Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Renovating do's and don’ts

Renovation dos and don’ts

Do set a proper budget before you decide to start any renovations.

Don’t do cosmetic renovations when your home is in need of serious repairs. A lot of people fall into the trap of renovating places like their bedrooms, basements or mudrooms when their kitchens or their bathrooms are falling apart. Kitchens and bathrooms are accentual parts of your home and need to function properly for the family to function properly.

Do make sure that you have a reserve fund for emergencies. A lot of times when contractors start removing drywall and tearing up floors they find issues that they have to fix before they can proceed with the rest of the renovation. Electrical wiring, plumbing and load bearing beams are just some of the issues that can need to be fixed before you can properly proceed with a renovation. A contractor has a duty to fix something that could damage the house or hurt someone in the future. As the homeowner you can always refuse to let them do the repair, but why would you though when you know it will cause problems in the future.

Don’t spend all your money on the fixtures like ovens and fridges and neglect the cabinets. A lot of people think that they can purchase a cheaper kitchen and then brighten up with expensive appliances. This works until a couple of years down the road and the kitchen starts to fall apart and you either end up with a kitchen that looks a lot older then it is with nice appliances or a kitchen that is in such bad shape after a couple of years that people don’t even notice the fantasy appliances.

Do hire a professional interior designer to help you with all your choices. Something that people don’t understand is that whatever the cost is to hire an interior designer, you will make most of it back in the discounts and bargain finds that they are able to get you when they help you pick all the items in your in renovation. Also an interior designer can help lower the stress that you will be under during a renovation by making smart decisions for you.

Don’t hire a contractor that you haven’t had the time to check out. When I say checkout I mean you need to ask around to people that you know if they have used them. Ask for a list of references; ask to see some of the places that they have renovated and check the internet. This should take you sometime, the more time you put into researching and interviewing your contractor the better you will feel when you give them your money.

Do ask questions. No legitimate contractor will be upset with you if ask them questions. If you don’t understand why they did what they did that day then ask! The only thing that will happen is that you will be given an answer, if you don’t like the answer ask more questions. If you hired the right contractor then they will have nothing to hide.

Don’t start a renovation without a proper plan. If you are doing renovations that are extensive then you better have some sort of drawings so that everyone knows what is to be done. The worst thing to happen is if you have to give them a list of things you want them to do every day. Also if you don’t have a proper plan then the contractor could end up doing things twice, the more information the better and more efficient they can be with your money.

These are just some of the dos and don’ts of having renovations done.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tools used for Trimming Common construction terms 8

Common construction terms 8 Tools for trimming

Have you have ever been on a construction site talking to your contractor and been totally lost in the terms that they are using? Well I’m here to help; here are some common terms that contractor’s use that you might not understand.

Mitre saw. This is an electric saw that has a small deck to place the trim on. The saw can be swivelled left and right to cut the appropriate angle.

Sliding compound mitre saw. This is like a normal mitre saw, it has a small deck and can cut on desired angles turning the saw either left or right. The difference is that it has the ability to slide on rails out towards the user; this allows the user to make longer cuts then the length of the blade.

Coping. This is a technique for cutting and fitting inside corners together when installing baseboard trim.

Coping saw. This is a small saw that is used to cope trim. It has a very fine blade and is non electrical.

16 gauge trim gun. This is a trim gun used to install trim. The gun uses a 16 gauge nail.

18 gauge trim gun. This a trim gun used to install trim. The gun uses 18 gauge nails. This is a smaller nail size then a 16 gauge nail.

Pin nailer. This is another name for an 18 gauge trim nailer.

Mitre bond. This is a type of adhesive that is used to hold trim together at the corners and joints. It is a rapid drying adhesive that holds joints together within 20 seconds.

Finn saw. This is a saw that uses vibration to cut through material. There is no spinning blade. It allows you to cut a piece of trim or casing after it’s installed without damaging anything around it or having an over cut like a typical saw.

Wood filler. This is a paste like substance that is used to fill the holes created by the installation of nails in the trim; the paste allows the trim to be painted smooth.

