Monday, June 30, 2014

Heat stress and safety on construction sites

Safety: heat stress

Safety on residential construction sites has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. Safety is to be thought of before anything else to protect the workers, the equipment they are using and the buildings that they are working on.

Since the warm weather has finally arrived supervisors and workers alike need to be aware of the dangers of working in area’s or environments where the heat is high. They need to aware of what is called “heat stress” on their workers.

Construction sites are very different then normal offices or places of business in that when the weather is nicer and the sun is shining longer they work longer hours to take advantage of this, this is good for the wallet but can be bad for your health if you are not careful. Heat stress is a real concern on today's construction sites.

What is Heat Stress?

Working or playing where it is hot puts stress on your body’s cooling system. When heat is combined with other stresses such as hard physical work, loss of fluids, fatigue or some pre-existing medical conditions, it may lead to heat-related illness, disability and even death.

How do we cope with heat?

Your body is always generating heat and passing it into the environment. The harder your body works, the more heat it has to lose. When the environment is hot and/or humid or has a source of radiant heat (such as a furnace or the sun), your body must work harder to get rid of heat.

If the air is moving (for example, by fans) and it is cooler than your body, it is easier for your body to pass heat into the environment.

Workers on medication or with pre-existing medical conditions may be more susceptible to heat stress because some medication and/or medical conditions may impair the body’s response to heat. Such workers should speak to their personal physicians to see if their medication(s) and/or health condition(s) affect their ability to work in hot environments.

Heat-Stress–related disorders

A summary of heat-stress-related disorders, causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention is presented in the table below.

Heat rash
Hot humid environment; plugged sweat glands.
Red bumpy rash with severe itching.
Change into dry clothes and avoid hot environments. Rinse skin with cool water.
Wash regularly to keep skin clean and dry.
Heat cramps
Heavy sweating from strenuous physical activity drains a person’s body of fluid and salt, which cannot be replaced just by drinking water. Heat cramps occur from salt imbalance resulting from failure to replace salt lost from heavy sweating.
Painful cramps occur commonly in the most worked muscles (arms, legs or stomach); this can happen suddenly at work or later at home.
Heat cramps are serious because they can be a warning of other more dangerous heat-induced illnesses.
Move to a cool area; loosen clothing, gently massage and stretch affected muscles and drink cool salted water (1½ to 2½ mL salt in 1 litre of water) or balanced commercial fluid electrolyte replacement beverage. If the cramps are severe or don’t go away after salt and fluid replacement, seek medical aid. Salt tablets are not recommended.
Reduce activity levels and⁄or heat exposure. Drink fluids regularly. Workers should check on each other to help spot the symptoms that often precede heat stroke.
Fluid loss, inadequate water intake and standing still, resulting in decreased blood flow to brain. Usually occurs in unacclimatized persons.
Sudden fainting after at least two hours of work; cool moist skin; weak pulse.
GET MEDICAL ATTENTION. Assess need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Move to a cool area; loosen clothing; have the person lie down; and if the person is conscious, offer sips of cool water. Fainting may also be due to other illnesses.
Reduce activity levels and⁄or heat exposure. Drink fluids regularly. Move around and avoid standing in one place for too long. Workers should check on each other to help spot the symptoms that often precede heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion
Fluid loss and inadequate salt and water intake causes a person's body's cooling system to start to break down.
Heavy sweating; cool moist skin; body temperature over 38°C; weak pulse; normal or low blood pressure; person is tired and weak, and has nausea and vomiting; is very thirsty; or is panting or breathing rapidly; vision may be blurred.
GET MEDICAL ATTENTION. This condition can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death quickly. Move the person to a cool shaded area; loosen or remove excess clothing; provide cool water to drink; fan and spray with cool water. Do not leave affected person alone.
Reduce activity levels and⁄or heat exposure. Drink fluids regularly. Workers should check on each other to help spot the symptoms that often precede heat stroke.
Heat stroke
There are two types of heat stroke:
  • Classic heat stroke may occur in older adults and in persons with chronic illnesses exposed to excessive heat. When the body has used up its water and salt reserves, it stops sweating causing a rise in body temperature.
  • Exertional heat stroke generally occurs in young persons, who engage in strenuous physical activity for a prolonged period of time in a hot environment and the body’s cooling mechanism cannot get rid of the excessive heat.
Heat stroke may develop suddenly or may follow from heat exhaustion.
High body temperature (over 40°C) and any one of the following: the person is weak, confused, upset or acting strangely; has hot, dry, red skin (classic heat stroke) or profusely sweating (exertional heat stroke); a fast pulse; headache or dizziness. In later stages, a person may pass out and have convulsions.
CALL AMBULANCE. This condition can kill a person quickly. Remove excess clothing; fan and spray the person with cool water; offer sips of cool water if the person is conscious.
Reduce activity levels and/or heat exposure. Drink fluids regularly. Workers should check on each other to help spot the symptoms that often precede heat stroke.

