Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Designing your custom home in the country: Positioning

Series: Tips on designing a country home.

n this multi-part series I will help give you tips on how to go about having a custom home built in the country, where it should sit, what it should look like, how it should function and what type of home performs the best and fits in with the surrounding country side.

Positioning the home on the property

You have purchased a piece of property in the country and you want to build a home on it. One of the main things that you should do before you even start designing the home is figure out where on the property it is going to be built.

There are a number of things that you need to consider when you are working out the placement;

Are there existing structures on the property? A lot of country properties come with buildings already on them, buildings such as barns, drive sheds and even older homes that need to be torn down or removed before you start building a new one. You want to place your new home in a position that will help complement the existing structures (if they are worth keeping). When you have a barn on your property you usually don’t build a house near it, the barn is usually positioned behind the house some distance away.

Is there an existing driveway? If there is an existing driveway or even an existing entrance to the property then it is more cost effective to use it then try and build a new one. But if the existing one just doesn’t work for you then you can have it removed and a new proper gravel driveway installed. Make sure that you build your new driveway wider than normal, country properties always have wider driveways because they have the space for them. This makes getting in and out of a long driveway easier and helps keep people from driving and parking on your lawn.

Existing well? If your property has an existing well then it’s usually a good idea to position the house so that it can be easily piped into the house. If you don’t have a well on the property then you should decide where you want to place the well. It’s usually a good idea when drilling a new well to pick several locations for the placement of it, sometimes when they drill you a well they don’t get enough water and have to try in a different spot.

Use the natural topography of the land. If you have a hill on your property then you might want to position the house near the top of the hill, placing the house on the edge of the hill at the start of the down slope will allow you to have a walkout basement and will give you the farthest views. There are other factors you should think about, you should position the home so that it looks out on the nicest views as well. You don’t want to position the house so that it looks directly at your neighbours, or a large wind turbine or the farmers pig barn across the road. One of the main reasons that people build in the country is so that they don’t have to look at a lot of other buildings. Rolling fields, ponds, rivers and old growth trees are what most people want for their views.

Since you have the ability to position the house anyway that you want, then you should try and position it so that it receives the most amount of sunshine. The more you can turn the house south into the sun the warmer and brighter the house will become.

Things to remember when you are positioning the house;

Leave enough room to install a septic system with full drainage tile.

Leave enough room for a geothermal heat in-ground loop.

Leave enough room so that you can have a turn-around in your driveway. Turn arounds are important in the country because most people have long driveways and it can be difficult to back out of them if you are not able to turn-around.

Separate garages need to be placed close enough to the house so that you don’t have to travel too far to get to your vehicle and far enough away so that it doesn’t crowd the house and restrict the driveway.

Position the house so that you can take full advantage of the natural drainage of the land. You don’t want to build your home so that it is at the bottom of a hill or in a shallow part of the property. This can lead to problems with water and moisture in the home, especially during and after severe rain and snow storms.

This is the first step of many when you want to build a custom home in the country. In the next part I will talk about what type of homes that are designed and built in the country.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Trends in custom Kitchens for 2013

2013 trends - Kitchens

There are emerging trends in new custom home and custom renovations as we are now in 2013. A lot of the things that we did in the 2012 construction year were the same as in previous years. But there were things that were new in 2012, and have more and more home owners opting for them which is creating the new trends in 2013. I am focusing on kitchens and their current trends.


Here is a list of the trends that have stayed the same over the last several years;

Sub-zero is still the most popular for refrigerators.
Viking and Wolfs are the most popular ovens and cook tops.
Larger islands are still popular and there increase in size is as well.
Stainless steel is still the most popular for appliances.
Multiple sinks are still popular, usually a large main sink and then a small separate sink that is used to wash fruit.
Multiple ovens are still popular.
Painted kitchen cupboards are still the most popular choice over stained wood.
Under mount stainless steel sinks are still the most popular option.

