Friday, December 18, 2015

Village Builders Holiday Schedule

Village Builders will be closed for two weeks for the Christmas Holidays.

The office will be open on Monday December 21st, we will be closed between December the 22nd and January the 3rd 2016.

We re-open on January 4th 2016.

If you would like to get a hold of us we are available via email, if you want to leave a message please remember that it is the holiday's and it will probably take us several days to get back to you.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Village Builders.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

5 Things To Consider When Planning Your Renovation

5 Things to consider when planning your renovation

1. Budget. This is the single biggest thing you will have to decide when you want to renovate your home. It doesn’t matter if you want to renovate your entire home or just one room you can’t start to make any plans for your renovation until you set the budget. Set your budget realistically.

2. Plans. Whether you draw them on a piece of paper, have them drawn by a professional or draw it out on the floor of the room with your contractor, you need some sort of plan. Don't ever start a renovation without a clear plan of where you want it to finish, some of the worst mistakes are made when someone starts a renovation telling themselves they will figure it out as they go.

3.  Style. Since you have plans now you need style. Best laid plans will look all wrong if you don't have the right style in the room. Look through magazines, watch TV shows and mark down what you like and what you don't. This will go a long way to helping you organize the room during and after the renovation. Make sure you involve your better half, chances are you and them will have different styles, you will have to find some common ground.

4.  Contractor. No matter how much you plan, if you don't find the right contractor to do the actual work then your renovation will turn out poorly. Take your time and find not only a contractor that is good at what they do but one that you can personally get along with. This will make the renovation experience a much more enjoyable experience.

5.  Price. Make sure that you get a price. It doesn't have to be a fixed price as some renovations can be hard to price, you should at least have a budget that you and your contractor will be working from that will help keep costs in line throughout the project. As I said about the budget, the price should be realistic, if your contractors price looks to cheap or way to expensive then you should be looking around for another price to compare it too. If it's to good to be true then it probably is something wrong with the price.

Whatever you want to do, you should be planning as much about the renovation as possible before it ever starts; right down to the colour of the carpet, every detail that you are able to decide on before the pressure of the renovation starts the more enjoyable the renovation experience will be.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Understanding Quotes From Subs- A Job For Your General Contractor

Understanding quotes from subs- A job for your general contractor

One of the most difficult things when building a house is sorting through the prices that you receive from your sub-contractors.

If you don't understand the terminology that your sub contractors are using then you will have trouble understanding what they are going to install under the contract that you signed with them. A lot of people end up taking the lowest bidder from a reputable company and then are disappointed with the end results; not because of poor workmanship or poor installation but because what work was completed and the products that were installed were not what you as the homeowner thought they would be; you didn't understand what was written in the contract that signed.

Industry short forms, product codes and a homeowners poor understanding of systems in the home and how they work make it almost impossible for a homeowner to be able to determine if every sub contractor that prices the job is pricing the same material or systems.

This is one of the main reasons why when you are building a custom home you should be using a general contractor.

General Contractors solicit quotes when they originally budget your home before the build process starts. This might only be one quote for the budget from each part of the build (electrician, plumber), but it creates a baseline for them to work from going forward. Later in the build process if you are asking for more quotes (from multiple plumbers and electricians) then the general contractor will require all new bids to be based on the same criteria that the original quote was structured around.

This type of organizing allows the General Contractor to present the best quotes to you the client without fear of not getting what you wanted.

Your general contractor can save you enough money doing this over the entire build process that they almost pay for themselves in the money they save for you compared to if you were to be going it alone.

Let your general contractor worry about the quotes from the subs and you can worry about how you want to decorate your new home.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why Do Custom Homes Cost More Then Resale Homes?


Why do Custom Homes Cost More Then Resale Homes?


The simple answer to that question is that Custom Homes are brand new and come with a warranty, where a home that you bought from someone else is older, has been used and generally will be in need of some kind of repair.

Resale homes if they are older then 15 years or if they have not been updated in the last 15 years will need to be renovated. They will need to be renovated either immediately (before you move in) or with in the first couple of years that you live there.
When buying someone else's home you are buying it at discount compared to a new one because the life expectancy of everything in the home is less then the new home.

Key staples to the home have already started the clock towards being fixed ore replaced all together;

  • Furnace. Either because of improper maintenance, age or the need for something more efficient you will eventually have to replace parts or the entire heating system.
  • Septic System. If you live in the country or somewhere with no access to sewers then you will be on a septic system. Septic systems have a shelf life, usually after 30 to 40 years they need to be updated, repaired or replaced. This depends on the overall use, the way it was used and how it was maintained. Replacing septic systems can be expensive.
  • Windows. This is one of the biggest expenses that you will end up with in a used home. Windows usually have to be replaced after 20 years, depending on what type of windows and the level of trim this can become very expensive.
  • Roofing material. Most used homes have asphalt shingles, asphalt shingles are only good for about 15 years and then they require replacing. This is usually not that big of a cost, but if you end up with a leak because of the condition of your shingles then the costs start to rise.
  • Waterproofing/foundation. This is one of the trickiest things about used homes, if they are in a wet area then the tar that was applied to the outside of the basement walls to keep the basement dry will actually dry out after 20 to 25 years. This can not only be an expensive to fix it also can be hard on your landscaping around the home.
  • Style. Homes are out of date after 10 years these days. For resale you will have to update the kitchens and bathrooms when you go to sell it.
  • Toilets and Faucets.Things start to wear out after 15 years like toilets and faucets, so there's a very good chance that you will have to renovate your bathrooms and kitchen while you are living in your home.
  • Abuse. Used homes can go through a lot of abuse from previous owners, abuse that you do not notice while touring it. It's only later that you come to understand how heavily used the home was by the previous owners.
Today one of the number one reasons people have new homes built or they renovate an older home is to increase the energy efficiency of the home. Custom homes built today are so well built and sealed tight that it's almost impossible to compare them to homes that are 20 plus years or older. With energy prices for gas and electricity only going up having a home that is energy efficient is becoming an ever more demanded and required commodity. 

So when you are comparing why a new custom home is more expensive then homes that are resales think about everything that could and will eventually go wrong with the used home. Add that into the cost of the home and then see how much of a price difference there are between the two.

Rob Abbott
Village Builder Inc.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Window Wells In New Homes

Window Wells In New Homes


What are the pitfalls in having window wells around the basement windows in my new home?


Since window wells are at their basic premise something that keeps the ground away from a below grade windows that are located in the basement then you have to start by talking about the implications of having basement windows that are far enough in the ground to warrant needing window wells.

Window wells should always be a last resort, they should not be what you strive towards when you are building a custom home. That's not saying that you can't have windows in the basement of your new home, the windows in your new home should be set high enough that you do not require window wells. If the land that your building your home on doesn't allow you to get away without having window wells then there are certain things that you should think about when planning to put window wells in for the homes below grade windows;

  • Raise the level of the house out of the ground so that they entire window in the basement doesn't have to be below grade. The less your in the ground the less chance that you end up with water problems. This must be done at the time of setting the height for the first floor of the house. The higher you are able to set the first floor of the house the higher the basement floor will be and the higher out of the ground the basement windows end up.
  • Do not build your window wells to tight around the window. If you install the window well to close to the actual window frame you could end up damaging the window or the caulking around the window and this will cause leaks.
  • Install a drain in the bottom of the window well, connect to the house weeper or run it away from the house as a gravity drain.
  • Fill the bottom of the window well up with gravel, this will help stop plants growing up around the window.
  • Make your window wells out of a material that will last a long time. Make them out of a material that can withstand the pressure of the ground around it when the ground has become saturated with water from heavy rains.
  • If at all possible only install window wells where you are able to slope the ground away from the house, this will create natural run-off of water.
  • Don't make your window wells bigger then they need to be, the bigger the window wells the more water they are likely to collect in them.
Remember that at there core a window well is there simply to hold the ground away from the window so that the window can allow light into the basement and a little fresh air. So don't overthink your window wells, the simplest idea's are usually the ones that last the longest.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Do We Have To Do Anything Special To The Wood Windows In Our Home?


We have wood windows in our house, is there anything special we should be doing?


