Friday, May 30, 2014

New Hiring Trends in residential construction for 2014

New Hiring Trends in residential construction for 2014

With the overly long winter that brought colder than normal temperatures into the spring time, has brought construction of new homes being slowed by clients that are unwilling to start in the colder weather and in rural area’s the half load restrictions being kept on the roads much longer than normal, this has created a sluggish start to the construction season.

Since projects are slow in starting the hiring has been slow as well, as normal construction companies have not started ramping up for the summer as it looks like the late summer to early fall is going to be the busier time of year, this hiring model is a trend that has continued from the 2 previous years.

In the past couple of years there have been a growing number of younger people applying for jobs looking to get into the trades and become apprentices. That has slowed a little in some trades lately like electricians.

New government regulations and the Newly Formed College of Trades have brought tight restrictions and harsh penalties to companies when hiring apprentices. New employees with little to no experience have become almost impossible to employ as electricians without them being immediately signed up for apprenticeships. This scenario isn’t allowing anytime for employer and employee to get to know each other before being pushed into the program. The push back is less apprentices being signed up and there for less younger people getting the chance to learn the electrical trade.

Overall the people that are applying for work are all under 40 years old and come with a wide degree of skill and experience or lack or either.

Every year more women are applying for jobs in the trades for any and all positions available, this is an encouraging sign as more diversity in the trades helps create a better working environment.

In actual carpentry it is still extremely hard to find companies that will take on apprentices as they have cut their overall workforce and hired more sub-contractors for the wood working aspect. This makes it difficult for people looking for apprenticeships as the sub-contractors do not have the properly licensed carpenters or the appropriate ratios take more than one at a time. The attrition rate of apprentices ever finishing the apprentice course is usually less then 50%, so companies usually like to have more then one apprentice at a time. Add the fact that all licensed carpenters now have to pay a fee to the College Of Trades or they don't qualify to teach apprentices. This is putting added pressure on a system that was overloaded and barely functioning before all the changes.

Instead of a carpentry apprentice learning all the aspects of building a home with a master carpenter they are learning only specialty things such as just framing or just installation of windows and doors. This makes it hard for them in the future to be called a master carpenter and makes them worth less to future employees as even after getting their carpentry license they require training and supervision.

By 2020 84,000 people are scheduled to retire from the construction industry in Ontario alone. In the next 10 years the industry will be under increasing pressure to train the younger generation to take over for the departed skilled trades. If corrections are not made quickly then there could be a trade crisis in the near future.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What is a "sone and how does it relate to home construction?"


What is a "sone and how does it relate to home construction?"

A unit of subjective loudness, equal to 40 decibels. An average refrigerator chugs along at 2 sones, a good bathroom fan at about 1.5, an average office is typically 3 sones and the volume from a TV is around 4 sones. Two sones are twice as loud as one; three sones are twice as loud as two, and so on and so forth.

When you are shopping for a new exhaust fan for your bathroom sones are the way that manufacturers rate their fan to tell you how quiet it is when it is running. The less sones that the fan is rated, the less noise that the fan will operate at. This is important because this is one of the biggest complaints to contractors from clients in a new bathroom, the noise of the bathroom fan when it is running.

If you look at the amount of things that move air in your home it is quite a few and when you move air you create noise.

Here is a list of things in the average custom home that move air and make noise;

Ceiling fans.

Kitchen exhaust hood.

Bathroom exhaust fans.


Forced air fans on fireplaces.

Space heaters.

Make up air kits for furnaces


With all or most of these things in every custom home and a lot of times more than one of them (ceiling fans) being conscious of the amount of noise they make will help you reduce the overall white noise in the home.

The less white noise the quieter the home and the more enjoyable the living experience will be.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Exterior Finishes on Custom Homes

2014- Exteriors Finishes

As plans for new homes and renovations come across my desk for the 2014 construction season there are obvious trends that have emerged, so of the exteriors are trends that started in the previous years and some of them are quiet new.

Exterior Finishes for Custom Homes

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

Decorative Timber Framing has become the way to dress up the high gables that have become popular in custom homes.

Wood facia and wood soffits that are painted to match the siding colour are still the most popular.

Natural stone is by far the most popular option when dressing up the outside of custom homes.

