywalling a bathroom, or any room that you think there will be added moisture with little ventilation then they are using a moisture resistant board that is mold and mildew resistant. This product has a different material on its surfaces then the standard paper skin, it is a vinyl product that doesn’t allow mold to form and grow on its surface. It is also used in damp places like open garages, or crawl spaces. Cement board is heavy to carry and needs a grinder to cut it. Now they use a type of cement board that is made with foam particles that cut the weight of the sheet in ½ and allow you to cut it with a knife. The cement board is used in areas where there will be tile like in a shower or cultured/natural stone around fireplaces. Cement board resists screws pops and shrinkage of the wood framing, this helps protect the tile or stone that has been installed on top of it from popping off over time.

Corners are now made of a plastic material that does not rust and are more resistant to being dented. There is also such a wide variety of corners that it can be hard to choose the one you want. There are still square corners, but the most popular corner is now a rounded corner which comes in several different sizes.

Drywallers are now doing a lot more detail work than ever before. With the invention of foam mouldings, drywallers are now installing ceiling details like crown and other trims. The advantages of foam mouldings are that they do not shrink and expand like wood mouldings do.  As long as you want painted mouldings you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between foam and wood mouldings. Foam mouldings can be easily installed on a rounded corner or on a barrel ceiling. There is basically no shape that they cannot form foam mouldings too. Drywall is used now to help liven up ceilings. With the new mouldings they can make patterns on the ceilings that help give a home a more dramatic feel.

Barrel ceilings are a big craze in today’s custom homes. A barrel ceiling is a ceiling that is shaped like the inside of a barrel. It is basically shaped like a barrel that has been chopped in half. Mouldings are added to give the barrel ceiling detail and pot lights help illuminate the area. Barrels are usually installed at entrances to help give visitors the impression of grandness; it also helps define the entrance space without the need for walls. Barrels are created by first building a steel frame out of “drywall track” in the shape of the barrel that you desire. Then multiple layers of ¼” drywall are installed over top of each other attached to the steel framing. Then the whole barrel including seams, screws and corners inside and out are coated with mud and tape. They are then sanded and recoated over and over again until the barrel looks like a perfect ½ circle.

Bulk heads and drywall figures are now a standard in almost any room in the house. No longer are they just installed where visitors will see them, they are used to help make bedrooms feel comfy and give hallways some definition depending on if you are trying to make the hallway look longer or shorter than it actually is.

When it comes to trying to deaden sound inside a home; drywallers have many more tools and products that help give them an advantage that they never had before. They not only install Roxall between the walls but they also install metal track that has rubberized bumpers to help absorb sound so that it doesn’t transfer to the next room or the next floor. This sound deadening technology has become so good that they can now build movie theatres inside homes that are so sound isolating that no matter what the sound level in the room, there is no transfer of vibration and sound to the rest of the house. You can be standing on the other side of the door and have no idea that someone is inside watching a movie at full volume.
Drywall has come so far in twenty years. The options have increased on what a drywaller can do in your home. A great drywalling job can make your new custom home look amazing, but a poor one can make the home feel cheap and poorly constructed. It is important with all the new products and techniques out there that when you are looking to hire a general contractor you find out how good their drywaller  is and what he’s reputation is around the area. This should be one of the big deciding factors when picking a builder.

Look for part 5 coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Insulation requirements and changes in Modern Day construction of custom homes

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 3

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.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;


Twenty years ago all exterior walls were insulated with pink fibre glass insulation. Attics were done with R-35 to R-40 blown-in insulation or pink fibre glass insulation that was laid in multiple layers. Interior walls were packed with pink fibre glass insulation to try and keep sound from traveling from one room to another.

Today there are so many choices to be considered;

Blown in insulation in the attic has now become R-50 to R-75. You achieve this by applying 2” of spray foam to the attic side of the drywall that has been attached to the ceiling, then installing your blown in insulation on top. The spray foam acts as your vapour barrier as well. A lot of ceilings that have cathedrals or tricky sections that you will have trouble venting are now completely insulated with spray foam; you can easily achieve R-40 or better in these areas.

