Saturday, March 30, 2013

What's the difference between engineered wood flooring and solid wood flooring?


What's the difference between engineered wood flooring and solid wood flooring?

Unlike solid wood planks, engineered wood flooring features a substrate (or main section) made from thin sections of solid wood that are set in a cross-hatched pattern and laminated together. A thin veneer of solid wood (oak, maple, etc.) on top of the substrate provides the appearance of a solid wood floor. Because of its substrate, engineered wood flooring does not react as dramatically to changes in temperature or humidity, and requires less maintenance than solid wood.

That’s the official version of what engineered flooring is, the simply answer is that engineered flooring is plywood that has a thin veneer of whatever species of wood you want on the top.

There are many advantages to engineered flooring, here are a few:

You use less wood then conventional flooring.
It resists the natural process of shrinking and expending that normal hardwood floors go through     depending on the season.
It will resist moisture, making it better suited for concrete floors in basements.

There are some downsides to it as well:

It is more expensive to buy then normal hardwood.
It is usually a thinner product overall, in some renovation scenarios you could have problems with transitions to other existing thicker material.
A lot of engineered floorings top veneer is so thin that you can only refinish the floor once before you have to completely remove it and install a new floor.

Every year there are more and more choices in the engineered flooring market, allowing for greater choice and ease of installation. As a home owner you have to do your homework on what product will work for you.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trends in flooring finishes 2013

2013- Flooring

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, this is making them a growing trend in 2013. I am focusing on the flooring in custom homes.

Custom home flooring

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

Hardwood flooring is by far the most popular form of flooring for most of the 1st floor of houses and in any room that is used for large gatherings of people.

Tile/stone is still the most popular option for all bathrooms, front entrances and mudrooms.

Carpet is still the most popular flooring for bedrooms.

Having heated in-floor tile floors is also still the most popular way to keep floors warm and comfortable.

Re-claimed antique flooring is still by far the most popular, having it hand finished onsite once it is installed is still the most wanted in high-end custom homes.

Here a list of the new trends happening in flooring in custom homes;

High definition porcelain is becoming increasingly popular in guest bathrooms, guest showers and powder rooms. The cost savings and ease of care are a major selling feature for this type of tile.

Ensuite master bathrooms are taking on the look of luxurious hotel bathrooms. The use of Carrera marble is an increasing trend that is ending up in every Ensuite. The durability of the stone and timelessness of it are drawing people to put it not just on the floors but on the walls as well.

A growing trend in hardwood flooring is for flumed oiled floors. This is a process that you coat the hardwood before it is installed and then you do a final coat once it is laid. Then once a year you have someone come back and touch up the oiled parts in the high traffic areas that are starting to show wear. This process allows you to have new looking floors every year instead of waiting till a regular finish wore off and forcing you to coat the whole floor all at once.

Carpets are becoming popular in basements again, with new anti-mold and anti-mildew carpets and under pads, it is making the carpet option more appealing for people who are worried about their basements smelling.

Engineered wood flooring is growing in popularity over full hardwood floors. The resistance of engineered flooring to not shrink and expand like normal hardwood, also the wider variety of choices is becoming more and more appealing to homeowners.

New foam and moisture resistant products that are placed on top of concrete floors help engineered floors last longer, feel warmer and help resist dampness that causes the floors to cup and curl.

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

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Roofing materials for your country home

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.


What you put on your roof in the country should not only be nice to look at but should also help protect your home from the extreme elements. There are different types of roofs depending on what you require and what your budget requirement are, here is a brief list of the most popular;

Asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are by far the most cost efficient roofing material that you can install on your custom home. But what you save by putting them on when the home is built will be spend every 10 to 15 years when you have to re-shingle it. Asphalt shingles only have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years regardless of if they are called 20 or 30 year shingles. They are susceptible to high winds, ice damming from poorly venting roofs or poorly insulated roofs, damage from flying debris, damage from overhanging tree limbs, animals can damage them and UV rays from the sun degrade the asphalt shingle prematurely.  There are some advantages to asphalt shingles, you can get them in a wide variety of colours, they are very easy to install and can be installed on most roofs. An asphalt shingled roof has more grip and is easier to walk on if you have to do anything on the roof. Also damage to a small part of a roof is easily fixable and patchable.