When you have wood windows in a home, wood windows that are wood in and outside, usually painted wood on the outside, there are certain things that you will need to do to guarantee that you get the maximum life expectancy out of them;

Inspect them

  • At least once a year you should be inspecting each window on the outside of your home for signs that the paint is starting to fail and that water is penetrating into the wood behind it.
  • In the summer months you should be opening the windows of your home and inspecting if the operators are working correctly and that the window doesn't stick during opening or closing.
  • Once a year you need to inspect the outside around the windows where they meet the siding, you need to make sure that the caulking is secure, not peeling or cracking and that there isn't any spaces where water or bugs can enter.
Paint them

Painting windows and doing it well can be a difficult thing, especially if you are not comfortable with ladders. If you don't feel comfortable doing it then you should be hiring a professional painting company to come out and paint the windows.

The windows will require re-painting every so many years. There are many factors that affect the length of time that paint will survive on a window outside;

  • Which direction the window is facing. South facing windows take more sun on them and have their paint peel earlier because of UV rays.Where windows that face towards the prevailing winds will have more water damage to their wood and paint from driving rain and snow.
  • How large your overhangs are; this will dictate how much sun or rain your windows will see. A larger overhang on a house will protect the windows where a small or non-existent overhang will give little to no protection from the elements. 
  • The quality of the paint that was originally used on your windows. Usually higher end windows use a higher end paint that it is more weather resistant and also can come with a UV blocker. Windows with this sort of paint can go longer times between being re-painted.
  • Damage. Storm damage, rodent or bug damage or trees and plants brushing against the windows will shorten the life span of the paint.
If you do this inspection and repaint whenever the windows require then there is no reason for your wood windows not to last as long as vinyl or aluminum windows. It just takes a proper maintenance plan to achieve it.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What Heating System Is Right For My New Custom Home?


What heating system is right for my new custom home?


This question is asked by every homeowner to their general contractor when they are having a new home built. There are some many options out there and with every option there are pros and cons, every option is a different price and affects the way the home is heated/cooled.

Time should be spent on this decision; this decision should be made with the homeowner, the general contractor and the HVAC sub-contractor that will be installing the system.
HVAC systems have become very complicated and some system work better with certain equipment.

When it comes to the choice of equipment that decision should be left up to the general contractor and the HVAC subcontractor.

There are several main factors that determine or shape the direction in which you will proceed when narrowing down the choices for your HVAC needs, they are;

Price. Price will dictate whether you can afford high-end systems like geothermal in-ground heat. The lower your budget for HVAC the less choices you will be left with to choose from.

Availability. If you are in town and have access to natural gas then you have a lot of inexpensive options to choose from when considering your HVAC. If you are in an area that does not have natural gas then your choices narrow and you have to decide on what combination of equipment works for you. You might be building your home on a piece of land that doesn’t work well to have in-ground heating; this would mean you would have to choose other options.

There are so many combinations for HVAC systems like pairing a natural gas furnace to a electric air to air heat pump and so many grades of efficiency that it’s not worth me taking the time to try and list them all. I would be here for hours.

One of the big factors will be what recommendations your HVAC installer wants to use, their knowledge of systems, warranty issues, ease of use and pricing will go a long way in determining what you can install.

With anything if what they are proposing to install doesn’t make sense and cannot be properly explained then ask for other options. This will help ensure that you get not only what you want but what your new home needs.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The home we just bought has a dirt floor for a crawlspace, should we do something about it?


The home we just bought has a dirt floor for a crawlspace, should we do something about it?


Dirt floors (in crawl spaces) are a common occurrence for homes built 30 or more years ago.
Today homes that are newly built have to have a vapour barrier protection installed on top of the dirt that makes up the floor of a home’s crawlspace, this in the building code.

Older homes that don’t have this vapour barrier can have the following problems;

Mold or mildue forming in the crawlspace on the bottom of the floor joist or on the concrete foundation walls.

You can have problems with the flooring on the first floor of your home above the crawlspace. These problems can consist of popped tiles; wood floors that heave or a rotting of the sheeting/subfloor.

If your furnace is situated in the crawlspace then the moisture can be circulated throughout the entire home.

The furnace can be damaged by the moisture around it; if the moisture is excessive then it can cause corrosion to the metal parts and the electronics inside the furnace.

Without any protection on the dirt floor you can have living organisms like rodents or bugs that take up residence, there is nothing to stop them from tunneling in and around. This can cause odors and other problems with rotting carcases and waste.

Vapour barrier isn’t the only thing that you can do in the crawlspace to prevent moisture. A lot of homes built in that era do not have any insulation in their crawlspace at all; other homes have insulation that is placed in between the floor joist above the dirt floor. This insulation is usually older cheaper batte insulation and is usually prone to falling out onto the ground below. A lot of insulation companies help solve this problem by spray foaming the entire crawlspace, the floor and the walls.

This gives you an insulated seal that works as a vapour barrier as well. The insulation also will lower your energy bills and help make the floor of your home warmer on the feet.

Another way to control the moisture is to pour a concrete floor down there in the crawlspace. This is not a cheap option as it is labour intensive but it does help stop the excessive water that sometimes makes it into crawlspaces from the spring melt. It also gives you an area that you can now store things safely and have equipment placed their (furnaces or boilers) without the fear of damaging the insulation or vapour barrier.

There are companies that specialize in this sort of thing; they have speciality products that are like a glorified pool liner that is installed over the walls and dirt floor of the crawl space. The product is very strong and has a very good warranty; it works very affectively to stop moisture and organisms from getting into the crawlspace.

Whatever way you choose to do it, doing something is better than not doing anything at all. Overtime moisture can damage a lot of the home without you even knowing it’s happening. Take the time and do it right so that in the future you will not have any problems.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Should We Change Our Skylights When Our Roof Is Being Re-shingled?


Should we change our skylights when our roof is being re-shingled?


If you have a shingled roof that is more then 15 years old and your skylights are at least that age then you should probably take the time to replace them.

Skylights don’t last forever and it is more expensive to replace them two or three years after your new roof is installed then to have the roofing company or another company that specializes in skylights to replace them before or during the re-shingling process.

One of the biggest problems with skylights is that when they fail they actually start to leak and allow water to enter your home. The damage can be severe, the drywall around the skylight or the trim and the drywall underneath the skylight all the way to were the roof meets the wall can be damaged by water depending on the slope or lack thereof in your cieling.

Not all roofs leak when people decide to have them replaced, a lot of times the look of the shingles (curling, flaking or shingles starting to crumble) prompt homeowners to have their roofs replaced.

This saves the inside of the home from being water damaged and also allows you to take the time to find the right roofer for your needs instead of the first one that will show up to stop the leaking.

I would recommend that you have the skylights replaced as a precaution to any future problems; the new skylights will probably last at least as long as your new shingled roof or longer as shingles these days seem to last an appealingly short amount of time.

Another problem with waiting to replace your skylights is that the shingles that are replaced directly around the skylight can look like a different colour because they aren’t from the same dye lot that the rest of the shingles on the roof where manufactured from.

For the amount of money it will take to replace I would bite the bullet and have them replaced.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Is The Drywall In The Bathroom Special?


Is The Drywall In The Bathroom Special?


In years past the drywall in bathrooms was the same as in every other room of the house, in the shower or bathtub areas plywood was used as a backing for the application of tile. Then contractors started using cement board in the shower and bathtub areas as a tile backer, the difference was that the cement board did not rot if/when water seeped through the tile or grout like what happens to plywood.

As time went by and building science evolved a lot of thought and effort was put into the elimination of moisture, mold and mildue. Installing bathroom fans with the ability to move large volumes of hot moist air out of the room to the outside was the first step.

The problem with bathroom fans was that you had to rely on people to turn them on and leave them on until the room was completely clear of the moist hot air. Another problem was that in oddly shaped or larger bathrooms the fan wouldn’t be large enough to remove the needed air from every section.

Today there is another option for the drywall in your bathroom, it is called mold or mildue resistant drywall. There are many different manufacturers of this kind of product, some are better than others are resisting moisture. They are now widely available in all building centres in North America, like anything it varies in price but they all work toward the same goal; to eliminate the growth of mold and mildue because of hot moist air that is produced in the bathroom.

The next time you are planning to take on a bathroom renovation ask you contractor about mold or mildue resistant drywall.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Have You Ever Done A Renovation That Was A Nautical Theme?


Have you ever renovated a home in a nautical theme?


