Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can I build a new house using the wood from my old house that I tore down?


Can I build a new house using the wood from my old house that I tore down?


Yes you can in most places. There are by-laws in a lot of places that state that you must use lumber that has been stamped and approved, depending on the age of the lumber it might not have that stamp and the building inspectors might give you a hard time about it. A simple call to your local building department will answer that question.

There are several problems with using lumber that has been reclaimed out of an older home;

Since the home that you are salvaging the lumber from is older you will not be guaranteed that it will be the same size as new modern lumber. Older lumber is wider and thicker than today’s lumber. You will be hard pressed to find modern lumber that will match the older stuff, to make it match you either cut the old lumber down or you have to make sure that when using the older lumber you only build with it. That requires you to build some walls in the house with new lumber and other walls completely with the older material.

Rot and insect damage. Be very careful that you are not using old lumber that is water damaged or infested with insects. There’s nothing worse than building a new home and having it infested right away. The rot and insects don’t already have to be there, they can find their home in the lumber once it’s removed and piled on the ground.

Once you have removed old lumber from a house and then exposed it to the weather it will start to take on moisture. The more moisture it takes on outside the more it will have to shed that moisture later once it is in the house in a dry environment. Along with the moisture the sun will make the lumber twist and swell. You must make sure that the lumber is stacked tight and bound so that it doesn’t get the chance to move, also place it on sleepers so that it is off the ground.

You must remove as many nails out of the lumber as possible. Cutting, drilling and handling old lumber can be dangerous and expensive if every time you cut a piece of wood you cut through an old nail and damage the blade.

Don’t be surprised if some of the lumber doesn’t meet today’s code. The rafters you take off the old house probably won’t be sized large enough to meet the new code.

You must make sure that when reusing studs they must be clean of all lath and plaster, nails, screws and anything else that will cause bumps or rolls in the finished drywall.

Since you are planning to re-use the lumber don’t neglect to budget for more new lumber to be put in the new house.

Remember one thing about re-using old lumber it is very time consuming, the cost for the old lumber might be free but the labour cost of the removal and prep to be reused is much higher.

You will be facing a higher demolition cost by saving the lumber because the amount of man hours it will take to take down the building will be higher, the alternative is to have an excavator tear the building down, separate it and have the debris taken to the dump.

When talking about being environmentally friendly it is better to reuse the old lumber, but if your demolition contractor is able to separate the material when the house is torn down with a piece of heavy equipment then the amount of stuff that will end up in the landfill will be a lot less then you think. When you actually separate the pieces of a house that has been torn down you end up with 4 categories;

1. Metal. There is actually a lot of metal inside a house that can be picked out once the house is torn down or removed before it is torn down. The metal is sent to a recycler and so it never ends up in a land fill. The metal that is sent to a recycler you will be paid for by the pound instead of you paying to have it put in a land fill site.

2. Wood. There is a tremendous amount of wood in a home, when it is torn down it can be separated into a wood only loads. What this does is allows the landfill site to put it through an industrial wood chipper. Once all this wood has been chipped then it is used to layer the landfill so that vehicles can drive in and out without getting stuck in the mud. None of the wood is wasted because landfills do not want to buy wood chips. The wood chips will rot and biodegrade overtime leaving nothing but fertile soil, they are probably one of the few things in a landfill that will do this. The rate that you pay to dump all wood loads is significantly less then typical garbage.

3. Garbage. There are certain things in a home that just can’t be recycled. These must be removed and taken to the landfill; there really isn’t any way around that.

4. Re-used items. Things like old windows can be sold to people that are building green houses or sheds. A lot of pieces of old houses can be sold or donated for these purposes. This helps keep things out of landfills. Other things like old kitchens, doors or plumbing fixtures can be donated to charities like Habitat for Humanity.

So if you have the time, patience and money then you can re-use a lot of things out of the old home like the lumber, but make no mistake it will be a labour of love.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mold on the ceiling in your garage?

If you have mold on the ceiling in your new garage, it might be because it is too humid in there.

In the winter when you bring your cars into the garage they are usually covered in snow and ice. By the time the morning comes all the snow and ice has almost melted off the vehicles. This is because it is actually warmer in your garage then it is outside, it’s warmer in your garage even if you do not heat your garage. All this moisture from your vehicles is what creates the humid environment in your garage.

Most garages aren’t entirely insulated because of cost and most people believe that if they aren’t going to heat their garage why would they bother to insulate it at all.

The modern garage is so well sealed now that you almost never have air leakage into a garage space. Garage doors in modern custom homes are made to be extremely airtight. They do not allow water or snow to blow in around the doors, the rubber seals on new garage doors are better than most man doors into the actual home. Since the garage doors are so air tight there is virtually no air exchange in the garage.

Since most garages are attached to the home making it more convenient, then the walls of the garages are sealed to stop the carbon monoxide from entering the home and causing health problems. This air seal is good and bad when it comes to humidity. If the garage isn’t completely insulated then the warm moist air in the garage will travel up to the ceiling, as it meets the drywall it also meets the cold air coming from the attic, the warm air rapidly cools, this creates moisture and the moisture ends up on the drywall of the ceiling where warm and cold air mix. As this process happens repeatedly day after day and with little air movement in the garage mold starts to form on the surface of the drywall.

There are a couple ways to avoid this;

  1. Insulate your entire garage regardless if you are heating it, walls and ceilings.
  2. Install an exhaust fan that is run from a humistat.

A humistat fan is a fan installed high up on the wall that has a humidity detector, when the air in the garage reaches a certain humidity level the fan turns on and expels the air outside. This helps keep the humidity level in the garage down and also helps air exchange in the garage.

