Thursday, May 31, 2012

There's nothing to fear from your renovation contractor as long as you pick the right one!

Nothing to Fear

Do you know what most often hinders the success of a remodeling project? Fear. Fear of the unknown, of unscrupulous contractors, shoddy materials, of somehow getting caught in a money pit and ending up holding the bag.

This high level of concern is understandable. Home improvement, especially on a scale that requires significant structural and cosmetic work, is a complex undertaking. Most homeowners engage in this kind of project only once or twice in a lifetime. It requires a large financial commitment and there is a lot to learn.

Professional remodeling contractors understand and respect the uncertainty that can sneak up on clients and impact their enjoyment of the home improvement process. That understanding helps them support clients to identify and understand their concerns -- whatever they are -- and overcome them quickly and confidently.

In addition to being good listeners and problem-solvers, professional remodelers operate on solid business principles and practices that alleviate the majority of what clients often fear about the home improvement process, including:

Reliable partners. The best remodelers seek out, work with, and retain top-quality subcontractors and materials suppliers. These trade partners should possess similar philosophies and approaches to running a successful business and be committed to the same high level of construction quality and standards. This helps mitigate disputes, foster cooperation, and produce better results.
The best remodelers regularly review their trade relationships to ensure that their pool of subs and suppliers consistently delivers high-quality work at a fair price. That diligence protects your investment and helps remove the fear of poor workmanship and unreliable performance.

Record keeping. The best remodeling contractors are diligent (some say obsessive) about documenting their projects to make sure costs, schedules and progress align and meet their standards of quality and those of their clients.
For the same reason, those remodelers demand similar diligence and reporting from their trade partners -- not so much to keep them in line, but more to enable their own accounting processes to be complete, accurate and current.
As such, professional contractors can present completely transparent and reliable reports at any time to their clients to ease concerns about whether their home project is on track.

Protection. People remodeling their homes are often afraid that they'll somehow be on the hook for unpaid work or materials once the job is over and their contractor has moved on to the next project. It's a legitimate fear and an all-too-common reality.
Professional remodelers easily manage these concerns. As part of their standard business practices, they pay their bills on time and only from each project's budget. In addition, they routinely collect lien releases from their trade partners upon satisfactory completion of their work.
Collecting lien releases on a timely basis (as the project progresses, not just at the end) removes the chance that a subcontractor or materials supplier will make a claim for payment against the home or owners; in fact, the best builders provide copies of those lien releases so that owners can rest assured that the bills have all been paid.

Sophisticated remodeling contractors practice "fear management". They take a professional approach to their business and are sensitive to the concerns of their clients. They help clients manage any anxiety from project inception through final walk-through. The key, as always, is communication. Helping clients manage their fear goes a long way to keeping communication lines open and promote a satisfying experience for all.

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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New hiring trends in the construction industry for 2012

New hiring trends in the construction industry for 2012

The custom home building sector has taken a hit this past year. New custom home starts in most areas of Ontario are down compared to last year and are forcing general contractors to shed employees.

Most trades are being laid off from larger builders, even carpenters are not safe from the chopping block. In the past, carpenters have been immune to being laid off or outright released during lean times. Construction companies are shrinking by shedding salaries to lower overheard and stay competitive in a tighter market.

The biggest growth is in younger cheaper labour. Companies are trying to keep the cost of operations down and are turning to younger labour that can be trained to fill the void of the older generation that is being laid off because of their elevated wages. The problem with this is that there just isn’t enough skilled younger labour for everyone to hire. Companies that didn’t start hiring and training of younger person’s years before the 2008 market collapse are having trouble filling the void of labour today.

An ever growing upward trend is the hiring of women in the industry for all positions, this in the drive to find younger cheaper labour. In today’s construction climate it is a much friendlier environment  to work then it was twenty years ago, especially for female workers.

Traditionally women have been the secretaries or bookkeepers in construction companies. Today young women are now filling the roles of accountant, estimators, designers, draftsmen, labours and carpenters. Certain sub-trades are having a higher success rate of recruiting women, carpentry and electricians for example. Other sub-trades such as plumbers and HVAC installers are not making as many inroads with women.

 With the industry looking for younger people, companies are now advertising job notices in different ways. Gone are the days of posting the job in the local papers, the internet is the place to advertise job postings these days. There are companies that will advertise your add to all the major job websites in your area. They will manage your ad and make sure that it is been viewed in all the appropriate areas and not in areas that will be too far for people to commute to get to work. Young people today look to the internet for everything in their lives, this makes it a natural progression for them to find their employment on line as well.

Overall the industry is in a state of flux, with new workers coming in and older workers finding it hard to find good long term jobs with the higher salaries that they are accustomed too.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Rising cost of custom homes

Everything comes with a price.

When you are planning your custom home with your architect or draftsmen remember that it costs money to have the nice things in life.