Palm sander. This is sander that takes normal sand paper that is cut into small squares and then is attached to the bottom of the sander.

Orbital sander. This is a tool used to sand trim, it uses round discs, and the discs are spun in a clock wise rotation.

Breaking the edge. This is a term that refers to using a planer or a sander to soften or round a sharp square edge on a piece of trim.

Trim plane. This is a hand held non electrical plane. It is small enough to be used to break the edge of sharp corners on trim, leaving a more rounded edge.

Nail set. This is a tool used to drive trim nails into the trim below the surface. This allows the nail to be covered with wood filler. They are usually 3 to 4 inches long and come to a point at the end where the nail will be struck.

Punch. This is another name for a nail set.

Wonder bar. This is a small pry bar that is made thin enough so that you can slip it under trim without damaging it.

Biscuit jointer. This is a machine that is used to cut a small groove into the side of a piece of trim. Another groove is cut into the material that you want the trim to be attached with ie; the jamb of a window and the casing.

Biscuit. This is a small piece of wood shaped like a small football. It is installed in the groove cut by the biscuit jointer.

This should help you understand what your contractor is talking about the next time you have a meeting with them. Look for part 9 of common construction terms, coming soon.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Interior Designer in Creemore

The Best Time to Build?

NEW to Village Builders Inc.
We are constantly striving towards perfection in project management which leads to exceptional customer service, the art of having a build run smoothly without hiccups is everyone’s dream. The key ingredients are planning, scheduling and coordinating from the inside out. We are now offering a complete residential interior design service, from concept to completion.

I am excited to introduce that Village Builders is now working with local Interior Designers to help our clients. Interior Designers can help remove the confusion out of your project, answer your questions and outline a solid design plan.

How it works:

Step 1 - Village Builders will schedule a meeting with you, listen to your needs and requirements.

Step 2 – Village Builders will present a design plan that reflects your lifestyle, personality and budget

Step 3 – Cost estimating and scheduling target dates

Step 4 – Present floor plans, furniture placement, elevations, materials and product selections

Step 5 – Begin your project and increase the value of your home

This guidance helps minimize stressful decisions, saves time and money, and helps avoid costly mistakes.

We believe that regardless of the scope of your project; decorative, renovation or new construction each detail is fundamental to creating a home that reflects you personally.

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 www.robabbott@villagebuilders.ca

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trimming an existing interior door

How to trim an existing door.

When renovating a house one of the easiest ways to give the house a face lift is to change the trim. In today’s world there are endless options of style, size and material to pick from. Here is how to re-trim an existing door properly;

First things first remove the old trim. Try to remove the trim so that you do not damage or dent the door jamb, use a flat bar for this and you should have little to no problems.

Clean the existing jamb. Remove any nails, staples, caulking, and excess paint or wood splinters from the end of the jambs. This will make it simpler to install the door trim.

Check to see that the new trim you are adding to the door will not be impeded by the drywall. Sometimes the existing drywall can have humps and bumps in it that can push your trim out and make it quite difficult to install flat and straight. Cut any drywall back that is in the way but make sure that you don’t cut beyond where the trim will cover or you will be forced to do a drywall repair afterward.

Check that the door stills shuts properly now that the trim has been removed. Sometimes people do not realize that they are suppose to hang the door with shims before they trim the door, so instead they install the door so that the trim holds the jamb in place.

If the door needs to be adjusted, take the time and properly shim and nail the door so that it opens and shuts properly. You need to make sure that the door looks square and with a level check that the existing jambs are installed level. This will make it easier for you to install your trim.

To trim the door properly you will need the following tools;

Sliding compound saw or “chop saw”.
16 or 18 gauge trim gun or both with an air compressor.
Wood filler.
Tape measure and a pencil.
Hammer and a nail set.

You can get away with not using a lot of power tools but if you have more than one door to trim then I recommend that you either buy or rent the equipment, it makes a more professional job.

You always start with the piece of trim on the top of the door frame. This piece of trim will be probably be the shortest piece of trim on the door and it will be angle cut on both ends.