Walls now can have blown-in insulation installed in the wall cavities. The blown-in is held in place with a mesh that is installed first. Then once the blown-in is installed the vapour barrier can be stapled up. Blown-in insulation has a higher R value than normal fibre glass insulation because it is able to be more tightly packed into the wall cavities; this slows down the air penetration into the home from the outside world.

Foam board is being used now to add extra insulation to the inside of the wall. It has a reflective surface on one side that once placed into toward the house, will help allow the heat to be reflected back away from the walls. The foam board also acts as your vapour barrier. All you have to do is use tuck tape to tape the joints. A little acoustical caulking on the top and bottom of the wall before the foam board is set in place helps give it a good seal as well.

Rim joist which were always the worst place to vapour barrier and insulate are now spray foamed between every joist cavity. This helps give the house a nice tight seal.

Spray foaming around all doors and windows is the norm now, helping give windows a draft free feel. It seals around the windows to stop all air flow and air penetration.

Spray foam is also used in larger quantities throughout the home. It is used especially in the ceiling areas where there is little or no air flow. Rim joist, garage ceilings and anyplace in the outside walls that has a post or obstruction that doesn’t allow enough wall insulation to be installed. Spray foam is used to insulate overhangs that extend out away from the floor below, especially when there is plumbing pipes that need to be kept warm and protected. Some houses are completely insulated in spray foam from top to bottom. Filling a 2x6 wall cavity with spray foam can give you up to an R-35 rating. With the added value that there is little or no air penetration through the wall. Any area that has been spray foamed does not require a vapour barrier, the spray foam acts as its own vapour barrier which helps in places that are tricky to reach or tape properly with plastic and tuck tape.

Today interior walls are filled with a number of different materials to cut down on sound and noise traveling from one room to another. Roxall is sometimes placed in between the studs. Roxall is a fire resistant product that is made out of a paper base instead of a fibreglass one. Also they use a sound absorbing material that goes on underneath the drywall to help absorb vibrations. Ceilings are not only filled with Roxall but they use a drywall metal track to help isolate sound and vibration from floor to floor.

Polystyrene foam is used on the outside of the exterior walls. It comes usually in 2 ft by 8 ft sheets and varies in thickness from 1” up to 2”.  They are placed on the outside of 2x6 wall studs and often are used instead of OSB or plywood. Polystyrene is also placed under the concrete slab in the basement. It is also placed in spots that conventional insulation will not work well and places where spray foam will not be able to be installed at a later date.

Insulation is one of the places that has the greatest room for change and is also one of the area’s that has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. Recent changes to building codes are forcing manufactures to come up with new ways to insulate in the same space capacity. Newer fibre glass insulation is coming on the market that will help raise the R value to meet new codes.

Look for part 4 coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sub floors, Exterior Walls, Modern day construction changes to custom home building

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 2

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.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;


Twenty years ago we used solid convention lumber that was either 2x8, 2x10 or 2x12. The spans were limited by the size and strength of the wood. On top of the joists we installed ¾” plywood sometimes glued and nailed down to the joist.

Today we use wood “I” joists. They are an engineered floor joist that is constructed of pieces of wood glued and pressed together, with a 2x material on the top and the bottom. The webbing in between the 2x is made of OSB and can be cut out in large circles to accommodate plumbing and heating pipes. They also help remove the squeaks from the floor and can be spanned longer distances then conventional lumber. Because they are made from other small pieces of wood they do not require the large size of trees that conventional lumber does. The topping for the floor is now an OSB product that is specially made for being exposed to the weather and comes with 120 day weather warranty not to come apart or swell because of moisture. The OSB be is always glued down and then screwed to the joist instead of using nails. This helps eliminate squeaks and movement in the floor.

Exterior Walls:

Exterior walls twenty years ago were all assembled the same way. 2x6 framing, with 7/16” OSB on the outside. Then the house wrap was applied and your exterior finishes attached to that. The inside of the walls were batted with pink insulation and vapour barrier applied over it with acoustical caulking. A lot of times all the framing was done by installing hand nails, hand driven with a hammer.

Today we still use 2x6 framing and 7/16” OSB with house wrap on the outside. But there are a lot of other options that have gained popularity because of their energy efficiency and speed of assembly. These framed walls are put together now with air driven framing nailers that speeds up the framing process 10 fold.

