Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trends in Master Bedrooms for 2013

2013- Master Bedrooms

The trends in homes and renovations coming in to 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 became trends in 2012 with more and more home owners opting for them, and this creating the wave that is the trends in 2013. I am focusing on master bedrooms and their trends.

Master Bedrooms

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

Master bedrooms have become master suites that encompass bedroom, walk in closet, make-up area and ensuite washroom.

The master bedroom portion is getting larger every year.

People opting to put their master bedroom on the first floor of their two story home.

Carpet is still the most desirable flooring in the master bedroom.

Custom blinds and drapes so that people are able to sleep past the rising morning sun.

More windows are being added every year.

Individual lights on each side of the bed so that the user can control the amount of light once they are in bed. Some of these are table lights and some of them are a hinged wall sconce.
Here a list of the new trends happening in master bedrooms;

More and more lights are being added to master bedrooms as accent lighting, these are usually pot lights.

With master bedrooms growing larger seating areas are being created as a room within a room. This is turning the master bedroom into an almost self contained oasis away from the rest of the house.

Gas fireplaces are being installed for a more comfortable feel, romance and an extra source of heat on those cold winter nights.

Second story master bedrooms are getting decks and balconies, this works two ways; giving the master bedroom more glass with patio doors and also larger windows.

Ceiling details such as coffered ceilings and crown molding are being added to help give the room more character.

Flat screen TV’s with all the components stored in another part of the house are a growing trend so that people can relax, watch a movie or live TV without ever leaving the room.

These are just some the new trends in master bedrooms in today’s new custom homes.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Heating your custom home in the country

Series: Tips on designing a country home.

In 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.

Heating your country home

When building a custom home in the country you will be limited in what type of heating system that you will be able to install. The most economical heating for new homes (when balancing price and cost of use) is a high efficiency natural gas furnace; unfortunately in a rural setting you usually do not have access to a natural gas line. This makes the choices for your country home limited. It doesn’t mean that you cannot have efficient heat it just means that you have to be smart on what you install for a heating system.

Here are the typical options for rural country custom homes these days

Geothermal heating. The most popular option in heating today for custom homes in a rural setting is Geothermal heating. Geothermal heating in basic terms is piping filled with an ethanol based mixture that is placed under the ground; the ethanol mixture is then circulated through the pipes allowing the liquid mixture to absorb the heat from the ground in the winter and the cold from the ground in the summer. The pipes feed the mixture into a furnace which blows air over the lines turning the air either warmer or colder depending on your needs. The ductwork to move the air around is the same as any other furnace system. The result; an extremely efficient heating and cooling system, it is actually more efficient then a high efficiency natural gas furnace. It runs on electricity so there is no need to have storage tanks or gas lines running under the ground. When you use your air conditioning in the summer it generates extra heat that is fed into a hot water tank which supplies you with FREE HOTWATER all summer. There are several different ways to have a geothermal system, there is the most popular way of ground loops, this is the most cost effective way but requires you to have some acreage to install the system.
If you are on a small rural lot then you can install drilled well geothermal, this process consists of drilling small wells straight into the earth and then pumping the ethanol solution down into the wells to absorb the heat or the cold of the ground. The down side to this is that it is the most expensive option of geothermal heating.
The third way you can do it is installing the pipes at the bottom of a pond or into a larger body of water. This is fairly inexpensive compared to drilling wells but can be problematic if the pond has a lot of organic material that will settle itself on top of the lines blocking the absorption of heat. The downside to geothermal is the installation cost; it is by far the most expensive of all the home heating options to install. You can also have in-floor hot water radiant heat from a geothermal system.