A 4 foot wall of stone whether it is natural or manmade is seen most often, this helps keep some of the costs down but still gives that stone look.

Pre-finished wood siding is still the most popular; this has been the case for decades.

Horizontal pre-finished siding is still the most popular way to install it.

Changing the material in the upper gable ends is still popular to give the house some contrast.

Crown molding at the point where the soffit meets the siding has become the norm now, with the crown being painted the same as the siding and soffit.

Layered facials are common now, adding depth to the exposed edge of the roof.

Coloured eavethrough is common now to match the colour of the facia so that it helps it disappear.

Freeze boards through the siding at certain heights to help break up a high wall of siding is common.

Vertical butt-jointed corners are still the most popular with layering taking over giving them more depth and allowing a colour change to accent the homes corners.

Here a list of the new trends happening in Exterior finishes on custom homes;

Metal siding or metal sheeting is becoming a popular material on modern houses that are looking for a simplified look.

Vertical siding is growing in popularity; the cost of the installation is keeping it from becoming the norm over horizontal.

Thermally modified wood siding is becoming more popular as it requires no maintenance and weathers to look like cedar unless sealed to keep its original colour.

There are new vinyl siding products that are on the market that have a high definition look that is starting to steal some of the market share away from cement siding. The vinyl being a lot easier to install and cheaper to purchase overall.

Homes are being designed with more and more windows and doors; this is requiring less and less exterior wall covering. With that comes the need to simplify siding so that it accents the windows and doors instead of accenting the siding itself.

Eldorado Stones newer HD stone that looks remarkably like natural stone is becoming a more popular option as the cost savings compared to natural stone is immense.

With the trend in homes going towards a simpler look on the exterior of a lot of homes stucco making a comeback in custom homes. Most of the stucco is a coloured mix and not the white that was popular in the 70s and 80s.

Natural wood looks like cedar and pine that are stained are starting to become popular as new products to protect them against UV allowing the stain colour to survive longer are slowly starting to appear.

Brick is starting to reappear on custom homes, especially in the rural areas were homeowners are trying to blend their new custom home with the existing red brick farm houses that populate the country side.

Simple siding looks with no trims around the windows or corners are becoming popular. It’s a more modern look.

It seems that new exterior siding and stone products are appearing monthly now. Every supplier and manufacturer is attempting to give the customer a new and different look to the outside of the home. Some are intriguing and some look like they won’t be around very long. When planning your new custom home you and your contractor should take some time and look around at all the different options that you now have, the prices vary as much as the products do so your budget will play a large role in what you will end up selecting.

Remember that it’s not just the cost of the material that you need to worry about it’s also the cost of the installation. If your budget is flexible enough that the cost is not an issue than I suggest that you look at the long term view of what will last the longest and give you the minimal amount of maintenance.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

As a first time home buyer should you buy an expensive newer home or a cheaper older home?


I know some first time home buyers who don't have a very large budget. They're trying to decide what would save them more money in the long run: taking out a slightly bigger loan for a newer house in good condition, or buying an older home that's cheaper but needs some repairs. What advice would you give them? What are some of the most costly repairs they should be trying to avoid when they look at older houses?


When first time buyers are getting into the housing market they must look at their first home as an investment. The goal is to take that house and after 5 to 8 years sell it for a profit to buy another house that is worth more or has allowed them to shrink their mortgage going forward.

With your first home being an investment that you will part with in the future I always recommend buying the older cheaper home on condition that it has what we call “GOOD BONES”.

A newer house is more attractive to first time homebuyers because it comes with fewer headaches, less unknowns and less repairs to do in the immediate future. But it comes with a larger mortgage and since the house is newer when you do go to sell the house in 5 to 8 years the odds are that a lot of the house will be out of date and will need some form of remodeling or updating to maximize the value of the resale.

The value of the cheaper older home is in the fact that it is being sold with the realization that it will need to be fixed now and in the future. That means that in the purchase price of the home is built in the discount for some or all of what needs to be done to the home. Since your first home should be sold 5 to 8 years after you buy it then all the repairs and updating you have done to it are current and will only help maximize the resale price.