The other popular options for exterior walls are;

ICF (insulated concrete forms) are not just for the basement, they can be used for all the exterior walls. ICF walls are poured in lifts per floor. So you pour the basement first, then the first floor and then the second floor. You frame every floor as you go as a working platform.

Stress skin panels. These are large panels that are premade and measured in a factory for your home and delivered on site. They made of a 6” foam core with a piece of 7/16” OSB glued to each side. You install them with a crane and then cut your windows and doors out later with a chainsaw or reciprocating saw.

Instead of 7/16 OSB on the outside of your 2”x6” walls they install a 1.5” to 2” of polystyrene foam and then you’re finishing is installed on top of it.

When vapour barrier is installed, acoustical caulking is still used, but there is a lot of tuck tape used to give the vapour barrier a better seal, especially around difficult areas and light boxes. Tuck tape is a red adhesive tape that has been engineered to stop air leakage.

After insulation has been installed, you can install a ½” to a 1” layer of foam board that has a reflective surface on one side of it. The foam board is installed on the inside of the wall before the drywall goes on and the reflective foil is placed facing into the house. This helps the insulation value, stops air leakage and reflects the heat from the inside of the house back into the house instead of allowing it to penetrate through the wall and cool with the air from outside.

Look for Part 3 coming soon....

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Foundations, Waterproofing, Piers, Modern day construction changes to custom home building

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 1

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.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;


Twenty years ago the most common foundations were block and poured concrete walls.

Today there are numerous different types of Insulated Concrete Forms or ICF’s. ICF’s are two pieces of insulation that are held together with a plastic web, you pour concrete down between the insulation to create the wall. This gives you an instant insulated high performance foundation wall. ICF’s are sound proof, weather proof, bug and rodent proof and are actually fire proof.

Poured concrete walls are still used because of the cost savings compared to ICF’s but block walls are almost never used in custom home construction. Resent changes to building codes have made using poured concrete walls more expensive because of the amount of insulation that you are required to have on the inside of the walls.


Twenty years ago the common thing to do was to tar the outside of the foundation to damp proof it.

Today we use a stretchable waterproof membrane that has a dimple board that overlaps with a filter cloth attached to the outside of it for added protection. This makes the foundation walls completely waterproof instead of just damp proof; also this new product does not dry out after 15 to 20 years like tar does. Tar can be damaged when tree roots or stones rub against the foundation, the new dimple board that is installed over waterproof membrane acts as a guard against these natural hazards.

You are not able to install a tar layer over any ICF foundation wall. Those using membranes become the only way you can waterproof a high performance wall like an ICF.


Twenty years ago the common thing to do was pour concrete into sauna tubes. If the pier required heavier support they either framed a plywood box and filled it with concrete or built it out of concrete block after framing and pouring a footing for it to sit on.

Today we use preformed footing tubes. They are made out of a hardened plastic in the shape of a giant bell. They flare at the bottom to act like a footing. The advantage to this is that you can bury the whole tube without having to first fill it with concrete. This way you don’t have to worry about when the inspector is going to come around to make sure that they are at the proper depth. The old sauna tubes where made out of a paper product and would collapse if they got wet from either ground water or rain. These new “footing tubes” even have depth markings on the outside of them so that the inspector doesn’t have to pull out their tape.

Look for part 2 of Modern Day construction coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Universal design when renovating your home for all ages

Universal Design for All Ages

A recent survey conducted  of retired persons  revealed that 84% of Boomers want to stay in their current homes during retirement.

Meanwhile, multigenerational households -- those with parents, kids, and at least one grandparent -- account for one-third of the housing market.

What those demographic and lifestyle profiles reveal is a large number of homeowners -- perhaps including you -- would like to make changes to their current home that would allow family members of all ages and capabilities to live independently and comfortably for years to come.

That's where Universal Design, or UD, comes into play. Universal Design is an architectural practice that allows occupants of all ages and capabilities to live independently and comfortably over a long period of time in the same house.

Far more comprehensive than wheelchair ramps and grab bars, UD elements are subtle, almost undetectable ... until you need them. Then you'll thank your remodeling contractor for having some forethought and concern for your needs, whether for a young child, an elderly parent, or someone recovering from a short-term injury or long-term disability.