Measure the top piece of trim by measuring from the corner of your door frame to the corner of your door frame. Then add 1/8 of inch for each side so that you will have a reveal at the edge of the door frame. So if the measurement of the jamb widths is 36 inches then your measurement for the piece of trim will be 36 ¼”.
As long as the door you are trimming is close to square and level you should be able to make the two angle cuts on the top piece of trim at 45 degrees.

Cut one side of your trim with the 45 degree angle and then measure from the short point your 36 ¼” and make a mark. Then cut the opposite 45 degree angle starting at your mark cutting away from it. As long as you measured and cut properly this should fit on the top.

Line the piece of trim up so that you have an 1/8” reveal on each end to match your measurement and then line the piece of trim up so that there is an 1/8” reveal on the top of the jamb. Use the trim gun to nail the piece of trim in place, be very careful when nailing the trim to the jamb that you do not split the jamb.

Measure the side trim from the inside point of where your top piece of trim starts to the ground. Deduct 1/8” so that the trim will not rub on the floor.  When you cut the side trim cut the bottom end square first and then measure up the trim and mark it where you want to angle cut it. Cut your 45 degree angle. If the door is level and square the two pieces of trim should come together perfectly.

But since you are trimming an existing door you will probably have to adjust your cut so that the joints fit tighter together. When you have successfully obtained a tight fit on the joint between the two pieces of trim, nail it with the trim gun. Leave a 1/8” reveal on the jamb just like you did on the top piece of trim. Put a nail at the top corner of the trim so that the nail is driven sideways through both pieces of trim holding them together.

If you are worried about the trim pulling apart because of expansion and contraction adding wood glue to the joint between the two pieces of trim will help.

Do the other side of the jamb the same way that you have just completed the first.
Trim the whole other side of the door in the same manner that you trimmed this side and you should end up with a beautifully trimmed door.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Could my sump pump be the problem?

A LOT of people think that when they have a water problem in their basement and that the waterproofing must have failed. That’s not always the case, if you are living in a home that was built in the last 20 years you may have a problem with your sump pump.

First things first what is a “sump pump”;

A sump pump is a water pump that is installed in your basement usually in a plastic pail. The pail is called a sump pail or a sump pit; it is placed at the lowest possible spot in your basement. It is usually installed so that it sits below the concrete floor in your basement. The sump pump sits in the bottom of the pail; it will be electric and need to be plugged into the wall. It will have an exhaust pipe coming off the side or the top of it, this pipe should proceed up and out the wall away from the home. In modern homes the pail that the sump pump sits in will have one or several drain lines running into it. They will be coming from the weeping system on the outside of the building and sometimes from under the floor.

The reason for a sump pump is very simple; its job is to move water from underneath your basement floor and deposit it somewhere away from the building.

The reasons that we bother to install a sump pump are as follows;

It helps release the hydrostatic pressure on the basement floor and the foundation walls. If you have too much pressure from the water around the home it will start to find a way into the basement anywhere it can. It can be the cause of that damp smell when you walk into the basement.

It allows the weepers to move water away from the house foundation.

When you pump water that is under pressure from the surrounding ground it allows more water to flow into the void that has been created.

Sump pumps can act as an emergency backup in the spring and fall when high rain fall or snow melt saturate the ground and put enormous pressure on the foundation and basement floor of a home.
What you should have someone check or you could check yourself is if the sump pump is working properly.

Sump pumps are very simple machines and are fairly easy to check.

What you do is pull up on the float, the float is a small rubber shaped ball or a rod with a rubber ball attached to it. It depends on the kind of sump pump that you have. If you lift the rubber ball (the float) that is attached to the sump pump until it is at its highest point the sump pump should turn on. If before you get to the highest point that it will go to the pump does not turn on then the pump is not working.

If the sump pump doesn’t turn on when you lift the float then you should check a couple of things.

Check to see if the sump pump is plugged in.

If it is plugged in then check to see if there is power at that plug, plug something else in like a radio.

In a lot of sump pumps there are two plugs, one plug is the power to the pump and the other one is for the float. If either one of them is not plugged in then the sump pump won’t work.