Saying all that, it doesn’t mean that you can go out and buy any old house on the market and turn it into large profits a couple of years down the road. I mentioned that the older home has to have “good bones”. Let me explain what that means;

Good bones refers to the actual structure of the home, the bones of the home refer to the following;

Foundation. The foundation needs to be in good physical shape, not shifted or heavily cracked or leaning.

Waterproofing. You need to check the basement for signs of water, check the outside of the building for any evidence of the waterproofing being compromised.

Roofing. Check the roofing is in good shape and free of tears, worn material, moss and curled shingles.

Roof structure. If the roof does not look straight or level like it has rolls or humps that is a sign of rot or a major structural problem.

Septic system. Have the septic system checked to make sure that it is working properly.

Heating system. Replacing old heating systems or having to install a modern heating system is extremely expensive.

All of these parts of houses are the bones and are essential to the home, the home will not function properly with any of them compromised. The cost to fix, repair or replace any of these parts is expensive and has to be done immediately, not allowing the homeowners to spread the cost over time.

With an older home that has good bones a lot of the remodeling can be done relativity inexpensively by the homeowner. “Elbow Grease” can add a lot of value to a home, homeowners with little to no skill in renovations can paint, strip wallpaper and apply simple flooring changes. These simple face lifts and some minor renovations by professionals can add  large value for the resale of the home.

If the first time homebuyers can find that older home with good bones for the right price then I would recommend that over a newer home, especially for people looking to buy their first home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Footing tubes or Bigfoot’s- The evolution of the concrete pier

Footing tubes or Bigfoot’s- The evolution of the concrete pier

If you are planning to build a hot tub room, large deck, sun room or an addition that will not have a foundation to support it, then you should think about using the footing tube instead of the typically used sauna tube.

What’s the difference you ask? One concrete pier is the same as the other, right? Wrong.

A sauna tube is cylinder that is made from a paper product that is the same diameter throughout the entire length of the form. To install them you dig or auger a hole larger than the diameter of the tube that you are going to install. You then place the sauna tube in the hole and slowly and carefully backfill around it. You have to be careful not to back fill with any large rocks or thick chunks of clay, the reason for this is that sauna tubes are made from a paper product and it makes them prone to collapsing. If it collapses then you have to start again by digging it out. You also have to fill it full of concrete before it gets to wet or the ground around it becomes heavy from water. If they get wet they collapse in on themselves without any concrete to hold them. If the sauna tube collapses and has to be dugout it cannot be used again, you have to prepare another piece.

Footing tubes have a large belle on the bottom of them. You cannot use an auger to install them; you must use a machine (mini excavator) to dig a hole large enough so that the belle that is on the bottom will sit level at the bottom of the hole. Once the footing tube is installed you backfill around it. You don’t have to worry about what you are backfilling with; rocks and large clumps of clay will not collapse the sides of it. Big foots are made from a hardened plastic, this helps them maintain there bell shape. You don’t have to worry about pouring concrete in them right away, water and wet ground will not collapse them. They are stiff enough that once they are in place you can adjust them with the mini excavator by pushing on them to straighten them before pouring the concrete inside.

The bell shape acts as not only a pier but also as a footing as well. In many municipalities when they require you to have a footing at the bottom of your pier a footing tube qualifies as both. If you where to use a sauna tube then you would have to first frame a footing on the bottom of the hole, pour it, let it cure and then install your sauna tube the next day.

A footing tube is a one step process of installation; a sauna tube can be as many as 3 steps depending on the needs of your pier. You also get the luxury of being able to pour your concrete whenever you want instead of immediately. The footing tube has a sealed plastic top on it that stops water and snow from filling up the inside; you have to cut the top off to pour the concrete inside.

Footing tubes do have their limitations, they are made in certain lengths and as long as you don’t need anything longer then what they make you will be fine, if you require a pier that is 10 feet long then you will need to use a sauna tube. Depending on the installation sometimes a footing tube is just too short. Most times you only have to be below the frost line which is 4 feet in most areas. Footing tubes do come up to 7 feet in length, there are depth marks on the sides of the tube so that to find out how deep they are in the ground you don’t have to cut the top off and measure down.

Next time you are thinking about a project that requires piers take your time and give a footing tube a look, you won’t be disappointed.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

We bought an old cottage, it needs renovations but we don’t know where to start?