Propane furnace. Propane furnaces consist of a furnace that burns propane in the same way that a natural gas furnace does and is transported around the home in a typical ductwork. The propane gas is kept in a large storage tank that it outside next to your home and deliveries the propane through a gas line that is buried under the ground until it enters your home. A propane company is needed to come and re-fill the large tank every time it runs low. Propane is not as efficient as natural gas or geothermal. Natural gas is 4 times as efficient then propane, propane can add up to a lot when needed to heat a whole house through the winter. The upside of a propane furnace is that it is fairly cheap to have installed compared to geothermal. You can also have a propane flash boiler installed that can supply your home with in-floor radiant heating.

Oil furnace. Oil furnace work a lot the same as a propane furnace and they us a typical duct system to distribute the heat around the home. The oil tanks are not allowed to be installed outside of your home anymore; they must be installed inside the home so that they are less likely to be damaged. Oil furnaces are about the same efficiency as propane furnaces, the problem that you can get into is if you ever have a leak (you basically have an oil spill in your home). Insurance companies these days are less and less likely to give you a good rate on your home insurance if you have an oil furnace and some insurance companies will refuse to give home insurance altogether as long as there is a working oil furnace in the home. Oil furnaces are not that expensive to install when building your home.

Combination air source heat pump and propane furnace. This is a great option for people who are budget conscious but still want to save on energy bills into the future. An air source heat pump is a device that takes the heat from the air outside and passes it into the furnace; it does this using the same basic principles as geo-thermal ethanol filled lines. This is highly efficient because it doesn’t require propane to make heat. One of the downsides to an air source heat pump is that when the air outside becomes too cold then the heat pump has no heat to remove from the air. This is when the propane furnace kicks in to add heat to the furnace. For the cost of an air source heat pump you get an almost immediate return with the savings of not burning propane. One of the other things that air source heat pumps do is make cold air in the summer months. So when you buy a heat pump to reduce your energy consumption you also get an air conditioner for the summer months for the same price.

These are the most common heating for the country custom homes.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, February 22, 2013

What's a good payback or return on investment for a "green" product?

Q: What's a good payback or return on investment for a "green" product?

A: That's difficult to say without knowing the exact product in question or how it is being applied in the construction or operation of a house.

For example:

If you were to install a Geo-thermal heating system in your home you would have to wait at least 10 years to get a return on your investment, this being because Geo-thermal heating is extremely expensive to install compared to conventional heating methods. That might sound like a long time but one thing that you have to consider is that a geo-thermal heating system will raise the value of your home immediately. Geo-thermal and other green innovations are becoming more sought after in today’s real estate market.
When you add in the savings for the heating, cooling and the free hot water that you receive from the system and then add in the added real estate value, it is easy to say that you would get your full return on the investment in less than 5 years.

If you were to install a green roofing product like Enviroshake instead of asphalt shingles, the same rules apply of increased real estate value immediately. With roofing products like Enviroshake you wouldn’t receive the full return of the cost of the roofing system on your real estate value. Where you would see the return is after 10 to 15 years when you have to replace the asphalt shingles, the Enviroshake product looks like it did the first year that you installed it. In-fact you will probably replace the asphalt shingles on your roof 4 to 5 times before you have to think about repairing or replacing an Enviroshake roofing system. Enviroshake has a 50 year warranty; basically they should outlast you living in your home.

So the return on your green investment really depends on what that product does and how expensive it is at the beginning compared to non-green products.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tips on structural designs when building your new home that will save you money


We are designing our new home and are worried about costs, what can we do structurally when designing the house to make it cheaper to build?


There are many things that you can do to make sure that the overall design of the home doesn’t end up costing you more money than it should.

Design your home to fit the specific lot. For example;

If your lot has a sloping hill, then you should design your home with a walkout basement. Since you’re more than likely going to build your home with a basement the way to make a home cheaper per sqft is a walkout basement. When you build a walkout basement you get livable sqft that has windows and doors, which is a lot more usable then having a living room in a dark artificially lit basement. If you do build a house with a walkout basement then you should be able to stick to a single story.

If you are on an extremely small lot then you should think about building a home that is at least two stories, a lot of people are building a two story house with a loft where the attic should be. This will give you a lot more sqft on the same size of footprint.
Every home has a roof, a foundation and at least four walls. What you do beyond that is what costs more money.