Here are new trends in kitchens;

Granite had been the most popular choice in kitchens for a long time. But with the invention of new manufactured products for counter tops that are comparative in price with the traditional granite, you are seeing a lot more home owners choosing Caesar stone, Quartz and Corian. These products have a lot of the same characteristics as granite, some of them are also cheaper and they come in a variety of colours and styles. The big trend right now is to do a mix of manufactured and granite. This adds a little variety to the kitchen and can also solve the problem in large kitchens of trying to find enough granite that matches for every surface.

Glass back-splashes instead of tile back-splashes in kitchens are becoming popular; you can paint the back of the glass to add colours or patterns to the glass. This gives you a clean seamless surface.

High gloss on cabinetry is becoming more and more popular; this is a more modern look to a kitchen and helps the kitchen stay looking new longer.

The main sink is now placed in the island instead of on a wall under a window. The main sink in the island faces toward the living room so that people working in the kitchen can interact with their guests. This goes along with the kitchen being the hub of the home.

Convection ovens that double as microwaves are quickly replacing the traditional stove with the microwave/hood vent over top.

A growing trend is the large white country sinks that protrude out the front of the cabinets showing a finished white face.

Multiple dishwashers are now popular in large kitchens.

Under mount microwaves were a novelty a couple of years ago, but today it is becoming extremely popular, it is a great way to hide a microwave in your brand new kitchen, especially since the microwave/hood vent combination is falling out of popularity.

White is a colour that is back in for the kitchens, rapidly replacing the darker bolder colours of the last couple of years.

Cabinets specially designed for the spaces and other specific things instead of just different sized cabinets that you fit things into, such as pot drawers, spice racks, custom dish racks and small speciality drawers that hold your wash cloths and dish soup.

These are just some of the new trends in kitchens in today’s new custom homes and custom renovations.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Are shingles eco-friendly?

Are shingles eco-friendly?

I recently had a comment on my blog from a reader stating that they would only be buying asphalt shingles and not any other kind of roofing such as cedarshakes, metal roofing or Enviroshakes because asphalt shingles were more eco-friendly.

They also mentioned that asphalt shingles were the most economical of all roofing solutions.

Let’s start with the last statement first, that asphalt shingles are the most economical of all roofing solutions;

 Asphalt shingles are the most economical of all roofing materials when you buy the standard 25 year shingle.
But when you start to buy the shingles rated for 40 to 50 years then the price of the shingles and the installation starts to climb.

So yes in the basic sense asphalt shingles are cheaper to buy, but a new asphalt roof raises the value of your home for only about 5 years, then the value that you gained from having a new shingled roof starts to decline. By the time the shingles are 10 years old the roof has no added value to your home. Typical 25 year shingles will only last you about 15 years before they need to be replaced, they start to show wear and age at about 7 years. If you were to install a steel roof or an Enviroshake roof then you would pay a lot of money up front, the value of your house would increase more than if you had shingled it. The value that your house would increase from your choice of expensive roofing would not be the same as what you paid for it. You would see the return on your roof later down the road.

10 years after installation your shingles have stopped increasing the value of your home, while your expensive roof (steel or enviroshake) will still be holding it’s value. When you are replacing the asphalt roof at year 15 the other products will still be functioning at the same level as the first year they were installed, plus they will still be creating that value in your home.

In conclusion; paying for a more expensive roofing option for your home will save you money in the long term and help raise the value of your home as well.

Let’s talk about the first statement, that it is more eco-friendly to use asphalt shingles then the other products;

Asphalt shingles in the past were entirely made from oil based products. Today’s shingles are said to be a composite of other materials. What you need to understand is that when they state that the shingle is a fibreglass shingle that doesn’t mean that the shingles isn’t made from oil. Actually the backing or what makes the shingle strong is made from fibreglass, the fibreglass is placed inside the shingle and the tar stuck to it. Tar is made from oil, so roughly 90% of the shingle is still made from oil. Asphalt shingles last only 10 to 15 years and can be damaged from high winds, flying debris or low hanging branches. Also the increasing amount of UV rays damage asphalt shingles and age them prematurely.

Roofing products such as steel roofing and Enviroshake are not made from oil and will be on your home for as long as you own the home. Steel roofing should last a lifetime on your home and Enviroshake has a minimum life span of fifty years. That means that you will have to re-shingle your roof 4 to 6 times before you have to think about changing the steel or Enviroshake on your roof. Think of the pile of shingles that will be created in a landfill somewhere.