Controlling Heat Stress


The longer you work in a hot environment, the better your body acclimatizes to the heat. If you are ill or away from work for a week or so you can lose your acclimatization.
To become acclimatized, consider the following progressive approaches:
  1. If you are experienced on the job, you should limit your shift time in hot working conditions to 50 per cent on the first day, 60 per cent on the second day, and 80 per cent on the third day. You should be able to work a full shift on the fourth day.
  2. If you are not experienced on the job (for example, if you are a new employee), you should start off spending 20 per cent of shift time in hot working conditions on the first day and increase your time by 20 per cent on each subsequent day. You should be able to work a full shift in hot working conditions the fifth day.
  3. Instead of progressively increasing the exposure times on the job in a hot environment, you can become acclimatized by gradually increasing the physical demands of the job over a week or two.
If you have health problems or are not in good physical condition, you may need longer periods of acclimatization. Hot spells in Ontario seldom last long enough to allow acclimatization. However, exposure to workplace heat sources may permit acclimatization.

Controlling Heat Stress


The longer you work in a hot environment, the better your body acclimatizes to the heat. If you are ill or away from work for a week or so you can lose your acclimatization.
To become acclimatized, consider the following progressive approaches:
  1. If you are experienced on the job, you should limit your shift time in hot working conditions to 50 per cent on the first day, 60 per cent on the second day, and 80 per cent on the third day. You should be able to work a full shift on the fourth day.
  2. If you are not experienced on the job (for example, if you are a new employee), you should start off spending 20 per cent of shift time in hot working conditions on the first day and increase your time by 20 per cent on each subsequent day. You should be able to work a full shift in hot working conditions the fifth day.
  3. Instead of progressively increasing the exposure times on the job in a hot environment, you can become acclimatized by gradually increasing the physical demands of the job over a week or two.
If you have health problems or are not in good physical condition, you may need longer periods of acclimatization. Hot spells in Ontario seldom last long enough to allow acclimatization. However, exposure to workplace heat sources may permit acclimatization.
When there is a potential for exposure to heat stress, control measures must be taken to prevent heat exposure in the workplace. These include engineering controls, administrative controls and protective clothing. Selection of appropriate workplace controls will vary, depending on the type of workplace and other factors. Some measures may include:

Engineering controls

  • Reduce physical demands of work task through mechanical assistance (hoists, lift–tables, etc.)
  • Control the heat at its source through the use of insulating and reflective barriers (e.g. insulate furnace walls)
  • Exhaust hot air and steam produced by operations
  • Reduce the temperature and humidity through air cooling
  • Provide cool, shaded work areas
  • Provide air–conditioned rest areas
  • Increase air movement if temperature is below 35°C (e.g. use fans).

Administrative and work practice controls

  • The employer should:
    • Assess the demands of all jobs and have monitoring and control strategies in place for hot days and hot workplaces
    • Increase the frequency and length of rest breaks
    • Schedule strenuous jobs to cooler times of the day
    • Provide cool drinking water near workers and remind them to drink a cup about every 20 minutes, or more frequently, to stay hydrated
    • Caution workers to avoid direct sunlight
    • Assign additional workers or slow down the pace of work
    • Make sure everyone is properly acclimatized
    • Train workers to recognize factors which may increase the risk of developing a heat related illness and the signs and symptoms of heat stress and start a “buddy system” since people are not likely to notice their own symptoms
    • Investigate any heat–related incidents
  • Trained First Aid providers should be available and an emergency response plan should be in place in the event of a heat related illness.
  • Pregnant workers and workers with a medical condition – or those taking certain medications – should discuss with their physicians about working in the heat

Protective clothing

  • Light summer clothing should be worn to allow free air movement and sweat evaporation
  • If working outdoors, wear light-coloured clothing, preferably long-sleeve shirt and pants, and cover the head to prevent exposure to direct sunlight
  • In a high radiant heat situation, wearing reflective clothing to shield radiant heat may help
  • For very hot environments, consider air, water or ice–cooled insulated clothing
  • Vapour-barrier clothing, such as chemical protective clothing, greatly increases the amount of heat stress on the body. Extra caution such as heat strain (physiological) monitoring is necessary, if vapour-barrier clothing is worn
Construction companies should have programs in place so that all employee’s understand the risks and know what to do in these situations.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders

Information gathered for this post was taken from the ministry of labour webstie. To see more about this here is the link to it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Protecting your cottage roof from wind damage off the lake


I’m having a cottage built on the water of the great lakes and I’m worried about the high winds. Can you give me any advice on what type of roofing products I should put on my house so that they won’t get damaged?


Since I have a place on Lake Huron I see a lot of my neighbours who have had wind damage to their cottages. A lot of these cottages are newer cottages and are constantly being repaired after the big storms that come off the great lakes. Well that's good for the handyman that comes to fix the roof it gets to be hard on your wallet.

Let’s start with your roof;

Asphalt shingles

Most cottages are still using asphalt shingles, there's several reasons for this; the availability and range of suppliers that sell them, they are easy to install and the cost of them. There is nothing cheaper than an asphalt shingled roof.

Those are the pros, the cons on the other hand of having an asphalt roof is that they are held onto the roof with a maximum of only 4 shingle nails, the bottoms of the shingles are held in-place by the sun melting a tar strip that binds to the shingle below it. If the sun doesn’t melt this tar strip or the tar strip doesn’t bond to the shingle below it then in a strong wind the shingles blow off and you have to have them repaired or replaced.