If your house has more than four walls, is an odd shape or has strange corners then it will cost you more money.

If you have a fancy roof line, like a lot of hips and valleys then these will cost more money.

Dormers cost more money because they are built into the roof and are labour intensive and result in losses of livable square footage.

Building a house with only a single story costs more per sqft then building a two story home. Since every home needs a roof and a foundation it is cheaper to build that second story then a large single story home.

Covered porches are expensive, so are decks that are high enough off the ground that they require a railing.

Detached garages are more expensive then attached garages.

The more windows in your home the more it will cost to build and the larger the windows the more they will cost.

The more sets of stairs that you build in a home the more expensive it will become; you also lose square footage of usable space.

Hallways are a waste of space, the fewer hallways the more usable square footage you will have.

Crawlspaces are cheaper to build then full basements, but you lose usable square footage which means the upper levels have to be larger to accommodate things like a mechanical room and storage.

Stick to building 8 ft ceilings, anything over 8 ft costs more.

Sun porches, sky lights and solariums cost more money.

Cathedral ceilings are expensive and so are great rooms.

Wood burning fireplaces are more expensive then gas fireplaces. The chimney on a wood fireplace is the most expensive part. Wood fireplace chimneys have to go up through the roof and be built high enough that they clear the roof line so that there is enough draw of air to pull the smoke up and out of the chimney.

There are hundreds of things inside of the home that I could recommend you to do to save money, but these ones that I have listed are the ones pertaining to the structural costs.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

83% of Canadians would rather renovate their home then move!

83% of Canadians would rather renovate their home then move!

Whether it is liking the neighbourhood you live in or not wanting to have to go through the process of moving a majority of Canadians would rather renovate their existing home then sell it and build or buy a new one. A whopping 83% of Canadians want to stay in their home.

With that figure in mind we have built our construction company to help people stay in their home by renovating it. Village Builders has a streamlined approach to taking a home owner with dreams of a fresh new look to their home all the way to the finished product.

We do this in several ways; it all starts with the first meeting. Once we have established you as a client then we work with you to bring your dreams, thoughts, idea’s to life on paper. Our design team will create a space using the latest in computer modelling so that when it is all said and done we are able to place you in the room and give you a first-hand look at what your new space could look like. We even have the ability to measure your existing furniture and place it in your new digital room so that you will know that it can fit.

Once you have a design then we are able to give you a proper detailed quote, we can also give you options to help make the project larger or smaller depending on your financial situation and your needs. Once you are satisfied with the price of your renovation we can then move on to the scheduling of the project.

A lot of times the schedule of your renovation has a lot to do with the ordering of certain things like plumbing fixtures. These can take up to 6 to 8 weeks sometimes to receive. Plumbing valves are one of the first things to be installed in the walls once the demolition has been completed and the reframing of the studs has started.
Village Builders is able to use speciality temporary plastic walls to control dust and debris from the rest of the home that is not under renovation. This allows us to work quicker without having to worry about where the drywall dust is drifting, we also use speciality flooring protection so any existing flooring will be left undisturbed and undamaged.

Once the construction part of the project is completed our design team is able to come in and help stage the new space so that you will be able to maximize its potential. We are also able to help you source and purchase a wide variety of furniture, light fixtures, linens and many other item that will help bring that dream you started with too life.

So if you are thinking about renovating your home give Village Builders a call, you’ll be happy that you did.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Statistics for this post were found in the 2013 February issue of Canadian House and Home.   

Friday, February 15, 2013

What is greenwashing?

What is "greenwashing"?


As "green building" becomes a more popular term and methods and technology for house construction evolve, more products claim to provide ecological or resource-efficient benefits. Sometimes such claims are dubious or at least overstated. The term "greenwashing" refers to a product or supplier for which the claimed environmental benefit is minor or is dependent on other features or other products to deliver on its promise. It can also mean that the product or supplier requires more energy to create and supply the product than it actually saves, or the product is simply unfounded and unproven with little to no research or science behind it.