More and more clients or perspective clients come to me and say they are shocked at some of the prices that contractors have given them on their custom home project. Since the recession, I have found that perspective clients came to us (general contractors) under the impression that custom homes and all there luxuries had gotten cheaper. It’s not true; actually the price for custom homes has risen since the recession started. There are a couple of things that have attributed to this;
  • ·      Taxes. Taxes have changed in the province of Ontario, with the HST coming in we now are charging tax on all parts of the house. This has driven the cost of custom homes up by thousands of dollars by itself.
  • ·        Material. The raw material for custom homes has gone up since the recession. When the crash of 2008 happened a lot of the businesses that supplied material to the construction industry either downsized or went out of business. This drove the price of raw goods up instead of down. With less competition and less product on the market then the price of products always goes up.
  • ·         Construction Industry itself. The industry is under a recession only in some parts of the province. In a lot of places the industry has maintained itself or has even grown. Even though there are more contractors looking to build houses, there seems to be more houses to build.
  • ·         Baby boomer generation. With the large baby boomer generation reaching retirement age, it has created its own bubble of growth that is fueling the construction economy. This boomer generation is the largest and wealthiest group of people to ever reach retirement age and is generating endless jobs in the construction industry in certain parts of the province.
  • ·         Clients asking for more service. The boomer generation wants service and not just someone to build them a house. Companies are increasing their office staff to keep up with client demand for personnel service. As you increase staff so goes your overhead, as your overhead increases so do the cost of doing business. Contractors now are hiring interior designers to help their clients work through the endless options that you can find in stores and on the internet. You used to just hand a client a bill, now they are asking for a breakdown of bills to understand where the money goes and were they are with payment of the hold backs. More time now has to be spent with face time with clients and answering their emails and phone calls.
  • ·         Building code changes. The building code in Ontario has gone through a radical change this year. Energy efficiency which was an option for people that wanted to pay the higher price is now part of the building code. This has drove the price of custom homes up, with home owners being told they have to have more insulation installed throughout the home, higher efficiency furnaces installed and HRV’s as a standard piece of equipment. It is a good thing that the province is working toward more efficient home, but it raises the cost of your home when you build it.
  • ·         Wsib premiums and insurance costs have risen. Insurance for general contractors, the building of the home and WSIB premiums have all been rising every year. This means that the cost of doing business is ever increasing.
  • ·         Modern convinces. With the explosion of technology to run your home with computer software growing every year it has forced contractors to install a lot of extra wiring for electrical and structured wiring for audio, video, automation and internet. With in-ceiling speakers, audio controls on the walls and home theatres the costs keep going up. Multi headed showers, steam showers, heated floors, residential elevators, dog showers, automatic lighting, LED lighting and many more convinces that never existed before are driving the price per square foot through the roof.
  • ·         Internet and TV exposure. With the use of the internet and home shows on television showing you the latest and greatest things in homes, people are exposed to things that they never would have thought that they needed before. So the more things that you want in your home the more it will cost to build it. It used to be that your selection was limited to what your architect or builder had used before, now the possibilities are endless.
  • ·         Being Green. With everyone thinking about the environment especially when they are constructing their new home, home owners are now actively looking for better options then the traditional ones. This is a wonderful trend that is well over due in home building. The only problem is that being green tends to cost the green. Products that are usually green tend to be a higher end product and last a lot longer, with this comes an increased price tag. It also usually means that there are less suppliers of the product which also allows them to keep the price tag higher.
  • ·         What used to be luxury is now the norm. Granite counter tops were always a luxury that you found in high end kitchens. Now all kitchens in new homes are granite and almost all bathrooms have granite tops for their vanities. Vinyl floors used to be the norm for a lot of bathrooms and laundry rooms. Now it is tile with heated floors underneath.

Like everything in life if you want the finer things in life they come with a price. You would be surprised, maybe even shocked on how little general contractors actually make on building a custom home. If you do your research before asking a contractor for a budget you will be able to avoid sticker shock. Just remember that the more things you want in your house the more it will cost in the end.

When you are planning the budget for your custom home try this simple little routine. Make a list of all the things you want in the house, no matter what it is and how much you think it will cost put it on the list. Then break down the list so that you have several columns for example;

Most haves
Largest wants
Only if we can afford it
Hardwood floors
Large Kitchen
Geo-thermal heating
Back up gas generator

If you make a list like this then you should be able to help design your budget and get the most value out of your custom built home. This will also allow your general contractor to give you a price on your custom home that is broken down.

This will allow your general contractor to put the first two columns together for your budget and give you the last two columns as options. This way you can stay focused on what you want in the house with the budget you can afford.

If you want a professional estimate and or budget on a custom home that you are thinking about building feel free to email me at or visit our website at
We would love to help bring your dream custom home to life, on budget and on time.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wasting Water and Flushing Dollars

Wasting Water and Flushing Dollars

Too often, talk about "green" remodeling places an emphasis on energy efficiency. By contrast, the issue of water -- its scarcity, health, and significance to sustainability -- is often overlooked or discounted.

That's because in North America, we take water for granted; not only is it cheap, it is relatively abundant and clean. But while an average bathtub may hold 40 gallons of water, many people in developing countries survive on 8 gallons of water or less per day. In fact, an estimated 800 million people worldwide lack access to safe water supplies and 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease.