Yes, in an older bungalow that sits on the shores of Georgian Bay in the Georgian Peaks Ski Club. We renovated the bungalow from an out dated eighties theme to a fresh new nautical theme that was more functional and fit the families busy life style.

Take a look at the link below, the pictures show the nautical theme that the interior designer was working toward;

The main bathroom was completely gutted back to the studs, the bathtub was surrounded with back painted glass in white that gave the shower a more modern theme instead of the standard tiles along the back-wall. White marble was used around the end-walls where the taps protruded out of the wall.

The ensuite master bathroom was renovated in relatively the same theme being white marble. The floor and the shower walls were all completed with white Carrera marble. There was even large marble slabs used as wainscoting around the perimeter of the bathroom walls. The cabinetry was all dark hardwood giving a very striking and rich look to the bathroom with marble used for the counter tops as well.

All the updated bathrooms where installed with electric in-floor to keep those toes warm on cold nights in the winter.

In the master bedroom the room was completely redone with new drywall, trim and windows. Custom cabinetry was installed in the wall opposite the bed to hold clothes and an entertainment unit. A new window seat was hand built at the end of the room giving a comfy place to sit and look out on beautiful Georgian Bay. There was a custom make-up area built into the opposite end of the master bedroom with a mirror and a sitting area with a marble top.

The family room was refurbished with new custom cabinetry on each side of the existing stone fireplace that holds the entertainment unit, books and other knickknacks. The perimeter of the room was all windows and doors, some were replaced (the main doors) and others where re-trimmed and painted. The new doors look out on to the rolling waves of Georgian bay. The fireplace was updated with a new wooden hardwood mantle.

The other bedrooms were updated with new flooring and new hardwood trim.

The access to the bedrooms was given more privacy from the noisier parts of the house with a sliding barn-door style track and door that creates a private space of two bedrooms and a bathroom.

Overall the theme of the home makes living on the water a wonderful place.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Do I Require Architectural or Engineering Plans To Get A Quote From A Home Builder?


Do I need a proper set of architectural or engineering drawings to get a quote from a home builder?


Yes and No. The answer is not a simple one.

A well established and organized Custom Home Builder will have a proper system that they use to quote new homes. It's usually a computerized system that they can punch numbers into and then adjust at the end with anything that is special or different then the typical build.

This means that if you have created the drawings yourself and have given the builder as much information pertaining to the interior and exterior finishes as you possibly can then the builder should be able to work up a quote for you. The quote wouldn't be set in stone but it would be a very close estimate to what the actual number would be. The reason that the quote wouldn't be a fixed price is because you created the drawings yourself, there could be flaws in the drawings that the municipality might flag when you apply for a permit or the builder might discover when he is actually building the home that would have to be fixed or adjusted at an additional cost. Everything looks a little different once it's in the real world from what has been drawn on a flat piece of paper.

If the home is a complicated home that has special items in it that will require engineering then the builder will have trouble giving you an accurate quote. There are certain things that can add to the cost of a home and one of them is the engineering of the structure or structures around the home.

For example: If your home is going to have retaining walls or a deeper basement and the concrete walls of the home are going to be essentially used to hold back a large amount of ground then the concrete walls require engineering, this engineering could make the concrete walls significantly more expensive because of the thickness and the amount of re-bar that is to be placed in them.

Other parts of the home like the roof; if they are drawn incorrectly might not be structurally sound and will require engineering to prevent failure when they are under a snow load. This type of engineering could change the entire look, feel and cost of a roof for the you. When you start changing roof lines and roof pitches you can start to affect the inside of the home, ceilings can have height changes along with window placements and it can also affect your ability to have cathedral ceilings.

Basically if your planning on building a simple house then you might be able to get away with simple drawings, but if you are planning to build something unique, large or complicated then you are going to have to spend some money on a proper set of plans. These plans won't be a waste of money, they will probably save you more money in the long run by eliminating a lot of the unknown costs that spring up during building then the actual cost of the drawings.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, October 12, 2015

How To Get Cell Signal At Your Cottage


I have trouble getting a cell phone signal at my cottage is there anything I can do?


There are several things that you can do.

As long as you have some cell signal in the area , even if it’s just a little bit then you should be able to have cell and cellular internet in your cottage, but you are going to need the right equipment.

What you require is a “cell booster”. A cell booster is a device that you install in your cottage that takes a cell signal and rebroadcasts it throughout your cottage. Basically it acts as a cellular signal booster.

The walls and roof of your cottage depending on how they are constructed are an impingement to cellular signal, especially if it is a weak signal.

It’s not enough just to have a cell booster; the cell booster needs an antenna. The antenna is the most important part of the system. You have to mount the antenna in an area that has the best cell signal. If you have an antenna tower or a tree or you can even mount it on the top of your roof where the cell signal is stronger than the antenna will pick up that stronger signal and relay it to the cell booster inside the cottage. This is like sitting on your roof talking on the phone while in reality you are still sitting on the couch.

If the signal is strong enough this will be all you need, usually the antenna that comes with the cell booster units will be enough for you. If your signal is weak on the top of your roof then you will have to buy something else.

What you will need is a directional antenna; this is a speciality antenna that you direct towards the nearest cell tower. This antenna will then pick up the signal from the cell tower where it is stronger and redistribute it inside to the cell booster. These antenna’s are so efficient at this that even if you have a very weak signal you should be able to pick up a stronger signal towards the tower to give you normal cell service inside the cottage.

If you are not handy with technology there are several companies that handle this type of installation and equipment sales. They can easily take care of all this for you.

The cost of these units will pay for themselves in a couple years, because they eliminate the need for you to have a land line with a costly monthly fee, a fee that you usually only use for 3 or 4 months and a lot of the times have to pay for the entire year.

With modern technology there is almost no reason you shouldn’t be able to get a cell signal at your cottage.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How Closely Do I Have To Watch My Renovation Contractor?


How closely do I have to watch my Renovation Contractor?


Since you’re asking this question I have to conclude one of two things;

1. That you’re a complete control freak or
2. You don’t entirely trust your renovation contractor.

If it’s the first one I can’t really help you as you’re going to do what you’re going to do regardless of what advice I can give you.

So let’s deal with the second one;

You don’t entirely trust your renovation contractor. If this is the case then you actually have a real problem and you should think about why you are hiring someone that you don’t completely trust to do something to your home?

You are allowing someone into your home, access to your personnel things and your family, your also paying a lot of money for this person to work on your home and this should really be thought of as an investment in your home. You’re putting a major investment in your home in the hands of someone you don’t actually trust.

The big question is why did you hire this person in the first place?

Usually it has to do with money. Most people that end up hiring someone that they don’t fully trust is because they came cheap or cheaper then everyone else. Well when it comes to renovations you get what you pay for. There’s a reason they are cheap;

They use cheap material.

They don’t follow proper safety procedures.

They are not properly insured.

They don’t know what they are doing.

They will not give a proper warranty or any at all.

They do not hire qualified sub-trades.

They try to do all the work themselves (electrical, plumbing) instead of paying for a certified professional.

They won’t give you a proper schedule for the project.

They don’t clean up properly after themselves.

They do not employ enough people to do the job in a timely manner.

They deal in cash (either partially or fully). This is to avoid paying WSIB and income tax.

You should rethink your renovation contractor and either raise your budget or scale back your renovation to the point where you can afford it with a qualified contractor that you are comfortable with and one that you can trust.

There is no quicker way to ruin your home or your finances then hiring the wrong person to renovate your home.

If you don’t trust your renovator find another one and fast.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Why Renovating Your Basement Has Become So Popular

In the last couple of years more and more people have been calling us and asking us to do a basement renovation. Not just a little clean up or remodel but a full gut back to the original studs and concrete walls, then remodeling it to the point were you can't tell the difference between the upper levels of the home and the basement. The level of fit and finish is as high in the new basement as in the rest of the home.

Why the increased interest in renovating the basement?

