Friday, February 27, 2015

Can I Demolish My Own Bathroom and Then Let My Contractor Put It Back Together?


I want to do a bathroom renovation but I’m trying to keep the costs down, can I do the demolition myself and let the renovation contractor put it all back together?


You can do it yourself but I would warn you that demolition is not as easy as you think it is, there are a lot of things that you need to know before you start destroying a part of your home that you are living in.

Most people (after watching home renovation shows on television) think that they can walk into a bathroom and just start hitting walls with a sledge hammer and ripping everything out and throwing it out in a pile on the driveway. If you ever saw what happens in those shows before they allow the homeowner to do anything you would understand how complicated it can be when dealing with unknown services in the walls.

A bathroom is usually a small area and is usually in the middle of the home, this means that any demolition you do has the propensity to spread dust throughout the home along with debris and dirt along the path in which you carry stuff out to the driveway. Your contractor will take the time to cover your floors with something to protect them, put up plastic dust screens to contain it and have a garbage bin delivered so that your driveway is kept clean eliminating the possibility of you accidently getting a nail in your tire.

In bathrooms there is a lot of stuff behind the walls, here are some of the things that you are apt to find once you take down interior walls;

Water lines. Water lines in home that are 15 years old or older are all made out of copper, these lines do not like to be cut into or hit with hammers. If you damage one you could end up with a lot of water damage.

Vent pipes. These pipes are black PVC and are usually a lot harder to damage then the copper water lines, the problem arises when you cut or remove one, these are the venting of gas for your plumbing system, if you damage one you risk allowing methane gas into your home.

Electrical wires.  Most walls in homes have electrical lines running through them, if you cut one or damage one of these lines you could end up causing a fire, injuring yourself, damaging the tool you are using or causing the contractor to have to fix it which could increase the cost of the renovation.

Bearing walls. If you start cutting out walls you might remove the wrong studs, a lot of the walls in homes are not just there to partition off rooms they are actually load bearing walls. Load bearing walls are walls that accept a load from above (either from the floor above or the roof) and transfer it down towards the foundation. Basically they are helping hold up the house. Damaging one of these walls could end up causing significant damage to the structure or roof of your home. If you damage the structural integrity of the home then you are in for a big repair bill.

Drain pipes. Drain pipes are made out of the same material as vent pipes but they have a different function. They transfer the waste water from your toilet, sinks and showers to the septic or sewer system. If you cut or damage one of these then you will end with a strong sewer smell through the home and the next time someone uses the bathroom above where your working you will have a leak. That means that you could end up with sewage leaking in the home.

Structured wiring. Depending on how old your home is it could have structured wiring in it. This wiring is the wiring that runs your phones, internet, speakers and thermostats. These wires are smaller and do not handle rough treatment very well.

Heating vents. Heating vents in your home do not work as well once you damage them, they require the vents to be free of obstruction, holes or kinks so that the air can travel freely from floor to floor and room to room. Return air vents do not have any ducts they use the wall cavity as their duct so if you remove or block one you might not even know you have until it’s too late.

These are just the things that you can find in the walls of your bathroom, there are many other things that can happen when you start doing your demolition. Removing toilets, vanities, tubs or showers without the proper knowledge of how to turn off the water supply to them can end up with you causing a lot of water damage to other parts of your home.

I have witnessed homeowners spend days demolishing their own bathrooms to try and save a couple thousand dollars and then realizing that the damage they caused in doing so is going to cost them double that to have everything repaired or put back the way it was before you started demolition.

I would recommend that you let the professionals handle it, the money will be well spent and you wouldn’t have to worry about any surprises.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is there another way to handle below grade windows without having to install a window well?


Is there another way to handle below grade windows without having to install a window well?


Window wells are the simplest thing to do when you have (or want) windows that are below the finished grade of your home. They allow natural light into the basement of your home.

There is one other way to handle windows that are below grade. Instead of building the conventional window well, you build an area that is lower than the window that slopes away from the home. This will allow the water to natural run away from the window area, allowing more light to come in the window.

In homes that do not have the ability to allow for the window well to be dug out and sloped away to facilitate natural water runoff then you can build a large well area. These area’s can be as big as you want and can be used as landscaped seating areas with fire pits or any other kind of feature that you can dream up. What you have to make sure of is that there is either a gravity drain in the bottom of the well or there is an electric sump pump well so that any and all water will be removed before it turns into a pond or swimming pool.

These large dugout areas’s (as long as the water is controlled) are a great landscape feature and allow so much more light into the basement of homes. If you have the ability to build one I would recommend it over the conventional window well.

The dugout areas are usually best if they are constructed out of natural stone, this helps to ensure that the retaining walls will not have to worry about rot or heavily water logged ground that can cause collapses with lighter material (wood). If these areas are built properly then they should last as long as the home that they are built around.

Remember that window wells are simple and cheap but they are also allow the least amount of light into a window that is below grade.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How are loan draws figured for my construction project?


How are loan draws figured?

A good draw schedule balances the contractor’s need to get paid for work done and materials purchased, with the homeowners’ and their bank’s desire not to pay too far ahead of what has been completed. On a new custom home, payments are usually matched to the completion of a particular phase: foundation, frame, drywall, and so on.

On a remodel/renovation, payments often depend on the percentage that has been completed. It’s important that the homeowner communicate with their contractor to ensure there are no misunderstandings about how and when funds will be disbursed.

This is particularly important because contractors rarely do all the work themselves, they hire sub-contractors (electricians, plumbers, drywallers) to fulfill a lot of the work. These sub-contractors are independent businesses and require monies to be paid so that they are able to pay their employee’s and continue working. They don’t have the ability to carry a lot of debt and thus require a prompt payment once their work has been completed and they have submitted a bill for it.

If you don’t have a well designed draw schedule then you could end up holding up your own job as sub-contractors will not return to finish or start other work without being paid for what is already owed to them.

Rob Abbott

Village Builders Inc.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 Kitchen Trends In Custom Homes

2015 trends - Kitchens

Even though the year is young there are many trends that are already emerging, trends in kitchens are one of them. Some of the trends started in the years previous and area considered longer running trends and some are trends that have started more recently. These trends are new; sometimes these trends have been around for years but are finally gaining in popularity.
Here is a list of the trends that have stayed the same over the last several years;

Large kitchen taps with pull out sprayers are common in all new kitchens.

Viking and Wolfs are the most popular ovens and cook tops in high end kitchens.

Granite that waterfalls over the end of islands and cabinets have become very popular. This has waned a little recently as there is a high cost to it.

Under mount stainless steel sinks are still the most popular option.

Painted kitchen cupboards are still the most popular choice over stained wood.

White is a colour that is back in for kitchens, it has rapidly replaced the darker bolder colours of the last couple of years, you can’t open a magazine or watch's a television show without seeing one.

Stainless steel is still the most popular for appliances.

Islands are still the most popular way to create counter space in kitchens. The size of islands continues grow as larger homes have larger areas to fill.

Custom panels covering fume hoods is a common site in most new kitchens. The exposed stainless steel fume hood is not seen as often as before.

The main sink is now placed in the island instead of on a wall under a window. The main sink in the island faces toward the living room so that people working in the kitchen can interact with their guests. This goes along with the kitchen being the hub of the home.

Multiple sinks are still popular, usually a large main sink and then a small separate sink that is used to wash fruit. But with larger kitchens two larger sinks are growing in popularity.

Multiple ovens are still popular.

Multiple wall ovens even with their increased cost are now a staple in large kitchens.

Multiple dishwashers which were only a novelty and an excess in years previous are now the norm in large kitchens that plan to see a lot of traffic.

Specially designed cabinets are common now to help fit things easier in your kitchen such as pot drawers, spice racks, custom dish racks and small speciality drawers that hold your wash cloths and dish soup.

Granite had been the most popular choice in kitchens for a long time. But with the invention of new manufactured products for counter tops that are comparative in price with the traditional granite, you are seeing a lot more home owners choosing Caesar stone, Quartz and Corian. These products have a lot of the same characteristics as granite, some of them are also cheaper and they come in a variety of colours and styles. Trends right now is to do a mix of manufactured and granite. This adds a little variety to the kitchen and can also solve the problem in large kitchens of trying to find enough granite that matches for every surface in the ever expanding surface area.

There isn’t a dominant choose in the fridge manufactures, in previous years it was always a sub zero fridge in high-end kitchens, this has ended because of the high cost of the fridges and also from endless problems and warranty issues. Samsung looked to be the manufacture that would take over that mantle but that seems to have stalled and now no fridge manufacture has stepped up to take the title yet.

Kitchens continue to grow in size, as houses are growing again over the last couple of years so are the kitchens in the homes. With the amount of conveniences rising in homes it is forcing the kitchen to become larger to accommodate them as all the modern machines require their own spaces.

The microwave has returned to a prominent place in the kitchen after years of it being placed under counters or in pantries, with the increased size in kitchens the possible positions that microwaves can be placed has also grown. This is allowing people to easily find space for their microwaves.

Leathering of granite counter tops has become the best way to have a “non shiny” surface but still have granite.

Wall ovens with microwaves that share the same trim are common; these then look to be one appliance instead of two different ones.

Glass in upper cabinet doors that are backlit are common in high end kitchens.

Two or three hanging pendants are the norm now over every island in kitchens.

Having kitchens that have different coloured islands compared to the cabinets on the walls. Usually the colours are dramatically different to create contrast.

Chrome or polished nickel is what almost always installed in kitchens.

Here are the new trends in kitchens;

Dark stained wood cabinets are coming back into style as the stark white kitchens that have been all the rage for the last couple of years are leaving some people less inspired.

The biggest trend change is the growing popularity of soapstone counter tops. These give a completely different look to the surface of the kitchen, a much more rustic look to the kitchen surface.

The multi level island has come back with not only a higher bar section but islands also being made with a lower section that can be sat at with a normal dining room chair instead of a bar stool.

Windows have taking a giant step forward as kitchens in custom homes are being designed around as many windows as possible bringing as much natural light as possible.

A hot trend these days is the buying of IKEA kitchens and having them installed by the general contractor to try and lower the cost of kitchens. Homeowners are sacrificing overall quality and longevity for a lower bill upfront.

New sinks with holders for knifes and speciality items are growing in popularity. Blanco is one of the most popular in this category.

Drain boards that are built right into the counter tops are becoming more popular, this allows
you to place wet dishes right on top of the counter next to the sink and have it drain away.

Modern kitchens are really starting to become more popular. There flat doors and clean lines are really appealing to homeowners.

In smaller kitchens there is now a fill-in piece for the sink to allow you to work right over the sink.

People are trying new materials on their kitchen backsplashes instead of the traditional tile. Some of the materials are natural stone, back painted glass and hammered copper.

Something that you should remember when you are planning out a new kitchen whether it is in a new custom home or it is part of a renovation in your home you should be putting the maximum amount of effort into the design. The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in any home and will take the most amount of abuse as well. Paying a little more for quality items will usually always pay off in the end.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pimp Out Your Garage Door

If your wanting to try something new with your garage in your to be built custom home, then you should try to "pimp out your garage door".

That might sound strange as there is almost no difference in the garage doors that have been installed in homes all over North America for the last 40 yrs.

Sure there has been some dressing up of the garage door;
  • They placed a row of windows 2/3's of the way up the door, sometimes they are fake and other times they allow just enough light in the garage so that it isn't totally dark inside.
  • The colours of the doors have changed over the years depending on the trends.
  • The panels that have been installed have changed somewhat in shape and size as the trends have changed.
  • They place fake hinges and handles on the doors to make them look like old carriage doors from a bygone day where garages only held buggies.
  • They stopped installing steel doors and started adding insulation to them for strength, noise resistance and R value.
But the overall look and feel of a garage door really hasn't changed that much overall. Well that has all changed now that people are installing plexi-glass panels in their garage doors.

Instead of wood or metal panels the panels are made out of plexi-glass and are completely see through depending on how much obscurity you want in the glass. 

This garage door has brushed aluminum for the grids that give the door strength and hold the plexi-glass panels in place. 

You can also install lighting behind the doors, this will make the door glow at night, this is a really cool effect.

Another great thing about these doors is that during the day when you walk in the garage you never have to turn on any lights as the door allows the maximum about of natural light into the space.

Try something different, "pimp your garage door".

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Have you built Homes near Georgian Peaks Ski Club?


Have you built Homes near Georgian Peaks Ski Club?


Yes we have we have built several custom homes and chalet at and near the Georgian Peaks Ski Club. Here is one the latest homes that we built in that area;

The home is a 3600 sqft two story chalet that has Hardie Board siding and Dutch quality stone on the outside along with Ridley Windows and Doors. The home is situated a short walk to Georgian bay and has beautiful views of the Georgian Peaks mountain range.

The inside of the home is a fairly open concept with the chief’s style kitchen open to the large dining room. The kitchen has a nice large island that is painted a darker colour then the surrounding cabinet’s giving a nice contrast. The kitchen has everything someone would want in a kitchen with a large gas stove and all the appropriate appliances, there is even a wine fridge touched under the island. Beautiful dark granite tops the kitchen, the granite counter tops are a very unique contrast with white veining throughout the dark granite.

The kitchen has direct sight lines through the dining room into the high ceilinged great room. The great room has two stories of windows that look out over the mountain resort of Georgian Peaks Ski Club. The great room has a high modern fireplace with a sleek low profile gas fireplace, it is surrounded with Asian inspired stone tile covering it’s three sides. There is a peak a boo view from the hallway upstairs that not only gives views to the great room but also of the mountains beyond.

The master suite is behind the great room with a large master bedroom that has a large double set of doors that leads out to a small covered porch that is perfect for morning coffee while looking at the wildflowers growing on the mountains in the summer. There is a door less entry into the 4 piece master ensuite. It has heated floors and a large shower that has multiple heads and jets to let you warm up and settle down after a long day of skiing.

The first floor also has a large laundry room that doubles as a place to store all the ski equipment and wet clothes from winter and summer outside adventures.

There is a small powder room next to the laundry room with a sink that has a custom made wood counter top and a touch-less faucet.

The second floor has 3 well sized bedrooms one with its own ensuite and a large main bathroom that is big enough to allow everyone to get ready for a fun night out on the town. At the end of the hall is a rec. room that is perfect for the teenagers and their friends.

The home has a large garage with high ceilings allowing storage of all the summer toys above and around the vehicles.

The backyard has a large covered porch that has a concrete patio that works when you want those barbecue parties for all your friends.

The home has a high efficiency gas fireplace to heat the home that is placed in the crawlspace along with the instant hot water tank and all the other components that run the home.

Particular attention was paid to the insulating of the home. The home was “buttered” with 2 inches of spray foam that was placed in all the wall cavities and then had a Rolex batt installed on top of it. This process was also used in the attic with the drywall installed first without a vapour barrier and then the spray foam was applied to the backside of the drywall in the attic space. After this there was R-40 blown in added on top of it. The overall affect was a extremely well sealed home that is easy to heat in the winter and simple to cool in the summer.

The home is perfect for those family weekends when you are looking for fun in the outdoors.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What is the room that has grown the most in custom home?


What is the room that has grown the most in custom home?


The answer might surprise you, the room that has growth the most in custom homes is the MECHANICAL ROOM.

Thanks right the biggest growth in rooms for custom homes is the mechanical room. To a contractor it’s the brains of the house, it’s the place where you can go and learn more about the house with one look then the rest of the house combined.

Mechanical rooms have grown so much because homes have become so complicated in the last decade. There are more systems in custom homes now that are run from the mechanical room than ever before.

The size of your mechanical room will depend on certain factors, they are as follows;

Do you live in the city or the country? Country homes need larger mechanical rooms as there heating systems take up a lot more room.

Is your home a smart home? A smart home has technology built into it that allows the home to be controlled by computers or smart phones.

The overall size of your home. The larger the home the larger the mechanical room because everything that runs the home has to be larger.

Do you only require one mechanical room? In larger homes sometimes it’s easier to have two small mechanical rooms; it is more efficient for the heating systems.

Certain heating systems require more room. Homes with combination heating systems (forced air and in-floor) require more room as it’s basically double the components that have to fit in the room.

Wall space. A lot of things that are installed in custom homes are hung on a wall, things like electrical, alarm and media all require wall space to attached too.

With more options for homeowners to put in their homes like automation of lights and blinds or the extensive way that people are filtering their water requires space in a mechanical room. The best mechanical rooms have space around them so that they can be easily maintained and repaired in the future. Room around equipment also allows the complete replacement of the equipment when the time comes for it to be.

As custom homes continue to grow in size so does their basements, as basements grow in size this has allowed builders to take advantage of this extra space for the use of the mechanical systems. Basically the larger the home is the larger the mechanical room will be required.

When you are designing that custom home for yourself keep in mind that you will need to leave space in the basement for your mechanical room, so don’t get carried away with planning out your

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why there isn't benefits to being your own General Contractor


Are there benefits to being your own General Contractor?


As a general contractor I would say that there really isn’t any benefit to being your own general contractor, but people still do it.

Why do they do it if there is no benefit to them?

The answer is that when it comes to being your own general contractor 99% of the people that decide to go that route think that it will save them money.

Why do people think that being their own general contractor will save them money?

Because hiring a general contractor has a cost to it, general contractors charge a fee for their services just like every other business does.

The fee that the general contractor charges to people that decide to be their own general contractor is a savings in their mind, the problem is that if you were to take them and sit them down once the home is completed you would find that the cost savings of not having a general contractor has disappeared. In almost all cases you would find that the new home ended up costing you more money to build then it would have if you hired a general contractor and paid their fee. Further more the building of the home has also taken you a significantly longer time to build then you anticipated that it would, this longer timeline has also cost you more money then you anticipated.

Here is a comparison list of how being your own general contractor costs more than actually hiring a General Contractor;

Being your own General Contractor
Hiring a General Contractor (GC)
When you buy building material for your building supply store you pay the same price as everyone else.
GC’s are given a discount on the total package of the home by the building supply store because of the GC’s ability to bring them more work over many years. This can add up when the material for a home could cost two or three hundred thousand and your builder receives 10 percent off it. That’s a 20 to 30 thousand dollar savings to you.
You will not have a warranty on the home because you built it yourself, any problems with the structure or the workmanship will be up to you to fix out of your own pocket.
GC’s have to register your home with TARION which is the new home warranty company. This warranty covers you the homeowner for 7 years. All warrant-able issues in the home have to be taken care of by the GC with little to expense to you.
You will have to obtain your own insurance for the building of the home and you will need special insurance to protect yourself it someone is injured on your site.
GC’s carry liability insurance to protect them and you from any damage down to the building or any worker that is hurt by an accident on the site.
It is up to you to check that every trade that you hire is properly insured, licensed and covered under WSIB.
It is a GC’s legal job to have to check that every single trade that the hire and allow on their building sites is properly and fully insured, professionally licensed and is in good standing with WSIB.
You are in charge of all the safety on your building site. That means that you are in charge of the personal safety of all workers on the site, you are also responsible for all legal postings and signage that is required on a residential construction project.
Safety has become the biggest propriety for GC’s. They are constantly updating their safety training, they have detailed plans and checks and balances in place to protect everyone on the worksite. All signage and all legal postings along with the documentation that is required are seen to by the GC as it is one of their primary focuses.
You are liable if a worker is hurt on your building site. Even as the homeowner you can receive fines and even jail time if you are found to be negligent in the involvement of a worker injury.
GC’s are responsible for all the safety of workers and that means that they shield you as the homeowner from any fines or legal actions that could result from a workers injury.
You will be paying the normal rate to all the trades that you hire. This is because you are only hiring them once and they have to build into the price that you are organizing the job yourself. Trades charge homeowners more because they are concerned about not being paid and also about how smoothly the job will run, the more disorganized the job site the longer it will take for them to complete their work. This scenario doesn't just cost them more man hours but it also delays their full payment that they receive on complication.
GC’s are given significant discounts by the trades that they hire. The reason for this is that over the years of working together the trade knows that they will be paid appropriately and on time and that the job site will be organized and ready for them when they arrive. An organized job site means that they will be able to complete their work quicker costing them less money.
You are going to have to take time off work to meet and supervise the trades that are building your home. You will have to meet these workers every time they require it and talk to them every time they have a question. Your lost days at work will cost a lot of money as a normal house can take anywhere from 8 months to 2 years to build depending on the size and scope of the project.
GC’s have onsite supervisors. These supervisors meet the trade’s everyday and answer any questions that they might have about your project. They are also able to accurately schedule the trades in advance so the wait for the trades is less, this speeds the building process along.
You are in charge of the placement of all the rough-ins and also the kind of fixture that is installed in your home. You are also in charge of the quality control, it is up to you to understand the systems that are being installed and in the order that they are installed so that they don’t interfere with other trades.
GC’s have knowledge of all things installed and have a very particular order in the way that everything is installed in a home.
For example;
You have the electricians install the electrical before the plumber. The plumber comes in and has to cut out some of the electrical wiring to run their drains. Since drains have to be installed in very specific places then the wires will have to be relocated. This will be a charge to you the homeowner because you didn’t have the plumber come in first. It’s a GC’s job to make sure this never happens.
You will be charged fully for everything that has to be redone because either you changed your mind on its location or you didn’t understand when it was explained to you about where it was being placed.
It is the GC’s job to make sure that everything is in the proper place the first time. They do this by coordinating not only the trade but also your personal opinion, your wants and needs. GC's hold walk-through's with the appropriate trades and you the homeowner this insures that all parties are on the same page.
You will end up paying more than the quotes that you are given from some trades. The reason for this is that when a trade gives you a quote they are quoting on what you asked them to quote not on what you need or will end up with in your home. These will easily double the amount of some of the trade’s final bills for your home.
GC’s take great care in going through every quote before the project starts. This is to avoid billing problems later; they will also require a re-quote if a lot of things change in the home after the initial quotes were received.
You will have trouble scheduling trades to show up in a timely manner as you are only a single job to them. This will delay work in the home at every stage.
GC’s have a lot of pull with their trades because they are able to give them work all year long and year over year. Tradesmen build their businesses on their relationships with GC’s supplying them with work every year that they do not have to advertise for and only have to quote.
Because you are organizing they entire job yourself, you will have problems getting trades to show up in a timely manner. The process of constructing the home will take longer, this is guaranteed. The longer the home takes to construct the more costs you will incur. Things like you’re financing for the home and the rate you pay for electricity will all cost you more until your home is completed.
One of the main jobs for GC’s is to make sure that you home is constructed in a timely manner. One of the reasons for this is because the quicker your home is constructed the quicker the GC will get paid completely for the job. Projects that drag on limit the ability of the GC to generate profit so it’s in their best interest and yours to complete the home in as timely a manner as possible.
Your choice of materials will be limited to your own knowledge of building and what you are able find via television and the internet. This unfortunately gives you no actual knowledge about how the product works.
GC’s have to warranty the homes that they build; this makes GC’s choose products that have given them little to no problems in the past. This process helps narrow the choices on certain important products in your home so that you get the best product without a lot of problems in the future.
When you buy your plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures and door hardware you will be paying retail price. It will also be up to you to select all the appropriate parts for showers, tubs, sinks and toilets. If you fail to order one piece you will have to pay the plumber to return when you have it at a later date. Any warranty issues will be solely up to you to have the item returned and replaced.
GC’s receive discounts as high as 40% on some plumbing, lighting or door hardware. They also understand what parts are needed for a plumber to properly install a complicated shower or tub. When something goes wrong it is the GC’s problem to return them or have them replaced under warranty.
It will be your job to book and meet all building inspectors for the appropriate inspections. Any failure of an inspection means that nothing can happen to the home until the problems are fixed. This slows the job down and will cost you money changing things that the inspector does not like. Inspectors are usually more critical on homeowner managed projects as they are worried about the liability if you have done something wrong.
GC’s work in the same municipalities all the time and get to know what the local building inspectors are looking for, every building inspector looks for something different. Knowing this saves you money and time, it also guarantees that you always pass your inspections. GC's are able to build a rapport with inspectors overtime and are able to gain their confidence, this allows inspections to go smoothly with little to no hassle or delays. 
As you are acting as the general contractor you are required to keep the job site clean and deal with any debris or waste from your site. Safety regulations state a job site must be kept clean at all times. This can be a very time consuming task as everyday trades will make a new mess.
GC’s usually employ people to keep the job site clean. They don’t just keep the job site clean they make sure that the trades clean up after themselves. GC’s usually bring a bin or garbage container to keep job sites clean and safe. A clean site is an efficient and safe site.
Budgeting will be a problem for you, you can only budget for what the trades give you quotes for, you won’t realize how much to budget for cost overruns and the appropriate amount to budget that will be realistic. This could be a serious problem when you are dealing with a financial institution. Because your budget was originally too small then your line of credit becomes too small as well as the house construction commences. This means that you have to apply for an extension of your line of credit. This takes time and the more time it takes the more money it will cost you.
GC’s budgets are usually within 10% of the finished project cost as long as significant changes are not made to the home during construction. When going to the bank for a line of credit having the budget from a GC goes a long way in the bank giving you the appropriate amount of money you will require and also possibly at a better rate because it was created by a professional and view it as being accurate.
When building a home you must think about energy efficiency. A lot of energy efficiency comes from how well the home is put together with foaming, taping and draft proofing in certain areas of the home. Not knowing exactly how to do this will cost you money every year because of the amount of heat loss you will experience.
As a GC they know the areas that have the potential to have the biggest air leaks and they know what products to use to make sure that they don’t ever have a draft. Decades of experience tells them where and how to do this.
This lowers all your future gas and electrical bills.
You are in charge of the quality control. This is a big issue because quality control is not only how well the home is put together but it also will have the biggest affect on the resale value of your home when  you go to sell it in the future.
GC’s build their reputation on a high standard of quality control. It is in their best interest to make sure that your home is so well put together that you and all your friends are amazed at how well it looks and functions. This is the best way for a GC to advertise to other people.

So when you look at the above mentioned items and you start to add up the costs associated with being your own general contractor it doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion that the cost for hiring a professional general contractor to construct your custom home is quickly eclipsed by the costs of being your own general contractor.

One of the main things that is hard to put a value on is the cost on you mentally and physically. 
There is a tremendous amount of stress that is put on the general contractor when a new home is being constructed. The amount of stress only gets worse when it is your own house and every decision you make, product you buy and trade you hire costs you money. When you add in the added stress of time and your family life I wonder myself why anyone would even attempt to be their own general contractor.

Save yourself and your family a lot of headaches, heartbreaks and dollars and hire a general contractor to build your custom home.

Rob Abbott

Village Builders Inc. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The hottest trend in custom homes is the use of glass throughout the entire home

The hottest trend in custom homes is the use of glass throughout the entire home.

Custom homes are being designed with more glass, glass that is being placed everywhere throughout the home.

A lot of the traditional places that you typically find glass have not only had the amount (of glass) rise but also increase in size as well. There are larger windows, more of them (windows) in custom homes than ever before. There are so many windows being designed into custom homes that the actual framing of homes has become far more difficult as there is less solid exterior wall to hold up the roof. It is now common for engineered beams to be placed above the windows with engineered posts beside them just to help transfer the heavy roof loads down to the foundation. This is creating more load points in exterior and interior walls that must be transferred directly to the foundation for strength.

Doors in custom homes have more glass in them as well, doors are now being made with almost 90% glass, they are maximizing the glass in the doors to the point of only leaving enough of the frame to support the weight of the glass and the operation of the door. This is having an effect on the heat loss calculations in homes, as there is more glass there is more heat loss. Its adding costs to homes in relation to the size of the heating systems required and the amount of insulation that is placed in exterior wall cavities. Because of the amount of windows and glass doors in the home they have to be engineered to receive building permits under the new building guidelines, this engineering usually requires the building to upgrade the insulation in the roof, basement floor/walls and also minimizing the amount of thermal bridging that is in the exterior walls.

There are so many other places that are getting glass or bigger pieces of glass than ever before, here is a list of the places that people are installing glass now in their new custom homes;

Bathroom mirrors. These mirrors have grown in size; they now are the same widths as the vanities and are made to rise higher to reflect the maximum amount of light possible. Even wall sconces aren’t enough to stop the spreading size of mirrors as a lot of designers are placing the electrical light boxes right inside the mirrors forcing glass manufactures to have a cut out for them. This allows the mirror to rise higher past the sconces almost to the ceiling.

Railings on decks. With more people installing larger windows in their homes nobody wants to have to look through the deck railing, the simplest thing to do is to install glass deck railings. This allows an unobstructed view out your many windows and with the strength of glass it also keeps the deck safe for children and adults who want to lean on it. There are many different types of glass railings as well, some are pre-manufactured panels that have a top and bottom rail to hold them in place and then there are the custom made glass panels that have no top or bottom railing that gives you the homeowner the maximum unobstructed view possible.