Domestically, recent seasonal and longer-term droughts in several areas have triggered restrictions and household quotas on water use. In fact, average residential water rates have climbed 10 percent nationwide since 2009.

As a professional remodeler looking out for the welfare of our homeowner clients and our community, we accommodate requests and comply with all building code requirements to reduce a home's water consumption.

In many cases, we can replace water-wasting plumbing fixtures and fittings with low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads, to automatically reduce water use without our clients noticing much (if any) difference in their convenience and performance; the latest clothes washers, dishwashers, and water heating systems also can aid that effort (and save energy, too). All of those products are readily available, generally affordable.

But as much as these "embedded" water savings reduce consumption, there is more that we can do. We encourage homeowners to keep their water use in check with some simple changes to their lifestyle habits.
One easy way to save water at home is to limit the length of showers and avoid filling the bathtub unless necessary. Turn off the bathroom faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.

In addition, homeowners can save water by running only full loads of laundry and dishes. If you have to hand-wash some dishes in the kitchen, fill one basin with soapy water (to clean/scrub) and another with clear water (to rinse) rather than continuously running the faucet.

As much as those lifestyle adjustments can reduce water inside your home, making some changes outside can be even more impactful. Easy stuff, such as using a broom instead of a garden hose to clean off your driveway or patio and washing your car less often can save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
But the real culprit of outdoor water waste is landscaping, and especially turf grass areas. If you can adjust or replace your lawn sprinklers with more targeted, rotating heads that limit overspray and set up a drip irrigation system for trees and shrubs, you'll see a significant reduction in your water use.
With that, consider putting your irrigation system on a timer and setting it to run in the early morning to reduce evaporation.

You can also install small rainwater catchment systems, which can be used for seasonal flower beds or hanging plants instead of using potable water for those needs.

With so many areas in the developing world so desperate for clean, healthy drinking water, and our costs continuing to rise, can we afford to take water for granted?

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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Siding and stone, what has changed on the outside of your new home in the past 20 years

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 7

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;

Exterior wall coverings

Twenty years ago wood siding, vinyl siding and brick were popular and were usually the standard application. Cedar shiplap was also very popular for cottages and chalets; it was usually installed raw and left to fade silver.
These days there are so many more options for the outside of the walls and there has been a lot of advancement in how it is all installed on the exterior of today’s houses. Here are some of the options that are popular now and also some of the installation methods that have become standard for those new exterior finishing’s and the ones that have been used for years;

Natural stone. Natural stone is a very popular choice these days. Whether it is the full 4” stone or the newer sliced stone that is only 2” thick and installed like cultured stone, stone when properly installed should last a life time. It is also a timeless look, stone really never goes out of style; it just costs a lot more than other exterior finishes.

Manufactured stone. Manufactured stone has come a long way in a couple of decades. There are better ways to install it, so that the stone gets a chance to breath, allowing drying of the stone so that there isn’t freezing and thawing, those preventing the breaking of the mortar joints. Also the colours and definition of the stone have come a long way, making it look more like real stone than ever before.  It is also the cheaper alternative to natural stone.

Cement siding. Cement siding is what it sounds like, siding made out of cement. Cement siding comes in a lot of colours and styles; it also gives you a longer life then wood siding because there is nothing to rot. Some draw backs are that it is difficult to work with because it is made of cement and because it is very fragile until it’s installed. It is also extremely heavy to lift and manipulate. The price is higher than wood siding, but it does give you a maintenance free exterior.

Pre-finished wood siding. Wood siding has come a long way in twenty years. The paint now applied in the factory has a 15 to 20 year warranty on it. That means that the chances of you having to paint the house while you own it are rather small. Also you have the option to get your siding in pressure treated wood instead of just pine. This is a great thing for houses that are built in places like the beach were you and the siding could be sand blasted. With new products like cedar breather, more ventilation is allowed behind the siding, keeping it dry and rot free. A big trend with wood siding is only doing part of the house, the first 4 feet is done in stone.

Pre-finished cedar shakes. Today you can have cedar shakes pre-finished in any colour that you want. This gives the paint a longer life and thus giving the cedar shakes a longer life on the side of your new home.

Look for part 8 coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

There has been a doubling of construction defects between 2000 – 2005 in new homes

There has been a doubling of construction defects between 2000 – 2005 in the United States according to the Bloomberg Business Week reports.

“How?” you ask in a modern society can we be having these kinds of problems? A lot of it comes down to education and a lack of project over site. Let’s talk about the education factor first;

Education: A lot of General Contractors have been building houses in the same way for the past two or three decades. A lot of contractors only made changes when they are forced into it by a few things. These are as follows;
Price of older material or techniques compared to newer cheaper manufactured and better engineered    for installation ones
designers or architects that have made changes because of cosmetic or trends
Continued governmental building code changes.

If the builder changed for any of the above reason they probably didn’t take the time to become educated on the new product that they were using. With new products come new installation methods, also when you bring a new product into the building envelope of a home it can have an effect on a lot of the other components of the house. This lack of education in the products that you are using can and does leads to part or all of the building’s failing’s. This can show up in a matter of months or can show up a decade later, but it does eventually show up. When this happens it usually ends up costing the homeowner money, discomfort and stress.