Cedarshake. Cedarshake was a very popular roofing material especially on custom homes some years ago, but today because of several factors in the market they are not used very often. The poor quality of cedar being used, the way UV rays are causing the cedar to age and rot faster, the expense of buying the shakes, labour intensive to install and probability of moss growing on them causing rot when you have large dormers or valleys are other reasons that people are shying away from putting it on their roofs. There are some good things about cedarshake roofs, they add value to a custom home for resale, there very appealing to look at and they help a house fit into a natural woodsy environment.

Enviroshake. Enviroshake is a product that was invented solely because of all the problems that I listed above in Cedarshakes. Enviroshake is a composite material that is created from recycled plastic, recycled rubber and ethanol plant waste. It is then stamped with a natural grain to give it the cedarshake look, it installs black and within 6 months fades to a silver colour just like cedar. It is installed the same way that cedarshakes are installed. It comes with a 50 year warranty, it is extremely durable to high winds, extreme weather, flying debris and branches scraping on its surface. It sheds snow almost like a steel roof does and UV rays do not seem to damage the product like it does to cedar. There are some downsides to it, it is expensive to purchase and install and it is a very slippery surface that can make walking on it dangerous. The finished look ends up looking like cedarshake but with a much longer warranty and better durability.

Steel. Steel is by far the most popular of roofing products in today’s country custom homes. Steel comes in a wide variety of profiles, colours and quality. Steel has always been very popular in the country, not just on homes but also on barns and out buildings. Today’s steel is a lot different from the simple steel that was installed on top of the barns. Today’s steel roofs are one piece from the eave to the peak, there is no joint in the middle, they also have locking ribs that stop the wind from penetrating between them. Steel does a lot of things well; it stands up to UV rays, high winds, flying debris, most steel is strong enough to walk on, branches scrapping along the steel don’t do any damage to the steel and usually don’t even scratch the paint. Steel roofs have paint warranties that usually run 40 or more years which is a big change from the old steel where you had to hire someone to paint the barn roof every ten years. There are a few downsides to having steel roofs; low slopes are not ideal for steel, eavetrough do not do well with steel roofs because of sliding snow, the snow slides off them well and has to be managed with snow guards (especially over entrances to the home). Steel is also a pricey option then shingles but the longevity of it pays off in the long run.

There are other roofing materials and types of roofs but most of them do not function well in rural settings and can look out of place. Stick to the ones I have listed and you should be happy with the results.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, March 22, 2013

5 ways to turn your home from Drab to Fab when renovating this spring


Looking to spruce up your home this spring? Here are the Top 5 ways to transform your home from DRAB to FAB!

1. Paint:  Big impact for little effort, probably the most inexpensive remodel. A no-brainer. Don't forget about the outside.

2. Change the flooring: Dated or stained carpet has to go! Engineered hardwood would be my first choice. It's durable, easy to clean and timeless. It is also a very attractive feature for resale. 

3. Update your Trim: There is nothing more disappointing then insignificant trim work. When replacing the flooring, don't forget to update the baseboard and casing, it will add richness and architectural detail to your space without costing you a fortune. Feeling ambitious?........switch out the doors or paint them a high gloss black.

4. Lighting: Still in the dark? Consider task lighting like: lamps, pot lights and under cabinet strip lights.  There are so many innovative low energy options on the market now, even replacement LED pot trims. Say good bye to yellowed cans.

5. Hardware:  High gloss brass door knobs, outlet covers and return grills!  very 80's. Satin nickel or black, even consider lever handles for those who are aging. I would shy away from though if you have little ones.

This should keep you busy 'til Fall. If you don't have the time, we are here to help.

Have fun

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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We want to add an addition to our historic home, can we make it look like the original home?

We own an historic home and would like to add an addition, is it possible to do it and still make it look like the rest of the historic home?


Yes it is possible to make your addition look like the rest of the historic home.

Most historic houses that are old are brick or stone in North America. What you need to do is a lot of homework. Find yourself a contractor to build the addition that will go out of their way to research what is going to be installed on the outside of your home. Brick that is on the outside of your home was probably made fairly close to your home, that means that the clay in your area is what gives the colour to the brick of your home and the colour of all the brick older homes in your neighbourhood. Chances are there is no one making that brick in your area anymore. But don’t fret if you look around you can usually find something made in North America that is very close. We re-built a house that had old Ontario brick, we used Ohio brick and when the house was completed people to this day still think it’s the original brick on the outside of the home.