If your budget doesn’t allow for anything else then an asphalt roof then you need to install a waterproofing membrane underneath the shingles. This will help protect the structure of your roof from water damage when the shingles do fail on the roof. There are many different types of waterproofing membranes; any of them will do if all you are doing is using them as a backup to wind, rain, ice and snow damaging your shingles.

There are asphalt shingles today that have been engineered to withstand higher winds; they are made with a fibre glass mat embedded in them. This will help the shingle from tearing when the wind lifts it off the roof and can help your roof survive a bigger wind.

They also make an asphalt shingles that are multiple layered. This makes the shingle a lot heavier than a normal asphalt shingle. This shingles should last longer than a conventional shingle and the added weight allows it to lay better on the roof during wind storms.

Both of these shingles cost more with the multiple layered shingles being significantly more expensive to purchase and they take a little longer to install as well.

The problem with asphalt shingles is that once the wind gets underneath them then they lift off a lot easier than you would think regardless of the weight. Because the shingles melt together in the hot sun they tend to come off the roof in large clumps. This leaves large areas of your roof exposed to the weather.

Steel roofs

There are several different types of steel roofs on the market and they are priced accordingly with steel roofs that are not as durable being at the low end of the cost scale and the high durability being the top end of the cost scale.

The cheaper steel roofs are the ones that are installed like shingles; they are called steel tile roofs.
Steel tile roofs are made from a lighter gauge steel, it allows them to be installed quicker and they are cheaper to buy because of the less steel material in them. They are installed with nails or screws in the top flange with the next shingle above covering it. The bottom of the shingle is left unsecured relying on the stiffness of the steel to hold it in place.

There are cons with this roof, they do not have the strength of a conventional steel roof and high winds can lift them up and remove them from the roof. A lot of steel tile shingles are made from such thin steel that they do not do well with weight on top of them. They will fold or dent, this means that you are not suppose to walk on them and heavy snow loads can cause them to dent. These shingles also do not do well with flying debris as they are thin, steel roofs are installed with strapping underneath them to allow the roof to breathe. This air space allows the steel tile to be punctured; this can allow the weather to penetrate into your home causing water damage.

The more expensive steel roofs are the ones that we general contractors refer to as lifetime roofs. These steel roofs should last as long as you live in the home. The average warranty on a high made steel roof is 50 years and that is usually the paint warranty on them. As long as the paint stays on them then the steel roof should technically never rust and never fail.

These roofs are made from sheets of steel that are made from a high quality steel that is thick and rigid, it can be walked on, jumped on, take a snow load and will withstand hurricane force winds when installed properly. They are made to be impact resistant from flying debris and will not be bothered from tree branches scrapping over the material. These roofs come in sections that are 3 feet wide and as long as your roof is from peak to soffit.

They are installed one at a time with an overlapping flange on each side that gets screwed together on the vertical seams. Because these sheets of steel are ordered to fit your roof there is no joint in the roof horizontally, the sheets of steel run from the peak of the roof down to the facia. This makes the roof attached extremely durable to the pressures of the wind coming off the lake.


There is one other type of roof that I would recommend to stand up against the hurricane type force winds that come off the great lakes, it is a specialty product called Enviroshake.

Enviroshake is a roofing material that is made from recycled materials and ethanol waste products from corn. The material that is created is an extremely durable product that is made to look like cedar shakes. It comes with a 50 year warranty and is installed with ring nails that are usually used for conventional cedar shake roofs; they are installed the same way you install cedar shake roofs with the nails being installed at the top of the Enviroshake and the next shake covering them.

One of the biggest differences between Enviroshake and Cedar shakes is that Enviroshake never warp, rot, twist, split or full apart. The material is so durable that you use a skill saw to cut the Enviroshake, a knife will not penetrate enough through the shake. The material does not bend and always lies flat on the roof. This stops the winds ability to get underneath the Enviroshake and lift it in high winds. This material will stand up to whatever the great lakes can through at it.

The downside to Enviroshake is it is by far the most expensive roofing material that you could install on your roof, the look and durability do pay for itself overtime but you have to be able to afford it in the first place.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The most effective energy-saving products when building a new home


What are the most effective energy-saving products when building a new home?


There are many different ways to save energy in a new home, especially when you are having a custom home built. When you are having a custom home built you will be given the option of upgrading or selecting the energy efficient level of all the mechanical devises that go into your home. There is an added cost to these items but in the long run they will save you money in energy costs.

The largest energy user in your home is the heating units, whether they are gas or electric you will spend more money heating and cooling your home than anything else you do in it. Here is a brief list of products that will save you energy when heating and cooling your new custom home;

Air to air heat pumps. They run off electricity, but the efficiency rating of air to air heat pumps when you purchase the highest rated ones are better than high efficiency natural gas furnaces. The cost to buy them is also higher the more efficient they are.

Geothermal heating. Geothermal heating is by far the most efficient heating and cooling system that you could install in a home. It is also the most costly system as well. The return is longer to recoup the costs you pay on installation but the value of your home is worth more as well for resale.

High efficiency natural gas furnaces. These furnaces use less energy than conventional furnaces but are not nearly as efficient as geothermal or air heat pumps. They also do not produce air conditioning. The cost of them is by far cheaper than anything else so the recoupment of your installation costs over an average gas furnace is fairly quick.

Because heating and cooling is so much of your energy costs in your home you should consider upgrading the insulation in your home, this will go a long way to lowering your heating and cooling costs in the future.

Other ways to save money is to make sure that you buy energy star rated appliances. The higher the rating the higher the costs, but the less energy they will use. The clothes dryer is a big one when it comes to appliance energy use, it and your oven will have the largest electricity use in your new home (for appliances).

Lighting. Your lighting is not that large of an energy user, but the more lights that you have in your home the more energy they will use. A standard halogen pot light uses 50 to 80 watts. Changing that bulb to an LED will take the power consumption down to 5 to 10 watts. The cost of the bulbs is more expensive but the longevity of them compared to a halogen pays for itself without even considering the cost savings in energy.

One of the most expensive energy saving items that go into your new home is your windows. Windows are one of the most costly items to upgrade to make more energy efficient. Taking your windows from the standard double pane glass up to triple pane glass will greatly reduce the heat loss through the windows, the down side is that the cost of the windows jump considerably. My advice is to only upgrade the largest windows in your home to triple pane and any window that is facing the water or the direction where you receive the majority of the strong winds in the winter. This will help prevent the wind chill in the winter from costing you money on heating and will not be as big a hit on the budget.

When building a custom home you will have to think long and hard about how much money you want to spend in upgrading your home to save energy. There is a limit to what you should spend; you should way the energy savings that will come to you in the future compared to the cost upfront. If you do plan to sell the house within 5 to 10 years of building it then you have to take into consideration that the resale value of your home will be higher as more and more people are looking for energy efficiency in their next home.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are custom homes expensive?


Are custom homes expensive?


Yes and no.

Yes custom homes are expensive, but they are only as expensive as you want them to be. With a custom home you get to choose everything in them, so your choices make the home the price that it ends up being.

No custom homes are not expensive, you get what you want in your custom home, and you also get a better quality of home. You get a home that will be more energy efficient, a home that will last longer before it needs repairs and a home that you can enjoy for a longer period of time before you need to renovate because it is the home that you designed and had built.

The extra cost of a custom home usually comes from the fact that it is basically a one of kind home, sub-division builders build what are called track homes. That means that they buy a large piece of property and they develop it on mass using volume buying to help discount the price of everything from the land to the lumber to the flooring in your home. This is a good thing for the final price but severely limits your options as a home owner that go in your home from the flooring to the kitchen cabinets. The size, shape and style of the home is extremely limited as well, you will be given a small selection of homes to build from and in the end your home will end up looking like half the houses on the street.

With a custom home you will be given a choice of whatever you want, no matter what the cost of the product or how difficult it is to install you will get the chance to have it in your home. All you have to do is pay for it. That endless possibility and the fact that you are only buying enough of that product to build one house ads cost to the home. One of the things that people tend to forget is that custom homes are worth more when you go to re-sell them later down the road. Custom homes hold their value because of the quality they are built with and the fact that they are different then every other house on the street.

So when thinking about having a home built, ask yourself if you really want to live in a home that looks like every other house on the street? Or do you want to live in a home that is entirely yours, a home customized to you. A home that over its life time and yours will need less repairs and maintenance.

Look into having a custom home built, it might be exactly what you are looking for.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

2014- Master Bedrooms trends in custom homes

2014- Master Bedrooms trends

As we have progressed into the 2014 residential construction season trends are starting to appear in the master bedrooms of custom homes. There are trends that have continued from previous years and there are trends that have disappeared from previous years. Here is a brief summary of the trends in master bedrooms that we are seeing this year.

Master bedrooms

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

People opting to place their master bedroom on the first floor of two story homes.

The master bedroom is one of the few places left that have ceiling fans.

Master bedrooms are turning into master suite. The suites are bathroom, walk-in closet, bedroom and usually a sitting area.

Hallways in master suites are come-in as well.

Carpets are still the most wanted flooring in master bedrooms.

Coffered ceilings with lighting and crown moldings to give a dramatic effect.

Gas fireplaces opposite to the bed placement to help set the mood and regulate the temperature for

Custom blinds and drapes so that homeowners can sleep later in the morning after the sun has risen.

As master bedrooms have grown in size so has the size and amount of the windows along with them.

Makeup tables with extra lighting are being added in the bedrooms to allow women to prepare without having to take over the ensuite bathroom.

Wall hung televisions with all the wiring buried in the walls.

Balconies and decks with glass French doors leading to them allow some private outdoor space.

Sound dampening in the walls of master bedrooms to keep the sounds inside and out from migrating.

Pocket doors are the most popular trend for the entrance into walk-in closets, they are space saving and for the most part they will be left open.

Ceiling fans are always installed to help move the air around in ever growing master suites.

Here a list of the new trends happening in master bedrooms;

Wood floors are making a comeback in master bedrooms, taking over where carpets have always been more prevalent.

Cathedral ceilings to give a more dramatic feel.

Stone and wood feature walls placed behind the bed, floor to ceiling.

More lighting is being added, pot lights, chandeliers and wall sconces. All on different switching to allow the option for setting the mode.

Master bedrooms are becoming a more open modern feel with bathrooms having no door from the bedroom into the bathroom.

Audio wiring in the walls attached to a system that allows wireless control of audio music located just in the bedroom.

For the first time ever I have wired to hang a TV on the ceiling so that people in bed do not have to strain their necks to see it.

These are some of the most popular trends in master bedrooms in custom homes today.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The pro’s and con’s of adding a bunky at the cottage

The pro’s and con’s of adding a bunky at the cottage?

Currently all the rage with cottage owners is to build bunkies or buy the pre-fabricated ones and have them installed on their property. There are pro’s and con’s to adding space by adding a bunky or adding several of them as seems to be the growing trend.


As long as you keep it to 100 sqft or under you do not require a building permit.

They do not require a foundation.

They can be used as a storage space when you don’t have guests to sleep in them.

They give guests a private place to retire too.

You can run electricity to them.

You can buy pre-fabricated ones that are delivered and assembled onsite.

They can be constructed so that they fit the surrounding area and fit into the cottage feel.

Without a building permit you can set them closer to the water then a conventional building that has to be placed back from the high water mark.


Bunkies that are built without building permits cannot have a bathroom in them. Guests would have to either use an outhouse or walk to the main house every time nature calls.

If you have a building permit for your bunky and you put a bathroom in it the cost per sqft will be extremely high as you will have to deal with the waste either through the septic system or some kind of holding tank.

Building a bunky without a foundation will save you money but you still have to excavate the area that it is to be built on so that it is sitting on a level surface, free of organic material under it and has a gravel or sand base.

Most people do not have the skill to build a proper bunky; it’s basically like building a miniature house and thus have to hire someone to do it.

Since most bunkies are small they only usually have one room which means that it is basically a bedroom.

Pre-fabricated bunkies are extremely expensive to buy. It is probably cheaper to have one built by hand on the property.

Because bunkies are a simple structure they are notoriously hard to keep vermin out of; mice, bugs, raccoons and even bears have been known to break in and cause damage. A lot of people find that keeping a bunky clean enough for guests becomes harder than keeping the cottage clean.

A bunky can be a very difficult place to install a fireplace whether it is wood or gas. This means that for heat you have to rely on baseboard heaters which can be expensive and inefficient.

Because of the vermin problem when bunkies are built you must take great care in what you are planning to build them with. You should not be using conventional insulation (fibreglass). You should be using insulation that has a resistance to vermin like hard foam board and other products that resist bugs and mice.

There should be a lot more thought put into a bunky then just framing up 4 walls and a roof if you want people to enjoy it and for it to last.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Want an addition to your home and a garage but you don’t think you have the room? Combine them into one building.

Want an addition to your home and a garage but you don’t think you have the room? Combine them into one building.

There are two ways you can add livable square footage to your home and also have a garage in the same size foot print.

The loft above the garage

You can add a loft above the garage, if the garage is going to be connected to the house then the upstairs loft becomes a bonus room to the rest of the house. If the garage is separate from the house then the loft becomes a separate living quarters.  Both of these options have different challenges from the permit and construction standpoint.

If you build the garage separate from the house and you want a bathroom or kitchen in it then it becomes a little trickier. You need to connect that bathroom/kitchen to the sewers or to your septic system. Both of these options are easy to accomplish but some municipalities can make it harder than others for permission to do it. A lot of the time you will be forced to do a septic review of your system to guarantee that it can handle the extra capacity that another bathroom/kitchen adds to it.

The walkout below the garage

If you are building a separate garage from your house and you are on hilly terrain then you should think about putting a basement below your garage. It sounds a little zany but it actually isn’t that uncommon or hard to build. All you need is to build a garage with a walkout basement. To achieve this you simply have to use concrete for the floor instead of wood were the cars would be parked.

There are several ways to achieve this; one of the simplest ways is to use what is called “core slab”. Core slab is a pre-formed concrete product that is manufactured to be light weight and built to your projects exact needs. They have voids in the middle of them to reduce the weight and to allow you to run key electrical, gas, water or communication lines in them.

The cost of building this way is not inexpensive but if you are building a garage into a hill it becomes a smart way to use the foundation, a foundation that you have to install for the garage anyways. This way of building a walkout garage when done right can be extremely attractive and very useful.

Whichever way you go about building you should be extremely satisfied with the extra space you will create without taking up to much room on your property.

Rob Abbott

Village Builders Inc.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Which way should you run the hardwood floors in your home?

Which way should you run the hardwood floors in your home?

This is a question that I get asked many times while I’m building or renovating people’s homes. The answer to this question depends on a few things, different scenarios allow for different installations.

New Homes

In newly or newer built homes you don’t have to worry about the way that you run the floor. Especially if it’s a properly built custom home. A properly built custom home will be built to or exceed the current building codes and thus the sub-floor will be a level plain that will not move a lot overtime.

The actual installation or direction of the flooring can be done across the joist or with the joist. It can be run on an angle or the flooring can change direction, whatever design or pattern you desire. The new sub-floor should easily be able to accommodate this.

The only thing that you need to think about is what will look the best. If you have a room that is long and narrow then you probably don’t want to run the flooring the long way, you will want to run it the shorter way to help give the room a feeling that it is wider then it is, this will help balance out the room.

When running flooring down hallways you have to decide if you want the hallway to appear longer then it is (then you run the flooring straight down it) or do you want it to appear shorter (then you run the flooring across it).

Older Homes

With older homes you have to be careful which way you run the flooring. A lot of older homes were built before the building code was implemented or were simply built with less than ideal materials. This can cause the floor to move with changing temperature, weight and time. With these kinds of sub-floors you want to run the flooring whenever possible across the floor joist. This will allow the hardwood flooring to span any raises or depressions in the floor and allow the floor to run straighter and more level.

A good quality hardwood flooring when properly installed with an appropriate number of fasteners will help the sub-floor resist the urge to move from changing temperature, weight and time.

If you have or want to run the flooring a different direction then a good idea is to try and re-enforce the sub-floor from below. This can be accomplished with blocking or by adding supports to the floor from below.

This will help stiffen the floor against moving and allow your floor to remain straight and level for years to come.

The same design should also be considered in older homes, remember that the direction you install the flooring can change the look of a room very quickly.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How to Choose Exterior House Colours

How to Choose Exterior House Colours

The best way to choose exterior house colours is to start with the most limited material. There is an abundance of siding and window dealers, but I bet there is only two or three exterior stone or brick products that you like OR fit into your budget.

There are several things that you should be considering when making these decisions. First, consider the elements and landscaping.  Is the house exposed to direct sunlight that will cause the product to fade overtime? Is there a large tree near the home that will drip sap, if so then you might want to pick a product that will not highlight the mess. Durability is one of the main keys to exterior products, once you find the right product it could end up dictating your colour story.

Some of the best ways to get your idea’s and gather choices is to look at other homes in your area and write down what details you like or don’t like about them. Gather pictures from magazines or from websites. You need to look at the constant in all the images that you have chosen. Take your samples and study them collectively before ordering anything. You should take these samples outside into the natural sunlight; observe how the colour changes with the natural light. Remember that your exterior products will be seen more often than not in natural light.

Purchase test pots and paint large lightweight boards that you can carry around with you.

Remember that there is nothing more uninteresting then painting your garage and front door the same colour.
You need a focal point, and the front door should be a colour all on its own.

If you are struggling with this then you should really hire a professional to help you with it, an interior designer can help bring all the exterior house colours together and make your home look like something that you can be proud of for years to come.

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, June 12, 2014

I want to build a custom home; does it have to be a large home?


I want to build a custom home; does it have to be a large home?


Something that people tend to think when they think of custom homes is that they are large homes for the extremely wealthy. That isn’t always the case, the meaning of custom home basically means that the home was built for someone and not built by a track builder in a sub-division where every home is exactly the same.

Custom homes are what the title says; they are customized to the person that it is being built for and nobody else.

Since the home is built for a specific person the home can be as big or as small as they want it to be. Custom home builders do not have a specific size that they work on; they build custom homes no matter what the size, shape or style of them.

The big difference between a custom home and a track built sub-division home is not just the personalization it is also the quality of the home. Custom home builders build anything from a garage to a multi-million dollar home with the same quality, fit and finish.

You can have any size of home built by a custom home builder; the only difference will be that the custom home builder will build you a better quality of home and it will be exactly what you want the home to look and feel like.

Having the home custom built for you will come in handy depending on how small of a home that you want to build. The layout in a smaller home can make all the difference, a properly planned and laid out home can function and feel bigger and better then a large home that is poorly planned out.

When you add in how much longer a custom home will last without major maintenance or repairs plus the energy savings from a well insulated custom home and the higher resale value, the extra cost will pay for itself in short order.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Is it difficult to remove a wall to enlarge a room?


How difficult is it to move a wall to enlarge a room?


That will depend on what kind of wall it is, there are two different kinds of walls in a home that you could end up having to move;

Non-structural wall

A non- structural wall is a wall that does not support structural loads from the roof or from a second story. It can be removed without worrying about anything starting to sage or buckle in the home.

There are two different types of non-structural walls;

Blank wall. This is an interior wall with no windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, gas, water or hvac duct work in it. These are the simplest to remove because there is no reason to worry about having to relocate anything.

Non simplified interior wall. These are non-structural walls that do have windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, gas, water or hvac duct work inside the wall or on the surface of it. These walls must have the drywall removed before you attempt to remove any of the framing material. This will help locate anything that needs to be relocated and will have to be handled with care. When removing, capping or relocating any of the things mentioned above a qualified professional should be hired to do the work. This will ensure that no one is harmed and no damaged is caused to the home.

Structural load bearing wall

 A structural load bearing wall is the most difficult wall to remove and is also the most expensive as well. This should be done by a qualified professional that has knowledge of removing structural walls. A structural load bearing wall is holding up either the roof or the floor directly above it and removing it improperly will cause damage to the home and endanger the people that are working inside it.

When removing a load bearing wall you must remove all the drywall, than have all the mechanical, electrical, water, plumbing and gas relocated or terminated.

After utilities are taken care of then you must build two temporary stud walls, place one wall on each side of the wall that you plan to remove. Do not place these walls to close to the wall you are going to remove because you need room to work, but do not place them too far away that the floor above sags under the weight because the span between walls is too great.

Once you have the upper level properly supported with your walls then you can go ahead and carefully remove the bearing wall.

Once the bearing wall is removed you then have to place a beam of some kind or material to transfer the load to the basement. This is a mathematical equation and should be worked out by a qualified professional or an engineer.

Once your beam is installed before you remove your walls you must make sure that you have installed the proper posts at each end of the beam to transfer the weight of the beam to the basement. This will require you to not only install posts under the beam but it will also require placing blocking or posts in the floor below.

You must also determine if the concrete foundation or floor can support the new weight, you might have to remove some concrete floor to install a concrete footing to take the load.

Once these are all installed then you can remove your temporary walls, the beam if done right should hold the weight by itself.

When completing structural work I must insist that qualified professionals do the work so that the building or anyone working in the building does not get damaged or hurt.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The new media room in your custom home

The New Media Room

Thoughtful planning will help homeowners get the most from this popular amenity.

Home theaters were all the rage ten years ago. These rooms were designed for passively watching TV and movies, and were acoustically separated from the rest of the house. While some homeowners still want home theaters, most now opt for a media room that doubles as a game room. Getting the most from these spaces requires careful planning.

Media/game rooms are popular because people are spending more leisure time playing games— from multi-player virtual reality games to the weekly Texas Holdem night. A multi-purpose room that serves all these activities will enhance homeowners’ family time and increase the home’s resale value.

The new game room might include multiple, flat-panel plasma or LCD displays for watching television, surfing the internet, and playing video games. There may also be surround-sound audio, multi-port outlets, and docks. Throw in a card table or pool table and you have a place to keep everyone happy.

Homeowners working with their remodeler on a media/game room need to think through how it can best serve their lifestyles. Things to consider include:

Where to put it. Location is the most important question, and the answer depends on how TV watching and game playing blends with the family’s other activities. Some homeowners want the floor plan to naturally flow from the kitchen or living area to the media/game room, which lets parents keep an eye on kids and makes it easy for guests to get drinks and snacks during the annual Super Bowl party. Such rooms typically have sliding doors so they can be isolated when needed. Other homeowners want the room in a space that’s completely separate from the rest of the house, such as the basement.

Controlling noise. The room can be acoustically isolated with products that dampen sound transmission through the walls, floors, and ceilings. Cost-effective solutions include framing techniques that separate one side of the wall from the other (so it doesn’t vibrate like a speaker) to special membranes, insulation, acoustic tiles, and sound-deadening drywall products.

Managing daylight. Natural light is great for that Saturday afternoon card game, but when it’s movie time, most people want darkness. Options include motorized screens and draperies that smoothly draw across the windows and are controlled by remote devices or wall-mounted panels. For tighter budgets, consider hand-operated blackout shades.

Accommodating technology. Though most homebuyers purchase their own consumer electronics, the media/game room needs a floor plan and a wiring infrastructure to accommodate these devices and their data feeds. People who love movies may want a 6 to 10 foot wide screen and a 7.1 surround sound system. Others may want several video displays fed by multiple signals—satellite, cable, wireless internet. Regardless of design, essential touches include flexible task lighting (tracks are good for this) as well as more electrical outlets than the homeowners think they will need.

Seating, storage, and snacks. In many media/game rooms, it’s not unusual for family members and their friends to be engaged in multiple simultaneous activities. Consider including different seating zones, as well as built-in cabinet storage for Xboxes, Wiis, and other tech gadgetry. Small kitchen setups, complete with sink, microwave, mini-fridge, and counter workspace provide additional convenience in this self-contained haven.

Although these aren’t the only questions that need to be answered when planning a media/game room, they show the complexity involved in designing a successful one. A close working relationship with a professional remodeler is the best way to ensure that the final space works for everyone.

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, June 5, 2014

I want to build a home on a no winter maintenance road are there restrictions?


I want to build a custom home; the pieces of property I’ve ended up looking at are on roads that seem in really bad shape. There is a sign on a lot of them that says “no winter maintenance”. How does that affect me if I want to build a new custom home on that road?


The sign that you see that reads “no winter maintenance” means that there is no snowplowing in the winter on that road. The reason usually is because there is nobody living on that road; since there is nobody living on that road it is never maintained throughout the year and as provincial standards for roads changed and become more strict this one was never updated.

A “no winter maintenance” road is usually a gravel road that is mostly used by farmers and hikers for access to fields or trails. The road usually is not nearly wide enough for a snow plow to drive down safely. A lot of no winter maintenance roads are dead ends as well. There are usually no ditches and the road bed is made of poor granular material that washes away in heavy storms. The trees are overgrown on the sides of the road and there isn’t proper signs warning of hazards or driveways.

This road will be an obstacle when you go to get a building permit. The way most townships handle this is they require you to upgrade the road from the existing approved road all the way to where your driveway will be with a large enough space at the end for a snow plow or grader to turn around.

Upgrading a road is a lot of work; it is more work than it sounds. You are basically building a new road to your house for the township. You will have to widen the road, usually doubling the width, building the existing road higher as well, cutting the trees back from the road and digging new ditches on both sides. The process is expensive depending on how far down this road that you want to build your property.

The one good thing about doing this is that once you have had the road upgraded the township will assume responsibility for it. They will maintain it, plow it, grade it, trim the trees in the future and keep the ditches flowing properly.

The cost can vary immensely depending on where you live and what are the going rates for road building in your area. Anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 dollars per 100 meters of road bed is the cost.

If you are planning to build a large custom home and you think that the property on one of these roads is the one you want then talk to your municipality about it before you purchase the land. The road can be upgraded; all you have to do is build it into your budget for the home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Adapt or die changing with modern custom home building

“It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin

That quote holds a lot of meaning for me in life and in the construction industry as a whole. As a general contractor the easiest thing to do is to do nothing different and keep doing the same thing over and over again because they worked on the last job. The problem with this is that eventually you will be left behind in the antiquated way you do things; by the time your able to educate yourself and catch up you have already been killed by your competition.

In our Company Village Builders we are always investigating new ways to do things, whether they cost more or they save money we always are exploring new and inventive ways to do things.

I had a comment on my blog that claimed that the old way of waterproofing houses before waterproof membranes was good enough for the old houses and thus it should be good enough for today’s modern houses. What he failed to take into consideration is that modern houses have changed so much with limiting the air flow into the home that any moisture penetration into your home will not dry in a normal time and will result overtime in rot, mildew and possibly mold. Old homes used their basements as foundations to hold up the walls of the home and maybe also as root cellars. Modern homes use their basements as livable space and as such need to be protected like the upstairs of your home is protected.

The construction of residential homes has changed more in the last 2 decades then it changed in the previous 5 decades before it. Most of the changes that have happened are in areas of the home that cannot be seen when the house is finished. They are in the foundations, the walls and the attic spaces. Also the heating, plumbing and lighting have been changing at an almost break neck pace compared to the rest of the home.

My clients are asking for more and more new and innovative things in their homes and with every new thing that is installed it has a chain effect on the rest of the home. If you don’t know how it affects the rest of the performance of the home then you will be returning to the home to answer questions and possibly warranty repairs at a later date. You must keep a head of the changing technology and how it affects the rest of the home.

Some new technologies do not work well with others or with older existing technology or trade practices and if you don’t take the time to do the research then you can end up with parts of the home that are compromised.

Adapt or die, the only way to do that in the residential construction industry is to learn, educate yourself and teach your employee’s and sub-trades the better way.

Make sure that when you are looking for a contractor to build your home that they understand modern building methods and how one affects the other.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Working around a mobile crane on a construction site

Safety: Proper Crane usage

Today’s construction industry is hyper sensitive when it comes to safety, not just general safety but all aspects of safety on and around the worksites. A workers safety today is more important than anything else that has to happen on a construction site.  Safety should be thought of before anything else when planning to erect anything.

Safety must be the first priority when using heavy equipment, heavy equipment such as Cranes.

Crane Safety and Proper Crane Safety Procedures

Cranes are very large and slow moving equipment and because of this require everyone on the worksite to understand what to do around them and what not to do around them. Safety training should be given to all employees’ that are onsite when a crane is working even if they are not directly interacting with it.

For workers that are working with the crane they should be given a training course on the proper procedures and signals to work with a crane. The person that is directly signalling the crane operator should be a competent individual that understands what they are doing and has the ability to stay alert at all times.

There are several things that you need to look out for when a crane is operating on a construction site, there are many things that can go wrong that can cause harm to workers;

Power lines. Power lines should be avoided at all costs. You must keep 10 ft away from power lines at a minimum all times when working with a crane, the higher the voltage of power lines the farther away you will need to stay.

12% of all accidents are from cranes tipping over, care and caution must be taken when cranes are lifting heavy loads or extending out a long way from the base.

Boom failure. If the machine is not well maintained or the weight is too great a boom on a crane can break. No one should ever stand directly under the boom.

Roll Over’s. When a crane is traveling or adjusting position it can be vulnerable to rolling over and workers must be kept clear of the area. Also if the operator fails to extend legs out to add support a roll over can take place because of the weight on the boom. 50 % of rollovers happen because the outriggers were not engaged.

Poorly compacted fill. Cranes need to be careful when setting up, if they are on fill that has not been compacted enough it can cause the crane to tip or roll over.

One of the key set ups for mobile cranes is there outriggers. They must set there outriggers on solid ground and have the crane body level, they also have to make sure that the outriggers left the crane body off the ground until the tires are not touching.

15% of accidents with cranes are from the rigging failing; slings, hooks or loads falling out of rigging.

15% of fatalities with cranes are from workers being struck by the loads or pulled off because of contact with the load.

7% of fatalities with cranes are from crushing, that means workers were caught between crane and carriage. When a crane swings the counter weight at the other end protrudes farther out from the tracks and can strike a worker if they are to close.

When communicating with a crane there are 6 main hand signals, these hand signals should be learned before anyone try’s to communicate with a crane. These signals should be learned even if you are communicating with the crane via radio, because sometimes the noise on a construction site does not allow for proper radio communication.

Before any slings, hooks or rigging is used it should be inspected by a supervisor and the crane operator to make sure that everything is working properly. Safety hooks and other safety straps need to be used at all times.

Remember that with a crane the weights that are being moved are unforgiving and dangerous and everyone must stay aware at all times.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.