While you may have to look closely, here are some strategies that incorporate good universal design in a remodeling project:

Cabinet features. Long desired for bigger base cabinets, pull-out (or roll-out) shelves are an increasingly popular option for tall and upper wall cabinets, making their contents more visible and accessible. Regardless of age or physical capabilities, accessories such as lazy susans, door shelves, slotted drawers, and flip-down fronts enhance the storage capacity and accessibility of kitchen cabinets and bath vanities. Most existing cabinets can be retrofitted with these features to keep the budget in check. Soft-close drawers on newer cabinets, meanwhile, protect against pinched fingers.

Hard-surface flooring. Yes, it's slightly more expensive than wall-to-wall carpeting, but a combination of hardwood, polished flat tiles, and resilient floor surfaces throughout the house is not only easier to clean and promote healthier indoor air quality, but also easier to traverse. Where needed, area rugs can soften the surfaces.

Lever handles. For doors, sinks and showers, swapping a single-lever handle for a knob (or two) is both fashionable and easier to manipulate. A lever is a better option when you have an armful of groceries, are just able to reach the handle (kids), or lack strength for gripping. For faucets and showers, levers also allow easier temperature control, which mitigates scalding hazards. Also, "D"-shaped handles or grips on cabinets make them easier to open.

Appliances. Wall ovens and warming drawers, dishwasher and refrigerator drawers (set side-by-side, not 
stacked), French-door style refrigerators, and microwave ovens with flip-down doors are just a few examples of appliances that are not only popular but also deliver UD benefits of better accessibility and increased safety.
The market for products and systems that enable attractive yet more accessible home design and function is growing. Professional remodeling contractors and their clients have many options to remodel a home that suits a wider variety of lifestyle needs now and in the future while also enhancing beauty, comfort, convenience, and long-term value.
Warm Regards,

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, April 9, 2012

I want to build a custom home in the Collingwood area

Are you building a custom home in the Collingwood area?

Building custom homes in the Collingwood area comes with its own unique problems and surprises. If you are thinking about building a custom home in this area then you should make sure that you are hiring the right general contractor. Not all general contractors are created equal. You need to do your research, check the internet, check references and talk to your neighbours and friends that have had work done by a general contractor. You want to hire a general contractor that not only knows how to build the home you want but can do it in a professional and timely manner.

If you do your research you should only come up with a handful of general contractors that fit the standards that you will want in your custom home. One of those general contractors will be Village Builders.

Village Builders has been in business over 30 years and has built custom homes all over the Collingwood and Blue Mountain area. Village Builders has a reputation of pleasing their clients to the point where they become much more than just clients, they become friends.

There certain building issues that homeowners can get themselves into when building in the Collingwood area. Depending on where you build you could end up with serious water problems that you will have to deal with during construction and if the contractor doesn’t do it right, then you will have water problems after the home is built. If you’re building on the water, handling the mass amounts of water that run off the hill across the shale under your house to the bay can be a problem. It’s actually only a problem if your contractor doesn’t know how to handle it properly.

Village Builders has built many new custom homes on the water in the past thirty years and have been able to develop a full proof system to stop any water from penetrating the foundation of your new home.
From drifting snow and high winds, to driving rain and scorching summers Village Builders can help you build a home that will survive any weather condition that will arise in the Collingwood area.

New technology and new building techniques help custom homes last longer against a climate that is becoming harsher on homes. Village Builders is always researching, sourcing and developing new ways to build homes and are committed to driving quality and craftsmanship to ever greater heights.

With their in-house interior designer overseeing the finishing’s of your home you end up with a house that will not just wow you but your friends and neighbours as well.

If you are thinking about building a custom home in the Collingwood are please take a look at the Village Builders Inc. at or call us at 877-866-3202.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Just hire a general contractor and get it done right

Have you have ever hired a trade like a painter to work at your home and when they were working there you asked them the question “do you know anyone that can install some trim?” There answer if they are a respectable painting contractor should be “actually I know a contractor that can help you with that and they also would be able to help you with some of the other things that I have noticed you need fixed around your home.”