If you have the kind of sump pump that sits on the bottom of the pail and is underwater then you need to check the bottom of the pump to see if any stones or debris have gotten in it and jammed the fan. This might require you to unscrew the base and look inside. Just make sure you unplug it from the wall first.

If the sump pump did turn on when you pulled the float then you need to check a couple of other things.

Make sure that when the sump pump starts pumping the water actually leaves the pail. If not then there could be something wrong with the exhaust line.

If when the sump pump turns on and it doesn’t empty most of the water out of the pail then there could be something wrong with the pump and you need a plumber.

If the water pours in faster than the sump pump can move it then you might need a second sump pump.

If you find that the sump pump is sitting above the water and not able to pump it then you will need to lower the sump pump. This might require you to physically lower the pail by digging it deeper.

The one other thing that you should check is where the exhaust line goes once it leaves your home. If the water is spilling out directly on the outside of your home then you are just cycling the water back to the pump. The exhaust line should run far enough away from the building that the water will have no chance in coming back.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The greatest value when building a custom home is through cost control

Greater Value through Cost Control

In today's recovering economy, everyone is price conscious. New-home construction is certainly no exception. As a professional builder, we understand how critical it is to establish and maintain a budget that everyone can both agree and rely upon from ground breaking to the final walk-through.

 When it comes to money, no one likes cost overruns or unpleasant surprises.

Builders are no exception. When a project's budget is busted, it's unlikely that the builder profits from it. More often than not, it's a cost that the company shares with the homebuyer. Going over budget not only erodes a builder's profit, but his reputation and potential for referrals as well.

As a professional builder, we are diligent about establishing a budget and actively managing that budget through construction for each new home we build. It is in everyone's best interest to make sure it stays on track.

Here are some methods we employ to accomplish that goal:

Value engineering. Value engineering is the practice of optimizing construction costs while maintaining (or ideally improving) housing performance and durability. It requires that the builder be on the project team from the outset, working with you and your design professional to identify and make the best use of materials and refine construction costs of your new home before breaking ground.

Negotiated subcontracts. The goal here is to attract the most talented and highest quality trade partners at the best possible price. The best builders have a stable of reliable and professional trade contractors with whom they work on a regular basis. Rather than focus on lowest price, and risk dropping his quality standards, a professional builder will take the plans and specifications to his best subs and negotiate a set cost for their work. After negotiations, those numbers are added to the budget and the contractors are held to their original estimates.

Price guarantees. Similar to negotiating with their trade partners, professional builders may seek to get guaranteed pricing from their materials suppliers as early, and for as long, as possible. Placing a pre-determined ceiling on prices is critical when material costs, such as lumber or copper, are volatile and likely to rise even before construction begins.

Details, details. Costs are more easily kept in check when every penny is tied to either a specific stage of the process (such as rough framing or roofing) or materials or products (such as a dishwasher or garage door). In this way, professional builders are able to track specific costs to a detailed scope of work and materials list.

Tracking costs. Professional builders don't wait until the end of the job to find out if they are "on budget". They set several key milestones during construction to make sure costs match the amount of work that's been completed. Tracking costs during the project allows discrepancies to be caught early, frequently before they impact the overall budget.

Tracking changes. While change orders are a part of virtually every home we build, they are the cause of most cost overruns and time delays during a new-home construction project.

This is not an area to leave to chance. Smart builders plan for change. They have formal policies and procedures in place to manage change requests and payments. These procedures make any changes to the scope of work as efficient as possible, minimizing cost overruns and time delays.

These strategies go a long way to ensuring cost control on a new-home project, protecting everyone from an unpleasant experience and helping ensure a high level of quality and customer satisfaction.

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 www.robabbott@villagebuilders.ca

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do you want to build a craftsmen style home?

If you want your new custom built home to be a craftsmen style house then you better make sure that your builder employ’s the highest quality of carpenters. If they don’t then you will probably not be happy with the final product.