There are several reasons for the increased level of interest in the basement;

  • With the cost of real estate ever increasing people are less inclined to move out of the home that they already live in and the neighborhood that they have lived in and come to love and enjoy.
  • There is a shift in the market away from building larger and larger homes, people want to live in homes that are smaller and easier to take care of with lower carrying costs.
  • The renovation market as a whole is shifting to a younger clientele. That younger clientele still have families with children in them. As the children grow older the need for more space becomes imperative.
  •  A lot of basement renovations are to homes that are 20 years or older. The finishing's (if there are any) are out dated and there is usually a moisture or mildue problem. A lot of basement renovations come about because of the need for people to have some other problem solved in there basement.
  • With the extreme weather that we have been having in the last couple of years there have been a lot of water damage done to basements. Insurance companies have been paying out claims to home owners for the damage and the remuneration, this means that clients are coming to us with found money. This allows them to spend more money then they originally budgeted for on their basement to make it something special.
  •  The rise of the "man cave", a space separate from the rest of the house were the husband can go and relax. This is a natural fit for the basement, it doesn't take away from the existing square footage of the home.
  • While renovations are happening in the basements other problems in the house can be fixed because most of the systems and piping that run or supply the rest of the home come from the basement. This makes it a lot easier to adjust or exchange when the basement is wide open.
Basements are the next frontier for home renovations, done right and it becomes a place where your family wants and will spend most of its time. Gas fireplaces, surround sound, heated floors and increased lighting all help a basement feel like something other then what it is, the bottom of your house.

With what we can do in your basement there is no reason for you to have to move to increase your square footage by moving. Renovate the basement and make your happy home a larger one.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Do I have to remove the asphalt shingles from my roof before I install a steel one?


Do I have to remove the asphalt shingles from my roof before I install a steel one?


It is recommended that you remove the existing asphalt shingles from your home before you install any new kind of roofing on it. The reasons are as follows;

  • Asphalt shingles are heavy, adding more roofing material on top of this can add to the weight and might cause problems over time it any snow where to sit on it.
  • Nails or screws from the old roofing can work themselves loose overtime or with the changing temperatures and come in contract with the new roof. This could lead to a damaging of the new roof.
  • It can be difficult to get the steel in straight and level going over existing asphalt, care has to be taken when installing the strapping and new material.
  • You don't get the full picture of the roof sub structure so won't know if there is any damage or rot that requires fixing. 
Even though it is recommended that you remove them that doesn't mean that you have too. When you install a steel roof you usually have to strap the roof over the roof deck to create and air space to help the roof ventilate or breath. This strapping can be done over top of existing asphalt shingles, this give you the air space needed and also keeps the steel roofing from sitting directly against the old roofing.

Steel roofing also sheds snow rather well so that there shouldn't be that much weight from snow loads over the winter, this will help negate the concern for the extra weight added from not removing the asphalt shingles.

New steel comes in one piece so that it runs without a seam from the ridge to the eave, this helps strengthen the roof and has less places for leakage.

Sometimes there is no way around it you have to leave the existing shingles on; budget, customer preference whatever the reason it can be done.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

My plumbing backs up when I use a lot of water, do you think I have a venting issue?

My plumbing backs up when I use a lot of water, do you think I have a venting issue?


You could have a venting problem in your home, but you could have other problems other than in the venting.

You really should call in a plumber to take a look at your entire plumbing system, but since you’re asking me the question then you probably won’t without some knowledge from outside sources like me before you talk to a plumber.

With respect to venting issues what you described could be a venting issue. There are several ways that the venting in your home could be faulty;

If you don’t have a black pvc pipe that rises up through the roof into the air one to two feet you might have a problem.

Even if you have a vent pipe through the roof you might not have venting that ties into all the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.

There could be a blockage in the pipe from animals or something else like a pipe break.

There are other things that could be the problem other then venting in your home;

1. There could be a blockage or break in the exhaust pipe that runs out to your septic tank.

2. There could be something stuck in the baffle of the septic tank, this will slow the flow of water drainage in the plumbing system.

3. If you have a sewage ejection tank it could be faulty. This could cause the waste water to rise up through the plumbing system.

4. There could be a blockage in the plumbing system in the basement below where you are using the water.

As you can see your problem is a little more difficult than a simple venting problem.

Call a plumber and have it fixed properly.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ask Your Renovator How Long Have You Been In Business?

How Long Have You Been in Business?

Why this is a great question to ask a remodeler.

The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that it takes at least 3 to 5 years to create a sustainable building or remodeling business. Most outfits never get there: residential contractors have a failure rate higher than nearly every other business type, surpassed only by restaurants.

Only the strongest competitors survive this winnowing.

Luxury remodeling is even more competitive. The very few companies that rise to the top of this challenging niche are financially sound and professionally managed. They work to exacting quality standards. They know how to keep customers happy during what can be a very challenging process.

None of the top remodelers got there overnight. One only learns to excel at doing complex renovation projects for demanding customers by, well, doing complex renovation projects for demanding customers.

But it's not just a numbers game. Besides having completed lots of different project types for lots of people, the best remodelers make a point of learning something from each job. They spend time at the end of the project analyzing what worked and what didn’t, and they put those lessons to work on future projects. That’s one reason they have risen to the top of their markets.

Another reason is that they stay abreast of industry trends. Like everything else in today’s world, the demands on contractors of all types are growing faster than ever. They include ever-evolving design trends, as well as codes, standards, and regulations that seem to get stricter by the day. Successful, experienced remodelers educate themselves and their staff on these trends and smoothly incorporate them into their business practices.

Depth of experience and a culture of learning have direct benefits for customers. Take, for example, a case where the customer’s desired budget and schedule don’t match their initial vision. The inexperienced remodeler may tend to be overly optimistic. That can-do attitude may be admirable, but if the deadline is a week away, that addition isn’t close to being done, and money is running out, the result for everyone is disappointment and stress.

Top remodelers don’t make such mistakes because they systematically track the time and money required to complete each project type. Over the years, they have learned exactly what can and cannot be accomplished with a given schedule and budget. And they have developed the communication and problem-solving skills to help customers reconcile the vision with the reality.

The experienced professional remodeling company will also have earned the trust of its business partners. A long track record with material suppliers ensures the best prices and delivery schedules.

And because like companies tend to flock together, experienced professional remodelers will have long-term work relationships with the best trade contractors in town, including plumbers, electricians, and HVAC companies. These relationships play a huge role in getting the job done right for a fair price and in a timely manner.

Long after the project is complete and the crew drives away for the last time, these relationships ensure quick responses to warranty requests. In fact, customers can be confident that if a warranty item needs servicing a few years down the road, the experienced pro’s team will be around to take care of it. How many new companies can offer that peace of mind?

The point is that high integrity, great communication skills, and a track record of successful projects and satisfied customers raise the odds of a smooth remodeling process. Hiring a professional company with the resources needed to do a great job, on time, and with minimal stress pays off big in the long run.
Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Building Modern Homes In Wasaga Beach

Building modern homes in Wasaga Beach

A question I receive from a lot of potential customers is if I have built any modern homes in the area?

The answer is yes, we built a very modern Miami Beach style home in the town of Wasaga Beach right on the water with beautiful views of Georgian Bay.

The home towers over the street as it was built into a large sand dune helping to create a basement with a single garage that is at street level, where at the beach side you walk out straight on to a rock patio level with the beach from the large first floor windows.

The home is a 3 story home with the top floor being a large master bedroom loft style with amazing views out over the water and a large covered porch to sit and drink your morning coffee.

In fact there are several balconies on the waterside of the house to take advantage of the amazing views and one small covered one on the street side when you want to be out of the wind from the lake and do a little barbequing.

The exterior of the home is stone and steel with a steep steel roof to shed the snow that blows off the water in the long winters.

Everything in the house is customized to the owner’s wishes. The main stair well is a welder built steel open stringer stairs. It has a metal posts that hold glass panels that make up the railing leading up to the loft in the third floor. The first to second floor railing is a wire metal cage style to encase the stairwell.

The home has all tiled floors which work’s well to help deal with the endless sand that blows into the home when the doors are open to the beach.

The main floor of the home is the second floor with its striking modern kitchen that has all white
cabinetry and a back painted purple backsplash.

Across from the kitchen is the dining room that has a modern gas fireplace that is long and thin, it is set up high off the ground so that it will not be blocked by the dining room table when you are in the kitchen.

The third floor master suite has towering cathedral ceilings that and a ensuite bathroom that is open to above giving the feeling of space and privacy all in one.

The main bathroom on the first floor of the home is unique with double sinks and mirrors beside a tub and a glass shower. There is even a door that leads up to a workout room that is set above the garage.