Taking the time to educate yourself on new products is not as hard as it used to be in the modern world. Contractors used to have to go to seminars that ran for multiple days just to find out all the new trends and products that are being applied to new homes. In today’s computer era a lot of the information can be found on the internet. It can be found from many different sources as well; bloggers, company websites, magazines and newspaper articles that are available online. Contractors are also able to contact the manufacture directly by email, allowing them to have installation specifications sent directly to their in box.

Over site:  Now that you have taken the time to educate yourself and the employee’s in your company about how and why the new products and techniques are to be installed you have to take the time to make sure that they are followed. Most general contractors do not employ people to do every facet of a home build. They hire sub-trades to do things like the plumbing, mechanical, tiling and electrical. Because of this you will have to make sure that your sub-trades are informed about the changes so that they know what they have to do and why they are doing it. You also have to make sure that you have a supervisor that is on site to watch the sub-trades to make sure that they know what they are suppose to be doing and what is expected of them in the form of quality and craftsmen ship. You also need your supervisor there to answer any questions the sub-trades might have because of the new techniques and products.
This is the best way to make sure that as a contractor you are giving your client a worry free home for decades to come and also to save yourself money and time in costly repairs in the future.

So when you are looking for a general contractor to build your next custom home make sure that you find out if they are up to date in all the latest building practices. This will help insure that you don’t have to have costly repairs done in the future.

 If you are looking for a builder that is continually at the front edge of new construction technology please checkout Village Builders at

Rob Abbott
Operations Managers
Village Builders Inc.

Statistics were gathered from a Fine Home Building magazine article “The Trouble With Building Science” summer 2012 no.227

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Construction safety pays

Safety Pays

There's no getting around it: construction can be a hazardous job. We say "can be" because professional remodeling contractors respect those hazards and equip and train their workers and subcontractors to mitigate safety issues as much as possible. By doing so, those remodelers protect their businesses and their clients from liability.

The Construction Safety Association of Ontario provides specific guidelines and regulations for construction regarding the prevention of accidents on construction sites, this is called the Occupational Health and Safety Act . The Workers Safety & Insurance Board of Ontario ( WSIB) administers the Occupational health and Safety Act. The penalties for failing to comply with those rules range from hefty fines to shutting down the job until violations are corrected.

Professional remodelers not only comply with those regulations, but often take extra steps to help ensure a safe working environment on every project, and to help keep everyone out of harm's way.
Inspection. As directed by WSIB, professional remodeling contractors continually inspect their job sites for potential hazards, and may even have a safety manager that regularly visits each site. Common hazards may include ladders or scaffolding that are unsecured or set on uneven ground, unmarked trenches, or an incomplete or missing first aid kit.

If violations are found, they are quickly reported and remedied to get the company back into compliance. And, they are corrected for the next job.
Education and Training. It is critical to continually educate workers, to train and equip them to recognize and avoid construction job site hazards and accidents.

In addition to a written safety and health program required by WSIB, professional remodelers often conduct what's called "Toolbox Talks" on the subject of safety, perhaps showing a video, presenting a report, or (even better) showing workers a real-world example of a common hazard and how to remedy or avoid it.
Contractors who are dedicated to safety also equip their crews with the latest in safety gear, from guardrails on ladders and scaffolding to hard hats, gloves, eye protection, and personal harnesses -- and keep that gear in optimum working order. These remodelers also require their trade partners to follow these same safety procedures with their employees.

Incentives. Smart remodelers often use incentives to help ensure safety. A worker who reports or remedies a job site hazard may earn a bonus, time off, or some other reward that recognizes his or her initiative and sets an example for the rest of the crew.
Remodeling contractors may also track and publicly post job site safety achievements, such as the number of days without an accident or time lost to a job site injury. Those accomplishments may earn the company recognition from WSIB or acknowledgement from the company that insures the builder against liability and worker's compensation -- lowering the remodeler's overhead costs and enabling them to be more competitive for future jobs.

Including Owners. Savy and safety-conscious remodelers know that their homeowner clients will want to occasionally visit the job site or walk through the affected area to see progress, make decisions and discuss concerns. Safety is no less a priority for those instances.
Homeowners can go a long way to keeping themselves safe on the job site by following the same rules and procedures as the crew. We encourage them to wear hard hats and safety goggles and avoid visiting and walking through sections of the house being remodeled without supervision, after hours, and on weekends, as they may not be aware or are unprepared to avoid hazards.

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, May 14, 2012

What are construction hold backs and how do they work with my general contractor?

“What are hold backs and how do they work with my general contractor?”

This is a common question I am asked by my perspective clients. Here is the answer;

What is a hold back?