When you are interviewing general contractors some of the things that you should be looking for are as follows;

The fit and finish of all the woodworking completed in the houses that the general contractor takes you too. This is one of the key things you should do when you interview a general contractor.

Make sure that you see their work in person, not just in a fancy picture book or on the internet. When you see their work in person then there is no way to hide flaws or problem areas.

When touring houses they have built that are a couple years old look to see how the workmanship of the woodwork has held up. It’s a subtle art to woodwork to make it look good and also to install it properly so that it lasts a long time.

General contractors do not employ all trades; electricians, plumbers, hvac, drywallers and painters are hired as sub-trades. Carpenters are what most general contractors employ. Employing carpenters can make building custom homes easier, it allows the general contractor to control the quality of the work and the overall fit and finish of the end product. Carpenters can also be used as on-site managers. Because a craftsmen style house has a lot of wood work in it, carpenters are onsite throughout the building process which allows them to oversee all the sub-trades that enter the work site. You would have to be building an extremely large house to need an on-site manager that solely managed the house. When I say large house, I mean a house that would be worth 5 million dollars or more.

Companies like Village Builders out of Creemore use their master carpenters not only to build their custom homes but also to be on-site managers controlling quality and craftsmen ship. Village Builders then use management to deal directly with the homeowners and to schedule all the sub-trades and order all the material. This insures that there is one person that is onsite for the construction of the entire home; it also insures that the little things never get overlooked when building your custom home.

Craftsmen style houses encompass a lot of natural products, mostly wood. They can have wood ceilings, wood floors, wood trim, wood mantles and even timber framing in the ceilings. This requires master carpenters that are comfortable working with all those different types of wood and the knowledge of installing them.

So remember if you are planning to build a craftsmen style house, it is important to find out the quality and workmanship of your general contractors carpenters, they are the ones that will make your house look like it should be in a magazine! If you are wondering what a well built craftsmen style house should look like check out our website at www.villagebuilders.ca

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trimming a custom home common construction terms 7

Common construction terms 7 Trimming

Have you have ever been on a construction site talking to your contractor and been totally lost in the terms that they are using? Well I’m here to help; here are some common terms that contractor’s use that you might not understand.

Base board. This is the trim that is installed at the base of the wall where the wall meets the floor. Traditional baseboard is usually larger than any other trim in the house.

Casing. This is the trim installed around doors and windows. It is typically smaller then the baseboard.

Back band. This is an accent piece of trim that is traditionally installed on the outside of the window and door casing. It helps give the casing a thicker wider look.

Build outs. This is the wood installed around the window frame. This wood starts at the windows edge and runs out to the face of the wall where it meets the casing.

Stool. This is a piece of trim that is installed at the bottom of the windows to help define the edge of the window. It usually is installed butting into the build out.

Sill. This is the trim piece that is installed on the window. It runs from the window edge out to the stool.

Apron. This is the piece of trim that is installed under the stool. This helps give the window a finished look. The apron typically is a piece of casing but not always.

Plinth blocks. These are wood trim blocks that are installed at the bottom edges of the door. The casing runs into the top of the block and the baseboard runs into the side of it.

Corner blocks. These are wood trim blocks that are installed in the upper corners of the door and windows, allowing the casing to run into them from both directions.

Crown Moulding. This is a trim that is installed on the ceiling. It spans the distance between the wall and ceiling, usually on a 45 degree angle.

Cove Moulding. This is a small piece of trim that is installed between chairs, stools and aprons; it looks like a small version of crown moulding.

Door stops. This is a piece of trim usually about an one inch wide that is placed on the door jamb. It stops the door from swinging right through the wrong way.

Cap moulding. This is a piece of trim designed to be placed on top of trim or bead board.

Chair rail. This is a piece of trim that is installed usually in the middle of the wall, flat on the surface. This helps define the wall and helps with a transition from one colour to another colour on the same wall.

Quarter round. This is a small piece of trim that is made at a right angle. Usually installed at a joint or where the baseboard meets the floor. It looks like one quarter of a circle when viewed from the end.

Battens. These are trims that are installed vertically on walls. They are usually used to hide were the joints of two panels come together.

