Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How to save money and lower your Electricity bill in your home

How to lower your Electricity bill

I am asked this question by a lot of people, whether they live in a small house or a large one, an old house or a newer house. In today’s world our bill’s always seem to be going up and our income never seems to follow.

If you look at your electricity bill as a long term problem then you have to look at the solution as a long term solution. Not everything I can recommend will save you a lot of money right away, some of it will cost you monies that you will not be able to recuperate for many years to come. Some changes are big and will take time to pay you back and some changes are small allowing you to see an instant savings on your future electricity bills. If you don’t try any of my recommendations then your electricity bill will only continue to rise, I recommend that you at least try a few and see if it makes a difference.

Let’s start small, here are some small things that will lower your electricity bills;

Change your halogen or incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs. If you change all the lights that you can in your house you should see an immediate effect on your electricity bills. It won’t be a lot but it will be a savings. LED light bulbs also last a lot longer than normal light bulbs.

Install dimmers on your lights. If you dim your lights even slightly your light bulbs will last longer and you will not use as much electricity. This is a small savings and you probably won’t notice it on your electricity bill. Dimmers become more important in light fixtures that will not except LED bulbs and use older bulbs that require more wattage.

If you have multiple fridges or freezers and they are not being fully utilized then you are wasted electricity. Get rid of the ones you don’t need or at least unplug them for parts of the years that you are not using them.

Ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are a cheap way to save money on air conditioning and on heating a home. They move the hot air off the ceiling in the winter to help warm up the entire home and in the summer they can create a breeze that will allow you to use less air conditioning to make the room that you are occupying more comfortable.

Plug your small appliances into power bars. When you are not using them or you are going away for the night simply turn the power bar off. Even when you are not using small appliances they draw electricity.

In the summer when the wind is blowing try turning off the air conditioning and opening up all the windows and doors. This will allow natural cooling to take effect.

Install a programmable thermostat for your furnace. This will allow you to regulate the temperature in the home. If you are not home for long periods of time then you can lower the heating and cooling demands and have it timed to use more energy when you are home to make it more comfortable.

Install a constant pressure well pump. If you are in the country then you will have a well, a well uses electricity to bring the water up to the house when ever water is needed. A constant pressure well pump keeps a constant pressure of water allowing it to run less often and with less of an energy draw when it does turn on.

Install a gravity drain to your weeping system. This will allow your sump pump to run less as the water naturally drains away from the house.

Here are bigger things that you can do to save on electricity, they also cost more money to initiate;

Changing your electric hot water tank to a “flash boiler” will save you a lot of electricity. Hot water tanks are one of the biggest consumers of electricity in a home. A flash boiler heats water with gas as it is needed. It doesn’t heat water when it isn’t needed like a hot water tank. It will cost you money in gas but less than the amount of money you are spending on electricity.

If you don’t have access to gas then you can install a hot water drain recovery system. These systems are copper piping that is wrapped around the drains that come from your shower. When you take a shower and you are using hot water then the copper drain of the shower heats up as the shower water travels down it. The copper piping that is wrapped around it is filled with the water that is coming in from either you well or the municipal lines. The water is then essentially pre-heated before it is dumped into your hot water tank. This allows the hot water tank to use less electricity to re-heat water and /or keep it warm.

Buy new energy star rated appliances. New washer, dryers, fridges, stoves, microwaves, ovens and dishwashers all use a fair bit of electricity. If you buy new low energy using ones they will save you money over time as you use them.

Change your heating system to a newer air to air heat pump. This is a great way to use less electricity when using air conditioning and also to lower electric or gas bills in the winter as new generation heat pumps have become far more efficient then most heating systems in older homes.

Install an HRV. This will recycle the air in the home so that there is less cold air brought into the furnace, lowering your bills.

Change your windows. A lot of heat and cooling is lost through older windows. New windows have much better energy ratings on them allowing less cold or heat penetration through the glass. If you live in an area that has a lot of wind you should think about installing triple pane windows, they allow almost no cold or heat transfer.

Upgrade the insulation in your home. This will lower the amount of heating and cooling you will require.