A hold back is a percentage of money that you are billed that you do not have to pay right away. So if you get a bill for $1000.00 for electrical rough-in and your agreed hold back is 10% then you would write a check for $900.00. The $100.00 you didn’t pay is the hold back on the electrical rough-in. You paid the $900.00 because the electrical sub-trade gave your general contractor a bill for $1000.00, they submitted the bill because they have completed that portion of work. The general will take the $900.00 you paid for the electrical and pay the electrician. The electrician is still owed the $100.00 by you but knows they will have to wait to get it. The holdback is held by you the homeowner for 45 days and then the remaining balance is paid to the general contractor, the general contractor then pays the electrician. The percentage of holdback can vary depending on the deal you have made with your general contractor. 10% seems to be the overall standard when building a custom home.

The reason for the holdback is so that if the general contractor or the homeowner finds any issues with the work that has been completed then they are able to get the sub-trade to return and fix any problems or mistakes. Think of it as a guarantee that the work the sub-trade has completed is done the way it was specified by you and the general contractor and was completed in a legal and proper manner.
The sub-trades do not have to be completely finished to bill you, in large jobs there is multi billing cycles. For example; when the plumber has 50% of a large plumbing job complete they then will bill for the amount of work they have completed. This helps with their cash flow and helps them pay for the material that they have already purchased and installed.

Because you could end up with dozens of hold backs at any one time as your house is being constructed, your general contractor will separate them on your bill. This will help you understand at what stage each holdback is currently sitting and also what holdbacks are being released because the appropriate amount of time has passed.

Can I refuse to pay the holdback if there is warranty work to be done on my custom home?

The answer is no, no you cannot use warranty issues as an excuse to not pay the holdback. The reason that it is called warranty is because it is an agreement with the general contractor that certain things will be warranted. A warranty is only available to homeowners after you have paid all money’s owed to the general contractor. No general contractor will warranty a house when they are still owed money on it.

Because billing can be very complicated when you are having a custom home built, you need to make sure that you are hiring a general contractor that will give you bills that are broken down so that you as a laymen call read and understand it. You don’t want to have to hire an accountant just to understand your general contractor’s bill. You want to be able to quickly read the bill so that you can raise any issues with your contractor and then get on with paying the bill. A general contractor that takes the time to give you a properly worded and organized bill will make the building process easier for you the homeowner and them the builder.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Can your marriage survive your renovation?

Can your marriage survive your renovation?

Your marriage is probably the last thing that you are thinking about when you are planning to have renovations done on your home, it should be one of the most important things that you think about when you are planning on renovations.

In the last 15 years I have seen normal couples marriages fall apart in front of me to the point where I wonder why they are together at all! I have seen couples argue over the smallest of issues like where the toilet paper roll should go and if there should be chrome or brushed nickel door stops. It is amazing what a renovation will do to a happy couple’s relationship.

The reason for all of this is simply stress. Nothing puts more stress onto a marriage like a renovation. It hits all the major points that couples argue about;

Money. How much to spend and on what to spend it on.

Personal choice. Two people will have two different styles and two different viewpoints. One person will always have to compromise.

Personal favourites. If one half of the couples favourite colour in the world is green then they will want it everywhere, that will probably not go over well with the other half who enjoys beige. Striking a balance that will work for everyone and not leave your house looking like a patchwork quilt will be difficult.

The invasion of personal space. There is nothing to put a woman on edge then for some unknown people to come tramping into their home and see everything they own. Not knowing if someone is going to accidently walk in on you while you are doing something private.

Dust and debris. No matter how careful a contractor is there will be some amount of dust that will drift around the house. Handling the dust and the noise of construction can be extremely irritating.

Those are just the stressors that build between the married couple before and during a renovation. You might be thinking that those don’t sound that bad and that you and your better half would have no problem handling them because you have no trouble handling them now. Well what you don’t realize is that once the renovation starts and all of those above happen all at once then you and your partner will start to realize the enormity of the situation that you have gotten yourself into.

Add on top of all those “me your contractor.” I am standing in front of you telling you that because of mold that we found in the walls after demolition started we are going to have to ask you to leave the house that you are living in now so that we can properly spray it to make sure that it is dead. This also has caused me to push back the time line on the finish date by a week and it will also add some money to the budget because of the cost to remove the mold that no one knew was there. On top of that I will tell you that the kitchen plan that you have drawn up yourself doesn’t fit in the room and that your going to either have to re-think the whole layout of the kitchen or hire a professional interior designer as well. If we can’t come up with something quickly then the time line will be pushed back even further. I also hand you a list of questions that I have that go from what type of flooring to what colour are your walls to be, don’t worry I only need answers on them in the next 3 weeks. Some of them I will need quicker depending on what type of material you pick. At the end of our 3 hour meeting where you are standing in the middle of your home that is torn apart with all your furniture piled into the two rooms that are your clean rooms that are not going to renovated and the one room you are trying to live in I hand you your bill....

This is a pretty normal day in the renovation industry, these things tend to happen and they happen to couples more often who don’t do some key things that can help your marriage survive your renovation;

Plan. It might sound obvious that you need to do planning before starting your renovation but what you don’t realize is the depth that you should plan before hand. Every single decision that you make before your renovation starts is a decision that you and your partner will not have to make during the stressful renovation. People who make decisions under stress tend to regret them later. If you have enough time, try to pick everything that you can think of before you even start, this will help you with your budget and your stress level.

Budget. Set your budget but make sure that you set your budget realistically. If you want a house that looks like it came out of a magazine then you should set your budget higher then lower so that you know that you can afford it. Add in to your budget an overrun percentage, usually 10% is enough to cover everything. This will also help you handle any hidden problems that your contractor will have to fix for you that were not in the budget. Things like water damage or poorly constructed bearing walls that need to be fixed. Also mold, bug and rodent infestation.

Hire professionals. Hire a general contractor that you trust and that can give you what you want. They should also be able to give you a proper budget for the renovation. If you are looking for your house to turn out to look like a magazine you should hire an interior designer. A professional interior designer will know simple cost effective tricks that will make your renovation come out looking spectacular.  A lot of the time what they save you with their connections and the discounts that they receive usually pays for their salary. They are also able to free up time for you to make other decisions.

Talk to each other. Make sure that the lines of communication stay open and active. You need to discuss all the choices and you should try to remain calm. Remember that when your contractor asks you for an answer on certain things he won’t mind if you walk away into another part of the house for 5 minutes to discuss it between the two of you. If you are rushed to make a decision make sure that both of you agree on it so that you don’t have any problems later.

Try to take meetings with your contractor together. This way any decisions made are not a surprise to your better half. Nothing adds stress like being left out of the loop on even the smallest decisions. This also helps your contractor because the worst thing for a contractor is when you have one half of a couple telling them one thing and the other half of the couple tells them the opposite. This can cost money and add a lot of time to the project.

A good contractor will be able to help the two of you work through your decisions and issues. I have personally changed the subject when couples started into full out yelling matches in front of me and had to side with one party or the other to help end an argument. Remember you want your marriage to last as long as your newly renovated house so talk to each other. Your marriage is worth more than any single renovation.

If you want a company that can help you through your renovation so that you are still married at the end of the project feel free to give us a call at 877-866-3202. Or visit us at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Low cost-High impact home cosmetic changes when renovating

Low Cost – High Impact
Home Cosmetic Changes

How would you like to add a little magic to your home?

Simply applying a fresh coat of paint to a room can have an amazingly positive impact on how you feel about your home. It also adds value for a potential buyer. The effect is almost magical and well worth the cost of a few gallons of paint and a weekend's worth of time.

Making small cosmetic changes to your home can go a long way toward reviving your enjoyment of your living space. Changes as simple as tiling a backsplash, hanging a new front door, installing new bath faucets, new mirrors and lights can make a big difference.

We advocate that homeowners plan and budget for affordable, impactful cosmetic projects regularly. That way, they can reap the benefits of living in a more comfortable and personalized environment while continuing to improve and boost their home's value. But what qualifies as a small-scale cosmetic project, and which ones have the most value specifically regarding resale? Here's a short list to consider:

Painting. Few homeowners realize how dingy and faded a painted wall or house can become over time. It really is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do. Even if you paint the room or house the same color as before, it will take on a fresh new look and feel.
While an exterior paint job is certainly a larger investment than a single room project (and perhaps best done by professionals), the expense is still relatively small compared to its impact.
For even greater appeal, consider a palette of colors for the main body of the room or house with contrasting yet complementary colors for the trim and accents areas. For a room, think about painting one wall a dramatic, deep color that will both highlight and add interest.

Bathroom Revival. Got a bathroom that needs a little sprucing up, if not a complete overhaul? Removing old wallpaper, replacing faucets and towel bars, installing new light fixtures, and swapping out that big, long mirror for smaller framed units over each vanity sink are all relatively easy and affordable cosmetic improvements that can make a big difference to you and your home's value.
You can achieve more efficient water use by installing low-flow faucets and showerheads.

Lighting. As long as you don't change the locations of your lighting fixtures in the ceilings and walls around your house, you can make a low-cost yet highly impressive statement by updating those fixtures.
Consider choosing a consistent style and finish in your lighting products for all your rooms, from living areas to bathrooms and even the laundry room. The style can be reflected in all your lighting applications -- chandeliers, pendants, globes, and sconces.

Hardware. Swap out your door handles and kitchen and bath cabinet pulls for an easy and affordable do-it-yourself improvement project. Depending on your style preference, you may choose to be consistent in the finish and overall style, or you may mix it up with different styles of knobs and levers.
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, May 7, 2012

Choosing your fume hood early will save you money and time in the building of your custom home

If you want to make sure that your general contractor is able to install your kitchen in time in your new custom home then you should buy the fume hood for the stove early on.

If you take the time early on in the building of your custom home or even before it starts to pick out the appliances for your kitchen then you will be able to pick out the fume hood for the stove.

The fume hood for the stove in your new kitchen is one of the most important pieces of the kitchen when it comes to kitchen installations. It might not be that important to you, but to the builder it affects a lot of the things going on in the building process.

Here are some of the things that the fume hood in your new custom home will affect if you don’t purchase it in an appropriate time frame;

Fume hood placement in a kitchen can affect the framing. If the exhaust for the fume hood is larger than anticipated costly reframing of constructed walls can have too take place.