You, your builder and you architect need to work together when designing the addition, a good design will help make the addition look like it has always been there.

While you’re adding an addition then you should do some updating on the original home. Things like upgrading the windows, repainting and having the original brick sand blasted and re-pointed will make the older brick look like the newer brick.

You just have to take your time, adding an addition to an older home should take you longer especially if you want it to blend seamlessly.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Affordable custom built home, is it possible?


 Affordable custom built home, is it possible?


Congrats! You made the decision to build your custom home. Your dream come true!
Your plans have been drawn up by your architect/designer, a builder has reviewed your plans and budget.
Unfortunately some dreams stop here. Too much house, too much money! How do you get it within an affordable budget?

Get realistic about the size and the finishes for your custom home.

Size- it is natural to plan too large- scale down to reduce construction cost. Think about the amount of rooms that you truly require and the size that you "need" them to be not "want" them to be.

Finishes-Yes , you want the best, but work with your architect/designer and builder to find alternative solutions that will work within your budget. This is one of the easiest places that you can save money. Changing the trim from a custom stained hardwood to a finely painted popular could reduce the cost of the home significantly. Down grading the finishes in the guest bathrooms and bedrooms, or the laundry room or places like the mud room or basement will help you get your custom home built without breaking the bank.

Uses-Think about what you plan to do in and around your new home, is this the house you plan to retire into? Or is this the home that you plan to raise a family? Are you married, have dogs, have enlaws that have to live with you? Remember that your building a custom home, most people live in a custom home for decades, that means that regardless of what you do with your home when it is built you will probably end up having to renovate it before you sell it decades later.

Porches, decks, patios- The size, scope, detail and finishings of these can add a lot of money to the overall cost of the home. Simplifying these can help save you 10's of thousands of dollars.

Garages-The size and shape of garages add a lot of cost to a custom home build, the more doors and the larger the foot print of the home makes it ever higher in price.

Remember- your custom dream home can be possible-be realistic-talk to your architect/designer and builder every step of the way.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring skiing is here and the renovation season has begun!

Spring skiing is here, soft snow, sunglasses, sun, rain, snow and the kick off to spring renovation season.

When the sun comes out in the spring and weather starts to offer hopes of nicer days to come people start to think about the improvements or the repairs that their home or chalet require. It’s this time of year that you wonder if the sun is connected to the phone in the office.

When the sun comes out from behind the clouds and brightens up everyone’s day, the phone starts to ring with people looking to renovate. You can almost set your watch to it.

Through the February deep freeze the snow blows, the clouds cover the sun and the temperature keeps dropping till you’re pretty sure that the ground will never de-thaw. It gets to the point that you pick the phone up and check to see if there is a dial tone, you check the internet connection to make sure its still working and you start to wonder if the postal service has just given up trying to deliver the mail through the harsh winter months.

But then all of a sudden March rolls around and the world start to look a little more promising, a little more liveable and the leads start to come in, the phone rings, your in-box fills up and the post office seems to find people that want to send you things in the mail again.

You wonder where everyone was in the winter months when everything was so quiet and you had the man power and the time to quickly and easily quote and complete all of these jobs. But then again these people were probably doing the same thing that you were doing, hibernating.

So now that the world has survived another winter and you are looking for some renovation work please be patient with your contractor, the rest of the world has just done what you did and called looking for a quote and is wondering when the renovation can be completed, there all hoping for "as soon as possible".

Rob Abbott
Operations Manger
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Custom Home Building in the Town of the Blue Mountains

Custom Home Building in the Town of the Blue Mountains

In the town of the Blue Mountains you can’t open a magazine, turn a corner or talk to someone on the street without noticing all the custom home builders.

What you need to understand is that there are people who call themselves “custom home builders” and then there are actual custom home builders.

The difference is quiet clear when you see it up close and personal.

The difference is in the quality, the fit and finish of the home and the overall experience that the clients went through while their builder constructed their home.

When you’re looking to build a custom home in the Town of the Blue Mountains you need to make sure that you find the right builder.

When 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 goes along.