If the answer you get is “sure we can take care of that for you, anything else you want us to do?” then you should start to worry. I true professional painting contractor does not go out of his area of expertise. They do not start renovating bathrooms and putting up trim or fixing wiring or laying hardwood floors. They will have trusted contacts that they deal with all the time and will let them handle it because it’s what they do. In return they will expect that the next time the other contractor is working at someone’s house and needs some painting done they wouldn’t do it themselves they would call the painting contractor.

The reason that all of this works so well is that every trade is able to help every other trade with job leads. The homeowner wins as well as they get the job done by a professional instead of someone that thinks they know what they are doing.

If you pay a cabinet marker to rewire a couple plugs in your kitchen while he’s working on your cabinets and then they burn out later then you GOT WHAT YOU PAYED FOR! You saved a little bit of time and money by having it done by a cabinet marker and now you get to call a licensed electrician to come out and replace your plugs and probably the breaker. Now you have paid for the plugs twice. Hopefully there is no damage done to appliances or electrical fires.

What people don’t understand is that today’s modern houses are extremely complicated. This is one reason why there are so many speciality trades in the residential construction industry. It is also the reason why General Contractors are so important today.

General Contractors don’t employee every trade; they usually employ carpenters to do most of the wood work. The rest of the time the general contractor is organizing sub-trades to do all the electrical, plumbing, H-vac, concrete, communication systems and half a dozen other things. They don’t just organize them they instruct them on what has to be done, where it needs to be done, what it should look like when it is done and what other sub-trades they are going to have to work with to achieve this.

If you simply trust a sub-trade to do a job that isn’t in their range of normal work then you are asking for a lot of trouble and you could end up spending a lot more money than you think. Don’t just let anyone work on the important parts of your home just because their conveniently already there.

Remember you hired that painter because they were good at what they do, painting! So don’t make the mistake thinking that they can do everything else just as good. Hire a professional for every part of your house or make it easier on everyone involved and get a general contractor to do it for you.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Custom home building in Wasaga Beach

Building a new home in the town of Wasaga Beach? Make sure you have the right contractor building it.

If you are thinking about building a new home in the town of Wasaga Beach the most important thing you can do is hire the right general contractor to build the house. What people don’t realize is that building in Wasaga Beach is different than building anywhere else in the Georgian Triangle. Wasaga Beach has its own rules that are different then a lot of the townships.

There are a lot of little things that the town of Wasaga Beach asks for that most other municipalities don’t. A lot of these things can add a lot of money to your house project, money that will be above and beyond the budget that most general contractors will give you.

Depending on what location you are building in the town of Wasaga Beach you will be digging in completely different soil conditions for the foundation. One part of Wasaga Beach is basically built on a swamp and on the other side of Wasaga Beach you will end up building in pure sand. There is even a part of Wasaga Beach that is farm land. So one side of the town has major water problems where you will have to spend a lot of time and energy making sure that the building is water tight and the other side of the town you will never have to worry about water conditions. On that side of the town though everything you do will have to be geared toward protecting the residence against blowing sand and high winds.

The blowing sand with high winds are so bad that the houses built on that side of town are literally being sand blasted most of the year.

Depending on where you are going to live in Wasaga Beach will determine the style and use of your home. If you are closer to the water you will want it geared toward beach living and if you are on the other side of town you will want your house geared toward a more suburban residential living environment.

 You need to hire a general contractor that has built custom homes in Wasaga Beach before and knows all the pitfalls that can become of someone erecting a house there.
Wasaga Beach has a lot of contractors that will tell you how great they are and then will give you a quote on the back of a business card for your home project. This is not what you want to get yourself into; you want a trusted home builder that will give you a detailed quote so that you understand exactly what you are getting with that price.

If you are thinking about building a custom home in Wasaga Beach check out Village Builders Inc. You can find their website at They have been in the business of building custom homes all over the Georgian Triangle for the last 30 plus years. They have completed several new homes in the town of Wasaga Beach in the last couple of years that are some of the most talked about houses in the area. You want a builder that can get you the home you want for the price that you were quoted and still give you a very high end product. Village Builders can deliver this and more for your Wasaga Beach build, please give us a call at 877-866-3202 or check out the website to see pictures of our custom homes.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Top 5 Questions to Ask a Past Client in the residential construction industry

The Top 5 Questions to Ask a Past Client

A professional remodeling contractor just left your living room after an impressive presentation, one among the few you're considering for your home improvement project.