Since you are removing air from the garage then you need to add air so that the garage doesn’t become depressurized. Since your humistat fan is mounted high on the wall then you need to add fresh air on the opposite side of the garage as low as possible. All you need is an air vent that can be adjusted by hand; these are the same vents that you would install in a cold room.

These two simple things will help you keep your new garage mold free.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Where to build that new waterfront cottage: Designing your cottage

Designing your waterfront cottage: Positioning your cottage

When you have decided to build yourself a cottage, then you’ve decided to get away from all the hustle and bustle, away from the traffic, the noise and spend some time with nature and all the peacefulness that comes along with it.

Once you have found and purchased the property that you want to build your retreat on then you must design your cottage, the first thing that you must do in the design process is decide on where you want your cottage to go, where on your building lot you want to position your cottage.

There are a number of things that you need to consider when you start the process of positioning the cottage, here are some of the things that you will need to consider;

View. One of the biggest reasons people buy a cottage property is for the view, there’s nothing more relaxing then when you are drinking your morning coffee, sitting in your favorite chair and can take in something more beautiful then what you would ever see in the city. Your positioning of the cottage for your view will depend on whether you are looking out on to the water or if you are on a hill looking out over a land view. Some cottages do not have the typical view of water or hills their view is more trees and green space.

Lot restrictions. In cottage country, depending on your municipality will determine the rules and regulations of where on the property you are allowed to build your cottage. There are many restrictions, the distance from your neighbour’s cottage, the distance from roads and power lines, the distance that you have to be from the high water mark, the ground stability if you are on a hill, the restrictions because of protected or environmentally sensitive land on your property.

Septic System. The positioning on your cottage will be affected by your septic system. Most cottages will not be on town sewers, this means that you will require a septic system. Septic systems take up a fair bit of room depending on what type of septic system you install. When positioning the cottage you have to leave a place on your property large enough so that the septic can be installed.

Well or water. Most cottages are not on municipal water so they require you to install either a well or a water line that is run out into the lake. Either way you need to understand that if it goes on your property it requires a certain amount of room. Wells have to be placed away from septic systems and driveways to help eliminate contamination. Some places that have water lines going out into the lake will need the water treated once it comes into the cottage so that you can have potable water.

Privacy. You come to the cottage to get away from people in general, remember that when positioning your cottage you should try and keep some greenery or position the windows so that you are not looking directly at your neighbours.

You will need to have your property surveyed professionally, this is not just for the positioning of your cottage but also for the location of your septic system and any outbuildings that exist or will be constructed. The survey will also show the elevations, this will affect the grading of the lot around the cottage and the septic system.

When speaking of elevations a lot of cottage owners will try and take advantage of the grade of the lot to achieve a walkout basement. Doing this allows three things;

1. This gives you livable space downstairs in the basement; walkout basements have many more windows and doors allowing more natural light and also an exit out to the water or backyard.

2. Having a walkout basement keeps the main floor of your home higher off the ground giving you a better view of the hills or water depending on your views.

3. When building beside a body of water digging down can be dangerous, you can end up digging into the water table. Walkouts are basements that are guaranteed to be above the level of the body of water you are beside. As long as there isn’t a lot of water in the ground above that point you should have a dry basement where the water runs downhill past the cottage to the lake.

To get ideas for what elevation your house will sit at look at the existing homes around the land that you want to build on, these existing cottages will give you a hint of what to expect and how you should position your cottage.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is a crawlspace ok in a new home?


I’m looking to build a new home, but the land I’m looking at won’t allow me to build a full basement. Don’t I need a basement in my home?


Many new homes don’t have basements today. With the limited space and shrinking stock of land to build houses on people are being forced to build homes on less than ideal land. Because of this builders have had to invent ways to help people have their home without a basement and design it in a way that it doesn't affect the functionality of the home.

Crawl spaces today aren’t the damp dark things that people think about from 3 or 4 decades ago. Today crawl spaces are just like basements, modern day basements are warm and dry and are today's crawlspaces. Crawl spaces are also functional for what you require them to be.

One of the primary functions of a crawlspace is to house all the mechanical requirements that run your home; this eliminates the need for a mechanical room upstairs. With being able to put the mechanical in the crawlspace you keep the valuable square footage upstairs for the extra livable space you need when you don't have a basement.

Furnaces, water treatment, air handlers, sump pumps and water heating can all be done in the crawlspace. With the invention of flash boilers hot water tanks are no longer needed, this allows them to fit into smaller spaces. Audio/video controls, alarm and venting for gas fireplaces can also be located in the crawlspace.

To save even more space upstairs exterior entrances to the crawlspace are being installed on the outside of houses. These are commonly referred to as bilco doors. They allow access to the crawl space without having to enter through the house. This gives you more options to storing things in the crawlspace like canoes, skies or other things that wouldn’t fit down through a trap door or a small stair case inside the home.

When you design the home you need to keep in mind that you have limited storage options without a basement, so you have to be smart about how you organize the storage of your home and how you plan to use the storage space you have in the garage. Doing this will minimize the impact of not having a basement.

If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t require a lot of storage then building a home with a crawlspace instead of a basement will save you money, crawlspaces are far less than building a full height basement. The concrete walls aren’t as high and you don’t have to worry about finishing it. You can still use your crawl space for storage; it should function just fine for things like Christmas decorations or winter sports equipment.

So when you are looking at land for your new home don’t discount the ones that will not allow a basement, it could workout in your favor.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What is a cold roof?