We bought an old cottage, it needs renovations but we don’t know where to start?


This is a very common occurrence for people when they purchase older cottages.

What you’re going to have to do is decide on what you really want to do with the cottage and how you want to use the space. The reason that people buy older cottages even though they know that they will require renovations is usually because of the location. In real estate location is usually everything.

There are many things that you will need to decide on;

Can the cottage work for your family as it presently is?

Can you use the cottage at all or does it need immediate repairs?

Is the cottage large enough for your family and what you want to do to with it?

What is your budget for renovations?

Should you use the cottage for the first couple of seasons until you know what you really want to do with it?

Do you want the cottage to be usable in all 4 seasons?

What are the restrictions for renovating and adding additions in your area?

When do you want to accomplish the renovations and when do you want them finished?

Do you want to renovate over several years to spread the cost of the work around?

That seems like a lot of questions to think about, but most contractors that you call for renovation quotes will ask you a lot of these same questions. A lot of these questions will affect the contractor’s ability to schedule the work, complete the work and how extensive of a renovation that you will be able to afford.

Once you have figured out some of the questions listed above then you can call in a contractor and start working with them on what you want fixed, repaired, renovated and the cost of what it will be and also what they think you will require now and into the future.

The worst thing you can do is buy a cottage, call a contractor over and have none of these answers ready.

Remember that the contractor will be into their busy season and without at least some of these questions answered above they might not have the time or the schedule to help you.

Plan ahead and then you will always be ahead of the plan.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The beauty of White Oak Flooring - Designer Tip

White Oak Flooring

With so many different species and styles in hardwood to choose from, my current favourite is White Oak and it has never disappointed.

White Oak is known and valued for its density, strength and resilience. It also has a very appealing grain that is similar to red oak, and its growth rings are highly visible. Its colour ranges from a light creamy beige to a greyish brown, which is very on trend in today’s interiors. 

You can order white oak fumed, oiled, UV protected and even have your own mix of custom stain colour.

 White Oak is plentiful, not endangered like a lot of the other hardwoods that people are using and can come several different countries.

White Oak accepts stain well and shows the features of the wood even better giving it a rich and timeless look to it.

White Oak can be found in solid wood or engineered and comes in a variety of widths and lengths.

When thinking about a new hardwood floor in your home choosing white Oak will never disappoint.

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

I have noticed on a lot of custom homes that there seems to be a flat top on the roof, why is this?


I have noticed on a lot of custom homes that there seems to be a flat top on the roof, why is this?


You are right that a growing number of custom homes being built today have a flat spot on the very top of the roof, the size and shape of it depends totally on the roof design.

.The reason that it exists is more to do with the rules and regulations of building in most area’s these days then architects wanting it there for aesthetic reasons.

The major trend in roof design is to have grander type roofs, to achieve a grander roof you need to build a larger roof; the only way to build a larger roof is to build it higher. To build a higher roof you simply increase the pitch of the roof (steepness). The problem with increasing the pitch of the roof is that the roof then rises up higher to meet at a peak in the middle of the building. If you have a two story house that has 9 foot ceilings (common for most custom homes today) then your roof would be starting at 18 feet off the first floor.
The top of the first floor is the starting point where municipalities measure the height of a home. Every building department will have different height restrictions for residential dwellings. If the height restrictions are 38 feet in your municipality and your roof is starting at 18 feet then that leaves you with only 20 feet of height to build your roof.

20 feet of height might sound like a lot but when you have a steep pitch on your roof it’s not as much as you think.

A common steep roof on custom homes is what is called a 16/12 pitch; this means that for every 16 inches the roof travels vertically it takes 12 inches of room horizontally. In this scenario if you had a 16/12 pitch and you wanted your home to come to a peak at the 38 foot height limit then the roof would have to be 30 feet wide. With a 30 foot wide roof the walls would be stepped in from the overhangs about 1.5 feet or 18 inches on each side. That means the building below would only be 27 feet wide.

The average custom home these days is at a minimum 3500 sqft spread out over two floors, that is 1750 sqft per floor. You would have to have a house that is about 65 feet long, and then add on another 25 feet for the attached garage. What you end up with is a bowling alley, in-town lots are getting hard to find for a house that wide.

To achieve the same square footage with a custom home that isn’t long and narrow you increase the width of the home from the 27 foot mark. As you increase this number (if the pitch of the roof stays unchanged) the roof gets higher and starts to exceed the height limits.

This is where placing a flat spot on the very top of the roof comes in to play. The flat spot makes it simpler for designers and architects to change the depth of the building without changing the general look and grandness of a steep roof.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A gravity drain might be the solution to your wet basement problems

The gravity drain might be the solution to your wet basement problems.

If you have a home in an area with a high water table, or your planning to build a home in a place that you believe to have a high water table then you will need to think carefully about how you are going to control the water, especially when it is at its high points.

One of the easiest things to do to control high water around your home is to install what is called a “gravity drain”.

A gravity drain is exactly what it sounds like; it is a drain for water that works with gravity, the water flows down hill away from the house because of gravity. A gravity drain is the simplest form of water control.

There are a couple of things that you need to do to have a gravity drain and have it work properly;

You must have enough fall away from the home so that water can flow freely away from the foundation. You have to remember that the gravity drain will be installed near the bottom of the foundation where the weepers are located.

You want the end where the pipe empty’s the water to be in an area that can tolerate an abundance of water. Ditches or ponds or swampy area’s is obviously the best places to end them. Make sure that wherever you run it, it will not affect a neighbour’s home or neighbouring property.

You must dig down to the weepers of the home and attach a “T” into the weeper. Then you extent that weeper to the location that you want it to terminate. Make sure that the pipe has at least ½ inch of slope per foot for the entire length. This will guarantee that the water will flow downhill away from the home.

It’s good practice to place some stone at the end of the pipe; this will limit the amount of eroding that the water will do.

You must place some sort of cover over the end, this will keep animals and debris out of it. You must make sure that the cover is porous enough so that the water can get out.

You must make sure that the weeper line you install is a non-perforated line. This means that the gravity line will not have any holes in it where water can escape, that is different than the weeper that runs around your home which is porous.

Once you have installed the weeper and have backfilled properly around it you should notice fairly quickly if it is working like it should. A lot of places that have high ground water have water coming out of their gravity line all year round regardless of the season or the weather.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Effective Communication: Key to a Successful Remodeling Project

Effective Communication: Key to a Successful Remodeling Project

Communication is important in all relationships, and your relationship with your remodeler is no exception. Effective communication between client and remodeler will reduce concerns and stress before, during, and after the project. Here are some tips for keeping the lines of communication open at key points.

When selecting a remodeler—The best time to explore your level of comfort with a remodeler’s communication style is while you are deciding who is going to build your project. These early communications often reflect how your remodeler will communicate during construction and after closing. Remodelers who are effective communicators will encourage your questions and provide satisfactory and prompt answers.

As you reach a purchasing decision—Make sure you understand how you and your remodeler will discuss the project and its progress. For larger projects, remodelers encourage guided walk-throughs at critical stages of construction, such as during structural framing, after electrical and plumbing rough-in, or after drywall. In addition, find out how the remodeler manages phone calls and emails, and ask how quickly you can expect a response when you have a concern.

On seeing the schedule—The remodeler will present a detailed scope of work that outlines the process and schedule. Use the scope of work as a guide to gain a better understanding of the remodeling process and ask clarifying questions. The construction schedule will also show deadlines for key decisions you must make, such as paint colors, lighting and plumbing fixtures, and flooring materials.

When working with change orders—An essential part of owner-remodeler communication is the change order, which is the remodeler’s procedure for making changes after construction begins. Few projects are completed without some changes along the way. Find out about this process before construction begins. Also, learn the details of your remodeler’s warranty and service program.

Successful remodelers have systems in place for communicating effectively with their clients before, during, and after construction. These systems have been developed over years with many clients, and deserve our respect. 

At the same time, your needs, preferences, and comfort level matter. Once you’ve settled on a communication plan with your remodeler, stick with it! Good communication is a key to a predictable and sane remodeling process that provides you and your family the home you desire and deserve.

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

Friday, May 9, 2014

May is building safety month-Maximize Resilience, Minimize Risks

The month of May is Building Safety Month

The building safety month was founded by the International Code Council (ICC) and is celebrated world wide.

Building Safety Month is a public awareness campaign offered each year to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create and sustain safe and sustainable structures. The campaign reinforces the need for adoption of modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to maintain the system.

The campaign is presented by the ICC and its 57,000 members worldwide along with a diverse partnership of professionals from the building construction, design and safety community. Corporations, government agencies, professional associations, non-profits and more come together to support Building Safety Month because they understand the need for safe and sustainable structures where we live, work and play.

This years theme in Building Safety is Maximize Resilience, Minimize Risks.

There is a different theme for every week of the month of may.

 Week One // May 5-11, 2014
Code Officials: Keeping Fire in its Place

Week Two // May 12-18, 2014
Code Officials: Helping Homeowners Weather the Storm

Week Three // May 19-25, 2014
Code Officials: Surround Your Building with Safety

Week Four // May 26-31, 2014
Code Officials: Building A Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow

History of Building Safety Month

For the last 34 years the 50,000 worldwide Members of the ICC have celebrated advances in constructing safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient buildings and homes. The ongoing support of Building Safety Month and the important role code officials play in public safety in the built environment comes from the President of the United States, governors, mayors, county executives and other government officials and construction industry professionals. The Building Safety Month campaign helps to improve public safety by increasing awareness about how building codes and code officials improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship and play.

Help to Promote Building Safety Month
Building Safety Month depends on the efforts of individuals like you. ICC will provide several resources to assist you in promoting Building Safety Month in your community. These resources will include strategies on how to set up a Building Safety Month event, a fill-in news release, a sample proclamation, kid's activity pages, stickers, brochures, pencils and more. Many resources are available for free download and others may be purchased from the ICC Store.

Consider these tips to Promote Building Safety Month in your community.

Promote BSM through your Chapter activities.
Set up an information booth at city hall or a local hardware store.
Visit a school and give a presentation about building safety.
Post local information on your website.
Send a news release to newspapers, and radio and television stations.
Encourage local media to cover Building Safety Month activities and send public service announcements to local radio and television stations.
Public information officers, city managers, or mayors could also arrange to appear on a talk/community information show through your local television or radio stations.
Include a call-in, question-and-answer session as part of the program to generate even more interest.
Be sure to also invite your local media to any scheduled events you plan during the month and post on your social media websites.


Building Safety Month has earned the highest recognition in the past three years with Presidential Proclamations from President Barack Obama.

You can expand recognition for 2014 Building Safety Month with an official proclamation from your local, state and national leaders.

Who Needs Building Codes

All communities need building codes to protect their citizens from disasters like fires, weather-related events and structural collapse. Model building codes are society's best way of protecting homes, offices, schools, manufacturing facilities, stores and entertainment venues. Code officials work day in and day out to keep the public safe. Building Safety Month is a month-long celebration of all aspects of building safety that helps families, employers and leaders understand and appreciate the best practices that keep the places where we live, work and play, safe.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Are you looking to buy a home but are having trouble figuring out how much it will cost to fix up?

Are you looking to buy a home but are having trouble figuring out how much it will cost to fix up?

This is a problem that most people have when they have decided to buy a home. It doesn’t matter if it is your first home or your tenth; there is a simple process to figuring out the cost.

First things first, when looking to buy a house that is not brand new you must understand that there is no warranty on the home. When you buy that home you own the home and all the things that could go with the home. If something breaks in the home while you own it you don’t get to go back to the people you bought it from and say “the stove in the kitchen broke and I only owned the house for a week, I think you should buy me a new one!”

There is basically no guarantee on anything in the home; you will need to make certain assumptions when you are going to buy it.

The general rule of thumb is that you should be renovating your home every 12 to 15 years. That might sound like a contractor trying to get you to spend money on renovations but if you think about it things start to wear out in a home after 10 to 12 years. Whether its tubs, toilets or the finish on hardwood floors with use and abuse things get damaged and warn out. Style’s and trends change in homes faster than 10 to 12 years.
Since the average homeowner only owns their home for 7 years before they sell it and move on your going to want to renovate to maximize the re-sale value of your home.

With that in mind you should walk through a potential house and take notes on everything you see.

You will want to make a list, your list is quite simple, and you should break it down into 3 categories.

The first category is the things that have to be done right away or within the first year that you are going to live there, these things include; Painting, immediate repairs, changing a furnace and anything that you will need to do to live in the house before your furniture is brought in.

The second category; are things that you need to do in the first 5 years of living in the home. These are things like bathroom renovations, re-shingling an aging roof or updating the appliances in the home.

The third category; are things that you would like to do in the next ten years, basically anything you want to do to the house before you re-sell it.

The first two categories are the easiest to price, get in touch with a contractor and talk to them about what you want to do to the house immediately and in the next 5 years. They should be able to give you a ballpark figure on what a lot of those things would cost. Obviously there are some things that you can do yourself like painting, but fixing roofs or waterproofing in the basement should be done by a professional.

The third category is harder because these things are so far down the road you never count on the costs staying the same. This category you will just have to make an educated guess on, make the guess to the nearest $10,000. The third category is a guide line of what you think can do to the house and if you can afford it.

Looking at your three categories the first and maybe the second you might want to include into the price of the home so that you have the option to add it to your mortgage. The third category is so far down the road that your financial situation might be completely different at that point.

Now that you know the cost of things that need to be done to the house add that cost to your proposed mortgage payment and decide if you can afford it. The worst thing people can do is buy a house that needs so much work that they can’t afford to do the work and are forced to live in a broken house. It gets worse for them when they go to sell it, something that needed to be fixed or replaced only looks worse with time and use. The value of the home decreases significantly as time passes.

When you are looking to buy that home, plan to make a list if you fail to plan then you might as well plan to fail.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Does Village Builders build small custom homes?


Does Village Builders build small custom homes?


Village Builders is a residential construction company, which means that we will build any kind of home big or small. So to answer your question; Yes we will build you a "small" custom home.

Saying that, do not confuse us with a tract home builder. That is a large scale builder that builds sub-division homes that are smaller in scale. We are a custom home builder and every home we build is different from the last one.

We do not take a set of plans that we have used 100 times and construct the home and finish the inside the way you want it. We sit down with you and work out the look and feel of your home so that it is customized to you and also to your budget.

Custom home builders do not have set prices for homes. We price homes on an individual bases. That doesn’t mean that we set the price of the home by what we are feeling that day, it means that every home gets priced off the plans that you had created and priced at what level of finish you want in the home.

There are set costs in your building; the cost of concrete per cubic meter, the cost of 2x6 per foot, the cost of a furnace, the cost of the siding per foot and so on and so forth. Where the price difference comes in is the amount of feet that your home will require of them and the difficulty of installing it.

Once that price has been established then the biggest cost difference is in the finishing’s. The cost of a custom home no matter how big or how small is more affected by you the homeowner and your choices of finishings in that home. In a smaller home with a smaller budget that is more relevant then in a larger home.

The great thing about a custom home is that you get the ability to control the cost of all the finishing’s. If you are working on a tight budget and can’t afford a granite counter top in your kitchen then we will install a laminate counter top of your choice. If you want carpeted floors instead of hardwood then we install carpets, it’s entirely up to you.

The one thing that will not make use cheaper then tract home builders is that we use the best tradesmen that we can find. They don’t have to install the best products but the products they do install (of your choosing) have to be installed properly and correctly. They also have to stand behind any warranties that they supply with customer support in the future.

So for anyone else wondering if we will build you a smaller custom home the answer is “YES” bring me your plans or drop me a line and I will help you have some created.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

How to heat large custom homes with geothermal system

How to heat large custom homes with geothermal systems

A question I receive from people when we are designing their new custom home is how to heat it efficiently, especially when there is no access to natural gas.

When you don’t have access to natural gas then you have three options;

1. Propane heating. Extremely effective at heating, but high in cost when heating homes and water. Propane is not as efficient as natural gas when used to heat homes or water and the cost of propane is significantly higher than the cost of natural gas.

2. Geothermal heating. Geothermal heating runs on electricity and requires no burning of fossil fuels. The heating is accomplished by piping that is installed under the ground outside of the house. The piping is filled with liquid that absorbs the heat from the ground, the warmed liquid is then circulated into the furnace inside, passed over a rad, air is blown over the rad and then circulated throughout the home. Water can be warmed with the same lines by passing them through a holding tank full of water that can be then circulated through the floor for radiant heating.