The house is a testament to how a custom home can truly be made one of a kind.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I Want A Renovation Quote On My Cottage Should I Wait Till The End Of The Season?


We were looking for a quote for a renovation for our cottage, should we wait till the end of the season to get one?


Absolutely not. Renovation contractors might be extremely busy throughout the summer season but they are busy doing the work that they quoted in the spring.

Usually contractors around late July and early August are looking for jobs to quote. When you wait until September/October you are actually asking them for a quote at one of their most busiest times of the year for not only work but for quoting.

If you wait until the end of the season to get a quote you will be risking having to wait for the contractor to get back to you with the quote. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait for at least a month depending on the size of the project that you want quoted. A lot of contractors end up so busy in the fall that they aren’t able to quote you the work and then do the job until the late winter or early spring.

If you were to ask for a quote in the early to middle of the summer then you would get an accurate quote and you would have your choice of the timing that you want the contractor to start and finish the job.

My recommendation going forward would be to never wait to get a quote for anything that you want, you can always ask the contractor to schedule you later in the year without having to wait.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Make sure you have a proper design plan before you start your renovation

Proper design/planning and a good contractor when attempting a renovation

I once was called to a home where the new owners wanted renovations completed on a house that was 150 years old. The previous owners of the home had started renovations two years prior but never finished them.

The previous couple had lived in the home as they attempted to renovate it the older home. The whole first floor of the home was in one state of partly completed renovation or demolition with the upper floors still looking like they did when the house was last renovated 80 years ago.

This all ended when one part of the couple decided they have had enough and left. The home was then sold to my clients who called us in to access the situation.

Renovation contractors have a name for drywall dust (especially when the couple attempts to live in the house as its being renovated) it’s called divorce dust.

This attempted renovation was a perfect example what happens when you don’t bother to have a proper plan/design before you start renovating.

It is also a warning to people who want to take on renovating an older home but won’t budget for a contractor to help them out.

The amount of work in the home would take my company 6 to 10 months to complete working everyday 8 to 5 with at least 3 to 4 employee’s and about a dozen different sub-trades. These people that had attempted to do this renovation had been working at it for two years and by the look of it they had about 10 years left.

A prime example in the home of how the planning/design was short sited was they created a master bedroom on the first floor that was large and had an ensuite bathroom beside it. Then it looked like the wife asked for a large closet to be installed. The husband proceeded to remove the main set of stairs to the second floor of the home and relocate them two feet over to give his wife a closet. This meant relocating not only the stairs but all the barring walls around the stairs and the railings up stairs. It also required them to rebuild a new set of stairs that were reversed to the old ones. This idea was thousands of dollars to do and could have easily been avoided if they would have taken some time to draw up a properly planned out master bedroom and main floor layout.

There were many other issues throughout the home that the former owner had attempted and had either failed at completing or had done incorrectly.

The new owners and I worked together came up with a proper plan, design, budget and a schedule. Then we proceeded with the work.

When the home was finished it was unrecognizable compared to the start that it was procured when we first walked in to access the situation.

The moral of the story is that you should take the time to plan out what you want to do before you attempt to do any kind of renovation either on your own or with a qualified professional.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders

Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 Deck Trends In Custom Homes

2015 Deck Trends and Porches of Custom Homes

Here are the Deck and Porch Trends of 2015, some of the trends are long running trends that started in previous years and continued into this one. There are other trends that have started more recently and are gaining in popularity.

The planning and design of decks and porches has changed so quickly that you should really take your time and work with a professional so that you don’t waste time and your hard earned money.

Decks and Porches of Custom homes

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

Composite decking continues to be extremely popular with new deck tops. The longevity of the product, the amount of different colours and the many different textures that are available has made it a desirable decking material.

Hidden fasteners are now the norm when installing decking. People like the smooth simple look of no fasteners. The hidden fasteners work by applying the fasteners to the joist and then screwing into the bottom of the decking boards. It’s a little more labour intensive but the look is well worth it.

The structural framing that is assembled to support decks and porches are still mostly pressure treated wood. It is still the most cost effective way to build the structural component and have any sort of longevity.

The foundations of decks and especially porches have changed. In the past normal sauna tubes where used by burying them and then filling them with concrete. Today the trend is to use a “bigfoot” or “footing tube”, these are premade molded plastic forms that you bury in the ground and then fill with concrete. They have a large bell on the bottom of them that create a footing at the bottom, this helps spread the weight of the porch or deck and reduces the likely hood of frost heave in the winter.

Less people are using pressure treated for the topping on the deck. This is a trend that has over the years become the norm.

LED lighting is a normal thing now in decks. You can find the lighting installed in the top of deck posts, the end joists, the stair treads and around the doors that enter and exit the house on to the deck or porch.

Glass railings with metal posts to help increase the view from elevated porches and decks is the most common form of railing when considering any kind of view.

The fastest growing segment of material for the tops of decks has to be torrefied or thermally modified wood. This is a decking that is placed in kilns and dried until there is virtually no moisture left in the wood. It turns the colour of the wood a brown colour and is guaranteed to last a lifetime. No chemicals are needed and there are a variety of woods that you can get it in, your choices include most hardwoods like maple and ash and some soft woods like pine.

The last couple years has seen the evolution of the deck joist, we are now constructing what is called the 100 year deck joist. This is when you wrap the top portion of the deck joist with a waterproofing membrane so that the part of the deck that comes in contact with the most moisture is protected from water penetration.

Here is a list of the trends that have started this year or last year and are growing in popularity;

Powered bug screened porches are now on everyone’s must have list for custom homes. This allows a homeowner to at a push of a button have a bug screen lower out of the ceiling so that the outdoors becomes a bit friendlier to be in.

Masonry hand built pizza ovens, Rumford fireplaces and stone patios have become all the rage. Everyone wants to sit outside and relax in front of a real roaring fire during the summer.

Brown pressure treated decking is wanted by more and more people as it resembles cedar (well until it fades to silver after a couple of months).

There are a lot of people that are going back to stone patios instead of wooden decks. The longevity that comes with a stone patio over the wood deck helps justify the higher cost of the stone patio.

Gas fire pits are popping up in decks as people are looking for that excuse to stay outside on their decks longer into the evening and there is nothing that is more of a gathering point then a fire pit.

On larger homes that are on smaller lots architects are having core slabs installed and then having the decks installed above it. This allows the home to have a large outdoor section to entertain but also to have livable space below. This is extremely important when you are living on smaller lots in town where space is at a premium.

Whatever you do for your deck or porch you need to remember that there are new products and techniques that are coming out every year and that working with a professional will ensure that you have access to them.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Value Engineering Your New Home

Value Engineering: A Short History

General Electric introduced value engineering to its factories during WWII. Supply shortages during the war forced GE to get creative to meet wartime demand. To their delight, replacement alloys for steel often led to better production at a reduced cost.
These value-engineering campaigns were so successful that GE continued this approach after the war in their commercial lines. Other industries followed suit, and value engineering made it into the home construction industry in the early 1970s.

Value Engineering when dealing with residential home construction is about the same as any other industry.

When you are building a custom home for a client you are going to want to stepback and take a big picture look at the home and what you and the client are attempting to achieve. You want to make sure that the money you spend in one place will pay itself back in the future either through resale or through savings ie: in energy.

For example;

When constructing your new home your home builder will give you the option to adding more insulation into the building envelope. There are all kinds of ways of doing this and they all come with pro's and con's and also with differing price tags. What you and your building need to decide on is how much more do you want to spend on your insulation to save future money on energy use. If you spend the maximum on insulation then you will be saving the maximum amount of money on energy use going into the future. But because you spend a larger portion of money to install all that extra insulation the time that it will take to be paid back to you will be longer. Some options of insulation are so expensive that you will have to look at recouping your loses decades into the future where spending less on the insulation might have a payback of only 5 or 6 years. It all depends on what you are using for energy (gas, propane, electricity) and how you think the overall price of that energy is going to rise and at what rate. If you heat your home with electricity and you believe that the electricity rate is going to climb significantly then you might want to spend a lot more on insulation so that the return is better on your lowered electricity costs. 

All of these choices need to be decided on before you build the entire home, adding in the type of heating system, the positioning of the house on the property, the material that is used to build the house and quality that it is all done will all come in to play when value engineering your new home.