What is a cold roof?


A cold roof is an insulated roof system that does not ventilate.  This system is widely used for flat roofs. The insulation is commonly laid on top of the roof deck and the roofing membrane is adhered over top.

Sometimes when ventilation is a problem in sloping roofs, the insulator will foam insulate the roof cavity from underneath to achieve an insulated cold roof system.  It is important that this type of roof system stops any interior vapour from penetrating the insulation.

You can have parts of a roof system be a cold roof and other parts that are conventional. In most custom homes there are area’s in the roof because of design or the way that it was constructed that there isn’t a way for the roof to ventilate, these area’s must be spray foamed to achieve a proper cold roof. This will then insure that there isn’t a ventilation problem in that area down the road.

Ventilation problems can lead to condensation problems. You can have a condensation problem from a non venting roof that is so severe that you will swear the roof is leaking.

When insulating a home special attention should be paid to any area that is deemed unventible or even has the ability to have poor venting. Your contractor and your insulator need to work together to achieve a proper balance between proper venting and a proper insulation seal.

When insulating a home there has to be a wide picture view taken of the whole home and how the building envelope will be insulated. This is the best way to achieve a near perfect insulating job where there is a high R-value with little to no ventilation problems down the road.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Can I have my foundation waterproofed in the winter?


Hi Rob.  I enjoyed reading your article regarding the difference between foundation damp proofing and foundation waterproofing.  I live in Canada and I'd like to have my new construction residential home waterproofed with a spray on rubberized membrane.  Unfortunately my home will be constructed in the winter time and the outside temperatures are around 5 degrees Fahrenheit.   Can these rubberized products be sprayed on during the cold winter temperatures?



Hey, thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

I also live in Canada, I live in Ontario. We build a lot of houses and start them throughout the entire year including the winter.  I have waterproofed many a home in the winter when the temperatures can be rather cold.

In most parts of Canada winter is not continuously -15C/5F all winter, as you know the temperature will go above that and also well below that at times. The product that we use to spray foundations in the winter is called Code Blue.

Code Blue can be installed all the way down to -15C/5f. Anything below this temperature and it would have trouble sticking properly to the foundation. Since the temperatures during the day times routinely rise higher than the night time temperatures you should have no problem finding a day that is -15C/5f or above to do the waterproofing.

To make sure that when the waterproofing company arrives they are able to complete the job please make sure that the following is done before they arrive;

Fill all tie-holes, cracks or divots in the concrete wall.

You must shovel all the snow away from the foundation. What typically happens on a winter construction project is that because the foundation is sitting in basically in a hole the snow tends to fill in the hole. You need to shovel the snow off the foundation and far enough away that the waterproofing company can work on the wall. You should do this the day before they arrive to give the wall a time to dry a little if any of the snow happened to melt and form ice.

If you have ice on the foundation you need to remove it. Either chip it off with a scrapper or use my personal favorite a tiger torch. Tiger torches are attached to a propane tank and will melt ice very quickly, the concrete behind will not be damaged by the flame. Make sure you stay away from any wood framing or typar with your open flame.

You will need to expose the top of the footing. Remove any snow and ice or frozen dirt so that the waterproofing guys can spray on to the top of the footing. They do not require you to expose the side of the footing; they will only need to coat the top of the footing to waterproof the joint between the concrete foundation wall and the concrete footing.

The product doesn’t have to be code blue; there are other makers of rubberized membrane out there depending on where you live in Canada. When waterproofing foundations the job is only as good as the installers, make sure you hire a company with a good reputation and is comfortable working in winter conditions. The only thing that should affect the waterproofing installation will be the weather, if it’s snowing really hard then they probably wouldn’t install it until a dryer day or if it’s extremely windy they won’t be able to safely install it. Other than that you should be able to have your foundation waterproofed in the winter,
good luck.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New building code takes affect this year 2014 in Ontario

New building code takes affect this year in Ontario

There are new rules and regulations that come into affect this year for building houses in Ontario, the changes were made back in 2012 but where not implemented until this year so that all parties would have the time to understand and prepare for the new rules. All the changes to the building code that were made in 2012 will not come into effect this year, some will come into effect next year (2015) and two years after that in (2017).

Here are some of the changes that will affect you if you are planning to build a house in 2014:

Hard wired smoke alarms with battery back-up will be required in all sleeping rooms in houses and large buildings.

Window screens are no longer an acceptable fall protection device in windows.

Homes being constructed in 2017 will have to be 15% more energy efficient then houses built in 2012.

New toilets have to be high efficiency for water conservation.

New shower heads have to be high efficiency for water conservation.

Drain less composting toilets will now be allowed in places that have municipal services.

Tightening in rules on on-site septic systems.

The new building code will allow more performance-oriented method design and installation of some building elements.

All ministry rulings that authorize the use of innovative building techniques are to be posted at the build site.

You must have thermal protection for foam plastic insulation as condition for your residential occupancy.

Removes the need for final grading for your occupancy permit in certain residential sectors.

Overall what does this all mean?

It means that Ontario is asking builders to build a more energy efficient home that uses less resources overall.
It also means that they are adding more safety features to the home to help protect people from the hazards that can befall people in a home.

A lot of these rules and regulations will not affect most high end custom home builders because they are already going way beyond the code when it comes to insulating homes and the plumbing fixtures that they use. It will affect the tract home/ sub-division builders, they will now have to build a better smarter home and that will cost more, if it costs the builder more then it will cost the purchaser more.