Enviroshake is made from waste material in ethanol plants, that material is a plant base and the rest of the product is made from recycled tires and recycled rubber. Enviroshake is truly the ultimate environmental friendly green product. If you can afford the upfront cost then you will save yourself a pile of money in the future on re-roofing.

I hope this helps people make up their minds on what type of product they should be installing on their roof and why they should be installing them. Its hard to make a proper decision if you don't have all the facts.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What is "structured" or advanced wiring?

Building Success 101


What is "structured" or advanced wiring?


 The combined growth of personal home computers, consumer electronics, entertainment systems, and

home security products-not to mention the dynamic evolution of the technology behind them—has

prompted builders to offer wiring schemes that enable whole-house communications, data and audio-

visual sharing, and other features. Typically consisting of Category 5 (or "Cat-5") wiring and coaxial cable,

structured or advanced wiring schemes allow homeowners to customize their use of technology to meet

their lifestyle needs. Cat-5 is the basics of advanced wiring and is the vital link for the ever expanding

technology and communication advancements.

More and more technology is being geared toward cellphone usage. This allows people to control parts of

their home from their cell phone anywhere in the world. You can control lighting, heat/cooling, gas fireplaces,

garage door openers, audio/video components, security and new high end appliances are being fitted with

the ability of remote access (you could pre-heat the oven when your not even there).

This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. 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.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Knowing when to stop renovating

Knowing when and where to stop your renovation.

A lot of people buy homes, second homes or cottages that are fixer-uppers. They decide that the price they are going to pay is reduced enough that they can buy the place and then renovate it to their standards or to at least liveable standards.

There are several reasons why you would only renovate the building to liveable standards;

  • You have a limited budget.
  • You plan to flip the house quickly.
  • You have to live in the home so you have to make sure that you can live there while the renovation is proceeding.
  • You have a limited window of time to do the work.

One of the hardest things to do when you are planning your renovation or once you have actually started the renovation is where to stop the work.
Once you start renovating you will find things that need to be repaired that you didn’t anticipate, this eats up your budget and slows down the speed of your renovation. Unless you are just repainting bedrooms usually renovating or re-designing one area of the home affects the other end of the home. You could redo a room on one side of the home, which could consist of doing electrical, plumbing, re-trimming, moving walls and generally creating a lot of dust and then you will end up with parts of the home that are unfinished or look drastically in need of renovation because you now created a new area.
More then a few people have gotten so deep into a renovation that when they turned around they were out of money, they were only half done the project and were forced to stop renovation and live in the mess. In the worst case scenarios people can end being forced to sell the home to try and re-coup there money. This is a scenario that you do not want to get caught in, you are almost guaranteed not to get your money back from it.

Here are a few simple things that you need to know about renovating;

  • You need to come up with a plan, a plan that gives you the image of what the entire house will look like when you are done.
  • You need to budget that whole plan.
  • Decide on how much you can afford to do in one go.
  • Make a 1 year plan, a two year plan, a 5 year plan and a final plan. If your doing extensive renovations on a limited budget then you will definitely need the multi-year plan.
  • Figure out what parts of the house you can do and still leave the rest of the house alone. There will be a little overlap with unfinished spaces but you should be prepared to live with that especially if you can't afford to do the whole project at once.
  • Before you start make sure that you have everything you need to complete whatever part of the house you are renovating. For example you need all the plumbing fixtures before you start a bathroom renovation.
  • Hire professionals to do the job. It might sound like a great way to save money by doing everything yourself, but remember you get what you pay for. The worst thing in the work is to do the plumbing yourself and have the room all finished and have one of the joints in your plumbing come apart, destroying all the drywall and flooring that you just paid for and installed.
  • Patience. You will need a lot of this, there is a reason that they call drywall dust “divorce dust”. Renovating always takes longer then you think it will take and costs more then you budgeted.
  • When you budget you need to set aside 20 % of your budget for cost over runs and unforeseen problems.