Make sure that you hire a general contractor that can do this for you and you will be able to balance the spending of monies and the savings of monies well into the future.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

How to brighten up a dark loft

How to brighten up a dark loft

There are three ways to brighten up a dark loft when you want to do it using natural light; it has to be done with windows.

There are three different ways to install windows in a loft to brighten it up;


When you place skylights in the room you allow light into the top of the building envelope, this light filters down from the top of the cathedral ceilings that are prevalent in loft style second floors.

The skylights should be placed facing south if it’s possible, this will maximize the amount of light that can come into the loft.

Skylights should be spaced out in the roof to allow for the proper amount of waterproofing around the skylights.

Enlarge windows in the gable ends

Most loft style windows have there windows in the gable end walls. Usually they are the only windows in the loft. If you were to add more windows in the gable ends or increase the size of the existing windows then more light will be able to filter in.

Depending on the pitch of the roof this will limit your ability to install larger windows. Gable end walls are usually not load bearing walls, this allows you to place larger windows in the gable as they do not have to worry about load bearing points requiring smaller headers.

Roof windows

Velux the skylight manufacturer makes a product called roof windows. They are literally windows that are installed in your roof. They even open like a real window. This gives you light and also ventilation that helps cool down hot lofts.


This is the biggest expense and also the most work but it also is the best way to allow more light into the loft. One of the great things about a dormer is that it also adds livable space in a loft and they are a great place to install window seats or reading corners.

Dormers can be built as high as the peak of the roof will allow you too and you can go as wide as the trusses will allow as well.

Whatever you do you can never go wrong adding more windows to a dark loft area.

Rob Abbott

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Radiant heating radiators in century homes

Radiant heating radiators in century homes

Sometimes the way they used to do things is still the best way to do it. That goes for how they use to heat homes 100 years ago.

I’m not talking about fireplaces; I’m talking about hot water radiators that were placed throughout the home. The modern equivalent of this is still radiators placed throughout the older home, the efficiency, style and the effectiveness of them has increased dramatically.

The way a hot water radiator works is that there is a hot water flash boiler placed in the home, the water is fed to the radiate through water lines. Then the radiator heats up and radiates heat out into the room. It is extremely efficient way to heat a home and it doesn’t involve a lot of destruction to an old home. The radiators can be made to look like the original ones that were used to heat the home or they can be made to look more modern and stylish. The choice is yours.

If you aren’t worried about air movement and air conditioning then hot water heating through radiators could be just what you want for your older home.

The modern equivalent of this in new homes is in-floor radiant heating which instead of using radiators to produce the heat they heat the entire floor below you. The science is basically the same the only difference is that the radiant in-floor gives even heat throughout the entire space.

So when looking to renovate your century home think about heating it with the radiators that used to heat it when it was originally built. The finished product might be just what you wanted.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Can We Put A New Foundation Under Our Cottage?


Our Cottage is on wooden piers, can we put a new foundation under it?


Yes you can. It’s not an easy thing to be done, but it can be done.

A lot of cottages were built on piers or they were built slab on grade. Over the years with the winter frosts the cottage moves up and down. This causes damage to the inside and the outside of the cottage, the level of damage can vary depending on the overall construction of the cottage and the finishes that are used inside and out.

What you are going to have to do is hire a company to jack the cottage up off of its original piers.

This is accomplished by using house jacks and long steel beams that are placed under the cottage.

Once the cottage is suspended above the ground and the existing piers then the existing piers are removed and a perimeter trench is dug around the foundation. It is usually done in sections for safety reasons instead of all at once.

Once you have your trench new footings and foundation walls are installed either using concrete or concrete block (for the walls).

Once everything is installed for your new foundation then the cottage is lowered down on top of the new foundation.

Because of the risk factor this process is not a cheap one, things must be done slowly and carefully to insure that nothing goes wrong so that there is limited damaged to the cottage and any of the workers that are doing the work.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Optimizing The Budget When Renovating Your Home

Optimizing the Budget

The ability to ‘value engineer’ the project is one hallmark of an experienced pro.
Stretching to get the most value for the dollar is a sport we all love to play. This certainly applies to a home remodeling project. It’s not unusual for the homeowners’ vision to be out of sync with the budget. Although this can be discouraging, a professional remodeler can suggest creative solutions that reduce costs while still delivering that vision.

The method for finding these solutions is called ‘value engineering.’ This is really just a fancy term for doing everything in a way that optimizes the return on every dollar—but pulling it off is easier said than done.

One of the differences between a merely competent remodeler and a real pro is the understanding that value engineering is not a random cost-cutting exercise; instead it’s a systematic and thoughtful approach to satisfying the homeowners’ most important needs using the funds they already have.

Items that can be value engineered include the project design as well the materials and products that go into it. The remodeler will scrutinize the plans and specifications (or the homeowners’ concept, if plans haven’t been drawn yet) and suggest alternatives that lower costs while maintaining quality.

The goal is to support the homeowners to make informed choices.

Most people only understand these types of tradeoffs in broad terms. They know that granite countertops and solid wood cabinets will cost more than laminate counters and wood veneer. But obvious contrasts like that aren’t what we’re talking about.

Real value engineering is more subtle. It’s not unusual to be able to shave thousands of dollars off the budget for a big remodeling project by making a lot of small adjustments that only minimally impact the way the new space looks and feels—if you know how to do it right.

How does the remodeler know where to make those adjustments?

By asking the right questions in the right way, identifying patterns in the answers, and reading between the lines. A remodeler who is good at this can often uncover priorities that the homeowners weren’t able to articulate. Solutions can then be tailored to those priorities.

For instance, it may become clear that some spaces can be altered while others can’t. If the homeowners have more enthusiasm about the master suite than the kitchen, they might be amenable to less-expensive fixtures in the kitchen but not in the bath. Where substitutions must be made, the trick is in knowing which lower-cost materials and design features will deliver the needed performance, aesthetic, or warranty features, but without increasing maintenance costs or reducing the home’s longevity.

If the project is an addition, value engineering may include reducing exterior wall space by simplifying the facade. Exterior walls cost a lot more to build than interior walls, so a facade with fewer corners, nooks, and crannies will require less materials and labor. Changes could be as simple as moving windows or doors a few inches to eliminate framing members, or as complex as adjusting the footprint of the new space to make more efficient use of materials.

It can even mean working with subcontractors to rethink pipe, wire, and duct runs. In fact, good value engineering is a team effort, and a good team of subcontractors will be accustomed to helping make it work.

Remodelers who do this well are able to draw on deep design and construction experience, solid business processes, and very good people. Those attributes are, of course, the hallmarks of a pro.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Can I install radiant heating in my older home?


I’m renovating an older home, can I install radiant heating on the first and second floors of the home?


Yes you can install radiant in-floor heating on the first and second floors of your home when you are renovating it. There are many things that you will have to do before you can do this though, to do this you should be doing a very large renovation to the home. Radiant heating is basically water lines that are placed on top of your sub-floor and then are covered in a “gypcrete” which is a type of concrete.

Usually the gypcrete is about 1.5 inches thick. There is a brief list of the things that you will have to do to the home so that you can install radiant in-floor heating in to it;

You will have to completely remove the existing flooring regardless if it’s wood, tile or carpet from anywhere the radiant heat is going to be placed.

You are going to have to make sure that the floor joist are strong enough to take the extra weight that comes with installing a inch and a half of gypcrete over the heat lines.

You will have to remove all the trim that is near the floor. Baseboards and door trim will have to be removed to get a smooth finish.

You will have to remove all interior doors that will be in the way. When they are reinstalled they will either have to be cut down by 1.5 inches or the whole framing of the door will have to be moved up.

You will have to remove drywall in certain areas of the home to install manifolds in the walls and also to install the thermostats that run the system.

There will have to be holes made in walls and wall plates so that the piping can come from the basement (usually where the boiler is placed) to feed the upper floors with heat.

Any hole in the sub-floor from anything like old wiring or old plumbing that was moved must be plugged or the gypcrete will leak through.

You will have to install wood barriers at certain area’s like at the top of the stairs to create an edge where the gypcrete will stop.