The government is hoping that the energy and water saved will help offset the cost, it will but not until years down the road. People will have to understand that new homes are now a little more expensive to build or buy and that in the long run it should save them money.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Panatone Colour of the Year

2014 Panatone Colour of the Year

Press Release:
An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”

Radiant Orchid for Interiors

Spruce up interior spaces by incorporating this eye-catching hue in paint, accent pieces and accessories. As adaptable as it is beautiful, Radiant Orchid complements olive and deeper hunter greens, and offers a gorgeous combination when paired with turquoise, teal and even light yellows.

Likewise, the vibrant color is sure to liven up neutrals including gray, beige and taupe. Uplifting and bold without being overpowering, Radiant Orchid reenergizes almost any color palette and provides a unifying element for diverse spaces.

This is an excerpt 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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to become a carpenter


I want to be a carpenter, how do I become one?


I’m glad to see that you are thinking about a career in the trades, being a carpenter is one of the most rewarding things that you can do if you have a love for building things and you want a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Like any profession it takes time for you to become a carpenter, when I say time I mean years, years and years. But like any true profession the longer you’re in it the better you are at it.

In today’s world you can now find courses for carpenter at College campuses. Let me give you a piece of advice, do not take them. Why do you want to pay for something that you could get for free? Actually why pay for something that you could get paid to learn!

The great thing about wanting to become a carpenter is that you have to work in the industry to become one; it’s not something you can learn by sitting in a class room. Hands on is the only way to truly learn to becoming a carpenter, the longer you work at being a carpenter the more you will learn and the more valuable you will be to a company.

Here’s the first thing that you have to do, you need to get some experience in the construction industry, and you need to work in the industry to make sure that you can handle doing it. Carpentry is not an easy life, its hard work, and long hours, sometimes the money isn’t very good, more than half the time you will be working outside (which sounds fun in the summer, but is rough in the winter) and the industry is always changing meaning that you are always forced to learn new ways to do things.

The second thing you need to know is that carpenters are never unemployed long, good carpenters are only unemployed as long as they want to be, in the construction industry a good carpenter is something that is always in high demand.

Here’s how you become a carpenter, this will be your blue print for the rest of your life if and when you decide to join us in the construction industry:

1. Get a job as a labour. Find a construction company that is hiring in your area and apply for a job. Try to get hired by a reputable company, ask them if they have apprentices already, how long they can keep you employed if you are hired and how much work they actually have in the area. The money is not a big deal at this stage; you will be paid very little, because as a labourer you are worth very little to them.

2. Learn your job well. Being a labourer is about physically working every day, keeping your mouth shut and your ears open. Labourer’s move material, set up and tear down scaffolding, haul tools, shovel snow, shovel dirt and the most important thing as a labourer to learn is the art of cleaning up after everybody else. If you can handle this crappy existence for a while then maybe construction is the right profession for you. Being a labourer is a humbling experience, you get ordered around by everyone and you will go home tired at the end of every day.

3. Timing. Once you have been working as a labourer for 5 or 6 months and you have decided that this is something that you want to do for the rest of your life then it is time to start thinking about making a career out of what you are doing. If you’re committed then you have learned on the job these past 5 to 6 months, learned to the point that you don’t require as much supervision as when you started. This is important, you need to be able to show your employer that you have been learning and progressing, if this is so then you can approach your employer about becoming an apprentice. If your employer doesn’t offer apprenticeships or they don’t legally qualify for them under the government’s rules then you need to start looking around for a construction company that does. Even if you can’t stay with your current company to become an apprentice it is not a waste of time, as long as you are learning your current job well. Having experience as a labourer will help you get another job where you can register as an apprentice.

4. Becoming an apprentice. Once you find an employer or your current employer agrees to allow you to become an apprentice then they will enroll you into an official government program for apprenticeships. What this does is put your name on a list for the next available courses for carpentry and it registers you in the apprentice program, a program that has a lot of benefits and perks for you as the apprentice. Now you that you are registered as an apprentice and been confirmed by the government then the government and your employer will keep track of the hours that you will be working in total as a carpentry apprentice. The employer also has a duty to make sure that you are learning certain skills on the job, but it is also your job to make sure that you learn, that means you have to ask questions and pay attention at work to more than just what your labourer job requires. As you learn you will be given more opportunity to observe carpenters and work alongside of them instead of just labouring.

5. Schooling. There are three parts to your schooling, 3 courses; each course is about 8 weeks long. You cannot take the courses back to back to back, you can only take at a minimum of 1 course that is 8 weeks long a year. That means that just to finish the schooling part of the apprenticeship will take you a minimum of 3 years. Usually with the current demand on these courses it takes longer to complete the courses, the average time is usually is 4 to 5 years to complete. That’s not a big deal because the total hours you require to be allowed to take the final carpentry exam is longer than 3 years of full employment
6. The perks. Other then learning valuable things that the 8 week courses will give you there are several other things that are there to help you.  You are illegible for unemployment while you are attending your schooling. You are also given a travel allowance, baby sitting allowance and a cash bonus as incentive from the government every time you complete one of the courses. They also have a 0% interest tool loan that they will offer you so that you can buy tools to help you get started as a carpenter, you do not have to pay the loan back until after your have finished the courses.

7. It’s on you. It is on you to learn this trade, the schooling will only give you some of the basics in math, how to properly read plans, how to understand the building code, how to read the code book and other basic skills. Everything else you will learn from being hands on, onsite working with master carpenters that know more then you and always will. This is not like a high school or college course where you are trying to learn enough to get a good mark on the final exam, this is your lively hood, and the more you know and know how to do the more valuable you become to companies in the construction industry.

8. Evaluations. In my company apprentices are evaluated as they progress through the apprenticeship program and are rewarded accordingly for their learning, dedication and skills by increases in pay and added responsibilities. If I have an apprentices who is not taking the learning seriously or doesn’t bother to sign up for the new courses then that will reflect on their standing in my company, their future employment in my company, their responsibilities and their level of pay.

9. The final exam. Once you have finished your schooling and you have enough hours to qualify then you are eligible to challenge the final exam. If and when you are able to pass that test you will be what is called a RED SEAL carpenter. The great thing about a red seal carpenter is that it is recognized all over Canada and also a lot of states in the USA. This shows people that you are what you say you are, a qualified and skilled carpenter.

Some of things you have to understand about being a carpenter. It isn’t just about being able to build things with tools, carpenters are in charge of people, carpenters have people working under them, carpenters are an authority figure, that means that they are in charge of labourers and apprentices; they control their work, safety and training. That’s a lot of responsibility to have, that means that as a carpenter you’re in charge of production as well, if you are given 4 men to work with you it is your job to keep them all working all the time, safely and efficiently. This is something that you will not learn in school, you can only learn these things by being part of them so that you can understand what way is correct way to manage people, material and tools.

Carpentry is not a male occupation, in the past it has been but most forward thinking contractors understand that you can be male or female and be a good quality carpenter. So any ladies that are thinking about working in construction, think about becoming a carpenter, it is one of the most rewarding things that you can ever do.

My company is always on the lookout for young people who are aspiring to becoming apprentices, I have a policy in my company that if someone comes looking for a job and they want to be an apprentice I never turn them away. I take their name, number and email address and tell them when I need to hire someone in the future they will be at the top of the list for an interview. It works well; I once hired a young man 7 months after he applied for a job as an apprentice; which was the first opening I had for a new employee at that level.  

The best advice I can give you is to get into the construction industry and make sure that you like it and then work on becoming an apprentice. Construction isn’t for everyone, but for some people it can be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Will my septic system fit on my lot?


We have a small piece of property that we want to build our retirement home on, our friends are telling us that once the house is built there won’t be enough room for the septic bed, is that true?


Your friends might actually be right; your property if small enough might not have enough room for the bed of your septic system. Septic beds cannot be placed to close to the house, or wells or under driveways.

But don’t get to worried yet; there are other options then the conventional septic tank with a big tile bed. There are actually septic systems on the market that do not require a septic bed.

The system that doesn’t require the use of a septic bed is called an ECO-FLOW system. The system works like this;

There is a concrete septic tank in the ground on the outside of your home, then the waste flows into another fibreglass holding tank, inside the fibreglass holding tank is filled with pete moss. The pete moss helps eat up all the solids and harmful waste water. From that tank the water flows out into an area of your yard that is filled with sand. That’s it. The system takes up a lot less room then your conventional septic system.

ECO-FLOWS where invented for this very reason, for places that don’t have enough room for a proper septic system.

The best thing you can do is talk to an installer of septic systems, or if you already have a general contractor then talk to them about it. You will surprised at what modern technology is out there for septic systems. The decision will be made well before you start your house on whether your septic system will fit on your lot with your new home, your municipality will require you to submit a plan to them with a layout of where the home sits and where the septic will be installed before you are granted a building permit. As long as you do not violate any of the set backs with your septic system you should be able to build your home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Optimizing Insulation in your home

Optimizing Insulation

Virtually every remodeling project gives considerable thought to energy conservation, and a primary component of that goal is insulation. The definition of insulation, however, is rapidly expanding as homeowners and energy codes demand even better energy-saving performance.

Nowadays, there are far more insulating options than those bags of fiberglass you see on the shelves of a big-box home improvement store. While “batt” insulation remains an inexpensive yet effective option, other materials have emerged that help optimize thermal value when replacing conventional insulation.

For instance, we may place. 1 inch thick rigid foam insulation panel behind the finish siding of a room addition, as well as insulating between the wall studs. That type of technique is commonly called a “thermal break".

Also, in addition to taping the joints between insulation panels, a thin, woven air-water barrier (also called a “weather-resistant barrier” or “housewrap”) is applied under the panels to shed incidental water that gets behind the siding or stucco and blocks air infiltration through the structure.

Another increasingly popular insulating technique is called “flash-and-batt,” a practice that combines conventional fiberglass batts with a “flash” or thin layer of expanding foam insulation. Specifically, an insulation contractor will spray a 1-inch deep layer of foam into a wall cavity. As the foam expands, it seals any gaps in the cavity to block air and moisture vapor from flowing through the wall. Then the contractor fills the rest of the cavity with uncompressed fiberglass to resist thermal (or heat) transfer. The result is an air-tight and well-insulated wall.

Most of a home’s energy is lost through the attic or roof. The difference in air temperature and pressure between the attic and the living space below can be dramatic, causing air to escape into the attic and putting an extra burden on the home’s heating and cooling system.

A flash-and-batt installation can almost entirely eliminate thermal loss into the attic. Often, after the flash layer is applied within the truss or rafter cavities on top of the ceiling board, a loose-fill fiberglass or cellulose (made from recycled newspaper and similar fibers) layer is used to cover the foam.

Polyuerthane expanding foam is being used more frequently as the only insulation in the home. It seals stud and rafter cavities with a high r value per inch of insulation that gives you a vapour barrier as well .This works great in areas that ventaltion is a problem and/or vapour barrier is hard to establish, like a floor over a cold area

The push to make homes more energy efficient is driving new and better insulation products and applications, and professional remodelers are at the forefront of that evolution to provide better indoor comfort and help reduce monthly energy bills.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an excerpt 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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The shower bench

The shower bench

Every custom home I build these days has at least one custom built non-manufactured larger shower in them. If there is only one of these showers it is usually in the master bathroom ensuite. In every one of them we have installed a bench for people right in the shower.

The shower bench has evolved from a small triangle in the corner that held your shampoo bottles off the floor to what it is today, a multipurpose seat that does many things for many different people.

You might wonder what people need with a bench or seat in their shower; you must understand that the modern shower does more than just sprinkle water from a single shower head.

Showers today have multiple heads that are more like a carwash and less like a traditional shower, you don’t have to stand in the middle of the shower to have the water wash over you and keep you warm. You can have directed water spray on you while you sit happily on the bench from in wall jets that supply you with water horizontally or you can have multiple heads in the ceilings depending on how big the shower stall is made. Since you don’t have to stay in one exact spot then you don’t have to worry about ever getting cold from of being out of the main spray from the shower head.

A shower bench is considered multipurpose because every person will use it differently. Women like to use it to help them shave their legs; you can never have enough space when doing that acrobatic feat.

 With people opting for steam units for their showers this allows them a place to sit or lie down and enjoy some relaxing time without the actual shower functioning as a shower.

The bench also acts as a place that you can store your shampoo bottles either on top of it or underneath if you create a cubby hole to hold them.

As people age getting in and out of a shower can become a problem, with a bench in your shower you walk in and sit down, when you want to get out you just stand back up, no worrying about slipping and falling or having to bend down for anything as everything can be on the bench with you.

There are many ways to build a shower bench, some people build them out of wood and then wrap them in waterproofing and cement board so that they can be tiled, others use foam products that they can carve and shape then tile, I like to use patio stones made out of concrete for my base and then tile.

Whatever shape or size of shower you design keep an eye towards adding a bench, the cost is not high but the payback is long term.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Framing an exterior wall in your home (no windows or doors)

How to properly frame an exterior wall (simple wall framing)

How to frame a house- part 1.

First things first you will need a proper set of house plans to work off. Most wall heights are a standard 8 or 9 feet but sometimes custom homes are 10 feet high. To explain how to frame an exterior wall I will work with either 8 ft or 9 ft walls to help keep it simple to start.

For an 8 ft or 9ft wall you will need lumber, exterior walls are made out of 2x6 spruce. You should buy pre-cut studs; they are studs that are already cut so that when you add your bottom and top plates they equal out to the correct height. Non pre-cut studs come either 8 or 9 feet long and to use them you would have to cut every stud shorter to fit the correct height.

From your house plans pick the wall that you want to frame. To make things simple start with a wall that will run from one corner to another corner, also the wall should be small enough that you and y I am about to explain does not have any windows or doors in it to make things as simple as possible.

When you are measuring the wall do not take the measurements off the plan, you need to measure the actual section where the wall is going to be built, it’s not uncommon for the foundation to be slightly different then the plans, this will affect how all your walls come together and how tight the fit and finish of your framing will be. When framing the walls remember that your framed walls will overlap when the corners of each wall come together. This means that if you are building a wall that goes from one corner to another and it is the first wall you are building that you should measure from the edge of your floor (where the corner would start) to the other edge (the next corner), this is the simplest way to do it. This way at one end of the framed wall it will have a framed wall that will butt into it and on the other end the next wall will overlap the end.

Take two pieces of lumber (2x6) preferably long enough to make the entire distance of your wall measurement and turn them on their edge so the 1.5” edge is looking at you. Lay them either on the ground or on a table and put them together back to back. Make sure the ends of the two pieces of lumber are lined up together.

Next you lay out your wall.

Since you have chosen a wall without any windows or doors then it makes the layout simple. Start at one end of the two pieces of lumber (we call these wall plates), place your framing square at the end and then measure in 1.5”s and draw a straight line across the upturned edge of the 2x6. Then in the space between the end of the plate and the line that you just drew you mark place an X there, the reason that the plates are together is so that you can draw the identical thing on both pieces of lumber at the same time. This will be your first stud location.

Hook your tape on the end of the plate and measure out until you get to the 16” mark. This will be the location of your next stud, do not put a mark at 16”s, you need the middle of the stud to end up at the 16” mark. Studs are 1.5”s wide on their edge, so draw a mark at 15 ¼”s. With your framing square draw a straight line across both plates, on the side of the line that the 16” fell on you now draw an X. This is your second stud location.

You continue this all the wall across your plates making marks for studs every 16”s and remember you want your mark to be 3/4s of an inch back from the 16 inch centre. That means that you will make a mark at 15 ¼, 31 ¼, 47 ¼, 63 ¼ and on until you reach the end of the plates.

Once you do reach the end of the plate you must add an X at the end like you did at the start, this will be your last stud location.

Now that you have your wall laid out you place one plate near where the wall will be built and the other plate either 8 or 9 feet away from it, paralleling the first plate. The plate nearest where your wall is to go is called the bottom plate; the plate near the top is the upper plate. Mark sure that the plates are turned up on their edge the same way that you laid them out and also make sure that both plates are running the same way as when you laid them out.

Now place your pre-cut studs between the two plates, so that they run from one plate to the other and also make sure that they are placed on their edge like your plates. As you are placing your pre-cut studs between the two plates you must make sure that the crown in the studs are all facing the same way, usually you face the crown up.

What is a crown you ask and how do you determine which way it goes?

Pick up your stud by the end; turn it on its edge leaving one end on the floor. Then put your eye so that you can look down the entire length of the stud, you will see that the stud actually has a slight bend to it going one way or the other. You must make sure that if it bends up then that is how it is place on the floor between your two plates, every other stud should be placed the same way with the bend up.

Place one stud between the plates for every X you drew on the plates. If you laid out your wall properly then the studs should line up straight from one plate to the next.

Start at one end of the plates and nail each stud to the plate, you must put at least two 3 ¼” nails through the plate into the end of the stud. Make sure that the stud when it is nailed is tight to your plate and that one edge of the plate lines up with the line you drew and the rest of the plate is under the X that you drew. Nail the ends of studs to the plates so that both plates are now attached to the same studs.

Once all the studs are nailed then you must maneuver the new wall over to the exact location that you want it to go. The only thing you need to know is that you need to place the edge of the bottom plate 5 and a 1/2 “s in from the edge of your floor. To help you place the wall where it is suppose to go chalk a line at the 5 ½” mark across the length of where your wall is suppose to go. With this chalk line you then place the edge of the bottom plate at that line. Toe-nail that plate with some hand nails to hold it there, you must toe-nail on the inside of the wall, if they aren’t then when you stand up your wall the nails will interfere with the placement and cause problems later.

Now that you have the bottom plate secured to the floor you will need to square the wall up. To square the wall you need to measure from one corner to the opposite corner of the wall. That means that if you start at the bottom plate on the left side of the wall then you need to measure to the upper plate on the right side, you then measure from the bottom plate on the right side to the top plate on the left side. You must adjust the wall back and forth at the upper plate until both of these measurements are equal. When these two measurements are equal then the wall is square. Toe-nail a couple of hand nails into the upper plate so that the upper plate is attached to the floor, this will keep the wall square and in place until you are ready to stand it up. Make sure that these nails are placed on the outside of the wall so that you can remove them to stand the wall once the sheeting has been installed.

Starting at the upper plate you will need to place your OSB sheeting on the wall, the sheeting should be placed so that it runs length ways from left to right. Starting at the first stud that you installed on the left side of the wall you line the edge of the sheeting up with the left side edge of the stud. The top edge can be lined up with the top edge of the upper plate. Once the sheeting is lined up if you squared your wall correctly the left and upper edge of the sheeting will line up with the edge of your framing and if the studs are in the correct place then the end of the 8 foot sheet will fall in the middle of a stud. Nail this sheet with a minimum of 2 ¼ inch nails every 6 to 8 inches on every stud and on the plates.

The sheeting that you are installing on the wall is usually 8 feet by 4 feet, since you are installing the sheets horizontally then you are going to need at least 2 rows of sheeting, you may need more depending on the height of your wall. When you start the next row of sheeting you need to cut the first sheet in half before you install it. This makes the sheet 4 feet by 4 feet and will stagger the joints in the sheeting from the row above. Staggering the sheeting is a way to make the wall stronger by not lining all the joints up on one stud.
Cover the entire wall with the sheeting and nail it as informed above. You want to make sure that the sheeting does not stick past the end of the wall on the right. You also want to make sure that the sheeting does not hang below the wall at the bottom; if it does it will interfere with you standing up the wall. If the sheeting is a couple inches short on the bottom don’t bother filling the small gap yet, you can fill it and overlap the rim joist below later when the wall is standing. This will add some strength to the wall instead of having a little strip at the bottom.

There is one more thing that you need to do to the wall before you stand it up, you need to apply the house wrap on top of the sheeting. Install the house wrap on the sheeting by rolling it out over the wall and stapling it every 4 to 6 inches when it is smooth and taunt without any wrinkles or folds. Make sure to cover the entire wall but don’t let it hang down at the bottom or it will interfere with standing the wall up. You can leave it long on the top or on the ends because the house wrap is very easy to trim back later while you are framing the remaining walls of the house.

You are now ready to stand the wall up, pull the toe-nails out of the upper plate that you installed; you do not have to worry about the toe-nails in the bottom plate, besides since you installed them on the inner side of the plate and covered them with the sheeting you will have no access to them. They will act as an anchor as you stand the wall up, so it’s best to leave them there.

The rule of thumb is that every person can lift 4 to 6 feet of exterior wall depending on how high the wall is that you constructed. Grab the upper plate and lift together all as one so that the wall doesn’t twist or rack. As you lift the wall up over your head you will have to walk forward with your arms over your head, do this while still holding on to the studs. The wall will rise up fairly easily, once you have the wall vertical make sure that at least two people are holding on to the wall while someone else attaches long bracing to the studs of the wall. Nail the bracing first to the stud as high up on the wall as you can reach, once you have the bracing in place you must level the wall before attaching the bracing to the floor. Make sure that you attach a brace every 6 to 8 feet depending how high the wall is and how windy the location that you are working on can get.

You have now constructed your first wall, if you measure the wall you will notice that it is 1 ½ inches shorter than it should be, this is because you need to install another 2 x 6 to the top of the wall on top of the upper plate. This is called the top plate; it is installed after you have other adjoining walls standing. This top plate must overlap on to the next wall, this will help keep the wall from flexing and add overall strength and straightness to it.

This is the first part in a series of blog posts on how to frame houses properly. In my next post in this particular series I will explain how to frame an exterior wall that has windows and doors.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 residential construction forecast for Wasaga Beach, town of the Blue Mountains, Clearview (Creemore), Collingwood, Mulmur township

2014 residential construction forecast

The 2014 construction year looks a lot like it did last year. Last year there was a suspected real estate boom with a lot of properties reduced in price from sitting on the market and expected to sell in the spring creating a surge for real estate which in turn would theoretically drive the renovation market higher because of people buying homes at a reduced price and having money left over to renovate. Well that didn’t really happen, there was a slight surge in real estate but not like everyone thought. The real estate surge didn’t come till the second part of the year when the market really took off. This should theoretically help the 2014 renovation market; people buying homes usually want to renovate them in the first couple of years of owning them.

People find that the homes that they have bought have problems that need to be fixed or repaired which usually leads to a larger renovation. The real estate market was extremely strong in the fall of 2013 and it continued into the holiday season with real estate agents confessing to having a higher than normal number of calls.

The renovation market looks to be slow through the winter months as winter has come early and looks to be a long and deep one. It should pick up once the spring arrives and really get into high gear come the summer months.

Home building on the other hand is something else entirely, with the lag that it takes to gets designs, permits and approvals most custom homes won’t be starting until late spring early summer. In some areas it looks better than others and should see stronger early spring starts (depending on the weather of course). With kind of winter the building season will be pushed back later in the spring because of the half load restrictions that will be enforced on the roads.

Wasaga Beach

Residential construction looks to stay strong in Wasaga Beach like it has for the past couple of years. With a mix of sub-division homes, older homes needing renovations and a growing retirement community looking for custom homes to be built there will definitely be a lot of building going on in Wasaga Beach.

Wasaga Beach’s change from tourism to retirement community has become quite evident and a lot of people are now looking at Wasaga Beach as a place to retire too instead of vacation. The closer you get to the water the larger and more expensive the homes you will find being constructed. With the abundance of older homes that had been used only as run down rentals there is a push to have them removed for newer homes.
This is happening with the town enforcing a no short term rental policy that had never previously been enforced; only areas that are designated short term rentals are now allowed to have these with everyone else facing large fines if caught. Without rental income these older run down cottages are being placed on the market for sale.

As has been the trend in the previous year’s you should be able to find construction in every area of Wasaga Beach, whether it is a house under renovation or a new home being built, there is lots of work to do be done in the beach.

Town of the Blue Mountains

The town of the Blue Mountains saw a slowdown in the amount of permits that were issued in the last quarter of the year but that might have a lot to with the early and heavy winter that has arrived.  Town of the Blue Mountains should see the building of new homes trend ever higher through the new year with some of the bigger projects that have had trouble gaining traction over the previous year’s finally getting going. A lot of these larger projects with their custom home designs are starting to have homes constructed which usually helps sell other lots when future homeowners can see what their home could look like. There are small, medium and large projects in the Town of Blue Mountains that seem to starting to erect buildings, if this continues to gather steam this could be the first step in another building boom in the area in the coming years.

The prospect for growth in new home construction looks more promising than it did the last couple of years but the process to acquire a permit seems to take a longer time, this will push a lot of new home starts into the summer or fall instead of the spring. The prospect of a long winter also will push the start of new homes to the later spring with the ground frozen or water logged.

The renovation market on the other hand doesn’t seem to be showing a lot of signs of life, there are still a fair bit of older homes in the township that require remediation but for some reason people are reluctant to do anything with them. There seems to be a large amount of homes for sale that were constructed in the early 1990’s and when they change hands there should be work created updating them.

Town of Collingwood  

This coming year looks solid for renovations in Collingwood, with the amount of real estate that changed hands in the last two quarters of the year, the hope is that new owners of old properties will generate renovation jobs because most new home owners that purchase a used home are buying a home that they want to alter. Usually once new homeowners have moved in they find that there are things that need immediate attention such as the roofs.

The sub-divisions in Collingwood seem to be progressing at a fairly steady pace; when it comes to custom homes the market is consistent, consistently slow compared to its neighbour the Blue Mountains. There are very few places in the town of Collingwood to build custom homes with most of Collingwood having older homes and new tract built sub-divisions.

 Township of Mulmur

The township of Mulmur looks to have a good year for construction on all fronts. There seems to be a lot of interest in this market for new custom homes, renovations and additions. A lot of land has been bought in the last couple of years with people looking to build country homes and estates. With its proximity to Toronto, Orangeville and the Mansfield Ski Club the township of Mulmur seems to be the logical choice for the next big building boom in this area. What we don’t know if it will happen this year or if it will just be a gradual growth over the next successive years building to something larger down the road.

The Township of Mulmur overall looks to produce a fair bit of construction work this year and into the following years, that is if things continue the way they seem to be going.

 Township of Clearview (Creemore)

The township of Clearview is a unique place all on to its own. Most of the higher end homes are all built in and around the town of Creemore, but in a township with so many older homes it’s surprising and sad that there isn’t more renovation work going on. This township will see continued slow construction across the board; renovations will be slow even though the area seems to have a strong real estate flow. The fringe areas of the township towards the township of Mulmur will see the most action with not that much happening in the rest of the township. High building and development fees are suppressing most development and buildings.

Clearview looks to continue on the same path as the last couple of years where the overall construction in the township will be random and light.

The Overall 

The market in all of the townships is trending towards more custom homes being built then in the previous years but nothing compared to before the 08 crash. What has changed in the last couple of years is that the size of the houses that are being built are growing and becoming more luxurious. As the dollar amount of permits overall seems to be creeping up, the dollar value of these homes has skyrocketed. These larger and more luxurious houses are still predominantly second homes, chalets or county retreats. There is an eye for people growing closer to retirement to arrange the house so that it can be made their permanent place once they finally retire and leave the busy city life.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.