Corner guards. These are trims that are manufactured in a way that allows you to install them on a vertical outside corner.

Half rounds. They are built to be installed to cover a joint in trim or panels on a vertical surface. If viewed from the end they look like half a circle.

 This should help you understand what your contractor is talking about the next time you have a meeting with them. Look for part 8 of common construction terms, coming soon.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Let your contractor help you with your fear of building a home

Nothing to Fear

Do you know what most often hinders the success of a new-home 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. Often our clients' home is their largest single investment. For many, this is their first experience building a home. And for all there is a lot to learn about new home construction.

As professional builders, we understand and respect our clients' concerns. Our job is to demystify the building process, help our clients identify and understand their concerns and overcome them quickly and confidently.

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

Reliable partners. We seek out, work with, and retain top-quality subcontractors and materials suppliers. Our trade partners possess similar philosophies and approaches to running a successful business and are committed to the same high level of construction quality and standards. This helps mitigate disputes, foster cooperation and produce better-built homes.

We constantly review our 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 builders are diligent (some say obsessive) about documenting their new-home projects to make sure costs, schedules and progress align and meet their standards of quality and those of their clients.

For the same reason, professional builders 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 builders can present completely transparent and reliable reports at any time to their clients to ease concerns about whether their new home project is on track.

Protection. People having a new home built for them are often afraid that they'll somehow be on the hook for unpaid work or materials once the job is over and their builder has moved on to his next house. It's a legitimate fear and an all-too-common reality.

These concerns are easily managed by professional builders. 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 a new home; 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 builders 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 www.robabbott@villagebuilders.ca

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Build your deck with thermally modified wood

The newest rage in wood decking is called “thermally modified” decking.

Thermally modified is when they take a normal piece of wood heat and steam it. The pressure and the heat causes the cells in the wood to collapse making it waterproof.

The wood becomes waterproofed without chemically treating it. The wood comes with a 30 year warranty against rotting.

The most common species of wood used is Southern Yellow Pine but you can actually have any kind of wood treated in this process. Southern Pine is just the most cost effective wood that is treated by this process.

The cost is equal to the cost of composite manufactured decking and the installation is close to the same time and price.

Natural wood has some advantages over composite decking;

Natural wood does not heat up in the hot days of summer when it is under direct sunlight. Most composite decking will heat up under direct sunlight, the darker the colour the hotter it will become.

Natural wood is not as slippery as composite wood when it rains or snows. Certain composite decking can become dangerously slick in the winter with any kind of snow or ice build up on it. Some composite decking will actually become quit slick even after it rains.

Natural wood has the ability to be stained a variety of shades so that you get a lasting look year after year. Composite is the colour that you order and then will fade in the sun overtime.

Natural wood gives you the ability to sand and refinish to change the look or update the original colour. Some composites do not react well to being sanded with some of them not having the same original colour all the way through.

If you do not coat the natural wood it will naturally go silver and look like cedar. The difference with the new heat treated process is that the wood has a longer life expectancy then what current traditional cedar decking will give you. Composite decking will fade in the sun staying the same colour just with a duller colour finish.

Natural wood is lighter then composite decking. Composite wood is extremely heavy and can be hard to work with because of the overall weight of the material. Composite decking is also difficult to transport because of the long lengths and the flexibility of the product. Composite decking has so much flex to it that you are not able to put it on a normal pickup truck or even a pickup truck that has lumber racks.

In today’s world where everyone is asking for a cleaner greener solution to their decking wants and needs this new product hits all areas. Southern Pine is a faster growing tree allowing for a faster turnaround from cutting to reforestation. With no chemical treatment there is no worry about toxic levels in the soil over the years and it is a safe material for children and pets to be on. The longer life span of the deck allows you to be in your home for almost a lifetime before you have to think about replacing it.

If you are thinking about building a deck take a look at thermally modified wood, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Some of the other things general contractors do other then building

Recently my wife had some family friends over for brunch. We just finished renovating our house (again) and after giving them a tour and explaining how everything in the house works the wife turned to me and said “we live in the city, I don’t think we could live in the country, there’s so much to know!”
I couldn’t help myself I replied “actually all you need is a good contractor.”
She gave me a curious look; it made me realize that people don’t understand all the things that general contractors do for their clients.