The installation of the piping and the gypcrete should be installed by qualified professionals that are experienced in this field of work, if this isn’t done right it can cost you a lot of money and wasted time.

After the in-floor piping has been installed and the gypcrete as well on top of it then you will be able to install your flooring and all your trim. You will probably have to repaint the walls as well because gypcreting can be a messy business and your walls will be a little dirty from workers touching it or leaning on it while they are doing the installation.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How Will Zoning And Deed Restrictions Affect My Renovation Project?


How will zoning and deed restrictions affect the project?


The answer is that they can cause major headaches for people who don't take the time to understand them beforehand.

 Restrictions can be imposed by local government agencies (zoning boards and design committees, for instance) or by a homeowner associations. These restrictions can include setbacks (how far the home must be from the property line), height restrictions (these can restrict not only the overall height of your home but the amount of stories that you are allowed to build above the ground or grade line) and in some instances it can even restrict what finishes can be used on the house. Other restrictions can have an effect on the actual work that is to be done; there are places that have heavy restrictions on when workers can be on the site, how much noise they are allowed to make and what type of vehicles area allowed on the streets. In some places you are not allowed to leave trailers or material in driveways overnight and also the place must appear every weekend to not be a construction site at all.

A professional remodeler should be familiar with the local restrictions and be able to successfully navigate this mass of red tape. If they are not able to then they could end up in a scenario where there projects are delayed or even stopped.

Make sure that the contractor that you are hiring for your renovation understands all of these rules and regulations and can successfully navigate through them without a lot of hassle.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is Tar still applied underneath dimple board?


Is Tar still applied underneath dimple board?


The short answer is yes it is.

The longer answer is that dimple board is not a waterproofing without anything behind it. Tar is NOT a waterproofing, tar is a damp proofing and should not be relied on to keep your foundation dry. Tar will try out in time leaving your foundation unprotected. Tar is also not that productive against area's that have a high degree of water in their soil.

You should be putting on a waterproofing product instead of tar. Then you install the dimple board over the waterproofing to protect the waterproofing from rocks, roots or any other debris that is in the soil when you back fill it.

There are many different types of waterproofing products, the most effective ones are the spray on membranes that have flexibility in them so that if anything was to move or shift the waterproofing wouldn't be ripped or compromised.

You should find a company that will install a spray on membrane, the cost is more but the product is far superior then tar.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Have you ever built a home in Wasaga Beach?


Have you ever built a home in Wasaga Beach?


Yes we have, we have actually built a number of houses in Wasaga Beach of the years. One of my favorite homes that we built was this house;

It is a nice sized house that is two tones in colour with blue horizontal siding on the bottom and toupe cedarshakes on top. The siding is actually pressure treated siding that is painted because of the wind that blows the beach sand around like a sandblaster. This should help give the siding a longer life and reduce the need to replace any siding in the future.

The roof is a standing seam steel roof that is galvanized in colour, helps protect against the harsh winds and the pine needles that fall endlessly on it from the tower pines that are located on the lot.

We removed an old existing family cottage to construct the new one, since the new cottage was larger than the original one there had to be some large pine trees removed from the site. These tree’s were send to a local saw mill where they were cut and made into new tongue and groove 1x6 boards that cover the roof of the dining room.

The pine was not the only thing that was salvaged from the old house, one of the two gas fireplaces was reclaimed from the old family cottage and so was a piece of trim that had all the children’s heights marked on it from over the many years that the family shared the cottage. It was placed on the side of the kitchen so that it could live on in everyone’s memory.

The main part of the house is open concept with it being a cathedral ceiling with a catwalk on the second floor that leads to the bedooms, a washroom and the offices that are set over the garage.

The offices on the second floor also have in-floor heating to keep everything toasty warm throughout those long cold winters.

The entire home has California certified Bamboo flooring that is hard enough to survive the beach sand that blows in through the windows and doors all summer.

The house is also trimmed in Pine that has been clear coated, large pine posts rise up from the first floor to hold up the roof.

The kitchen has a massive island that creates a natural gathering point for the family and friends and the surface is made out of blue ceasar homes.

This beach beauty is one of the nicest homes that we ever constructed in the Town of Wasaga Beach.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 Trends in Custom Garages

2015 Trends in Custom Garages

Since there is a shift in the market place to smaller more compact homes that are more multi functional, not only for people who are looking to downsize because they are retiring or because they are empty nesters but also for the younger generation as well who do not have the accrued wealth that the older generation has and because of that they want to live in smaller homes that cost less to buy and are far less expensive when it comes to upkeep. One of the places that have become these multi-use spaces is the garage.

Garage Trends

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

The height of garage ceilings continues to stay and also rise. People are not only using the height because of bonus rooms above but they are also using it to store things like canoes, bikes and kayaks up and out of the way.

Insulated garages. Every garage built that is attached to a custom home is now insulated, even if the garage is not heated. It’s a convenience so that if you ever want to heat the garage with space heaters it is easily done.

Large tube fluorescent lighting is still the most popular choice to light up garages. With the ceiling heights growing ever higher it becomes harder and harder to light space below. Fluorescent is inexpensive to install and uses little energy to work.

Most custom homes have attached garages today. There are several reasons for this, lack of space and convenience for people not having to walkout side in the snow to get to their cars.

Custom built work benches are common now in every garage. The owners don’t even have to be handy, but it comes in handy for even simple tasks like waxing skis or cleaning gardening tools.

Larger windows set high up in the walls to let more natural light into the garages. Since the ceiling heights have risen the windows have as well. This allows people the natural light they require and still have the security that people can’t look through the windows and see all their toys.

Dog showers or wash stations for gardening tools. This isn’t a new thing to custom homes, but it’s a new thing to the garage. It allows people the ability to control the mess before it comes in the house.

Vinyl slot wall has become one of the most popular choices for the walls of the garage. Because of a more active population people have more sports equipment that needs a safe place to rest when not in use. Slot wall that is made out of materials like vinyl will last a life time without staining or ripping. The endless attachments that come with it allow you to hang any number of things from your bike to your skis.

Almost all garages have finished drywall even if they aren’t attached to the house.

Here is a list of new trends in custom home garages for 2013;

In-Floor heating. Garages have become more than just a place to park your car. With homes getting smaller there is need for a place to store things that doesn’t freeze in the winter.

Garages are starting to take on different shapes then the traditional square box. Because homes are becoming more compact they are being built with odd little corners and other things in them. This allows creative people to have hobby nooks.

Garages are starting to have multiple rooms in them. Not just a room for your car or boat but also for your crafts and hobbies. People want their craft room to be warm, inviting and comfortable.

Custom wood ceilings are starting to become popular, especially cathedral ceilings. People want to feel like the garage is part of the house and not just a place to park your car.

Whatever you want to do with your garage can be accomplished these days as people are looking for more ways to use up the limited space they have.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Putting An Open Vanity In A Bathroom

Putting an open vanity in a bathroom

If you are planning out your new bathroom or are preparing for a bathroom renovation and you are wanting to place an open vanity in it instead of one that is closed there are a few things that you need to know.

Open vanities are used as a showpiece, that means that there are no drawers to place toiletries in or places to hide things that you don't want other people to see.

If you want to hide things you are going to have to place either baskets or boxes in the open vanity, this will allow you to have some level of privacy.

Open vanities show the complete plumbing system, form the drains to the water supply lines that attach to the sink and faucet. To make them look good you will have to buy chrome plated drains and supplies. This is an extra cost that you need to put in your budget. This plumbing also must be placed in the exact right place because you have no way of hiding it if it's off centered or misplaced.

Open vanities show the back wall behind the vanity and the floor underneath the vanity. You will have to make sure that these area's are finished as well as the rest of the walls and floors of the bathroom.

Most open vanities do not use the same sink, usually they are a raised vessel sink or a sink that looks good from above as well as from below.

Open vanities can help make a bathroom look larger, more modern and welcoming. You just need to make sure that you are prepared for everything that has to be installed with them.

Proper planning will make sure that your bathroom renovation turns out as wonderful as you want it too.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Can I Build A House Slab On Grade?


Can I build a house slab on grade?


In some areas the building code does allow for you to build slab on grade homes. But in most northern regions of North America there are heavy restrictions on building a home that is slab on grade.