Remember that if you fail to plan then you should plan to fail.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We want to build a two story garage, are there building code restrictions?


We want to build a two story detached garage with livable space above, is there any building code restrictions?


Depending on where you live there can be a whole host of building code restrictions.

Some municipalities restrict you having any kind of livable space above a detached garage; they do this to discourage people in residential neighbourhoods from renting out the lofts that are above the detached garage. Another reason that they restrict the renting of garage lofts is because older garages can have a poor or inadequate seal between the loft area and the garage area where people park their cars. If you have a poor seal between the two levels then you could end up with carbon monoxide entering the livable space and potentially hurting or even killing someone.

If your township does allow livable spaces above detached garages then you need to realize the rules and regulations that you will have to follow to satisfy the building department and also keep any tenant living above the garage safe.

You need to make sure that there is a proper seal between the livable space and the garage area below, here are some of the things you need to do to create it;

Spray foam the floor/ceiling between the garage area and livable space.

Foam or caulk any holes around pipes, wires or duct work that goes from the garage area to the livable space.

You must install steel insulated doors with a proper magnetic seal where there is a door between the garage and the stairs to the liveable space above.

Any exterior door should have a door closer on it so that doors cannot accidently be left open. Any door between the garage and the liveable space should have the same closer or have self closing hinges.

If there is a door from the garage and the liveable space then you should also have another entrance/exit that does not go directly into the garage but leads to the outside.

The ceiling between the garage and the liveable space needs to be drywalled with fire rated type X board, it also will need to be mudded and taped.

It's a good idea to put non opening windows on the side of the liveable space that is directly above the garage door. This will limit the carbon monoxide that can be expelled out the garage doors when a car is left inside idling from entering and injuring people above.

Fire and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in the liveable space. This is not just the law but could save people’s lives.

These are the main things that you should be doing with this building; a good building department should be able to give you a detailed list of what they require between the garage and the liveable space. Every municipality has slightly different rules and regulations for this type of building.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stick to the plan when you are renovating

Stick to the plan!

No matter how small or insignificant you think the project you are taking on might be, remember to stick to the plan.

Whether it is moving electrical outlets, changing lighting, new pieces of furniture, one change could throw the entire flow of the room off resulting in unexpected costs and disappointments.

Think about the space and how you would like to use it. If you can’t envision the whole space, how will you ever be able to bring it to life.

Make sure what you have been dreaming about will work in real life, take some measurements and put it on paper. If it works on paper then it should work in real life.

Ensure you can purchase your desired items. You’re going to be disappointed if you can’t find the items that you need to make your dream come true, so make sure that you do your homework before you start.

Execute your plan as per the drawings, the worst thing you can do is get half way through your project and decide to go a different direction, remember you spent a lot of time thinking about your drawing as you created it. A last minute change of mind usually ends up in disappointment. When you see the finished product and how it all flows together you will be glad you did.

 This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. 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.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Residential elevators in the modern home

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 14

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.


Residential elevators where almost unheard of in residential homes unless you were in a mansion or a commercial setting twenty years ago. People usually settled for the powered chair that is installed over the existing stairs if they needed assistance getting up to the second floor of their home.

Today residential elevators are being “roughed in” to the framing of custom homes. With an ageing population that has large amounts of money and credit available to them, they are able to plan for their future more effectively. The future is an elevator which will allow them access to the upper levels of their home so that they can stay longer in their dream home. With the ever increasing need for residential housing in a community setting, developers are building homes vertically instead of horizontally so that people can get more square footage on the same size lot. Because of this fact there are an increasing number of stairs in residential homes. Add the fact that baby boomers with modern medicine are living longer and are leading more active lives, builders are encouraged to help homeowners stay independent in their own homes.

Residential elevators are not as expensive as people believe, they are more of a lift then an actual elevator. The equipment that is required is not that hard to install, especially if the house has been built to accommodate it already.

Custom home builders are now able to rough in elevator shafts in to peoples custom home plans, this then allows the homeowner to install the elevator when and if they require it. All that is required for the rough-in is for the engineer to include extra beams and supports in the floor where the elevator will be installed to create the shaft for the future lift.

