Monday, March 31, 2014

How does a tankless water heater work?

How does a tankless water heater work?


To understand how a tankless water heater works you have to understand what it does first.

A tankless water heater is also called "on demand" hotwater. What it does is it flash boils water when you turn your faucet to the hot position.

In a traditional water heater water is pumped into a large storage tank where it is heated to a certain temperature. When you turn your faucet to hot the water is pumped out of the tank to your faucet. As water is moved out of the hot water tank more water is allowed to refill it, this water is cold and lowers the temperature of the water in the tank. The water tank then warms up the new mixture of water in the tank until it gets to the desired temperature. The hotwater tank never stops heating water, when it brings the cold water mixture to the appropriate temperature it keeps heating the water to keep it at that level. This way of heating water costs money even when you are not using it or even if you are not at home. If you have a scenario that you use a lot of hot water in a short amount of time then you will run out of hotwater and it will take some time before the hot water tank can raise the temperature back to a comfortable level.

A tankless or "on demand" hot water system flash boils water when you require it. As stated above when you turn the faucet to hot then the water moves through the tankless machine being heated as it passes through it. There is no storage of water in a tankless water heater. If you don’t use hot water then it doesn’t waste energy keeping it warm. Another benefit of heating water as you need it is that you rarely if ever run out of hotwater as its made when you want it.

Tankless water heaters are more expensive to install then the traditional water heater but you could save on average 500 to 600 dollars a year in energy costs. It doesn’t take long for you to recover the extra money that you laid out in the beginning.

Thanks for the question

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Do I need a back splash in my new kitchen?


We are building a new custom home and don’t know what to do about the backsplash for our kitchen, can we wait and do it later?


I use to tell people that they could this, that they could have the tile backsplash installed at a later date when they had moved in and taken the time to decide what they wanted. But times have changed and with it the rules and regulations.

In today’s custom kitchens people are opting for large multi burner gas stoves. These natural gas cookers are very well built and produce a lot of flame on the burners. The other trend that has developed is that there are no backs to these stoves any more. Without a back there is no heat shield to stop the flames from the burners from touching the backsplash. When you place a large pot on the back burner of the stove, the flames disperse around the pot and up the sides depending on the level you set the burner. This flame can extend up the side of the pot and burn against the backsplash, if you don’t have a backsplash it’s burning against the drywall.

Drywall technically has a 20 minute burn rating, but with a direct flame you could burn through it in probably half that time. You could burn your new house down from simply boiling water!

You have several options;

1. Buy the optional heat shield that goes with the stove. They are expensive for what they are, an 8 inch piece of stainless steel that attaches to the back of the stove. This is a simple option but gets easily tarnished from the flames of the burners.

2. Install a tile backsplash, this will give you the protection that you need and allow you to move into a completely finished home without tilers coming in after you have moved in and make a mess in your new kitchen.

3. Have a custom piece of metal made to cover the area at the back of the stove, like a piece of stainless steel or copper. These look good and can also easily be removed when you pick a backsplash.

Gas inspectors are now looking to see if there is enough protection behind these big stoves and sometimes not allowing the gas to be turned on to the building until it is installed.

Put a backsplash in and you and your family will be safer for it.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thermally Modified Wood

Thermally modified wood

Thermally modified wood is the next generation of taking wood products and making them last longer in high humidity climates, wet areas and any other places where wood notoriously has trouble performing over long periods of time.

Companies have been trying to solve this problem of wood rot with mixed results usually by adding different chemicals to the wood. Thermally modified wood doesn’t use any kind of chemicals to achieve this in their process to allow wood to survive longer and stand up to the elements without failing.

They achieve this by using specially designed kilns that are used to heat the wood to high temperatures, they basically cook the wood. The heating changes the dimensional stability and the high heat also chemically transforms the sugars in the wood so that they cannot be digested by insects or decay organisms.

Heating the wood to such high temperatures produces a uniform darker colorization throughout the thickness of the lumber.

Basically thermally modified wood takes normal lumber and makes it harder, impervious to rot or swelling and increased resistance to fungal decay, making it ideal for indoor or outdoor applications without any chemicals at all.

Thermal modification can be done to all sorts of species of wood.

The application of the product is wide ranging, here is a list of the things that are currently being make out of thermally modified wood;

Outdoor decking for home or cottage.
Fencing, fence posts, fence boards.
Outdoor benches.
Outdoor furniture.
Indoor flooring.
Guitar necks.
Indoor furniture.
Gun stocks.
Rain barrels.
Interior doors.

In furniture making thermally modified wood is replacing the need to use exotic wood species from the rain forest. Maple, Oak, Ash and Pine can be modified and used without the destruction of sensitive species and area's of the planet.

With this process the product when left outside to the natural elements will turn a silver colour over time. If a UV coating is applied to the product then the colour of the wood will stay without going silver.

This product will lower building maintenance and raise the life expectancy of products to almost outlive the owner.

When thinking about your new custom home, think about getting thermally modified products you won’t be disappointed.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Looking to build a custom home, a design build is what you want

Looking to build a custom home, a design build is what you want.

If you want to build a custom home, you’ve bought the land and you don’t know where to go from there, then what you need is a contractor that will do what is called “a design build”.

What is a design build?

A design build is when you hire a general contractor to help you design, consult, budget, estimate and then construct your custom home.

What this does is streamline the entire process of building a custom home. Instead of you the homeowner running around to find an architect, work with the architect and then hope that the general contractor you hire can work with the plans that have been created or relying on the architect to send you to a general contractor, you find a contractor that you can trust and work with and they bring you everything you need including the architect to create the plans.

Bringing the architect to you through the general contractor means that the general contractor can control the cost of the designs, the estimating, budgeting and how the house is designed. There are certain ways that a general contractor can help you get the custom home that you want but keep some of the costs down by eliminating certain things that might look good on paper but cost a lot of money to construct.

In our company Village Builders we do this with clients all the time. We help them with the design of their home so that it works with their budget but still has all the flair that a custom home should have in it. What we have found is that it is more important for you to trust and get along with your builder then with the architect that draws the plans. You will work with an architect for a couple of months but you will be working with your general contractor for at least a year or more depending on how large the home will be, you also have to trust your general contractor for all your future warranty on your new custom home.

Finding the general contractor that can help you with the drawings by bringing the architect to you, helping with the design and then the build makes the most sense.

Custom homes are extremely complicated and require a lot of attention from the general contractor and the homeowner as well. When one party controls the entire process from start to finish then the project has less chance of problems and more chance of being completed in a timely manner and on budget.

So when that question comes up, where do we start to build our custom home, start by finding your general contractor first and let them do everything for you.

If you’re looking to build a custom home in Southern Ontario give us Village Builders a call, we can help you with everything. Or simply send me an email at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

If I lose power how fast will my house cool down when the weather is cold?


If I lose power how fast will my house cool down when the weather is cold?


The rate that your home cools down depends on a lot of factors;

1. The outdoor air temperature. The colder the outside air temperature the faster that the inside temperature will be affected.

2. Shape of the house. The shape of your home will affect the amount of surface area that is exposed to the outside air. So a simple box shape for a house will perform better where a T-shape, L- shape or a long thin home will perform worse. Longer homes have more exterior walls exposed to the outside air.

3. Insulation levels and air tightness. Insulation will have more affect on how fast the inside air temperature cools then almost anything else. The more insulation or R –value you have the longer your home will be able to stay warmer. This is applies to the walls and the ceiling or attic insulation as well. The more insulation and vapour barrier the more it slows the colder air from penetrating the wall cavity into the home.

4. Thermal mass. The thermal mass of a home is basically the ability of the homes building materials and furnishings to hold heat when the heat source has been turned off. The greater the thermal mass of the building the longer it will hold heat and the longer it will take to cool down.

5. Available Sunshine. Sunshine creates heat and it is amazing how a little amount of sunshine will heat up a house. Depending on the type of your windows (if they are solar gain) you could easily warm the home slowing the rate of temperature reduction.

6. Wind speed. The higher the speed of the wind the faster your home will cool down. It is called windwash when the wind blows against the outside walls of the home; this windwash cools the wall cavity faster than the normal cold air that penetrates the wall.

7. Internal Heat Gains. When the heat fails but the electricity is still active then things such as appliances, lights and other electronic devices give off some heat that helps slow the rate of the internal temperature drop of the house.

All these factors will affect how fast or slow your home will cool down.

Remember that when you lose power or lose your heat source do not use anything that uses propane to try and heat your home. The fumes and fact that propane heat sources use up all the available oxygen in the room make them extremely dangerous to operate inside.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Some information for this post was found in the solplan review November issue #173

Friday, March 21, 2014

Can my geothermal heating system do forced air and in-floor?


I want to put geothermal in the custom house that I plan to build, but I want in-floor and forced air heating, is that possible with geothermal units?


This is entirely possible with today’s available technology.

In a home that has access to gas you would require one unit to heat the floor and another unit to do the air handling or forced air. That is not the case when you are doing the same jobs with geothermal heating.

There is an all in one unit that will do both in-floor and forced air at the same time. You will not require two units, as long as your house is not extremely large.

These new dual units work on the same principles as normal geothermal heating units.

A geothermal heating system has lines filled with a liquid that absorbs the heat from under the ground and transports it into the home for the furnace to make heat or to create cooling. There is no gas or electricity required to make the heat, the heat is make from pressurizing the liquid and passing it over a rad that a fan blows air over. This heats the air to the desired temperature and the furnace circulates it around the home.

When doing in-floor with geothermal the piping coming from the ground outside runs into a storage tank that holds the water or glycol (which ever liquid you’re in-floor system is running on). The heated lines heat the holding tank to the desired temperature and then the warm liquid is circulated throughout the piping under the floor.

These two different heating scenarios are now completed in one unit. This single unit with the storage tank beside it takes up far less room then the conventional dual units that were installed in the past.

This heating system is an extremely energy efficient way to heat your home and I would recommend this to any homeowner looking for an energy efficient heating option for their country home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 flooring trends in custom homes

2014 Floor trends

We are now well into the 2014 construction year and the trends for interior flooring are emerging, some of these trends have been long running trends from previous years and some of them are trends that have started this year and are gaining in popularity. Custom homes are extremely trendy from year to year for a wide variety of reasons.

Here are the trends that have stayed constant over the last couple of years;

Hardwood floors are still the most installed flooring for houses.

Tile or natural stone is the most popular product that is used in bathroom floors.

Mudrooms or entry ways into homes are still mostly tile or slate for the ease of clean up and durability of the product.

The brick pattern when installing larger tiles is the most popular and simplest way of installation.

Running the hardwood all the same way (direction) throughout the whole home instead of changing directions or patterning it.

When using natural stone in ensuite bathrooms it’s almost by default that we install electric floor heating under the tiles.

Carrera marble is commonly used in master ensuites to give it a luxurious look like a high end hotel

Engineered hardwood floors are at an all time high in popularity with the split at 50/50 to full hardwood floors.

With tile found in large mudrooms and laundry room’s custom tile patterns like turning the tile at angle in the middle of the room has become almost the norm.

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

Scandinavian Fumed White Oak is all the rage now. This is white oak that is milled in Scandinavia and shipped over to North America as engineered flooring without a finish on it. When it has arrived here it is finished with an oil finish before it is installed. The overall look is a smokey finish that is very unique.

Hardwood in the bedrooms has made a comeback replacing carpet. With modern heating systems getting better keeping homes at a more even temperature wood floors are not as cold on the feet as they were in years previous.

Less and less carpet is going in custom homes now; even basements are getting the engineered hardwood finish. With people looking for products that are easy to clean not having to clean carpets is growing more and more popular.

With wide variety of pre-finished hardwood floors in engineered and full hardwood and the quality of the finish getting better and better less people are opting for the opting of having raw unfinished hardwood or antiqued hardwood installed and finished onsite. Pre-finished hardwood has made a strong comeback.

Hand painted clay decorative tiles are all the rage at the moment.

Cork flooring is being installed in kitchens, the flooring is soft and offers cushion for when people are preparing a meal for long periods of time.

These are just some of the trends that are in custom homes, some trends don’t last a full year and others gain momentum and popularity and stick around for years.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Designing your waterfront cottage: Interior Finishes

Designing your waterfront cottage: Interior Finishes

You have bought that little piece of heaven on earth, it’s away from the city and you are really looking forward to those quiet relaxing days on the lake with a warm cup of coffee and nothing but the sounds of nature to make you forget those hectic days in the city. Keeping this in mind is essential when you are planning your new cottage and preparing for the build to come. One of things that will help give you that relaxing feeling is how you go about finishing the interior of your new cottage, after the overall layout and design of the exterior of the cottage you should be putting some serious thought into the interior and the finishing’s that you will select for it.

Interior finishing’s in a cottage will help set the mode and can go a long way to helping people relax by creating a general feeling throughout the cottage.

In the older cottages no one really worried about the finishing’s, it was whatever was cheapest and won’t get damaged when a party got a little out of hand. Today cottages are basically custom homes; the only difference is that you plan to not live there all year round. But like your primary residence in the city you are going to want to enjoy the cottage and to enjoy it you have to enjoy the look of it inside.

This means that the finishing’s of the cottage are a very important part of creating that feeling of peace, quiet and a place to hide.

Here are some tips to providing a setting that will allow for those feelings that you are going to want to create;

Natural everything. That means that you should try and stick to using as much natural products as you can afford. When choosing tile for floors choose a slate, it fits the area and is very durable. When choosing floors for common areas choose wood floors, hardwood will stand up to high traffic and will match the rural setting that your cottage sits on.

Don’t get to bold with your paint colours. You want to create a space of peace and quiet, which means that you don’t want to paint the walls in your cottage a colour that is loud. Stick to soft earthy tones and something that will blend into the rest of the surroundings.

When trimming a cottage try to stick to wood trim, stain them if you can afford it. This will help make your cottage feel like it’s a part of the outdoors.

The more wood products the better. Wood doors, floors, trim, staircases and kitchen cabinetry the easier it is to create that feel of a true cottage.

If you really want to get in the woody feel then t&g wainscoting of cedar or pine in the hallways or an accent wall in the great room will go along way into making it feel like a cabin in the woods.

When tiling try for a random pattern instead of sticking to the traditional brick pattern. A random tile pattern can give the look that you pulled the stones right out of the bed rock of the Canadian Shield. It also gives the feeling that there was thought placed and a little bit of artsy involved as well.

Little things like folk art and interesting and different trims around mirrors that are found only in cottage country are what really help set people in the mood that they are now to relax and enjoy.

Wildlife art, paddles and creative things that are crafty will help bring you into that relaxing on the lake feeling.

If you’re looking for something dramatic you can create stone feature walls inside. They can be erected in bedrooms around the headboard or at the end of hallways.

For the lighting you can choose wildlife themed, canoe themed or other cottage life themed fixtures.

Pine wood ceilings in bedrooms give that feel of a cabin; it’s a natural relaxing feeling.

Rounded wood banisters and railings with twig or branches for spindles make a wonderful talking point and are a natural look for your cottage.

Whatever you decide remember that the theme that you should be trying to create is one of peace and relaxation, so don’t choose products that require a lot of maintenance. You want to relax at the cottage not work.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Check the ground conditions before you build your custom home

When you are looking to buy a piece of vacant land to build your dream custom home there are a lot of things that you should take into consideration, one of the most overlooked ones is the soil and ground conditions that the house will be built on.

Most people think that if there is a building lot for sale especially in a pre-planned development then you should have little to no problem building a house on it, especially if you follow the rules of the local municipality.

What people don’t realize is that if you don’t take the time to do some investigating then you could end up spending a lot of money to prepare the building lot so that it is possible to build your custom home upon it.
One of the most common things that can be wrong with a building site is the water table. If the natural water table is high then that could cause a lot of problems for your contractor while you’re building the home.

When you dig a hole in the ground and the water table is high then the hole will naturally fill with water. It costs money to try and keep water out of the excavation so that you can build a proper foundation. The other problem a high water table can cause is issues going into the future. High water tables can cause serious problems in the foundation down the road with flooding and at the least create damp basements.

Some people have a beautiful house drawn by an architect with a full 9 ft basement, then they find out when their builder digs the hole for the foundation that the water table is too high or the ground is so saturated with water that it isn’t safe or wise to build a foundation on top of it.

What you have to do then starts to cost you money. If you still want a full basement or even a crawl space and the ground is saturated to the point where it’s unsafe to build on then you need to build an engineered base. This is basically like building a road bed for your house to sit on.

You start by removing anything organic from your excavation, once you are down to a fairly stable working ground that you can start with then you start dumping in larger aggregate with an excavator, as the aggregate is laid it is packed with a heavy roller. This is done until it is about 1 metre thick, on the top you place smaller aggregate to help level your pad and make it a better working space. Once it is about 1 metre thick and has been packed solid then you are ready to build a house foundation on it. A house foundation built on a properly engineered pad should never move or shift.

Now that you have built an engineered base then you have to take into consideration that your house is going to sit out of the ground more than your original drawings. This will cost you money in fill as you now have to grade up to the level that the natural ground level would have been on the plans.

So what you should be asking someone that is trying to sell you a lot to build on is if there are any soil samples that have been taken and tested. Is there bore testing with an engineered report? There usually are a lot of soil condition reports that have been done before the municipality will give a permit to develop a subdivision. Its not uncommon to ask for a test hole to be dug, even if you have to pay for it yourself, it's still better to know before you purchase.

The more information that you can gather on the building site the better prepared you can be for any potential problems that will arise when you dig the foundation.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 random household design tips


I have found in my career that I seem to get a lot of the same questions over and over again. Here are 5 random design tips that seem to be on top of most people’s mind when they are trying to plan out there renovation. Renovating is more than just construction, it’s the design elements that will help bring everything together when everything is completed.

Here are my 5 helpful hints;

1. When mounting a mirror above a fireplace, leave 7” between the mantel & the bottom of the mirror.

2. Always tint your ceiling paint with a hint of grey or yellow.

3. Splurge on things you would use daily, like faucets. With faucets you get what you pay for, the more expensive the faucet the better the quality of the faucet and the longer life you will get out of it.

4. Bathroom wall sconces are perfect at 65” to the centre of them off the floor.

5. Insist on grout sealers for your tile floors at time of install, this will help to prevent discolouring of the grout overtime.

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Rumford Fireplace

The Rumford Fireplace

If you are thinking about building a new custom home and you want to make a statement with your choice of fireplaces then there is only one way to go and that is to have a mason built Rumford fireplace installed.

A Rumford fireplace isn’t just a beautiful looking fireplace it’s also a very efficient fireplace. Rumford’s have a wide, high, shallow firebox that throws the heat from the burning wood into the room instead of allowing the heat to rise up and out of the chimney like most conventional fireplaces.

The Rumford fireplace was created by Count Rumford a talented inventor who fled the colonies to England in 1776 because he was a loyalist and supported the monarchy.  Rumford fireplaces are basically still the most efficient way for a fireplace to be built and haven't changed much since the count invented them.

To give you some perspective on the dimensions of a Rumford fireplace I will explain to you what a 4 foot Rumford looks like.

A 4 foot Rumford means that it has a 4 foot wide opening for the firebox. The actual masonry for the Rumford fireplace around it ends up being about 6 feet wide. Then your stone facing would be installed on top of that increasing the width.

The actual firebox is about 16 inches deep, the firebox is not square like a traditional fireplace but the sides are angled in so sharply towards the back of the fireplace that it leaves only 18 inches of width at the back wall. The sloped angled walls that run to the back are actually longer than the 18 inch back space at 22.5 inches.

These measurements are dramatically different than a conventional fireplace and for good reasons. A Rumford fireplace is built this way on purpose, to allow as little obstruction for air flow up the chimney as possible.   There is little to no obstruction because the fireplace box is so shallow that the back of the firebox lines perfectly up with the line of the flue. When the hot air is allowed to rise up the chimney unobstructed then the draw on the fireplace is greater allowing the burning of wood at a much warmer temperature.

A conventional fireplace has a deeper box, as the hot air rises up the chimney the air starts to swirl, not all the air rises immediately causing these fireplaces to smoke and also making the burning of wood in warmer weather much more difficult.

Another thing that is different about a Rumford is that you stack the wood vertically against the back of the fireplace, where in a conventional fireplace you would stack them horizontally.
Rumford fireplaces burn much more cleaner than conventional fireplaces and they actually meet the EPA standard for emissions.

A Rumford fireplace requires no doors to contain smoke.

When looking for a fireplace in a custom home ask for a Rumford you will not be disappointed.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Information for this post was found at and several other places on the internet.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

We wrap are windows and doors with Grace Vycor Plus

We wrap are windows and doors with Grace Vycor Plus.

When installing windows and doors in our custom homes that we build we wrap a product called Grave Vycor Plus around the window/door framing and the sill.

Grace Vycor plus is a waterproofing membrane that comes in rolls of 6 to 12 inch widths. The width will depend on how much you require it to cover.

You wrap the sill of the window opening with it first so that if any water was to penetrate around the finishing’s the water would not rot out the bottom of the framing material that holds the window. We do this with a look to the future because windows only last so long and the wood framing of the house is made to be there a lot longer. If you have to replace your windows every 20 years then it is a lot cheaper to just remove the old window and install a replacement then have to rebuild the framing under the window because of excessive water penetration causing rot.

Once you have a layer of Vycor Plus on the sill framing you install the window on top of it. Install the window the same way you always install a window with nails, shims and spray foam. After the window is installed you are going to install a layer of Vycor Plus around the outside of the window.

If the window has a nailing flange that is on the outside of the window then you install your Vycor Plus over top of that nailing flange covering all of it right up to the finished edge of the window. This is done on both vertical sides of the window. Once they are installed then you cover the top of the window overlapping the other Vycor and extending the ends a couple of inches past.

If your windows do not have a nailing flange then you install your Vycor Plus the same way as stated above but instead of bringing it to the edge of the finished window you overlap part of the finished window on the side wear the exterior finishing will cover it. This helps give you a proper seal against water and wind penetration.

What you now have done is waterproofed they entire window, even if the caulking or exterior material around the window was to fail the Vycor Plus would stop water from penetrating into the wall and causing damage to the window. Also this product helps stop wind penetration around the window giving your home a much tighter seal reducing any possibility of drafts.

Vycor Plus is only one of many waterproofing membranes that you can use for this application, the reason I recommend it is because it has a reinforced membrane that doesn’t tear very easy and has a great self adhesive that makes installation simple and permanent no matter how strong the wind is during construction.

This is a fairly new way of installing windows but it is also the future of it. Houses have to meet new energy standards in the new building codes and one of the easiest ways to do that is to make the new home extremely air tight. Vycop Plus from Grace helps you do that.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Plan to succeed-proper plans are essential in reonvations

Plan to Succeed

A complete set of plans and specs will eliminate problems and help ensure a smooth project.

Never underestimate the importance of good plans and specifications to a successful remodeling project.
These crucial documents need to be fully completed in order to generate a realistic budget, schedule, and contract, and that’s especially true on a complex job like a major kitchen remodel. Too often, however, the plans are left incomplete.

The plans are the visual representation of the finished project, showing what it will look like after the workers pack up their tools and head home for the last time. The plans include dimensions and other important details that guide the remodeler. They should also verify any regulations that apply to the project—for instance, when adding a second story, the plans would verify the jurisdiction’s height limits. In fact, most building departments want to see a full set of plans before issuing a building permit.

Specifications, or specs, detail in writing what types of appliances, cabinets, fixtures, roofing, siding, and even paint will be used in the home. They may even reference written quality standards. This information helps the remodeler create a realistic budget, and tells the homeowners exactly what they are getting for their money.

Incomplete specs are a common cause of problems between remodelers and homeowners. That’s because so many projects get underway before all items have been fully specified. Perhaps the remodeler didn’t want to make the effort (specs take a lot of work to write) or the homeowners couldn’t make up their minds about certain items, such as the grade of carpet for the new bedroom.

In such cases, the remodeler and homeowners may agree on an allowance amount to spend on each item, leaving the actual product decisions until later. While a few allowances usually aren’t a problem, having too many is asking for trouble. Remember that plans and specs set expectations and provide clarity, so leaving things out is asking for conflicts, delays, and unexpected price increases. The same goes for vaguely written specs—the term “midrange kitchen faucet” could mean different things to the remodeler and homeowners, so the homeowners could end up with a lower quality faucet than they expected or have to fork over $200 more for the one they really want.

A professional remodeler will eliminate these problems by putting in the time and effort required to complete the specs before work begins. That same remodeler will also work closely with customers to make timely design and product choices. Making these choices early requires effort from the homeowners, but in the long run will save them time and money.

Good specs include lots of detail, such as brand and model names, colors, and other variables (for example, a Kohler Veer 21 in. pedestal bathroom sink with 4 in. center set faucet holes in bone white). They may also spell out standards for workmanship, such as detailing the prep work that must be done before painting the trim.

Specs are a complex subject, and this article only scratches the surface. Homeowners can help simplify things by making the decisions needed to clearly define the job before it starts. Take the time needed to fine-tune the plan to exactly what you want. The planning period is by far the most cost-effective and easiest time to make changes to your project. Erasing and moving a line on a drawing costs a small fraction of what it will cost to move a wall once construction is under way, or completed!

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hitachi 16 gauge finishing nailer NT65M2S

Hitachi finish nailer one the best 16 gauge nailers on the market

The Hitachi NT65M2S 16 gauge pneumatic finish nailer is one the best tools on the market today.

Some of the features of the tool;

It will accept fasteners from 1” to 2.5” at the 16 gauge diameter.

This is an oil-free air tool.

You do not require a tool to take the gun apart when you have a jam or if you want to clean it. It works with snap clips that are easy to open and just as easy to secure.

It is a pneumatic finishing nailer which means that it requires an air compressor to make it work.

It is a light weight trim gun at only 3.7 lbs.

The design of the tool is smaller than a lot of finish guns so that it can fit into tight places without having to switch to a smaller tool like an 18 gauge nailer.

There is a drive-dial on the side of the tool to set the depth you want the fasteners to go depending on the species of the material that you are nailing through.

The exhaust port can be turned 360 degrees in any direction so that the air is never exhausting where you don’t want it too. This will help you when you are working in a dusty corner allowing you to direct the blow back away from your face or a surface that will send dust or debris into the air.

It has a by-pass for an air release that allows you to blow out holes or corners easily. This allows you to clean the area you want to nail, then blow back from firing the tool doesn’t through dust in the air or around your face.

There is a simple one button switch that allows you to go from single fire to bounce fire depending on what you want to do with the tool.

The Hitachi trim nailer lives up to the reputation of other Hitachi pneumatic air tools. It is simple to use, designed well and functions efficiently when worked hard.

Another Hitachi trait that this trim nailer seems to embody is the no to low maintenance, with little to no down time. Even after months of trim crews using the tool outside/inside and in all weather conditions this nailer keeps firing. If you ever get a nail jammed in it the tool less ends make it quite simple to clear the jam and get the tool back in working order.

The gun is smaller than a lot of the other trim nailers that I have owned, its closer to the size of an 18 gauge nailer then the traditional 16 gauge nailer that is more bulky and can give you a lot of trouble when you try to nail into tight corners.

If you are looking for a reliable trim nailer that can take a beating and keep driving finish nails then the Hitachi NT65M2S is the trim nailer for you.

Rob Abbott
Operation Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Working at Heights Training Standards in Ontario

New Working at Heights Training Standards

The government of Ontario has come out with a New Working at Heights Training Standards for this year that will be law sometime in the near future.

The new working at heights training standards are going to be mandatory for everyone in construction once it becomes law.

The reason for the change in the training of working at heights is the following:

1. To strengthen workplace safety culture by elevating the profile and importance of preventing falls from heights.

2. Provide workers who may be exposed to the hazard of falling with adequate knowledge about fall hazards and general safety practices to work safely at heights.

3. Provide workers who use personal fall protection equipment with sufficient knowledge about its purpose and use; and

4. Reduce the number of fall-from-heights incidents, injuries and fatalities.

The new training course has two modules in it, they are

1. Working at Heights Basic Theory Module

The Working at Heights Basic Theory module contains the following:

a. Rights and responsibilities related to working at heights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
b. General hazard recognition for working at heights,
c. Hierarchy of controls,
d. Safety procedures for warning methods and physical barriers,
e. Safety procedures for ladders and similar equipment; and
f. An introduction to personal fall protection equipment.

2. Working at Heights Practical Equipment Module

The Working at Heights Practical Equipment module contains the following:

a. Barriers and safety nets
b. Personal fall protection equipment,
c. Anchor points,
d. Work positioning systems, work access and platforms; and
e. Rescue planning.

The new Working at heights training course will be valid for a period of three years.

This course will be replacing the existing Fall Arrest course that construction workers have been taking to legally work at heights previously. In previous years a refresher course was all that was needed to keep your fall arrest certificate valid and it was suppose to be given by a competent person once a year. At the moment there is no information on if there will still have to be a refresher course given once a year or if you will just simple have to take the course again every three years.

To date there isn’t any deadline for when everyone will have to comply with the new training regulations, hopefully more information will be made available once it actually passes into law.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

When should I start the stone work on my custom home?


My new custom home is going to have stone on the outside of the building, does it matter when I start the home?


Yes it does matter when you start the home. When you are dealing with stone work it is better to start the home as early in the spring as possible. The earlier you start the home the more months of warm weather you will have to lay stone, the more chance you will have at getting the stone finished before the cold weather sets in.

Here’s what you need to understand about laying stone of any kind. The laying of the stone requires mortar, mortar is made with a lot of water and water will freeze when the temperature goes below zero causing the mortar to freeze. If and when mortar freezes it expands, the expansion will damage the stone work and potentially ruin the stone work. It can cause so much damage that you can be forced to tear the wall of stone down and start again.

To combat the problem of freezing stone masons are forced to keep the area that they are working on warm all day and all night until the mortar has time to dry. They do this by:

Erecting tarps that are attached to their scaffolding or the building and weighing it down with stone material so that the wind won’t open them up and let the heat escape.

They heat the area inside the tarp. Depending on how cold it is stone masons will use either electric heaters (when it isn’t to be very cold) or propane fired heaters when it is going to be very cold or when its going to be cold for long periods of time.

They must also keep their stone products from getting wet, if they get wet and freeze then they must be thawed or the mortar will not hold them together once installed on the wall.

When you start adding tarps and heat into the stone masons scope of work the price starts to climb. It is expensive to heat with propane and also dangerous. Propane has to be left burning all the time so that the area doesn’t cool down. If the area is too well sealed then the propane heater will burn up all the oxygen in that area, this is bad thing for several reasons;

1. If the propane heater eats up all the oxygen, this usually happens at night when the tarps are completely closed off and there is limited air flow. Without oxygen a propane heater will not work, it will burn out and turn itself off. Once a propane heater has burned out it will not turn on again, even once the oxygen has returned to the area. It requires a human to turn it back on manually.

2. During the day when you are heating the area with propane the heater will be eat up a lot of the oxygen. Even though new oxygen is being allowed in to the area through the tarps as workers come and go through the openings it doesn’t take long for the overall amount of oxygen in the room to be depleted. Lower levels of oxygen in a room start to cause instant headaches and poor judgement on the part of workers. People can be hurt and work can be of a substandard level with impaired judgement.

To avoid having to pay for heat start your job as early as possible in the year that the project will allow it. Summer is the best time to lay stone and into early fall before the temperature starts to creep below zero at night.

So start your stone work as early and often as possible when building your new home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.