Examples of greenwashing in the home construction are things such as cheap bamboo floors. Cheap bamboo floors claim to be green and environmentally friendly. There is a reason that bamboo is considered green;

It is a fast growing plant that only needs 5 to 7 years to fully grow to be ready to be harvested.

It is easily pressed together to create a hard flooring.

It is extremely durable and takes a finish well.

When you buy cheap or inexpensive bamboo floors you take the risk of ending up with an inferior product, cheap bamboo flooring has the following problems;

The bamboo is picked when is young for 1-3 years old instead allowing it to mature. The problem with this is that the bamboo is softer and the color is less consistent.

The products that are used to make the flooring are not natural or environmentally friendly, they are cheaper chemicals like Formaldehyde, that’s right formaldehyde the stuff they put in dead bodies to help preserve them. Formaldehyde has a tendency to off gas, this is what would be off-gasing in your home.

The finishes of cheaper bamboo floors do not hold up well and have to be repaired or placed quicker.

So here is a product that you as the consumer think is a “green” product but if your not careful you could end up being worse then everything else.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Renovating in Collingwood

Renovating in Collingwood

If you are thinking about renovating in Collingwood then one of the first things that you need to do is find yourself an interior designer. An interior designer will be able to produce accurate drawings so that you can understand what the potential is for the space you want to renovate.

The next thing that you should do is find yourself a company to do the actual renovation work. Your best bet is to call a general contractor that can give you an accurate quote on the drawings that your interior designer has supplied. This way your quote will be as accurate as the drawings that you had created.

Village Builders Inc. is one of those general contractors that can give you an accurate quote, they also have access to excellent interior designers who can take your ideas and create drawings for you. This means that they are able to streamline the process of design and build by keeping it all in house.

Here are some of things that Village Builders is able to do for their clients when they want to renovate their home;

Have drawings created and if needed submitted to the township for approval.

Give accurate quotes from the drawings created with an extreme amount of detail in the quote so that you the client know exactly what you are getting.

Drawings once they are created can be rendered and displayed on a screen allowing you to be placed in the room to give you the feel of what your renovated space will look like.

Protect other parts of the house and your furniture from the dust and demolition of construction.

Give simple, organized billing so that you understand what and where you are spending your money.

Organize all sub-trades in an orderly and timely manner to attend the project.

Insure that all sub-trades have proper insurance and WSIB coverage to protect you and your home.

Source, quote, acquire and install all plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, audio/video equipment, furniture, fireplaces (wood and gas), appliances and flooring at contractor discounted pricing. (only if requested by owner)
Provide consultation on how to make your home more energy efficient and environmentally friendly
 before and during the renovation process.

Make sure that once the project is completed the job is left clean, complete and the customer happy.

Staging of all rooms that were renovated so that you are able to move and enjoy the space immediately.

If you are looking to renovate in Collingwood then look at our website at or stop by our showroom/office at 3 Caroline St. East in the village of Creemore.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Custom Home Building in Mulmur Township

Custom Home Building in Mulmur Township

If you are thinking about building a custom home in the Mulmur Township then you are probably going to want to hire a professional to construct your new custom home.

When you’re looking to build a custom home in the Township of Mulmur you need to make sure that you find the right builder, remember this will probably be the biggest investment you ever make.

When you are looking to hire a custom home builder you are actually looking to hire a general contractor. Building custom homes is less about the hammering of nails and more about the overall managing of the project as it proceeds along.

In Mulmur a lot of new homes are being built in a rural setting, building in a rural setting is a lot different than building in town. You need to take into consideration all the extra things that need to be installed for your new custom home like a well, a septic system, an energy efficient heating system (no natural gas available), driveways, drainage and even the positioning of buildings on your property. You need a general contractor that understands all of these special requirements and has the right sub contractors to see them installed professionally, properly and in a timely manner.