Install a wood stove. Wood is not very expensive to buy especially if you do a lot of the chopping and stacking yourself. A wood stove will lower your heating bills, it might not warm the whole house but it will warm the immediate room you are sitting in, this works well because most people want a colder bedroom to sleep in at night.

Install solar panels to offset the electricity use in your home. Big expense but they have a long pay out.

If you live in the country switch to geothermal heating. It is the most efficient heating and cooling available. It also gives you free hot water for parts of the year.

If you have baseboard heaters you should look into installing anything else. Baseboard heaters are the most inefficient heating there is and use the most electricity.
Using some or all of these ideas in your home will lower your electricity bills. Obviously some of them require you to spend a lot more money than others so you should way the returns on your investment wisely.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our old cottage needs renovations, is it better to do them all at once or can we do them a little at a time?


Our old cottage needs renovations, is it better to do them all at once or can we do them a little at a time?


When it comes to cottages depending on your usage you can do the renovations a piece at a time. That said I personally would recommend that you do as much of the renovations at one time as possible.

Coming from a contractor’s perspective we all like big renovation jobs that are good for the bottom line, but a client that wants to do small renovations over a series of years is almost a better client for us. The client that wants renovations over a series of years guarantee’s the contractor work every year. Yes the work is less every year then one big renovation but in the end when the cottage is finished many years down the road the contractor made more money collectively on the small jobs than if it was one big renovation.

When you do a series of small renovations the cost is higher because you are paying for start up and tear down costs every year instead of paying for it once. Also when doing a series of renovations you end up having to go over work you did before when two renovations start tying into one another.

When you do one large renovation it gets done all at once, it can be completed mostly in the off season when the cottage is not in use. Of course you need a budget that is big enough to accomplish it all at once.

When you start renovating a cottage you will end up changing plumbing, wiring, flooring, windows, doors, kitchens, bathrooms and heating/cooling systems. This requires opening up walls and ceilings, one large renovation allows the contractor to gut the cottage in an efficient way and replace it all in one go giving you a cottage that you can enjoy for years into the future, there is no need to find places to store material or fixtures until the next year when they will be needed again.

You can either do your renovations as a series over years or do it all in one go, the option is yours and so is your budget.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Should You Consider Installing an Energy Recovery Ventilator?


Should You Consider Installing an Energy Recovery Ventilator?


The answer for homeowners who want to improve indoor air quality is yes. Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) and heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) provide a supply of fresh, outdoor air to the house while exhausting stale indoor air.

They also help save energy because the supply and exhaust streams pass through a heat exchanger inside the unit, where energy is transferred from one air stream to the other. This heats the incoming air during winter and cools it in summer, reducing the load on the heating or cooling system. The most efficient models use less than 25 watts of electricity while supplying 40 to 50 cubic feet per minute of fresh, tempered air to the home.

When an HRV is paired with a forced air furnace the fresh air pulled from outside is efficiently circulated throughout the entire home, because it goes through a heat exchanger in the HRV the furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to warm up the new air.

These units also work well for areas in homes that are prone to stale moist air that can cause mold and mildew growth. These units exchange the air and prevent the growth of mold and mildew, helping to keep the air in the home safe for everyone.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If you want to stick to your new home budget stop adding things to it!

If you want to stick to your new home budget stop adding things to it!

Every year I work for people building them their dream homes. When we build custom homes for people we start by giving them a budget. In a custom home people have the ability to add or subtract whatever they want, this will affect their budget.

When building sub-division homes builders give you a fixed price and a limited selection of upgrades to pick from with the price clearly stated for each upgrade.

When building a custom home it is the opposite. Because we are not reproducing your custom home multiple times the jobs are priced on a time and material basis. This means that you pay the cost of building the home plus a management fee to your general contractor. If the general contractor is able to build the home for less money then what they budgeted then you pay the lower price, but if the home costs more then what was budgeted originally you will have to pay the higher price.

In residential construction budgeting there is a little bit of educated guess work involved. That guess work is not always perfect, sometimes it’s over budgeted and sometimes it’s under budgeted. Usually on an entire home (once it's completed) the budget is + or – 10% when compared to the original budget you are given before the job started.

Where homeowners get themselves in trouble is when they start upgrading their new home above and beyond what was ever quoted in their new home budget.

Custom homes are exactly what they sound like “custom”, built just for you the client. That means that if you ask me for options on upgrades throughout the home I can give you endless options and endless upgrades as the build process rolls along. This is the reason that people want us to build them a custom home because we are able to offer them those special extra’s that make their home there’s and that means that when the home is completed they end up with something special compared to the normal homes that are built by track builders. That is a good thing but it can also be a bad thing.

People that get carried away with upgrading their homes can easily end up way over budget. I have seen many a homeowner start upgrading their home right after the budget has been completed and approved at a lower cost. What ends up happening is that the homeowner ends up either having to down grade their finishes at the end to get the house completed or find a bank to lend them more money so that they can finish the home.

I have seen people go over the budget on their home by 25%, they endlessly upgraded their home right from the beginning. This extreme situation usually comes about because the homeowner didn’t have realistic expectations when they asked the contractor to do the budget before the build started. I have had people like this look at the budget and ask for the allowance for the kitchen to be lowered because they don’t want to spend that much money on a kitchen. Move forward to after the build and the kitchen ended up costing exactly what the original budget was on the kitchen before the homeowner asked us to lower it.

The moral of the story is that if you want to build a custom home then you should stick to your budget and keep track of your upgrades, they could end up biting you in the end. You should also be reasonable with your contractor when they are setting the budget, don’t ask them to lower allowances when you know in your heart that you will end up spending more on it. You have to pay for it all in the end; you might as well know the cost of it in the first place.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What are the minimum parts of the house you have to keep in order to be considered a renovation and not a new build?


What are the minimum parts of the house you have to keep in order to be considered a renovation and not a new build?


In a lot of places today you actually don’t have to keep any of the original house to have it considered a renovation or a restoration. This might sound strange to say but there are a couple of rules that you have to follow to accomplish this in the eyes of the building department;

1. The building you replace it with cannot be larger than the building that was removed.

2. If the original building was violating set backs from property lines or high water marks then you have to place the house in the exact same place that the old building was removed from.

There’s a very good reason why someone would bother trying to call the building of a brand new home a renovation, it’s because you don’t have to pay the development fees to the municipality. Those fees could be as high as 30 or 40 thousand dollars; a renovation permit could cost you as little as one thousand dollars (depending on where you live).

In my experience this scenario happens a lot with old cottages that have been built on the water in the 50’s and 60’s before there were proper setbacks or high water marks. The foundations of these old cottages are usually poorly constructed block crawlspaces or slab on grade. After 50 to 60 years the foundations have finally started to fail and the building on top of it starts to shift and become damaged.

These old cottages need their foundations completely rebuilt or replaced, to do this you have to remove the structure from on top of it. Removing an old structure from the foundation usually doesn’t go well and can be extremely unsafe. What usually ends up happening is the contractor tells the homeowner that for the cost and the safety aspect it’s easier (and almost the same cost) to tear it down and rebuild it new.

What you end up with is a new home (small) that is violating the setbacks but because you didn’t change the location or the footprint of the house your still allowed to rebuild it there.

If you were to tear the cottage down and apply to build a bigger one in its place the building department would go through a review of your entire property. The first thing they would do is make you move the house back away from the water until you are behind the high watermark. This can be problematic because of the fact that you might not have enough room on your lot to move your home backwards away from where the current one is situated.

In scenarios where you don’t have enough room to move the home back to make it qualify you can only tear some or the entire house down and stay in the original footprint.
So to answer your question depending on where you are attempting to build your home you don’t actually have to leave any of the home standing to call it a renovation.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I was wondering if I should add a second story to my ranch style house?


I was wondering if I should add a second story to my ranch style house?


Adding a second story sounds like a smart idea when you think about it as just adding a second story to the existing home. What you don’t realize is that by adding a second story to the home you will probably have to gut the first floor of the home to do so.

Adding a second story to an existing bungalow requires you to completely remove the roof of the home and build a new roof on the top of the new second story of the home. Since you are building a new roof on the home you will end up with new load points in the outside walls. These load points will have to be carried down to the foundation through the walls of the existing first floor. This is one reason why you end up having to gut the entire first floor of the home. There will also be interior walls of the home that will have to be re-enforced to help carry new roof load points to the foundation in the basement.

The bigger question would be can the existing foundation of the home handle having another story on top of it and a new roof that will require different load points? The foundation that exists was built many years ago to take the weight of a one story home and the existing roof as it was originally layout. The calculations that were done by the engineers did not include adding many more tons to the foundation walls and footings with a second story. A review of all the beams and footing pads will also have to be completed to see if they require remediation with the added stress and load.

What you are proposing is extremely labour intensive, the more labour the more money. Renovations always cost more than new construction when looked at as a per sqft basis because of the increased labour required.

Once you have removed the roof of the home your entire home will be open to the elements until the framing of a second story and the new roof can be completed. You are basically building a new home with an existing foundation as long as it is possible to use the current foundation as is.

My advice to you would be to take the time and money and find a two story home that you can either have built or to buy a home that you can renovate to meet your needs without having to do something as drastic as adding as second story to it.

The only reason that you would add a second story to a home is if the land value that you are currently on is worth more than the house itself, then it makes sense to make the home work for you as you probably will not be able to find another house that will better fit your needs in your price range. This is more common in cities where the lots are small and there isn’t a lot of space to expand, the only way to expand would be to go straight up.

What you need to do is sit down and decide the value of your home as it currently is, then the cost of the renovation to add the second story and then you must figure out what the home would be worth after it has received its second story. If the cost of the added second story far exceeds the new price of your home (of what it would be if you sold it) then you shouldn’t do it. Remember to add in the costs of permits, drawings and the fact that you will need a place to live while your home is under construction.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What is the cost of building a 2000 sqft home?


What is the cost of building a 2000 sqft home?


Depending on where you live in North America the numbers will change when talking about the cost of building a home. The reason for this is that every region has different labour rates.

Here is what I can tell you about the cost of building a home no matter where you building. The cost of materials as a whole averages out the same when building a home. The differences come when we talk about the minimum building codes of the house in your area. The farther north you go in North America the higher the cost usually is to build because the building codes are amended to combat the colder weather. The colder the weather you have the higher the insulation value you require by code, this costs money.

The farther north you go the building code will require different foundations, for example; if you build in the dessert states you only require a slab on grade but in Michigan you would require a minimum of 4 feet frost walls. This adds cost to your new home. This trend is repeated for every part of the home from the windows to the heating system.

Back to the labour rates, as I said above the rates of labour change for every region. Where I live and work in Canada the labour is always 50% of the entire cost of the job. In the far south where labour is a lot cheaper it can be as low as 15 to 20% of the job. The rest of the cost for the home is mostly material cost; these varying rates for labour raise and lower the cost of a home dramatically.

Basically the cost of your home will be influenced by the following depending on where you are building:

Labour rates.

Minimum building codes.

Heating system requirements.

The other things that will influence the cost of building a new home anywhere you build are as follows:

Your level of finish (painted trim, stained trim, granite counter tops, wood floors, natural stone tile).

The amount of windows you want in your home and the type of windows (vinyl, aluminum, wood, triple pane, UV coatings, solar gain/limiting).

The height of the ceilings.

The kind of roof you would like (asphalt, steel, cedar shake).

The type of exterior finishes on your home (vinyl siding, wood siding, natural stone, manufactured stone).

Do you want decks, porches, verandas, patios.

The size of the garage.

With these different things to think about let’s focus just on the level of finish inside the home. You as the homeowner will affect the cost of your home more than the contractor that you hire to build the home. When we explain the cost of homes to people we usually do it in a per square foot basis (sqft). So if I tell you the cost to build your home is $150.00 a square foot then the cost to build a 2000 sqft home would be $300,000.00.

Knowing this if the quote I gave you for that $150.00 a sqft was based on a basic porcelain tile that covered about 1000 sqft and the cost to buy and install that tile was $2.00 a sqft then the tile would represent $2000.00 of your budget. Once we start building your home you decide that you want a nicer natural stone tile that costs $5.00 a sqft to buy then you just raised the cost of the house $3000.00. The cost per sqft for your house just went from $150.00 to $151.50 and all you did was choose a different tile. This will be compounded if the natural stone tile you picked also has an addition labour cost to install and seal (as it is a natural stone), that extra cost is $2.00 a sqft. Now your home is $152.50 a sqft and the overall cost of it is $305,000.00.

It doesn’t take long for a homeowner with big dreams ends up with a home that is $180.00 a sqft when all is said and done. That means that the cost of your home went from $300,000 to $360,000 and the size of the home didn’t get any bigger. That’s a 17% increase in the cost of your home that has nothing to do with your contractor but everything to do with your personal choices and the level of finish that you require.

After explaining all of this you are probably hoping that I’m still going to be able to answer the question about how much it actually costs to build a custom home, the truth is without all the information I can’t tell you.

My father and owner of this company has always answered this question with a question in return, “How much does a car cost?”

Usually the person opens their mouth to answer immediately and then the thought occurs to them that they can’t answer the question without a lot more information.

The only way you will be able to find out what a 2000 sqft home cost in the area where you live is to have plans drawn up and then ask a contractor for a price based on your plans and your personal choices for finishing’s.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Should I renovate my current home or should I sell it?

Answering the renovation question

The following is a question that I get a lot and with this question it produces more questions than answers, it is a very broad subject and always takes me multiple parts to answer, here goes.


I am in a situation where I am not sure whether to renovate an existing house or to sell it and move on to another home or possibly build a new home on another piece of property.


Before you decide on what to do with your current home you should ask yourself a couple of things first;

1. Do I like where I currently live, neighbours schools, distance to work? Or is there another neighbourhood or area that I have dreamed about living in?

2. Do I like the house and lot that I currently live in?

3. Can your current home give you what you want in a home?

4. Is it worth it financially to put money into my current home, will it bring me a return on my investment when I go to sell it?

5. Is the home large enough for me or would I have to enlarge the home from its current shape and size?

The more of these questions you answer "no" too or are completely undecided on should help you decide if you really want to get into the renovating of your current home. If those questions didn’t sway you to a decision then read on.

When considering to extensively renovate a home like you are suggesting there are a couple of areas of the home that are more expensive to remediate but they do not give you a lot of return (i.e.; comfort to buyers in resale). These are areas that people do not see but are essential to the working of the home. They are as follows;

The foundation. Foundation work and waterproofing of the foundation are expensive and disruptive to the landscaping around the home. If you are planning to add an addition to the home having foundation problems will make it a more complicated matter to attach too.

The insulation. To re-insulate an older home properly you basically have to gut the entire home and start from scratch taking all the walls back to the studs.

The heating system. Depending on the current heating system it can cost you a lot of money to upgrade. The larger costs are associated when you are converting a home with baseboard heat into a home with a forced air furnace or if you want to install Geothermal heating because you live in the country and you don’t have access to natural gas.

Re-wiring the electrical. Basically damaging every wall in the house to update old and dangerous electrical lines.

Re-plumbing. This usually consists of taking most of the walls and ceilings back to studs.

All of these things that I have listed above are vital to how your home functions and performs. The problem is that for re-sale it’s nice to tell people that all of these expensive things have been done but a perspective homebuyer doesn’t put as much value on them as they do a brand new bathroom or new floors. This means that the return on your investment can be a lot less.

Usually when you start repairing some or all of the things listed above (unless the possible return on your investment is large) I would recommend selling the home and moving on to something else that has far fewer problems.

Now even if your home does not require a lot of the major repairs that I have listed above you still must ask yourself how much do you really want to spend on your current home as you attempt to re-configure the inside to fit what you want it to be from what it currently is.

Renovations are more expensive per sqft then building a new home, the simple reason is that it is more labour intensive to renovate a home then building a brand new one. That doesn’t mean that a new home would be cheaper to build then extensively renovating your home, but it does pose the question of if you are going to get a proper return on your renovation investment.

The other question that you should ask yourself (if you do like the idea of renovating a home instead of building a new one) is that if you don’t think it’s worth it to renovate your current home then you could always sell it and buy another home that does require you to renovate it but that home will have a greater chance of giving you a positive return on your investment.

With careful thought you should be able to make a decision on what you should do. If you are still thinking of renovating the current home that you live in I would recommend calling a contractor like me in and getting their opinion. They should be able to tell you a rough value of the work needed and they should be able to tell you about what state some of the more expensive parts of your home are if they do indeed require repair or replacement.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The High-Performance Remodel

The High-Performance Remodel

Many of our clients are less interested in “green” construction than they are in projects that offer health, comfort, and low ownership costs.

“Green” remodeling hasn’t been as big a hit among homeowners as some contractors hoped it would be. It’s easy to see why. Green has been over-used as a marketing term, often supported by vague definitions and poorly defined customer benefits. But while many homeowners are no longer moved by pleas to “go green,” they remain very interested in upgrades that use less energy and require less repair and maintenance.

The good news is that making a home more energy-efficient and durable also reduces its impact on the environment. And its owners reap a harvest of concrete benefits.

 Green Builder Magazine definesa greenhome as "healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient, with a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes."

Matt Power, editor-in-chief of Green Builder magazine, agrees that the term “green” doesn’t connect with a lot of homeowners – even though builders and remodelers who embrace the term do a great job meeting those homeowners’ needs. “What we have come to understand as green is really just good building practice.
It’s a high-performance home that’s healthy, safe, and comfortable, with predictable expenses.”
Of course a newly-remodeled home will be better on all these counts than it was before work began, but high-performance professional remodelers raise the bar even higher.

These remodelers prioritize health, comfort, and energy efficiency with top-shelf doors and windows, high R-value insulation, careful air sealing, and ventilation systems that provide a steady supply of fresh air. By doing so they reduce heating and cooling bills, eliminate uncomfortable drafts, and ensure that the homeowners enjoy a healthy environment. These techniques also keep the home quieter by helping to muffle street noise.
The result is a home that’s a sanctuary—a retreat that is the focal point for family gatherings.
When it comes to heating, cooling, and electric bills, the savings can add up fast. A savings of just $120 per month is $1,440 per, or a five-year savings of  $7200.

High-performance remodelers also use quality products and careful construction detailing to reduce costly repairs over time. These details include good moisture management to keep water out of the structure, eliminating worries about mold and rot, as well as top-end mechanical equipment that will last for years without the need for replacement or repair. For instance, with today’s variable speed furnaces the fan runs at low speed much of the time. Besides requiring less fuel to operate, the fan will last longer than one in an older furnace, which runs only at high speed and is constantly switching on and off.

Determining which details to prioritize are driven by budget and client needs. For instance, the homeowners may want to replace all the home's windows when they add that master suite, but may decide to put a furnace replacement on the back burner for now. Local climate and utility rates can also factor in the decision: upgrading the home's insulation might offer the quickest return on investment in one case, while better windows might be the first choice in another. The professional remodeler can help the homeowners choose the best options for a particular project.

The ultimate benefit offered by upgrading a home's performance is peace of mind. “What we’re really talking about is making the home more resilient,” says Power. “Because the home has a lower cost of ownership over time, the homeowners are better able to plan for, and weather, economic ups and downs.”

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 www.robabbott@villagebuilders.ca

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What’s more important the look of your roof or how it functions?

What’s more important the look of your roof or how it functions?

This might sound like a simple question to answer but if you take a look at the high end luxury homes being constructed these days’ architects and designers are focused more on the aesthetic appeal of the roof and less with how it should be built or how it should function.

To answer this question you should ask yourself a couple of questions, questions such as what is the function of a roof in the first place. Why do we have roofs, why do roofs look like they do in certain areas of the country but look different in others?

Let’s tackle the first question, what i s the function of a roof?

The function of a roof is too keep the elements (Mother Nature) out of your home and off your head. That’s basically the simplest answer there is for a roof. So if that’s the basic job for a roof then that helps answer the second question we have about roofs.

Why do we have roofs?

We have roofs on our houses to stop the sun, rain, snow and wind from entering the home. It is also there to make sure that bugs and animals aren’t able to enter the home. If any of this was allowed to enter the home through the roof then our possessions would be damaged and we could end up sick or worse depending on the weather or the type of animal that entered the home. Now that we have answered those two questions the answer to the last questions becomes clearer;

Why do roofs look like they do in certain areas of the country but look different in others?

The reason that roofs look like they do is to help them deal with the outside elements in as an efficient way as possible. This answers the last question “why do roofs look like they do in certain areas of the country and different in others”. Roofs where invented to function, for example if you live in a very rainy part of the country then you will want a roof that can deal with a great deal of water. One way to deal with water is to slope your roof so that the water runs off your roof on its own, if you add in the fact that you get snow in the same area as you get rain then you want the slope of the roof to be more extreme. This will help shed snow; you want to shed snow because snow is heavy and puts undue stress on the framing and structure of your roof. This is why you see large steep roofs in area’s that get a lot of rain and snow.

Back to the original question, “what’s more important the look of the roof or how it functions?” Well my answer to this question comes from a builder’s point of view and it is simply; the roof should function and that function is more important then the look of it. As a builder I think that your roof should never be compromised on function just to make the appearance more appealing.

Now that I have said that I also believe that there is room in there to make your roof look aesthetically appealing. What I think should be the focus when designing a roof is that it should be designed in the following way;

1. The roof should be designed in a simple and basic ways so that it functions first and does what you need the roof to do.

2. After this has been established then the roof can be shaped and shifted to be aesthetically pleasing for the homeowner.

3. A review of what has been removed, added or shifted so that there can be any problem areas identified with the new look of the roof.

4. Remediation of the new roof so that it functions properly with its new look.

Following this you should end up with a roof that functions properly but also doesn’t look out of place. Your home should look as good from the outside as it does from the inside but you shouldn’t sacrifice how it functions for how it looks.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Renovating your cottage on the Bruce Peninsula

Renovating on the Bruce Peninsula

Let me ask you a question have you ever been sitting in your cottage and looked around and realized that you don’t have enough space and that roof of your cottage is looking like it won’t survive another winter?

I think everyone of us has had that same thought while sitting in their cottage relaxing and drinking a beer. But what to do about, the thing that you shouldn't do is nothing at all. Doing nothing about the state of your cottage will only make matters worse, roofs do not get better with age they just start to leak and that starts to cause a whole bunch of other problems. The answer to your question is IT’S TIME TO RENOVATE!

Those 4 words can be scary for some people and if your one of them you probably just spit your beer out all over your shorts. Those words are even scarier to a person that isn’t very handy or doesn’t have the time to do it themselves. You have a real job and let’s be honest your cottage on the Bruce is a long way from your home down south and you get paid far more at your own job then what a carpenter does to renovate your cottage.

What you should do after you've cleaned the beer of your shorts is call a professional in, yes it costs money but if you hire the right contractor what you will spend on the renovation will pay for itself in the long run.

Most cottages that are 20 to 30 years old are on the smaller side and they really don’t fit the lifestyle that most people have become accustomed too. When you look at your older cottage as a whole you will probably find that a little more room overall would be more fitting to your lifestyle. What does this mean?
This means that most renovations of older cottages will also require an addition to it.

Before you start to hyperventilate over having to add an addition to your cottage I would like to assure you that it’s not that big of a deal for a good contractor. A well organized and professional contractor will be able to produce the drawings that you require for your addition and help you make all the decisions on the renovation for the older part of the cottage as well.

A good contractor can accomplish all of this in the off season so that it never disrupts your warm wonderful weekends at your cottage in the summer.

Village Builders is that kind of company, we are used to working in cottage country and dealing with you the homeowner via email and over the phone so that you don’t have to constantly drive several hours north just to make decisions on the work that is being completed at your beloved cottage.

Wouldn’t it be nice to show up on the May long weekend next year and the work on your cottage is completed and looking brand new? That your cottage has been re-constructed in a way that will limit the amount of problems and headaches that you will have in the future and also helped you do it all within your budget?

Village Builders has the workers, sub-contractors, knowledge and expertise to complete a renovation/addition in the time that you want it completed and at a level of quality that you will be proud to show to your friends.

Give Village Builders a call if you’re thinking about renovating on the Bruce Peninsula, you won’t be disappointed.

Our numbers is (705) 466-3202 or visit our website at www.villagebuilders.ca

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to trim a bank of windows and doors in a custom home

How to trim a bank of windows and doors and make it look good

When trimming out a large room that has a bank of windows and doors at one end you will have to take some time and figure out how all the pieces will fit together before you start ordering the material and installing it.

You probably have a simple way that you are going to install the trim on all the windows and doors in the rest of the house but that in most cases will not work for a large bank of windows and doors.

A couple things can happen if you try to recreate the same trim look around every window and door in a large bank of them;

Since you are trimming around every window and door then you can make the area look incredibly busy. That is not what you want to accomplish when you trim an area, the trim is suppose to be an accent and finishing to the window and not the highlight.

Depending on how close together the windows and doors are you could end up having to cut back the casing to make it fit between them and that can look sloppy and unprofessional.

You can end up with spots where the trim ends and has nothing to butt or flow into, this can ruin the whole look and feel of what you are trying to accomplish.

When attempting to layout for trim details on a large area you are going to have to take the time to make up trim samples and place them on the area. This is one of the easiest ways for you to see if your trim idea will work or not. Time and energy must be expended on this part so that you will be happy with finished product; the reason that designers and architects place windows and doors together at one end of a large room is to help show off your view, let light into the room and help let the outdoors come in doors.

Here are some of the more simpler idea’s that I have used when trimming larger banks of windows and doors to make them look professional and seamless with the windows they are surrounding;

No matter what the trim profile in the home is use a flat stock (1x4) to trim the entire area. This gives you a clean look and will not distract from the view.

Use the trim casing on the outside of the band of windows and doors like a picture frame, go all around the outside of it, but do not trim any of the interior areas in it. The interior area’s you can trim in the flat stock (1x4), this look makes the band of windows and doors look like it was installed as one gigantic unit and thus giving it the feeling that it was always meant to be completed like that.

If you really want to highlight the view outside then you can go to a no trim look and have all of the windows and doors drywall returned. It’s a clean look but in some houses it can be a very modern look so be careful when attempting it.

If you have large spaces between the banks windows and doors where a lot of trim will fit in then you can do what is called layering. You can add a flat stock piece that is very wide (1x8, 1x10, 1x12) and then install your casing and back band on top of it. This look gives you a very rich and detailed look to the windows and doors, it also will help add depth to the jambs of the windows and doors which can make them seem larger and grander than they actually are.

With windows above your head do not install a stool or sill, picture framing a window is the best case scenario so that no one has to look at the bottom of the piece of stool.

Whatever you choose to do make certain that you and your contractor have taken the time to plan it out and that you are all on the same page with what you are going to do in the end. Drawing it out on paper will help and mocking up trim samples will help everyone understand what is going to happen and what the fit and finish will be in that area. With a big band of windows and doors communication is the key and the best way for everyone to come out of it happy and satisfied.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fighting Fatigue when working

Fighting Fatigue when working

Everyone is tired at one time or another at work, in most jobs being tired at work hurts your performance in the daily duties that you are required to complete. In construction that same scenario can be dangerous to you and the people that you work with on the jobsite.

Fatigue is the condition of being physically or mentally tired and or exhausted. Extreme fatigue can lead to uncontrolled and involuntary shutdown of the brain; this can be very serious for you and the people around you.

Construction requires you to be alert to what is happening around you at all times, when you are tired you miss key things that happen around you. These key things can be things such as vehicles and equipment moving around the site, open holes, workers on scaffolding above you and missing signage that is posted to keep you and your fellow workers safe.

Construction site safety only works if you are aware of it. Being tired or fatigued means that there is a higher than normal chance that you won’t notice or follow safety signage, safety instructions or safety procedures.
If you find that you are tire or fatigued you should report this to your supervisor who should allow you to go home. It shouldn’t affect your job unless it becomes a chronic issue of you being sent home for being fatigued or tired.

Workers on construction sites should refrain from activities that will affect them the next day at work, showing up and not being fully alert can be the most dangerous thing that anyone can do and no amount of safety training or equipment can help you if you wouldn’t help yourself.

Remember to work safely and stay alert.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.