Siding installation. Without the proper piping through the wall the siding on one side of your new home cannot be completed.

Insulation. Walls cannot be properly insulated without the proper piping placed through the wall. Installing the piping after the insulation has been installed takes more time and can make it more difficult to get a tight air seal.

Electrical wiring. Depending on the model of the fume hood, you could require electrical lines on the inside of the building or the outside of the building. Some fume hoods have their electric motors mounted on the outside of the building and some are installed on the inside over the stove.

Drywall. Without the fume hood piping no drywall can be done in that area. Also your drywall bulkheads cannot be installed over the kitchen because there needs to be proper clearance left for the piping. If you do not leave enough clearance for the piping it could interfere with the metal track that is used to build drywall bulkheads.

Kitchen designers can have a difficult time finalizing a proper plan for you if they don’t know how much room to leave for the fume hood when it pertains to the upper cabinets. There are also a lot of design details that go with a fume hood. Depending on the size and shape of the hood, it will affect the finished look of the area around the stove.

H-vac. The H-vac might have to be adjusted depending on the size and power of your fume hood. If you buy a fume hood that is too big then the h-vac installers have to make adjustments to the system to help balance the pressure in the home. This can cost you more money and can be as expensive as installing extra fans in the intake pipes to help balance the pressure.

So remember when you are planning out your new custom home makes sure that you make as many choices as possible before the building process starts. This will help your custom home build proceed more efficiently and in a timely manner. This will help you save money and time in the long run.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders inc.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Can I have a house professionally renovated to sell and make money?

Can I have a house renovated to sell and make money?

Here is a question I have been asked by quite a few people; “can I have a contractor renovate a house and sell it to make money?”  The answer very simply is YES.

There are a few things that you need to do to make sure that you can make money;

Purchase the home when it is undervalued because it needs to be renovated.

Purchase a home in a good location that has enough square footage and lot size that makes it appealing to a clientele that will want to live in the area.

Hire a general contractor before you buy the home, pay him a small fee to look at the home with you and advise you on a rough budget of what it would cost to renovate and sell the home in a timely manner.

Make sure that you buy a house with what we call “good bones”. You want to buy a house that needs to b e cosmetically renovated and not structurally fixed.

If you have to fix things behind walls, like structural supports, insulation, wiring, plumbing ect, then these fixes will eat into your budget faster than the cosmetic ones will. These fixes will not help you get the maximum return on the property because they can’t be seen by the normal house buyer.

A great thing to do is hire a general contractor with a good reputation in the community for doing high quality work. You can then use their name when you are selling the home. A lot of people want to buy a house that has already been finished; they do not want to go through the hassle of renovating. So if you can spend $100,000.00 on renovating the home you could turn around and sell it for $200,000.00 more than you paid for it.

To do this you need to concentrate on certain areas of the house.  Kitchens and bathrooms are the biggest impact. All though redoing kitchens and bathrooms are not cheap they will bring you the greatest return on investment.

You should work with an interior designer as well, for the small fee that it will cost you to have them help you can save a lot of time and money doing your renovation.  Interior designers can give you simple idea’s that can make the home look a lot better for a little money. Things such as paint colours can make a big difference in the resale value of a home.

If you document the entire project then when you are trying to sell the home you can show people everything that has been done to it. You can show pictures of what has been fixed and repaired in the walls and floors that people can’t see. This will help give perspective clients faith that the house they will be purchasing from you has been renovated to the highest standard and done with the proper permits and under the proper building codes.

Just remember that there is money to be made when renovating homes to sell but it all starts before you even buy it, buy the proper home and you can ask the proper price. Ask the proper price and you will get the proper buyer that will pay you enough so that you can make a profit.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Renovating: Excellence vs. Perfection

Remodeling: Excellence vs. Perfection

Famous football coach Bill Walsh was known for demanding perfection from his players during practices, even though he knew they would never attain it. His philosophy was if you don't strive for perfection, you don't have a chance to achieve it.

As professional remodeling contractors, we follow the same philosophy; plan for perfection to attain excellence. Like Coach Walsh, we don't stand a chance of delivering an excellent remodeling project that satisfies a client's wants and needs if we don't set and expect the highest standards possible.

In the pursuit of excellence, we coach our clients about the remodeling process so that their expectations are high but realistic. We want them to push and challenge us to always do better, but it is also our job to define excellence ... and point out the difference between it and perfection.

Our best and most effective method for doing that is listening. Really listening. Not just to find out what changes our clients prefer, but why and how those improvements will satisfy their lifestyle needs. Not just about their desire to lower energy bills, but how they define comfort and convenience and their ability and interest in maintaining high-performance products and systems.

In this discovery phase, we craft a strategy for a remodeling project that truly addresses and justifies our client's reasons for making such a significant investment and sets us on course to deliver it according to those expectations.

It is also critical to maintain a regular and open line of communication during the construction process. As during the planning stage, our first job is to listen to and then educate and inform our clients about the subtleties of residential remodeling that are specific to their concerns.