We don’t just build people houses, we end up advising on a wide selection of issues and organizing different people to come fix, repair or install different things.

Here are some of the things that general contractors help their client with that doesn’t include building and renovating;

Landscapers. The hiring, organizing and advising of landscapers on what area’s they should stay away from when digging, planting and manicuring of lawns.

Well and water treatment. If you are not on city water then you will eventually need someone to advice you on well pumps, pressure tanks, well heads, pump switches, well water lines, well water treatment, water protection and water testing. The treatment of well or city water these days can be an every growing issue. Homeowners are buying more expensive fixtures and appliances that require water treatment to help them last longer. Also water taste is a big issue; today as long as you want to spend the money then you can change the taste of your water to whatever you desire.

Water drainage. One of the biggest problems people can have in the country is not having the proper water drainage away from their homes. People can be under the impression that they have a waterproofing problem when it could simply be a water drainage problem.

Wildlife management. Wildlife can cause damage to your home and property. Sometimes you will need advice to deal with animals and sometimes you will need repairs after the fact.

Decks and deck repairs. Owning a home means repairs, one of the most frequent repairs or replacements that happen to homes are the decks and patios. Decks and patios are exposed to the elements and wildlife; they take the biggest beating.

Snow removal and winter damage. Organizing and advising on snow removal personal and repairing damage when it happens.

Heating and cooling needs. When living in the country, heating can be a challenge. There are certain things that are only done in the country like geothermal heating and wood fired furnaces.

Security. When living in the country you can have false alarms in your security system. It is cheaper and quicker to have someone like your contractor stop by and check the house instead of the alarm company who will send a bill for the false alarm.

Advice on septic maintenance. There is a lot involved to taking care of a septic system properly. But once your general contractor has advised you on the best practices then you should have little difficulty. What you will need is advice from time to time on your system as different things happen.

Surveying. If you ever want to install a fence, dig drainage ditches or build a small out building, the first thing the township will ask you for is if you have a current survey of the property. Also if you do not know your neighbours very well then it’s best to ask your contractor to organize a survey so that you can guarantee that you are not violating your neighbour’s property lines.

These are just some of things that contractors do for homeowners when living in the country. So don’t be afraid of the country, find yourself a good contractor that you can have a long relationship with that is beneficial for both parties.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Preparing for an Addition: Prep Your Neighbours

Preparing for an Addition:  Prep Your Neighbours

There is no getting around it...A large remodeling project, like a room addition, is intrusive and likely for an extended period of time. And while neighbors won't experience that intrusion as intimately as the homeowner, they still will be impacted by the project.

As professional remodeling contractors, we do everything possible to minimize the intrusion we make on our clients' daily life during the job. But we're also aware of the impact our work can have on neighbors and often advise or coach our clients on how to be respectful of their potential inconvenience.

Communication is key. Whenever possible, we encourage clients to communicate plans for a new addition to neighbors on either side and directly across the street from the project. Some homeowners find it useful to show their neighbors the plans and explain where the addition will be built. They can review the construction schedule and discuss their concerns and explore ideas to alleviate them. If questions surface that a client can't answer, we make ourselves available to provide ideas and insights to help preserve a neighborly atmosphere. For clients that have a closer relationship with neighbors, a casual barbeque or cocktail party is a fun way to share project plans and details.

Most often, neighbors' concerns center on increased traffic and lack of available street parking. When on-street parking is critical, we can almost always arrange for our work crews to park only in designated areas.
We'll also coordinate with our crew members, subcontractors, and suppliers to drive slowly at all times, clean up any debris they may drop while parked on the street, and avoid using neighbors' driveways to turn around.

Likewise, if a neighbor has a legitimate and reasonable concern about our daily schedule, namely when we'll start in the morning, we can usually accommodate a slightly later workday and, where possible, reserve noisy work and materials deliveries to later in the morning.