Most residential homes are only two stories so your elevator doesn’t actually have to be that complicated or that expensive. As long as the rough in of the beams and the shaft are there then you will always have the option for that elevator and until you actually install it you can use the space as closets or storage.

Looking for part 15 coming soon....

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Foundations of Quality

Foundations of Quality

The word "foundation" evokes thoughts of strength, permanence, and solidity -- the basis for everything that follows. A home's foundation is simply the most important part of its construction and overall performance.

As a professional remodelling contractor, we pay special attention to a home's foundation, especially if we are adding a second story or an adjacent space. We want to ensure that the existing foundation is structurally adequate for additional construction (the weight of the new addition) and make adjustments, if necessary.

Almost all single-family home foundations in Canada are built with concrete or masonry blocks or some close variation, such as pre-cast concrete panels or insulated concrete forms; a few are built with steel or treated wood, but those are rare occurrences and for special conditions.

 In most parts of Canada, foundations are buried into the ground to below the frost penetration in the soil for that area unless you live in permafrost area.
One of the following three foundation types are most common in the single-family housing market particularly in Ontario.

Slab on Grade.

This type of foundation usually has a 48" high concrete or block wall resting on a poured concrete footing. The interior of this foundation box is filled with compacted granular material. A concrete slab is laid on top of this granular material usually with a layer of insulation and vapour barrier between. The concrete slab forms the first floor of the house . This type of foundation may be used in wet or unstable ground conditions.  Many times the slab will be the heat sink for a radiant floor heating system.


A crawlspace creates a shallow area between the structural frame of the house and the ground using a short perimeter wall of poured concrete (called a "stem" wall) and strategically located short support posts (or piers) in the middle. Combined, the wall and piers hold up the structural beams and joists of the wood-framed first-floor platform upon which the rest of the home is built.
This creates a 3- to 5-foot space allowing easier access to plumbing and electrical conduits and central air ductwork serving the house; for an adjacent room addition, it allows us to extend the existing mechanical services and ductwork to the new space.
It is critical to insulate the inside of the stem walls to maintain the desired comfort level of the living space above and maintaining a warm dry area in the crawl space.


A basement foundation is built the same as a crawlspace. Excavated to about 8 feet below the ground, it features a concrete floor (essentially a slab) and concrete or masonry block perimeter walls with as-needed support posts. The first-floor frame is built slightly above finished grade, creating a platform for the rest of the house.
Accessible from the rest of the house above, so-called "full" basements create at least an 8-foot clearance between the slab and the floor frame above. This full-height area can therefore be finished as living space, storage, utility (such as the heating and cooling equipment and laundry), as well as mechanical and duct runs. Finishing a basement into living space is a common remodelling project, utilizing a wealth of space that's already built, which helps lower costs.
Most full basements are "daylight" types, with deep window wells along the perimeter that allow natural light and emergency egress. "Walk-out" types, meanwhile, take advantage of a slope on one side of the basement to create more conventional outside access to the basement. Some basements are not put deep into the ground to allow a lot of natural light access to the living space below.

Regardless of the type, a foundation is literally the basis of a home's strength and performance, from energy efficiency to withstanding high winds. A well-engineered and well-built basement allows the owners to add space above while maintaining structural integrity, or providing a cost-effective option to add living space.

While a foundation may not be very visible or sexy, a strong foundation is arguably the best way to maintain housing value and protect your investment.

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, January 8, 2013

How long should my quote be for my new custom home?

I got a quote to build my new house from a contractor and other then the price there wasn’t much more detail, when I questioned them they said that this was standard in the industry. Is this true?

Giving you just a price with no information, this was the standard in the industry 2 decades ago. Two decades ago a handshake between the two of you would have satisfied both parties. But times have changed and so has the industry standard.

Reputable contractors today will give you an extremely detailed quote.

Let me put this in perspective; If your contractor does not give you a quote that is longer than 3 pages then they are not giving you enough detail. Village Builders routinely gives house quotes that are 10 pages long, this is because we realize how complicated houses have become.

Today’s houses have so many different details and options that a contractor that doesn’t go out of his way to add them to their quote is asking for problems later once the construction process is under way.