Village Builders is one of those general contractors that have been building custom homes in the Township of Mulmur for over 30 years. We are committed to giving you the homeowner an enjoyable experience, that’s what it should be to have a custom home built; an enjoyable experience. Yes there is stress involved in having a custom home built, there are what seems like endless choices you have to make to help customize your home and there is the money that you are spending. But at the end when you have moved in to your new custom home you should be able to look back on the time when the house was being built and say “I enjoyed the building and designing of my new home”. That’s one of the great things about having a custom home built you get to be directly involved with all the decisions in your new home and the more decisions you are able to make the more the home becomes "yours".

Village Builders Inc or VBI for short is a full service general contractor. Here are some of the things that we do for our clients;

Onsite pre-build consultation to determine placement of house, driveway, septic or sewer and heating.

Consulting with the township building and planning department, Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) and any other government regulatory body so that you can receive your building permit.

Directly working with designers or an architect of the clients choosing throughout the building process.

Interior designer on staff to help assist you with all your colour choices, room layouts, full colour bathroom and kitchen drawings.

Technical help on the workings of everything in your new home.

Consulting on making your home as energy efficient as possible before and during the build process.

Using the best materials available in your budget and giving you the options of new technology to help make your home state of the art.

Sourcing, pricing, acquiring and installing all plumbing, lighting, flooring and furniture for your new home at a discounted contractor price.

Clear, accurate and simple billing so you understand what you are spending and were your money is being spent.

Weekly pictures taken to document the building process and sent to you via email to help you follow the progress of the build.

The ability to give you full customization in all areas of the home from the kitchen down to the audio/video system.

Flexible start dates throughout the year allowing you to start the build process in whatever season that you require. Winter, summer, spring or fall.

Employing some of the best craftsmen in the area so that your home turns out to be built with the highest level of fit and finish that you expect in your custom home.

Being available after your home is built to help with any problems that might arise.

If you are looking to build a home in the Township of Mulmur look us up at or stop by our office/showroom in the Village of Creemore at 3 Caroline St. East.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Controlling concrete cracking in your garage and basement floors

Solid Ideas for Controlling Concrete

Most of us think of concrete as something stable, enduring, and strong. The common belief is that once concrete is set as a foundation slab, patio, driveway, or path, it's there to stay.

While it's true that concrete is arguably one of the most stable building material available, it nevertheless requires care to perform as expected, maintain its structural integrity and retain its aesthetic appeal.

This level of care and attention to detail starts with the proper mix of sand, cement and water. For a given application, such as a foundation wall or slab, ratios are specified by a structural engineer. The mix varies based on soil conditions, climate, building codes, and other factors, and is essential to ensure the concrete will perform as designed and desired.

To strengthen the concrete to withstand a variety of forces, it will likely have to be reinforced with steel. For foundation footings and concrete walls, contractors rely on reinforcing steel bars (or rebar) to bolster the concrete against shifts in the soil or seismic activity. For a driveway, patio, or path, a mesh of lighter-gauge steel placed within the concrete pour is adequate to provide additional strength and stability.

As the mix is being poured into forms or across a slab, air pockets must be removed to eliminate any voids that would result in weak spots within the concrete. In fact, wet concrete may have as much as 20% of its volume made up of trapped air, usually around rebar or at form junctions.

To eliminate these pockets in walls and footings, a concrete contractor will insert a vibrating rod into the wet concrete and slowly draw it out to let the concrete fill in its wake. For slabs and other flat concrete pours, a smaller vibrator or a tamp will do the trick.

It is also important to smooth the surface of the concrete, especially if it is to be left exposed to the elements. Contractors use a variety of trowels and long-handled screeds, darbies, and floats that progressively smooth the surface so that it not only looks good, but helps shed water and debris, makes it easier to sweep, and is
generally more durable.