3. Propane furnace with an air to air heat pump. The propane furnace was explained in number 1, when it is paired with an air to air heat pump then you have a much more efficient heating combination. An air to air heat pump works pretty close to how a geothermal heat pump works, the difference is that it takes the heat out of the air instead of the heat out of the ground. The air to air heat pump runs on electricity and not fossil foils. Since heat pumps use the outside air to warm your home there will be times when the air outside becomes too cold to extract enough warm out of it to make the heat required for your home. At that point the propane furnace takes over and supplies the needed heat until such time as the temperature goes up enough for the heat pump to start making heat again.

When you are building a large custom home out of the three options the most expensive one to have installed is the geothermal heating unit. The difference is that the monthly cost to heating your home with geothermal is significantly lower than the other two options. Geothermal heating is a long term pay back and with rising energy costs it could make a bigger difference in the near future.

For most of these three options in larger homes today we are installing two of them. That means that we are installing two geothermal units for a large custom home. The reason is because when you have an extremely large home you require such a large volume of air to be moved around that one furnace just isn’t able to handle it.

One of the most popular trends today in heating custom homes is installing dual geothermal heating units; one that does in-floor in the basement or the 1st floor and one that does the heating of the air for the rest of the house. This gives you a nice even heating, allowing your two heating sources to work together and not be overtaxed in the cold and windy winters.

When heating with geothermal your general contractor most take the time to work with the mechanical contractors and preplan out the placement of the extensive network of in-ground loops that are required to feed the furnaces and then also the placements of the heating units themselves. Geothermal units are larger units then a conventional natural gas furnace and will require more space in a mechanical room, when there is two of them sometimes you will require two mechanical rooms or one oversized room.

When you are planning your new custom home think about geothermal heating, it will be the best investment that you could ever make in your new custom home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Safety: Improper operations of vehicles and equipment on residential construction sites

Safety: Improper operations of vehicles and equipment on residential construction sites

In today’s world of building custom homes safety has become the highest thing that is worried about to the point that it is more important than quality, scheduling and cost.  The rules and regulations regarding construction site safety have changed so much that everyone on construction sites must think safety first, the health and welfare of the construction employee is the most important thing today.

There is a lot of focus at working at heights and guardrails on residential construction sites but not a lot of attention paid to the proper operation of vehicles and equipment on these sites. This can potentially be a larger and more dangerous threat to construction workers then an improper guard rail.

There are several key factors that make residential construction sites dangerous when it comes to the operation of vehicles and equipment;

Residential construction sites are usually smaller then commercial sites. There are more vehicles, workers and equipment packed into a smaller space.

Residential construction sites do not have the luxury of parking enforcement, security guards, parking lots or shuttle buses. This means that it is left up to the individual to find a place to park that will not be in the way of others and construction equipment.

Most goods that are delivered are off loaded by hand by workers.

Residential construction sites usually are very muddy, rut covered and is usually difficult to do snow removal.

Homeowner involvement. Residential construction is one of the few industries where the client routinely shows up unannounced and tours the site, walking wherever they want and parking where they please.

There is an up shift in the amount of heavy equipment that is being used on residential construction sites. Small excavators, forklifts, skid steers and zoom booms are all being used more often to move equipment and material around worksites. In the past these jobs where done by labour but with the rising cost of labour it has become easier to use equipment.

Man lifts such as knuckle booms and scissor lifts are replacing the need and use of scaffolding. This is a direct response to the heightened safety requirements for working at heights. These machines are large and can require a lot of room to move around and reposition.

With all of this going on if the site does not have good policies on when and where people should be parking and what supplies are arriving someone could easily get hurt. This equipment is so large and heavy that one mistake could be life changing.

All heavy equipment where it is a man lift or a machine to move supplies should have a spotter, this will allow the machine operator to concentrate on the operation of the machine and not worry as much about the workers and vehicles that are around them. These machines have large blind spots and almost always require help backing up and turning around.

The best thing to do is to designate one person to be in charge of the site traffic, they do not have to do it all the time, but they need to be able to answer questions for other trades and help out when an extra pair of eyes are required.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.