An old trick in the construction industry is to give as little detail as possible so that the contractor can give you the lowest price and win the job. What they do later once they have started building the house is they then start trying to make more money on what they call “extras”.

Now there are legitimate extras when building custom homes, then there are extras that should have been included in the original quote but because the contractor failed to give you a detailed quote they are able to charge for extras that should have been in the price to begin with.

I have found that contractors that underbid us by a a large margin end up charging the homeowner the same price that we quoted in the end. The difference is that we were honest and told them upfront what the cost would be because people have the right to know how much their new home is going to cost.

So when dealing with contractors you most demand detail in your quote. Any contractor that refuses to give you more details is a contractor that you don’t want to deal with. Remember building a house is probably the biggest financial commitment you will ever make, you need to be sure that you can trust your contractor and the price that he is quoting.

Thanks for the question,

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Start planning and designing your custom home in the winter

You should start the planning and design of your new custom home in the winter.

If you want your custom home to be build in a time efficient manner then you want it to start as early as possible in the spring. The earlier you start your home the more of it will be completed before the following winter starts. Winter slows the process of building a home and also can restrict certain building processes such as outside stonework.

Getting your permit, design and finding your contractor should all be done in the winter time. There are several reasons that you should do all of this in the winter months;

Designers, architects, draftsmen, contractors and building departments are all less busy in the winter time.

Starting all these processes in the winter allows you to take your time with the design and the choosing of your contractor. You will be under a lot less pressure to make a decision.

Quality contractors in the spring usually run out of space, especially in busy construction years. Looking for your contractor in the spring will almost certainly lead to you having to wait till the middle of the summer to start your custom home and in rare occasions your home could be delayed till the fall.

Starting in the winter will allow you to make all your decisions like the colour of the walls and the floor types. You will be under little to no pressure to make choices and can take your time to find the best prices on items like plumbing and lighting fixtures.

A lot of times in today’s building rules and regulations you will start the designing of your home and find out some rules and restrictions that will slow down the process of you getting your permit. Starting your home design process in the winter will give you a little bit of cushion (so that if and when you run into permit problems) it won’t affect the start of your custom home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

5 Things to consider before renovating your kitchen-interior design advise

5 Things to consider before renovating your kitchen...

1 - How much money are you willing to spend? This will save you time when sourcing materials.

2 - How do you use the space? Do you entertain a lot? Is storage an issue?

3 - What's your design style? Flip through some magazines and see what elements keep popping up.

4 - How much time are you willing to devote to your project? Consult with an experienced designer to get a plan in place, custom kitchen renovations on average take at least eight weeks.

5 - Are you prepared to live without a kitchen? You'll probably have to set up a temporary kitchen in another part of your home, summer months are ideal, when outdoor cooking is optimal.

When deciding whether or not to hire a designer a well thought out plan is necessary for any project to be successful.

 This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. 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, January 1, 2013

2013 Residential construction forecast for Collingwood, Blue Mountatins, Creemore and Wasaga Beach

Residential construction forecast for the Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Creemore and Wasaga beach area for 2013

The residential construction industry has been on a downward spiral all over Ontario for many years. The one exception has been the Collingwood, Blue Mountains and Wasaga beach area with their construction industries trending up year over year since the credit crunch of 2008. The 2012 construction year was the exception, it was the first year that had a real down turn in the construction market. Places like the muskoka’s where builders have enjoyed having multi-year waiting lists are looking once again at a spring with little work and very little leads on future work. This is better than the previous year where they reportedly had almost no work to speech of.

The Collingwood, Blue Mountain and Creemore area have seen a significant change in the real estate market that has stayed strong for over a decade even when it should have slowed like other markets in Ontario. The market correction that some people have been waiting many years to happen has finally arrived. Over the past couple of years there have been an alarming number of properties and homes coming on the market and not selling quickly. The prices stayed high even in the face of people having to wait longer and longer to sell their home. This finally changed this year with the market stalling and people being forced to reduce their prices significantly to sell their home. This correction in the market has created a buyer’s market for the first time in a decade. The buyer’s market did not happen till the late summer in 2012 which almost stalled the real estate market completely.
The backlog of real estate that has been reduced is going to start really moving in 2013, there is a large demand for homes and properties still in the area with people wanting to move here. This spring will see a real estate surge at a reduced price which will help drive the renovation market. With people being able to buy a home or cottage at a 30% reduction in price it will allow them to spend more on renovating the home and also will allow them to add to the size with an addition.