As the smoothing process progresses and the concrete begins to harden (or "set up"), the contractor will also
cut shallow, V-shaped control joints at strategic locations within the slab. These joints serve to "attract" and collect the inevitable surface cracks that will occur as the concrete cures or dries to its final, hardened state.
Such cracks are non-structural, but unsightly. With the use of control joints, surface cracks occur along the joints, reducing their visual impact.

Once the control joints are cut and the surface smoothed or textured to its desired state (perhaps with a pattern for added aesthetic value), it's simply a matter of time -- usually within 48 hours -- before the concrete cures and is strong enough for the home's structural frame, vehicle traffic, or a summer barbecue.
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. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

You will get a 67% return on your basement renovation

67% is the cost that realtors estimate you’ll recoup from finishing your basement.

Finishing your basement doesn’t just add more liveable square feet to your home it also increases the value of it. Getting a 67% return on your renovation in your basement means that you are not wasting your money when you decide to have it finished.

In today’s real estate market people are always looking for more liveable space, with modern technology you can make a basement warm and dry. Basements aren’t thought of as dark and damp places that are just there to store ski equipment and grandma’s couch.

A lot of realtors today list a house by the “liveable” square footage instead of just square footage. When you list a house and you say it is a 2000 sq ft home that sounds like an average Canadian home, if you were to list the home as having 3000 sq ft of liveable space then people become interested because they think that it is a larger home. These two listings would be priced the same but the one with the larger "liveable" square footage is going to get more interest and will probably sell faster.

Renovators today have the ability with new specific products to fix water problems, reduce dampness and circulate the stale air. With modern lighting, your choice of paint colors and things like gas fireplaces can turn a basement into a wonderful liveable space where your children would love to play.

With modern home theatre systems becoming popular, people are also opting to turn part of their basement into a movie theatre and in a basement it is easy to limit the amount of artificial light allowing you the ability to recreate that dark movie theatre atmosphere.

Doing a basement renovation is one of the easiest ways to raise the value of your home and as long as you don’t make the space too elaborate then you will be able to keep the cost at the lower end. The resale of your home will be greatly improved.

Make sure that when you want the renovation done you hire the proper contractor so that you do not end up wasting money on a job that is not done properly or to the finish level that you were expecting.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Statistics for this post were found in the 2013 February issue of Canadian House and Home.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

When you give a price per square foot on building a new house does that include the basement?


When you give a price per square foot on building a new house does that include the basement?


When we give you a price to build your new house we do not price the house per square foot. We give you a total price to build the house. For example if you had a 3000 sqft house and we quoted you a figure like $600,000 to build it, then that would mean that I would be charging $200 a sqft.

When a home builder or real estate agent tells you the square footage of a home it never includes the basement. So in the price for your home at $600,000 that would include the basement as well.

So to put that in perspective if your 3000 sq ft house has a basement that has 1000 sq ft and it was finished then you would have a house that has 4000 square feet of livable space. If you were to calculate the amount of livable square footage compared to the price of the home it would be $150 a sqft for the livable square footage.

Any price that you get for a house will include whatever level of finish that you have speculated in the basement. The more finished square feet in your house the more that your house will cost.

This is the reason that I have always stated that you should only use a contractor that will give you a detailed quote that explains what you are getting in your home for the quoted price.

Thanks for your question,

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why is attic ventilation as important as attic insulation?



Why is attic ventilation as important as attic insulation?


Attic ventilation removes the humid air that escapes from the house through the ceiling of your home.  This humid air that arrives in the attic needs to be vented outside or it will damage your home.  When you see ice built up in the eavestrough or hanging from the eaves, it is a lack of ventilation that is the cause, not the amount of insulation in the attic.

Ventilation means that air is coming into the attic through the soffits and out the roof vents, taking this humid air with it.  Improving the insulation in your attic will help with your energy bills, but attic ventilation will save your shingles, prevent ice build up on your roof (which can cause water leakage to the inside of your home), prevent humid air condensating in the attic and possibly growing mould!

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

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.