In addition to a brochure about his business and highlights of his recent work, he left behind a list of recent remodeling clients for you to call or email to ask about his work ethic, skill, and professionalism.

Now the ball's in your court to actually reach out to those references and gain some valuable inside knowledge about your remodeler before you consider negotiating and signing a contract for your project.

But what to ask? For many prospective clients, we suggest a few questions to solicit the kind of information that will help them make an informed and confident decision. Of course, you may have your own agenda and priorities, which we encourage; if you need them, these questions just may help get the conversation going.

1. Did the workers show up? Few things get under a homeowner's skin faster and worse than a remodeler who doesn't arrive and leave the job at the same time every day. Not doing so shows a lack of respect for the client and poor communication skills, two death-knells for any contractor. A remodeler should be reliable and reasonably available and never be late, leave early, or skip a day without the homeowner knowing beforehand.

2. Was the jobsite clean? The best remodeling contractors leave the job site clean at the end of each day. They sweep and haul their trash away, store or take their tools, and stack their materials. Not only does the jobsite look good (as good as anything can under construction), but also is one that's safer should the owners want to check out the progress of the job on their own after work. Cleanliness also extends to how construction dust and debris are kept away from areas of the house that are still occupied and unaffected, a show of respect for the owners during a tumultuous time.

3. Did they finish on time ... or at all? Chances are, a remodeler who skips out on a job isn't going to provide those homeowners as a referral. But asking if a job was completed on time is a valid question that reveals the contractor's commitment and organizational skills. If the answer is "no," dig a little deeper into why; it may be that the owner made changes that caused some delays, or that bad weather was an unavoidable factor.

4. Did they finish on budget? Like finishing on time (or within the owner's expectations), finishing on budget indicates a remodeler's organizational and business acumen, specifically his cost-estimating skills. If the answer is "no," ask why and look for clues about change or special orders by the owner that may have been outside the scope of the original budget, or if the remodeler neglected to calculate a cost and tried to make the owners pay for it later.

5. Did they do a good Job? Probably the most important question. Some of the other negatives may be forgiven if the overall finish was exactly what the clients specified.  If the answer is no, then this should eliminate this contractor from your list .
This handful of questions probably does not satisfy all of your needs, but it's a start and often will inspire more questions that further reveal whether the remodeler you're considering is one you can trust and rely on to do the job right.

This is an article that was published in the Village Builders newsletter that is sent out to all past and future Village Builders Inc clients. The article was written by the President of Village Builders Doug Abbott. If you would like to be put on the mailing list for this, feel free to email me at and I will put you on the mailing list.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Do you want your house to look like it should be in a magazine?

Do you want your house to look like it should be in a magazine?

If your answer is yes, then there is a simple answer to your problem, hire an interior designer. There are a lot of reasons why you should hire an interior designer, here are just a few;

The homes in the magazines where all designed by interior designers. If you want your house to look like that then you need the same kind of professional that can give you what you want.
They have the experience to help the project move along and know where to find certain things that help take a normal room into something with a “wow” factor.
They will help free up your time to do other things that you should be doing instead of shopping for curtains and lamps.
They receive really good discounts on all manner of things, from door hardware to furniture and even paint.
They can communicate directly with the contractor so that you are not bothered with every little decision.
They are able to keep every room in a theme or a mixing of themes so that each room doesn’t clash or run together.
They will help stage your home giving it that magazine feel at the end of the project, helping you fall completely in love with your home renovation.
They can do detailed drawings, allowing you to see what you are getting before you have to pay for it. This also helps the contractor and sub trades to give you what exactly you want and a proper quote on it as well.
They can help you stay on budget with suggestions on how to reduce costs or alternatives to help you spend more on one thing and less on another.
They will help you identify new and upcoming trends so that you are able to keep your home current, which can also help your property value if you are thinking of selling.

So the next time you are looking through a magazine and are wondering if your home can ever look like that, remember that all it will take is the help of an interior designer.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.