The reason for the heavy restrictions or the outright ban on building this way is that slab on grade foundations have little to no frost protection. The problem with not having adequate frost protection is that in a cold winter you can have the frost penetrate the ground around the house and then have it travel underneath the slab. As the frost takes hold it moves the ground, this movement in the ground is so powerful that it can lift whole foundations.

When a foundation has been lifted it isn’t the entire foundation that rises together, only part of the foundation will be moved up. This causes twisting in the slab, twisting causes the slab to break and it also causes stress on the rest of the building envelope that is resting on the slab. This will cause damage throughout the home.

The damage is not only in the foundation or the foundation walls it can also cause the following;

Drywall damage. Cracking, nail pops and tape joints letting go as the walls twist.
Decks go out of level as the walls they are attached to go up and down.
Floors in the home are not level from one side to the other.
Doors and windows in the home start to stick or jamb.
Tile floors crack or brake.
Wood floors cup or crack.
Cabinet doors don’t stay closets or don’t close at all.
Granite counter tops crack or break.
Gas lines can be ruptured.
You can lose electricity as the power lines are stretched or pulled out of the electrical meter.
Break or block can crack or fall off the outside walls.

When the winter passes and the frost recedes the house will settle back to it’s original position but the damage that it has caused will stay.
Without a proper foundation that is placed so that it reaches below the frost line there is no way to guarantee that your home will not move from frost heave.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Different Ways That You Can Heat You're In-Floor Heating System

The different ways that you can heat you’re in-floor heating system.

In floor heating is one of the most efficient ways to heat your home; the thermal mass allows your floors once they are warm to radiate heat for hours, long after the actual system has turned itself off. Radiant heat also heats an entire space evenly with heat originating from the entire floor instead where ever the ducts appear from the floor wall. Because radiant heat is produced at the floor level it is always rising by you the homeowner towards the ceiling. This means that the room is always the same temperature and that is feels comfortable.

To feed water to this system there are many different ways that you can create the hot water that is needed to run the system, here is a brief list;

Hot water tanks. The standard hot water tank can be used to create enough hot water for small to medium sized area for heating. It is not very efficient but it will do the job. You can also use more than one tank if you think that you require more capacity. Hot water tanks can be powered by electricity, propane, natural gas, furnace oil or even solar.

Geothermal. New geothermal heating systems will create hot water by ground source heat. This is a very efficient way to heat your floor especially if you have no access to natural gas. It is a more expensive option but you will see the savings over the long run. Geothermal systems are powered by electricity and require no fossil fuels.

Flash boilers. Flash boilers are probably the most efficient water heaters out there, especially if they are powered by natural gas. They can also be powered by propane and electricity. A flash boiler does what the name says it does, it boils water to your desired temperature only when you require it. There are no storage tanks to hold warmed water; it is created when the system calls for it.

Boilers. The traditional boiler is still used for large in-floor areas; it works well as it is able to create large volumes of water in short amounts of time to feed the system. They can be powered by natural gas, propane or electricity.

Air to air heat pumps. Air to air heat pumps work by removing the heat from the air outside and transforming it into useable heat inside the home. Newer heat pumps can take heat from the air well below zero. This can be used to heat water that will fuel the in-floor heating system.

Whatever way you decide to power you’re in-floor system you are bound to be happy at the lower heating costs you will endure throughout the long winter months.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Where Does The Heat Come From In Radiant Heating For Homes?


When you have radiant heat as the main source of heat in a home where does the heat actually come from?


There are two types of radiant heat that typically are available on the market for residential homes, one is electric floor heat and the other is hot water floor heat.


Electric in-floor heating is most commonly seen in bathroom floors but there are times when people install them in all floors of a home to help heat the home. In colder climates it’s usually not enough to heat an entire home all by its self; you usually require baseboard heaters or a main forced air heating system like a furnace.

Electric heating are heat lines or “mats” that are installed on top of the sub-floor and then are hooked to a thermostat on the wall. They are powered solely by electricity. As the heat lines warm up so does the finished flooring on top of them. Electric heat is predominantly placed under tile on floors, this helps give it thermal mass. When the electric heat warms up the thermal mass of the tile and mortar that is underneath it then it starts to radiate heat outward in the air. Because the air above the tile is colder then the heat rises up towards the ceiling of the home constantly. The tile will continue to radiate heat to a limited extent even after the heat lines have stopped producing heat. Electric heating lines are limited in the amount of heat that they can create; they also require a lot of electricity to do so depending on the amount of heat that you want out of them.


Hot water in-floor heating is exactly what it sounds like, it is hot water that can be made from several different kinds of sources, and it is then circulated through piping that is placed under the finished flooring of your home to heat it. Hot water heat produces enough heat for you entire home no matter how cold a climate you live in. You will not require any extra heating sources like electric in-floor.

The hot water is circulated from a central location and fed into the piping, the area’s are usually broken down into zones so that you are able to control the temperature of the zones depending on the area’s use and also depending on how warm or cold the room is because of other forces such as sunlight through windows or heat making units like fireplaces.

Hot water in-floor usually is installed in 1.5 inches of “gypcrete” a concrete product that is designed to be installed over heat lines to create thermal mass. Because it is imbedded in the gypcrete hot water in-floor is extremely efficient in its heating. Long after hot water has stopped circulating through the lines the floor will continue to radiate heat, hot water in-floor takes a while to come up to temperature from completely cold but it also takes a long time to cool down as well.

Hot water in-floor heating is one of the most efficient ways to heat your home regardless of what fuel source it comes from.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Connected Home Wireless Technology

The Connected Home

New wireless technologies put the smart home within reach of any homeowner.

Connected home technology in the early 2000's was an expensive proposition. In most cases, a high-priced “structured wiring” infrastructure linked a central server to the devices it managed and also to proprietary, hardwired keypad and control screen ns. The cost of adding this infrastructure to an existing home was especially steep.

Fast-forward more than a decade. Things are simpler, more affordable, and more flexible, with everything from security sensors to speakers to lighting controls available in wireless models controlled by a tablet or smart phone. The price of fully connecting a home costs one-tenth what it used to—plus, there’s no need to fish wires through wall cavities.

Few are taking full advantage of this new affordability and ease. A survey of 6500 households published in early 2015 by technology research firm Gartner, Inc. found only a handful using this powerful technology to do more than simply stream movies.

A remodeling project is a great opportunity to join that select, modern few. A home electronics integrator, says that most homeowners he talks with are familiar with remote control of temperature and security, but they seldom know what else is available. Once they learn about and try it, they want more. “My lighting control business is up 250 percent over last year, and my automated shade business is up 200 percent,” he says. That’s partly because the price is right. In just one example, wireless technology has cut the cost of automated shades by more than half when compared to hardwired versions.

Other affordable wireless products finding a ready market in existing homes include Ring, a doorbell with a camera that displays on a cell phone; Nest, a self-programming thermostat; Hue, an LED bulb that can be dimmed or changed in color via a handheld app; and Sonos, a wireless speaker system.

One thing that stops people from wanting such devices is worry about getting them to work together. A good electronics integrator can set up an iPad app that controls the TV, the heating and cooling system, the lighting, and everything else.

When deciding between devices it’s best to focus on benefits. For some, being able to remotely control the thermostat sounds interesting. For others, being able to use a phone app to adjust the home’s heating and cooling system so it’s comfortable on arrival light up the imagination.

Having a wiring infrastructure is still a good idea, but the requirements are simpler than in the past, and there are ways to compensate where installing it is impractical. Ideally, you would want to run data cable to every room for bandwidth-hungry video services like Netflix or iTunes; it will be more reliable than wireless streaming. In a remodel, an alternative is to run data cable to those rooms whose walls will be open, and to serve the rest of the house with an enterprise-grade router and wireless access points. These should be able to handle streaming video as well as all those wireless devices.

For sending data to all those new wireless devices, Webb recommends an enterprise-grade wireless router with 5 gigabytes of RAM instead of the typical 56K consumer model. Costs for the upgraded router are higher, ranging from $400 to $1000, but it can keep up when people are streaming movies on two or more screens. For boosting the signal in remote areas of the house, consider wireless access points rather than repeaters.

The bottom line is that with a few affordable devices and a little integration work, homeowners today can easily set up automated systems to conserve energy, manage home security, provide a world of entertainment, and generally make their homes more responsive and comfortable.

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

Village Builders Inc