For almost any remodeling project, and certainly a room addition, we'll need to place a dumpster as close to the building site as possible -- though probably on the street. Dumpsters are not attractive and are potential hazards to curious kids.

Similarly, it is our practice to leave a clean jobsite at the end of each day. By removing debris, materials, tools, and trash, we leave a job site that is safe to walk through after work ... and allow clients to show off the project's progress to interested friends and neighbors.

Finally, at the end of the job, we encourage clients to host an open house for their neighbors to see the finished project and celebrate its completion.

For clients who have the means and the inclination, it's a nice gesture to offer a window cleaning service to their immediate neighbors to remove any construction dust that likely accumulated during the project. Some window companies may offer a volume discount for multiple houses.

The bottom line is that your room addition will impact both homeowner and neighbors. In our experience, it's best to get ahead of their potential concerns and curiosity by extending an olive branch or two and keeping them informed from start to finish.
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 www.robabbott@villagebuilders.ca

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Common Drywall construction terms 6

Common construction terms 6            Drywall

Have you have ever been on a construction site talking to your contractor and been totally lost in the terms that they are using? Well I’m here to help; here are some common terms that contractor’s use that you might not understand.

California patch. This is a way to patch a hole in drywall, leaving the wall seamless by cutting the meat of the drywall out around the actual hole that you are going to cover while leaving the paper to help blend the joint.

Corner bead.  This is either metal or a paper edge that is installed at the outside corner of a framed wall; it covers the raw drywall edge allowing the corner to be made smooth.

Sheet rock 90. This is a brand of drywall compound. Water is added to it creating a paste so that it can be smoothed out over joints and holes in the drywall.

Drywall mud. This is drywall compound that has had water added to it to create a paste.

Mudding. This is when you use drywall component that is mixed with water to make a paste that is smeared over all the joints and screw penetrations in the drywall.

Drywall tape. This is a paper product that is about 2 inches wide, it is installed over drywall joints.

Taping. This involves mudding a joint in the drywall and then placing the drywall tape in it. Then the mud and tape is smoothed out and the mud is allowed to dry permanently bonding the tape to the drywall board.

Cement board. This is a product that is made from concrete in the same thickness as drywall and is installed in showers so that tile can be installed over top of it.

Green Board. This is a moisture, mold and mildew resistant drywall that is usually installed in bathrooms.

Dens armour plus. This is a moisture, mold and mildew resistant drywall that is usually installed in bathrooms.

Blue board. This is a type of drywall that is used when doing a stucco interior finish.

Type X. This is 5/8 thick fire rated drywall.

Metal work. This refers to when the drywallers build around pipes and heating ducts. They use small gauge metal that is fastened together in a way that is lighter and straighter then using wood studs and has no shrinkage.

Bulk heads. This is when the drywallers create boxes around pipes and heating ducts in the ceilings.

Firing channel. This is metal channel that is installed on the bottom of the floor joist and on wall studs to help stop cracking in the drywall when wood shrinks. It’s also used to help stop sound vibration from penetrating from floor to floor.

Coats. This is what a layer of drywall mud is referred to once it is installed. 

Sanding. This is what drywallers do after they have coated the drywall with mud. To make the drywall mud smooth drywallers use sand paper to sand down the mud so that it is left smooth. 

Finish coat. This is the final coat of mud that is installed on the drywall.

Finish sand. This is the final sanding of the final coat of mud once it has dried. This sanding is done until the wall is smooth.

Drywall return. This is when the drywall turns on an angle and runs into a window or door. This is done instead of using a wood build out and trim.

Barrel ceiling. This is a type of drywall ceiling. The drywaller builds a metal frame in the shape of a half barrel. Then ¼” drywall is installed in multiple layers on the curved surface, drywall strips are added until the ceiling looks like the outside of a wine or beer barrel.

Coffered ceiling. This is a type of ceiling built by drywallers. It has bulkheads around the outside of the room and a raised ceiling in the middle.

This should help you understand what your contractor is talking about the next time you have a meeting with them. Look for part 7 of common construction terms, coming soon.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.