Responding to a client's question with "that's just the way it is" or "it's complicated" is unacceptable. Instead, we strive to deliver details, demonstrate our methods, and ensure that questions are answered to a client's satisfaction. That approach and level of respect helps build a better understanding of our work process all the way through the end of the job.

Finally, a key component of delivering excellence comes after completion, once a client is able to enjoy their remodeled home. We make sure to communicate our policies and procedures for warranty service -- once again demonstrating the difference between perfection and excellence. Ideally, we've done an excellent job of remodeling the home to the point where service callbacks are kept to a minimum; for those small warranty items that crop up after completion, we work to be responsive and responsible to address them in a timely fashion.

As a homeowner, it's okay to want the "perfect" remodeling project. The best we can do, however, is to strive for perfection and achieve excellence that satisfies the lifestyle needs of our clients and protects their investment now and well into the future.

Warm Regards,

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

(705) 466-3202 - Phone
(705) 466-3482 - Fax

 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, May 1, 2012

Being your own general contractor will make your home build take longer

Why being your own general contractor will make your home build take longer.

If you ever drove past a custom home being constructed everyday on your way to work and thought that it seems to take a long time for contractors to build custom homes, try being your own general contractor when you want to build a custom home.

On average, when I see a homeowner general contract their own home it takes twice the time. Let me put that in perspective, the average custom home build that we take on spans about 9 months to 15 months. That means that when a homeowner generals it themselves it will take an average of 18 months to 30 months to build their house.

Timelines are important when building a custom home, if you take too much time to build a custom home you will be exposing the open structure to the elements longer then they were designed to be. Here are some of the issues that you will have with timelines if you make the mistake and try to do it yourself;

Booking sub-trades. When you are building your own custom home you will have trouble organizing sub-trades. Sub-trades are loyal to contractors because they bring them work year after year. This means that they will give their contractors the first call. If you the homeowner call and ask for electricians you will get them if the contractors don’t need them. Also what you will find is that the sub-trades won’t show up every day because they’ve gotten a call from a contractor to do a fix up or a short job for them. Also a large portion of sub-trades are one man shows or they have under 5 employees. These trades are very good at what they do but they as the owner of the business work on job-sites every day. This means that as a homeowner that doesn’t know their schedule or routine you will have trouble getting a hold of them. Don’t make the mistake in thinking that just because they have a cell phone that you will be able to reach them.

Paying of sub-trades. If you have ever seen bills submitted by sub-trades you would realize why they work for themselves. Their bills can be awful, hard to read, misspelled, handwritten with no copies and full of mathematical errors when it comes to charging taxes. It’s a fine line when paying sub-trades, if you negotiate too much with a sub-trade or refuse to pay some or all of their money that sub-trade will tell all other sub-trades that you wouldn’t pay. The construction industry is a small community and word travels fast. If you make the mistake with a sub-trade then you could be waiting and looking for sub-trades who will agree to work for you. I have seen some homeowners have to give large deposits up front to guarantee sub-trades will be paid. Sub-trades run their businesses on small amounts of money and if they have any fear of not being paid then they will not take on the job. Good sub-trades always have other work scheduled; never make the mistake of thinking that you are their only job.

Sourcing of materials and decisions. Nothing will drive sub-trades to leave a job more than a shortage of materials or unmade decisions. Since most homeowners don’t build houses on a regular basis, they have no idea in what order the sub-trades are suppose to be scheduled and what materials they will be required to supply. There are important decisions that general contractors make every day that keep a project moving. These decisions are made on prior history and years of making the same decisions over and over again. If you organize the sub-trades the wrong way it will cost you not just time but money. When you make decisions and don’t realize the consequences of them you can be forcing sub-trades to redo work they have already done. This will cost time and money.

Building department problems. General contractors regularly receive 1 week delays because of issues that arise when dealing with the local township building department. Homeowners go through a whole other level of scrutiny when dealing with the building department. What it comes down to is liability. With general contractors that the building department knows and have worked with before there is a level of trust, knowing their level of quality. With homeowners, building departments have to make sure that every single thing they do will meet code. This means that the building department will take longer to approve changes and will be stricter on inspections. The other thing that homeowners are not aware of is that township building inspectors make a lot of mistakes. General contractors are always discussing things with inspectors because they see an issue one way and the contractor has to point out what the wording in the code is. A lot of money can be wasted following a building inspectors every want and need instead of challenging them on it.

Mold. Modern building materials like floor joist are made with glue. Glue helps grow mold. Building envelopes when being framed and open to the weather are known to grow mold fairly well. This will cost the homeowner upwards of 10,000 dollars to have it properly removed and will delay the building process even longer. If you happen to end up with mold on a house inspection and it is placed in the townships file it could come back to haunt you in later years when you go to sell the house. The last thing a homeowner needs is trying to explain a mold warning on an old report to a perspective buyer.
These are only some of the issues that will arise if you try to be your own general contractor; I hope that I have given you some insight into the nightmare you can get yourself into if you try to be your own general contractor when you decide to build a custom home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.