Village Builders is one of those general contractors that have been building custom homes in the town of Blue Mountains 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 because of the choices you have to make and the money that you are spending, but at the end when you have moved in 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”.

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 and sewer.

Consulting with the township building and planning department so that you can receive your building permit.

Directly working with designer or 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.

Using the best materials available in your budget.

Sourcing, pricing and acquiring 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 all the way 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.

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 Town of Blue Mountains 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.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Is Geothermal heating in your future?

Is Geothermal in Your Future?

Remodeling is the ultimate in "sustainable" housing, and upgrading a home's ability to save energy and other resources is becoming easier and more effective as "green remodeling" becomes mainstream.

As a professional remodeling contractor, we feel it's important to keep up on emerging technologies that may soon help our clients save money, improve comfort and reduce our impact on the environment.

In the spirit of learning about these new technologies, we profile a rising star in the world of heating and air conditioning: Geothermal (or "ground-source") heating and cooling systems. Simply, a geothermal system uses the temperature of the ground to condition the air that is distributed through the house using conventional ductwork.
To transfer ground temperature to the home's central air distribution system, a closed loop of narrow, flexible pipe is installed at least 8 feet underground, vertically or horizontally.

At that depth, the temperature of the ground is about 68 degrees. Conductive, non-toxic fluid is pumped through the pipe and is heated or cooled (depending on its temperature) by the constant temperature of the ground. When that fluid returns to the surface, it transfers its temperature to the air being blown into the home's ductwork.

That's exactly how conventional, air-sourced heat pumps work, except that those systems use the temperature of the ambient outdoor air, which is far less predictable and constant than underground temperatures.

In winter, for instance, if the thermostat is set at 72 degrees, the heating coils in the pump only need to boost the incoming, ground-conditioned, 68-degree fluid by a few degrees to achieve the desired temperature. The outdoor air temperature that day may be far colder; requiring far more energy from the pump's heating coils to warm it sufficiently.

Because this type of ground-source system requires far less supplemental heating or cooling measures to achieve desired indoor temperature and comfort levels, it uses less energy. In turn, there's less wear and tear on the heat pump, allowing it to operate at optimum efficiency for a longer period of time and with less maintenance.

Cost and payback:

The cost to install a geothermal system and the savings vary.  Geothermal systems costs at least  twice as much as a conventional air-sourced system, but cuts the monthly energy use and cost in half compared to natural gas and  66% compared to propane. There will be a substantial return on investment within a few years.  The best benefit is you get free air conditioning, and the more air conditioning you use, the more hot water is produced for your hot water tank.

People with geothermal systems also report better and healthier indoor comfort, especially in the height of summer or winter when a conventional heat pump has a hard time conditioning the outside air to the desired indoor temperature.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems may not be for everyone or every remodeling project, but they are a proven, energy-efficient option that delivers better performance and lessens environmental impact.

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.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Want a wood fireplace but can’t afford it? It’s probably because of the chimney

Want a wood fireplace but can’t afford it? It’s probably because of the chimney.

Everyone loves the thought of sitting beside a roaring fire, the warmth, the glow of the flickering light and when it is planned properly, it becomes a point of focus in the home.

What most people don’t understand is that it is rather expensive to have a wood burning fireplace installed in your home. Depending on what type of wood burning fireplace that you want, will dictate the price of the fireplace.

Size, shape and where the fireplace is suppose to be installed all factor into how much it will cost you to have a wood burning fireplace installed. Because everything that is installed around a wood burning fireplace has to be made to be fireproof or fire resistant it adds money to the cost of prepping the area for the wood fireplace install.

No matter what type of wood fireplace you install the one big constant is that it needs a chimney, the chimney has to be installed so that the smoke can freely rise up and out of the house and away from the building. Because of this fact, the chimney is as expensive or more expensive then that actual fireplace that does all the burning of the wood.

The cost of a chimney for a wood burning fireplace is at a minimum 200 dollars a foot. That adds up depending how many stories that chimney has to rise up and how many feet above the roof the chimney ends up protruding to allow the smoke to drift away. The distance the chimney has to be installed above the roof depends on the slope of the roof and the distance that the chimney is from the peak of the roof when it penetrates through the roof.

Other factors that make a chimney more expensive are as follows;

If the chimney goes through the house and not the outside.