Wasaga Beach

Places such as Wasaga Beach will see the best growth in the area. Wasaga Beach’s residential construction has been steadily growing every year for the past 4 or 5 years since the credit crunch and stock market crash of 2008. Property anywhere near the water and the beach is being bought up by people looking to retire. The rising tax’s are forcing a lot of people that have owned small little cottages in Wasaga Beach for generations to sell them or tear them down and rebuild with a new home. There is huge potential for growth in this area with whole streets having small cottages that are at the end of their life and need to be replaced. Property values in Wasaga Beach continue to rise year over year, prompting many to sell their family cottages instead of fixing them. Wasaga Beach has turned from the tourist area and is now actively promoting itself as a retirement community for the Baby Boomer generation. Enforcement of strict rental rules for seasonal cottages are having a serious effect on the market, pushing more families to sell their cottage as they are having trouble bringing in enough income to justify keeping it. The real estate market in the Wasaga Beach has not seen the large downturn like its surrounding areas and the construction industry seems to be staying strong both residential and commercial.

Clearview Township

Clearview Township will struggle in the residential construction sector like it has for the past couple of years. It seems this market will only get worse, as land prices stay high even in the face of a down real estate market. Building and development fees are now at an all time high, to the point where it is scaring away people that want to build a new home. No effort is being made in the Township to help curve this trend and it looks like they are determined to only allow people with deep pockets into the area that can afford to pay the massive fees. Only well established contractors seem to be able to get what little work there is in this township. The renovation market is actually starting to slowly turnaround from years of sluggishness. The massive development fees to build a new home is forcing people to buy older smaller homes, renovate them and add additions to achieve the size they require. This allows people to save 10's of thousands of dollars in development fees. This is about the only area of growth that I can see in this township. Commercial development is almost non-existent.

Collingwood/Blue Mountain area

The Collingwood/Blue Mountain area seems to be spotty at best. Some places in the area have 1 or 2 houses being built on one street, where other areas have no building or renovating at all. A lot of this seems to have to do with the stalled real estate market. Renovations should really start to pick up in the 2013; they were at a pretty low level in 2012 much reduced from 2011. At the moment the renovation end of things is slow. A lot of contractors that rely on the renovation market to get them through between house builds are having trouble finding any work at all.

The prospect for growth for 2013 in the Collingwood area could be very good, there seems to be a lot of commercial work running into 2013 and more commercial projects to be started in 2013. Collingwood is looking like it could experience extreme growth in the coming decade. Most of this growth will be of Baby Boomers moving into the area, but there are also a lot of young professionals moving in to fill all the jobs that are required with this ever growing and ageing population.
The Collingwood area trend of builders coming in from other areas to find work will continue and might even get worse in 2013 as the prospect of bigger homes and cottages is a powerful draw with a lot of the province not having a lot of construction work.

                Overall 2013 looks to be about the same as 2012 in the new home market, the renovation market looks to be the area of growth because of the real estate market. There looks to be a lag in the new home starts in all areas because of the new building codes. To get a building permit now takes longer because of all the new codes that people have to abide by when designing their new home. The new regulations will see the cost of building go up by a minimum 10% and could be as much as 30% depending on what standard you will have to raise the building envelope too.

The renovation market was slow going into this year, but it was still better then where it was at this time last year. The renovation market looks like the big area of growth especially compared to the previous years and if the real estate market rebounds like it’s suppose too then it could be a banner year for renovators, well at banner year at least compared to the last couple.

Overall it looks to be an up and down year for the residential construction industry in the Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach and Creemore area. Competition for new homes looks to continue to be high with everyone trying to stay busy and more contractors finding themselves staying busy with renovations instead of new homes.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.