Doors to toilet rooms. Since most people are installing toilet rooms in larger bathrooms an easy way to create a private space around the toilet is to encase it in glass. A glass door and even glass walls around it will allow the maximum amount of light to penetrate, when these glass walls are combined with an obscured finish on the glass you then can still maintain a high level of privacy. The glass doors and walls give the feeling of a much larger space then the traditional toilet room (closet).

Backsplashes in kitchens. With people looking for something different in their kitchens then a
tiled backsplash, a lot of people are turning to back painted glass. This gives a wonderful clean look that is very modern. Back painted glass can be any colour that you want it to be, it also has very few joints which helps give it a very clean and modern look. The use of glass tile is also another way to make a backsplash look more modern and clean but still have the feel of subway tile.

Glass walls in the showers. This is another application for back painted glass. You install this on the walls instead of a tile product (ceramic or natural stone); it has an almost seamless look and is very easy to keep clean with the colour options almost endless. It is also completely waterproof when installed correctly.

Glass floors. Modern homes are installing glass floors at key areas of the home; these allow a feeling of luxury where there would only be solid surface floor usually. The glass is manufactured to be extremely thick and is limited in the size that you can install it, but the overall affect is amazing.

Glass counter tops. This is a wonder thing to do if you have a bar, with glass tops on your cabinets you can install LED lighting below, this effect makes the counter tops look like they glow. You can install different coloured lighting depending on the type of mood that you are attempting to create. It’s also a very cool modern look.

Interior railings. With people looking for more and more open concept layouts in their homes installing glass interior railings helps give people that feeling that the home is wide open even when there are barriers to keep them safe or to define spaces. If you are trying to create the feel of a large open concept area then having all glass railings instead of spindles is a perfect way to make that happen.

Since the cost of glass has not gone up as much as a lot of building materials more people are looking to do unique things with it. This is giving interior designers free range to try something different, something new and something really creative.

When planning and designing your new custom home don’t be afraid to try something new, try glass and really wow people.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Remodel Rollercoaster

The Remodel Rollercoaster

Understanding the construction process will help owners manage their expectations.

Here’s a quick quiz...

It’s two months into a major kitchen and great-room remodel. Bearing walls have been removed and new structural beams installed. Old plaster has been stripped. New wiring and plumbing has been roughed-in, insulation blown between the studs, and sheets of drywall screwed in place. The drywallers are sanding the seams in preparation for that first, shiny coat of paint. How do most homeowners feel?

The question illustrates a crucial issue. There are two things happening at each stage of a project: the actual construction and the homeowners’ perceptions and evolving feelings about it. Fortunately, most people react in predictable ways at predictable times, so an experienced remodeler will understand how to help owners through the inevitable ups and downs. If the homeowners know what to expect, the ride becomes easier and more enjoyable.

As the project begins, homeowners are typically very excited—and why shouldn’t they be? Pre-construction ups and downs involving plans, specs, and product choices are behind them. The space they’ve been imagining for years is about to take shape.

Emotions tend to remain high as workers start removing the old frame and finish. Yes, it’s a hassle not to have a working kitchen, but it’s only temporary and will be worth the final reward.

The final result will more than offset any short-term inconvenience, but the project may take longer than the homeowners are emotionally prepared for. Shows like “Extreme Home Makeover,” where a home gets renovated in a week, give a false impression. This kind of television magic may add stress to real-life schedules.

Once the interior framing is complete and the electricians, plumbers, and heating technicians begin roughing in their systems, emotions may take a dip. Progress seems to slow and excitement can wane.

At this point, it helps for homeowners to remember the importance of good lighting, plumbing, and heating to their long-term satisfaction. Investing the time to do things right will pay off big later on.

As professional remodelers, we understand how challenging this phase of the project is for homeowners, and we step up our communication about the progress that is being made. We find that providing an understanding of what is going on, along with realistic time estimates, helps to even out the emotional bumps for homeowners.

After the rough-ins are done, the contractor insulates the walls and hangs and finishes the drywall.

We are now entering the home stretch. The last phase includes installation of trim, flooring, cabinets, and fixtures. Here, excitement begins to rise again as the finish line pulls into sight. By final cleanup, emotions will be at a point nearly equal to where they were at the beginning.

How best to navigate this emotional journey? How does one enjoy the highs and take the dips in stride? Awareness about the process goes a long way. Study the schedule and know what is going to happen and when. Think of the project as a story, and the schedule as the plot outline. A good remodeler will work with the homeowners to fill that outline with details that minimize the impact of the tough times with an eye on delivering a quality project that meets the owner’s vision, on time and on budget.

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

Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter safety boots on construction sites

Safety: Winter Footwear

All construction workers own and are expected to wear the appropriate approved safety footwear, this footwear is usually the same regardless if you are working inside or outside on a construction project. But when winter arrives and construction continues outside in the wet, cold and snowy weather most workers have a tendency to switch to a different type of footwear.

The footwear they switch to is usually either a winter boot or a work boot that has thinsulate insulation in it.

There are several differences between the two of them;

Winter work boots are bulkier and heavier than normal work boots. This can make climbing or walking on elevated places more difficult.

Winter work boots are usually completely waterproof no matter how much snow you’re standing in when working.

Winter work boots are harder to take off and on when entering or exiting a home.

Work boots usually have better soles and are able to reduce the risk of slips and fall compared to the bulkier winter boots.

Work boots can be more easily bought with a composite toe and shank instead of a steel one.
This lightens the boot and helps stop the transfer of cold.

Regardless of what footwear that you choose you will need to make sure that they are safety approved. The boot must have a protective toe and a protective shank between the sole of the boot and the bottom of your foot.

If you are a supervisor you will have to keep an eye out for employee’s that are not wearing safety boots in the winter. Buying winter boots that are not safety are a lot cheaper and some workers will take the risk of not having any safety protection on their feet so that they don’t have to buy another pair of expensive work boots just to work through the cold winter.

There’s nothing worse on a job site then having to take someone to the hospital after they have a nail embedded in the bottom of their foot because they were too cheap to buy a pair of winter safety boots.

So be safe and make sure you and your employee’s have their feet protected.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How to lower your gas bills in your home

How to lower your gas bills

This is a question that I get asked a lot from all kinds of different people; this is obviously a concern for people with small houses, big houses, old houses and newer houses. Everyone is looking for some way to save themselves money as their gas bills continue to go up but their wages do not.

Here are some tips to save you on your gas bill;

Change your gas hot water tank to a tank less “flash boiler”. This is basically on demand hot water; instead of your hot water tank endlessly warming water all day long an on demand system flash boils water when you turn the tap on. This uses the minimum amount of gas to heat your domestic hot water.

Upgrade your gas furnace to a high efficiency gas furnace with multiple stage fans.

Install a state of the art electric heat pump. This will save you on gas in the winter and electricity in the summer. New air to air heat pumps run on electricity but are more efficient then high efficiency gas furnaces.

Re-insulate your home. The better the insulation in your home the less heat it will require to keep it warm in the winter.

Change your windows. Newer windows have better r-values and have options like solar gain/solar limiting which helps balance the home allowing the heating system to work less.

Install a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to lower the temperature in your home when you are not there and raise it in the times that you are home to enjoy it.

Remove grass or plants from the in-takes and exhaust of the furnace. This also goes for snow; the lack of air flow can be hard on a furnace making it burn more gas to create the same amount of heat.

Install an HRV system. This will help re-use some of the heated air in the home allowing your furnace to run more efficiently.

Install a wood stove. Wood is a cheap source of heat, if you do most of the work yourself (chopping , stacking and splitting). It also allows you to warm up the room that you are sitting in, allowing the rest of the home to be kept at a colder temperature as most people like their bedrooms at a colder temperature for sleeping.

Install ceiling fans. This is a great way to re-circulate the warm air that gets trapped up at the ceiling of your home.

Install low voltage electric dampers in your duct system. This will allow you to have multiple thermostats in your home; every room with a thermostat can then be set at a different temperature. The unused parts (rooms) of your home are then able to be kept at a lower level.

Buy new energy star appliances. New stoves and ovens that are run on gas use less gas then their older counter parts. This will pay for itself over the lifetime of the applaince.

Everything that I have mentioned will save you money on your gas bill. Some of these idea’s are more expensive than others, you should do the numbers as to how much you will save compared to how much it will cost you to make the changes. If you can’t afford the upgrade then borrowing a lot of money will probably defeat the purpose of doing it. Make sure you understand the cost compared to the savings before doing any of the above mentioned things to your home.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Is it cheaper to renovate a ranch style bungalow home then a two story home?


Is it cheaper to renovate a ranch style bungalow home then a two story home?


When you are doing extensive renovations to a home usually there is not a lot of difference in the price to renovate a ranch style or bungalow compared to a two story home. There are some instants that make it more expensive to renovate a two story home over a one story home though.

Because a two story home is higher off the ground it can take longer to work at heights. Working at heights always takes a little longer because of the safety aspect of the work.  The following things can take longer to complete when working at heights;

Siding, stone, brick.

Replacement of windows.

Building of second story decks or balconies.



Electical (potlights, spotlights in the soffit).

If your renovation consists of mostly interior work then the difference in the cost of the two should be relatively the same.

In a ranch style home in the southern states where homes are built slab on grade you could end up with a scenario that you have to bust up concrete floors to run new plumbing lines, electrical or heat lines. The removal of concrete and the replacement can be labour intensive and can add to the cost of the overall renovation.

The key when planning to renovate a home is to try and work with the existing layout of the home.
You can change a lot of things to a home but if you plan to completely change everything about the home it might be more financially viable for you to buy a different home that is closer to what you want. This way it would allow you to spend less on the renovation and more on the finishing’s of the

The biggest cost when renovating is the labour cost, if you can keep the labour cost down then you can help keep the cost of the renovation down as well, this will leave you more money for the finishing’s in your home.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.