If the chimney has to pass through multiple floors before it goes out the roof. Interior chimney chases are expensive to build and they take up valuable square footage in a home.

If the fireplace is a stand-alone stove then the chimney pipe has to be double lined for all pipe that is exposed to the room.

If there is certain types of insulation that will require heat shields when the pipe passes through them.

If the roof is fairly steep then the chimney can end up rising up higher off the roof. When a chimney rises up too high off a roof re-enforcing rods are required to hold the chimney straight against wind and snow.

If you hire a good contractor they will be able to give you an accurate quote so that you will know what you are getting into before you even start shopping to buy your wood fireplace. Hiring a proper company to install your fireplace is important because the risk that is created when you burn things in a fireplace that has an improper chimney are extreme. Make sure that your installer is certified and can give you a certification number because your insurance company will ask for a copy of it.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Would you consult a home inspector if you had a problem with your home?


If you had a problem with your home would you consider a home inspector a good person to consult as an alternate to a general contractor if you haven't needed one before... or would you consider a home inspector not specialist enough.


Thanks for the question.

I have a problem with home inspectors in general. Most general contractors do. The problem that we have is that they require little to no training to become one. With home inspectors it's more about them having the proper insurance in the case that they miss something serious and they get sued by the homeowner.

I have met home inspectors with as little as 9 months of training and/or experience in inspecting homes.
General contractors usually have been in the construction of homes for decades and have so much experience that a person that is considered a home inspector can't ever claim to be as knowledgeable.

A lot of home inspectors will inspect a home and only look for what they have been trained to look for (if they have any training at all) and not see the signs that can mean that something is seriously wrong with the house.

One of the main things that any good general contractor does is stay up on the current and upcoming technological advancements in building science. What this does is allow a contractor to come up with fixing something differently that will make it last longer and function better then it did before.

There certain ways that we construct a house that is completely opposite to the way you constructed a house as early as a decade ago. You could end up getting advice from a home inspector that could cause more damage then good.

The best people to get advice on your home is someone that has a lot of experience, experience that is wide spread and can understand how the whole building envelope works together.

So if you are looking for advice on a part of your house like the roof then call a general contractor or call a roofer. Calling a home inspector can end up with you shelling out money to a person that doesn't have enough knowledge to help, actually the knowledge level of most home inspectors mostly ends up hurting you in the end.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Top 5 Decorating trends in 2013

BIG & BOLD IN 2013

Below are my top 5 decorating trends that will be HOT this year.

1. Bold Graphic Patterns: Wallpaper, drapes, area rug, stair runner, dishes, it's every where!  Can't commit, buy a few throw pillows.

2. Emerald Green: This is the Pantone colour of the year, look for jewel toned walls, furniture and clothing.

3. Brass is Back: That's right! Lamps, picture frames and faucets. Aren't you wishing you didn't throw it all out!

4. Natural Materials:  Salvaged wood tables, wool rugs, hamam dish towels.

5. Pottery:  Japanese pottery to be exact. Beautiful dishes that can be displayed as art. Make sure you use them daily.

 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.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I was given a price per square foot for my new custom home. How do you measure square footage?


I was given a price per square foot for my new custom home. How do you measure square footage?


Measuring square footage (sqft) at its basic level is fairly easy; you measure the length of the room and multiply it by the width of the room. Do that for every room in the house and then add up the total and that will give you a rough square foot measurement.

Where the debate starts is what do you include and what don't you include when you are measuring for square footage.

Most builders when they are quoting price per square footage do not include the garage in the square footage calculation. Other parts of the house that they do not include in the calculations are attic space, decks, patios, covered porches and basements. This doesn't mean that they aren't including these areas in their price, it means that they are added into the price per square foot of the rest of the home.

So if a builder quotes you 200 dollars a sqft with an unfinished basement then the price for the job would rise to say 250 dollars a sqft if you wanted the basement finished. That would mean that the builder would be adding 50 dollars a sqft to finish the basement of your new home.

The confusion over this is one of the reasons that we at Village Builders do not quote per sqft. The only time I ever give someone a square footage price is when I'm asked for an "off the cuff" price on what a house would cost to build. This isn't a quote, this just helps someone understand what price range they will end up in if they do have us quote their new home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders